Us here in the slow lane

Phase 2: July 2011-present:

We have left Bacteria Gardens at last, travelling from the North-East to the South-West, and are putting down roots in Somerset. Another cat, the grumpy middle-aged Catkin, formerly living with the Lovely Son, has joined us.

We live in a very old cottage, in what was a small village now part of a little seaside town. Life is very, very different. Read all about it on my blog, and marvel at how dreams really can come true.

Phase 1:

(in order of age)

The Human:

Rachel, retired, aged 62, but doesn't look a day over 61.5, lives a deliberately quiet life with a small inherited Yorkshire terrier bitch, a young black labrador bitch and four cats in a tall narrow town house that has been a labour of love for 29 years. All are based for the time being in what was once a 'grim-up-North' city, now extensively revitalised and gentrified, but to Rachel still very cold and hard-edged. The Grand Plan is to move to the South West, to be greener in surroundings and lifestyle, and to have a garden. To do this, someone needs to buy her house first!

Nothing much happens, but every day is filled with astonishment, wonder, outrage, amusement, fun and warmth. All a gentle pace, and with a light covering of pet hair. 

And oh, how she likes to tell you about it all, with many unnecessary adjectives and a carefree disregard of the split infinitive.

First dog:

A miniature Yorkshire terrier, recently discovered from photographs to be at least 12 years old, inherited from Rachel's mother, who named her Tosca. She is slightly oppressed by the cats, but knows that there are four more chances of treats than if she lived without them. She gets really cross if anyone asks if she's a Toy Yorkie. Her haircuts cost more than yours, probably; her favourite perfume is Eau de Chien.

Second Dog:

Florence (Flossie on weekdays) was brought in for rehoming to a Northern dog charity, at exactly the moment when Rachel had announced that she was looking for a labrador bitch. One of those serendipitous events that happen too rarely. All are adapting to life with a loving, bouncing, hair-shedding, mud-spattering large dog. They don't know how they managed without her all these years...

The cats:

All are young, rescued cats from a local charity, and despite their humble origins, have developed ruinously expensive tastes.

Lottie: all fluff, nothing much underneath, can shed enough fur each week to knit a mitten, should anyone wish to be so gross. Sweet and gentle, Lottie is nevertheless queen of the house and much of the back lane, and has an effectively bad-tempered squawk that deters any kitten foolish enough to take liberties.

Millie: a smart grey and fawn striped tabby, the lively, restless ADD-type, born in captivity to a feral mother, likes climbing, and is responsible for every knocked-over vase of flowers in the house. Loves Lottie more than anyone else, and is crushed but undeterred when this is not reciprocated.

Scooter: plump, glossy, black and white, born in the woods on a large country estate. Not bright, but very beautiful. Hobby: eating. Used to dote on Millie, but has bonded with latest addition Hamish, and together they spend a lot of time out in the back yard, doing nothing at all.

Hamish: glowingly ginger and white, another woodland creature, captured later than Scooter, harder to tame, and only interested in other cats and the dog. Is scary to watch when playing with a toy mouse.

Where we live:

In one of a small group of streets cut off from the rest of the area by a handy bypass, we are on the edge of Jesmond Dene, a beautiful, large wooded park. Most of us know each other, and the dog acts as our Neighbourhood Watch warden, moderating her bark according to friend or foe. Our street is known (on this blog only) as Bacteria Gardens, due to the few highly-insanitary student houses it contains, but it remains a pleasant and friendly street with neighbourly folks and many families.

Why this blog?

To record a life of dramatic contrast to my working years. Words like quiet, calm, small, uneventful, interesting, slow, peaceful and undemanding are apt; words like rushed, busy, frenetic, stressed, driven and pressurised are near-swearwords.

Anything else?

Well, yes.... it's a vehicle to talk about my beloved cats. A lot. If you don't like cats, I guess you won't be reading further. If you do, then welcome, friend.

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