Monday, 30 November 2009


Just over two and a half years ago, Mum and I moved into a new house. It had been a long time coming – the old house had been on the market for 2 years and we had spent the previous 9 weeks homeless due to a deal falling through on the house Mum was hoping to buy.

Those were 9 long weeks. Everything we owned was in storage. We had a suitcase each with a week’s worth of clothes in (the length of time we initially thought we would be between houses) and that was it.

It was beyond wonderful to finally have a home. I was not cut out for a nomadic life, sleeping on people’s floors and not knowing from one week to the next where we would be staying the night.
Three days after we moved in was a Saturday. We were still living amongst boxes and trying to figure out where everything would go when Mum announced...

“I want a kitten”

I wasn’t that surprised. I’ve never known a house without a cat and we’d had to put down Pickle, our cat of 12 years earlier in the year. In a way it was fortunate because who knows what would have happened to her during our homeless period. Either way I think now that there was a home again it needed a cat and when Mum makes up her’s as good as done.
We took ourselves off to the RSPCA where we both immediately spotted a gorgeous little tortoiseshell – nose pressed against the glass while her brothers and sisters played. She was ready to go home.
Once we got her home we realised that we had forgotten everything about having a kitten. She was so teeny tiny and was in to absolutely everything. There were gaps behind cupboards and fridges and washing machines to get into, boxes to explore, she wasted no time setting forth on her exploration.
Within a couple of minutes she had full control of the house and it continued that way for many months. We were enraptured with everything she did, except for when she’d hide under my bed in the morning and then leap out on my feet as I tried to get ready for work.
Then one day the RSPCA rang to tell us that the Pumpkin’s Mum and 2 of her siblings had died from feline leukaemia. The mother had been a stray and probably caught it out and about and passed it on to the babies. They advised us to go and get her tested to see if it was positive.

Turns out it was and in a week she went from being a fun-loving kitten, (who did sleep a lot but then what cat doesn’t?!) to not a well little person at all. Her nose was all pale and she didn’t want to play, just sleep all the time.

So 2 years ago today we had to take her to the vets to be put to sleep (by the way, how bad a month was this? Grandparents dying, kittens dying....).

She was only 9 months old and far too young for something like this to be happening to her. I always think about what could have been. She was such a fabulous cat and so beautiful.

RIP Pumpkin.

PS I did not name her

PPS The RSPCA were very good about the situation. They paid for the test and for the euthanasia and told us we would come back and get another kitten without having to pay the adoption fee again. As one of my friends said, “Well I should think so, they sold you faulty goods!”

PPPS We did go back and get another kitten, the infamous Mabel, but that is a story for another time.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Sweet potato pie baby!

Since the Curious Cat asked so nicely, I will share with you the joys of Sweet Potato Pie.

This is a slighlty confusing dish. Is it sweet? Is it savoury? WHO KNOWS?!

Well actually I do know. It's savoury. 'Tis for the main course. Although it is so sweet that I guess you could technically have it on its for instance if there is some left over and you're too lazy to make lunch...I don't know who would do that.

Anyway I did ask The Americans for the recipe that they used for the infamous Thanksgiving of 2005 but they were rubbish and couldn't find it.

Still the interweb came to my rescue and I discovered that it's not that hard.

Is amazingly simple in fact, why have a never made it before?

You'll be needing:

- Sweet Potatoes

- 1 tsp cinnamon

- 1 tsp nutmeg

- 1/2 tsp paprika

- Mini marshmallows

Then you just put the sweet potato on to boil and mash it up with some butter. Add the spices and mix well. Add a handful of marshmallows and stir them in and then whack it all in a dish and put some more marshmallows on the top.

Stick it in the oven for about 10 minutes until it looks a little something like this:

See?! Super simple!!

Then you just need to serve it up - we went for some lamb chops (which the boyfriend did stuff to with herbs although you'd have to ask him exactly what he did) and some sweetcorn and peas.

I know it does sound a little bit weird but you just have to trust me on this one. Go with me. Put your trust in me.

(Unless you try it and don't like it. In which case I will deny we ever had this conversation.)

Have a good weekend everybody - I'm off to the Manchester for the weekend so I'll be back with pictures and probably boring stories to tell. But don't worry, I'll jazz them up and make them good for you.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Thanksgiving 2005

Today is Thanksgiving in America. And I would like to share a little story about the one and only Thanksgiving I have experienced which took place in Manchester on November 24th 2005.

I was back at university as a postgraduate, living back in Halls with lots of other people and we decided that we would celebrate Thanksgiving even though we were in England because we had 2 Americans in our midst.

(And also who needs an excuse to drink and eat copious amounts?!)

We looked to The Americans to show us the way. “Tell us. Tell us what we should do?” So The Americans showed us how to make Hand Turkeys and we got paints and drew round our hands and cut them out and stuck them all over the walls.

The Americans were a little nervous about cooking a Thanksgiving dinner on their own for the first times. And in a fairly grotty kitchen at that. But I assured them it would be fine.

“It’s basically a Christmas dinner which is basically a Sunday dinner and I can definitely do those.” I said. “I will help you”

The night before Thanksgiving I got my gladrags on and went out for a ‘few drinks’. In my experience if you utter the words “I’m just going out for a few drinks, it’s not a big night or anything” then you are guaranteed it’s going to be a big night out.

Turns out it was a big night out mainly down to two factors: 1. I was the only girl and 2. We realised that at midnight we could officially celebrate the beginning of 24 hour licensing (Has anybody else noticed that that has never really made a difference? Anyway...) so should stay out at least until then.

The night culminated in a toast to 24 hour licensing and me falling down a flight of stairs in the bar as we were leaving.

The next morning I awoke in agony. And surrounded by peas which, in a moment of sobriety, my friend had got out in an attempt to fix my foot.

It hadn’t worked. I was in agony. “This is it.” I thought to myself. “My first broken bone at the age of 22. Mum is not going to be impressed when she finds out what I’ve done.”

Luckily for me we lived pretty much opposite the Manchester Royal Infirmary and so began the long hobbly journey over there, stopping off at Subway to keep the hangover at bay.

Turned out it wasn’t broken. The doctor didn’t understand how but said that it was probably because I was so drunk I’d have been fairly relaxed when I fell. (I sensed she wasn’t massively impressed with me.)

“But I still can’t walk, you must give me crutches.”

“No, no crutches for you. That will merely encourage you to walk and you must rest your foot. I will give you these magic pills called Codeine. They will help you.”

So I popped a couple of pills and went home to rest my foot.

Let me tell you something. Prescription strength codeine? STRONG. Very very strong. So strong that I was completely off my face. The room was spinning, all I could do was lie there with my foot up and laugh.

But I was determined to help The Americans with the Thanksgiving preparations so I went to the kitchen.

And stood there and laughed.

Basically I was no help at all.

The rest of the day is incredibly hazy. I gradually regained my senses towards the end of the day and went through to the kitchen to see if I could help The Americans. They were carving the turkey and suddenly pulled out a plastic bag from the cavity.

“You know I’m not convinced we should have kept this in” said American Number 1.

“Oh my god! They’re the giblets, you should have taken that out before you put it in the oven.” I laughed.

Cue looks from The Americans which basically said “If you weren’t an idiot you could have helped us you moron instead of standing there laughing.”

(They weren’t impressed with me either.)

The meal was lovely, no-one died from plastic bag poisoning, and I still retain the memories of the sweet potato pie with marshmallows. So much so that I’m going to be making it tonight.

I may have missed some aspects of Thanksgiving 2005 so at this point I invite one of The Americans who reads this blog to please add any details I may have missed in the comments below this post.

So what am I thankful for?

I am thankful for being taught how to make hand turkeys.

And I am thankful for meeting The Americans and for all the fun and games we had together.

And I am thankful that I only have to wait 33 days for even MORE fun and games together.


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

An open letter to the oldies

Dear Pensioners,

Let me begin this letter by thanking you for all the work you have done for this country. You have worked hard for many years, some of you even fighting in wars for our freedom, and you thoroughly deserve to have some time off and enjoy your lives.


I have one very small favour to ask. Could I please ask you to refrain from enjoying your lives and going in to town between the hours of 12pm and 2pm, especially in the run up to the festive period. You don’t want to be among the hubbub of people, you should avoid the melee, stay at home and have a nice bowl of soup.

In particular it would be much appreciated if you could keep clear of;
- Marks & Spencers
- Banks
- The Post Office

You see the problem is that those of us who are still working in an attempt to earn our own pensions one day only have a very short period of time to get our lunch, post our letters, pay in our cheques, pick up a few bits for tea and have a look for some pressies. And when you guys are in these just makes life so difficult.

Really you have all day to do this stuff. Most of you are up at 5am, maybe you could run your errands first thing in the morning when the shops open?

I know that life at times must be a little dull when you reach the later stages of life and your only source of excitement comes from slowly browsing the shelves in the M&S food court, deciding what to spend your hard-earned pension on. But you know what? Those shelves are still going to be there after lunchtime and won’t it be nicer to browse at your leisure without some young upstart jiggling and jostling behind you, trying to reach for the last BLT?

I know that you might be lonely and look forward to your chats with the lovely lady in the post office but think how much more time she could spend talking with you when there isn’t a rather large queue of shuffling people in suits and ties, groaning under the weight of all the Christmas packages they want to send off.

I hope this letter has not caused any offence. I merely want to make the town centre a comfortable environment for all Hull’s citizens and avoid me completely LOSING IT AND SMACKING ONE OF YOU WITH MY UMBRELLA.

Yours sincerely,

The Girl.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Other Hand - Chris Cleave

I’m banned from bookshops you know. I have a bookcase in our bedroom and it has, about 50-odd books on there which are all waiting to be read. So I’m not allowed to go and buy new books.


There’s a special occasion. Like going to Manchester for a trip. Or The Times Book of the Week where you can get a book for £2.99 with a copy of the paper. Or when you are buying books for other people and they just happen to be on the Waterstones 3 for 2 offer and you pick a book for yourself. Those situations don’t really count.

I’m not really one for re-reading books you see. There are so many out there and I can hear them calling to me and I don’t want to neglect them.

This means that sometimes I can rush through books like nobody’s business and so often I’ll go “Oh yes. I’ve read that....what happens in it again?” Sometimes the stories, although engaging at the time, don’t stay with me for long afterwards.

I have a friend who has an insane number of books lining her tiny one roomed flat in Manchester. It’s an Aladdin’s Cave and I can spend a whole afternoon browsing and picking things off the shelf and asking “Is this any good?” She can’t bear to send any books on their way to a better life. I’ve had to make her do it once when she finally ran out of room. It was traumatic for both of us, it was like I was wrenching her babies away from her and sending them to Oxfam.

I however am pretty brutal. I’ll read a book and I might have liked it but you know when you just know that that is as far as your journey goes together? You know that you’re never really going to read it again and it didn’t really set your world on fire to begin with. It’s time to let it go.

And let it go I do – be off with you to the charity shop little book, someone-else might love you enough to keep you forever and ever. And ever.

There are very few books that I have deemed worthy of keeping. Some I keep because they were just great stories. Some I keep because I would like to lend them to friends. Some I keep because I would like my children to read them. And some just struck a chord within me that I know I can’t ignore. Those books go on the special bookcase.

The Other Hand is going to join them on there.

Bet you wondered when I was going to get around to talking about it didn’t you?

But you see I can’t really give you a review as such because I’ve made a promise. I can’t tell you what happens. It says so on the back of the book and I agree with that decision – if you knew what was going to happen it would be ruined.

I can say that it’s a very clever book. There’s no floweriness to it. No massively long prose littered with words you don’t understand. It’s just a story, told by 2 women.

And it’s beauty lies in its simplicity and I recommend it to you all.

So well done Chris Cleave. You made it on to the shelf.

And who knows, maybe, just maybe, I might pick you up one day and read you again.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Things I love about my house - Part 6

Two years ago today my last remaining grandparent, my Dad's mother passed away.

I always felt a bit guilty about my relationship with Grandma. When my Dad left my Mum I didn't speak to him for 4/5 years and consequently lost touch with half of my family. I didn't mean to, it was just one of those things that happened. I was young and at uni and yeah probbly a little bit selfish.

When I started seeing Dad again I went round one afternoon to see my Grandma and stepping into the house was like stepping into a time warp. I was immediately transported back to my childhood as all the familiar objects surrounded me. I remembered the books on the shelves and the pictures on the walls. I remembered where the floorboards creaked and remembered stealing biscuits out of the larder. I remember walking about the garden with Grandpa, who died when I was about 9.

He loved that garden and I remembered helping him clean the fish pond out one summer's day and trying to catch the newts while the next door neighbour's cat, Fat Cat, stood hungrily by.

I remember helping Grandma do the washing. She had one of those twin tubs and she would let me swirl the clothes around with the big wooden stick while I inanely chattered away.

But if I had to pick one ting that encapsulates all these memories it would be the clock.

I was obsessed with this clock when I was a little girl. I absolutely loved it and would sit staring, never daring to touch it, for ages at a time. It was just the most beautiful thing and I couldn't get enough of it.
When I first saw Grandma after the long absence I snuck into her room just to have a look at it again. Would I still love it? After all your tastes changes over 10 years or so.

If possible I loved it more.

I have many regrets about my relationship with Grandma. I should have tried harder, I should have asked her all the questions I wish I had the answer to now. What was it like during World War II? How did she meet Grandpa? What was their wedding like? All the things I was too young to ask when I saw her all the time and totally absent from her life when I would have thought to ask them.

I didn't get to see her much during her final months. Her house was flooded in the July 2007 floods and she went to stay with my Auntie down near Plymouth while the house was repaired. She got too frail and ill and never returned to Hull. She passed away in a lovely nursing home, where they took absolutely amazing care of her. I did speak to her on the phone a couple of days before she died so I'm pleased I got to say my goodbyes.
After the funeral I found out what Grandma had left me in her will. There was a savings account that she had opened when I was born and had been putting small amounts of money into ever since. And then.....

I got my clock.

When I got it home and I was examining it from every angle I looked at the bottom and saw that she had written my name. I think that clock had belonged to me for a very long time.

So although I have my regrets, most importantly I have memories that are all sealed up, ready to be opened whenever I glance at my fairytale clock.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Island - Victoria Hislop

I think if I had to describe this book in one word it would be....


Although I don’t even think that word covers it. Beautiful feels a little wishy washy but it is the best I can come up with I’m afraid.

But you see it is beautiful. It transports you to Crete as you get swept up in the story. You can feel the heat beating down on you, see the glistening of the sea, feel the cool shade inside the houses on the leper colony of Spinalonga.

Excuse me?

Oh yes did I not mention? This book is about leprosy.

Ha. No it isn’t. Not really.

It’s about love. And family. The whole leper thing is just a setting, albeit a tragic one.

I think sometimes getting tarred with the Richard & Judy Book Club brush can be a blessing and a damnation. Yes your book will be read more widely but people who are snobby about their books (and there are so many) will immediately dismiss you.

No it isn’t taxing on the brain. It probably won’t rock your world entirely. But nor should it just be dismissed as a ‘beach read’ because I think to give it that title doesn’t do it justice.

I can’t deny the fact that I was completely lost in it and that I found it really difficult to put it down, even though I knew what was coming. There has to be something in that surely?

People can be so keen to show off their knowledge of all the great books that they’ve read that sometimes they forget what pleasure you can get from just reading a really nice story. Does a novel have to challenge you to be good? Does it have to be nominated for a Booker?

Hell to the no.

Victoria Hislop’s writing was wonderful in my opinion and I liked it so much that I have bought her second book The Return just to check if The Island was a fluke or if she really is that good.

Want to read a nice story that will captivate you? Read this. Especially on these cold winter nights, I think we need a little bit of Cretan sunshine.

Friday, 20 November 2009


Sometimes. Just sometimes. Life gets a little messy and out of order and disorganised.
This causes me great upset.

I don’t like mess. I don’t like disorder. And I definitely don’t like the feeling I get when things are disorganised.

Organised is good. Organised makes sense. Lists are a person’s best friend. You know why?


What a lovely word it is. I like being efficient. Life is short and sometimes we mustn’t waste precious moments. And if that means getting dressed while I’m on the toilet then so be it.

Clearly that was a joke.

(it wasn’t a joke)


When I feel that things are getting a little out of control I have a safe little place I can retreat to.

I could sit down with some M&Ms and put them in piles of the same colour (yes I have a touch of the OCD about me) OR I can go to my cross stitching file.

That’s right blog-friends. Cross-stitching FILE. I’m a geek. I buy the magazines, mostly because I am missing the creative gene that would mean I could design my own stuff. I’m happy to copy from other people.

But magazines can be messy. They can get in the way. They do not form an orderly pile. And I don’t want all the designs anyway. So within a week of me getting the magazine it has been ripped apart and the useless bits tossed aside. The good bits, the stuff I want to keep and copy one day are then filed.

FILED. It goes hand in hand with efficiency.

Unfortunately my file is not very exciting to look at. That’s because my boyfriend stole it from work for me and solicitors apparently don’t have fun files, they have boring, serious, grey files. But I’m not one to complain. :)

These charts are not just filed away willy nilly. That would not make them efficient. No no no. To be efficient they must be filed IN ORDER, by CATEGORY.

Ah you may laugh but next time you think to yourself “Oooh I might cross-stitch a flower to put on a card to give to my Granny” will you be able to flip straight to section 6??? where you will find all charts of all flowers?

I can.
(Yes I am smiling smugly to myself.)

And when I have selected my chart I turn to my little thread box.
Aaaah the thread box.

Thread box also makes me happy.

It is a) colourful and b) ORGANISED.

When I buy new threads I have a jolly little time spinning them on to my little cardboard bobbin things, using my spinny bobbin gadget.

Then they get put in their place.

Then when I need to find colours I can easily see whether I’ve got them or not. I usually don’t but I might have one that’s one out and if it’s the difference between using Orange and Slightly-Less-Orange-But-Not-Really then I’ll save my 75p thank you very much.

So if things get a little stressful you will find me looking through my file and looking at my threads.

They make me happy.

(Today’s post was brought to you by the words EFFICIENCY and GEEK)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Why sometimes it is good that you get sick.

Remember this one time when I was ill?

Well there was a small part of me that secretly enjoyed it. When I stopped wanting to cry that is. Because it meant that I was legitimately allowed to stay at home and cross stitch to my little heart’s content.

I actually didn’t end up getting as much done as I thought I would. Turned out I was quite ill and I was kept company by a rather marvellous banging headache which drummed out such a rhythm that I actually found it kind of hard to concentrate on needles and holes and charts.

But even so, a couple of Christmas cards were made and I started to make a birthday card for a close friend of my Mum’s.

She’s almost a second Mum to me really, I’ve known her all my life and her and my Mum are a pretty formidable duo when she comes to town. It’s actually quite a relief that she lives in Milton Keynes now, otherwise I’d be worried for the residents of Hull.

As soon as I saw this design I knew I wanted to stitch it for her and thought it would make a nice card. Then when I was finished I thought, why waste it on a card? Put it in a frame and then it can be her present.

The reasons this idea was good are two-fold;
1. She will appreciate the effort I’ve gone to, being a crafty person herself
2. It means I don’t have to buy her a present and I’m all in favour of saving money

The time has come for her to begin her little journey down South and before she gets wrapped up and put in an envelope I thought I would share her with you...
Isn’t she ace?

Wouldn’t we all like to be her?
Sometimes aren’t we all a little bit like her?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Only left handers are in their right minds.

Have I mentioned that I’m left-handed?

It’s very strange being left-handed because whilst it’s very normal for me, it seems a great source of wonderment for everyone else.

I’ll be innocently writing something down and someone will exclaim “I didn’t know you were left-handed!!” with the same tone you might reserve for discovering I was from Mars.

It confuses me a little because I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to say in reply to this statement. “Yes I am. My apologies for not fore-warning you of my freakishness.”

I mean I guess I’m in the minority but is it really that weird?

And then there are the people who seem completely freaked out about it and go on and on and on and on and on about how it’s not normal and usually end up insulting you. One of the best one’s I’ve ever had came from a work colleague, “You’re left handed?? But your handwriting’s so neat!” Yes because most left-handed people hold a pen in their fist and daub strokes all over the page whilst right-handed people all have perfect handwriting don’t they?!

(See look a list of other left-handed people. I wrote it in my best handwriting for you)

Left-handers also get accused of acting as if they’re special. Now you can’t have it both ways – you can’t tell us we’re not normal and then have a go at us for revelling in our specialness.

And then there are the people who don’t believe that your life can actually be impeded by you favouring your left side over your right. Not the case my friends!

My childhood memories of primary school are mired by the endless mocking I received for not being able to cut things out properly. I couldn’t cut within the lines and I would often end up ripping the paper. Very traumatic. Anyway it turns out it wasn’t my fault! Scissors are made for right-handed people, meaning that when us lefties use them, they’re upside down. Or back to front. Whatever. Either way it’s not our fault. (And if you wanted a better explanation then go here)

Some of the things I personally have trouble with are:
- Corkscrews
- Tin openers
- Fancy belts – if the buckle has a picture on it, it’ll be upside down when I first put it on
- Peeling anything

We live in a right-handed world – even things you wouldn’t think about are biased towards you righties.

Rulers are a good example! Rulers can be a nightmare for us. When you’re left handed and you go to draw a measured line you have to hold your arm and hand in the air because otherwise they block the numbers and you can’t see what you’re doing. Left-handed rulers have the numbers backwards to make life easier for us poor little souls. Want to buy a present for a school-age lefty? Go here...

Actually, don’t. School’s tough enough without turning up with a backwards ruler.

In conclusion, please don’t treat us like freaks, we can’t help it. And the way things are going with political correctness soon you won’t be able to laugh at us – you will be offending our civil liberties.

Also we could take you on. We’re left-handed and you wouldn’t see our punches coming.


Here are some things associated with lefties that this left hander doesn’t do...

1. I do not write with my hand bent over in a strange angle. Neither do my father or sister. We hold our pens normally. This is a cause of great rage with me. No need to hold your pen in a misshapen claw President Obama – just turn the paper round to a different angle.
2. I use a mouse with my right hand.
3. I don’t play the guitar, but if I did, I’d play it right handed. I think.

So go on. Next time you see a leftie. Don’t proclaim your astonishment for all the world to hear.

Just laugh inside your head.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Why I am sad this evening

The time I’ve been dreading has come. I’ve done all I can to put off the inevitable and hide my head in the sand but this evening I had to face facts.

It was time for Fred and Lily to go home.

Mum is back in town having looked after my nephews while my sister and her hubby went away for a week for her 40th birthday celebrations. I managed to hold her off for a day by telling her that I was VERY BUSY on Thursday night and she couldn’t come and get them.

But I had no excuses for tonight.

I’m not going to lie to you blog-friends. I shed a little tear when they had gone. They’ve been here a whole 10 days and I’ve got used to them now, I don’t want to let them go.

So I decided to blog about it. Let’s get the feelings out there I say!

I also decided I would make a list because lists make me feel comfortable and happy and help me to make sense of the world. So I decided that lists were in order – things I’m going to miss about not having the babies here and things I’m not going to miss.

Things I’m not going to miss

- Having to be extra vigilant whenever the kitchen is concerned. The critters can and will get in to anything. You might think you’ve tidied everything away but their mission is to prove you wrong.

- Being able to eat crisps in a calm and dignified manner, rather than trying to sneak or shovel them in to your mouth in an attempt to avoid a sneaky paw appearing and snatching them out of your hand.

- Being woken up at 5.30am by Fred, who thinks that is an appropriate time for everyone to get up.

- Getting scratched by Lily. I don’t know what is wrong with that girl. Her default position is ‘claws out’ at all times and she has a knack for managing to hook her claw right under your skin so that you actually can’t detach her from your hand/foot/face.

- Litter tray duty. Never fun. And also embarrassing when I get to the top of the stairs and can smell the deposit that’s been left in the tray which is just inside our door. I have to hope and pray that no-one else has come or gone from their flats recently and smelt it too!

- Having a bad back from lying in a contorted position because you don’t want to disturb the little babies sleeping at the end of the bed (ridiculous I know. But sadly very true).

- Having to fight for the boyfriend’s attention all the time because Fred is a little bit in love with him.

Things I am going to miss

- Not waking up to them at all. Yes Fred’s supremely annoying when he licks your chin in the morning or shoves his nose in to your nostril but it’s only because he wants the love from you.

- Not having them there when you come home. It’s nice to know that you’re coming home to something other than a dark and cold flat at the end of the day. Even if what you are coming home to is embarrassingly pungent poo and two furry people who scream at you to feed them.

- Not having a constant source of amusement. Pretty much everything they do cracks me up.

- Walking in to the bedroom and seeing them curled up together like they used to do when they were teeny tiny.

- Having an alert for when the boyfriend is coming home. They’re like dogs and can tell the difference between his steps and other people’s. They’re waiting at the door for him long before I hear the key turn.

- Being in the kitchen and looking up and seeing Fred on top of the cupboards keeping an eye on things......and Lily on the floor always hoping something might land in her bowl.

- Having a cat that you can mess about with and dress up like soft boy Fred.

2 lists. Both with 7 items.

But I think we know which one outweighs the other don’t we?


(And before you say "Get your own!" I have to tell you that we're not allowed cats in the flat - stupid landlord rules. We're not even supposed to have these guys staying with us. Believe me I would love one but the boyfriend is sensible (boo to sensible!!) and says no, we have to wait.)

I had to share these 2 pictures with you as well that I took this morning when I was getting ready to go to work. I walk in to the bedroom and was greeted by this sight....

Hilarious non?

So I went to look out of the window and see what pigeon had caught their fancy and I got a little surprise.

It wasn’t a pigeon.
It was Hitler Cat.
We’re not sure who Hitler Cat belongs to but we see him quite a bit. First time I saw him I was quite worried because he is teeny weeny and I thought he might have been abandoned but he wouldn’t let me close to find out (does anyone else hate it when random cats shun them? I take it to heart and get quite upset about it). I think he’s fine though because we still see him about and he looks pretty healthy.

And there he was.

Up on next door’s roof, staring in at Fred and Lily.

Two cats on the inside and one on the outside.

(PS Please don’t be offended that we call him Hitler Cat. It’s just that he has a little moustache that is know. And there’s this website see?)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

On the 11th hour, at the 11th day, of the 11th month...

When I was 14/15 I went on a school trip to Belgium to see the battlefields of the First World War.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect, to be honest I was mainly excited just to be going away on a coach with friends and staying up late and messing about.

But what I saw sobered up my little teenage head.

For what the teachers hadn’t mentioned to us was that the battlefields of World War 1 are also the cemetaries for the men who fell there. It’s unavoidable.

After a few days it almost became too much. Too much to take in – rows upon rows upon rows upon rows of little white headstones, marking the fallen. And too much to cope with – how can your head take in and comprehend those kind of numbers. When someone tells you that nearly 60,000 men died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, your head can’t deal with that, how do you picture it?

It becomes a little easier when you see the graves.

We read the names and read the ages and found the grave of someone that went to our school. We stood at the graves which were simply marked “Unknown Soldier” and I wondered who he belonged to and how their families must have felt never finding their loved ones.

We went to Menin Gate in Ypres and saw the buglers play the last post. They do it every single day. And looked up as far as my eyes could see at the names of the missing soliders, whose remains have never been found. And we saw the Thiepval Memorial, the largest British war memorial in the world and we went to the cemetery behind it and looked at the graves of the men who went out to fight a war for their country, died defending it and never made it home.

We all have our views on war and whether or not we should be fighting those we currently are. But the fact remains that it happened and is happening and regardless of whether it was a wise decision to enter into such battles, there are men and women who go and fight them, and are willing to put down their lives for everyone else.

They are the brave because they have no choice in the matter. It’s what they signed up to do and even if they think it’s lunacy they throw themselves in to the breech.

It is easy to sit at home and scorn when you can do so from the comfort of your armchair.

So I will remember. Remember those who fought for us and those that continue to do so.

Photos taken today at the Hull cenotaph.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Tree Project - November

It’s a good job I did the flu edition of Tree Project. Know why?

In a month someone has stolen all his leaves!
Yep that’s right – in a mere 30-odd days his leaves all turned from green to golden and then fell off. Possibly helped by the horrific weather over the Halloween weekend.

A few of the brave still cling on for dear life though.

And those that perished haven’t gone far. They are lying on the floor to greet me when I go out of the front door each day.

I’m a bit worried now. I get the feeling that the next few months of Tree Project are going to be a bit samey...

It’s really quite inconsiderate of him. I mean he could have held on for another couple of months couldn’t he?

I’ll have a word.

Just to remind you, this was Mr Tree in September....

A lot can happen in a couple of months!

Monday, 9 November 2009

A Day in the Life of Lily - Sunday 8th November 2009

6.20: Wake up. Fred annoying Other Mum and the Tall One by licking their faces. Never works, don’t know why he bothers.

6.32: Pigeon watch

7.21: Persuade Fred to go to sleep on the bed, give him a wash to encourage things.

8.25: Had enough of this. Neither of them showing any signs of actually getting up. Start biting their toes.

8.27: Other Mum gets up and feeds us.
8.41: Look wistfully out of window so Other Mum feels guilty about us being trapped inside the flat.

8.45: Snuggle up and have sleep time with Other Mum

10.12: I hear something! Tall One has woken up!

10:21: Pigeon watch

10.23 Fred’s playing with his plastic bag tie again. Try and join in but he hits me in the face.

10.25: FIGHT!!

10.30: Look at the rain out of the window with Fred. Maybe I don’t want to go outside after all.

10.46: They’re having leftover pizza for breakfast/lunch – that’s bad for them. Sit on the box to stop them opening it.

10.52: Sleep time. Sit on the back of the sofa where I can keep an eye on everything and everyone.

13.05: Have some biscuits. I hate that I’m rubbish at jumping. Fred’s always on top of the kitchen cupboards but I can’t get up there. Tall One takes pity on me and lifts me up there so I can see what it’s all about.

13.14: Why is everyone so quiet today? Tall One is on his computer and Other Mum is furiously cross stitching Christmas cards. Nothing for it but to go back to sleep.

14.22: Other Mum starts taking photos of me. She's been doing it ALL day. What the hell is her problem? I lunge at her to grab the camera off her but she sneakily manages to snatch it away.

15.20: ARGH! Fred just jumped on me! Why would he do that? Maybe he’s bored too.

16.37: Pigeon watch.

16.40: Other Mum goes to have a bath. She tells Tall One to feed us.

17.25: Other Mum comes out of bath. I let her know that Tall One didn’t feed us.

18:30: Fred didn’t finish his tea. I’ll sort that out.

18:41: Snuggle time with Other Mum

18.45: Oooh! Tall One is back from shops – leap up to go and greet him. Leave Other Mum with lacerations on her thighs.

19:34: HA! Found my own plastic tie thing. In your face Fred.

20:18: Find Fred on the bed. Have a nice sleep with him.

21:15 Oooh! I hear a crisp packet being opened!

21:51: Other Mum’s still cross-stitching. Think I’ll help her out. (Can’t believe they still haven’t moved that pizza box.)

22:20: Haha! Found Fred’s plastic tag. Yes yes yes.

22:22: Fred takes his plastic tag off me.

22.47: Sleeping all day has left me feeling pretty energetic. Time to chase Fred round and round the flat and climb on all the shelves and knock every one of Tall One’s birthday cards off.

23:28: Other Mum and Tall One go to bed. I’m not sleepy in the slightest and decide to play at pouncing on any part of their body that moves under the quilt.

23:46: Lights out? Really? Guess I’ll just go to sleep then.

PS Watch your toes in the morning.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

A Day in the Life of Fred - Saturday 7th November 2009

5.30am - Wake up

5.33am - Lick Other Mum's face to wake her up. She is unresponsive.

5.50am - Stick nose in Other Mum's nostril. Still no signs of waking up.

6.05am - Start needling her bare arm. She moves - but only to put her arm under the quilt

6.15am - Repeat three former moves on the Tall One.

6.35am - Tall One gets up and feeds us

6.45am - Pigeon watch

7.05am - Retire back to bed with Other Mum. Went to go and sit with Tall One who is playing video games but he looks kind of annoyed at being up so early so I'll leave him alone.

9.25am - Tall One goes into the kitchen to make bacon sandwiches. I get up on the cupboards to watch proceedings.

9.53am - Lie in wait for bacon sandwich

9.55am - Oooh a fruit fly. I'll get it. Knock everything off the shelf trying to get it.

9.56am - Oooh a plastic bag tie. I love it. It's mine.

9.57am - Lily comes over to play with my plastic tie. Hiss at her to keep her away. She always bullies me.

10.00am - Drop plastic tie in Tall One's shoe and try and fish it out. Let Lily help because her claws are sharper than mine.
10.20am - Sleep under table.

10.28am - Get in my box. Can I go home yet?

11.09am - Is it lunch yet? Go and wait by kitchen door just in case.

11.20am - Wait for Other Mum to come out of shower and ask her to feed me.
11.27am - Give Lily a quick wash. No hard feelings about the plastic tie business.

11.28am Miaow outside the kitchen door for lunch.


12.01pm - Biscuit time!!

12.15pm - Pigeon watch.
12.30pm - Sleep time.

2.30pm - Other Mum just gave me some smoked salmon. I love her.

2.35pm - Oh my god! Found my plastic tie again!

3.05pm - The Tall has sat down! Must sleep on him.

3.40pm - Oooh they have cake, I'll come back and sit with the Tall One and see if he gives me some.

3.43pm - No cake. I'm off.

3.45pm - Lily's in my Aldi bag. ATTACK!

3.50pm - Pigeon watch.

4.02pm - Sleep on Tall One

4.09pm - Oh my god! Someone's opening crisps! Oh. It's chocolate buttons.

4.11pm - Sleep on the Tall One.
4.26pm - Sleep under table.
5.00pm - FOOD TIME!
5.15pm - Alone time under the bed.

5.55pm - Oooh! Found my plastic tie again!

6.30pm - Something's going on, Other Mum has the hot stick out doing stuff to her hair. Makes me feel a bit nervous. Starting to get a bit jumpy.

6.54pm - Something's definitely happening. Retreated to the top of the kitchen cupboards just in case.

7.10pm - Ooooh! Nibbles!! I'll stop being nervous. Still have my scared face on.

7.35pm - Feel a bit better after some crispy things. Sleep on the bed. Something's still up though, so my ears are on alert.

8.15pm - ARGH!! PEOPLE!!! Run and hide!

8.45pm - Ooooh pizza! I'll come out.

9.15pm - They're not too scary but I'm pretty tired. I'll sleep on the bed.

23.50pm - Aaaah everyone's leaving. See you, bye.

Midnight - The Tall One is mine. All mine. Time for bed. See you at 5.30am.

PS. Don't move that plastic tie. I'm going to need it tomorrow.

Friday, 6 November 2009

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(While stocks last)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Things I love about the house - Part 5

Everybody, I’d like you to meet Ted.

(He’s imaginatively named isn’t he?)

Ted was given to my sister when she was born, which means that he has just celebrated his 40th birthday.

He hasn’t aged terribly well, but shush don’t tell him.

He’s supposed to be that light orangey colour all over but he was loved so much that he got a bit threadbare and parts of him started to leak stuffing. Whenever a part of him leaked stuffing, he would be patched with some fluffy dark brown material. (Except that it’s not that fluffy anymore because it’s getting old too.)

Eventually, Ted was more patches than original.

And now some of the patches are coming away and he’s leaking again.

Once I decided that I was too old for Ted anymore and declared that I would throw him out. Mum asked me if I was sure and I wasn’t but I said “YES” because I am stubborn and don’t enjoy being wrong. And she threw him out and I secretly cried.

But it was ok. She didn’t really throw him out. Mums are wise like that.

Ted even came with me to Manchester for my first year of university. However he retired back to Hull during the 2nd year as uni living was a little too rough for him and his rate of leakage increased to such levels that I feared for his safety and took him home.
Now he looks after the spare bedroom. He’s keeping an eye on things and making sure the room is ready for when The Americans arrive.

And just sometimes, occasionally, I go in to the spare room and give him a little hug, just so he knows I still love him and I tell him that one day I will patch him up properly so he can look after more little people.He seems happy with that.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Happy Birthday to you!

I asked the boyfriend what he wanted for his birthday.

He said nothing, he just wanted some hugs and kisses and to spend some time with me.

(I know. He makes you want to vomit doesn't he?)

Unfortunately he couldn't get the day off work, which is why I'm blogging before 7am.

He didn't want to open any of his presents this morning but that seemed a bit wrong to me so I said he should open just one.
Fortunately hugs and kisses are pretty easy to wrap.

Happy Birthday boyfriend! (Even though you don't know about this blog.)
(And when you come back from work this evening there will be two small furry people here to wish you happy birthday too. Oh. Did I not mention that? Fred and Lily are coming tonight and staying for a week. Happy Birthday!!)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Things that happened on Tuesday 3rd November 2009

Today my alarm went off. I woke up. Hit snooze.

And got up 20 minutes later.

I ate my breakfast and sat in front of the television and sighed. Ever since I was off work ill, it's been really hard to go into work each morning. I got used to sitting at home all day in front of the tv and cross stitching.

I looked at my latest Christmas card and wished I could spend the day finishing him off but I had to go to work....
I walked in and mentally made a note to remember to buy an umbrella. I keep forgetting and the only time I ever remember is when it rains on me. It's very annoying.

It cleared up once I got into work, although I didn't know until lunchtime because I moved in to a new office yesterday and it doesn't have windows. Yep you heard me right. No windows. So the view out of my office used to be of Queens Gardens.... I look at a wall. And if I turn my head I can see when people go to the toilets and the kitchen. Exciting times.

After I got home I went out to meet friends for chatting and coffee. (But no pictures because I forgot my camera.)

And all day long I wore this little guy, in the hope that good luck wishes can reach from Hull to London and even more so, reach this person

And now it's time for a cup of tea and then early to bed because it's someone's birthday tomorrow and someone gets up and leaves to go to work very early in the morning and I feel I should at least be a little bit awake to say Happy Birthday, rather than grunting at him like I normally do.