Day to day musings of a cat minder/ sitter in North Tyneside and Newcastle upon Tyne . For details of services go to

Welcome to CatMinders

Welcome to CatMinders

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Front of House

Two birds keeping an eye on things and Iggy , keeping an eye on them .....

Let me out of here ....

Gem the Border Collie gets so tired of me and Jane talking on the beach whilst Alice tries to steal her ball , that she digs a big hole and when its big enough , gets into it and lies down , complete with ball .

Nat and I are driving to town . Kate Nash comes on the radio and with half an ear as I weave through the traffic , I stare round at Nat as we come to a halt in a snarl up .
"What's she saying there ? " ( aghast look on face )
Nat ( unplugging her ipod ) "What?"
"What is she singing ? "

" I just want your kiss boy " ....." Like .... obviously .... "

I go quiet .
" What did you think she said ? "
" Mm . I thought she said I just smellt your piss boy "
" Mother !"

Radio 4 News announces a two year wait on the NHS for hearing aids .

Saturday, 29 December 2007

3 47 am

I fall asleep with half an ear for my neice letting herself in after a nights clubbing . We have left a note stuck to the inner door welcoming her and advising her which bed to sleep in .
At three am D is restless , I realise I too am awake , and we wonder if F has arrived though we think not . On returning from the bathroom I announce proudly to D that I have unplugged the hair straighteners which were stretched as usual across the landing . We are all used to them and step over , but F may not .
Me ( self important ) " Ive unplugged the hair straighteners "
D " Did you do a risk assessment ? "

For some reason this strikes me as incredibly funny and I am awake for some considerable time longer , recalling past episodes when F came to stay and .... I wont go into details ..... a text arrives . I decide it can wait till morning , too late to drag myself from sleep . then I know I have to do the dragging . She may be in need somewhere .
" Sorry , its F I'm sleeping at J s see you tomorrow " . Message timed at 3 47 am .
Phew , thats that then ..... can plug the straighteners back in then !

Thursday, 27 December 2007


Does anyone out there have a Roomba ?

I can't believe Ive only just heard about these things with my menagerie full of animals and attendant swathes of pet hair clogging up the Dyson not to mention the cats scattering their wood based kitty litter from here to kingdom come just for fun . ( I know , I see them do it , they climb aboard , turn several times after the performance is done , then scoot , the back legs buck jump and the litter is up the walls , down the cracks of the skirting boards , you name it . ) And although Alice has tiny short greyhound hair which doesnt seem to come out onto the floors or furniture , she s quite capable of spreading Bonio crumbs and Gravy Bones and other tasty morsels about the carpet in her vicinity .

We have or had various Dyson vacuum cleaners standing to attention around the house over the years but they have dwindled now to two , one in the hall cupboard seeing active service most days and the other in the attic awaiting a replacement belt ( don't watch this space ) . By the time I drag the yellow one up to the first floor and try to make it do its duty along the cat hair I am usually so cross I am not speaking to myself , recalling the halcyon days when it( or its predecessor) was first purchased and it glided through a pile of everything making a lovely lawn like stripe and making me feel like a proper person whose carpets would now be clean . These days when I apply myself diligently to the carpet , going over and over the same spot repeatedly and finally getting down on my hands and knees to pick up the crumb I have spotted by hand , tripping over the wire and thinking this is not how its supposed to be , occasionally the thought of throwing in the towel and simply buying a new vacuum cleaner when there's nothing really wrong with this one pops into my head and then brings me out in a cold sweat . The very idea .

And now , someone has brought to my attention , the Roomba . I had no idea what this creature was . But immediately I had an inkling it was something I was going to start to crave . I googled it and Yes , thats right , I want the Discovery version , yesterday if possible , though I am of course prepared to drive considerable distances to view it operating and hand over the cash . Its the paddock boots ( too stiff when I finally sourced them ) all over again .

I spend a happy half hour reading Roomba reports , noting that if it meets a tennis ball it will happily send it on its way , thus providing a friend for the family dog too , ( Alice is not much of a ball dog though , wonder if it does seaweed ? ) And then sending aforementioned reports to my sister and to D , who will no doubt have an opinion . How will he feel when the Roomba starts up cleaning whilst he is working ? Will he feel Put Out , his position usurped ? or is it Tidying after all that is his forte , rather than cleaning . I reassure myself we are on safe ground here , so long as it does not try to indulge in Desk Wars and try to climb onto his desk , though even he is missing Kitty's constant squabblings of late , so maybe a Roomba would constitute a welcome diversion ?

Obviously it would need to have a name . And so far I have not researched the cost , not wanting to spoil my reverie .

And Nat has returned home from the sales having forgotten my pasta sauce ! Major logistical problem here now !

King Edward Bay Tynemouth 9am

Even with the wind blowing a gale as it was this morning I cant resist this walk with Alice . And it pays off . The Bay is sheltered from the wind and the sun is just coming over the cliffs . No other greyhounds this morning for Alice to chase , but she's more than happy with a deflated old football we find .
Only one CatCall today , with two more starting on Saturday .

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

King Edward's Bay , Boxing Day

Art at Tynemouth Station

Between the glass on the bridges at the station near the house there is an art space . The latest display recreates the seaside in former times . Glass jars hold little cut out paper figures , couples dancing .
There is a room set up like a seaside hotel , the landlady and her list of rules is almost there , breathing down your neck . But not quite . Instead an old photograph of two local beauties
" Are they a couple of transvestites or what ?" says D ( see top picture and click to enlarge )
A couple passing by with their dog glance in at the exhibits . " I don't know what they're trying to do in there " says the man . The woman walks on , inscrutable .
Art in Tynemouth on Boxing Day .

Sunday, 23 December 2007

King Edward Bay 7am

These landmarks at first light are great anchors when all else is madness and frenzy .
The hut is set against the cliffs , directly in front is a small bay with rocks , waves and the full complement of wheeling squealing sea birds . Without the greyhound I probably wouldn't have discovered its sanity restoring properties .

Saturday, 22 December 2007

" NO NO NO ...........

Dont make me watch Celine Dion ...."


One of our longstanding CatCalls cats died this week , aged seventeen and a half . Always tough but for B and J it was so apparent that their cats were really part of the family and couldn't have been more treasured or loved . Affirming for us that the couple recognised that we would very much want to know the news and rang to let us know straight away . We're glad T had such a long and happy life and know that what B said was true , nothing else could have been done in her life to improve on it . Glad it was not long since we saw her and took care of her .
When its frenetic there comes a lull when suddenly everything is peaceful . Usually thats the time you fantasise about snow and looking out on a transformed world . Most of us will have a childhood memory of being shown out the back door , in my case into a garden, where snow was falling , on Christmas Eve . I'm told in England it happened very rarely , even in the north east where we had frequent snow , just rarely on Christmas Eve . But I know it happened once at least .
I've been trying to work out why it is that particular memories stand out and not others . I have a clear picture of us all at the farm , one Christmas night , before it was time to go home , the heavy red curtains pulled , the fire crackling , Laura and me reading a book called ( how can I remember this after all these years?) " The Boy Jesus " and drawn in muted shades, Greek style pictures , nativity scenes in turqouises and germolene pinks ( if you get my drift ) , with the occasional navy sky and silver stars . It was exquisite . We sat bunched on the sofa reading this book which was the present given to us three kids by our great aunt Gertie ( kids in families then got one shared presents from distant relatives , not one each . Our brother was no doubt playing on the floor with a toy tractor . We would have been surrounded by cats and collie dogs . The adults would have been talking , feeding the fire , passing sweets , dates and nuts , breaking open the latter with old fashioned crackers . Why this night and not a different one ? Nothing traumatic , nothing specially exciting .
Who knows ?
I'm amazed already at the things Nat doesn't remember that I thought she would .
I try not to think too hard of the things she will remember ........!!!

Friday, 21 December 2007

While I was at Debenhams ...( a tale of food sloppage and washing machines )

...the washing machine crashed . It made all the right noises , pretending to be doing its stuff but at the end of the cycle the clothes were all covered in bits of soap powder and some were wet and some were dry . Luckily Mr Westerby was contactable and in the area , six other washing machines in the area having taken the gee for Christmas , so he popped by , much to Alice's glee as he had just consumed a meat pie in the van and she was convinced a morsel was still lurking in his cheek somewhere .
His diagnosis was simple . The bearings had gone ,( and broken the drum ?) the belt had flown off and he wasn't commiting himself as to whether it was worth a repair , which would cost £90 . D shook his head but I was all for it . I like that machine , and I hate new machines , all those neon panels and parts that last even less time than the ones you currently have .

D asked when it could be done and ( looking straight at me ) Mr W joked " Eeh dont put me under pressure "
" Moi ? " I longed to say " Moi ? " Who washes perhaps two items per week and would happily do all my things by hand as I mostly wear sweaters anyway , and believe only jeans are tricky enough to really warrant a machine , and I know from experience that in an emergency they can be worn for several days ( weeks ? Hush your mouth woman you will have no friends ! ) without requiring the services of any kind of washing , so long as you fold them up nicely and pay close attention to your own personal hygiene ( come on we were all students once ) . And contrary to popular opinion I do change my personal items as frequently if not more so than other members of the household , I am simply more discreet , but that's another story .

Me ? I wanted to say ? put you under pressure ? For me after the New Year would be fine .

But not wanting to queer the pitch for N and D who have a load each a day and change outfits as often as I ( now I got some for my birthday ) reapply my Bobbi Brown lipgloss , thanks Nat, I keep my counsel . (Admittedly some of their frequent changing is due to their food sloppage . Not something in which I indulge )
Barely a meal passes without one of them disturbing the peace with a major outburst involving tomato ketchup , the utterance of expletives and a flurry of activity with a tissue or a wet floor cloth .)

So off he goes wheeling the machine with him , and I think back to last Christmas when by some strange quirk of fate we were without washer , dishwasher and heating ( though not the full system ) , and hot water , most of the time .
Isn't life grand .
Its that stage of Christmas where I have forgotten what I have bought .
I had started a list , which when I check . contains two items , bought way back in November , but that in itself is helpful as they were long forgotten .
But No Matter , we do have heating , the tree looks lovely , I got the things I needed today , I have a new book to read " Consequences " by Penelope Lively when I finish the Kate Morton book " The House at Riverton " and there is one of those wonderful tv things where drunk people are being picked up by the police for being incompetent on the roads which for some reason I am finding hilarious and Alice is sighing heavily at . ( oh look now she is so drunk she has jammed her hand in the car door. )

And best news of all . Kitty came downstairs tonight for a few minutes , first time since Alice moved in . Soon we will be back to normal , cats and all .
Bliss .

barcelona bears and rhino's bottom with small cat

casa camper barcelona

Though still not quite sure what a concept hotel is , I am sure about one thing , the concept was one I would be happy to revisit . Casa Camper hotel in Elisabeth Street off Las Ramblas is ultra modern , zen like , all red black and white and situated in an ancient building . Twenty five rooms , most of which we guessed would face a brick wall were it not that the walls had been transformed into a vertical garden with giant aspidistras in pots in a square arrangement . Each room was big , with a splendid wet room with shower head like an Amazon rain forest , and immediately two steps across the corridor another room , with hammock , sofa bed , desk , chairs , flat screen tv etc etc .
And possibly most revolutionary of all for a hotel , the twenty four hour provision of upmarket (free) snacks , displayed at all times and designed as we were advised by staff to help you feel " at home " . They were right , we behaved exactly as at home , grazing from morning till night , feasting though on a variety of goodies un heard of in our workaday kitchen . Freshly made soups , juices , cheeses , breads , pastas , salads , baked cheesecakes , chocolate brownies , and an array of nuts and seeds and fresh fruit .
Casa Camper Hotel came highly recommended according to the reviews and they were spot on .

Pearl wonders why the surplus furniture is still littering D s office ( cats not understanding the concept of the popped out disc one assumes ? ) , whilst Alice awaits our return from Malmaison last night having rearranged the contents of the sitting room somewhat including the demolition of the remains of a box of ferrero rocher ( dogs not appreciating that chocolate kills ?) . Butter wouldnt melt .

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Talking such Nonsense . The Tapir continued .

D has gone to London to see Bruce Springsteen at the O2 Arena . I wonder if my sleep talking will continue even when there is no one to talk to . Mostly it kicks off as he arrives in the bedroom later than me . I have a feeling the tapir exists whether it has an audience or not , and can probably conduct a full scale conversation for several minutes with a Birman cat in any event if necessary . There is also Nathalia in residence ; sometimes I understand it is a detailed question from her ( about her requirements for school the next day or some such ) which sparks off one of my one woman ( one tapir?) performances .

Even as I sleep talk , I am usually aware that I am not making sense and I feel like laughing at myself but somehow this is never quite enough to stop me . I remind myself of my grandfather when he was in hospital in his last years , when he would inform me with a smile on his face that he had been " for a ride on a motorbike today " . When I looked quizzical , he would smile again and maybe say "What am I talking about ? Not a motor bike , some other chariot ? A wheelchair they call them here ! " then later , musing , " I talk such nonsense sometimes . "

Yes , that's me and topamax . Talking such nonsense .

The Tapir

The Topamax has kicked in , though only last thing at night .
I am in bed . almost asleep , impersonating a tapir , using my right hand as the nose . D laughs out loud at me ( possibly partly his nerves kicking in ) and I say , crossly , " the tapir doesnt think its funny " .
Later , as the cat scratches at the wardrobe door ( wanting to examine the Christmas presents in there ) , I say " Jessie , you are not in Soft Furnishings now "
and D asks " where is she then ? "
And I say " she is not in that section of the department store . " and return to sleep .

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

images of barcelona

Rose petals and champagne , fish stall in the market , mime artist las ramblas .

Images of Barcelona


I'm not sure what reality is yet ?
I get back from Barcelona on Sunday and I'm still reeling . Cardiogirl has admitted herself to a psychiatric ward and Guilty Secret has left Baddie . Bead Lady has posted some pictures of some great silver jewellry . My sister is at my house and Alice and the cats and the guinea pigs all seem thrilled to see us . It being that odd pre Christmas time though there 's an odd feeling everywhere that I can't quite get my head around and I'm not sure its my brain fighting on a daily basis to stave off migraines ( and largely succeeding ) .
Today is the exception though its nowhere near as bad as it would have been pre Topamax and I still mamange to do the wor( Day Job) I need to , just not quite at the right times . Since we took the flight last Thursday , when I close my eyes I get wierd images , flickerings in my eyes and the feeling that a migraine is imminent but I manage to stave it off and thats some relief . Last night when I closed my eyes I got huge psychedelic shapes , these are new and strangely scary , and they fade as my eyes open and the darkness recedes . I accustom to them but not to the feeling that something is imminent . I wonder , not for the first time , if I should be driving , but I need to be up the coast this afternoon and it all goes according to plan .

Thursday, 13 December 2007

mental health days ?

By the way , can ayone explain to me what a mental health day is ? I keep reading them on blogs . We dont have them here ( UK ) . It sounds like a day off to take care of your mental health ?

Barcelona !

Its official , we re off to Barcelona tomorrow..... and not only that but I also got tickets to see Elton John in July !Welcome to Casa Camper Hotel Barcelona Last year we went to Barcelona for my birthday but I wasnt well and I had said it would be great to return at some stage , but I hadnt anticipated it happening so soon after our holiday to Menorca , and looking at the temperatures it looks like its going to be a lot warmer than here . I cant wait ... though as yet Ive had a really laid back day and the packing has not even been contemplated yet , though I have done one thing in preparation , changed Nat s bed in case my neice Felicity wants to stay there whilst we are away . Laura is coming to take care of things but doesnt need much preparing for , so I took myself off to town determined not to get embroiled in Christmas shopping and instead to take my time getting some euros and just having a wander , bliss so close to Christmas when it really isnt ok not to be rushing yet its what everyone wants to do ( either that or take off back to bed ) . In the end the air of relaxation was entirely conducive and I did buy two presents ( thats a lot for me ) .
The wish list for Barcelona includes several strolls in Las Ramblas , for Nat its a trip to the Hard Rock Cafe , the Christmas markets were wonderful last year too and Im wondering if we might find Alice some stylish and warm coats and snoods as she is feeling the cold and has been wearing one of my snoods ( mass hysteria sets in here ...... ) as I seem to recall a big pets market in the middle of the city .
Is it time to start packing yet , or shall I put off the evil moment ?

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

This much I know

Its my birthday on Thursday and I know there s a plan afoot . I think its a weekend away plan . This much I know , that Laura is drafted in to stay the weekend and look after things here , that I've been advised to cancel my Christmas night out with work on Friday as we will " definitely not be here " , that we will have time to walk the dog very early on Friday and I won't have to cancel a short notice CatCall I arranged (unwittingly ) earlier this week but which is practically on the dogwalking route anyway , but that then we will be leaving the house early on the Friday . Apart from that I know Nothing .

Its really exciting , also means I feel Inclined to place all Christmas plans on hold , until After the Weekend . Just an excuse I know , but a good one all the same .

Everything went wrong at the weekend just past . I had all sorts planned but none of it worked out , and the worst was D hurting his back and fretting that he may need surgery again .

On a less serious but louder note , as I sat reading other people s blogs on sat am at around 6 30 am , with Alice companionably beside me , the Freebox box exploded but as my head was down at the time , I was unsure where the bang originated from ... I asked her ( as you do ) , what was that Alice , and quick as a flash she stood up , shook herself , trotted over to the tv and pointed with her nose at the box . I walked over and touched the box myself and felt it was hot and as I did so a plume of smoke rose , so I knew she was right . the dog is a genius .

An e mail has just come through to announce that my cousin has had a stroke . I must go to make some calls .
What a wierd post this is turning into .
I should have stuck to reading blogs .

Friday, 7 December 2007

I'm thinking a lot at the minute and that makes it hard for me to write . Its also unusual for me .(Ha!) The canooist story has set me off on a train of thought about what are the universal things we all crave , we all like to ponder on , all enjoy reading about . The canooist story for those of you who who arent in the UK is the story of a local man from the north east who sailed off in his canoo some seven years ago and didnt re appear , was missing , declared dead at an inquest some thirteen months later ( quite a short time as these things usually pan out ) , his wife appears to have cashed in some insurance policies and got on with life , continuining to live and work locally until a few weeks ago when she up and moved to Panama , apparently on a whim after a holiday there , and after a flurry of financial acivity when she sold both of her properties .
Earlier this week her " dead " husband showed up at a police station in London saying " I think I'm missing but I've lost my memory so I'm not sure " . Both of the couple' s sons interestingly also gave up their jobs recently .
And the final twist , a photo of both Mr and Mrs has been found on a website for happy families relocating to Panama , purporting to have been taken last year . Last Year ! When he was still missing ! And his father , and sons , still ( allegedly ) grieving him ? All very wierd .

But the point of my ponderings is the occasional universal attractiveness of the idea of disappearing , to a new life . I guess its the stuff of Holidays . Our plans to go somewhere different , see new things , leave the phones behind , wear different clothes , eat new food , exchange everything in fact ......

And yet , at 5 30 am , as I stand in my kitchen , emptying the dishwasher , I ponder my routines and how much I love " all that " . I love the fact that Alice wakes me at the same time each morning . That I come down just as the heating is kicking into action ( and wonder if BetteJo's heating is working ok now , and recall last Christmas when we had no heat and no hot water and I was ill and off work and ..... ) and the kitchen is warm , and Alice stretches hugely , her long skinny legs straightening and clicking and then she bends forwards and then up again then is ready to face the day and I open the door and let her out and at that point , as the Pigs feel the draught of cold air they squeal in annoyance , which changes to glee as they see me coming with their cereal , and as Alice charges at full blast back up the yard and slides along the kitchen floor once her brakes are on and I'm onto the coffee pot stage , enjoying the aroma of the fresh coffee and the ritual of the machine and the noise it makes and then the tussle to keep Alice out of the cupboard where her food is kept whilst I load up her bowl with biscuits then take the chicken out of the fridge .( greyhounds are so strong when they are determined on getting to their treats ). All on a kind of automatic pilot . And the soooner all this is done the sooner I can sit on the sofa and she next to me and I can read blogs at 5 45 am and she can sigh and enjoy relaxing until her walk .
Peace until the rest of the household awakes .
And the day goes on , and where would I be without my routines , the little things built up that I love , that are this life here, now , that unwittingly I create wherever I am and whatever the circumstances .
So I guess that running away to a new life for any of us , would raise the question for me at least , would would that life be . how different would it be , what would I take with me ?

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Water bed .....

this great bed and this amazing cat tucked up in the corner where it stays permanently warm .
Ive been free of migraines now for several days , since I started a low dose ( again ) of the topamax and a higher dose of propranolol . Its going fine though my nine pm plus nocturnal commentings are the subject of some family mirth . I go to bed early to read , fall asleep over the book , wake then talk nonsense over anyone who will listen .
Im also very sleepy earlier , so much so thats its hard to keep up with everything I need to do , including the blog , reading blogs etc .
But I will acclimitise .
And its great not to have that awful pain all day every day . At last thats how it was beginning to feel .....

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Topping up the water bed

The weekend has been much as last one with much clearing and carrying upstairs , piles of boxes to be shifted , the never ending question of should they be sorted first or stored then sorted ( gradually ) ?. I personally feel that once stored they will be there till doomsday but D can't live with his office in chaos for one more day so doesn't agree . I fear for the feng shui of the house but anyone who knows me or the house knows I dont have much of a leg to stand on feng shui wise ( or any other wise really ) so he is carrying things extensively whilst I sit in his rocking chair ( in transit , waiting to go to Iain's , soon ) making sage comments and watching the dog chewing her bone as I think about the mess and the feng shui and wonder how easy it is going to be to top up the water bed which has a definite deficit in the water levels somewhere or other . After a preliminary discussion this morning with D whilst driving to my sister's( in order to avoid actually doing the task ) I've discovered a thing or two about Baffles ( the intersections in the mattress ) . Also the reason for purchasing the tap connector in order to top up ( my idea , after each time I climb onto the bed on my own , my knees sink onto the wood . This can't be right . Its fine when I'm sharing , with two bodies aboard , we are both laughing ( or rather floating ) but there is definitely not enough water when it's just me . perhaps 'cos Im such a tiny thing , such a feather weight ! Ha! ) I digress. To fill up without it would take hundreds of watering cans .... hundreds of gallons of water being needed .

We now have the tap connector , and could have been filling with the hose this afternoon . But somehow it all seemed too stressful so we went to my sister s instead , where Alice( the stick insect masquearading as Greyhound terrorised their little black terrier Grommit , who seemed however to adore her ( this was their first meet ), and ran about the farm , glancing at sheep and then rushing at Grommit again( who showed the whites of his eyes ) . Finally exhausted , she climbed into one of their cats tiny little fleece baskets , forcing herself into the space which would have suited perhaps a small poodle , legs sticking out and very happy .

I have to run . The hose is here , the tap connector is waiting , and the hot water is at the ready . We are about to fill the bed .

Migraine Days

Migraine Days

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

art on a sunday

art on a sunday