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

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Excitement .. Lindow Man

Lindow Man is at the Great North Museum , currently "on loan" from the British Museum Lindow Man: Body of Evidence - What's on - Great North Museum • Tyne & Wear Mu. from Saturday this week . I want to pop in immediately such is my excitement but remember that I will be picking Nat up from her latest camping trip out in the wilds ( the farm). I start a holiday Things to Do List ( I am turning into my sister) with Lindow Man at the top and a gap before Clear out Car and Clear out Sitting Rooms and try to ignore the fact that if they were higher on the list I would not indeed be arranging Excursions to Lindow Man or anywhere . It is after all not as if I have a year off , just three weeks .
Car clearing out is less crucial perhaps then sitting rooms . The carpets are due to arrive the second week in August which is the first week of my holiday . And in my experience carpets cannot usually be laid without old ones being lifted and removed which usually involves the removal also of furniture and other assorted debris from room. Hm.
As regards car , new car has been ordered , after much prevarication and staring into space and dreaming about Fiat 500s and concluding that though zooming across the piazza in a truncated helicopter sans chopper is the thing in Italy , in Tyneside , especially for the fifty something woman with tall greyhound, this is actually a step too far . So , a nice little C1 is on its way , allegedly , though I have yet to see any paperwork , but new cars being like gold dust and very hard for anyone to obtain it could be weeks before my old car boot will need clearing . One thing for sure ... haha , the contents will not fit into the new one ! In fact , debatable whether any of us will fit into the new one. But at least we will be Green and we will pay £35 per year road tax and the insurance costs will be very low and that orange engine management light will not be on as I drive up the A19 ( some assumptive thinking going on here but that never hurt ) and Best of All , Nat will be able to plug in her Ipod to the dashboard and fight with me about who gets to listen to what music . And fight she will since for the first time in my life I will be looking at the CD player and thinking Wow , look at that ... and then , hang on .. I dont have any CD s to play on it . So maybe as usual she will win after all ?

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Tragedy and Disaster

Last night as we drove home from yes yet another car dealership we drove along the sea front at Whitley Bay . The roar of the police and then air sea rescue helicopters caught our attention and the promenade was strung out with people gazing out to sea as the helicopters hovered over the waves . As we drove slowly along we could sea the lifeboat arriving and a series of jet-skis appearing from all directions . The helicopters looked like they were searching for something rather than rescuing .
Within an hour my sister and I were walking the dog round the headland and as we approached the sea front at Tynemouth the helicopter was still out , searching . Two young men in green jackets told us a swimmer was missing but the helicopter search was about to be called off " One has been rescused but we dont think the other one is coming back now " . BBC NEWS England Tyne Search for swimmer missing at sea
This morning the news is that the body of the second swimmer has been washed ashore .

The second story of the day is of a rescue at Holy Island . A car has attempted the crossing after it is no longer safe to do so . BBC NEWS England Tyne Tidal tourists mystify islanders. How scary to be stranded like this ?

Friday, 24 July 2009


... thanks to Auntie Laura's rescue hens , and now she has two new Rhode Island chicks brought home from school in a shoe box after some negotiation between herself and Mr Porteous who one assumes manages the school farm . I haven't yet seen the new babies but have heard delightful descriptions of them backing away in horror from a butterfly and cheeping happily in the old guinea pig quarters where they will stay until they reach sufficient majority to withstand the pressures of life with the Big Girls , and can be moved in with Joan and Co .

Meanwhile life continue here . The washing machine started smoking last night , as Pearl sat contentedly in front of it breathing in the smoke and ignoring the vibrations . Her deafness must be an asset at times .

I continue to email my friend on an hourly basis as we compare the merits of the various little green cars , with nothing much happening on that front . I feel sad saying goodbye to my old car is the problem . It has seen me through five years with many changes . The end of an era . I need to move on , but .... while that orange light is not flashing I am hanging on .

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Silly Green Car ..Getting Closer ?

After a splendid morning sitting with a large friendly cat on my lap whilst I read the Saturday Times Magazine and she purred and we watched the rain and tried to BirdSpot ( too wet ) , followed by coffee and cheese scones en famille at Kirkharle courtyard gallery Kirkharle Courtyard, Kirkharle, Northumberland, Creative Arts Centre plus Coff I hurtled home in my recently -repaired -by -the AA ( another faulty coil pack ) -car with plans to do a bit of this and that in prep for the Day Job ( strictly against my principles but sometimes needs must ) and when its pouring with rain and the dog wont play out , well whats the harm?
And , suddenly , there on the panel that orange light is on again and I pull in to the Silverlink shopping outlet and the whole world is there trying to park . I smell burning and fear I am overheating and try to park but there are no spaces and no where indeed to pull over safely so finally I stop where I can , in the aisle between spaces where I can , put on my flashers , open the bonnet ( to see if I am on Fire ) and get back into the car to call the AA .
The traffic is wall to wall and even without me tempers are frayed but really I have few choices . It should be fairly apparent that I have not merely stopped to brush my hair or read a magazine or call my auntie in Brighton . But despite the fact that I am either on the phone , under the bonnet or scrutinising my car manual , I am not popular and there are men rolling down their windows and shouting insults and offering advice ( though it is not the sort of advice suitable for a cat minding blog , really ) . The women confine themselves to shaking their heads in disdain at me .
When I suggest calmly that we might all be in a lot more trouble if my engine blows up , they look ready to explode themselves . Indeed it is the fact that I have no choice that keeps me calmand at times fairly amused . I am causing no danger , and I really cannot go anywhere , as the AA man himself confirms upon arrival , parking up his massive truck and causing even further obstruction and asking me " Really , can't some people drive round things ? What is the problem here ? "
I am safely home now , as is the car , but the orange light is still blazing . The fault is still showing , though undiagnosed , the AA man not having the requisite Diagnostic Equipment ( Tomorrow they will return if I call them back ... ) and I am thinking , that much vaunted Silly Green Car that I dont really want but Nat thinks I should have is coming ever closer and my eight year old not so trusty big car has maybe had its day .
How will we fold Alice's long spindly legs into the back of a tiny mini type car though ? I wonder how the garage will feel about a greyhound test drive ?

Friday, 17 July 2009

The Plinth

Despite an early application to apear on the Plinth in Trafalgar Square I have not yet been awarded a place .
One & Other
It has only just occurred to me today that I can log into the live stream from One and Other . This is even more entertaining than Hencam though so far I have only had time to watch for around three minutes , today being a particularly busy day at the CatCalls HQ . In fact having seen the height of the Plinth I am wondering if I would have dared submit myself to the terrors of being winched up there presumably by cherrypicker , and once there , there is the question of " the performance " and what constitutes Art . However , I will concern myself with that aspect if I am allocated an hour in September or October .

Today we have been deluged with rain .
Alice has refused yet again to attend to her ablutions and is currently hunched over herself groaning slightly due to tummy pains and bloating from " witholding " like a toddler glaring at his or her potty . Only in Alice's case it is the weather she is refusing . D has run back and forwards along the grass with a golf umbrella blowing inside and tugging Alice along by her collar whilst I guffaw supportively from indoors with the camera at the ready . After two or three minutes she breaks free as he lets go the collar thinking she is about to do business , but the only business she means hurtling back for the door and dry cleaning herself on the white sofa before settling down for the day , rain watching from the comfort of the cushions . " Alice " I hear him scream " You need a wee " Alice is pressed against the front door , begging to differ and when a dog says no , there is really nothing you can do .
Ah well , such is life .

All of which leads me to conclude that it really is not safe to order the beautiful shade of carpet we want in palest barley .....

I head for town thus on the metro , the hefty colour spectrum whatsit under my arm and wrapped in a binliner thing due to the still driving rain . I choose the metro due to the weather reports that flooding threatens to close the main road between here and town .

Today I am determined to set out my stall as regards the carpet business . No more talk of pet indiscretions , I shall spell out the problems and see where we get . I hope to close the deal and order some carpet , spurred on by a chat with a helpful friend this morning who suggests carpet tiling may be the answer , " lets face it" she says with her usual candour , "if the dog decides to wipe its backside on the one in front of the tv you can always run it under the tap and replace it with the one that was under the sofa " . Hmm I think , got it in one .
I smile inanely most of the metro ride thinking carpet tile thoughts , and am sucked into the veritable wind tunnel that is Pink Lane . My feet are clad in FitFlops and the water running in streams down the lane is up to my ankles .
But , as I outline my anxieties , the carpet ladies are wonderful and come up with the perfect solution and I leave forty five minutes later and head for Cafe Royal to celebrate with a latte and a ricotta muffin , at which point discovering I have left my mobile phone at home .
This becomes significant an hour later when the metro announces that it is terminating due to floods and we are all expelled onto the streets . I am stranded and cannot get home by any other means . A member of staff at the Travel Centre agrees to ring D for me and he manages to avoid the floods and find a route to collect me . I am a drowned rat , clutching my carpet samples , and Alice is still hunching over her by now doubtless impacted bowel .
Oh happy Days ....

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Is it just me or .... 101 uses for a woman ?

Is it just me or are the 101 uses for a woman 101 uses for a woman - Times Online not quite as funny as last week's 101 uses for a man 101 uses for a man - Times Online. Though I did quite like number 94 .

But I wondered ( obviously ) if its just a gender thing and if the men are chortling for England ( or wherever) as they read "woman " today as I did as I recognised some aspects of most of the men I knew in there somewhere ( pointing and shouting , what bliss ) .

Whatever next ?
101 uses for a cat ....or a not so skinny greyhound when its pouring with rain ? One thing for sure , she certainly can cross those legs for hours rather than open the floodgates in a downpour , and would rather stand in said downpour and refuse for ten minutes simply to make her point . This I know for sure and my umbrella has disintegrated to prove my point .

Oh , and another thing ... ebay is brilliant . I sold my sewing machine . There's really nothing to it .

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Hens can Fly

While the boys dig for worms and the teens do camping in the fields , we teach Joan and her entourage about Jumping for Dandelions . Hens are so soothing .

Is yours a Bottom Feed ?

Selling things on ebay is harder than you ( or rather I ) think ...
For a few days , nothing happens . And with my short attention span - so short in fact that yesterday Nat asks me to drop her at her friends in a few minutes time and whilst she goes up to collect her bag I have forgotton and start to boil myself two of Auntie Laura's hens' lovely eggs for my breakfast , and Nat comes back down , sits down , looks at me and says , ok , right then , we can go later . And doesnt point out that it was me who asked her to get off to her friends earlier so that they would be back quicker and we could all get off to for the camping trip quicker ( so I could get back in time for the evening round of CatCalls ... one cat , but still ... one odesnt like to keep a cat waiting )
So , it is with some surprise that I read an e mail asking me " is it still working " .
Working ? I think ? Is what working and it takes a few minutes for the penny to drop .
But it gets worse .
A day later the questions become more insistent and altogether more complex . Beyond me , in fact .
" Is your bottom feed a reel or a shuttle ? "
I confess I looked at that one for a couple of minutes , shut it down , re opened .
No , it was still there .
I read it out to D . And as men do , on occasion , despite knowing as little as I do about bottom feeds , he tried to problem solve .
" Is it worth taking it apart and looking at the bottom feed and seeing if its a reel or a shuttle "
I gave him what I hoped he would recognise as a withering look .
" Thats a bit like saying " Shall I lift your bonnet and we will see if your bottom feed is a shuttle or a reel " I say . Neither of us would have a clue what we are looking for . We could be there all day . Frankly I'd rather not . "
He retreats with a slightly pained expression and googles Bottom Feed ( I expect ) .
Meanwhile I reflect back to the last time I used a sewing machine , to make several pairs of curtains in a Laura Ashley fabric , when I recall using Laura's electric sewing machine . I distinctly recall a loud bang and a blue flash and the power pack parting company from the machine but I cant remember where I went wrong . Laura was an excellent sewer . She was also very patient . I was neither .
I email her asking about Bottom Feeds and she sends a little email back explaining . Soon all is clear . It is that thing I would call the spool . So simple . Bottom Feed indeed .

Saturday, 11 July 2009

After a heavy day yesterday ( out visiting and no time for extended sleeping ) followed by a long walk in the heat of the morning , with further irritations in the shape of the gathering crowds in the village all wanting to make a fuss of the rescue greyhound looking so hot and forlorn , Alice is in no mood for anything but getting home and back to her Bonio and Bed .

As we cross the road an exuberant woman of a certain age scoops up an ebullient looking if somewhat overweight chihuaua with bulging eyes , clutching him to her bosom and shouting in a jolly Geordie accent " Better pick him up in case He thinks he's a Rabbit " .

This takes me a while to decipher but when I do I burst out laughing . The very idea that Alice would chase anything , but anything , on such a day as this . She glances at me and slouches on with her lolloping gait . We arrive home and she parks up on the wood floor in the doorway , too hot to make it to the first floor .

Thursday, 9 July 2009

101 Uses for a Man ?

Men are so amazing ...... indeed I have a few additions to the 101 uses for a man listed in the Times this morning which made me laugh out loud . I'm thinking secifically of points 29 and 32 here though I'm sure others will tickle your fancy . 101 uses for a man - Times Online .
Only last week D had offered to change his lifelong subscription to The Times in favour of the daily newspaper of my choice after more carping from me about political bias , and now here I am , once again Hoist by my own Petard and posting from Times Online .

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Ms CatCalls Grapples with Ebay ...

... any takers for an old treadle sewing machine complete with Dust and Dangling threads . In good working order .... damaged veneer.
Let Buyer Beware .

Right , having practised here , lets tackle ebay ....

Toby struggles with the colour wheel

....and before too long Alice joins in . Neither of them are as confused as I am .
Yesterday was stiflingly hot , not a breath of air .
I spend the morning juggling CatCalls , catching up at the DayJob , and then , as two pm beckons , we can no longer postpone the moment when we must enter the world of the carpet swatches . Buzzing insistently at the back of my mind since early Spring when the bright sunshine shows the harsh stains in sharp relief ( there are around fifteen puddle -pools which cannot be disguised), and scheduled for last weekend but balked at the the last minute , it cannot be shirked again .
We head for town and the empire of the two ladies . Twins who have fixed us up on many occasions in the past , they listen , they assess, they show and they move you through the world of the carpet as quickly as is humanely possible . They sense when a customer wishes to be elsewhere . Thus we are leaving with an appointment for measuring in two days and a large wheel of colours and some loose carpet squares tucked under our arms . The relief is palpable .
When we speak to Lady One of Pet Indiscretions they share their own experience the previous evening of High Jinks with their two dogs and a spilled can of coke on their own carpet .
We receive some useful advice , involving cold water ,hot water will set the stain , and standing on the stain with a tea towel ( never hot water and never
rubbing in circles as this removes the twist of the pile. Apparently . So these are the ways in which we have been Going Wrong . Besides having a nervous greyhound with separation anxiety that is ....Who no doubt will redevelop it once the carpet is refitted . )
I stare later at the wheels of colour long after the light has faded , in a rainstorm , and flip between this and that .
Later in my dreams I am visiting the house of a stranger and note that they have a blue carpet with a pale yellow and cream wall . ( Perhaps this is thus possible in the room that has become D s office ? Though I had thought I had settled on a neutral for both rooms ..... ) Oh , who cares ? Who indeed ?

Friday, 3 July 2009

Me and Ms BowTie

The key works its magic smoothly this afternoon as I step into the pristine hallway and I slip my FitFlops off on the coir matting as I come in out of the storm not wanting to leave a wet footprint on the off white carpet as I proceed . Ms Bow Tie is sitting quizzically in the inner hall watching me and she greets me rather more effusively than usual . Hello ? I say to her and look for her pal who is nowhere to be seen . As I peek round doors noting the absence of ginger hairs I realise that there is a distinct absence of Ms GingerNut ( the only female ginger cat I have ever met , and large enough to be a tomcat at that ) ... Where's Ginge then ? I ask and Ms BT tilts her head to one side and points in the direction of the kitchen . We head in there but alas she is merely hinting that a food bowl needs washing and replenishing and thereafter a Full Search can properly be mounted .
I note the absence too of a litter tray and wonder if Mr has left in a rush , which has been known . My heart misses a beat as I note the car in the drive , perhaps he is still in situ upstairs, perhaps resting quietly before a flight or a difficult meeting .... now that would be Tricky , especially as I am taking his cats' names in vain . Seems unlikely however , the silence and the ticking of the clock and the sheer peace and quiet are blissfully overwhelming .

And the tidiness , and the air of order .... but where is the litter tray , and the second cat ? They must be found . It is imperative . No use a tidy house if the cat must leave her mark in the bathtub , say , or worse should the bathrooms all be out of bounds , on the off white carpets . My stain removal techniques are second to non but are more accustomed to the pale blue we favour chez nous . ( and indeed are somewhat out of practice since D took over in that dept ) .

I step through the sitting room and open the patio doors and out into the garden , sans Fit Flops , having left them at the front door . Things are awash , thanks to the storm , so I pick my way across the lawn to the garage in search of The Things I Need and as I enter , a streak flashes past me and there , in front of me is a litter tray ! Bingo !

I feel thoroughly competent , trusted , left in charge in the manner of an upmarket Personal Assistant , or perhaps an efficient Housekeeper ( perhaps with a postmodern title , unimaginable to the likes of me, a mere CatCaller ) .
Mr had not left in a rush and forgotten the cats business , he had merely anticipated my arrival bang on time , knowing that I would see the need and fulfil it even before the cat did . There was no sense in which the cat had legs crossed , indeed she ate a languid supper before strolling out onto the lawn to sniff about preferring the outside facilities to the emergency ones provided by myself for later use . What a cat ! What a team !

I wait until the cats decide whether they wish to stay in or brave the impending rain ( the chose In ) so I inform them of my ETA tomorrow . They turn tail and saunter upstairs and I overtake them to close the master bedroom door . I am fairly certain there must be a rule about that particular white duvet cover though the remaining rooms are fair game . If not a rule I am inventing one . That after all is what good CatCallers are all about .

I return home and scrutinise my own Reception Rooms Carpets . It is time some of them went . A discussion ensues about Rules regarding Drinks , should new carpets be purchased . I think we have reached agreement .

Migraine Days

Migraine Days

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

art on a sunday

art on a sunday