Monthly Archives: May 2019

Tim is back, and Z’s back

Tim is back, hooray. I can’t say that it’s been the easiest week – Eloise cat has been quite fractious and, while wishing to go outside, wouldn’t walk on a lead but just lay down and looked sulky. She also had a stomach upset, if I can put it delicately, which came upon her suddenly and necessitated the cleaning of paws and everything else afterwards, to her dismay. Today, however, it’s been different. She had a pleasant potter around the garden for an hour or so and, later, she enjoyed lying in the long grass thinking about the meaning of life, or whatever cats think about. I had taken the precaution of carrying a chair with me, so I could ponder in comfort too.

I did want the chair, because my back aches somewhat, as a result of moving chicken coops yesterday. After the awfulness of having four clutches of chicks at a time, four years ago – 32 chicks in all as well as my 30 adult bantams – I didn’t expect ever to want chicks again and I kept the hens indoors, albeit with lots of room – a 40×14 foot greenhouse plus a sizeable run of about 10×20 foot – so that they couldn’t indulge in their favourite pastime of laying away, vanishing for three weeks and then turning up with adorable chicks that had to be looked after and worried about. But, having lost all my hens to a wretched dog and a beastly fox (I suspect a pair of ’em), I missed our dear bantams that we’d had for 30 years. The only ones left were Rose’s. And Canasta is the most maternal of the three, and she disappeared ten days ago, to sit on her eggs. Rose found her and now we’ve moved her to the coop, along with thirteen eggs. They should hatch in about ten days, so fingers crossed.

Anyway, that’s the reason my back aches, but never mind. Eloise cat has had a lovely day and is so much more tranquil, having been out in the garden for two or three hours. And I finally potted up all the tomato plants. Just the aubergines and chillies to go, and they’re not quite big enough yet.

Speaking of chillies, Tim has brought back a kilo of them, to make our delicious relish. De-seeding and shredding a kilo of chillies is quite a thing, though.

For this relief…

…hooray! My accountant is going on maternity leave in a month’s time, which prompted me to get my papers together. It’s not unusual nowadays for me to start to weep in panic at the prospect of extra admin, but I got over that by lunchtime yesterday and, of course, once I actually did the work and put everything in order, it calmed and cheered me. Stupidly, I hadn’t done the auction accounts straight after the sale, so it was rather more work than if I’d had everything at my (literal and figurative) fingertips, but it wasn’t too bad. And she had given me a crib sheet, so I could add this year’s figures against last year’s. I had all the different categories of income (it’s not that many or much, just complicated) typed up, to her surprise. And it’s done. She’ll tell me what I owe and I don’t have to think about it any more.

Tim is in Reading this week, so Eloise cat and I are looking after each other. I had to look after her today, as she had a rather unfortunate tummy upset and needed a degree of clearing up. She doesn’t lash out, but she did try to get away and I’m rather scratched. After she’d had a long sleep, she felt much better and cuddled me on the sofa for a long time.

One of the pleasures of sitting here is looking out on the sunset through the Scots pines by the road. It’s a bit late for sunset in fact, but the sky is still a pinkish yellow and rather pretty. We had a sunny evening after a wet and chilly day, but at least that means my young plants didn’t need to be watered. I must pot up the tomato plants in the next couple of days and tidy up the greenhouse.

Z feels sluggish

I’ve been planting out vegetables and planning ahead. That’s the good thing about gardening, you’re in the moment but you’re also looking forward.

Rose has three broody bantams at present. Scrabble and Polly have been cuddled up together for the last couple of weeks in her conservatory. She says they can’t be relied on, however, so there’s no point in actually having eggs under them. Canasta, she thinks, would be a reliable mother so, now she’s found out where she’s sitting, the situation is being monitored. We don’t really need more chickens but i have a sentimental wish not to let our lovely bantams die out, so I’d quite like to have two or three more, to keep them going. I know that I’m a fool. I’ll harden my heart one of these days and stop being so sentimental, but that’s got its disadvantages too, so I’ll let myself be tender for a bit longer.

I’m not sure what I’ve said about hedgehogs recently. The one I found on a frosty afternoon was returned here a few weeks ago, but Tessa brought another one three weeks ago. I put down food every evening, though I haven’t seen them – but I don’t usually go out at the sort of time they’d probably be eating it. A couple of nights ago, I went to feed the barn cats and chucked some GoKat in the dish, just as a hedgehog was approaching. I don’t know if it was Timhedgehog or Lucky, it was about the size but well away from where I’ve been putting down food, but it ran away. So I put down food there too now. We’re mugs, basically. Quite possibly, all we’re feeding are the local rat population. There was a big slug that came regularly to the cats’ food dish, but I haven’t seen it for a while, so perhaps a hedgehog found that and ate it. I’ll be slightly sorry if so, as it had become a pet too, but you can’t be overly sentimental about a slug.


Here we are – most of us, anyway. Ro and Dora were looking after Rufus and Eloise cat was indoors. And Mike was taking the photo.

Lisa, Vicus, Indigo, LT, Small Bear, Sir Bruin, Zoe, Zoë, Scout

Z doesn’t post photos yet

I must download those photos – I never did show you any from Jersey, did I – I’m hopeless. I really will put up a few from the blog party, though.

Eloise cat continues to do well. We put her harness and lead on her yesterday, but she just lay down and wouldn’t move. However, on trying again today, we felt that she’d healed sufficiently to go outside, and she loved that. She hadn’t been out for three weeks and the first thing she did was to go and eat some grass. She pottered about with me at the end of the lead – but was very unhappy when shut up again. I took her out again later (she mustn’t walk too much to start with in case it inflames the leg) and she was very happy.

I’m measuring all her food and have taken to measuring the water too – not to restrict her, of course, but to check how much she’s actually drinking, because it doesn’t seem much. I don’t look obsessive, but it’s evidently a repressed part of my nature.

I have been planting out vegetables. I’m growing fewer this year, so that a couple of the beds can be left empty and thoroughly weeded. Unfortunately, I’ve got various perennial weeds, especially bindweed, in most of the beds and this is the year to attack it. Very reluctantly, I’m even prepared to use weedkiller – I never do, except on the drive and tennis court, but it’s gone beyond control, mostly because a rotovator has been used on the beds; which I dislike but, as I cannot cope with them myself, have had to accept.

You may follow the blog of our good friend Mike (The Armoury). Ann phoned me last night, to tell me not to expect any posts for a little while. He stumbled on a step, broke his hip and is recovering in Ipswich Hospital. He sounds in good spirits, though his keenness to be independent and helpful sometimes exceeds his abilities, so the nurses are being kept on their toes. He’s likely to be in hospital for another week and he’s in Needham Ward, in case anyone wants to send him a card.

Pheasants are wandering around, pacing the ground as they wait for their chicks to hatch. Without their wives to look after, they don’t quite know what to do with themselves. Isn’t spring lovely?

Blog party weekend

I haven’t written for a couple of days, for a reason that will be come apparent. I’ll tell you about the weekend, though I’m afraid the mood will darken towards the end.

But let’s go with the cheerful, aka the Blog Party. We were going to be a fairly select bunch this time. At one time, we’d thought it would be a dozen or more, but Rose wasn’t able to be here. Vicus Scurra had also said he might come though it was unlikely. Since he didn’t opt in, I assumed he was opting out, which was a mistake – quantity didn’t matter there as much as quality, because he’s a strict vegetarian and I hadn’t catered for him.

All the same, what a delight when he turned up. We’d already sat down to lunch and he strolled in. I don’t think anyone here had met him – there’s a standing invitation to his place and, now that I’ve tasted Shila’s cooking, I’m taking him up on it, frankly (er, cup of tea is plenty darling, I’m hardly dropping any hint at all) – but we all knew him from his blog and Facebook. Also, Sir Bruin and the Small Bear, Zoe (my boyfriend is a twat) and Mike Da Hat (not the boyfriend in question), Indigo Roth and his lovely Lisa, Ro, Dora and Rufus came along. Oh, and Scout the dog. Sir B and Liz, and Ro and Dora have never missed a blog party, the darlings.

Well, I enjoyed it. I hope others did too. When Vicus arrived, my mind turned hastily to food that I could whip up in minutes (which I could have, of course) but he assured me that he didn’t want to be fed, and produced lovely food instead. Remember it as ‘underwear,’ darlings, but it’s actually Ondhwa, which is a savoury, spicy cake and very delicious and really *squeaky voice* quite spicy. And then, a sort of layered oaty number, with the central layer being a mixture of date, fig and apricot. Honestly, he can come again, and I’ll give him lunch next time into the bargain.

Zoe and Mike, with Scout, stayed the night. Scout the border collie stayed out of the way, because he’s a tactful dog and he and Eloise cat are wary of each other, but they both coped well. LT and I don’t normally watch the Eurovision Song Contest – I think I did, the year after Russell died, because it made Facebook more fun to read the comments on each act, but Tim is actually musical and he winced volubly at most of the entrants. It has to be said, none of the performers was as bad as Madonna though. Whew. Time to retire perhaps. And both he and I picked the winner as the only one with any musical merit, we reckoned (though I also had quite a soft spot for Australia for their performance). We also picked the loser, but the only surprise there was that the UK didn’t get nul points.

We drank a lot, I’m afraid. I took North Macedonia as the test and, if it could be said three times correctly, the speaker needed more wine. North Macedonia isn’t as challenging a tongue-twister as I thought it was, so the bottles lined up during the evening.

So it was, as far as the egotistical Z is concerned, a lovely day. Rose came home for a rest, but was too tired to join us. I couldn’t sleep so, when she texted me to say she’d gone back to the hospital, I was awake to remember that I hadn’t checked on her chickens. This was about 1.30 am – I nipped downstairs and she’d shut them in, so I shut them in their sleeping quarters.

She sent me another message at 8 o’clock. Her sweetheart, lovely Dave, died in the night. It wasn’t expected though his time was known to be limited. Until she’d contacted those people she needed to, and then made the sad news public, I couldn’t tell you; but I couldn’t not either, so I wrote nothing. We’re glad to have known him, He was one of the best.

There are photos but they’re Mike’s – I’ll ask if I may put any of them on here.

Raising a glass to Rose on her birthday

Eloise cat is doing very well. Her wound is starting to heal, she occasionally licks it but stops when told and she just wants lots of cuddles now. She has learnt that, if she starts to get restless when we’re holding her, she’ll get put back in her cage. The soft collar is really good, but I don’t want to put it too tight, and a cat’s neck isn’t much narrower than its head, so she can claw it off if she wants to. It’s certainly much better than the plastic Collar of Shame.

The blog party is tomorrow – we’re all set. We went through today’s to-do list pretty briskly, in fact. Not that hoovering was involved, but we’re good with food and drink.

Rose probably won’t be here, but it’s her birthday so we’re drinking a toast to her this evening.

Z gets quite het up

Well, darlings, the day has been trying. I felt quite desperately anxious for a while. But I so feel for poor LT, who has to watch me all the time. It’s not easy, living with me, you know.

It started okay, after a slight hiccup when Tim woke with a start, thinking he could hear Eloise crying. Luckily I was already awake and knew it was a dove calling down the chimney. She – Eloise – had a good night and I put her painkiller on her breakfast pouch of meat, and that was fine.

I have sold a piece of china left from the last auction – most of it had been returned to the owners, but I had a few pieces left to sell next time, and this was one of them. A woman had contacted me from America, very keen to buy it and I had checked the postage price and she paid me yesterday; so I wanted to send it today. Tim had a bit of shopping to do because he’s making his famous leek quiche for the party, and I had some papers to sign and send back to my sister. So I packed up the china and signed the papers, Tim dropped me off at the post office and went to do the shopping and arranged to fetch me afterwards.

So far, so good, but that’s when it started to go awry. The box I’d packed the china in was one centimetre too big, one way. If it went to the next size, it would cost £58 (or something like that) rather than £16. So I took it back to put in a slightly smaller box. On the way home, we called in at the fishmonger for dressed crabs, because that’s Eloise cat’s favourite food. When we got home, we found that she’d been pulling at the dressing covering her wound and it was partly exposed. We tried putting on the plastic collar provided, but it was hopeless – it jutted way past her face, she wouldn’t have been able to eat or drink and it terrified her. She was trying to scramble up the bars of her cage. So I went off to ask advice from the vets – but on the way, I thought the pet shop would be a better place. We hadn’t bought one of the soft collars that Kippy recommended, but I thought they’d have them there.

People don’t necessarily drive with any consideration, do they. In the road where the pet shop is, there are three parking spaces. The back one was unoccupied, but the estate car in the middle had parked so badly that there was only half a space left. Frankly, darlings, I was anxious and stressed and past caring very much, and parked to block someone in a driveway (though it was likely to be okay, as it was the driveway to the local caff and probably it was the cook’s car, and they’d be there for a couple more hours). The woman at the pet shop tried to help, but all their collars were too big or too small. So I went to the chemist and bought tape to keep the dressing on, instead. There was no irate person hemmed in by my bad parking fortunately. I’d have apologised profusely and quite possibly cried with remorse, which would probably have got me off the hook.

On the way home, someone opened his car door just as I was driving past, but luckily I was well out in the road and a minor swerve missed him. Then, another guy who was waiting for me suddenly moved forward when there wasn’t room, so we both had to brake and carefully manoeuvre when that shouldn’t have been necessary. Then, in our road, which is fairly narrow but quite wide enough for two cars, the oncoming car was bang in the middle of the road so that I had to stop, and I wondered if he’d actually hit me. He noticed in the end and moved over so that driving up the bank was enough. I can only think the sunshine has addled people’s brains.

We taped up Eloise’s leg, but she soon tore the tape off again. So I phoned the vet and a nurse was able to fit us in. Eloise had been in enough pain to rather lacerate my neck, though it was completely accidental, but she wore her halo when Jenny patched her up. However, within ten minutes she’d got the dressing off again and we gave up. It seems to be that which annoys her, she hasn’t bothered the wound. We did manage to measure her head and I’ve ordered a soft collar for her, but the nurse is doubtful that it’ll stop her licking if she’s persistent, as cats are so agile and can reach past most obstacles.

I repacked the china, but I couldn’t find the packing tape. I’d bought two new rolls at the Factory Shop and put them in my bag, and I took them out when I went off to the vet. I’ve no idea where I put them. I already had mislaid Eloise’s cat harness and finally found it in my bag, but I certainly had removed the sticky tape. It wasn’t worth searching for more time than it took to look in all possible places three times, so I packed the china, went and bought more tape, and finally posted the china.

Things started to look up after that. Eloise tore her new dressing off again, but she hasn’t bothered the wound. I went and spent 40 minutes or so in the greenhouse, potting up tomatoes and other plants. The chickens went to bed, though the sun was still shining, because they’re really quite good natured. Lovely Tim cooked dinner. Eloise wanted a cuddle and, for the first time, didn’t struggle to get down. I still haven’t found the tape, but I no longer care. Dinner was delicious and we seem to have drunk all the wine. Whoops. Tim is going to make Famous Leek Quiche tomorrow while I’m out for lunch with girlfriends. Oh, and Eloise loved the crab for her lunch. I’m limiting the food she’s allowed, as she would easily put on weight while she’s shut up, but I weigh it and leave an allowance for the odd treat.

I had possibly the cheapest vet bill I’ll ever have. Jenny provided us with four extra plasters and we were charged £3.31.


All is back where it should be, though Eloise cat doesn’t think so. Tim arrived home for a late lunch and we left for the vet’s at a quarter to four this afternoon. We left with just enough time, which feels late to me, but it was my misjudgement that was responsible. I made yoghurt and bread today – this works quite well as I put the milk on to boil, weigh out the bread ingredients, start that off in the mixer, take the hot milk off, add the seeds to the dough while the milk cools, put it to prove and then clear up and add the yoghurt starter to the milk, then put it in the Thermos – all in twenty minutes or so. I set a timer for three hours for the dough to prove, and that was my mistake. Anything over two hours is adequate and I hadn’t realised that I was cutting it fine. As it was, the second rise in the loaf tin had to be cut by five minutes and the cooking time by two, to give an hour to make a 57 minute journey. I really don’t like to be late, as you can tell.

When we’d been on our way for a few minutes, the satnav announced that there was a hold-up ahead and it was diverting. It didn’t explain where the hold-up was, though. We got down the A140 and, just before we should have joined the A14, it directed us down a side road. It was delightful. I guess that it cut out a few miles in distance, since it was certainly slower in terms of speed, but it went through lovely countryside and pretty villages. Presumably there was a delay on the A14 or on the approach to Ipswich – we arrived a comfortable two minutes early, and there’s always a wait anyway because they build that into the appointment system. It was such a pleasant route that we came back that way too and I’ll use it next time as well.

Poor little Eloise has a shaven back leg with a plaster on, but the operation was a success and she now has a nylon prosthetic ligament. The ligaments at the sides are okay and so is the other knee. The joint was badly dislocated and the vet had some difficulty in getting everything into the right place, but it’s firmly in situ now. Eloise isn’t thrilled at being shut in, but she’s all right and has eaten and drunk. She found it hard to climb into her litter tray, so I removed it and put in a shallower tray. I just took her out for a cuddle, but she wanted to jump down and so I didn’t keep her out for long.

We have an appointment in four weeks and possibly after that she might have limited freedom. We’d been told she’d be in her cage for three months but the vet says it might be nearer six weeks, which would be good, even if she has to stay in the house after that for a few more weeks. At least she’s home and well.

Only Z

I’m alone in the house for the first time in nearly four years. It was June 2015 when I brought Eloise cat home with me. Tonight, she is at the vet’s surgery in Ipswich, recovering from her knee operation, and Tim is in Reading.

You may remember how it was that Eloise came to live here, but I’ll remind anyone who has forgotten the details. I spent a lot of time, the year and a half after Russell died, with our lovely friend Linda, or Ziggi as she was known in Blogland. Linda had four cats, though three of them really belonged to her daughters; two dogs; a tortoise and three ponies. When her cancer recurred, her neighbour Kirstie gave her a kitten to bring her good luck. Linda and her daughters loved the Eloise books by Kay Thompson, about the little girl (Linda said that she was reputed to be based on the young Liza Minelli) who lived with her nanny in the Plaza Hotel in New York. They are delightful, if you’ve never come across them. She decided to call the kitten after the child.

Eloise was born two days after Russell died, as it happens, on my granddaughter Zerlina’s birthday on 20th August. I visited in the October, and frequently after that. But Linda’s younger daughter, Baby Doc on her blog, became allergic to the kitten. This seems odd when there were so many other animals in the house, but the others were long haired breeds; three Ragdolls and a Birman, and Eloise is half Ragdoll and half a shorthair, and maybe her dense coat is dustier. Then Linda started to sneeze every time Eloise came near her. She reluctantly decided to rehome her. She couldn’t give her back to Kirstie, as she only lived opposite and Eloise would come and go across the road, and would be in danger and never really leave. I must have looked stricken when she told me, because she said, would I like first refusal?

I’ve never had a cat before. I grew up with dogs, lots of them. I said yes though and the next time I visited, Eloise came home with me. She was ten months old then and she didn’t enjoy the journey at all. She was bewildered when she arrived too, shot straight under the bureau and, when she eventually emerged, I discovered that it’s really quite cobwebby under there. It didn’t take her long to settle in though. Although she was just a kitten, she’d had to keep calm in a small house with so many other pets and, though tortoiseshells have a reputation for a feisty temperament, she is Ragdoll enough to be pretty laid back. I let her in a bit more of the house every day and, in less than a week, she was exploring the garden. She’s never wandered far, to my relief. When we can’t find her, it’s usually because she’s asleep on a spare room bed or else has quietly climbed into the car while we’re getting the shopping out and is asleep on the parcel shelf. She isn’t fond of other cats and dogs and prefers being an only cat.

The vet’s receptionist phoned earlier to say that Eloise cat was recovering from the anaesthetic and had been given some food. I’ll phone in the morning and they’ll tell me when I can come to pick her up. Tim is coming home tomorrow too, so this is the only night when I’ll be alone. It’s very quiet. The only sound is the ticking of the old Dutch clock in the hall.