Of Cats, Jennifer Johnston, Armagh and Debates

Some animals really suffer. Cousin’s cats are discouraged from coming indoors, though they stroll through the house with remarkable insouciance to seek out favourite spots.

As for the garden, there are insulated houses for them in poor weather, and one they particularly like on a neighbour’s property which pleases the neighbour no end, as he says there is not a mouse or a rat anywhere near.

His contentment even extends to forgiving Marple for stealing the meat from his plate when he was out of the room.

But the moment the sun shines, the favourite spot is the sun chair with its striped cushion.

Fido seems to have established the greatest claim, and has worked hard on perfecting his lounging technique.

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Not Forgetting the Other Pets

Just in case I gave the impression that meeting Pip had meant the other animals were forgotten, here are a few more photos from yesterday. Marple is missing. She was sleeping somewhere most of the day, and only appeared when I didn’t have my camera. Unlike her brother, she does not arrive the moment she hears a human voice. I get the impression that she is keener on hunting than socialising. The hen is also being reclusive. She is broody again, but there are plans to provide her with a fertilised egg. Her baby of last year grew into a large cockerel and has been relocated to another home.


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There’s a new dog on the block. Small, black and white, muscular and macho. A typical Jack Russell.

He belongs to Cousin’s son and his wife. They are living next door while they build a home up the road on a family field.

Pip was whining outside my bedroom door this morning. It was well beyond first light. Cousin might have thought I had done a body swap with Rip Van Winkle. I surfaced briefly to answer a call from Lovely Neighbour who could not locate the cat litter.

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Airport Blues

God I hate airports. The romance of air travel? You must be joking. I am in my nth queue of the evening.

The train was packed with commuters. I stood most of the way and had ample opportunity to observe how almost all my seated fellow travellers were plugged into a variety of electronic devices. Only one woman was knitting. Another read a Charlene Harris novel, folding the pages over with one hand while the other explored first her chin, then the hair above her right ear, and finally the hair above her left ear. She twisted in her seat, tying her legs into contorted knots.

Once at the airport,  Gatwick, there was a rush for the shuttle to the North terminal, and then a half hour queue for bag drop. This is the first time I have not printed my boarding pass. Join the Twenty First Century, I thought and downloaded the airline’s app. Continue reading

A Peach of an Evening

I was, it seems almost to go without saying, back at the allotment this evening. I had been working all day, but had agreed with Octavia that I would take supper round to her house which we could eat in her small walled garden.

I felt impossibly werary when I got home but the GN wanted, and got, attention and play. Before you start swooning at the nobility of my spirit, this is a £10 meal deal weekend at M&S, and the main course came courtesy of their kitchens. As indeed did the hummus for our pre-supper nibbles. And the baby spinach which made up the substantial part of the accompanying salad. The rhubarb cake for pudding was made by my own hand, but so far as know, Octavia did not tread the grapes for the Rioja which we quaffed as we ate.

I am off to NI as soon as I am home from work and have grabbed my bags tomorrow. A whole week at Cousin’s lies before me. My sandwiches are made; I bought my train ticket to Gatwick this evening. My bag is almost packed.

Most of the photos from the allotment and elsewhere from the past few days will have to wait. Maybe one day they will appear on this page.

Kirsty, who has the plot with god offerings, pointed out she has more bits and pieces at the back end of her plot. I went to investigate. She didn’t warn me she had installed mantraps. I evaded them. She has a peach tree. Peaches from this part of London used to be an anticipated delicacy at the tables of the nobility and well off middle classes. If Kirsty could master time travel, she might have a business opportunity.

Kirsty's Peach

Kirsty’s Peach

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Hydrangea Nights

Two gratuitous pictures of wet hydrangea coming up, though maybe I shall submit this as this week’s photo challenge. After days of warmth, blue skies and sunshine, and sometimes almost unbearable humidity, the skies crackled and then cracked at lunchtime today, releasing a few splashy drops of rain at first, then getting into their stride and summoning thunder, lightning and a real downpour. People ran and dodged in the City streets.

Against my plans, I made a dash for home to secure windows and shutters, grab a proper waterproof, and head back out.

MasterB was unimpressed with my turnaround time; surely I had time to play and cuddle? No, sadly not.

By this evening, things had calmed down, dried out. There is a fresh feel to the air which has been absent for the last week or two.
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My name is way down the waiting list for an allotment. Years before it is even remotely likely. However, I have contacts and consolations.

A bowl of ripening plums sits in my kitchen thanks to Mike. Tonight Octavia asked if I should like to help pick some of her plums, and when I explained I was already plum rich, said I could give some to my lovely neighbours.

The sky was impossibly blue; bees buzzed; birds sang; a teenaged pair of neighbours climbed ladders into the tree and hurled overripe plums like squishy missiles. Continue reading

Aunt at the Pub, Birds, Super Repairman, and MasterB

I had a little problem with my car on the way home, meaning that MasterB and I sat in an isolated lane for around forty minutes waiting for the repairman. Actually MasterB lay and I stood. I moved his cat basket from the car and settled him in the shade of a tree.

The repairman would have been quicker had not the person who answered my call, yes Connor, I do mean you, given the address my mobile phone appeared to be calling from rather than where I said I was. It turns out the two are some five miles apart. The repairman, not finding me, called. He quoted the address he had. I squeaked. He took down the details I gave him. He arrived, and despite a distinct lack of underpants on top of his overalls, diagnosed and fixed the problem. Continue reading

Within Reach

A tranquil evening on das Boot. MasterB, a hot cat, is stretched out on the floor; mischief far from his mind. The swans are nibbling and seeking out weedy morsels below the water’s surface; they look like icebergs, or, sometimes, synchronised swimmers.
The Shouty Man is here and I am unsuccessfully blocking out his voice. Somewhere nearby a boy is shouting, and someone else up river is sharing tinny music with us. The sounds carry on the still air. I admit I’d be happier without the Shouty Man or the tinny music. A water tank has just boomed and MasterB has growled and got to his feet. A little while ago a bare chested man paddled by energetically in his canoe.
Although it is just half past eight, I should be happy to call it a day and go to bed soon. Maybe the Shouty Man and his remarkably silent companions will head for the pub.
It’s Mrs Grebe’s turn on the nest. Her two hatched babies have just tucked themselves among her feathers.
Aunt was charmed. I picked her up late morning and we drove through the back roads. She hasn’t been out and about much recently so we made a day of it and the greenery and the fields brought a smile to her face. She exclaimed repeatedly at the beauty of the countryside; the comforting chill of the car. At Reach, I suggested sitting in the pub garden, and we found a table in the shade of a tree by a mass of lavender in flower. There was a light breeze. She pronounced it perfect even before we had established if the pub could meet her gluten free requirements.
I tempted her with a white wine spritzer. Aunt was tea total until Mother and I corrupted her and she discovered a taste for Vinho Verde. However, she settled on an orange and soda and I had a grapefruit and soda. Long, cool and wonderfully refreshing.

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