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Monday, 30 July 2012


Last week was not so good, weather-wise. We waited eagerly for the jet stream to move north and let the sunshine in. All the weather fore-casters were optimistic and true to form the south of England got summer. But we went to Harrogate and we were lucky it didn't rain.
It's a grand place, full of lovely old buildings and individual shops. I had only been once before, to the Knitting and Stitches show, which is on every November. It's a whole day's worth of stalls and demos and new fabrics, fibres and fleeces.
The queue outside Betty's Tearooms was quite short so we lined up for only a few minutes before being whisked away to a table for a delicious luncheon. I had a lovely dish of macaroni cheese and a pot of Earl Grey tea (with tea leaves!)

Tinker has a chair of her own at home. Tigger started the damage on the upper wings and Tinker seemed to know instinctively that she could sharpen her claws there too. It has lots of toys. Her favourites involve feathers and she frenzedly strips them bare and leaves the loose feathers lying around. She is quite a climber too.
Up the curtains!
To the top of the chairs! A closer examination of her hind paws will show you how she holds on.
DJ also plays cat-in-the-bag with her and has the claw marks to show how quickly she can lunge out of the top. It's a special crackle bag which makes a noise when she moves about in it. I prefer to entertain her and myself with more peaceful activities.
Sometimes she gets enforced peace and quiet when we go off in the camper. She is not yet ready for travel.
Last outing was to Whitby on Saturday and we left home soon after seven thirty so as to get to the West Cliff area and park up for the day. There were quite a few campervans there already. It is a short walk from everywhere, over the road from the clean, free, public toilets and is free parking all day.
The sun shone all morning and as we walked past The Magpie, the best fish and chip place in Whitby, we noticed that there was NO queue. So in we went. Another great lunch. This time I had fish pie with my Earl Grey tea.
The weather changed in the afternoon and so we headed home.
Here's a painting of Whitby beach I'm working on. Struggling a bit with the breaking waves.
But I was happy with the little figure and dog.
Cheers for now

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


Builders have been up on the roof all week repairing the chimneys. We have four structures with nine chimney pots. The brick chimneys have been refurbished and slightly lowered so that rotten bricks could be discarded. They look good and hopefully will not let the rain in any more. Then the top floor of the house can dry out before we redecorate. The old bricks had lost their skin and rain was just soaking into them like into a sponge.
Scaffolding was needed because they are so high up and most of the base scaffold had to be in our neighbour's back yard. Most of the muck and dust seems to have fallen that way too and she has been tolerant but not very happy. The worst thing was the Sky dish. All of a sudden her TV went dodgy and she called the builders to stop till it could be fixed. The dish has had to be moved temporarily.
It is nearly finished and we could do with a rainstorm to wash all the dust away.
The weather has been a bit disappointing here. Cloud has covered the sky quite a bit and it is cooler than down south. I've entertained myself indoors.
I took a load of painting gear down to the kitchen and had a go at a half finished painting. The sky was not right. There is no real focus in the picture too so some thought will go into that. I'm reluctant to park a few seagulls around. They can end up looking a bit twee.
So I did a bit of multi-tasking in between the coats of paint drying and rustled up and egg and bacon pie and a small bakewell tart for tea. With salad and bought cole-slaw, tea was ready.
Tinker is growing up. She has the normal Bengal fascination with water and just loves it when one of us has a bath or shower.
Her harness training is going well and I shall be adding the lead soon. Then she can go for a walk round the yard. I don't intend to take her for walks like you do with a dog. The harness and lead is so that she can come out with us in the campervan or car. I think that, by law, a cat must be secured in a moving vehicle and with a harness and lead she can look out of the windows and come out onto the grass for picnics and stuff like that. Still a way to go and lots of vehicle training yet to come.
It will mean that we can have the doors open again without fear of her running outside and panicking.
She can come out and help with the watering!!!
Cheers for now, Gillian

Friday, 20 July 2012


Tinker slept quite happily with her new harness spread over her .
I have been treating it like a toy and fixing the velcro to her scratching chair for her to play with so that it is a non-threatening item. She woke up as I was getting ham out for a lunch sandwich and her nose started twitching. She adores ham. And so while she was nibbling away at a scrap of ham on the floor I knelt down and zapped on the harness.
She didn't seem to notice; she was so busy with the ham morsel!
She swayed a bit when she walked around and rolled over a couple of times but then she seemed quite happy to play around in it.
I only left it on for a few minutes and will try again today.
Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Tinker Grows Up...a bit

Tinker has been with us for two and a half weeks now and she is still small enough to be able to sit on top of her scratching post but not quite big enough to take up a place at the table...
I must admit that at first I didn't worry much when she slowed down her activities. She has fallen through the banisters to the floor below. She has slipped rear-end into the bath and legs forward into the downstairs loo. She throws herself about recklessly and has been to the top of every curtain and inside every cupboard.
BUT...then she slept quietly for a couple of days and when she moved she favoured her front right paw, and so in the end we took her to the vet.
We are lucky to be five minutes from a vet and they all remember Tigger and are thrilled to see the new baby.
It was decided that she had pulled a muscle. I was worried that she had trodden on broken glass, that she had created when she overturned the re-cycling basket and broke a glass jar.
Anyway, an anti-inflammatory injection and £30.36 and we went home. She seems to be better now.

She is to be trained to wear a harness and walk on a lead. Famous last words!
I bought a lovely harness from mynwood .
She inspected the package.
And its contents.

Then she ignored it all. The recommendation is that she should be rewarded for playing with it and slowly but surely it should be put on. Maria, who makes and sells these items uses a lovely staid, tame, placid and probably half asleep cat to demonstrate on her website, how to dress your cat in one of these cat jackets.


I shall continue to update you on any progress made. She will be spayed in a couple of weeks and then I can train her in earnest and start to take her out.
Cheers Gillian

Sunday, 15 July 2012


It was the annual Durham Miners' Gala on Saturday, so it was the 128th year of marching bands and banners.
We got up early and drove to the park and ride and then took the bus into the City of Durham. Neither of us had been before. DJ went last year but he was unable to reach the city because it was so crowded and the buses were not able to get back to pick people up. We now know that we can walk in anyway cos it's only a couple of miles and in fact we walked back to the car at the end of today.

There were about fifty brass/silver bands and about seventy banners. Not many of the old coal mining pit banners still survive or are carried, but here are some. Don't forget to click for enlargements if you want.

And here is another band.

The dignitaries always gather on the balcony of The County Hotel and cheer the bands and banners as they pass by. Miliband and Crow are the only two I can identify. Each band stops to play a tune, so you can imagine how long it takes to get everyone on their way to the old Racecourse down by the Wear River where it all ends up. About 100,00 people go to party on and listen to the speeches.                           

It was here that I found the Murton Colliery banner and the remains of the Murton Brass Band. This colliery, like all the others is now closed. It is the pit where my uncles, grandfather, great grandfather and great uncles all worked. One great uncle was killed in a pit accident at the age of 12 years. Two other great uncles have their names on the WW1 Cenotaph in the village, so they didn't work down the pit for much longer either.    

I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the day and although I hate crowds it was bearable and everyone was doing the same thing so there was a unity in the movement of the folk. We took a picnic and ate it on the grass and left as soon as the speeches started. Heard it all before, Brothers and Sisters! 
Walked slowly but gladly back to the car a couple of miles away and came gladly home to read the Saturday papers and do the big crossword.

Cheers Gillian

Monday, 9 July 2012


The BEEB are doing a documentary on "THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION". It will be shown early next year.
We were asked by one of the researchers to help locate sea-coal for filming. She had found some info about it on one of my previous blogs.  Sadly, it has not been a good year for sea-coal any more than it has been for summer. The incidence of sea-coal on the beach is a complicated algorithm involving tides, prevailing winds, beach profile and luck. 
The producer came to meet us at Seaton Carew to check out locations for filming and very luckily there was some on the northern stretch of the beach and it was being raked up and trucked out. So we all got to meet Steve-the-shoveller on the beach at Seaton Carew.
The layer of good quality coal is raked in by Steve, who's been doing it for 50 years. A small truck takes it away. They sell it to the local power station for not much money.
The Industrial Revolution is over. It seem we are back to being peasants.
Cheers Gillian

Saturday, 7 July 2012


The  new kitty enjoys getting under the lace curtains in order to get a better view of the outside. She is not ready for it yet and so all sorts of decoys have to be used to stop her fleeing through an open door.
There is one window in the snug that leads to the lane-way behind the terrace of houses. In Oz we called it a ROW, or right of way, and that is what it is here too. I have felt for a while that it is a weak point in the security of the house and when a brochure came in the door for Hillary's blinds and shutters with up to 50% off, I thought "what a good idea!" and phoned them up.
No-one in the chain of events that eventuated ever admitted any responsibility. The female who answered the first call told me that a salesman would contact me and make an appointment to come round and measure up. She couldn't tell me if the discounts applied in my area or for the items I wished to consider.
A few days later Mr D made an appointment and turned up on 23rd March as arranged to measure up.
I wanted shutters that would allow for the lace curtain to stay, the window opener not to be compromised and the shutters to fit under the roman blind. Quite a task, I admit, but I knew I would be paying for it.
Mr. D was charming and assured me that all could be done and showed me fine samples of the types of fittings I could choose from. He was reluctant to suggest even a ball park figure until I had gone through the rather lengthy selection procedure. When at last I reached a final decision he recoiled in horror and exclaimed " Had no-one from the office told me that the minimum purchase was at least twice what I wanted and shouldn't I have some shutters on the kitchen as well or the deal could not be done".
He then offered to make a call to his boss to ask for a special favour for me to order just one shutter at £220.
I said fine or I didn't want one. He went outside to make a lengthy call to someone and came back to tell me how lucky I was that he had been able to secure such a wonderful deal for me.
I replied that I wasn't lucky, he was. I only wanted one shutter and if he couldn't do it it didn't really matter.
He had spent quite a while "price conditioning" me and trying to make me feel that he had done me a big favour. I paid him half in cash and waited for the next guy to make an appointment.
On the 26th March Mr. H came round and measured up. He would also return to install the shutters. As he left he said, Hadn't someone from the office told me that the delivery on these shutters was up to ten weeks.
I worked out that they would be installed before we went away on holiday and agreed to an instalment date of early June.
Guess what happened!
Early in June I got a call from Mr. H to tell me that my shutters hadn't made it on the ship from China. There was nothing he could do about it and I should ring the office at Hillary's. I then researched Hillary's on the internet and decided not to waste my time. We went and bought a piece of ply and screwed it to the inside of the window before we went away.
Mr. H came round and the shutter was fitted yesterday on 6th July and the other £110 was handed over. It is just what I wanted and looks great and works really well. But Hillary's don't. I rang them in the middle of March and got shutters in July!!!
Never again.
They don't do themselves any favours by misrepresenting offers and leaving out the small print till the job's ordered and hand-balling all the responsibility down a line of communication that doesn't work.
Last of all, as we were admiring the nearly completed job we were told by Mr. H that Hillary's don't supply the filler for the sides in the right colour for our blinds and he could only do it in white and we would have to paint it over, and the screw covers only came in cream in a tacky plastic.
We weren't surprised in the least and pleaded with him to go and assured him we could do a better job of finishing it all ourselves.
I can't do much about Hillary's but you all can.
Cheers Gillian

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


The weather lasted quite well and the beach slowly filled up as more and more people holidayed and played.

We stopped in St Malo for a couple of days before we caught the ferry home. It is a pretty place and we sauntered around and ate lovely food and again enjoyed fine weather. The ferry ride home is over eight hours and although the sea was calm, the Channel Islands were the only highlight in the tedious journey.
We travelled north via Cheshire to pick up Tinkerbell. She was very good in the van and travelled quietly and warily in her carrycase.
At home she spent the first couple of days in the bedroom adjusting to the new smells and noises from various hiding places.

She is quite bold and has now been exploring the rest of the house. She shreds toys and leaps great distances without fear and has fallen through the banisters to the floor below. She scampers wildly from room to room and drags toys with her.
This is her kangaroo pose! She will undoubtedly grow into her large paws. It's like having a toddler around. Things must be put away, breakables must be stowed in cupboards and doors must be opened carefully so that she doesn't escape from the other side.
She sits on my knee and plays on the keyboard and follows the cursor around the screen so posts must be written while she is asleep, like now.
But the best bit is.......we came home from the shops a while ago and she ran to greet us at the door.
Something lovely to come home to!
Cheers Giliian