Sunday Sevens #26

I thought I would gather together all the pictures I’ve taken of my week and join in with another Sunday Sevens, devised by Natalie.

Signs of spring: Spring has definitely sprung here in the NW of England. At the beginning of the week we had beautiful blue skies and warm sunshine. On my daily walk to the bus stop for work, I enjoyed the blossom on the trees and snapped at a gorgeous magnolia tree in all its flowery glory.

Walk 1000 miles: I feel I haven’t achieved many miles this week. On Wednesday I had to attend a course on autism which lasted all day! I certainly didn’t get much mileage done that day! My tally for the week has been 21.4 miles. A culmination of 298.6 miles for the three months January to March.

Wildlife: The results of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch were released this week. Follow the link to the results video. #1 was the house sparrow, with the starling a close 2nd.

logoI heard this week about the initiative Wild About Gardens, in partnership with the Wildlife Trusts and the RHS. Their focus this year will be bees and they have put together a wild bee action kit to download. Sophie from Sussex Field Notes has some very informative facts about bees on her blog. I’d recommend a read.

In the garden: I had an impromptu day off on Thursday. So I visited my mum for a coffee. It was nice to catch up and to see my oldest cat Evie looking so well. I took a tour of my mum’s yarden and admired her camellia. Notice my surprise when I perused my yarden at the weekend and notice my camellia had beautiful flowers too. 🙂

Culture: David and I haven’t long got back from a live performance of Mahler’s 5th Symphonyat the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Sadly I came away from the concert a little underwhelmed. It was not the RLPO’s best execution of Mahler’s 5th. I found the tempo slightly laboured and they seemed to be playing with broken french horns!!

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That was my week, how was yours?

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a wonderful week ahead!

Christine x

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Sunday Sevens #20

I thought I would participate in another Sunday Sevens, devised by Natalie at Threads and bobbins.

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Christmas decorations

David and I have just come back from a visit to Grosvenor Garden Centre. While buying some bird ornaments for my little three foot Christmas tree! (I am so excited for the season!) David and I had fun making a wish and ‘drinking’ from a huge coffee cup!

I also bought a bird feeder in the shape of a poppy (a 50p donation went to the Royal British Legion) and placed it in the yarden!

I am still looking for signs of Autumn, and while walking to get the bus to work, I snapped this picture of a leafy coloured pathway.

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While grocery shopping yesterday I tried on some winter hats. I liked this cow hat and scarf!

The week began in celebratory mode. I dressed up as the devil for Halloween and I turned 40! (:o) I got lots of lovely cards, presents and well wishes.

David kindly gave me money to buy a new phone. (My old one is three years old and so slow!) So, I opted for a Samsung Galaxy S6 due to the camera quality! I can’t wait to use it!

David and I had the Monday off work. So we spent the day shopping, eating gingerbread and going to the cinema. We went to see Inferno, the third Prof. Langdon film in the series of Dan Brown adaptations. It wasn’t as strong a story as The Da Vinci Code but we enjoyed it none the less. Later back home, even Artie seemed to enjoy the left over popcorn! :p

Overall it hasn’t been a bad week. With the turning back of the clocks last Sunday it seems that the weather has grown colder too. 😦

Have you been to the cinema recently? Have you started shopping for Christmas?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

Remembering a Kindred Soul… Mac.

A while back I read a blog post by Isobel in which she remembered her long lost animals by lighting a candle.

I thought about doing the same.

I have lost many pets down the years. Recently I said goodbye to the gentle Lady Gouldian finch, Aura.

The purpose of this post will be to celebrate the life and 10 years I shared with my ‘boy’ Mac. I have had many cats during my lifetime but none were like Mac. He took a piece of my heart with him when he left me in 2007.

mac5aI can still remember the day, (like it was yesterday), when I first set eyes on Mac. It was a warm August day in 1997. My 20 year old self, had been to town to get a Sarah Brightman album. Unbeknown to me, my mum and brother, Stephen had been to a computer shop and on their way home had come across a house with kittens playing in the gated area. My mum being a cat lover too, commented how adorable the feisty kittens were and the owner, an elderly woman asked if she would like to take one home. So, come the time I came in through the front door, cassette in hand, a tuxedo kitten had been chosen and was waiting for me.

It was love at first sight! Then began a decade-long love affair!

It’s hard to put into words just what a loving cat Mac was. He was always by my side. He was ‘my’ cat, and would follow me about the house. We used to have fun, playing hide and seek together and he loved his roast dinners, of potatoes and peas. We were inseparable! Mac was there when I was lonely, and I poured my wishes and dreams into him while he sat purring patiently.

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One anecdote was when Mac went missing for a week! Seven days of missing my ‘boy.’ It was hell! Of a day I walked about dazed, come the night I cried myself into a fitful sleep.

One Sunday, I was lounging in bed when a neighbour called. She said she thought Mac was in her house. Mum went to look and low and behold there he was! He had been holed up in the neighbour’s back bedroom scared and probably wondering where I was. Luckily the neighbour had a cat herself and of a night, Mac would tiptoe downstairs, help himself to the dried food on offer and relieve himself in the cat tray. He was such a good boy! I was amazed that the neighbour’s cat did not sniff Mac out, or if he did, he was equally scared! I was just thankful to have my Mac back. He seemed unfazed by his vacation. I never let him out the house again!

Sadly Mac never reached old age. He contracted bowel cancer and became a shadow of his former self. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done… saying goodbye. So on the 10th of October 2007, I said farewell to my ‘boy.’ In Mac’s place I received a dark wooden box with a bag inside, tied with a blue ribbon, full of sharp bone fragments…

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…and all I was left with… was memories.

Mac  1997-2007.

A Typical Saturday!

Most of my Saturday’s start with a trip to the shops. There is only two of us and Artie (the cat), living in the house, but every weekend the shopping bill nears or exceeds £100!! 😮

Today’s shopping consisted of buying lots of fruit and vegetables and cat treats! 🙂 People say I spoil Artie, but with a face like this, how can I not?! 😀

Artie

Artie

Usually by noon we are home, the shopping is put away and I have attempted some kind of flower display with a new bouquet I have bought!

Recent flower display

Recent flower display

We occasionally have lunch in the living room. David lets the finches come out of their aviary to stretch their wings and fly around the room. Today, Chocolate and Romeo the Society Finches sat on the sofa with me!

Chocolate and Romeo the Society Finches

Chocolate and Romeo the Society Finches

After lunch, it is all about cleaning the house. It can take up to two hours! If I am alone, it can take more! David helps by vaccuming while I do the dusting, dining room and bathroom.

If it is sunny outside then I forego doing the floors until Sunday and go out into the garden and enjoy the flowers, birds and insects.

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Today though, it was cold and cloudy so after doing the chores I listened to Classic FM and noticed a House Sparrow visiting the feeders.

After 5pm I turn my attention to the kitchen. I listen to Saturday Night at the Movies while making a start on the evenings meal. Tonight’s meal was my version of a Mexican Bean and Vegetable Soup with home-made Wholemeal mini loaves. I got the recipe from the Change for Life website/recipe app, though I adapted it.

Recipe for Mexican Bean and Vegetable Soup:

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil for pan
  • 2-3 garlic cloves crushed/chopped
  • 2 small onions chopped
  • 1 chilli chopped
  • 1 pepper chopped
  • 2 celery ribs chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (I used medium)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 850ml of vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 can mixed beans
  • 1 can sweetcorn or frozen
  • Handful of red lentils (it was a last minute addition)
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander (I got ours from the garden!)
  • Pinch of ground black pepper and salt to taste
Coriander

Coriander

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently cook the onion until softened.
  • Then add the celery, pepper, chilli and garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes (use your discretion as to when to stop cooking.)
  • Add the chilli powder and the tomatoes and bring to the boil.
  • Pour in the stock and add the tomato puree, mixed beans, sweetcorn (drained if tinned) and lentils (if using). Heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  • Add the coriander (if using) and season with some salt and pepper. Ladle into warm bowls and serve with a slice of wholemeal bread
Mexican Bean and Vegetable Soup

Mexican Bean and Vegetable Soup with Wholemeal Mini Loaves

For the wholemeal mini loaves I followed the recipe I use for easy white bread. I just changed the strong white flour for Allinson Wholemeal Seed & Grain Bread Flour. It’s delicious, I don’t think I will ever go back to baking with just white flour again!

Saturday evenings tend to be a mixture of wine and music while David often plays on GTA5 with his brother and cousin. At the moment I am reminiscing about playing Final Fantasy VII in the 90’s. The story was engaging, had a baddie that you love to hate (Sephiroth) and the music written by Nobuo Uematsu was out of this world too! You can listen to Final Symphony on Spotify, though I actually bought the mp3 from Amazon!

I shall sign off now and enjoy the last remaining light of day.

Goodnight!

© 2015 Christine Lucas

Update on the garden 1

It’s been a busy few weeks back at work so I have not had much chance to peruse the garden, well not as much as I would like! The weather has not been so great either… I am sure last year’s weather was much better than how 2015 is turning out! I am waiting for the sun to shine and the mercury in the thermometer to rise to 20° as I want to invite family around for a BBQ! As it is I am still waiting!

David today commented that he liked the ‘purple flowers in the shaded area of the garden.’ I informed him that it was the aubretia, it has spread substantially in the past few weeks, threatening to overcome the dwarf rhododendron, but I will cut it back once the flowering has ended.

Aubrieta

Aubrieta

Other news in the garden… the tulips have faded and all 15 bluebells have flowered, they look lovely! The scabiosa is flourishing for a second year and the wallflower has bushed out so much it is swamping the beautiful pink blooms of the azalea and shadowing the French lavender that has many more buds on than last year!

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The honeysuckle is once again covered in flower buds, (it has always been a good grower). I have more bulbs sprouting… could be the orchids I planted? They are amongst the gladioli and lilies so it is just a waiting game as to what flowers.

Last bank holiday Artie and I were outside in the garden. Artie was chasing flies and other insects and I was weeding the garden, when a familiar buzzing passed by. ‘It’s a bee!’ I cried, but Artie had also seen it and darted at it, pinning the poor creature to the garden wall. I threw Artie off and watched as the poor bee, a Hairy Footed Flower Bee, staggered about. We gave her (for it was a female solitary bee) some sugar solution and let her rest. We did not find a carcass so I hope she was only stunned and managed to fly on her merry way, otherwise a passing bird could have snatched her up. I prefer the former suggestion. I shall have to keep Artie out of the garden come the time the cat mint blooms or he will have a field day with the Honeybees…who I hasten to add, sting!

Hairy-footed flower bee female

Hairy-footed flower bee female

Welcome to the Family… Artie!

The newest member of the Connor-Evans family is Artie a nine week old kitten!

And this is his story!

Since the 11th of August I have been following the plight of two little kittens who had been discovered by a volunteer of Liverpool based pet rescue charity Rescue Me Animal Sanctuary. Their facebook wall posts first alerted me of the ‘Country Road’ kittens and their story.

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They had been picked up on Country Road, Liverpool as two little girls were trying to give them away. Heather saw the two kittens were very young and poorly. She managed to take them from the children. In her enquires she found out that the kittens were from a litter of five and the task then was to track down the other three kittens and the mother cat.

They managed to track the remainder of the litter but only took another kitten into their care. The owners decided to keep the other two!

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Then on the 9th of September the rescue posted that the two kittens who had survived from the three, were ready for adoption! I in half jest commented that I wanted one!

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I then posted the picture on David’s Facebook page joking that it was fated that we should get Arthur as we had just come back from Edinburgh and my favourite place to visit is Arthur’s Seat! Add that to the fact that Arthur is David’s middle name, then it must be destined?

David seemed nonplussed. All he said was that Arthur looked ‘mischievous!’ So I never argued the case further.

Then on Sunday, the 14th of September I read their latest post in which they stated that Arthur’s sister was reserved but he was still looking for a home. My mind was made up there and then! The following day, without really consulting David I made a call to the rescue about adopting Arthur. I was anxiously nervous all day, indeed all week really! I was not really thinking I would get a call back and then in the afternoon while at work my phone rang out in the small office! There was no number displayed so I answered and it was my ‘call back’ regarding Arthur! 😀

I arranged a house visit from one of their volunteers, it would be Heather who found Arthur along with his sister! So hurrying back home later that afternoon, all excited and stressed, David and I waited for 7pm and our visit! Unfortunately as is usually the case with us, things did not go according to plan! Heather was sick and could not come. So we arranged another visit for the next day.

So Tuesday came and again with sweaty palms we waited for our visit. Heather, though still not 100% came to visit and told us about Arthur and how he was into ‘everything,’ and the procedure of adopting.

I think David had some reservations but he never voiced them. I don’t think he wanted an energetic kitten, but all kittens are energetic!

Later that evening I got a text off Trisha who was Arthur’s foster carer. He was over on the Wirral! We arranged a 7pm viewing for Wednesday and I was so exited I could hardly sleep!

Wednesday could not come quick enough. In work I was willing the time when I could leave and then when the time came to make our way through the ‘Mersey tunnel,’ my nerves were at breaking point!

It was a trial to find the foster home, as a twenty minute drive turned into forty! But we finally found the street! With cat carrier in hand we nervously knocked on the door and was warmly welcomed into the home.

Arthur was asleep when we arrived but after introductions, he seemed to be receptive to us! We signed the relevant paperwork and handed over the adoption fee. Arthur was then placed into the carrier and was ‘ours’! I was so eager to take him home!

On arriving, we showed Arthur to our living room first. We showed him his new toys, played with him and fed him. We took him with us to our bedroom and he slept between David and I all night. He did have fits of crying but once he saw us lying down for the night he settled down too.

I have had kittens before and I know from experience that they usually want to start to explore come the turning off of the lamplight, but Arthur probably stressed from the move did not wake us until I woke up at 7am! I was amazed!

He has been with us now for two days and has settled in nicely. He has his mad fits of playing and then quiet times when he snuggles up with his dad or me. I love when he follows me from room to room to see what I am doing.

I know he is going to be a treasured member of the family. Even David is happy I pushed to get Artie, as he has been buying him scratching posts and cat boxes!

I have always said a house is not a home without a cat, and Artie certainly makes our ‘new’ house a home! 😀

It’s Been a Strange Sort of Day.

David has exhausted himself with crying over Muzzy (the cat), and that has left him very little time for me. 😦

It’s a good job I have a ‘very’ active inner imagination isn’t it?

What has got me through the night has been the promise of writing (though I have not done any! Would you want to write about Victorian asylums after seeing death?), wine and music!! Oh and the odd sexual fantasy… but you all know my ‘one’ weakness! :p

This afternoon, I managed to blank out the sad events that I knew would come from going to the vets later in the evening. (I have done it far too much in the past few years!) I sat in the yard and enjoyed the strong spring sun. It has been such a lovely day in Liverpool. (If I recall my father died on a similar day to this!) I read a chapter of a novel, sipped some ‘not so’ fermented apple juice and chomped on a sliver of melon. The sun was warm! Even though I had sunscreen on, I think I have turned a little pink!! :0

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It was nice sitting in the sun. I noticed that Hover-flies were dancing around my Wallflower and Magnolia, (they are pollinators too, it’s not just bees!) I am so overjoyed that at least I can make something happy!! My planting for wildlife is making a ‘small’ difference!! It has to be better than nothing? Right?

I enjoyed looking at the colours of my flowers. My Scabiosa is blooming with more flower heads. The Aubrieta is glowing with purple flowers and my Aquilegia has been growing daily. Every morning when I roll up the kitchen blind when I awake for breakfast, I have watched the Aquilegia grow higher and higher. Now it has flower buds on it and I can’t wait for them to open. They make such beautiful flowers! I am so happy that this plant is such a vibrant grower. I could not but notice that my Azalea had also blossomed. It’s flowers are not unlike the Rhododendron.

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There is a lot to be thankful for in my life. Though I may complain (often), it could be much worse!

Christine xx

I hate making hard decisions…

…but sometimes they just have to be made. I had postponed the inevitable for two weeks over Easter as when I broached the subject with David, he fell to pieces!

David has never really known what it is like to be a pet owner and animal lover. I have lived with animals all my life and though the end decision is difficult, it is one that every loving owner must face. You have to put aside your own heartache and the sadness and think of the animal. Are they in pain? Are they suffering?

I think Muzzy was!

RIP 6/2000 to 4/2014

RIP 6/2000 to 4/2014

She had been ailing for some time, had grown thin and her breathing had become erratic. As we don’t see Muzzy every day (my cats live with mum next door as they are too old to move into the new house), seeing Muzzy and her condition startled me! So today I knew I had to put my foot down and say ‘no’ to sentimentality! Enough was enough! ‘The cat comes first!’

We were booked in for 5pm at Adams Vets. We have been there many times before and they have always been kind and considerate. Today was no different.

David after work, drove us through a waterfall of his own tears. Mum and I went in and were given our own room to be with Muzzy before the vet came to see her. The vet was calm and listened to Muzzy’s heart. She said that there was fluid on the lungs and in her tummy, indicative of a failing heart! I had thought as much as we have seen it before in another one of our cats. His name was Jo and his death was horrific! It was something I did not want to see again!

The vet took Muzzy away for a catheter and when she came back, Muzzy was all wrapped up in a green blanket. I stroked Muzzy and kissed her head, whispering ‘she will be at peace soon.’ The vet injected the anaesthetic and in half a minute Muzzy’s head had slumped onto my arm and her chest had stopped rising. Mum was upset and I put on the ‘stiff upper lip’.

Home now and David is asleep on the couch, all the crying has spent his energy. I’ll probably have a cry later after a drink and a shower. I find that in these situations, it is always me that has to be the strong one and my emotions never come out as easily as they should.

I know Muzzy is at peace now, no more struggling for air. I think she has had a good innings with us. She was not a kitten when we got her. I was in another vets with a hamster in the summer of 2000 and someone brought Muzzy into the surgery saying ‘she was a stray and had been crying all day.’ I knew then that she would be part of my family. We asked the vet at the time if we could have her, and after a quick check up. I came home hamster-less but with a new addition to my ever growing cat family. Muzzy was with us for 14 years and I think she had a better life than if she was still a stray!

Love you lots Muzzy! xx

Book of Mysteries.

The 30th October 2013 was my 37th birthday!

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I spent the evening mostly on my own (as David’s car was broken… something to do with the clutch and he was stuck at his mums!)

In the evening I wallowed in a hot bath, listened to Mozart, while reading William Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ on my Kindle and sipping JP Chenet’s wine. Lordy I sound all cultured, but in reality I was just reading, listening to Classic FM and relaxing after a full dinner!

The day had started with a rush. I opened my birthday cards from my friends and family, said thank you to all the lovely birthday messages on my Facebook wall and then had to get the 79 bus into work to the Royal Liverpool Hospital. I must thank my boss, Julie for buying me a lovely Costa latte in the morning and later on that afternoon, shared with me a bottle of white, Stowell’s ‘colombard’ wine at a local pub. I think the pub was called ‘The Old Fort’?

I must say I smelled gorgeous all day as David had bought me a gift set of Thierry Mugler’s ‘Alien‘. I decided to not wear my ‘work’ clothes today and so I donned a favourite dress and my jacket. Work went fast enough. Julie and I worked on her report for the Royal and their compliance with the EU regulation on Safer Sharps. I really enjoyed typing the diction from Julie. I shall miss working with her when I finish work at the Royal Liverpool tomorrow. 😦

Getting home for 4pm, I opened my other presents from David’s family and marvelled at the delights. I got a lovely set of The Body Shop, White Musk fragrance and a Build a Bear ‘Red Panda!‘ called ‘Lily’. I was overjoyed!!!

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I ordered a curry, from Saffronmy favorite Indian restaurant in Liverpool! I requested the vegetable Shahi and my mum had the chicken Korma. Poor David was left at his mums and missed out on sharing my birthday with me… 😦

What made my night, was when the takeaway arrived, I was asked by name. I approached the front door and the delivery man (I don’t even know his name!) said, ‘happy birthday!’ He gave me a hug and said ‘thank you’ for all the lovely comments I post on their Just Eat account! The comments I feel are all justified as they cook some fantastic food!! He said I had free bhajis, popadoms and sauces with my order! I was quite overwhelmed and felt so appreciated as a customer! I love Saffron all the more!! 🙂

After gorging myself on hot, spicey food and pampering myself in fragrances, my mum wished me a ‘happy birthday’ and presented me with a cake. I think my cat Evie wanted to ‘gatecrash’ my birthday as she was prominent in the pictures. 🙂 lol.

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Even though I was at work for most of the day, hardly spent it with David. I feel blessed to have had the lovely messages from the people I cherish most ‘special in my life.’ I thank each and every one of you (you all know who you are!) for making me feel loved.

Christine xx