Saturday, 29 May 2010


I'll be putting these up on our website here -

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Sorry, no photographs, thank you.

Last night I was told about a cat (which had just given birth to two kittens) hiding out in a garage at Hetton on the outskirts of Sunderland and I arranged to go up at lunchtime to check it out. I took a cat carrier and cat food with me, the former in the unlikely chance I could catch them, the latter to leave for the person keeping an eye on them to put out for them. I suspected the cat was feral and would be best left where it was. However the one thing I forgot to take was the address, though I was certain I knew it.

I found the street okay but not the right house. After trying several, I gave up, went home, adndrang the person to tell them I couldn't make it today. Let's face it, who likes to admit they're an idiot? But it turns out that she hadn't seen the cat all morning. I passed the information on to Carol who eventually called back to tell me that the matter is now in the hands of an expert in dealing with ferals.

So, back home where we're currently having the loft renovated and which I'll probably write about in my Freethinking blog.

Later that afternoon I got a call from a person who'd been given my number by Susan and off I went again, this time to South Bents on the coast and just round the corner from Star Rescue (see recent post). Just as a precaution I took a cat carrier with me. Apparently a cat had got inside an elderly person's house and got stuck behind a fitted wardrobe. By the time I got there, the two people who were trying to get it had found the cat's owner -it had been missing for three days- and she identified it by its cries. 

The fitted wardrobe was split in two, divided by a dresser with a mirror and it was behind the mirror where the cat was stuck. The lady who had been helping had been trying for two hours to get the cat out. I looked at wardrobe for a moment and -bearing in mind that I am one of the least practical people in the world- reached out, took hold of the bottom of the mirror and raised it up to reveal the cat stuck behind it.

I put the cat in the carrier and walked home with it and its very grateful owner. In the rain. Feeling smug.

Sunday, 23 May 2010


-has found a home after only four days with us. Yesterday he went for a trial stay with a nice family from Jarrow in South Tyneside. Fingers crossed it works out.

Saturday, 22 May 2010


This is Sheba after a trip to Roker Park vets yesterday. Her long black hair was getting very tangled and matted and it needed something drastic doing to it.
And this is what she looked like before.
She's big and beautiful and has a very loving nature, with fur.
Or without.
After I'd left Sheba to her fate, I popped along the coast a little way to the house that housed the now-defunct Star Cat Rescue to pick up a cat cage for Carol. Star had been going for 18 years before ill health caused the lady who ran it to stop. The lady and gentleman who inherited the house look after the cats which were left but are taking in no more now. Though they couldn't stop themselves from helping a young ginger cat which had been found with a severe wound under its left armpit where it had caught its leg in its collar. Despite its still healing injuries, the cat immediately ran up to me so I could make a fuss of it.

After that, it was over to Hendon to drop off three neutering vouchers at various places, call in at our charity shop, then pop up to Asda for the week's cat food which I'd drop off at Carol's when I brought Sheba back.

I'll leave you with a photo of a tired Jake.

Thursday, 20 May 2010


Got a call from Carol this morning. Jake had worms and she needed some stuff from the vets. So off I went, picked it up, dropped it off. Jake was just as friendly as he had been yesterday, happy to be picked up and petted. If anything, he was a little more playful and all too willing to bite and chomp on any handy hands.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


I thought I'd have a quiet afternoon after a busy morning which had nothing to do with animals. You think I'd know better by now. Just before lunch I got a call from a lady who wanted an older cat. Usually it's kittens. I gave her Carol's number, emphasising that we had some lovely older cats, which we do. Look through earlier posts and you'll see plenty of photos of them.

About 2.00 I got a call from Carol that a kitten had been found by office workers near Hylton College on the north side of the river. I rang the place to check its location then picked up a cat carrier and set off in the van. I found the place okay and the kitten- which I'd thought might be feral- but wasn't and it was a kitten about four months old. I took it to Carol's where at one point I held it for over ten minutes and it barely moved, happy to be fussed over. While not in bad condition, Carol reckoned he'd been on his own for a few days. Here he is shortly after eating most of a sachet of food.

And here he is again.
He's a delightful little cat and I hope he gets a really good home.

Before I'd actually arrived Carol's the lady who had phoned up around midday asking about an older cat had already been and taken one which had only been with Carol for a couple of days and I'd never even seen it. Lucky cat. I wish all of them had that short a stay with us. Also, while I was at Carol's, a very nice couple came to look at Chloe's kittens and picked two to be  taken home in about another five weeks when they were old enough.

Normally my visits to Carol's are on the brief side as I just drop off or pick up cats or deliver cat food. Sometimes I'll spend a while in a shed making a fuss of the cats and taking some photos. This time, however, a spy of hers at Witherwack (a housing estate about a mile away) had told her about an idiot who'd bought a springer spaniel pup for her kids who had grown bored with it or it was too inconvenient to keep and she was going to give it to the first person who paid her £20.00 for it. Which turned out to be Animal Krackers, in this case, me. I had to hang around Carol's until the woman turned up whereupon Carol's spy would pick the dog up and meet me at the Bunnyhill Centre (and, yes, that is a real place and the new centre combines library, doctor's surgery, community centre, and other things I can't remember.

And that is what happened. Carol's spy turned out to be a good guy who keeps an eye on animal welfare on the estate. He's adopted several pets (including cats, dogs, and parrots), and regularly passes cats/kittens on to Carol. And sometimes a dog. This dog is an overgrown 8 month old puppy called Jackson (and when I learned that I decided to call the kitten Jake and the two names sound good together -euphonious?). Here's Jackson.
Jackson didn't have a collar so I just put him in the back of the van and crossed my fingers that he'd behave himself. Which he did. He stuck his head between the two seats and against my left arm. Sometimes as I turned the wheel he'd shove his head underneath my arm to position it between my arm and the steering wheel. Other than that, which was nothing really, he wasn't the slightest trouble.

He did get more excited when I got back to the shop and put a collar on him but he was just being friendly. He's a bit skittish, but that is in the nature of the breed, and very friendly. Andrea and I took him to the vets for a vaccination, where again he was no bother. Unlike the moron who blocked me in. From there to Ferryfarm Kennels where I showed him the hens wandering around but as they weren't either people or dogs he wasn't remotely interested. Mark who owns the kennels quickly assessed him and said he'd find a home very quickly.

Let's hope so.

Sunday, 16 May 2010


The kittens are now two weeks old and are just beginning to open their eyes. Chloe herself remains a friendly, gentle young cat who loves attention.
No, I'm not strangling her, I'm just tipping up her chin so you can see her face.
Sorry about the poor quality of the photographs of the kittens, but I'm half lying inside a low kennel which makes it difficult for me to keep a steady hand. It should improve as the kittens get older and move around more.

Friday, 14 May 2010


Carol is full up with cats so Tracy, who runs a cattery/rescue up at Burnhope (see earlier post), offered to take our excess. One was a friendly short-haired tortoiseshell which had been handed in at the shop and left there overnight. Then there were two pregnant cats handed in to Carol, one of which had a litter within hours. Here they are. The first phot is a little misleading as their colour is black.
Burhope is up in the hills some seven miles west of Durham and about twenty from Sunderland, but psychologically it feels quite an isolated place surrounded by farmland and large wind-farms. Tracy runs the cattery to fund the rescue. Apart from a couple of her own cats and dogs, she also keeps chickens, donkeys and horses. and three FIV-infected ferals which have the run of the cattery grounds and live quite happily with the birds.
This feral, but actually friendly, cat decided to claim my bag which I'd left on the ground. It contains a pad of neutering vouchers from Cats Protection and I was going to fill out four for Tracy.
This young brother and sister have been hand-reared by Tracy from two weeks old and are incredibly friendly, purring as soon as they are touched and happy to jump on you. Why they, and several others, haven't been re-homed by now is beyond me.
This young kitten was so lively I could only get a photo of him by having Tracy pick him up because it was the only way to stop him moving.

This morning I took three cats to the vets in Sunderland. You can see a photo of them being held by Susan in the previous post. for the third cat, this was the second attempt to take him. Last time, as mentioned in a prior post of a couple of weeks ago, he broke out of his carrying case and sped off down the street but was trapped a couple of days later. When I introduced him to the staff of Williams & Cummings, I called him The Escapist. Well, when I pick him up in about half an hour The Escapist will be missing his balls.

Sunday, 9 May 2010


While I was away, Carol had some new arrivals. Two adult black and white sisters, Chloe the pregnant cat gave birth to five kittens, and two 8-week old enchanting balls of fluff. The human being in the photos is Susan Hardy, my wife, who will never forgive me for including one phot in particular.


Located in the north west Haria region of Lanzarote, the most green and fertile area on the island, on a terraced hillside, the leaflet promises more than the park actually delivers. While making clear that it is primarily noted for its collection of birds, the leaflet also shows photographs of a variety of medium to small mammals like coatis, racoons, meerkats, among others. In fact the only mammals I saw was one flat-out asleep wallaby, one flat-out asleep on a branch exotic type of squirrel, and a cage containing 3 white-eared marmosets.

IanP, with whom I'd gone on holiday, isn't greatly interested in animals but he was happy to drive me there via Arieta (see Freethinking blog) and then up into the hills. A different route involves a steep ascent followed by an even steeper bowel-emptying descent on a narrow road while trying to avoid coaches. It took about 15 minutes to get there from Arieta to which Ian returned after dropping me. Forty-five minutes later, I rang him to pick me up. In between.

First thing is cages of parrots followed by an enclosed walk-through aviary which I liked. I've no idea what species of birds they were so I'll just show you some photos and leave the hard work of identifying them to you.
Next up was the penguin pool which had 3 penguins standing by the side of it looking very bored. And next to that the flamingo paddling pool with several flamingos standing around like flamingos do. Of more interest were-
But my big favourites were the white-eared marmosets. These delightful little creatures were in a cage with the wire mesh only a foot away from visitors. Curious little animals, the male in particularly, jumped down and stared right into my face -though when he first did it I thought he was going to pee into it. He even let me reach out and touch his tiny paws. This was probably the highlight of my holiday.
Overall the place was worth a visit albeit disappointing in its lack of small mammals for which I have a particular fondness. The animals and birds seem to be housed well and looked after in reasonably sized cages and enclosures. If most of them weren't moving around much, well it was a hot day.

There is one kind of animal I had a close encounter with which wasn't so pleasant. Here it is.
We'd got back late-ish from the centre of Costa Teguise and were about to settle down to watch one of the DVDs I'd brought with me and I was pouring myself a glass of red wine when out the corner of my eye I caught a rapid movement and found myself screaming in a high voice, "There's a fucking cockroach!" I should note that my love of animals doesn't extend to creepy-crawlies like cockroaches, especially in my bare feet. I ran into my bedroom and rammed my feet into my shoes and when the roach made the mistake of coming too close I squashed it. Two nights later and I saw another one on a wall. I moved quietly past it to the bedroom again, picked up something from the floor and screamed-"EAT THE SANDAL OF DEATH!"
You must understand that I have no familiarity with cockroaches, at least not in the same room as me. Never happened before. I've never lived anywhere where there were cockroaches. I just know they make me feel horrible.
Apparently they come up through the plughole. This meant that for the entire week I was checking that Ian had put the plug back in immediately after whatever it was he'd been doing -washing up, having a bath, washing his hands- something he was rather blase about. Understandably, I never forgot to do it.

And so ends my encounters with animals on the volcanic island of Lanzarote.
Post Script: Wine.
Apropos of nothing in particular but I forgot to mention it in my Freethinking holiday post, I picked up a bottle of white wine in Lidl (five minutes drive from where I was staying) for a grand total of 0.75euros and it was reasonably pleasant to drink. I also had some decent bottles of red wine for under 3euros. Also at one shop I bought a litre of Southern Comfort for only 12.95euros, about 4 cheaper than anywhere else and a hell of a lot cheaper than in the UK.