Category Archives: PETS

Tramp (the cat) holiday & the rampant herb garden

So my last post was all about MY birthday … but what about the cat and things back at home?

Well Tramp is a lucky chappie, because he gets looked after by a nice lady (paid for by us) who pops round each day to fill his food bowl, has a cuddle, plays with him and sets up a 2nd food bowl on an automatic timer for his evening meal. She also sends daily photos to update us on his progress – hence the number of photos that follow. Another advantage of some of these photos is that it gives you an indication of what the inside (and outside) of our house is like – At least from a cat’s point of view. From some of the photos, it looks like we were a little luckier with the weather than Tramp !

Finally, do you remember the photo of the pathetic little herb garden we planted at the end of April ? Let me remind you …

… and this is what we came back to after our holidays !

It appears the weather suited them and now we have no need for further herbs (particularly mint) !

Start of 2017 – what’s new?

The start of 2017 was not really very exciting and there  wasn’t much interesting to write about – hence the dearth of new posts.

There were the work tasks: I’m trying to cut my business costs this year and therefore replaced my IP database at the start of January (which included a couple of on-line training sessions in January/February), I met with an old colleague from my previous employer, ostensibly to talk about possible IP protection for some new ideas that he had been tinkering around with, but ended up having a general chat about how the atmosphere has changed as have many of the people. I also did quite a few professional webinars (always good for my CPD).

On the MS/medical front: There were all the usual things – open gym sessions (Monday & Friday), seated yoga (Wednesday), dentist etc., but there were 2 things that did stand out as not being the norm:

1.  On the afternoon of 04 January 2017 – we took delivery of my “super duper” assisted bike which Kevin had arranged as my Christmas treat. We are hiring it for 3 months on a trial basis and I’m trying to use it every day. At the end of the 3 months, we will purchase it and the 3 months hire cost will be deducted from the sale price. This just goes to show you how expensive it is!

2.  During the last weekend in January, I hosted the “Twitter takeover” on behalf of Shift MS. This might have been quite mundane, but of course in the US there was all the chatter about the election/inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the USA. Fortunately, most of the tweets during my “Twitter takeover” steered well clear of politics!

Unfortunately, this fairly lacklustre spell of progress or rather complete lack of it, gave me the urge to organise several things – another visit with my MP (much shorter and more friendly this time), organising a visit from a carpenter to quote for changes to our stairs and levelling our upper landing and also a visit from a blinds company to quote for installation of electrically controlled blinds in our bedroom. Kevin was NOT pleased, although I have to admit that this flurry of activity was taking place just before my parents were coming to stay with us for a couple of days prior to going on a bell-ringing trip to Devon with a view of their friends from Somerset.

Roll on March: As I’m in bad odour with Kevin anyway, and things still aren’t progressing with the new house, I also arrange for a visit from a landscape gardener to quote for cleaning our block paving area and replacing the paving slabs/edging along the path to our front door. A very nice, young chap (I’m getting to that age when lots of competent adults look ‘young’ to me now) came to visit us, see what was required and provide a quote for the work. My main aim was to get the path to the front door level (making it easier to manoeuvre my wheelchair) and to replace the edging along the path to restrain the gravel between the plants in the adjacent beds, which was spilling onto the path in several places due to accidental hits & bumps from me in the wheelchair. The Gardener said that he could, and would prefer, to do the work before the end of March. In fact, he could start the following week.”Ah, that’s difficult” I said, “because we are off to visit my patents in France next Tuesday and don’t return until 22nd March”. (Mmm, now I’m beginning to appreciate Kevin’s frustration – but I wasn’t going to admit it and he could jolly well sort out arrangements for feeding the cat while we’re away … SULK!) Anyway, the Gardener agreed to start on our return from France and right at the last moment, Kevin organised for a “professional cat sitter” to come in and feed the cat, while we were away.  …

AND SO, OFF WE GO TO FRANCE … (Garden photos courtesy of my Dad)

Now my Mum had warned me that on 17 March (St Patrick’s day) they were hosting a celebratory Irish meal and had invited a number of guests – both French and English. We had already seen the Irish flag and bunting as it was ordered on-line and had been delivered to our house a few weeks earlier, and we had been treated to a viewing of their cheap elf T-shirts (picked up in a supermarket during their quick bell-ringing trip to England). The authenticity of the “Irish food” was somewhat dubious, but they had made several attempts to try out the cocktail ‘Black Velvet’ (a mixture of Guinness & Champagne) – now that was sure to go down well in France (!?!) The verdict on the ‘Black Velvet’ was understandably somewhat confused, ranging from “a good way to ruin both Guinness & Champagne” (majority) to “it’s quite nice really” (minority).

I don’t drink much alcohol and definitely avoided the ‘Black Velvet’, but I think the next two photographs go to show what a terrible effect it can have on the photographer (my dad).

All set – before ‘Black Velvet’

I leave it to you to make up your own mind!

Party in full swing – after ‘Black Velvet’

My parents had set up an office for me in their spare, spare bedroom and I did spend a couple of hours each day at my computer doing some work! There was some socialising, relaxing, watching films and shopping too and it did provide a nice break for us humans. And now onto the cat: He seemed to have a pretty relaxed and fun holiday too, being well looked after by the “professional cat sitter” as can be seen from the pictures at the beginning of this post and the photographs to end. We shall definitely be using her again for our next holiday – Birthday celebrations!

Christmas Preparations – Part II

OK – As I said in my last post, on 12 – 13 December 2016 the central heating plumbers arrived and fitted 2 new radiators, new electronic radiator valves on (most) of the radiators and connected up our new super duper electronic control system. Because of the slight miscount of the number of radiators in the house, they could not completely fit a couple of the radiator valves immediately but returned the next day to complete that part of the job. Unfortunately, the radiator in our en-suite is still a mystery to everyone – both us and the plumbers – as no water appears to reach it! However, a new electronic radiator valve had still been fitted, although the temperature recorded refuses to budge from the default setting and no heat is forthcoming from this radiator.

Now Kevin had to do lots of tidying up and we had to start stocking up on Christmas provisions. To cut a long story short, we didn’t even start looking for a ‘real’ Christmas tree until the day before my parents arrival on 23 December. Needless to say, nearly everywhere had sold out of real Christmas trees long ago, but we were lucky enough to pick up a tree (much too tall for our new house). However, after cutting off the base of the trunk and removing some of the lower branches I think we ended up with quite a good looking tree and very cheaply! You will have to judge from the attached photograph.

Christmas tree & presents

Christmas tree & presents

Now I did promise a post with more pictures of the inside of our new house and our few Christmas photos of the ground floor rooms (with decorations) will have to do for now. So here are a couple of photos that were previously posted on Facebook.

front-window-stars-2016

Stars

view-from-the-back-of-lounge-with-a-christmas-tree-stars-bottles-of-drinks-2016

Stars, Christmas tree & drinks

This shows our “very large” living room/dining room. There are no pictures of the dining table from where the 2nd photograph was taken, but I assure you it is now VERY long i.e. our existing table with all extension leaves inserted.

I thought I would finish with a current picture of our lovely cat (Tramp), complete with his Christmas glamour collar. I still think he’s quite an elegant chap, even though he is over 19 years old (quite old for a cat). We don’t really know his age, because he was a stray but we know he’s getting on a bit and a vigorous scratch with his back leg occasionally causes him to topple over – I can understand/appreciate this difficulty being a bit ‘wobbly’ myself! Also, being rather old his neck is a little slimmer than the collar Manufacturers expect and therefore his collar often slips round his neck to form more of a choker/necklace (as shown in the photograph).

Tramp

Tramp

 

 

WE’RE MOVING ! (Hopefully ?!?)

OK, I can wait no longer – think back to 1st March 2016 and my comment at the end of my February 2016 post … to be continued … Well we can do no more, so here’s the update and it’s now “fingers crossed”.

On Tuesday, 1st March 2016 we went to view the pictured house and before  the end of the week we’d put in an ‘offer’, which was accepted the following week. And now the fun really starts (after 5+ years of house hunting)!

  1. Find a solicitor to carry out the conveyancing (mid-March) only to be asked if we were selling a house at the same time to which I replied: “No, because I use a wheelchair and we have to live in our existing house until a wheelchair lift is installed in the new house”. BOMBSHELL WARNING from conveyancer that in the forthcoming 2016 budget, we did realise that if we owned 2 houses after 1st April 2016, we’d have to pay SDLT (enhanced – double – the stamp duty) on our forthcoming purchase! Thank you Mr. Osborne, even after over 5 years of saving, we don’t have enough money to cover that too. ARRGH!
  2. Cue mad search for more money – Wealthy as yet unknown relative? No. Lottery? No. Premium Bonds? You must be kidding! Loan of some sort? OK, short-term bridging loan then.
  3. Find a surveyor to do a complete survey. Tick.
  4. Lots of signing of paperwork for loan, conveyancer etc. Tick.
  5. Finally, at the end of May we signed the sales contract for the conveyancer and transferred over the required money for the deposit.Now the wait for the “Exchange of Contract” & “Completion” dates to be worked out by the conveyancers.

The vendor’s had already told us that “Completion” couldn’t take place until towards the end of June because they have a daughter sitting her A levels. We didn’t see this as a disadvantage, because we had to have a wheelchair lift installed (6-8 weeks lead time) before we could move in anyway. The vendor’s agreed that we could visit the house on 2nd June  with someone from our chosen lift installation company to survey, measure up and discuss recommendations before supplying a quote. Still no “Exchange of Contract” & “Completion” dates agreed yet, because vendor just has a couple of issues to sort out before “Exchange of Contracts” can take place. I hope the name of the new house is a good omen! – Providence House.

Now, we had to put selling our house in motion. The estate agent came round on 26 May to do the valuation and measure up for the house details and we agreed that it was best to wait until after end of May Bank Holiday before the house details went ‘live’ on-line etc. and this allowed us (Kevin mainly) some time to do major clear-out – charity shop visit, recycling and general tidying round. We woke on Thursday (2nd June) to the sound of a ‘For Sale’ board being erected.

 

We also agreed that it would be better if we were ‘out of the house’ whilst viewings were taking place and this was good timing as we’d be in Cheltenham every day for the Science Festival week commencing 6 June. GREAT PLAN (or so we thought), but then the estate agent rang on 2 different occasions to ask if we could accommodate 2 viewings on Friday afternoon! We got out of the house by 3pm (car packed with yet more recycling), went to Waitrose for drinks/snacks/shopping and didn’t return home until after 5pm. PHEW!!

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HOUSE MOVE ON GO SLOW – SO A POST ABOUT MY CAT, “TRAMP”

I know I was going to do a post about our potential house move (… to be continued) – that’s right, the house we viewed on 1st March 2016. We made an offer the same week, had it accepted the next week and started looking at conveyancers. At this point, we were informed about the detrimental aspects of the SDLT proposal due in the forthcoming budget and so we had to make some quick adjustments to our thinking/funding position. Come April, we’d appointed a solicitor for the conveyancing, a surveyor to carry out a full structural survey and spoken to a financial specialist about the best way to raise a short-term loan to fund the Chancellor’s SDLT ‘hit’ announced in the 2016 budget. Everything seemed to be moving very fast and at one point I was even hoping that we may manage to have our birthday meal at the end of May in said new property. Needless to say, towards the end of April it became clear that things were becoming ‘bogged down’ and now it seems that I will have to wait a little longer for the promised ‘… to be continued’ post. As you can imagine, we are now halfway through May, my birthday aspirations are out of the window and I’ve been feeling a little bit low.

However, in a feeble attempt to keep my blogging more regular, I’ve decided to treat you to a post about my cat – “Tramp”. He’s a lovely cat really and the name no longer suits him, so as he’s got older (and now he’s an old boy – 19?) we’ve tried to make his name a little posher by occasionally referring to him as “Trampus”, but the fact remains that even though he is now a smart (if a little grizzled) cat – when we first adopted him as a stray he had no fur on his tummy, smelt a little bit and was very timid. At that time, “Tramp” seemed an eminently suitable name, but now he has survived this long and cleaned himself up a lot maybe the name is a little cruel. Our neighbours have always called him “Blackie the cat”, which now seems fairer and alludes to the fact that he is a black cat. Unexpectedly, as he has got older a few grey/white hairs have randomly appeared throughout his coat and he is a little less black than he appears in the accompanying photo – However, I thought it best to show him ‘in his prime’. Also, he hasn’t worn a collar for many years now, as it seemed to irritate his skin.

TRAMP or TRAMPUS

TRAMP or TRAMPUS