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

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Cats , Burials , Pigeon Babies and a Walled Garden

I slept in today .

Coffee was not brewing until seven am . I read Pat Conroy for fifteen minutes from six forty five and watched the sleeping form of D .
He looks Angelic .
Alice was under my dressing gown , sighing heavily at the pillow end , clearly hoping like me that if we stared and sighed hard enough he would go and she would be able to hang onto the gown-as-blanket ( makes a change from Blanket-as-Name which we have become accustomed to from the death of Michael Jackson news . Why are all his children called much the same name ? Why is his female child given a male name too ? It beats me as my Grandma would have said ) .

No such luck ...... he slept on , and at seven , up I got and brewed up , though I did leave Alice the blanket . Who needs a dressing gown in these soaring temperatures when its so hot I have to sleep on top of the bed ( at the foot end ) and with a fan blasting most nights .

D did however have grand plans of his own , and disappeared to prepare Alice s breakfast and then back to bed with his own second coffee etc . But an early alert requesting assistance to take a carless neighbour on a mercy mission to the vet s in a nearby town put a stop to all that . After some brief negociations he realises things are serious and the poor old cat is probably on his last journey . Indeed he is later assisting at the burial .

We take ourselves off to the country for solace and coffee and discover a new walled garden concealing a splendid coffee shop .

Everything is cream , palest green and dairy . A large poster informs that we are near Hartburn , where I once stayed many years ago and we set out in search of the house .

And there it is , beyond the churchyard , through a little gate , overgrown now with bushes and trees . I try to take photographs , wondering how closely I resemble a burglar should anyone be watching .

The woman delivering leaflets or church magazines seems unperturbed by my curiosity though and calls a friendly hello .
A man who has parked next to me asks if the silver bracelet on the ground is mine ... it seems if I am up to no good I am dropping clues all over the place .
I peer in past the car parked through the gates and wonder if the croquet lawn is still functional , recalling our summer time there . Today is overcast and damp , a fog hanging over the graves .
The back of the house which I remembered opening into an old fashioned courtyard with high walls has been opened out (below).
Gratifying that in some thirty years the front of the house has not changed one iota .

Another pigeon baby has landed in Deb's garden . After three hourly feeding sessions and valiant attempts to keep her four legged Fiends ( the furry purring variety ) at bay she finally called in a rescue organisation and the pigeon baby , named Scrimshaw , has been removed to Sanctuary . They continue to care for Squiblets ( a larger baby pigeon who landed last weekend ) who is big enough to be ignored by the cats and has the advantage of being beak fed by an adult pigeon to boot .

What Larks !

Friday, 26 June 2009

This Week

What a week .

Sunday : Alice enjoys blocking the doorway in Lui s whilst we have Father's Day breakfast . Most of the punters take this in their stride , accustomed at they are to the dog friendly policy and many stop to greet her and offer her a friendly word and pat but eventually she is asked to shift along by one of the waiters who is disgruntled with her complete inertia and unwillingness to so much as draw in a paw as he passes . I can sympathise , feeling much the same at home as I pass carrying a plate or a load of washing and having to step over her whilst she lies in state .

We feel chastened ( slightly ) and attempt to co operate , pushing her into place but we are largely unsuccesful . I for one slightly relish the feeling of being an Awkward Customer . Having always had a perfectly behaved and well socialised child here I have a dog who thumbs its nose at the world and its rules and here I am wondering if the irritable waiter has simply had a bad pint as generally everyone in Lui s emulates Alice and so far as I can see all dogs and children ( not , I should add necessarily in that order . )

The rest of the day is spent logged onto the soothing , - More chickens than you can shake a webcam at! Web cam hen-terta much needed for my sanity .
The low level cluckings restore my equilibrium as I read an extensive court bundle which takes up seven and a half hours of a scorching Sunday . At one point I leave the floor and take a break sorting some laundry upstairs . From the stairwell I hear an outbreak of squawking and flapping and D calls out in a rare fit of irritation .( It would be unfitting of me to suggest that he sounds not unlike a broody hen himself at this juncture. And besides he reads this occasionally . I shall therefore keep my counsel . ) He is not a fan of Hencam . Neither I should add is Nat , and her irritation increases as the day goes on and I find myself inexplicably imitating the hens . When I describe and demonstrate this later in the week to my friend Debbie she concurs that this would not sit well with her either .

Neither it would seem is Toby ( a fan of Hencam ) , our Boy Birman, who is not the bravest and wakes up to hear the commotion Too Close for comfort and coming from the silver box near his left ear . He is Aghast .

Though tries hard to maintain his composure .
Monday involves much dashing about attempting to fix the car .
A nippy courtesy car is provided by D's garage for me , as my mobile mechanic is not available .
I continue to read court bundles , which arrive at the office at a rate of knots .
I feed cats , trying to help them decide whether they want to be in or out as the heavens open and as I wrote notes informing their family that they are in , they decide to go out . Then as I change the note , one wants to be in and one out . then they want to change their minds again . Nightmare . How I love my CatCalling . I try to predict whether the rainstorm will let up and when in fact the family will return ?
I return home and read on .
I am engrossed in finishing Human Traces by Sebastian Faulkes when I am not reading for the Day Job and suddenly , it is done . Over ! I hate the end of such a huge impressive book . Now what .
5am Tuesday I am staring into space . No cats to feed this morning except my own and now no book to read .
I stare at my pile ..... I try Beach Music by Pat Conroy and within minutes am engrossed in this amazing tome .
A morning at the Day Job and assessments and I am collecting my car and paying a hefty bill and preparing myself for a court appearance the following day .
Wednesday passes in a haze of barristers , judges and so forth .
I arrive home to find Pearl our senior Birman Missing and the house in Uproar . D and the Dog are patrolling the streets . As are several of the neighbours . I fear for D and the possibility of nervous collapse as it transpires he has temporarily taken his eye off the ball and left the back door open without noting where P is situated . We all do it . Three of our cats safely go into the back yard and potter safely . They scratch about out there like hens whilst the pigsters are in their outdoor run . D himself is in and out hobbying with his plants and flowers and tomatoes and cucumbers ( he has two ) and so forth . Pearl is generally asleep but occasionally she likes to nip out and then she beetles off , straight over the wall and into the lane where she is in danger ( in our opinion ) due to her complete deafness .
I am fired with adrenalin after my day and itching to talk but we must find Pearl . Alice has picked up D s tension and is dancing about like a mad thing . Clare from next door reports a sighting of Pearl on a roof top . I go into the back and three neighbours are lined up shielding their eyes and looking skywards . I think fleetingly of my camera . Pearl is a distant figure , squeaking plaintively . I instruct D that he may need to go over the walls to get her , rather than trying to find out which house the roof belongs to .
She is soon recovered and produces a small wee on the upstairs landing carpet by way of gratitude for the rescue .
D and Alice begin to settle .
Tursday is delightful peaceful by contrast .
And now Friday , the breaking news that Michael Jackson is dead . What are we to make of that ?

Sunday, 21 June 2009

We're all voyeurs at heart ?

And for those of you who like me would just love to have your very own hen coop complete with nesting boxes and soothing clucking hens making delightful noises around the farmyard , squabbling over worms and weeds and other carefully considered trifles , thanks to a link brought to my attention from D I bring you - More chickens than you can shake a webcam at! Web cam hen-terta. Discovered early yesterday morning I logged on not expecting much and found live streaming and oh bliss , what sounded like a family party entering the hen house with a pile of goodies for the hens complete with wonderful accents reminiscent of my brilliant sister in law Mandy ( still with us in spirit though no longer in person ) .Children were explaining to other children hot to exit the hen house without hens nipping past .. and in the background that grand noise .

I listened in for a while and left myself logged in while real life took over . Our plan to take off to a Goose Fair ( Ovingham ) was taking shape . As I put the finishing touches to my outfit upstairs I heard the most amazing clamour from the sitting room and heard D complaining bitterly about "the racket from these **** hens " . Alice was staring in alarm at the laptop , huddled under the cushion on the sofa . Only Deaf old Pearl the senior Birman was oblivious , parked up right next to the computer for warmth .

The Goose Fair would have been a delight too , had it not been for the tipping rain , and the fact that the car broke down fairly majorly on the way home , necessitating a callout ( again ) to the AA who quipped about my wheel trims and my " clipping the kerbs " ( haha very funny as if ? ) . I appear to have only manual brakes now , the ABS having malfunctioned and the car cant be driven pending .

I have been musing since Thursday on the goverment scrappage scheme and looking at these silly little new "green" cars ( ecenomical on fuel and kind to the environment , hollow laugh ) . That will teach me . My sister texted me " the silly green car is closer than you think " as we sat waiting for the breakdown man , in wringing wet clothes , the dog steaming , and Nat having a mini rant about us getting a poper car that didnt keep breaking down .

It was all good humoured though and nothing could dampen our spirits after an afternoon watching Morris dancers in the rain , eating "Singing Hinnies " , chips with gravy , and fizzy sweets .

That hot shower and the Indian takeaway : such banal pleasures .
All quiet on the Hencam front today . But yesterday was fizzing . I guess every day is different .

Saturday, 20 June 2009

How many men does it take ?

To put up a trampoline after a four year olds birthday party before the rain arrives ?
And how many exhausted greyhounds ?
And how many advisers ?

Thursday, 18 June 2009

I'm CatCalling again in earnest and with some new families some of them understandably less sure of me initially than others as they leave their precious charges with me for the first time .
One man hit the nail on the head as he rang me to check a few final details on the eve of departure and said " I expect the cats will show you " and he was dead right ....
In a familiar household where I have a routine I find the visit goes like clockwork . I know exactly where the key is in my bag , how it turns in the front door , how the cats will approach ( or not ! ) to say hello , or where I will find them . Whether they will present as a large purring creature on an armchair craning the neck as I come through the door or a silent lump in the bed with a do -not -disturb notice attached .
Either way I try to cater to their whims , allowing for the curious bods who like to show me around and run a step in front of me everywhere , tripping me up at every turn . (I am well accustomed to this as our own Kitty has this tendency on a good day . On a bad she will cut off your retreat with body blows and sharp nips . Last night she slapped poor Toby's face on the stairs . His only crime that of being a big posh gentle Birman boy as far as we could see . )

On a new assignment everything moves more slowly . I am more tentative and careful about everything , unsure of where things are , how the key works , how the door sounds , where the creaks and groans are in the house . I glance about me trying to get a feel of everything , who the family are , how they like things to be done , how the cats are , what they like , their personalities and how much attention they want .

And today it was right about the cats showing me . Had I forgotten the various instructions ( I had not ! ) , eg to put the two indoor cats bowls down at exactly the same moment , the black cat did indeed push the bigger but gentler grey tabby to one side . And despite my doing just that , pushing and shoving ensued anyway , as I made the mistake of offering different flavours and of course they both wanted the one flavour . Just like toddlers ! Next time I will know better .
Remembering to give the leftover catfood to the birds on the decking was easy , as a collection of hopping and shouting feathered friends gave the game away . Remembering not to slip ... well that one will be easier this evening ! Once bitten twice shy !
The outdoor cat was nowhere to be seen this morning but I had no worries as his food had gone overnight and I had spied him in the garden yesterday at tea time .
And of course .. the litter tray , "they never use it" , famous last words , who says they don't ! Somebody did !
Cats , don't you just love them .

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The Dangers of Self Diagnosis

Yesterday morning saw me up and dressed by seven thirty and in Borders bookshop and drinking coffee and reading three books ( not simultaneously ) in Starbucks by ten or therabouts . My treat after a stressful week and a celebration of the no headache fact . The books were carefully chosen , one about the m word , one about thyroid problems and the third a how to live with teens book written as a joky story by a parent .

Oh the dangers of self diagnosis . I was fairly sure in my analysis that I had an underactive thyroid . It all fitted , my freezing cold hands on the hottest of days , my tendency to fall fast asleep at six pm not waking till six am if given half a chance , my hoarse voice ( ok maybe I imagined that one having read the symptom on Google ) , the headaches ( no mention of migraines but I ignored that ) . I glossed over the symtoms that didnt quite fit , as you do , the " expressionless face " ( well maybe I have that and hadn't noticed and its hardly something people will point out ) , the dry skin , the acne , the menstrual cramping , the constipation , the hair falling out ( there was a chunk in the shower drain the other day just before we went on holiday and my hair does feel quite thin ? ) the excema , the weight gain . Anyway the list goes on ....

But , there you go , when I spoke to the GP on Friday she kindly informed me that contrary to my own view , science had proved that my thyroid is working just fine and the real problem ( if you can call it that ), is that my body is doing just what it should and I am in fact menopausing as we speak .

Well , I was flabbergasted .

Having been informed by my good sister ( who is very knowledgeable on all such matters ) that I was in the perimenpause long since , at which I blew a loud dismissive raspberry , I have been apparently In Denial that I too am going to menopause like every other woman in the land who reaches a certain age . But not yet .. I say .
I have surely only just grown up last week .
That's as may be but here we are and the evidence is catalogued in the lab . My blood sample has given me away .

Having got over my shock I am now feeling quite excited . The sooner it starts in earnest the sooner it ends and along with it these migraines ? And as I have no other symptoms to speak of I should be glad , notwithstanding my rather inadequate memory and my general irritations with everyone except myself ( and including myself some days ) .

I should add that besides bringing these glad tidings the GP did make several other useful suggestions , including the news that she and her colleagues have unearthed another neurologist in the region and I am now headed in his/her direction , and we shall then seek a gynaecology opinion as to whether a hysterectomy would be of any assistance to my plight . Any advice / knowledge from readers gratefully received .

Its all a far cry from cat yodelling !

Friday, 12 June 2009

Cat Yodelling

I must draw your attention to Sillyak's blog and in particular today to his post on Cat Yodelling . He doesn't post every day so I tend to have a catch up read once a week . When I initially discovered his blog I went back to the beginning and read what I think of as " his fascinating childhood posts ". I love rading backwards and given my Day Job which involves a level of backwards delving its inevitable that I would enjoy all that . But all I can say about cat yodelling is it made me squeal with laughter .
I know without a shadow of a doubt that you wouldn't try it in my house . Heavy Duty Bandages and Iodine would be required . And probably rightly so . My cats are treated with the utmost respect , like the demi -gods they believe themselves to be , and Alice the skinny greyhound curls her nose and turns away in disgust when she wintnesses us interacting with them . It is almost beyond her to watch . Occasionally her head burrows under the nearest cushion in facilitation of such avoidance . The cats meanwhile glance in her direction as they prance and preeen .
But as I watch Cat Yodelling Silliyak: Cat Yodeling 1A it is one of the funniest things I have seen since Bettejo posted Simon's cat some time ago YouTube - Simon's Cat 'Cat Man Do'. So if youre in the mood for some cat laughs ....

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Not looking for a Miracle or anything ?

I am forever devising new systems for recording my health / wellness as opposed to my migraines and illness . I started making in highlighter pen in my handbag diary the days I didnt have a headache rather than the days I did . felt a more positive approach somehow to record something good rather than something bad .

Last week I was delighted to have five days clear of headaches and terrific that was too .

This week however , after an excellent weekend , and a good Monday , something set me off around four pm on Monday and I was in bed almost as I came in from the Day Job , working on Tuesday , retiring at five thirty , and finally presenting a training session at work on Wednesday though a clashing head . Having decided at the end of last week that things needed to change , I saw my GP who suggested blood tests and Tuesday evening brought a letter from her asking me to contact her to discuss the results . Sounds ominous as we had already agreed that I would ring her on Friday to plan the next step once the results were in . I'm assuming the tests have thrown up something , and as usual , feel highly optimistic ! ( I should find out on Friday )

At last ! Something has shown up which will be simple and fixable ! It will be a minor imbalance which has been building up for some time , undetectable until now , and now its been picked up , there will be a simple treatment which will almost immediately make me feel ninety per cent better .
Soon I will be up until midnight like I used to be .
Contributing to the fullest extent at work the way I wish I could every day rather than once in a while , the way I did a few years back .
Staying awake past six o clock .
Having the enrgy to do all the things with N that she wants me to do .
Feeling alive again .
Waking the dog every day like I used to .
Not looking for a miracle or anything am I ?

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Trapped Cat Food

Regular followers of the blog will know that Trapped Wind has been an issue of late .

Alice the not so skinny greyhound however ( not ,latterly, the main sufferer ) disappeared upstairs this afternoon and many scraffling and ferreting noises were heard . When she failed to reappear I went in search and was amazed to find her located to the side of rather than on top of the ( hot ) water bed and with her front legs ( arms ) round a large floor cushion , a pained expression on her face . She appeared happy enough and refused to accompany me back to rejoin family life ( drinking coffee and eating a batch of Rocky Path , a faulty version of Rocky Road made with substandard marchmallows which refused to stick together ) .

Hmm said D , I can tell you what's up with her , Cat Food , thats what ...

Trapped Cat Food , in fact . Causing tummy pains .

She gets it most days , when Kitty doesnt get there quick enough .

Mind you Kitty looks like she's surviving just fine .

Holidays ? No Thanks !

D , being a tidy soul , took N's suitcase from her room this morning ready to place back in storage and left it on the attic stairs for a while in transit .

Alice , spying it there , got the wrong idea , and climbed onto the bed and produced a series of escalating howls .

Ok Alice , we get the picture . You love Auntie Laura taking care of you , but would quite like us to stay at home for a while longer before our next trip .

Saturday, 6 June 2009

TS Eliot

One of those blissful moments last night when , for reasons best known to myself , I was settling down , ten minutes after time , to switch on Big Brother , ( Big Brother , please , why ? I really do not watch this monstrosity these days ) .
But right on or rather after cue , there I was , fiddling with the remote controls , wondering if this was the day the Freeview box would , as it has been threatening for weeks , blow up once and for all .

And , into the mix , a text from my sister , am I watching the programme on TS Eliot ? I stare at the text in disbelief . TS Eliot ?
TS Eiot ? On our tv screens ? Those screens which show nothing but trash to the extent that I rarely peruse the guides these days ..... TS Eliot whose poems like most other sixteen year olds born in the late fifties I used to be able to quote to my great satisfaction and at some length .

I scrabble for the tv guide and start fiddling with the remotes , this time begging the box not to give up the ghost ... and here we are , a young man is quoting just like I used to do and an old man is walking the streets of Paris and there is architechture and there are voices and rain and poems by ee cummings and I am almost there and almost back at my desk with my friends and almost back walking by the Seine in March of whatever year it was when I was fifteen and ..
.. and hey , I am spared Big Brother and it was really that simple .

How I adore TS Eliot .
Who doesn't ?

Friday, 5 June 2009

Trapped Wind

Notwithstanding the recent flights disaster and with scant regard for my nerves , the teenage ( 15) daughter is heading off on a flight to Belfast to attend a fiftieth party this weekend ( one of her favourite uncles ) , necessitating yet another early departure from school ( what will her final exam results be and will it all be my fault ? ) .

Shortly before the scheduled preparture time I receive an unexpected text ( most unexpected as her mobile phone was lost from her trouser pocket earlier this week ) , however she seems to have acquired another , stating that she has Trapped Wind with unfortunate consequences but luckily she is dealing with them in the bathroom . ( not quite her choice of language . )

I shudder to think . Any passengers of nervous disposition are likely to be buffeted rather more than is usual on the Newcastle to Belfast route this wet and ( now ) windy Friday . Good luck to them I say .

Let's hope she doesn't read this or my feet wont be touching the ground either ...

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

A camel and six pools .. and glad to be alive

I note from reading my last blog post that I was worried about the possibility of not being able to take my flight out to the Canaries ... No problem ! We made it and I had a migraine free ( almost ) week and the odd headache I did have was without doubt caused by my own folly ; a rare decision to cast caution to the wind and indulge in nightly cocktails and other assorted alcohol , something I have avoided for many a long year due to the various medications etc . And well worth it it was too . Indeed without the light hangover I suffered the day after the worst of my excesses I would not have managed the roller coaster coach ride to the top of the live volcanic crater which involved the coach in an alarming spin around a mountain top road overhanging an edge into a steep drop .
Whilst my stomach made the appropriate lurches I was still too giddy and " far -out " to be my usual wimpy self which would have necessitated me leaping from the coach and insisting on walking home tail between legs , thinking " it seemed like a good idea at the time to hire a car and go sight seeing " . However as it was I simply thought , why did I ever think giving up alcohol was such a good thing ? Followed by Oops .... hope this coach driver knows what he is doing ... perhaps I won't look again .

Cocktails , sunshine , breezes , swimming pools , entertainment ( I can tell you about Titti Trollop's fabulous drag show if anyone is interested , with pics , though don't wish to offend anyone ) , boat trips , speed boats , a wonderful hotel which threatened to lull us all into an amazing instititionalisation with an adult programme run by handsome young people from mid morning till late ( water polo , bingo , bring it on .... ! )
And then ... the flight back ... a late night business and no obvious problems . But the following day without fail, headaches here I come , and by the end of the following night I was vomiting and migraining for England , hence the delay in blogging .
At one point the noise in the house with the windows open in the heatwave was just too much to bear and I have a vague recollection of a moment of sheer madness when in tears I attempted to crawl into the roof space in the attic where it is cool and dark . ( And the storage space measures only a few inches across ..... not a good situation )
Our doctors suggested admission to hospital but for the first time ever I simply refused to go and asked to be treated at home . I could not bear the journey , the bright lights , the wait , and the repeated questionning by different personnel , the puking in public . They responded admirably and sent out a lovely doctor within an hour , who stuck a big nasty needle of stemetil into my leg and sent me off to sleep and gave me a prescription for oral morphine for the next day ( not needed ) .
I heard the news of the flight lost between Brazil and Paris in a haze of misery and only today feel back to full functioning , truly glad to be alive , no headache , no pain , no sickness . The thought of those lost souls and what happened to them and whether they were asleep when whatever happened ?

Migraine Days

Migraine Days

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

art on a sunday

art on a sunday