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After a few false starts, the human finally got round to completing the next phase of the extension to my cat house.

My cat house started as a replacement for a small bird table that my human built but failed to put on a post, so I adopted this as a lovely sun shade. The base eventually rotted away but she recognised I liked to sit outside in the shade. Though it was a lovely surprise when she took the remaining roof out of the shed, I recognised it and gave it a loving hug.

The first replacement was built from some spare decking wood and bits from a rabbit hutch that a neighbour left out, when we lived in Bristol. It was great to have my own two-tiered space. I could switch between sun and shade on the lower level, or take a view from the ‘sun terrace’. When the top level came off in a storm, the human bought some more decking planks and replaced that with something more sturdy.

It was at that point she took a notion to build an extension with a moveable platform from some bits of a pallet. The house at Bristol had a old desk below a canopy beside the garage, which meant I could sit outside even when it rained, so guess she was thinking something along those lines. She wasn’t quite sure how it would fit together, so I had to supervise to ensure it fitted with my strict requirements.

The results weren’t too bad, though I have still to approve it by sitting there unprompted. But we don’t want her thinking it was *her* great idea, do we? Not quite yet anyway, after all it’s not totally complete. She has still to work out how to create an upper canopy to protect me when it rains, and how to fit some cast-off bunk bed ladders on the side.

I hear she has plans to build a new bird table, and post, from other bits of the pallet. This will be great entertainment for me. However, I hope she makes my canopy a priority, I am more important than the birds. If I deign to sit on the platform before then, I’m sure she will let you know.

A cat in lockdown

Like many around the world, the humans are in lockdown. Only able to go out to collect medical and food supplies. They have ensured that I won’t go hungry as they know that would not go down well. But I’m always concerned they’re not paying me enough attention. They only have to be asleep at 4am and I’ll wake them to make sure my bowl is full.

The last blog mentioned hanging around the garden. I still do that a lot and in the same places, though I now like to style it out on a chair now and then.

The garden hasn’t changed much other than they have installed a dirt bed for me to roll in. I heard them mention the words ‘vegetable plot’, but I don’t understand what that is, or why they swear whenever I roll there.

The apple stick has progressed and now has a couple of branches and loads of blossom.

Not sure what has happened to the rhubarb. It was looking promising last time but a bit pathetic now.

Rhubarb

Cat peering over a fence

Cat on a fence

The fence seems in a worse state than before too. This is a picture form last summer. Not sure any amount of paint will help it. Though I do love it as it helps me onto the wall behind it.

My cat house has been upgraded. The rather weak top layer has been replaced by a sturdier hinged affair. Not that any of us know why it’s hinged. Maybe it’s to offset the human being a bit unhinged. But that’s only my humble opinion.

There is promise of a higher level but maybe that will appear before the end of this summer and give an excuse for another post this year.

 

 

After being distracted by the ease of upload to other social media sites for a while, I realised that nothing tells a story like a good-old blog post. If pictures tells a thousand words, then this one will use up your Twitter-feed allowance for a month or two.

The last year has been a but unsettling but, now it seems like we’re hanging around Merseyside for a while, thought it was time to review the garden.

(Note:  to see the captions in the gallery photos, hover over the photos on a laptop, or tap the photo on a tablet or mobile)

Small but adequate

Small but adequate

Spock has been reviewing the garden ever since we first moved in, so it’s not surprising he has claimed most of it for his own purposes…

…like the flower pots…

…and the waste bins…

…and … anywhere…

For us, tasks are a bit more practical…

…like painting the fence…

…planting flowers and herbs…

While the oesterperums have flourished, the herbs gained some bugs and the leaves are looking grey, so not appealing to use and I may have to start again.

…and a small fruit patch…

… and an apple tree that we found under the lilac bush (thought that was only where babies lurked). Though Spock has claimed the fledgling apple tree to the point, I’m sure I saw him using it to pole-dance one day!

The most unusual occurrence was his reaction to seeing the roof of his old cat house…

Last year, we thought it was odd but he did it again this week, when I was tidying the garden shed. We wondered if it was just memories of his old cat house, or if the smell of his dear-departed friend, Boris, was soaked into the wood. Who knows, but he seems happy … although a bit odd at times.

We shall not be moved

Well, actually this is the 11th move since we married 26 years ago! All our friends complain that they have inch-thick address book entries for us. This move was from Bristol to Wallasey, in Merseyside.

Map

Due to regular road works and the occasional accident (not us) the journey to assess our potential new home was sometime a lot more than three hours 1 minute, as suggested by Google. Thankfully, on the day of the move the journey for us and the two removal lorries went very smoothly.

Move-Day1

The two lorries and front door

Bristol

Our previous lounge and a sample of why we needed two lorries

As we had guests arriving soon after we moved, we needed to unpack very quickly.

Dinning room on day one

Dinning room on day one

Dinning room after

Dining room after unpacking and the purchase of a new table

livig-garden

Living room day one, with view of the garden

x1-Gather-04

Living Room completed with non-matching curtains

The house comes with my husband’s job and has a larger footprint than our own house in Bristol. However, additional features like fireplaces and radiators meant the furniture was harder to fit in the new house.

We were grateful for a large loft room, which didn’t stay empty for too long. We’re hopeful that the floor will hold the weight of our two desks and racks of filing. The back of the house, and the loft room, has a wonderful view right across the Wirral and even the mountains of Wales are visible on a clear day.

loft-before

Large open Loft room

Loft-after.JPG

loft room a bit fuller

loft-view.JPG

lovely view of North Wales- on tiptoes

We found many of the rooms had no curtain rails, so it was not long until we had to scoot round to the nearest DIY store and get some tracks. Then we discovered our old curtains were a tad too short in some places, and didn’t always match where two pairs were required. That’s next month’s challenge 😀

The garden is compact with six foot fences all around. Thankfully the cat had training in Bristol for such climbing feats. Unfortunately we were not able to install the low-level cat-gap in these fences, as we did in Bristol, as walls hid behind them on the other sides.

He is finding places to perch in the office and in a lovely south-facing bedroom window. Just right for his snuggly box.

Spock-Office

One of a few boxes in the loft-office

Spock-Warm-spot

A warm spot and a snuggly box

We have snuggly places too but don’t have to sit on boxes any more. Hurrah!

Do come for a visit sometime. There’s lots of things to do on New Brighton and Liverpool, across the Mersey. There are also plenty places to have a lovely ice-cream, such as across the Wirral in Parkgate, near botanical gardens and bird reserves.

Parkgate-icecream

Parkgate ice-cream

 

 

Happy birthday, to me

You would have thought, having past a very significant birthday landmark, I’d just keep quiet and let the moment pass uncommented. However, I realise that I’m now at an age where I’ve seen a lot of life and there’s more to celebrate at this stage than to worry about. The last ten years have thrown quite a number of challenges, mentally and physically, therefore I am ever so grateful to have made it to this point and wanted to share some of the highlights of the last couple of weeks.

This year my celebrations wrapped around a trip to London to see Stomp (http://www.stomplondon.com/), that my husband had arranged. This was the day after my birthday but my husband and I are fairly loose with the actual date of celebrations. His birthday often hits Easter and our wedding anniversary is on Remembrance which, as we’re usually so involved with church services, means we use this as an excuse to extend the events beyond a single day. Whenever and however we celebrate, we always ensure some key elements: flowers and cake.

This theme began at work two days before my birthday on Tuesday, where my colleagues festooned my desk with balloons and age-related banners and then surprised me with a lunch booked into my calendar as a work meeting. I was then presented with a lovely bunch of flowers, which are still going, even now! I had provided the office with a cake, so that brief was fulfilled. I foolishly forgot to take a picture of my desk but here are the flowers:

We travelled to London the following day, staying with good friends, who allowed us to stay in their flat even though they were away. Despite a hiccup with my oyster card, we settled in and ate in the flat, including some cake, my husband had brought from home.

As the next day was my birthday, I enjoyed opening cards and gifts with breakfast. We then mooched about near Covent Garden, settling in Patisserie Valerie (http://www.patisserie-valerie.co.uk/) for some ‘tea’ and cake in the morning.  I’ll come back to lunch in a minute…. in the evening we travelled to friends in Greater London for a home-made meal of beef, potato and cabbage (my favourite) followed by a cake with candles and raspberries. Yum, yum. I was given an extreme dot-to-dot book and a colouring-in therapy book, which were fantastic. We also played a few hands of bridge, though my memory of the rules was a little rusty.

Going back to lunchtime… deciding what to do on your birthday is always difficult, especially with limited time and money. I usually like to have a time of reflection, often on my own, so it may not be a big surprise to find out I went to church. I considered visiting Westminster Abbey, though I couldn’t remember who’s memorial I wanted to see there, and we’ve been to St Pauls before, but I wasn’t sure I’d get the quiet I need amongst the tourist buzz in these places. Therefore, it was a joy to find out there was a lunch-time service in the Church of Scotland in Crown Court, near Covent Garden (http://www.crowncourtchurch.org.uk/).

When I first came to London from Scotland, in 1986, I had planned to visit there regularly from North London, where I was living. However, while I settled in, I decided to try a local Church of England service, mainly for a novelty, and ended up staying there for six months… after I was invited to join the choir! So 29 years later, I made it to Crown Court. It is a lovely building and the people very friendly. So much so, we were invited to share lunch with them and I was grateful we decided to take sandwiches that day. It was a lovely treat to chat to complete strangers, yet feel so at home among the Scottish accents. They also offered us cake and sang Happy Birthday to me.

It was very surreal to find this oasis of calm amongst a throng of tourists and theatre-goers, as it was next door to the Lyceum Theatre, showing the Lion King, and opposite Drury Lane Theatre, showing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Here are pictures of the side access to the church , the inside (from a postcard) and a display of white balloons, in the form of a large cloud hung in the centre of Covent Garden, just a few streets away.

Friday was the night to see Stomp, so that left us all day to ourselves. In the morning we went to the British Library. As many will know our house resembles a library, so it seemed an obvious place to go. The new building was lacking some of the grandeur of the original library, which was part of the British Museum but very pleasant to sit and have a drink then view a statue of Newton and other outdoor art installations before wandering around their ‘treasures’ exhibition, which was fascinating and exciting. http://www.bl.uk/events/treasures-of-the-british-library.

On our approach to the new library, we saw King’s Cross Station. This was a station I knew well from the inside, from when I travelled back to Scotland regularly on breaks after my first arrival. Then it was advised not to wander outside as there were a lot of crime and other dangers. On this trip I could see what a beautiful building it is, which reminded me that sometimes, when we think we know places, or people, well, they are worth a new look at from a different perspective, as you may find something unexpectedly wonderful.

Denmark Street

Denmark Street

We then went to meet Sarah, who I worked with in Exeter to catch up over lunch. No cake this time. Husband had a meeting at 3pm, so I wondered off to Denmark Street to have a look at the many music shops. (http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g186338-d2628435-Reviews-Denmark_Street-London_England.html)

From there I walked back to meet husband and we returned to the flat to eat and change before heading to the Ambassador Theatre to see Stomp.

The Ivy

The Ivy

We were meeting friends at the theatre and while we waited, we noticed the well-known establishment, The Ivy, was opposite the theatre. Not that this was anywhere  I’d aspire to visit but interesting that the location wasn’t as high-brow as I would have expected.

I was particularly looking forward to seeing Stomp as I remember the founding members, Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholason, in a group called Pookiesnackenburger in the early eighties. I saw them at Traquair Fair and the Edinburgh Fringe, when there were many fewer venues and acts on display. I was always struck by their juggling and percussion on household items routines.  I still have their album, Pookie Beach Party!

I was not disappointed by the evening. There was a great comedic thread running through, as in Pookie, combined with great rhythm, skill and dexterity. The diversity of routines using boxes of matches or shopping trolleys was fantastic. I would thoroughly recommend to anyone of all ages and there were all ages present.

Finally on Saturday, husband had arranged for a meal with a group of friends… and, of course, cake and balloons. Saturday. Beforehand we dropped by some other old-time church friends who we had reacquainted via Facebook. Then it was onto the restaurant. The cake was in the shape of a black and white cat and was fantastic, although the black icing did leave a stain on fingers and lips! It was also good to share with others that had birthdays close to mine.

We stayed with long-term friends on the Saturday evening and went to their church on Sunday, where Carolyn was part of the leadership team. It was great to catch up with them and enjoy a service in a Church of England again.

It wasn’t even over when we returned home, as friends of mine from Scotland were on a trip between a cruise, Redditch and Bristol, so needed a room on the Sunday night. Again time to catch up and remember some old times.

Dead balloons

Deflated balloons but memories still floating

I had forgotten to take photos of the balloons at the time, so here they are a week later. A little deflated but still able to convey a their greeting. In contrast, I am still elated with all the events and now ready to face whatever the next decade has to offer.

In many ways this trip was a walk down a few memory lanes and a reminder to create lots of new memories, especially by valuing friendships. It was also about embracing my past, knowing the future won’t always be how we think it will turn out, which is why I wrote an open message to family and friends to share how I managed to survive this far, on my other blog, Faith Bites.

Blessings to you all and I hope you find a way to enjoy your good memories and not dwell on the bad ones.

While out on the Shaun in the City trail, we came across the whale installation in Millennium Square made from wicker and plastic bottles.

It was quite stunning and a great story behind it. Hopefully some of these pictures will show it off.

First the background and a Blue Peter Award

Then the installation – enjoy

There until the 1st September…

https://www.bristol2015.co.uk/bristol-whales/

Tales of red tails

Spock is black and white – or at least that’s what we thought until we realise that he was actually dark brown and white. If you look closely you can see the brown at the end of his tail.

Actually, if you look really closely you can see his tail has turned red in places. We don’t know if this is just a case of too much time in the sun (if there is such a thing for cats) or that he’s sat on something in his wanderings under vehicles and in neighbours garages. Perhaps our catty friends will know.

PS – I did crop the close-up of his tail to maintain his dignity – though wish he maintain that same dignity when sitting on Mr ML’s chest to ask for food by padding his stomach.

Padding for food

What dignity? I want food.

Back again, after being kept busy by Facebook, and hasn’t a year passed quickly.

As the last pictures were of the garden, I thought that would be a good place to start. After years of failed attempts, I’ve finally got round to developing a herb patch.

Although the lavender has got carried away and I had to rescue the thyme from being suffocated between two lavender plants. The rosemary has also flourished and I often have a good stock of parsley.

I even added a few flowers to add some colour: some osteoperums, after last year’s burned over the winter despite looking very healthy in the Autumn, and a pink.

As I was weeding (or de-weeding, as it should be described), I was surprised by a hairy red caterpillar nesting in the newly sprouting fushias…

In the back garden hubby has an abundant fruit patch. Last year the sawfly munched all his gooseberry plants and the strawberries just spread about a bit and didn’t flower. However, this year, we have a swathe of strawberry blossom and fruit buds plus a few danglings of goose-goggs. We’ve already enjoyed part of the rhubarb crop.

Spock decided he needed to keep a close eye on our fruit patch and found the straw very comfortable, warm and dry. Even putting netting over the area didn’t deter him, nor did an alternative ‘cat bed’ of straw close by.

Cat in fruit patch

Spock in fruit patch

However, when he started to squash a gooseberry bush, Hubby had to act. Out came some posts to suspend the netting. Mind you he (Spock) soon found a hole in the netting as was back in his ‘spot’. Hubby waited until Spock was out on patrol to sew up the hole, much to Spock’s disdain, who still wanders round the netting to see if a new hole can be found.

Fruit-1

On a more positive note, Spock has been enjoying his cat house. He uses the terrace for sunbathing and the lower level for part-shade part-sun for his aching pinned bones.

Well that’s the tour for now. Let’s see when I can find time to post again and what topics may appear.

We finally got round to buying some turf to convert our garden from the dust plain created by removing the gravel from the front lawn last autumn.

Front garden with gravel

Front garden with gravel

Front garden as dust plain

Front garden as dust plain

So over the Easter weeknd, the lawn was applied and some of the shubbery and daffodil bulbs were re-located to provide a more planned garden.

Front with turf

Front garden with turf

Front garden with turf

Front garden (again) with turf

My birthday plants of lavender, thyme and rosemary from September were finally planted too.

Front garden with realigned plantage

Front garden with realigned plantage

We had a bit of turf left over, so we added some to the back, that was greatly appreciated by the cat, as expected.

This also prompted me to finally completed the new cat house. The last one was originally built as a burdie table but when left on the ground, it was adopted by our previous cat, MC, and then by our current one, when we were in Devon.

The move to Bristol proved too much for the old cat house and it crumbled. So with scraps of wood left for the bin by our neighbour, I rain-proofed it and assembled it this weekend.

Now to see if the cat approves of the cat house too…

Finding Gromit

I’ve posted a few times in my Facebook page that we’ve been hunting Gromits in Bristol and beyond. For the uninitiated, Gromit is the intelligent dog from Aardman Animation’s films about Wallace and Gromit. 80 5ft high Gromit statues have been decorated by various artists and sponsored by businesses as part of a Bristol’s Children’s hospital fund-raising event called Gromit Unleashed.

We managed to get to 78 of the 80 sites, seeing 77 statues as one was removed following damage. Here they are ….

Some were fantastically detailed but all were superb. It was a great way to disciver bits of Bristol we wouldn’t normally have found or had time to visit.

It was a shame that some were damaged and removed for repair. One we missed on our first trip, we picked up later but Patch was never retured to it’s podium in Clifton. I’m not convinced that all damage was malicious as kids, and adults, were keen to hang off an ear or tail for a photo. However, they will all appear in one Grand Exhibition later this month before they are auctioned to raise funds for the Children’s Hospital.

Many sponsors or locations seemed to have benefitted from additional footfall and a heightened public awareness. Though we did wonder whether the Harvey Nichols store regretted their sponsored Gromit (Grosmos) being in their store, as hoards of families and other lower classes, like ourselves, made their way through stands of designer dresses (and Victoria Beckam’s) to take a photo of Gromit.

All in all a few Grand Days Out. Well done, Lad. Now for some cheese.

For my cat friends, Doodles was decorated by the illustrator of Simon’s Cat. So ironic to have a dog with loads of cat cartoons. 😀

PS I may be back to comment on some of them later