Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!

They say that the camera never lies. Well, I'll tell you another thing that never lies...............a bathroom scale!

And as I write this, I'm once again planning my New Year Resolutions! I remember doing this the same time last year, and the year before……..vowing to cut out all sugar, starch, anything that remotely resembles a cake or a biscuit and picturing myself losing at least 10 kilos before the end of January.

Resolutions, January 1st

Ha! Also, eating half of what I normally eat and going for strenuous walks every day. Ha!

Resolutions January 2nd

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Catalyst Update!

I just had to share this with the cat-lovers among you.
Remember the camp cats that the good folk in Dubai were raising money for?
Well, here is some good news that Catherine sent to us this morning:

'You will be pleased to know that as of the 20th December we have managed to trap 41 cats at the camp. Of those cats, 22 females and 13 males have been sterilised and released. Sadly 5 male cats had to be put to sleep due to severe illness, but happily 1 very tame cat has been sterilised and homed.'
'Without people like you this project would have been a lot more difficult.'

Although I am sad for the five cats that didn't make it, at least they are no longer suffering, and that in itself is a blessing.
And just try to work out the number of kittens that will not be born, not die on the roads or starve to death, not be chased by dogs, or harmed by people; it must be hundreds, if not thousands, from these cats alone.

Apart from the camp cats, in the last few weeks, Catherine herself has trapped and 'sorted' another five cats, including two female tabbies, one limping badly from a previously broken leg. The vet said that the leg had healed and there was nothing further to be done.
These hard working and dedicated people have certainly earned a place in whatever Heaven they believe in.
I wish there were more people like them.

Here is a prayer to St Gertrude of Nivelles, the Patron Saint of cats (and those who love them). She was a 7th Century abbess and shares her Feast Day with St Patrick, 17 March.

           St Gertrude, grant a gentle end,
           To cats who suffer at the hands of men,
           Cats blinded, scalded, poisoned, maimed,
           Some, lost pets, seized when unclaimed,
           St Gertrude, hear my prayer this night,
           And grant them surcease from their plight.


I second that.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Wind, and then some!

We have been having some very hot days lately. Far too hot for me.

It happened very quickly though as a few weeks ago we had several days of the most unbelievable wind, gusting up to 65kph at times, causing tremendous damage both on land and sea. Ships were stranded in Cape Town harbour, unable to leave. One of them was the cruise ship 'MSC Sinfonia' and the passengers spent two days of their cruise, tied up! (Not the passengers, the ship!) Roofs were blown off, trees blown down and at one stage we heard on the radio that the SPCA had warned owners of small dogs not to let them out in case they blew away! Seriously! One lady phoned in to the radio station to say that her large Labrador had been blown sideways into a tree!
Fortunately we were fine here, we walked a little bent into the wind, but Alfie remained firmly on the ground, although his ears flapped a lot! Our roof did a fair amount of creaking and we did wonder if we would wake up to see the stars where the roof once was, but fortunately it held.

The Dry Dock at Saldanha harbour.

We went for a drive to Saldanha harbour, another favourite place of ours, to see what was happening in the dry dock. We were glad to see that two fishing boats were being repaired and painted, they look so different out of the water. Then we had a wander along the wall.

Poor boat.

Sadly we saw that one of the boats had sunk at her moorings, we don't know the story, but it's such a sad ending for a boat somehow. Like a fire engine burning, or a tractor being buried!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Fish Pond Paradise!

Soon after we moved into this house, we were given an old half-barrel that had, at one time, been a small fish pond. However, it had been standing empty for ages and had dried out to such an extent that we could see slits of daylight between the planks! We didn't know if the old pump still worked, and probably the best thing to do with it was fill it with soil and plant herbs in it! However, we like a challenge, so Rob filled it with water and gradually over a few days, the wood swelled and the barrel stopped leaking. And, amazingly the pump still worked! So we decided to buy a few goldfish. I had been given an old gieter or watering can, and Rob rigged this up with rope and cable ties so that the water flowed into the gieter and out through the spout back into the barrel!

A  Malechite male sunbird bathing at the gieter.

And it worked! We bought a few fish and left them to it. The only problem was, the water turned green within a few days and although we regularly changed it, using the pond water for the garden and filling it again from the rainwater tanks, we could hardly ever see the fish through the murk and algae! And after a bad start when we lost a few fish, the remaining two flourished! Eventually they were so big that they could literally only swim in a circle, and we felt really bad that they couldn't see where they were going! Even though they really weren't going anywhere!
So, we decided to buy ourselves an early Christmas present in the form of a new pond complete with filter and UV light! Rob ordered one from a company in Cape Town, and a couple of weeks ago, off we set to fetch it. Luckily it just fitted into the back of the Nissan, we thought we may have to put Alfie in it on the way home, but he sat on my lap and fidgeted all the way!

Let the games begin!

Friday, 14 December 2012

The Hurdy-Gurdy Lady!

I love markets! Mention the words 'bargains', open air', 'food', 'handmade', and I am at the door before you can say 'would you like to go and have a look?' So when Andrew mentioned that there was a big open-air market in Madrid, with lots of stalls and souvenirs, I was ready and very willing! One bus ride later, we joined the throng of people meandering their way between the stalls, some stopping and changing direction, some stopping and turning back, or some just stopping! It was packed!

See what I mean!?

I was worried about losing Andrew in the crowd as my Spanish is non-existent and I would never have found my way home, but fortunately he had Mateo on his shoulders, so I simply kept my eyes on Mateo's head!

Thursday, 6 December 2012


According to my 'Pocket Oxford Dictionary', catalyst means 'a person or thing that precipitates change.
Well, that describes my daughter Catherine to a T. She is known to her friends as Cat, a fitting name for her as it turns out!

She is involved now with several animal welfare groups in Dubai – one group who call themselves “Feline Friends” and another named the “Bin Kitty Collective”.  These are all dedicated, wonderful people who took it upon themselves to do something about the sad problem of feral and abandoned cats. Although the cats do a fantastic job of keeping the rat problem at bay, their numbers were increasing alarmingly. So began the TNR, or 'Trap Neuter Release' programme. In the last year, she has trapped over 30 cats. She pays most of the vet bills for these (some people do donate from time to time), she feeds them and tries to find homes for the few that are tame enough to handle. She helps with fund raising and supports anything that helps the cats.

Yesterday she sent this mail to everyone that she knows! Count the cats in the photo below:

Thanks to Cat

'A security guard at a labour camp in Dubai called this week pleading for help with a large number of stray animals that are living in their camp.
On investigation it was found that about 40-50 cats, and a few dogs, are living in the labour camp and being cared for by the labourers to the best of their ability and means. These animals are also breeding unchecked.
The cats and dogs need to be trapped, transported to the vet, assessed and neutered asap, They will also need to be relocated and the tamer ones possibly even homed as the labour camp is moving and these animals will essentially be abandoned as the labourers do not get to take them along.
Several animal groups in Dubai are mobilising to manage this but we desperately need help with funds to cover:
- vet costs and neutering
- transportation
- food
Many thanks.'

If anyone would like to contribute towards this please click through to the Fundrazr campaign or contact her via her blog

While we are on the subject of cats, one of our ex-ferals has interesting sleeping places! Rob came down to make coffee one day last week, to find a different 'fruit' in our fruit bowl!

Our squashed fruit!

It turned out to be Dilly (well named!). A 'purrberry' or a 'catapple'?

Parked for the day!

He also loves to lie in one of my wheelbarrows and watch the world go by.

A pansy by any other name!

And, this is him squashed into a wooden planter that Rob made!

Maybe I should have called him 'Weed'?

He was a feral, he is one of the lucky ones.