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

Friday, 30 May 2008

Recycling ...?

From the Times today London Zoo's new exhibits are priceless rubbish - Times Online

of course what excited me was that I saw the second picture ( as they appear here ) , as a Tapir , my favourite of all time creatures at this present time , due to my propensity to impersonate them in times of crisis , and to just like them at other times . In fact , apparently , its an anteater . Maybe theyre quite cute too .
I think that maybe someone needs to do a Rescue Greyhound from used plant pots ( I'm thinking Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men here ).
Just look at that Tapir thing though , isn't that just so cute ..... ?

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Joan is Back

Joan is back from her holidays in Northumberland where she has been visiting her son and has sent two photographs taken with her new camera , entitled Rainbow Arch and Early Morning at Lower Newton . Well worth clicking on the pictures to enlarge . The beach reminds me of our day trip there a few weeks ago when Alice went crazy and had a lovely day on the same spot . Great to see Joan back ....
Today was a bit different on the Alice front . There are days when she really doesnt fancy a walk . It may have been the slight dampness in the atmosphere when she ventured out after a lie in , at seven . She sniffs the air gingerly as she prances her way down the yard , looking back over her shoulder at me all the way , as in " Do I have to go ? " " Really ? " Reaches the bottom of the yard , turns to look at me full on , then before squatting , hesitates one final time as if " Cant I just do it on the carpet ?" Her normal modus operandi , ie on a dry day , is so so different , stretching fully then hurling herself at full pelt , squats , checks youre watching , flies back in , then stands at the hall cupboard door for her Reward .
So this morning , post wee , all breakfasted , whiskers wiped on her duvet , she' s back on the sofa and she hears D start mentioning the time of the morning walk with me . I am early at work so wont be accompanying . She glances at us , at the window ( rain ) and pushes her head firmly under the dusky pink suede effect cushion . She wriggles her body , pushing further . If Im right in under this cushion , and no one can see my head , I'm not really here , and there will be No Walk .
I go about my morning preparations , breakfast tray , coffee , ironing , collecting reports , packing bag , etc etc . Dog stays quiet . No movement . D is on his pc in his office . Then for some reason as I plan to leave some word is mentioned that interests her . She forgets that she is In Cognito and the head raises , cushion perched on top . She looks like a Turkish Sultan and as we reach for the camera she becomes embarrased and remembers what this is about . Avoiding the Walk . Down goes the head , and the cushion . Silence , Stillness . There is no dog . No walk .

Sunday, 25 May 2008


A busy weekend CatCalling ....two of my favourite calls and an exhortation from my online Horoscope (which I take seriously when it suits me ) to consider spending time on my own in Creative Pursuits and the like meant that I spent extra time in each house just enjoying being with the cats , bird watching at one of the houses and making meaningful conversation in another with W , a very rewarding cat I've known for some time about how he spends his time now his sister is no more .

At the Fairytale Garden which I've written about here before , Mr and Mrs Blackbird are nesting and the family are feeding the adult birds Felix cat food mixed with water in a bowl . As soon as I had got my coat off , organised the cats ( known as the Girls ) their tuna , read the explanatory note and got out into the garden with the bird food , the cats were out there to follow my progress .
Usually they're far more interested in their own supplies but today was different . Stumbling cautiously across the flagstones and grass ( neither of them is particularly sprightly these days ) they soon set up camp behind two different stones , staking out the garden ready to Keep an eye on Things ...... as the note had said , no sooner was the Felix down and my back turned , I could see Mr Blackbird's beak flashing in the sun ......and was he desparate to get down to check out what was in that bowl ..... but , despite their best efforts at stalking the cats were none too steady on the pins and both were slipping and sliding in their hiding places .
I retreated indoors and took up my spot in the sitting room .

Silence .
Now what ?

I could see the bird , tail dipping , beak flashing . Cats still in place , craning their necks , willing the bird down where presumably they were hoping to pounce , not much chance of that though at their time of life but enough to stop the poor bird coming down . Hopefully the propect of the tuna would drive them in within a few minutes .

And I am back into the sunshine and on to my next call where a tiny siamese kitten needs to be coaxed to eat more ...

Its a life .

I spend a rare four hours at the office ( rare for a Sunday ) and then call back on the kitten concerned that she has not eaten enough and could possibly be coaxed to eat more . Result .... and I go home happy , to assist with guinea pig cage scouring and litter tray deep litter clean , highly satisfying with hose and hot sunny yard .

Friday, 23 May 2008

Don't mention walks please ..... I'm worn out .....Greyhounds can only go so far .... didn't you people get the leaflet ?

Just Don't Ask

This is my seat , on top of the fridge freezer , on the family heirloom , which Sarah sewed by hand for Nat before she was born , and which is here temporarily waiting to be washed and wouldn't you know it , Toby has to butt in behind me .... Just don't click to enlarge an dlook too closely at my face that's all I can say .
I often get the giggles in the early hours .
This morning , with my fist crammed in my mouth as D stirred somewhat impatiently as I hooted and tittered to myself I tried to work out what this is all about and more importantly , did I used to do this when I lived alone ? I cant remember , is the simple answer , and as the answer to almost everything these days , is enough to set me off afresh . The thing which sparked me off today was initially seeing Kitty out of the corner of my eye as she nosed her way into the bedroom at four fifty three am and spotted me already reading . ( " Welcome to the World Baby Girl " by Fannie Flagg , and the name itself was enough to set me off on another tangent a few moments later but that's another story . Remind me , if you can bear it . ) Kitty has all the grace of a warthog , and she pushes into the room , stumbles over fallen debris and lands with a thud on top of D . She has no sense of the need to walk round the guy in the passenger seat to get to the driver . Her beady eye is fixed on me , and I try to remain steadfast , holding my book firmly in two hands and reading on , Neighbour Dorothy holding me in thrall . As she bakes cakes and broadcasts from her back yard without missing a beat in the fifties , I read , oblivious to the fact that a hefty tortoiseshell she-cat is craving my attention and is hell bent on pushing her way between me and my reading matter . Whack ! The book goes flying . I sigh , do the Planned Ignoring that my sister taught me many years ago when she had toddlers , and pick up the book . Soon Kitty is where she needs to be , nose to nose , chest to chest , weighing a ton as ever , and my book is held at arms length and the world is at peace .
Fiftteen minutes of fifties Missouri ( was it ? I forget ? ) is enough to set me back on the road to sleep , my body is relaxed , kitty is purring for England and the book is discarded .
This is when the tittering turns to snorting and choking .... as I do my customary , I can see three things which are ...... I can hear three things , my mind wanders off to my blog and a post I read yesterday from Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds about Gillian Mckeith ( unfortunate popular health guru freak(?) who advocates quinoa and butternut squash and rootles about through peoples' fresh poop , all whilst dressed herself in a smart neutral suit . Looking at poo while dressed in beige ? no thanks , I'd be in navy or brown ..... ) . Anyway the thing which got me going at six ten was the word "legumes ". Wide Lawns ( I wonder what her real name is ? She can't really be called Wide Lawns ) said , having watched Ms Mckeith that she loved the way we Brits call things different things , ie she had never heard of "Pulses " and she supposed pulses must be the things she calls " legumes " ..... I got to thinking I couldn't recall what a pulse was though obviously being a Brit I often cook with them and had a picture in my head of a bowl of them ..... it took me several minutes to come up with the name .....( some giggling here as I wondered if this was the pre-pre- perimenopause , my topamax , my age generally , or the time of day ..... ) and then Hey Presto Lentils ..... I had the name ... lentils !
That's of course when it really got silly . Lentils and the like just cannot be called legumes . Surely a legume is a big yellow thing like an aubergine ? A legume has to , just has to look something like a leg . It just cant look like a lentil !
My shaking finally dislodged a very disgusted Kitty , who cannot abide movement when she is happily settled . Laughing and sneezing are verboten . D was not best pleased either , but being asleep was unable to express it except by disgruntled turnings and then some snoring activity of his own .

And as for Fannie Flagg ? A colleague of mine was appalled some years ago when she went to Disneyworld Florida ( That can't be right , but you know what I mean ) wearing what we call a BumBag and a woman approached her and asked where she got her FannyPack . Despite my appalling short tem memory I still recall the look on my daughter's face ( the sheer delight at hearing such a rude word, fanny of course here a crude word for the female external genitalia ). And bum would not be a word recognised in the States , in fact here butt too is taking over . As I pondered in the early hours , would leave us with buttbag and for some reason this left me with an image of two elderly sheep ( Clifford the Sheep anyone ? the childrens' book with sheep dressed in wolves clothing riding around in a sports car ? Ok I'm making it up ... ) rummaging around their underparts inspecting their scrotums for ticks .
Oh dear . We've come full cycle here . Its got to be the Topamax .
Enjoy the weekend ....

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Lottery Winner!

I wake with my usual/ sometime 4 am headache ( though not quite so usual now , you tend to realise when it re appears that there has been a wondrous spell when it has been missing . A bit like the early morning greyhound starts . )

I edge slowly downstairs to avoid waking said greyhound and take a syndol and fall back to sleep using my insomnia technique of old ( see previous post) . At five I wake again and read The Wild by Esther Freud . I hate the William character with a vengeance and hope Jake shoots him . I'm not a violent person but ....( I suppose this is how all violence gets started ) .

I am up at 6 45 and in the shower for work when I realise there is a sensible plan waiting to happen here . I hatch it and switch my work day to Saturday when I was planning to go in to clear my desk in any case .

My head is hurting too much to partake in the morning walk but I am eager to avoid falling asleep again as the head will get worse . Texts from here and there let me know that this is likely to be some kind of bug as I am not the only sufferer .

I watch tv downloaded from last night for the first time on my laptop hardly believeing I am doing this . TV in bed ? Me ? It feels like luxury .... " Mum and Me " a documentary shot by a daughter, Sue in her fifties and her daughter, Holly , seventeen , making monthly visists from London to Ayr in Scotland , a round trip of some four hundred miles , to visit Ethel Bourne , in her eighties , who has Alzheimers and has little if any memory . Although she seems always to know Holly at times she has no idea who her daughter is , mistaking her for her grandmother or her sister . The thing that strikes me is the warm welcome Ethel always gives her daughter . At some level she does know who she is and is delighted , full of joy at her arrival and at contact with the outside world . She makes no complaint about her plight in the nursing home , seeming to be unaware that this is where she is living . The three women laugh and joke and smile much of the time . It makes me think of myself ... will I be as gracious in old age ? Doubtful ?
And it makes me reflect that my mother is always pleased to see me , presumably to see all of us , her three children . We always get a warm welcome . I never hear her complain about anything , however she is feeling . Maybe I will be the same , in old age with my daughter , always delighted to see her , and this delight and pleasure in her company will overcome my grumpiness about my situation ? Sue talks of the improved relationship between herself and her mother at the start of the programme and as things progress we start to see some of the more negative aspect of things , when after three of four days away together things start to wear thin . Its painful to watch and Sue is brave to portray herself warts and all . She comes across as the villain of the piece and yet how easy to slide downhill there very rapidly oneself when faced with the loneliness of cancer ( which she doesnt feel she can burden her mother with ), and the exhaustion of all that she is doing .
My mind wanders .....
My own grandmother lived alone in her own home until her death in her mid nineties . Suffice to say she was in very good mental health , no sign of Alzheimers there !
When we said goodbye on our regular Sunday visits we rarely made specific arrangements about our "next time"( always at the back of my mind that awful , will this be the last time I see you ? ) but on my last visit to her , in June 94 , I said I would see her in a fortnight if I could make it and her last words to me were " Well , if you can . Its always a pleasure to see you " . She spoke so steadfastly , using my name which she rarely did , and stroking my three month old baby 's hair , and when I got there , on the Sunday , two weeks later she had died in the early hours of the Saturday morning .

The post arrives shortly after these reflections announcing that I am indeed a lottery winner and have won ten pounds for the third time ! The first was the very first week of the lottery , the second was soon after I took out a monthly subscription and here we are again .

I fall sleep and dream that I am in attendence at an international conference about sex offenders , sitting next to Karl Hanson no less . He is both on the stage , giving the keynote speech and sitting next to me , in the audience , watching himself quizzically . It is a scene from Six feet Under no less.
I look on in amusement .

He makes a joke against himself ( from the stage ) and I giggle ( in the audience ) , and he( his audience persona ) reaches down and tickles the heel of my foot so that my sandal falls off . This is highly sigificant for me , not that Mr Hanson ,no less, is messing with my foot but that I am wearing sandals not boots . Anyone who knows me will understand . I find the giving up of my boots in Summer nigh on impossible but here my dream self had made the transition with ease .....

And on the subject of Alzheimers I flick to my telephone calender and realise I have forgotten my nephew's birthday ... oh dear ....

Sunday, 18 May 2008

After an early start CatCalling ie looking for a missing cat which didn't come home last night , and still wasn't back by 8 am this morning and despite my best efforts , shouting all manner of endearments at the back of the house and sending her mate out onto the patio to help me , it was to no avail . I wasn't too concerned as the food left out over night had disappeared ( though I suppose a passing hedgehog could have had that ) but the cat-left-behind was definitely beginning to be concerned and was sniffing all over the lawn and around the garage and under the plants as if in expectation of a miracle . In the end there was nothing much more to be done . I sat in the leather armchair and read the Laura Ashley Catalogue from cover to cover and talked to Ms-left-behind as best I could in the sunshine , but in the end my growling stomach got the better of me , having come out before breakfast , and I headed for home and fresh coffee and rye toast and peanut butter .
Difficult to get started for some reason but once we got out at ten with Alice , the sailing club was a hive of activity with some kind of sailing lesson going on . The sun shone over the water and we picked our way over the rocks poking in the rock pools with Alice joining in the search for live beasties . Much calmer now when we are out , she seems to have almost recovered her equilibrium after the attack by the jack russell terrier and slippping her a biscuit as we pass any dog which looks vaguely interesting means she is distracted and tends to keep her mouth shut until we are safely past .

Still finding it impossible to get going , this afternoon I have been mostly fiddling about with sweet potato , coriander , curry paste , and salmon from a tin and am now ready to produce some Indian fish cakes when the moment is right ......

NB the cat is back .

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Brinkburn Priory Northumberland


Can you spot the lady in black ?

Can't Sleep ? Insomnia remedy which defeats even staring cats

The recent debates about staring cats and cats standing on heads and my own diffculties with waking at four am and having to read for a while before attempting sleep again prompt me to write about a sleep cure which I learned from Yvonne Dolan , a psychotherapist working in Denver Yvonne Dolan - School of Continuing Education, University Of Wisconsin - Milwa . This was taught to me at a conference and I wasn't at all confident it would work , but at that time I had a very young baby and really had no difficulty at all sleeping , but it has stood me in good stead in recent years so I pass it on to anyone who needs it .

My first piece of advice is to get yourself comfortable whatever this takes . For some this might mean re making the bed slightly , turning the pillows round or whatever , even dislodging some cats in my case . I often wake with a headache and might need to take something for that , or drink some water .

Then make some effort to lie flat on my back and in a straight line ( the way I was taught in yoga relaxation ) . Some people may chose to run through the rituals of relaxing all the muscles of the body starting at the toes and running up the body to the head . Ive personally never found this very useful but lots of people do . But I do like to be physically aligned .

The Yvonne Dolan ritual is this . It sounds complex but is actually very simple .
In your head you are counting things that you can see , hear , and feel . I usually start with three things . Thus

You say to yourself ( in your head or you could say it out loud if you sleep alone )
I can see (and you choose three things you can see in your line of vision, trying to keep your head still and your yes more or less focused on one spot ) ...... eg the edge of the radiator , the towel on the end of my bed and the duvet on my bed

then you say what you can hear
I can hear ...... the sound of the cat purring in my ear
the sound of a bird singing out of the window
the sound of a tapping noise outside

( if you cant hear three things you can just repeat the same thing again ... eg I can hear the cat purring still )

then you say what you can feel .....
I can feel .... the warmth of the bed under my back
I can feel the duvet resting on my feet
I can feel the duvet on my feet again

when you have done three things you step up to four things
So I can see four things
hear four things
feel four things

then see five
hear five
feel five

and keep going till you fall asleep ....... of course in practice you lose your place and go back to one ( some people prefer to start at one , I always start at three ) , or your mind wanders .

This was me at four am this morning .

I settle myself after ten minutes of reading Blackthorn Winter by Sarah Challis . A great read along the lines of a woman upping sticks after her husband leaves for another woman and is then imprisoned for Fraud in the City and moving to a little village and becoming a cook in the village school etc etc .
Kitty is happily esconsed under my chin .
Toby is at the leg end .

The three things I can see are..... fairly mundane and whipped through in no time . I try to talk to myself in slow hypnotic tones albeit in my head as instructed , and come to the hearing part . I can hear ... Kitty purring in my head ..........and Kitty purring even louder in my head and now I am wondering if she has climbed right inside my eardrum here and how on earth I am ever supposed to get back to sleep with that racket going on ... and I can hear about fifty seven really loud chuffin' birds all squawking outside the window on the telegraph wire or in the tree or wherever they are all trying to stop me getting back to sleep I wonder what time it is now anyway Ive lost my place is that three things ?

I can feel ... what can I feel , I can feel the water bed lovely and warm under my right buttock funny word that , imagine Laura's physiotherapist saying her buttock was paltry I know they're a different shape to mine but I'd always assumed that was down to the choice of underwear ( involuntary giggle at this point not particularly conducive to sleep , causing the cat to scarper ) , but it seems now its all down to something quite other , tut , what else can I feel , I can feel a distinctive itch in my lower left shin which if I bend down to scratch it is going to cause alarm at Toby's end , and I can feel ........ long pause .......bed again under me .

But , despite being very distracted , that is as much as I can recall , so I must have been asleep again in a minute or two .
It sounds complicated and its really remarkably simple .
Basically you bore yourself to sleep .

Friday, 16 May 2008

For cat lovers ( or temporary haters ) everywhere

Much speculation as a result of a post on the Wide Lawns Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds blog about why her cat would be standing on her head staring at her during the night , (which is something Kitty often does) , includes her fabulous cartoon drawing of her cat with the most amazing expression on its face .
There has been a veritable plethora of ideas as to why the cat is behaving like this , many inclining to the view that Ms Wide Lawns must be suffering some kind of disease or is pregnant and should in any event seek immediate medical assistance . If she wasn't ill before making the post I'm sure she is by now .
However someone posted the following clip from youtube which I found spectacularly accurate and I add for your amusement . let me know what you think .
Does this cat remind YOU of anyone ?

YouTube - Simon's Cat 'Cat Man Do'

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

New Baby for Rachel and Tim

What a month it must have been for Rachel and Tim . We Love You Freddie Fred's anniversary not a few days ago and now , Brilliant news , a new baby girl Heidi was born yesterday . So far the details are on Facebook but no doubt Tim will be updating the blog soon too . Exhausting Day Job day for me yesterday travelling several hours by car to Ulverston for a meeting so great to return home at seven thirty ,log onto facebook and find message and photos of baby Heidi and both Rachel and Tim looking radiant . Heidi looks so like Fred in all the photos I've seen of him , (bearing in mind that I haven't met any of these people of course ), and I try to imagine how that might feel .

Way back last year I often tried to imagine how any of it might feel to them , to have a baby seriously ill , whom you were always hoping would get well again , living your lives on a hospital ward , trying to keep sane , not to give up hope , trying to give your baby the best days possible every day , attending to your relationship , still seeing your families , watching life going on solely through the eyes of others , through tv , news , the laptop , the blog , your visitors , your friends and the occasional foray into the outside world .

As I was ill myself for part of that spell , I had time on my hands , and much space in my head for reflection . Much of the time though I just couldn't even bear to think how it felt to be in Tim's head , or Rachel's .
They had no choice .
And yet , as people do , they survived , and here they are , with a new baby girl and a whole new chapter .
Look he's done it already .. a new blog I mean .....One more little person joins us....

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Idyllic afternoon at my sister's . The invasion .

The top picture shows Grommit the dog with his " when are they going home ? " face .
Alice is much calmer now on visits out and no longer bullies him quite so mercilessly , but still , Grommit prefers the quiet life and Alice loves to race about the huge garden and the outside farm and coutryside pretending to be a Northumberland and not just a seaside greyhound . And sometimes this involves leaping right over smaller terriers or pecking their necks and seeing what they do , and then barking madly at a passing farm bike ( a loud fart machine of a yellow quad bike thing ) , then going crazy when a man on the opposite hillside starts shooting at pheasants . All of these things give Grommit something of a headache when he is trying to relax in his own garden keeping an eye on his guinea pigs . And then she wears herself out and flops down on the newly grown aquileagias . Pah! There are other unmentionable things she does in the corner of the garden too , which involve people having to scuttle about with poop scoops and the like .
Once the sun has gone down and the cooking has started and people are chat chatting and paying no attention to dogs and what she is up to she is squeezing herself into his basket and then , horrors , helping herself to his toys , sniffing out his carefully secreted Nylabone from its hidey hole and tossing it willy nilly about the place without so much as a by your leave . Then its the special ball with the protruberances from his Christmas stocking 06 , which she has the nerve to fall asleep with , under her paw , as if she planned to take it home . And all the while the two sisters talk and talk and that camera is out trying to get pictures of Grommit squashed up in his basket when the poor lad daren't close his eyes for fear of what might happen next , despite the fact that he is dead on his feet .
Idyllic afternoon for whom exactly ?
Alice is exhausted today , head under the cushion in " do not disturb " fashion .
I know how she feels .
I missed the morning walk and stayed in bed , too much sun , too many things I shouldn't have eaten .
Three of Nat's friends were rescued off the rocks between Cullercoats and Longsands by the Lifeboat yesterday , caught by the incoming tide .
So glad she was with me .

Friday, 9 May 2008

Craster harbour ... lobster run

As we arrived the boat pulled in and a tense scene unfolded with a BMW pulling up as close as it could to the pier ( pier ? I am unsure of the terminology here ) . A woman and a man jumped out and ran over to the boat where men were hauling up a box of precious cargo . Four lobsters . An elderly man at the top waved his arms and offered his opinions about where the fishermen had gone wrong , why their returns had been so poor , but was met with a stony silence as the men unloaded the four unfortunates , all waving spines and wiry bits .
The lobsters were dropped into the buckets , transferred into the buckets and into the back of the BMW by the blonde haired woman , who looked so chic she could have been a model or an actress . The car reversed and drove off at a fast pace . The whole scene was fast paced and we were caught in the middle of it , onlookers , not quick enough and also slightly intimidated to take pictures of the transactions . It felt as if we had witnessed something not quite ok . A handing over of guns , or smuggled diamonds .
Meanwhile against the harbour wall a man with the appearance of an academic reading a newspaper , shoes and socks removed in the sun . I was too shy to ask for a photo . I looked at him with longing , but I couldn't do it .
Why was he not working , on a Thursday ? Does his week end on a Wednesday evening ? Was he skiving in the sun ? A lunch break ? Why my endless curiosity about everyone else's lives ?

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Sea Beastie

Me :Whats that worm with the pointie nose ?
D : Its a bit of seaweed .
he pokes it with his toe and it wriggles fast across the sand
D : Sorry . Its a sand eel .
Click to enlarge .
For months at Tynemouth D has been seeking pond life in the rock pools . Today we find a starfish , a hermit crab , a sand eel and hundreds of worm casts all within metres of the beach .
We also hear a seal barking , see a heron on the river at Warkworth and see a fishing boat land a catch of four yes four lobsters at Craster harbour .

eyeing up the chalets , Newton by the sea , Northumberland

and wondering whether any are ever for sale and if they are if we could afford one and if we could do they have internet access ( !! ) and if we could and they did , what is the likelihood of erosion and falling into the sea in two years from now and ....well where would we be without our dreams ?

Alice cant resist the birds , Newton by the Sea , Northumberland

We love the way she initially eyes them up nonchalanantly then saunters closer then just as you're thinking of raising the camera she is off and at them , and then on her way back , flat out or at a greyhound angle ( sideways ) having charged right into the sea after them , including submerging herself but sadly too fast for me and the camera .... maybe next time ....
Click on pictures to enlarge for a closer look .

Its Thursday so we must be skiving ...

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Burma Cyclone

The reported death toll in Burma rises today to 50 000 and I'm sure its much higher . My cousin and his family run a school there for children with disabilities in Rangoon . We weren't able to hear until Tuesday morning that they are still alive . Even then all we know is that they have no roof left on the property , no fuel ( presumably to pump water ) , no water , little food , and with two very small babies in the family this is not good news .

My cousin has five children , all of them raised in Thailand for most of their lives . His eldest daughter Christy is a well known pop singer in Thailand , and searching for information about my cousin and the school and their situation ( stupid , Burma ... no information out .... ) I came across masses of info about Christy I didnt even know was out there . YouTube - Christy Gibson sings Thai YouTube - christy&jonas . But for the moment I have no idea where she is . No doubt news will filter through gradually .

Monday, 5 May 2008

Final pilot succeeds

Final pilot succeeds ! We have a long walk at Plankey Mill near Haydon Bridge and Alice negociates the Bridge without mishap though we are disappointed that the old swing bridge is gone .
She relaxes sufficiently to snout her way around the tracks without panicking overly and is so shattered when we return to the car that she flops exhausted by the car as we unpack a picnic and barely raises more than an ear as two little lads play football almost on top of her . Even Mr Grumpy the next door dog couldn't undermine her confidence and she simply dozed on while he griped and complained ( possibly the smell of my fellafels was getting up his nose ) .
July ... Camping ... here we come !

Early morning walk incorporating Lord Collingwood ,and the " pilot"

The pilot failed abysmally .. only because spotting us seated outside Luis' under the canopy , the staff invited us and Alice inside where she was offered a large bowl of gravy bones and one of water . Inside she snaffled sausage sandwiches , collected cuddles and tried to climb onto the leather sofas . Not much different to home then really .

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Camper Van Pilot

The camper van is booked for a week in July , starting in York , first night in Bronte country ( Howarth ) . Given that we will have greyhound with us and it will of course be hot and not raining ( ever ) we plan to have Alice with us at all times ( too hot to leave her in the van and besides she might be too silly ) .
So tomorrow is a pilot . After her walk , en route back through the village , we will stop and order breakfast at Luis and sit outside under the canopy for huge lattes and sausage baps complete with HP sauce , rain or shine . Alice has not practiced the art of sitting and watching yet .
Following this a day trip with picnic and an attempt to simulate van conditions .....while its still not too late to cancel ...!

Alice goes for the duck

Click to enlarge ... duck is a blur .....

Alice contemplates a duck .....

... in the background at the sailing club

Saturday, 3 May 2008

The List

For years I have quietly mocked the list makers and the planners . My sister and D always have to have a plan in their heads of how the day will pan out whereas I like to wait and see , play it by ear and take what comes . I especially loved to titter when my sister took her small bag out of her larger bag and from that produced a list ... ah the list !
Exhaustion last night however got the better of me and as I sat in bed at midnight trying to collect my thoughts I found myself playing the horrifying what if ? game . What if , for the sake of argument , I forgot to feed one of my cats at the appointed time purely because I was out of synch having been away all day .
Hence this morning's list , started at three minutes past midnight and assisted by Kitty , read thus
Dog Walk
Soft Play
CatCall ( all fairly pedestrian and largely unforgettable as they are the stuff of my everyday weekend life )
PlayMobil-Kate Muir
Andy Merrifield The Wisdom of Donkeys
Collect Nat
Turkish Delight .

You can see where it all starts to go downhill but I must confess I found the list comforting as the day wore on ( until I misplaced it in the dogwalking coat pocket with disastrous consequences as it had completely replaced the memory which I now regard as a thing of the past , so was the key to the address from where I needed to collect Nat who was taking us to the soft play with D's grand daughter .......)

Playmobil? Kate Muir? What on earth is this ? And Donkeys ?
These two list items hark back to my pre breakfast still in bed early morning reading of the papers and things I found of interest and therefore added to the list . Usually ( in real life, and thus with no memory ) I read something and broadly speaking within minutes it is gone , nothing left but a glimmer of happiness left where perhaps a donkey passed by , or a Playmobil piece , as was the case this morning . But having the list meant I could revisit my morning's doings at various points during the day , as I reminded myself of my various tasks . Interestingly I had and would have had no difficulty remembering to do my CatCall , a new venture with three delightful Siamese cats ( one oriental ) , one of which a petite kitten who loves to be picked up and cuddled and immediately purrs gratifyingly .

The donkey article notes a forthcoming book of the forsake the rat race and go on a pilgrimage with a donkey persuasion and has much to recommend it The Wisdom of Donkeys - Times Online and as for Kate Muir , what can I say , its now a full 14 hours later but I can still remember laughing out loud though if I had to describe in detail what about I would be hard pressed .I 'll leave it to you to click the link .The dark ages - Times Online

St Paul's Cathedral

Details to follow . We walked by St Paul's on our way to the Tate , where I wanted to see the art of the three men who dress as ladies in their spare time , ( as I called it, needing a shorthand way to nail it , my memory being so hit and miss these days ) otherwise the exhibition linking the work of Man Ray , Picabia and Duchamps .Adrian Searle on Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia at Tate Modern Art & Architecture Tate Modern Current Exhibitions Duchamp, Man Ray, PicabiaDuchamp, Man Ray, Picabia, Tate Modern, London - Reviews, Art & Architecture -
Photographed just before the rain , which arrived as we settled relieved in the members' gallery .
Food and coffee and a view is always necessary before the exhaustion of the art .

My favourite moment was probably spotting a very elderly lady carrying a shooting stick reminiscent of that my Grandma used to take with her to the Hexham Races , and Deb and I exchanging envious glances over her head .
And then an even older stooped man very smartly but casually attired peering at the "dust growing in the corner of a glass " or some such , with his brand new iphone dangling on a string round his neck . He must have been in his nineties .

Part of the charm of seeing art for me is the consideration of how this is achieved . People vary so much . I prefer to be alone whilst wandering though is it useful and fun to have someone to compare notes with and have a giggle with at intervals . Galleries are the funniest of places I reckon . Anyone following mine and Deb's progress would have been forgiven for wanting to give us a kick up the backside half way round ... having looked forwards to this trip for weeks we then spent a good two hours in the coffee and lunch areas ( for both of us food being half the battle ) , and many of our comments being of the " God I feel quite dizzy " and " This space is enormous .... kills your feet ... " variety , interspersed to be fair with some knowledgeable asides ( mainly Debbie , who is herself an artist ) and one or two opinions " Aren't these paintings simply vile " ( mainly in the vicinity of the eroticism room ).

My favourite was of a geometry book hung out on a balcony by way of an experiment . Of course this was one of the works of which it was impossible to buy a postcard . Too quirky I guess .

Once we were done with the three men , I was confident that I was done full stop , ( having frequently before made the mistake of trying to see too much on one day and causing sensory overload and a delightful migraine to travel home on ) but spurred on by water and a reviving chat with a Greek engineer whose children were studying in London and who was fascinated , (as are most Europeans ) by a previous encounter with Girls from Newcastle upon Tyne wearing very few clothes in the Bigg Market on a Saturday night , was able to glance briefly into the exhibition on the third level and to discover the most sublime painting of a woman with a cello by an artist whose name I have now forgotten though the Christian name was almost certainly Meredith .
I'd still given a choice have rather had a postcard of that geometry book though . Maybe I can do my own though ... if you see an odd looking book dangling out of a bedroom window and intereacting with the elements , say no more .

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Trip to London coming up tomorrow to see some Art .
Thoughts tonight of Rachel and Tim and Fred ( whose first anniversary will come by tomorrow ). Fred We Love You Freddie
Also remembering Madeleine McCann missing for almost one year .

Migraine Days

Migraine Days

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

art on a sunday

art on a sunday