A New Chapter in a Feline Life

Where to begin?  Any pet owner will understand the bonds that bind.  I think it is also true that whilst we can offer impartial and practical advice to other pet-owners when it comes to the management of their pet’s habits, health, behaviour and so on, one can become rather less rational about the managment of one’s own pet.  Our lovely cat Rooney is 8 years old and we have had him since he parted with his mother at the tender age of 10 weeks.  Prior to his separation I had visited him 2 or 3 times by way of introduction, so he would learn my smell.  This sound advice came from the mother cat’s owner, a veterinary nurse.  That first evening I slept on a camp bed in the living room with him.  He slept under the Welsh dresser 🙂

Rooney is lovable and loving.  At least it seems so to us.  He has always been good when grandchildren come to visit, often comes out of his jungle when called by them.  He is a lap cat, talkative and likes his food.  He is a committed mouser.  He spends hours crouching in front of a bed of wild strawberries in our garden, ears pricked and listening for the least rustle.  He has two homes, one in England and one in France and has learned to adapt to the two territories although he dislikes the moving-car part of the journey.  He handles ferry crossings very well, ensconced in his spacious wicker igloo in the car.

But our commuting brings a prices of varying kinds.  Sometimes we cannot take Rooney with us when we are away from home and he we leave him behind to be fed by a farming neighbour and her children, from our village.  Recently we have discovered that when we are away Rooney’s home is not his sanctuary.  A black and white rogue feline has been admitting himself and stealing from Rooney’s bowl.  We now face a protracted interval away.  It also happens that Lola and Ruby have been wanting a cat of their own for a while and the family has been thinking about taking steps to find one.

Although it is not an easy decision – as any pet-owner knows – Rooney is going to have an extended holiday in East London with Lola and Ruby and if he settles down happily he may well move in.

And so Nick and I have travelled Rooney to a new domain.  We have taken familiar cushions and the obligatory unlaundered garment, my beige fleece. His own catflap has been removed from WK and transfered to Hackney.  On arrival we released him from his travel basket and he immediately paced out the perimeter of the kitchen and the living room.  (We later learnt why he did that but more of that anon.)  His catflap was reinstalled in the kitchen door but kept locked overnight, although he was given a brief escorted walk in a harness in the garden in the evening.  He found a corner to leave his visiting card, which is a first hurdle.

We kept him in on the first night and Rooney found that, already, his life privileges had been expanded.  He is going to be allowed the run of the house at night, and predictably he decided to sleep at the foot of the bed Nick and I slept in.  Because Rooney can count he knows he is one food pouch short of a daily allowance on that first night, and decides to wake Nick at 3 a.m. for his fourth sachet of jellied meat!  Come 7 a.m. he speaks to us tentatively from the bottom of the bed, to see if we are awake.  We give him his breakfast sachet, unlock the catflap and watch him exit, hop up onto the compost bin and jump over two walls and disappear.  He is away before Lola and Ruby can greet him on his first morning.

At 10 a.m. he returns with very cobwebby whiskers and finishes his food.  After that there is only one obvious thought in his feline noddle and he disappears upstairs to sleep it out on the bed.  So far so good……………

Final frames from France

On Monday morning after breakfast Barney, Lukie and the gang packed up the car and the children took their seats.  We waved them off, they had had a good week with fine weather and many activities.  The children are lively and positively exude energy.  Nick and I spent the remaining time in St Vaast catching up with friends.  I joined Francois and Nick on a short run in Aroona to lift crab pots.  There were several brown crabs, four of which were large and full enough to cook.  Francois generously gave us these and Nick and I dressed them the following day.  That evening Daniel popped over the road with some pret-a-manger ‘moules a la creme’, left over from his supper with Christine.  (Creme fraiche finds its way into nearly everything Daniel cooks!)  He had collected these off one of the buoys when he took Christine for a spin in Aroona.

As it happened, on the evening before we returned to Dorset Anne proposed that we should eat together.  I made a risotto on which to serve the white crab meat and mixed a brown crab meat and creme fraiche dip/sauce.  We ate smoked mackerel and horseradish crostini to start, finishing with our Victoria plums.  Anne brought cheese, salad.  It was a perfect way for me to get back into hosting a meal chez nous.

A final batch of photos from our August 2012 sojourn in our newly restored house.

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A La Plage

In addition to days spent foraging for cockles and other clams all four children spent a day at their regular beach, Anse du Hommet which is just north of St Vaast La Hougue and south of Barfleur. The family have this beach virtually to themselves. They set off with a picnic and spend a good part of the day there on Sunday. I joined them after lunch complete with book, a bottle of water and a bag of pistachio nuts. The children had spent a lot of time in the water: Sam and Joel are now quite confident swimmers, Amelie is not far behind and Charlie spends much time in the water with a flotation aid of one kind or another.

As the tide recedes at Anse du Hommet a band of sands is revealed and here the children constructed Sand City with various fortifications, moats and a canal which passed below a sand bridge at ‘ground’ level. The settlement even had its own Stone Henge. They did not have long to wait before the tide approached and gradually invaded the territory. It was fascinating and great fun to watch the moat fill up from below as the water table rose. In the end Stone Henge was the last structure standing.

We left the beach just before 4 so Sam and Joel could have a turn fishing with Nick. Sadly they returned to the house with an empty freezer box. Not a bite, but in view of the success of the younger team earlier in the week we could not complain.

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