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

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Welcome to CatMinders

Monday, 29 December 2008

When its Winter and freezing on the beach and the Times today says it's going to be minus 10 degrees celcius by the end of the week , and despite that , the dog gets really silly and despite shaking visibly with the cold when her Barbour jacket is taken off to facilitate her mad dashing on the beach , lies down in a ( full ) rockpool at the edge of the rolling waves off the North Sea . A thing she would'nt dream of doing in the height of Summer . Far too chilly .
When it's Winter like that , I like to flick by through my photos and remember the tea garden in the village , and our own front of house in warmer times .
Not long now ....?
Happy New Year everyone ......!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

New year's Introspection Time

It's that time of year again .
Christmas done , I can only semi muster interest in the film on tv and my CatCalls cats are all fed and settled for the night .
Time to reflect back to last year's New Year's Resolution(s) and those of others around me and to start to think forwards to 2009 .
So here was last year . CatCalls: Socks and Things ....I planned to try not to buy any new clothes for a year ! Well that was a tall order . As D pointed out , woman cannot do without socks and "things" ( especially when she has so few to start with ) , and indeed he was right , underwear being the first thing to start finding its way into my bag .
And then there was the matter of the sale bargain All Saints cardigan which I have worn almost daily since then .
And then , once you start .....

But , to be fair , the main thing , and a thing I have not made much mention of here , hating Diet Blogs and indeed dieters in general as they are usually a soulless bunch was the " I will get rid of these migraines of it kills me " low carb diet , started to see if carbs were a factor . I still have no clue on that front , am still on the diet-research-trial ( a different thing altogether ) and still taking the Migraine Defence and still taking the NHS meds as well . And I have been much better of late .

So the main thing was that after a few weeks of the low carbness , I found the weight dropping off , to the extent that none of my clothes now fit , so of course my resolve , though strong , was fundamentally not designed to meet such a challenge .
There was after all the highly desirable ( for a former lardy one ) yet still potentially very embarrasing incident in August outside a CatCallers home ( I name no names ) when reaching inside my pocket for the keys to the front door , the waistband of my loose linen trousers gave up any semblance of having a job to do , and whoosh the pants were round my knees . Luckily it was a red hot day , the neighbourhood was deserted ( everyone still in bed or gone to the sea perhaps ? ) and I whipped them back up and one handedly texted my sister jubilantly to record the moment of my triumph " Guess what I'm so skinny my pants just fell off ! " , you know the kind of text you hate to receive even from your best pal . Even the cats had to sit and watch till that was done .....

So , you see my dilemma ? It was either back on the carbs , gain a stone and a half again , or buy a few things . What would you have done ?

And now for next year ? I need to get thinking though I have a few ideas in the pipeline .
Buy a few belts maybe ......

NB For what it's worth , it was a good resolution . It did make me think about what I spent on clothes . It was very "freeing" not to look at clothes in the shops . I still rarely indulge . And now I do buy something , I really appreciate it .

Mr Squirrel Lives Here ....

A few hundred yards from my sister's front door lives a squirrel in a little house in a big tree and bang on cue at Christmas time Someone Magic has made Mr Squirrel his very own front door . How cool is that ?

No wonder the Monkey is so quiet

The party went well . The monkey has been very quiet ever since . ( Who wouldn't be with limbs knotted and is it me or is his grin saying something different ?)
And Alice is quite beside herself with exhaustion. Entertaining is not her strong suit , and following hot on the tail of two full days out on the trot , she is all done in and needing a Full Pyjama Day .
Just as well then ... Nat has finally persuaded me , after several long years , that I can no longer put off the evil moment when her belly will be pierced , in my presence. Why do I have to witness this horror ? Enough that I should finally crumple under the sheer weight of her arguments . And why does it have to be today , when I have a complete Sugar Rush headache after indulging in both tiramasu and English trifle after several months of Low Carbness ? There are good reasons , I am told , so that " it" will be healed in time for our holiday in May . ( thanks to D this is booked , unlike the Christmas cake which was iced as usual Post Christmas day ) .
Uh oh .... here they come , the teens are out of bed . For once emerging pre noon , the promise of the pain to come dragging them forth from sleep . Does it make sense . Does it ? Wish me luck .
Sleep on Alice and enjoy your pyjama day . I'll be with you in spirit .

Saturday, 27 December 2008

I am supposed to be hosting a family party imminently but I am in introspetcive mood and more interested in casting my mind back to the ( anxiety ?) dream of the early hours . To be fair I have spent the morning making brownies , an old fashioned trifle and a tiramasu , and whizzing up pasta dishes , salads and olive thingies . People are bound to be tired of turkey by now . Though turkey there is , should it be required .
I woke to the sound of cats scraffling amonsgt papers and plastic and left them to it . Later there was the unwelcome sound of barfing .
Yesterday , having done a full litter tray clean at one of my CatCalls I then had occasion to take various rubbish bags out into the garden and horrors , was unable to re lock the back door . Checking the locking of the front doors and the keys and their workings os one of the things I do on my initial visits after a salutary experience when a family inadvertantly provided me with the Wrong Key in their excitement at Getting Away . Luckily there was a neighbour .
But I rarely think to try out the back door . This door had opened like a dream . I had sailed out into the back humming to myself and done my dumping ( not literally you understand ) and then ... hm , this door is stiff,. and then ... hm its dark outside and I can't get this door re locked and now I'm starting to recall that time when I was little and my Grandma was trying to close the farmhouse back door and there was a man outside trying to get in and we were both pushing our full weight against the door and we couldnt close it and get the big heavy key turned and he was grunting and pushing and my Grandma was shouting at him to go away and leave us alone and I was eleven years old again and ......
It was almost dark but I wasn't eleven . It did take me almost fifteen minutes to get the door closed and I remember thinking This will probably give me bad dreams sometime soon .

As indeed it did .

I was at the fairytale garden and the W's two cats were in the house , but as I came back in from the garden , a man appeared . In reality this would be impossible as I always lock all doors behind me . Nothing if not security conscious in other people's homes . Not only that , there were five cats , one an enormous grey cat , striped and with huge long whiskers . But what was worse , as I looked at all of the cats , I was unable to work out which were the cats which belonged and which were the outsiders . And , worse than that , I couldnt tell of the man was friend of foe .

Back to my food preparation I think ......before you all fall asleep . ....

Thursday, 25 December 2008

A Lull in The Proceedings

Christmas Eve , my sister's house . I am leaning against the Aga , stirring a sauce or something . I forget now . My sister is watching whilst engaged in some other food preparation task . We are gathering to eat , pre Carols on the village green, prior to the arrival of Father Christmas on a sleigh on a large truck , following a hooting police escort . The carols begin in earnest at 6 30 , Santa and his cardboard ( though to small children and from a distance not apparent as such ) reindeer arrive at 7 pm and he drives around the village throwing out sweets and waving and calling out Ho Ho Ho . The adults mingle and catch up with people they may not have seen since this time last year . Meanwhile I stir the sauce and wish the stove had more of a fire in its belly . Such is the way with the Aga though . Laura describes in minute detail the outfits of the guests at a recent party she attended . I listen , transfixed . I am at the party , seeing the guests , wondering at the choice of dresses and suits . In the distance , my daughter pipes up , speaking to her cousin , who is 22 . " Do you suppose when we 're old we will have nothing better to talk about than what our friends were wearing at the party ? " Peals of laughter at how sad and how curious they find us all at once . Half an hour later though my sister catches them out as they shriek with horror at the fake tan on a model in " Heat " magazine . " Do you think when we're old we will care about the suntanning practices of the rich and famous " she quips ....and the magazine comes flying across the room at her .....

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

I think this is the longest I've gone without blogging . Once you get on a roll , its hard to stop . And once you get off the roll , its hard to get back on .
There's been a landmark birthday , when we went to London , flew about on the London Eye ( why do they call it a flight ? ) and whizzed about the centre in black cabs between Oxford Street , mad so close to Christmas , the Royal Mile and theatreland . We saw "We Will Rock You " and then squeezed in a fleeting visit to Covent Garden on Sunday .

Then there's been the usual mad rush to get everything done , the viruses conspiring to stop us getting everything done , the careful placing of presents under the tree and the dog gingerly opening them and having a little poke inside as soon as ours backs were turned .

The ordering of cards from Greyhound Rescue and their failing to turn up until the day after last post ... so if you were expecting a card from me and didn't get one this year , hey ho !

Some unsettling health news for D ... he is now trying to give up smoking . Watch this space . I'm trying hard not to blog about this .

And then there was the cat who faded away whilst I was looking after him , poor old boy . Glad I could be there if it helped , and for any of us who have had to take our beloved friends to the vets at the end , the best way for it to work out , but a sad event all the same and something I still write about with some uncertainty , not wanting to impose on private moments .

But , I'm back , and now I should get on with my Christmas preparations . Wrapping to do . The cake to ice .
For the record , this year I made the cake the earliest I have ever done it . And thereafter everything went pear-shaped !

Happy Holidays to you all x

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Jump in the sea why don't you ?

Dec 7th .... 3 degrees celcius , and there are people , men and women , jumping in the north sea . What is the point of this ! Click to enlarge if you dont believe me ...

Saturday, 6 December 2008

This kestrel will enlarge should you wish to look more closely . For some reason my original wouldn't .
He ( She ? also has a mouse or a vole in his grasp , which I also photographed , if anyone wishes to see , though mouse dangling from beak is not the best shot at breakfast time )

Mid Morning Kestrel at King Edward's Bay

And a chilly seagull thrown in for good measure ...

Re .... of Corbridge

Outing to Corbridge yesterday , incliding my first visit to Re , fabulous retro shop . the vegetables in the top view are all candles . The white decorations are all crochet work . The icons ... beyond words . I could have photographed the entire shop . I could write about the entire shop . But you would all be asleep .

Iggy the legendary station cat

.. or not .... Iggy as pictured above has become known as the Tynemouth Station Cat but in fact he belongs ( insofar as a cat ever belongs ) to our next door neighbour Clare . But even in these inclement temperatures when even at the coast we have had great piles of snow and the pc widget has shown minus five degrees celcius , Iggy has been at his post on the passenger benches by the tracks , offering solace and warmth to travellers like myself ( car off the road , brake disc cracked ) who sit down next to him whilst watching for the next train .
At the weekends when the flea market operates at the station Iggy is much in evidence , strolling between his favourite stallholders , spoiled for choice . There are many Iggy-Urban-legends , most of them true . The stallholder travelling thirty odd miles one Saturday to provide him with his tuna and cream even though that day she was not setting up her stall . The time he lost the end of his tail when a taxi rank opened at one end of the station and Iggy and the taxi drivers had not yet fully resolved their Turf Wars . An operation fixed this and he was soon back on duty . The cushions and fleece blankets provided on many of the stalls for his comfort and the signs offering a photo of the buyer with Iggy , proceeds to charity .
We know him best in this house as the boy who sits on our window staring in at our cats , whilst they stare out , and then , at some given signal , all start polishing the windows with their paws in some frenzied silent battle . My sister calls him Fluffles .

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Misunderstandings .......

At the weekend I am up as usual rather early to get the coffee brewing .
There is a lovely morning routine of bathroom tasks ( the first of a series of scoops of cat biscuits for Kitty , who still refuses to come downstairs in protest at a dog having joined the household ... or is it that she is Too Lardy for the stairs , as occasionally she does venture down to petition for more food ) , kitchen tasks which include , on cold days , opening the dishwasher door loudly to give the guinea pigs the opportunity to rise and shine without being embarrassed at caught out still in bed , greeting them with a hearty Good Morning Pigsters as they start up their shouts pretending they were merely tidying their quarters or some such , providing their morning cereal and enjoying the moment as they snuffle the hand and press forwards as if dying to run a marathon across the kitchen floor .
Left to their own devices of course with the door open , they retreat to the safety of what they know and simply look out at the world . A stance with which I can identify , especially on Mondays .

But this is the weekend ...
I set the coffee machine off , three Birman cats in a line on the bench keeping tabs on my progress . Once the water starts pulsing , I head for the cupboard where the Pearl Gourmet pouches are kept in D's neat and tidy Pearl Gourmet dispenser ( ex shoe cleaning rack converted for the purpose and perfectly fit for purpose too ) .
Three Birman cats follow me to the cupboard and two Birman cats enter the cupboard as I close the door . I therefore have to bend twice , once to extract the pouches from the dispenser , annoyingly situated on the floor , and second time to flap the cats out of the cupboard . Occasionally a squawk indicates the timings have misfired and Toby's tail remains in the door .
The third Birman , who does not enter the cupboard , walks in front of me as I proceed to the bench with the pouches and as I lean forwards to collect the plastic bowls which are ( also irritatingly) stored slightly beyond my reach she is happy if I trip over her and we both stumble . Or so it would seem , since it happens most mornings .

But being the Senior Birman and thus slightly favoured , she eats her breakfast downstairs on the bench , whilst the other two take their pouches upstairs , sharing with Kitty , who waits , immobile, at the top of the stairs ,until , as the bowls of food arrive she turns and gallops as fast as her little legs will carry her into the bathroom and to the designated feeding station where she has already seen off the first scoop of biscuits .

It is at this point that I usually re enter the bedroom to see what life exists there . To ascertain the state of play . Weekend . Is D likely to want coffee at this point or should I leave him for another half an hour or so before bringing up the tray ?

The dog is fast asleep at the bottom of the bed , a flattish mound under a tasteful check blanket , resembling a grandmother wrapped for an outing with only the nose pointing out . Greyhounds are the teens of the dog world , preferring to rise at lunchtime or later , if at all possible . Sleep is more important than food , and a warm bed and a blanket spell bliss .

Out of the blue as my back is turned ( I am glancing out of the front elevation windows and watching the station activities at the stall holders set up for the day . There is a flurry of silent activity . ) I hear the dog utter a " wuf " , unusually for her, in her sleep .
She is the master of the long drawn out sigh with just the occasional wuf and occasionally the disparaging "rrrrrrrrr" if she is really tired or disgruntled .

So , the dog says Wuf .
then , I hear D ( also apparently asleep ) say " Oh no , thank you . " very politely and I look round in amazement .
Clearly he thinks I am still in bed and have asked him some searching question .

Really those two don't need me at all .
Except to bring the coffee....

Three Fox Night at Four Am

I may have omitted to admit that Alice has wangled her way upstairs at night . Since the advent of the fireworks at the end of October ready for Guy Fawkes , the frequent bangs , coupled with the colder nights , meant that her excursions to the top of the stairs to shout for assistance and someone to replace her blankets ( " I'm so skinny I'm cold now ") or deal with whichever Cat she felt was giving her dirty looks ( I myself had my Theories about the blankets and how they came to be removed as I am fairly certain from close observation that Alice being a lazy greyhound once asleep does not stir and sleeps like a log for hours on end ) had increased to an intolerable level .
I was tired of trotting down three of four times a night and facing a sleepy dog and a prim looking set of cats , backs turning with a What ? Us ? look about them .

Thus it came about that Alice was permitted upstairs .... and very happy she is with human company and intervention should the cats tease .....

And I confess I much prefer sleeping the night through with just the occasional push of a heavy dog back to the bottom of the bed , and still sufficient room for cats at the top corners . Fortunately we have the biggest bed I have ever seen , and with all that hot water swilling around , the warmest ..... no wonder its always fully occupied .

Four am .

The household is sleeping . Last night's hailstones have melted and there is no heavy night frost .
I wake with a start as Alice bounces to life , hopping in front of the window , strangely as it is marginally too high for her to see out of .
D leaps out of bed . Outside , on the wall beyond which is the railway line , stands a big fox , and on the ground two further foxes , one younger and smaller in appearance . They pace up and down the avenue as we watch . It is too dark outside for photographs . Alice is on tenterhooks , still bouncing , desperate to get out , yet she can see nothing , because of the height of the windows . Is it that she can smell them , or hear them , through our double glazed windows ?

She shows no interest , ever , in passing people , cats , or dogs . yet the foxes intrigue her .
Mystery .
And greyhounds are sighthounds surely , not dogs which rely on scent , or hearing ?

Migraine Days

Migraine Days

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

art on a sunday

art on a sunday