We’re late. Take off should have been thirty minutes ago. I lift my head from the magazine in my lap and see snow falling, snow I did not know had been forecast. As I watch it becomes heavier, swirling little white dervishes covering the grass and the stationary planes.
Across the aisle there is no visibility from the starboard window. In minutes the snow has covered it as effectively as a shutter. Continue reading
I’m very much looking forward to be reunited with MasterB tonight. Having the dog, cat and kittens at Cousin’s is lovely, but none of them replaces my boy.
That said, and our reunion warmly anticipated at least on my part, I shall be delighted to see WestieBoy, Mistress Lily, Dizzy and Dora when I am next this side of the Irish Sea.
Last night I introduced Dizzy to the delights of technology, and he got the idea and the bug so quickly we were already talking about restricting his screen time access.
He reached a high score of 420. I was impressed. I deleted the game and tried to install another one, but my iPad decided this was all together too much and baulked, so I put it on my ‘phone, then had a little tussle reclaiming it from Dizzy. Still, it meant Dora was able to play undisturbed with the mouse which is everyone’s, including the dogs’, favourite toy, and to have forty winks undisturbed by her much larger brother.
Just look at that little face. I’m increasingly convinced she’s not from the same litter as Dizzy and that he is several weeks older than she. Did you see them with their mother, I asked Cousin. It transpires there were two adult cats with kittens. Do you think they could be from different litters? Oh yes, she replied, the man is a rascal. Dora remains shyer than Dizzy. That sentence is misleading. Dizzy and shyness are complete strangers. He has decided WestieBoy is his pal and role model and greets him confidently, quite without fear, and thinks his new big friend would be a handy cushion.
Dora claimed WestieBoy’s bed in front of the fire. Although it is much greyer than a week ago thanks to the muck and the slush that have stained the dog’s underbelly a dark brown, she seemed touchingly to think she was not highly visible.
I’m on the bus. It’s taken a while. Cousin dropped me just before half past ten and I walked gingerly across the ice in the car park, sliding alarmingly at one point, to the safety of the bus shelter. At 10.31 I sent a text to Fiona of memineandotherbits.wordpress.com. We planned to meet today. Five minutes later a bus came into view. We moved forward expectantly only to fall back as he drove by, holding up five fingers which we interpreted as meaning another bus would be along shortly. Ten minutes passed and I sent Fiona another text. When the second bus came by without stopping and no hand signal promising future transport I zipped up my coat and began to rethink my plans. Continue reading
“There’s a deer out here with a broken leg,” says Cousin’s husband striding into the house with the Sunday papers. “Phone the RSPCA!” Cousin calls from upstairs. A few minutes late she joins her spouse in the kitchen. “Is someone coming?” she asks. He looks at her blankly. “Did you call the RSPCA? Who’s with it?” Still a blank look. “The deer with the broken leg.” He gives a snort and jerks his head towards the hall. “It’s out there lying on the table.”
I think I've redeemed myself with WestieBoy. After taking him for a walk shortly after arriving on Tuesday I went awol in Belfast for the next two days, but today the snow meant our other plans were put on hold so it was a two walk day.
The worst of the weather was elsewhere, but we have a nice dusting that feels seasonal and right.
I was wrapped up in warm clothes from London and the one of the hats Cousin has knitted.The first walk was the best. We only met two vehicles. We saw sheep in the fields and birds in the trees and hedgerows but no other living creatures.
The sky turned from white to blue and then grey again. More snow fell, and the wind made it dance in the air around us. Slieve Gallion was all but invisible, and this tree stood alone in a blue white fieldpp.
WestieBoy found plenty to sniff at but tugged and even whined when I wanted to stop and take pictures.
WestieBoy is outnumbered. His home has been invaded by a trio of felines. This is Dizzy. She’s quite hard to photograph as she wants to investigate the camera.
So far so good. Up betimes thanks to MasterB who anticipated the alarm by two minutes, making me wonder if he some special sense of when it’s about to go off. Breakfasted, showered, cat litter replaced, coffee ground
and banana skins deposited in the garden compost bin, crockery washed up and put away, and, with MasterB’s inimitable aid, bed stripped and remade with clean linen for Birgit.
In forty-eight hours I shall be at Cousin’s. I’ve missed autumn, and now it’s the build up to Christmas and the shortest days of the year. I’m anticipating dark afternoons wearing a hi-viz jacket when walking Westie Boy, heat from the wood burning stove, and a cold bathroom.
What I hadn’t been anticipating until a text came this afternoon were cats. But I now know three cats have joined the household. What Westie Boy makes of them I am eager to see. Why three, what they look like and how they were acquired, I have no idea. I’m hoping they are able to come indoors. Cold evenings are the perfect time to have a warm cat on your knee.
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The plan is to see Uncle Bill on Thursday, so that’ll mean a trip to Belfast. I hope there’ll be a second trip too, but a week goes by very quickly. I’d like to go to the Fintan O’Toole lecture at Heaney Homeplace, but that’s on Thursday too, and I don’t think it’d work. Anyway, who would I go with?
On a long leash
A year ago it’d have been Ann D, but she since died. I think this visit is where I will have to accept that death has happened, because from here I find it impossible to imagine Cousin’s without Ann’s presence and conversation. Maybe that’s where the cats will come in. Cats for comfort and distraction.
Although I bought my copy of today’s Guardian shortly after breakfast, I didn’t look at more than the headlines until late afternoon. I was working, outside, on what must have been the coldest day this autumn, wrapped in warm layers, particularly blessing my thermal vest. Afterwards I went for lunch with a friend in a blissfully warm and unassuming Italian cafe near Borough High Street, away from the end that attracts visitors in their thousands these days. I could go on about how much Borough has changed in the time of my south London tenure, but I’ll leave that for another time and space.
At home, and after playing with MasterB and feeding him, I reached for the paper. For those of you unfamiliar with Saturday’s Guardian I should perhaps explain it has a number of sections. The main news section today was bulky, but I have found the news this week so profoundly depressing, and the attack on the mosque in Egypt so awful, I couldn’t bear to start there. As is my habit I flicked through the sports section to see if there were any pieces about women’s sports. The Guardian is a liberal paper, it’s right on about so many many things, but does not seem to comprehend that its sports section caters almost exclusively for admirers of male athletes. You could be forgiven when you look at it for thinking that women have yet to hitch up their skirts and play tennis, and that there are no women to be lauded and admired for their sporting achievements outside the four yearly fest that is the Olympics. Today one story about women’s football. But the lack of reporting on women’s sport is another subject for a different day.
The Family section which I always make a beeline for failed to thrill; I flicked through the magazine noting several long articles I shall read in a day or two. The food section has some nice lentil recipes I am extremely unlikely to make, so that’s now en route to my neighbour Jolita. Nothing in the travel section grabbed me, and I always keep the Review until last – apart from the crossword which I messed up almost immediately. Continue reading
Six week until Christmas; unbelievable. I have written a list of cards I need to send. I’m going to Northern Ireland for a week at the start of December, so I think it’d be a good idea to get at least some cards written before I go. The price of stamps is a major incentive to cull the list, but it still seems very long. I have put the letter e by a number of names, meaning I shall send e-cards. Another group come under the delivered-by-hand option, but since the Post office has been privatised I am less and less keen to boost the bank accounts of share holders.
But at times like these it’s also important to keep in touch, to remember our shared humanity, our overseas friendships, to write a line or two to people who we like but seldom see. The most dystopian forecaster probably wouldn’t have come up with the past twenty-four months. Refugees continue to arrive traumatised and exhausted in leaky boats meant for far fewer people on far shorter journeys. Reports of attempted genocide, with footage for proof flood our screens when we watch the news. Allegations of sexual abuse, of men using superior power to manipulate and control women in the film industry fill acres of newspapers. Continue reading