web analytics

Kitty cat heaven


I’ve posted about Celia Hammond before. She’s an ex-model who runs a cat rescue, one branch of which is not too far away in Sussex. I posted about it when we went to their Open Day a couple of years ago. It’s a big open landscape where they send semi-ferals and unhomeables.

I’m telling you, it was the most serene place I’ve ever been. Forget your Buddhist rock gardens, when I want to find inner peace, I close my eyes and picture those hundreds of moggies drifting gracefully around the meadows, waving their wild tails. I don’t know how they avoid territorial conflict — maybe because there are just too many cats to fight, maybe they put Kitty Valium in the Friskies — but I didn’t hear any hissing or see any aggressive behavior at all.

They didn’t seem feral, either — a bunch of friendly old pussoes headrubbing and begging skritchies. There were acres of grass and woods, dotted with tiny wooden cabins full of straw. It was cat heaven.

The picture above, by the way, is from a recent rescue of sixty cats, all one family. They were on a small farm with an elderly owner who died. Somehow, of the sixty, only eight were males, so they bred out of control really fast. They’re a strict no-kill shelter, so homes will be found for all.

If it turns out Jack’s nemesis is a stray, I can think of no happier fate for him than to be in that blessed place. I’d have to be sure, though. It would be an awful thing to spirit away somebody’s pet cat.

If you clicked that first link, I done you dirty. It’s a direct link to the cats-needing-homes page. I’ve been known to stay up too late, drink too much and start clicking. “I’ll take you home, kitty! I’LL TAKE YOU ALL home!”

April 25, 2017 — 8:39 pm
Comments: 11

It snew!


It snew in Scotland this morning. It was back to Spring by afternoon (as the photographer documents), but we are having a cold snap. It’s going to flirt with frost for the next few days, even down here. The gardeners are all worried because things have started to flower.

Janna asked for an update on Jack and his territorial dispute with the neighbor’s cat. It isn’t going well.

I heard him screaming this afternoon and ran next door to his aid, only to find him screaming into the neighbor’s livingroom window. Neighbor is taking care of her daughter’s cat, so Jack was screaming at an extremely elderly cat minding her own business in her own house. I apologized and withdrew.

Half an hour later, he’s next door screaming again. I shouted over the fence and the neighbor said that time it was indeed his nemesis, ginger-and-white. She chased off the intruder.

Half an hour later, he’s next door screaming again. I asked if it was the neighborhood bully again and she said, “no, Jack is standing in the middle of my garden screaming at nothing.”

Between these shrieking sessions he’s his good-natured old self, but he loses his shit when he feels threatened. I’ve warned everyone not to approach him when he’s screaming at air. Will try to find out who owns ginger-and-white. If he’s feral, I might try to relocate him, but I have a bad feeling he belongs to our newest neighbors.

April 24, 2017 — 9:07 pm
Comments: 12



In the Sixties, British Rail had a financial crisis (Google: “Beeching report) and shut down a third of the services and more than half of the train stations nationwide. This coincided with the wrapping up of the expensive-to-run steam trains.

Brits love them some trains, so this change cut a million British autists to the heart. There are all sorts of inspirational stories of engines rescued and, eventually, tiny parts of the closed lines restored by obsessive fans. These are the so-called Heritage railways which are dotted across the country.

The dream has always been to link heritage lines back up to the real network. Problem is, when they tore up the tracks, they sold those bits of land off to dozens — hundreds — of landowners. It seemed hopeless to buy enough of them back (in a contiguous line!) to connect with the real world.

Never bet against obsessives; they are finally managing it in places. The photo is from this article about the Bluebell Railway – “The first preserved standard gauge steam-operated passenger railway in the world to operate a public service, the society ran its first train on 7 August 1960, less than three years after the line from East Grinstead to Lewes had been closed by British Railways” (I stole that bit from Wikipedia). But it’s taken them until just now to link all the way back up to East Grinstead.

Linking up to the real world opens all kinds of possibilities, like commuters paying to go to work (at least partly) on steam trains. Which is doubly neat because we also have a handful of high-speed trains here. I can’t articulate why I think having both in service at once is so cool, it just is.

The Bluebell is one of the most-used railway lines in movies and TV, so do click over and have an explore.

April 20, 2017 — 8:30 pm
Comments: 9



Somebody’s opened a crow cafe in London – like a cat cafe, but…you know…with corvids (there’s also a rook and a raven).

Good idea. I like corvids. We had a couple of pet crows when I was a kid. I’ll tell you stories some day (some other day; it’s late and I have to go take a bath).


Their rook probably needs a buddy. Rooks are the sociable ones. You know the old saying: if you see a solitary rook, it’s a crow; if you see a bunch of crows, they’re rooks.

The trees around our house here are alive with rooks and I’ve been awfully tempted to feed them.

Know how you tell the difference? Crows and ravens look pretty much alike, except ravens are bigger and shaggier. But rooks have a strip of unpleasant-looking crusty white flesh where their beaks meet their heads. Thusly:

And on that educational note, I’m off to my bath. Toodle pip.

April 19, 2017 — 9:14 pm
Comments: 20

Moby Dig


No, that’s not original. Readers of the Mid-Sussex Times were asked to name this stranded digger and Moby Dig narrowly edged Digger McDigface. The digger is supposed to operate partially submerged, but something’s gone wrong and they ain’t saying what, so there it sits.

They’re using it to build a windfarm off Worthing Beach, so it can rot for all I care.

Locals must love this story, though, because the Times is asking if they’d be willing to vote for Moby Dig for MP. I hope they do, because fuck politics is why.

This is a very politically clever thing Theresa May has done, calling for a snap election. At the moment, the Tories are at a historic high (polling around 50%), Ukip is having an identity crisis, the LibDems are in disarray, and Labour is polling at an exceedingly weak 17% or so. Her party is sure to do well, and she will use this as evidence of a mandate on Brexit.

But what sort of Brexit are we looking at? Ay, there’s the rub.

April 18, 2017 — 8:09 pm
Comments: 11



That’s the Silk Road Train leaving the station today on its maiden voyage from Britain straight to China pulling thirty containers of British goods. Bit of a misnomer, as this is actually the return trip, but w/e.

That’s 7,500 miles in 18 days. I make that 416 miles a day, for an average of 17 miles an hour. It does stop several places and switch engines, but I don’t think it takes on additional cargo. China already has similar rail services with a dozen other countries along the way.

It’s China’s idea. This is cheaper than moving goods by air and faster than container ships. I’m not sure it will work out — something about the logistics of trains never seems to be economical — but I think it’s neat that they’re trying.

One of the things going to China is whisky. We know someone whose son is a whisky dealer in Hong Kong. They can’t get enough of the stuff. The good stuff, too.

Age of wonders, y’all.

April 10, 2017 — 8:18 pm
Comments: 8



They made a Guinness Record attempt today: most balloons across the Channel, from Dover to France. I had heard they were going to try for 100, but the article says 82 definitely made it. The previous record was 49, so this should be no problem.

Except – they forgot to notify Guinness.

Eh. I’m sure they’ll let them make the application retroactively. They have plenty of photographic evidence.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

April 7, 2017 — 8:11 pm
Comments: 10



That, my friends, is a batter-dipped and deep-fried Cadbury creme egg. Available from a fish and chip shop (know colloquially as a “chippy”) in Deal, next door in Kent. As the news site put it “Walmer Fish & Chips, in The Strand, near Deal, have begun battering Creme Eggs for the very first time to celebrate the rebirth of Jesus.”

A deeply spiritual people.

And don’t miss the sister article: the day the Cadbury Creme Egg Bus visited Kent.

Oh, and I’m sure you’ve heard — Don Rickles is dead. And, in a final insult to you all, nobody had him in the Dead Pool.

April 6, 2017 — 8:20 pm
Comments: 21



A long-time activist against Trump’s golf course in Scotland (courses, actually. He apparently has several), walked across the green, dropped trou and took a whiz. She says she got caught short and hid discreetly in the dunes, but was filmed doing it by three men including the groundskeeper. The latter, having every right to think some kind of crime was happening before him, called the cops. Money quote:

She added she was “shocked” to be told by police she had been filmed, leaving her “slightly paranoid” about urinating outside.

Dear Scottish woman: I would like you to be very paranoid about peeing outside. In fact, I’d rather you didn’t pee outside at all. Thanks.

She sued him because the course was not registered with the Information Officer. Yes, that’s a thing. You have to do it if your business takes pictures of the public. I had to register our little historical society because we have CCTV.

Trump could have found the £3,000 she sought in the folds of his cardigan — I’m sure he does laps in his money pool like Scrooge McDuck — but then the next publicity-hungry activist would probably have taken a poo in the clubhouse. Oh, and she lost.

I’m not sure why the opposition is not getting it. If they keep REEEEing at every little thing Trump does, but the time he makes a serious error (and, let’s face it, the chances of that are non-zero), nobody will be listening. Age of wonders, folks.

April 5, 2017 — 8:58 pm
Comments: 5

I can’t quite talk him into it


That’s the Stoer Head Lighthouse in Scotland, and it’s for sale. They’re asking £367,000 (about $450K), which sounds a lot, but isn’t really for here. Well, it is for Scotland, but not for a 19th Century lighthouse built by Robert Louis Stevenson’s dad (who was bitterly disappointed his boy didn’t go into engineering).

It’s on the mainland, so no tiresome ferries, but it’s a fairly long hop to a pack of cigarettes. Two complete apartments and a bothy (sort of a liveable shed). The article says it gets 10,000 visitors a year (almost certainly birdwatchers). I reckon you could spin a tidy little business out of it.

Whatever. Sometimes, stuff comes on the market here that makes me write whole novels in my head.

April 3, 2017 — 8:32 pm
Comments: 16