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!
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!”
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.
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.
This is where Hayley should have been, but there she was – gone!
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:
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most labradors will eat anything, they’re veritable dustbins! My previous golden lab Amber was anybody’s for a strawberry. Strawberries, apple, orange, grapes & any vegetable apart from celery. She was a hoover, nose to the ground snuffling up everything she came across.
This is a photo of my current lab, Hayley on a walk today. She loves green vegetables & we give her the crunchy centres of cabbage & broccoli stalk, but she won’t eat red veg – red for danger perhaps? Anyway, such is her love of brassicas that here she is, tugging & pulling up the remains straight out of the ground in the field!
Meet Kiruba, my Asian elephant 🙂
As mentioned in my last post, on impulse I signed up to adopt a tiger on the WWF website. As this only cost a few pounds per month & as I’d seen a news report about the dreadful poaching of elephants, I wanted an elephant as well. How can anyone kill such magnificent & noble creatures? It brings tears to my eyes, but the soft toy reminds me that I’m doing a little towards protecting the species.
Kiruba is around 40 years old with a son called Anand & a daughter Tula. She’s the matriarch of a tribe of about 20 elephants living in the Corbett National Park at the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India. The population of Asian elephants hasn’t declined quite as much as the tigers as there are approximately 40-50,000 left from 100,000 in the year 1900. They are still on the endangered list though & there’s nothing quite a cute as a baby elephant is there?
They make good soft toys – when we were babies, my brother didn’t have a teddy bear, he had a cuddly toy elephant called Empt, which he carried everywhere holding onto his trunk 🙂
This is the newest addition to the household – meet Kamrita 🙂
She’s a Bengal tiger, about 9-10 years old, with two cubs (a male & a female) & she lives in the Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal. I’ve ‘adopted’ her through the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) after watching one of their ads on TV, which followed a read of the book ‘Life of Pi‘, which may be a blog subject itself. Tigers abound!
It’s not expensive, only a few pounds each month to become one of Kamrita’s adopters, but it felt so good to do so. I don’t usually have cuddly toys, just a couple bought for me by family, but I wanted a reminder of the magnificent beauty of these endangered animals. Now I can carry-on smiling as I stroke her, knowing my money is going to a worth-while cause.
Like all tigers, Kamrita has her own individual pattern of stripes & the WWF can monitor where she is when she crosses an infra-red beam, thus triggering a camera. It’s important to keep an eye on tigers in the wild as they’ve declined in numbers from more than 100,000 at the turn of the century to as little as 3,200 today – a reduction of more than 95%!
I’ve ordered some business cards today. This was prompted by a 25% discount at Moo.com.
I’ve been using Moo for a while because not only are the cards excellent quality with various finish options to choose from, but you can design your own cards. As it’s possible to upload many different images, it’s fantastic for photographers, or anyone else who’s business is very visual, to feature their work. I tried using wordles on the back of mine, until someone I met at a networking meeting said it looked confusing.
That’s the beauty of Moo, order a few cards then change the design for the next order. A friend of mine always creates his very personal Christmas cards with Moo too.
Another attractive benefit is the infomality of their correspondence – it’s so friendly 🙂 Sign-up to Moo’s newsletter which is full of innovative ideas of how their customers design & use their
This was the wordle design of my old cards & I can’t wait for my new ones to arrive.
Many of my posts have been about the weather & particularly snow! However, when spending all day in front of the computer working for my clients, other than walking the dogs daily, I don’t always have the opportunity to do much else. Much like most people I assume? I enjoy my work & have chosen to be a Virtual Assistant as I’m a good PA, I love being organised, I have a great relationship with my clients & enjoy the variety of my workload.
Anyway, back to the daily photo – this is the snow as it was first thing in the morning. I was actually walking in a snow storm at 2am in the morning which the dogs thought was great! The light was bright, but I hadn’t taken my camera or phone. The wind was blowing from the wind turbines (see post #5) & as there was virtually no traffic noise, I could actually hear the whiney, swooshy hum as they turned. There were a few cars on the road & it was interesting to note that the snow ploughs came along in threes, just like buses 🙂
On the track, I was sheltered from the wind by the bushes either side & thoroughly enjoyed trudging through the virgin snow. It was so exhilerating – something to knock of my bucket list perhaps? Having a friend with mobility difficulties who’s slowly progressing towards being permanently wheelchair-bound, I always feel so very grateful when walking, fully appreciating the fact that I can.
Dogs love snow, it sends them whappy! Whilst it’s difficult for us to trudge through the drifts, the dogs chase snowballs & each other.
There’s always hares on the field where we walk, but they usually ‘hare’ off & are quickly camouflaged. The dogs half-heartedly run after & then give up. Today I could see many against the snow at the opposite side of the field which was criss-crossed by their distinctive tracks. The dogs were snuffling in the scrapes where the hares had rested, revealing the ground underneath.
After an exhilarating walk, I had a good day, dipping in & out of two or three clients’ work all day, plenty to keep me busy working from home. It’s Friday with more snow forecast & as I write this, it’s already more than an inch deep – more fun for the dogs 🙂