Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category


March 17, 2011

Now that Winter is (hopefully) nearly over we can look forward to visits from family and friends  in the coming months.

It looks like a busy time ahead with Daphne and Johnny due to arrive tomorrow – together with the chimney sweep, who was supposed to come on Tuesday morning but he rang at the last minute and changed his rendezvous to Friday. Oh well, it saved me worrying too much about (not)  dusting the living room.

Bear is suffering from a bad back. Something clicked when he lifted the toilet seat, and he can hardly move without yelping in pain. I’m also concerned about his driving now that I realise how bad his eyesight is getting. We went to the opthalmologist last week and I was stunned to find that he couldn’t make out a rather large E –  he thought it was a square.

It means that I’ll have to pluck up the courage to take the wheel when we go out with Daphne and Johnny. He drives all day at work and doesn’t like driving during his holiday. However, if my driving makes him nervous he’ll have to take over.

After two days of almost Summer temperatures – 21 degrees – it has turned cold again. The short burst of enthusiasm for gardening has been blown away by the chill wind and so there’s no hope of clearingthe enormous pile of branches in the middle of the garden – which is all that remains of four conifers  – before our visitors come.

It was a shame to cut down the trees but Willow, our youngest and most agile cat learned how to climb up them and jump over into Claudine’s garden. The only problem was that it wasn’t so easy for her to get back and it meant going next door to rescue her.

I don’t like the idea of chopping down trees withut replacing them so I’ve bought two more fruit trees. Hopefully I’ll be able to get two more next year.

At Easter we’ll welcome Rosemary and in May Wendy is coming over with her husband, son and his girlfriend so that means I’ll see all three of my sisters.

In June we’re expecting a friend of Jay’s from America and in July a friend of mine from college days and our friends from Norfolk who come every year (but not all at the same time).

It will be lovely to see them all but I may be ready for a ‘holiday at home’ in August.

Poor Hens

December 5, 2010

I thought we had escaped the bad weather   for too long and today it has caught up with us – well and truly.

Jay and I walked to the bakers this morning and really enjoyed crunching over the (almost) virgin white snow but the cats and chickens are not so happy.

The cats usually queue up to dash out of the window as soon as it’s light but this morning only two braved the ice cold draught but went put of the window and then straight to the door to come in. They are all curled up happily in the warm now.

Not so the hens.  They have two shelters – with the open side facing in opposite directions but they are decidedly miserable.

The snow is getting deeper and they don’t like walking over it. Even at bedtime I have to lift some of them into their house for the night.  Hilda, the Sussex hen, is the only one who puts herself to bed before I get there and sometimes Susie joins her but the others are usually making sad little  noises from underneath the tarpaulin and scratching fruitlessly at the bare earth before having a last drink of water as a ‘nightcap’.

They are all still laying an egg a day despite seeming less interested in food. Apart from their grain, which they peck at eagerly, they show little interest in many of the other treats I take them such as cabbage or lettuce,  and bread soaked in warm water. However, they greedily gobble chips, bacon or fish if I can offer them any such leftovers.

Their water needs checking regularly as, even under cover,  it can freeze.

If any experienced poultry keepers can give me some hints on keeping them happy over Winter I’d be very grateful. Thanks.

One thing about this weather is that it puts me in the mood for Christmas and we took advantage of the local Garden Centre having a 15% discount day to buy our tree.

CC decorated it yesterday and we got the season off to a good start with mince pies and mulled wine while playing Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas album: all a bit earlier than usual but, never mind, eh!

Parsley the Prawn Pincher

July 26, 2009

As I may have mentioned, the fish lady comes by in her van every Thursday and my regular order is salmon for CC, Whale and me and plaice for Bear, but occasionally I also buy some cod to make a fish pie.

Last week my neighbour bought some prawns for her grandson and I was surprised at how many she got for less than a couple of euros so I thought I’d get a handful to put in the fishpie.

As I was peeling the first one,  Parsley appeared from nowhere and grabbed the beheaded prawn before I could take off the rest of the shell. She would not let go, and I only just managed to remove  the tail before she took off with her ‘prey’.

The other cats gathered round with interest and as I’m a bit of a soft touch with felines I thought they should all have one. After all, we could do without prawns in the fish pie.

However, the other cats were not sufficiently keen on their share  of the booty to demolish it quickly. Chloe and Willow managed to eat theirs but the others hesitated or spent too long sniffing cautiously. Parsley was in there like a shot and  finished off their helping.

There were only one or two prawns left – not worth putting in the pie –  so she had the rest. I’d forgotten how much she liked them.


Latest Little Problems (part 2)

January 24, 2009

Our supposedly cat proof fence let us down when we discovered a strange cat had got into the garden and couldn’t get out.

CC and Jay discovered the poor thing hiding under a tree. He was scared when they approached  and became frantic in his efforts to jump over the fence.

Eventually, as I was out at the time, Jay decided to open the ‘gate’ to allow him to escape.

That may sound simple, but, actually, the opening for the gate was closed in a rather haphazard way by yours truly.

Obviously, I was the only one who might have had some idea how to create an opening without causing chaos but Jay didn’t understand how my bits of wire and string were meant to work and he just made a gap as best he could.

The next two days were blessed with torrential rain and strong winds so our cats wouldn’t have gone out anyway but CC and I did venture into the garden to make sure the little lost cat had found his way out.

This morning it was calm and bright but freezing cold when I went out at 8 o’clock to mend the fence and the gate. It took me nearly half  an hour to bend back the ‘overhang’ that had blown inside out along two sides and re-do the ‘gate’.

Meanwhile, back inside, Whale (who seemed fast asleep when I went into the garden)  had been shouting loud enough to wake Bear and had eventually telephoned CC to come downstairs and check whether I was OK.

“Mum’s been out in the garden for twenty minutes. She may have fallen over.”

CC could see that I was mending the fence so she told him to stop fussing and went back to bed.

Brrrr Winter

January 7, 2009

Compared to some countries we have not had that much snow but temperatures have dropped to their lowest for several years – it was minus 15  this morning – and I got up to find there was no well water. Fortunately we can switch over to mains water and I crossed my fingers that there were no frozen pipes.

The cats were pretty miserable as it was too cold to go outside and play.  Holly and Willow tried looking out of the the bedroom window:


This went a bit sideways – and yes, there are bars at our bedroom window. I think it’s to hold up the wall. . . . . . . .






Hasn’t Willow grown? She’s about as big as the others now but still as playful as a young kitten.


Pepper took up her favourite position on top of Whale’s television from where she can watch the world go by:pepperwindow


Not that much was moving outside this morning though.



Parsley, Chloe and Toby settled themselves on armchairs:parsleychair


Parsley looks pretty fed up, don’t you think?






Chloe is miffed that the radiator isn’t warm. (It’s been turned off since we got the woodstove)




But Toby snuggled down into his favourite armchair and dozed.





It was Mustard who bagged the warmest place, under the fire (which was alight despite appearances: it keeps in overnight if turned down).


On the subject ot the woodstove, Bear has been stoking it up with enormous logs which is not a good idea, so he decided to buy a log splitter.

We went to Leroy Merlin with the intention of finding a thing like an oversized chisel to hammer into the logs but came away with an electric one. fendeur                                      


The instructions were a bit frightening with loads of safety precautions but it actually works very well.

The only dicey moment was when I told Bear that the maximum size was 25 cms and some of our logs looked bigger than that.

“We’ll have to try one then,” he announced.

“But if it says 25cms is the maximum that must be for a good reason.”

“No, we have to try these things.”

He tried.       It got stuck.      I left him to sort it out.

All the same, we now have a good supply of wood cut into ‘bite-sized chunks’  for the stove.wood


November 25, 2008

It was obvious Willow was boredwpb as she had emptied the wastepaper basket and strewn the contents all over the bedroom floor.

She lay there looking at me as if to say,

“What are you going to do about it then?”

So I decided it was time to introduce her to a new plaything – SNOW. sniff

She was a bit wary at first, and preferred to run up and down the (snowfree) path but curiousity got the better of her and she enjoyed exploring the garden in it’s new white dressing.

I made snowballs and she patted them about with her paws but the camera batteries ran out before I could take any more pictures.

My daughter thought I was completely mad but I made a ‘snowcat’ for our litle family of felines. snowcat1

Toby’s Escapade and My Laser Treatment

November 14, 2008

After letting us become lulled into a false sense of securitytoby with the ‘catproof fence’, this week Toby made his bid for freedom and did a Houdini.

When the others came in for tea he was nowhere to be found. We all searched the house and garden several times calling until we were hoarse and eventually we came to the conclusion that he must have got out to the front of the house via the garage perhaps.

We all went out into the road with hearts in mouths in case we came across an injured cat – or worse – and called him again and again.

Just before dark I went out once more and was in the middle of asking a couple of the village workmen to keep an eye out for him when Bear shouted from the top of our road,

“He’s back!”

He had appeared at the back door. It was a huge relief, but also a bit worrying. Our catproof fence was flawed: he had found a loophole.

Yesterday was taken up with appointments in town so we kept all the cats in.

Today CC and I inspected the fence and tried to work out how Toby had got out. There was one possible gap near the shed so we closed that and then let the cats out under supervision.

Toby knew he was being watched even though we hid behind bushes and pretended to be weeding but, fortunately I was nearby when he made his move. He nipped up a post by the soon-to-be gate and I just caught him at the top.

He was pretty cross at being brought in but I was pleased to have found his escape route.

Lunch was delayed while CC, Jay and I made temporary  repairs. We’ll do a proper job when Sylvain has installed the long promised gate.


Yesterday’s appointments were an x-ray for Bear’s painful hip in the morning and a session at the opthalmologist in the afternoon.

He checked Bear’s left eye and decided that despite the existence of yellow spots (macular degeneration?) he would go ahead with a cataract operation in December. It is now up to us to make arrangements to see the anaesthetist and book a room at the polyclinic.

I was there for laser treatment because after last year’s operation the implant had become cloudy. I had no idea what to expect but was surprised when he asked me to sit at a table in front of a machine which closely ressembled all the other eqipment he uses for eye examinations.

“Rest your chin there and press your forehead firmly against the bar” – as usual.

The only ‘extras’ were places to rest one’s feet and instructions to hold on to the side of the table.

He then asked me to look at the green light with my right eye while he dealt with the left.

It lasted about five minutes but I was aware of blinking pretty frequently and finding it difficult to keep perfectly still, especially when I wanted to swallow. However, he was quite kind and patient.

The laser was a red light and didn’t hurt at all but it was disconcerting to feel and hear a kind of click or pop at the back of my head every time he fired it.

I remember thinking to myself,

“I hope he doesn’t take out any brain cells as I can’t afford to lose any!”

Afterwards he said I would probably have ‘mouches volants’ (literally flying flies but I suppose he meant floaters) for a few days but that there should be no pain or loss of vision. If that happened I was to come back immediately.

We paid 240 euros (reimbursable) and came home.

There are drops to apply three times a day for six days – and yes, I do see little black ‘insects’ occasionally but on the whole I am pleased with the result.

There is another appointment in a couple of weeks when I hope he will prescribe a change of correction for my glasses as I still don’t see as well as I’d like.

Of Cats and Clocks

October 26, 2008

Putting the clocks back at the end of October is something I always look forward to. It means that I don’t have to get up when it’s dark for another few weeks. Moreover, on a Sunday morning I can lie in till 8.45. That (should have) meant 9.45 today – bliss!

Back in England I used to keep one clock at GMT – just for the hell of it – and visitors were often confused after wining and dining  and having a coffee and digestive in the lounge sitting opposite my rogue timepiece.

In France, of course, GMT doesn’t exist. We are always an hour ahead, but at least the hour changes on the same days now. Years ago there were usually a few days of total confusion when ‘energy saving time’ and BST couldn’t get it together.

So this morning, there I was, snuggled in bed, relishing the thought of an extra hour.

But the cats decided otherwise.

About six o’clock I had to make a little trip to the loo and after slipping on catsick yesterday morning trying to make my way in the dark, I swirched on the light in the hall this morning.

Big mistake: Holly decided it was time to get up and followed me back to the bedroom to be let out of the window.

The other felines appeared to be comfortably settled so I curled up in bed myself.

After a few minutes Toby started to pat me on the cheek, gently at first, but then his claws came out. Turning over just meant he came to attack the other side so I got out of bed and let him out as well.

This was a cue for the others to wake up and start playing, chasing each other over and under the bed and pouncing on any hand or foot that happened to move.

Enough was enough.

It was nearly 8 o’clock.  I got up.

Happy Cats

October 9, 2008

The fence is finally finished! After nearly two weeks of non-stop rain, yesterday we spent the afternoon n the garden putting the finishing touches to the fence.

Here’s my idea for the corners: a triangle of netting placed over the top and tied in place. Otherwise the top of the fence curves over about a foot – hopefully enough to prevent escape. Unfortunately the men ordered wooden poles so, although they’ll make good scratching posts, there’s a danger the cats will try to climb them.

The awkward bank where Parsley loved to get through to the neighbours has been pretty well catproofed – much to her disgust. She has tried to climb up it without success (so far!) but she got her own back by managing to jump onto the conservatory roof. We’re not sure how she did it but we have put more netting up over the shed. CC and I deserve a bravery award for doing this because there was a HUGE wasp spider watching us from the shed door. The other danger area is the hazlenut tree which is quite close to the fence. We’ve put a wider piece of fencing in place here.

Thanks to advice from Zuleme of Caturday I went round putting in large staples to fix the fence to the ground. This was easier said than done because there were lots of rocks in places and in other parts they went in far too easily which means that the cats could probably pull them out. So regular intervals had to be abandoned in favour of safe holding places. 

So, what did the cats think of their rediscovered freedom?  Well, they all had a good sniff round the perimeter and then Parsley and the twins sat on the wall to think about it.

“Why can’t we get through the hole in the wall?”

“Who’s been doing this in our garden?”

“Why is there a barrier where we used to jump over?”

Meanwhile Willow had her first ever play in the garden. At first she went up and down the steps, sometimes putting her nose inside the door to make sure her route home was still there, but soon she was racing round the bank like a mad thing, leaping over the other cats  and thoroughly enjoying herself.

She sniffed all the plants and tasted the grass, climbed over the flower pots and had a really good time exploring.



It looks as though Willow is going to make the most of her new playground.




September 24, 2008

Wow, is it really over ten days since my last post?

Unfortunately I haven’t anything exciting to report but as LOM was kind enough to miss me I’ll give yu a brief update.

The new member of the family, Willow, is settling in very well. We’ve never met such a self-confident little cat. She’s not afraid of the others – except for Holly  – and is now chasing them round the house when she wants to play. She’ll try eating anything; for example she sampled toasted waffles dipped in hot chocolate this morning! We are so pleased she came to live with us.

The cat-fence is progressing s l o w l y. We found a neighbour and his friend to undertake the job and, so far, since Monday 15th September they have put in four morning’s work. It’s amazing how many funerals Sylvain has had to attend and Thierry has lots of Doctors’ appointments. With a half erected fence I’m really worried about letting the cats out at all. Last week Holly was really upset because she had gone next door (to the left), come back over the roof and then found a high fence where she used to be able to jump over (from the right) She mewed pitifully and we cajoled for the best part of an hour before she finally took a gigantic leap, clawed her way up the wooden post on the neighbour’s side and jumped down into our garden.

The fence is now three quarters of the way round the garden with just the ‘tricky’ bit on the slope to finish. Hopefully the cats will be able to play out by this weekend. . . . . .

Apart from that the tme has been taken up with doctor’s appointments for everyone with me going to all of them as interpreter. My own visits were for the weekly injections in my knee – two down and one to go next Monday. They are not too painful but the big disadvantage is that I’m supposed to ‘rest’ until the Wednesday. Huh!

Tomorrow we have been invited to a small champagne ‘house’ to see the whole production from grape picking to drinking. I’ll let you know how it goes.