Saturday, 12 December 2015

RIP Archie, the cat

Well, here’s the blog post that I hadn’t anticipated having to write for several years. Archie our beloved cat has died.
He wasn’t at home when I got up this morning and didn’t come in when I called him. Three hours after I had got up and made breakfast, there was still no sign of him and so Mr J and I went out to look for him. There is always the risk when you move home that the cat decides to wander, but Archie seemed to have settled into his new surroundings so well that I felt it unlikely that he had wandered.

Our next door neighbour come out to greet us this morning (it’s the first time that we have met him) and told us that sadly he had found ‘a very large tabby cat’ that had died in the lane and had bundled him up rather than leaving him in the open with the rain pouring and wind blowing.
We introduced ourselves to the neighbour and thanked him for saving us from the shock of finding our much loved cat and we took Archie home to find a suitable tree under which to bury him. I can only guess that Archie wandered into the main road at the end of our lane and was hit by a car and had tried to come home but didn’t make it.

Archie came to live with us just under three years ago (shortly after Mr J and I starting living together), he belonged to a close friend’s son and wife who had recently had a baby and the combination just wasn’t working in their household. So Archie (known as Colin back then) came to live with us. He was a real character and very vocal, he liked to tell us about everything, he yowled when he wanted to go out or to come in or to have his cat biscuits topped up or because he was going upstairs, sitting down, about to go to sleep, you name it, Archie told us about it! The house seems very quiet without him.

He was also a highly skilled mouser (if you are squeamish skip to the next paragraph now), he would regularly catch three or four mouse-like creatures a night and loved to bring them in to show us what he had found. And he crunched them as noisily. Not long after he first arrived with us Mr J woke up one morning and asked me why I had been eating breadsticks in bed during the night (this is not something I do regularly, or in fact, ever) and I’d had to explain to him that it wasn’t me but was Archie eating a vole.

Archie loved to play, he would chase the little green light spot from a laser pen light up and down the stairs for ages before getting bored and in the summer would chase sticks thrown for him (he never learnt to bring them back though). He was affectionate and sought us out for a cuddle and fuss every day, rolling onto his back so that we could tickle his tummy, armpits and under his chin.

So we have locked the cat flap and picked up, washed and put away his bowls. They will all be needed again before too long, but for now we want a couple of weeks to get over the unpleasant surprise and remember him.

It really hasn’t been the best of days today and I will leave recording what else we have done for the last couple of days until tomorrow.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

With loving memories

It’s been a funny old day, emotional, celebratory and thought-provoking.
It is three years since my mother passed away, my sister and I took a trip to my parents’ grave to put a Christmas wreath on it and to spend a little time in thoughtful memory of Mum. My sister and I regularly get the giggles when we are together and as so often happens, we ended up with tears of laughter running down our faces and remembered Mum’s reaction when this used to happen. She would roll her eyes skywards and with a slightly disapproving look say something like ‘honestly, you two just can’t behave when you are together’ and then as she’d turn away from us, we’d see her unable to suppress a little smile.
When I got home from the churchyard I made a gluten free lemon cake with lemon zest and Sicilian Limoncello extract (all the taste but no alcohol) topped with tangy lemon curd to offer to friends who were coming early afternoon for tea and natter. Our visitors were the previous owners of our lovely little home. It was they who did so much work to the house to transform it into the beautiful place that we now live in. It must have been strange for them to come back to the familiar building but with all our belongings in it. I was pleased that they liked the shrub border I am creating by the windbreak and I’m looking forward to visiting their new house once the hectic rush of late December is over.
Mid-afternoon we then headed back once more to our former home to collect some more of our belongings. Thankfully I can switch off and snooze in the car which gives me a chance to recharge my batteries a little. It feels like it is taking forever to clear the house, but the reality is that we can only do a little bit at a time as I get tired quickly and today had already been quite a busy one. We should finally have cleared and cleaned our former house by the end of the weekend and we can put all our efforts into this little smallholding.
So tonight, we are having a gentle evening, we both have our feet up, Mr J looks relaxed and happy and I’ve been in my element pouring over gardening books and magazines deciding if there are any urgent tasks that I need to do before it gets too late into the month.