My journal and my life

Archive for February, 2013

Post #35 Here Kitty, Kitty

As mentioned in a previous post, some of my days are filled with dog walking & working with very little of consequence to photograph or write about.  So today, I looked through my past photos & came across these beauties – aaaah, kittens!

Kittens

Last year I received a phone call from my daughter who lives in an apartment in a city 25 miles away.  It was gone midnight & she woke me to panic about a cat in the car park who was following them, mewling pitifully.  After a lengthy conversation of me reasoning with her to leave it outside as it would most probably have a home.  If not, no doubt it would still be there to be rescued in the morning. My parting comment to her & her boyfriend was “You’ll only do what you want anyway!”

Kittens

Lo & behold, the following day they had a cat in an apartment where no pets were allowed.  The vet pronounced it a female in good health if a little thin & Sarah posted adverts hoping to find puss-cat’s owner.  She was saddened to receive many calls from people who had lost their cats, but not this one.

Kittens & mum

Meanwhile she became fond of this friendly black & white cutie, but was going on holiday abroad….  Mum, of course, borrowed a cat travel case & fetched kitty home.  Unfortunately although she was affectionate with people, she terrorised both our existing Chloe-cat & Hayley-dog.

But Sookie, as she was quickly named, thrived growing sleeker & fatter – too fat really with a round tummy.  Yep, this stray had obviously been thrown out because she was pregnant!  I was living with my son & daughter-in-law & they were delighted at the thought of kittens – they weren’t disappointed as you can see.

3 kittens needing a home

Post #34 Winter Swim

This is where Hayley should have been, but there she was – gone!

Pleasley Woods

Entering woods from a different direction, I’d forgotten that this path led to an open glade, complete with a pond.  Hayley hadn’t forgotten – she’s a labrador water diviner – I’m sure her dad must have been a seal, her mum an otter.  As she suffers with hip dysplasia, I tend to keep her away from water in winter, but by the time I reached her, she’d actually broken through a thin layer of ice & done this:

A pond full of logs

Hayley has a mission, she has to rescue any branch or log drowning in the water & will amuse herself for ages retrieving pieces of wood, even submerging her head completely to reach them as they bob under water.  There was a large log that proved particularly difficult as it’s girth was too big for her jaws & all she ended up doing was spinning it round & round. So frustrating 🙂

Winter pond

After a good roll in the grass, she selects her favourite branch from the newly rescued wood pile & patiently carries it back to the car.  She’s never happy to leave it behind, but if brought home, she’d set to & shred the wood into little pieces with her teeth.

Carrying a favourite stick home

We have a routine once home, I have to sit down with Hayley on my lap for the first half hour of her exhaustion, otherwise, she follows me round & won’t settle.

Post #33 Local Panorama

One of my favourite walks close to home is on a former colliery site, now a country park & one of many in the area.  These sites are great for dog walkers & cyclists, but their existence means the mines, industry & employment has gone, which is sad.

These parks have great views as you’re actually walking on the pit tip, the slag heap of waste left behind when the mines were dug out.  There’s little nutrient in the great mounds of grey shale, so only hardy grass & scrubby bushes can survive.  It’s not at all suitable for crops, but sheep often graze & there were some woolly brown ones enjoying the sunshine today.  It was a parky morning, clear & bright but icy cold, frosty underfoot so not too muddy.

Brown Woolly Sheep

I love the evidence of history that can be viewed, a full 360 degree panorama from the top of the hill.  Looking east over the top of my house, there’s at least two coal fired power stations on the horizon – the steam from the cooling towers indicating the direction of the wind.  Moving southwards & focusing a little closer, there’s a small valley with the towers of a former textile mill peeping above the trees.  The cotton mills were initially powered by the river Meden which had cut through the limestone & created the vale.  Later they were steam powered, fueled by coal from the mine, delivered by rail & it’s still possible to walk part of the route.  The old mills have been featured on the Most Haunted programme.

Notts Derbys Border

Moving on, just below the horizon & again higher than the trees of Sherwood Forest, the pair of headstocks from the former Clipstone Colliery can be seen.  The workshops were demolished when the pit closed, but the headstocks left intact as a historical monument, although a local MP now wants the land redeveloped.

Pleasley & Hardwick

Continuing south west & the five modern wind turbines featured in my post #5 can be seen on the horizon – no steam from these clean machines!  Further westwards & Hardwick New Hall nestles above the trees.  A grand Elizabethan house built by Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Shrewsbury – Bess of Hardwick, a magnificent woman who outlived four husbands & amassed their wealth.

Post #32 Downton Abbey

I love period dramas & fondly remember Upstairs Downstairs (the original), but more recently I’ve been avidly watching the award winning Downton Abbey.  There’s lots of programmes & series made for UK terrestrial TV, but rarely is there something of pure quality.

Downton Abbey DVD

The storyline is similar to Upstairs Downstairs, following an upper-class family & their servants.  Both groups have their life problems & family disputes which draw in the viewer, but there’s also the interaction between the classes.  Living so closely together, especially as the servants tended to stay in post for years, they would have been involved in each others’ lives.  The loyal servants would have been privy to sensitive information or witness to scandalous events. However, I’m sure the servants’ lives would have been much harder than that portrayed in Downton Abbey, as they do seem to have a fair amount of spare time.

I love the ladies’ fashions of course & the gradual changes from the structured corseted outfits of the Edwardian era, to the softer flapper dresses after the first world war. The change in attitudes is also featured – the beginning of the end of the upstairs downstairs lifestyle.

Although Downton Abbey is set in Yorkshire, it’s filmed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. It’s fascinating to watch behind the scenes documentary, to learn of the fine attention to historical detail & see interviews of the cast & their stories of filming in such a grand location.  The present Countess of Carnarvon has also written a book about Lady Almina, the 5th Countess who lived at Highclere at the same time Downton Abbey is set.

Highclere Castle

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