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

Welcome to CatMinders

Welcome to CatMinders

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Operation RatWatch

We have a KitchenRat.
This is not funny. I heard scufflings and scrapings whilst making Nat's sandwich midweek , and despite the fact that two of the cats were staring pointedly at the alley between the fridge freezer and the wall , assumed that they were looking for a spider . I think this is called Denial.

The cats sat there for most of the day , only leaving the RatWatch post for food or related activities ( littertray). The other two cats joined them at various points standing behind them ( in case the rat was large) watching carefully . Still I was too busy to think.
The following morning I came down first - rare for me but Alice had insisted on a Nocturnal Ablution session and D was recovering with a Late Start .

En Route to the cat feeding station I noted a moist guinea pig dropping on the bench and scooped it up with a piece of kitchen roll thinking to myself Honestly thats all I need , the Pigsters projecting their poo up out of their quarters and onto the food preparation areas . Pah and double pah! Wiping up and washing hands was the extent of the attention I paid to that . D appeared and peering at the bench further said "Where have all these all mucky marks come from " pointing at a run of large footprints leading from behind the fridge freezer to the kitchen sink . Hmm . "Ive just cleaned up a guinea pig poo" I offer helpfully .... which on reflection might have been a ratpoo... "

D fetches various disinfectants and other heavy duty cleansers and gets down to business inspecting the footprints as he goes . These could be bird prints , he says , in a weak voice . That , I say , is called Denial . Or wishful thinking . It doesnt work . Where , for example is the Bird now? Birds don't typically squeeze back down the hole they came in through. t
They bash about against the windows. We need to face it . Its a rat . Possibly Rats . Someone has to ring Environmental health . And the last time I rang them about the one in the Attic that that wimpy plumber said he saw , no one ever even rang back about .
I 'm onto it , he says . Later .

Later that day we have a torch and three of us are in the Kitchen mounting a search .It is widely believed that  the cats , or some of the cats have come face to face , and are not happy . Some of them are looking depressed and are facing the wall in D's office , as if meditatiing . They are no longer on RatWatch . That job has fallen to the Humans . The dog has no interest , though she is keen to eat the catfood as ever  , under the guise of catching a rat .

I climb onto the bench and train the torch behind the freezer . It is a narrow space , dark and there is an adjustment period for the eyes . I have to position and reposition my glasses . Nat has already tried and seen nothing . I move the torch up and down and decide my specs are better off , for long distance viewing . I am long sighted after all . It is still very dark , with a smallish circle lit . I move the circle and find what looks like a ball of something . I am not terribly squeamish but I am not wholly  at ease. It appears to be a ball of dust , cobwebby and grim . It is unpleasant . I move the torch , I am aware in the background that Nat is on the phone to the right of me . Beneath the ball of dust , a large greasy black rat shuffles across my line of vision and then disappears . I find myself shouting very loudly and I hear Nat saying Oh my mum has just seen the Rat  Oh My God . I seem to be shouting very loudly and D is shouting Which way is it going?  the over arching feeling is one of my legs weakening and failing .
Nat ends her call and comes to help me down from the bench . I am laughing helplessly .
We have a Rat . It is Official .

And , judging by the weather , snow snow and more snow , we may have a rat for a while longer .
Envirolink are scheduled to arrrive to deal on Monday afternoon . In the meantime , every time we leave the kitchen , a rat or rats appear to be skipping about on the benches . The cats are occasionally on RatWatch but mostly they are subdued and not themselves . Perhaps cats too  have that primal scared of rats feeling that I myself have experienced?

Monday, 22 November 2010

Visit to United World College Duino Trieste Italy

Plaque on the wall in the village , Duino

Plaque explaining what the colleges are about . Robin applied to various colleges in different countries, as do many students.

View from the Day Room in the college. Its a far cry from the view at my daughter's High School !

Another view from a different window of the Day Room . I took this by opening the shutters and leaning out . A steep cliff face is below leading straight down to the sea. Amazing .

The town square in Trieste .

Across the road from the college in Duino village .



This weekend one of my longstanding friends was making the trip via Stansted to Trieste and then on to the village of Duino in Italy to visit her son at boarding school at the United World College of the Adriatic , an international college for students aged sixteen to eighteen year olds who want a different experience of studying from A levels and who prefer to study away from home and to have the chance to study for the International Baccalaureat .
Robin heard about the college from a friend and applied and was accepted after an interview in Wales , and started in Italy in September . This was to be Liz's first trip to visit him .
The college is home for two years to around two hundred international students , and it felt like we met them all on Friday evening , being introduced to them shortly after our arrival ! Not really , it just felt like that ! What was fascinating was how intrigued they all were to meet Liz , Robin's mother  and I suppose that's how it works . Sixteen is very young to be leaving home and some of these young people are very far from home indeed, and must be desperate for contact with home and keen for any reminders of home and family . Indeed at our arrival everyone stopped what they were doing immediately ( watching a dvd on a huge plasma screen ) and came over to watch Robin making us a cup of tea) and chat to us about where we had come from , what our plans were , and whch countries each of them were from . East Timor , Bangldesh , Italy -of course-, Vietnam - Albania, Afghanistan , Bosnia , Pakistan , Venezuela, Poland, Brazil and Canada spring to mind . Mind blowing opportunities. International School UK,Boarding School WalesUWC AdriaticUnited World College of the Adriatic Duino in Trieste - Italy Community of stuUnited World College of the Adriatic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It was a great adventure as ever to be able to travel and to think about things from a different viewpoint . Its easy to assume that after GCSE s you have to just follow the crowd and do A levels but Robin is proof that you can apply and live abroad and study in a whole different way and although the fees at the college are very high all the students at this college are supported by full scholarships so it isnt costing his parents any more than the flights to get him there and using the cheap flights which we used it really isnt that expensive .
Nat and I had the opportunity to take off to Trieste - we had planned to do a train journey to Venice but this wasnt possible- we were told that the sea had flooded St Marks Square so we had a lovely afternoon taking photographs and pottering around .

Today , Monday I'm back to CatMinding which is a lovely way back into the working week.....and a pile of paperwork to do ....

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Today I have been mostly fighting ...

.. with Pin Numbers...

which I know is a losers game . I might as well catch a flight to Atlantic City and stand and feed the machines there with all my worldy goods.
Its my sanity I've been losing these last few days though, but I am pleased to report that so far at least I have kept my cool with the call centre operators who keep ( politely ) giving me different pieces of advice thus leading me into this fine mess.

Initially I received a new credit card .
My last one lasted three years. Great . This one saw my through my recent trip to the States, thank goodness, and just as I landed back , it expired. No matter , the new one was in the bag , and the sticker attached advised that it was ready for use. Oh no hang on . It just needed to be "authorised". And thereby hangs the tale . Of woe. Mine . No one else seems remotely bothered.
I duly rang the number to be told someone had " already authorised the card" Er no . " Could I have authorised the card and forgotten ? Er no . I know I have senior moments etc but I didn't do this . For one thing I was in Another Country ....
I tell her I haven't authorised the card and this concerns me . Who has authorised the card and what does this mean? She says Oh not to worry and moves swiftly on -in her head to her next call , and tells me just to use my card with impunity . I hesitate but realise I am not getting any joy here . Also - who am I to worry if she doesnt want to .
I go off to live my life .

It is a few days before I have a chance to live my life according to the credit card. Petrol . I fill my little tank , thinking my thoughts, which are mundane and weary , place my card and apply my pin and bingo .... I am Reject. The boy smiles and says I can try again . He is used to ladies of a certain age making errors. I know there has been no such error and think immediately of the Imposter who has for Sure and  Certain Thing Fraudulently obtained my account and card and changed my pin with his Wicked Ways . I whip out another card as my card is rejected again and pay for my petrol and race home as fast as my C1 will carry me . I am into the house and screaming abuse and demanding assistance to catch these fraudsters . D hurries onto the internet recognising that any plans he had for the evening are up the spout until this is managed , and in minutes I am speaking to Fraud at NatWest .

Your Pin is now Unblocked says the young man patiently , as I babble about fraud . He does not think fraud is applicable here but does not explain why or why not .
Now , he says , I must go to a Nat West machine and change my pin number .
Phew I think . thats easy . Now I can get my old pin number back .

I promptly forget this and head off to a gruelling week of Other Commitments . Well , not so very gruelling but I need some excuse to explain how it was that I forgot to change the pin .

In fact next thing I did was try to use the card again .

Oh dear says the nice young woman with the lovely hair in the Christmas present shop .
Are you buying this for your daughter? She will love it? But I think there might be a problem with your card you know . Its saying the pin is blocked .

I stare at the machine and my hands feel cold .
I'll tell you what I say to her .
I'm just going to take this card out and give you another one.

I head straight to the bank and to the ATM at NatWest . In goes the card . Pin Services . I just know I've messed up . Pin Number ? It asks me . Now which pin number I think , since my pin number is blocked and then unblocked , but now reblocked . Hm. I try my pin number and follow the directions for unblocking .... Your Request is Denied .

I am very unhappy .

I head home .

At home , would you believe , a letter from the bank containing a new Pin Number . In my defense , as I know I shouldnt have used the card without trying to make the change first , the young man at Fraud never told me a new Pin would be sent out .

So , back I head to the Machine, feed in the card again , and this time , put in the new number , after applying my spectacles and stepping away from the queue to work out how to rub off the backing paper off the pin number . Finally I am back at the front of the queue . I change the pin number as desired , back to my old one . Request declined , contact your bank .

Argh .
I drive home , keening quietly to myself .
At home , as I speak to a young woman this time she explains that if I feed my card back into the machine again , she will talk me through the process . " I am back at home now " .... and explains its a two part thing . I have to Unblock the pin . Take the card out . Start again . Then change it .

OMG . I drive back to the machine .
Pay to park again .
Specs out .
Card in .
Old pin .
Unblock pin
Card out .
Card in
Change pin .

Sucess ??
Who knows  .
Now I have to buy something and we will find out .

Last night I thought I heard someone crying in my house ? I wonder now if was me ?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

CatMinders Website is once More

Since the CatCalls debacle our website has been down and waiting for an update and overhaul which has taken longer than I care to think .
But now , CatMinders the WebSite as opposed to CatMinders the Blog and indeed MsCatMinders ( Me!!) is well and truly launched , albeit by accident when someone presses Publish instead of Preview whilst waiting for me to leave my base attempting as I am to online check myself and N in for several short flights which will take us to Trieste via Stansted in a couple of weeks time . And very exciting that will be too , though how scary all this online everything is for someone like me who much prefers to ring someone(else) who then sends you something reassuring in a nice envelope. But no , now everything has to be done oneself- online . How on earth do Elders manage I ask myself , reassured that at least by the time I am nearing seventy and still hopefully globetrotting all this will be second nature and N will no longer be snatching boarding passes from me in case I lose them. ( there was that time en route to Barcelona when my boarding pass somehow wound up in my coat sleeve .... )

CatMinders ( the service!!) is picking up again despite not having had a website.
This morning for example I visited an old friend round the coast- a lovely drive in gorgeous sunshine affording me a view of the lighthouse with an amazing truncated rainbow behind it. I love to see cats who recognise me and give me a warm welcome and then will sit down with me for half an hour or so . We looked out to sea in a fabulously peaceful house watching the world go by . At this time of the morning , there wasn't much of a world going by , and she watched me whilst I talked to her about my plans for the day, purring after a few minutes to let me know she was listening I suppose.

Interesting to see whether we have a surge of new business now we are online again though I have a feeling we are mainly a small locally based practice trading on word of mouth . I seem to spend a lot of time letting people know I cannot cover more far flung areas however much I would love to and wondering how it is that people have heard of me "in the pub" they say , or "my husband's friend".

Anyway , many thanks to my lovely blog readers. I hope you can all find the blog if you do want to have a look  . I imagine no one much is reading the blog now but then I get facebook messages or people tell me in passing that they do still read .

And a huge thank you to D for all the re building of the blog and the endless fiddling about with the photos and the colours . I still would like a picture of our lovely Kitty on it but we need a better photo  of her . I dont want people thinking we are an elitist service and just deal in exotic cats .

Kitty the mog was our first cat .

Its really not her fault she's large-ish and is best suited to lying on her back . We will endeavour to acquire a sitting up picture of her for the blog . If any family member has one , please come forward.

But apart from that I think the website looks really great and its all self built!

Friday, 5 November 2010

This week

It's official ! And clear for anyone to see...when I returned recently from Arizona and was disappointed with my photographs D told me my poor results were due to the fact that I have been building up pictures on a small memory card ( 700 plus designed for 200 photographs). However these have now been removed and the results are still poor .
Compare the picture above of a sunflower which was one of the very first pictures I took with this camera , and the toadstools of last Friday taken at Goats on the Roof. There is just no comparison.
I'm now not sure what's going on . Whether the memory card has been compromised by being overloaded? Or whether the camera has had its day?
Any ideas gratefully received if you or anyone you know knows anything about cameras and their technology let me know .

I've been having some very odd comments left on the blog but as theyre been anonymous and many of them not making a whole lot of sense and containing within the garbled messages the odd giveaway words like viagra and so forth I've decided to junk them. Seems an odd way of going about implanting ideas onto a blog but there must be some kind of method in the madness. Either way I'm not co-operating if I can help it , amusing though some of them are .

All in all this has been an odd kind of week .  Friday and Saturday were Teen party nights which ended very differently . Say no more. Suffice to say by Sunday I was glad the weekend was over and I could have a Quiet Day at home Cooking Like Nigella Does. Banoffee Cheesecakes were produced and  her recipe for one cheesecake produced four ....say no more....she's a substantial eater I guess.

No CatMinding this week as two families were forced to cancel ... though I have some duties this weekend which I'm looking forward to .
Hectic DayJob commitments which went well but left me glad it was Thursday and time to catch up with friend Deb in the local bistro/ coffeeshop - having been away it seemed like weeks since we had caught up on news so I left the dog snoozing on the sofa while we whiled away a good two hours over hot chocolate. Lui s in Tynemouth offers Dark Milk or White hot chocolate . How about that?
Nothing more exciting to report at this end ... but any camera advice would be gratefully received!

Migraine Days

Migraine Days

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

art on a sunday

art on a sunday