Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Do You Have Any Pets?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post where bloggers discuss a wide range of topics from books and blogging to life in general.
Join in by answering this weeks question in the comments or on your own blog.

So, the question I'm answering this week was actually last week's question but I missed it and it's too good a question not to answer!
Plus, this week's question (Fall books I'm looking forward too) doesn't much interest me at the moment as my reading to too erratic and I barely know what is coming out this Fall, so...
This week's question (that I'm answering) is:
Do you have any pets? Tell us about them (past or present)

*Cracks knuckles* Buckle up folks! This is going to be a long one! 😆

The only time in my life when I didn't have pets was those first couple of years after leaving home for university when I was staying in the student halls and then in a flat with some friends... And I'm not sure those count as the family pets were still at home and I saw them whenever I went home, you know?

Anyway, I grew up with dogs. 
My family had a total of 5 dogs in the time I lived at home (and two of them lived until I was in my mid-twenties).
(This part of the post doesn't have many pictures as most aren't digital and they're back home with my mum but I've shared the two that I have even though they're not great...)

When I was a teenie, tiny, kiddo there was Laddie and Bruce. I have very vague memories of them... Laddie was a gentle giant of a mongrel with long shaggy fur. I remember him struggling to walk and one day they took him to the vet and he never came home...
 Bruce was another mongrel that my aunty found abandoned and took her home. When no one claimed her they adopted her. She (yes, she, but they called her Bruce *shrug*) was black and about the size of a labrador and she so so gentle... She died when I was about 7 or 8.

Brandy was a King Charles Spaniel that we adopted when he was about 2 years old. His previous owner wanted to breed him but he'd grown way too big for breed standards and therefore was 'rejected'. It still boggles my brain that they'd so callously toss him aside as he was an amazing dog. Brandy was the first dog that was properly mine. Laddie and Bruce were my mum, aunt, uncles dogs from when they were kids/teens that I just overlapped with. Brandy was adopted because I fell in love with him.
He had to be put to sleep when I was fourteen years old due to illness and I was absolutely devastated. 

Penny we adopted when she was a puppy from the SSPCA. 

She'd featured in a post-Christmas news campaign about the number of abandoned puppies. Penny had been found in a telephone box, the day after Christmas, with her four brothers tied up in a plastic bag. It was a bitterly cold winter and they were barely 6 weeks old. 
Anyway, I was nine and Brandy had been on his own since Bruce died and I successfully nagged my mum and grandparents into adopting one of the abandoned puppies. They repeatedly told me on route to the centre that I wouldn't get the puppy from the newspaper as she'd have been adopted already but I was convinced we would. What do you know, when we got there she was available! The brothers had all been adopted (as had lots of the other abandoned animals) but nobody wanted the runty little bitch of the litter... So we got her. She was amazing. She was tiny and only grew to about the size of a Jack Russell terrier although God only knows what mix she actually was. She was white with one black ear and her fur grew long and wiry and she looked like a little sheep, lol.
She was fiercely loyal to her family and so gentle, but she was friendly to everyone.
Her absolute favourite person was my grandmother who suffered from debilitating chronic health issues. Penny was her constant companion and shadow. She brought so much joy... I loved taking her on long walks along the old railway.
Penny died when I was 27!!! She lived to be 18 and a half years old.
She outlived my grandfather and my grandmother. The entire family mourned that dog when she finally passed... Devastated isn't the word.

The final dog we had was called Shep and he was a Border/Irish collie cross.

We got him from the Dogs Trust charity. He'd been brought over from Ireland with the rest of his littermates as he'd been handed (with the rest of the litter) to a kill shelter... Imagine having to kill puppies if you can't find them homes in a set time!! Horrible. Anyway, that's why they were transferred to the UK, to save them.
My grandfather spotted his ad and wanted him. He'd had a border collie when he was a boy and it reminded him of his former dog. Brandy was gone by this point so off they went and came home with this psycho hyeractive pup none of them had the energy (or physical ability) to deal with! 
I've spoken about my grandfather before and he was wheelchair bound - a double leg amputee - by this point. My mum left for work around 6am and was super tired when she got home around 5pm. My grandmother had so many health issues... Guess who had to tame the puppy?! Me. Walk the puppy? Me. And he was adorable but I was a teenager and bitter that they'd got him only months after we lost Brandy... I wasn't ready for another dog. *sigh* Anyway, By the time I went to uni, Shep was about 4 and he'd been tamed, trained and socialized... And I loved that dog. He was so good by then, he'd walk beside my grandfather when he went out in his electronic wheelchair. They made it work when I moved out and when my grandfather died - when I was 20 pushing 21 - Shep went to live with my aunt, uncle and cousins who had lost their dog a few months before and they made sure he continued to have all the walks and attention he needed. 
He died when I was mid/late twenties too.

Besides dogs, we had rabbits, guinea pigs, canaries, fish, hamsters, mice, and rats at various stages. 
My favourites of the bunch were the hamsters, guinea pigs and rats.

Now, onto my adult self!

When I was in my third year of university, my husband (then boyfriend) and I moved in together. 
We had a lovely flat just off the Royal Mile that one of my friends' parents bought for renting and they rented it to us and we had a lot of freedom on what we could do (like get a pet).
The professor wanted a cat. 
I'd never had cats - and would have classed myself a dog person - but that changed when we found a flea-ridden, half-starved, little kitten. 
We took her in, had her vet checked (no chip, no collar), advertised her in vets and pet shops, checked with the police and no one had reported her lost... Given her state, condition, the vet's age estimate, and the fact no one claimed her, we assumed she must have been abandoned so we kept her. 

As a kitty...

We named her Freya and she was the best cat in the freaking world. 
Seriously... I have had quite a few cats since we found Freya - and I've loved them dearly - but Freya was our family. Truly our fur-baby. This December will mark four years since we lost her to cancer and I still bawl like a baby if I think too long about it.

She loved Christmas...

She was super chill but also super playful. Super loyal to myself and the professor. 
She loved cuddles and you could carry her around all day... If there was an available lap she would be sitting in it but only if it was mine or the professors! (Everyone else could go to hell, lol.) 
She was always wherever the people were. You flick through our photos from the 11 years we had her and she is there, somewhere, in almost every one taken at home. She came with us from our flat in Edinburgh to England after graduation. She was adorable when I was pregnant and a flipping angel with the baby once he was born... So patient with him. Even when she was dying with cancer, she was sweet as pie... She disproved every single "aloof/evil cat/cats dislike people" BS stereotype. 
I never thought I'd meet another cat like her... Until Vesta (but I'll talk about her later, lol.)

Top middle, she's lying on my baby bump.

It feels a little unfeeling to say that I miss Freya worse than I miss some departed friends/family members but it's true. Her loss had such a huge impact on our day to day lives. She was such a presence and when that presence was gone? Everything reminds you of it. There was no escape. Time blunts the loss but that's all... Just like when you lose a close person...

Anyway, back when Freya was our only cat, we took in a cat called Cassie for a while and Cassie had kittens.
When Cassie and the kittens moved onto their new homes, we kept a kitten and that kitten was called Bug. 

Okay... Her actual name was Andromeda and was supposed to be shortened to Andie, but I nick-named her Bug and it stuck... She wouldn't answer to anything else! Ooops.
(She had these massive eyes and huge ears and was always chasing bugs! The name fit. Trust me.)

Bug was a super timid cat who preferred to keep to herself rather than hang with people. 
She'd sometimes come and sit in the same room as you but she mostly preferred to sit on window sills or cuddle up in her radiator bed.
We discovered when attempting to get her spayed, that Bug had a severe allergy to something that I can't remember the name of but it basically meant that she went into cardiac arrest the minute they injected anaesthetic to spay her and she died for a few minutes. They managed to bring her back but they basically wouldn't do anything that required anaesthetic (amongst other things) unless the situation would be life or death for her anyway. 
That meant no spaying... And that meant she escaped out a second-story window and got herself knocked up - twice - by a neighbourhood tom!
We managed to re-home the kittens from her two litters (except one which we kept) and moved to a different house/village where she escaped a few more times but never got pregnant again. (Probably because there were no unneutered males around! And we were in the middle of nowhere....)

Bug was diagnosed with cancer when she was 8 years old and was put to sleep. 
We didn't have many options to be honest because of her allergy but it was terribly sad.

Dora (aka Pandora) was the kitten from Bug's second litter that we kept.
She was never supposed to be our cat, she was supposed to be taken to Scotland and be my mum's cat, but the little dude and Dora developed a freaking bond and we got stuck with her. 
I say 'stuck with her' because this cat... OMG, this cat. She is a complete and utter weirdo. A devil in cat form. A complete study in contradictions. 
You'd think she hates every human on the planet, except the little dude, until you realise that she doesn't actually hate me, the professor, my mum or my FIL... It only seems like she does until you see her with other people and you realise that she actually loves us in her own Dora-ish way. Everyone else she hates, fears and despises with kitty fervour. Why? I have no idea! I mean, she was Bug's kitten! We've literally had her since she was born... There was no trauma. It's mind-boggling.

Anyway, this cat... She hates being stroked unless she comes to you wanting a stroke. Oh, one hand only... She doesn't trust two hands in case you try to pick her up.
She hates sitting on laps and being up close to people but if you're sitting with a blanket on your lap she will come and sit on you, if she feels like it, and you don't get a choice in the matter.
(These don't apply to the little dude. He has carte blanche to touch her whenever he wants.)
She'll only eat certain varieties of wet food but doesn't want to eat the same two varieties in a row. 
Litter boxes must be PRISTINE at all times or she's going to pee on the floor.
She likes to sit in the garden but must have a way back into the house (open door or window) available or she will sit and howl at the door and you'll play a game of in out / in out until you're ready to cry... Or strangle her.
If she wants to sit in the garden but the weather isn't to her liking, she'll yell at you.
You cannot surprise her or you'll be clawed (little dude excepted).
You cannot pick her up or you'll be clawed (little dude excepted). 
If you put her in a cat box she will HOWL like the hell-spawned creature I'm sure possesses her and you will be bleeding... And exhausted from the chase/hunt she'll lead you on to actually catch her and put her in the freaking box.
She's super fun when she needs meds or taken to the vet... And have I mentioned how it took her almost 3 months to come downstairs when we bought our house and moved a few years ago? 😐

Anyway, she's special but she's ours, and she really makes me laugh (and cry in frustration, lol).
The only exception to most of her assholery is the little dude. She loves him. He can do pretty much whatever he likes. She loves snuggling him and trying to groom him... Actually groom him. It's funny. Shame he's only just getting to an age where he can aid in her care, lol. The past 9 years would have been so much easier otherwise!

Honestly, I probably make her sound worse than she is... Okay, no, I don't, but she does come to us throughout the day demanding attention and affection and likes to exist in the same room as us... She also just likes to sleep in the bedroom, stare out windows and mind her own business.
Sometimes I believe I'd probably BE a Dora if I was reincarnated as a cat. *shrug*

After Freya died, we got a kitten and called her Athena.

Athena was a Maine Coon cross and she was beautiful, playful, adventurous and so intelligent... Her and Dora didn't really get along very well (Dora's fault) but they learned to live with each other peacefully. 
Athena was supposed to be an indoor cat but she wouldn't have it! She wanted outside so we let her and she loved it. She would come in for naps, cuddles, food and bedtime. That's pretty much it. She was made for the outdoors and she loved it. She definitely had a favourite human in the house and that human was me. She loved sitting on me and beside me when she was home. If I yelled or got upset, she'd be over like a flash kneading me and trying to soothe. She was so lovely... But she was killed before she even reached her second birthday. A car hit her and killed her instantly. 

After Athena came Vesta. 
Vesta is a pedigree ragdoll that we adopted when her previous owners couldn't keep her because of an allergy. She is so unbelievably precious to me... I'm honestly not sane when it comes to this cat. I love her so much! She is so like Freya in how much she loves her humans. She follows us around, is always where the people are, doesn't go outside (unless she comes with us), sits with us, is always snuggled up to people... She loves to play both with people and with herself. She'll just march over to her toy box, select a toy and start playing. It's so dog-like! lol
She enjoys watching whatever you're doing (especially in the kitchen), she watches TV, meets you at the door and sleeps at the end of the bed (or beside you) and is just uber chilled. 
Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that she gets along with Dora! Even devil cat loves her!!! I mean, wtf?
I joke that Vess is my emotional support cat but I'm not even sure I'm joking. She soothes my soul... I can be feeling so low and hopeless and she just looks at me with those big baby blues and meows and makes me feel a bit better, you know?

Finally, we have some tropical fish (those are the professor's domain, I have nothing to do with them), and we have a long-haired hamster called Bucky who is fab-u-lous. 

And that's it! That's my menagerie past and present.
Thank you for reading this novel, lol.

I should add that this little dude is coming to join the madhouse in mid-September!

Look at that concerned wee face!!! 😍
Seriously, every video and picture I've been sent of him he looks so serious, concerned or confused, lol.

His mum is a pedigree Persian. His dad is a Maine-Coon / British Long-Hair cross. 
I have no idea what he'll grow to look like or what his personality will be but one thing is for certain and that is he'll be FLUFFY! 
I'll share more about him when he arrives.
I have no idea how Dora will react to him (probably with evil) but fingers crossed Vess is as gentle and accepting as she usually is.

Do you have pets?

Monday, 30 August 2021

Weekly Update #141 (One day late but better than never...?)


The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer
It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

Now that's explained, it's on to my weekly recap!

So, I'm back from Scotland and had a lovely time!
The second half of my trip saw us spend some time at the Falkirk Wheel, we visited the Kelpies and had tea and cake, went to Edinburgh and visited the National Museum, Greyfriar's Kirkyard, and Mary King's Close and we went to Edinburgh Zoo.

Wednesday was just driving, driving and more driving to get home... But when we arrived our new flooring was down and it looks awesome!

The downside? Having to do all the re-decoration downstairs. We decided upon arrival that since we have to sand and gloss the skirting boards (which were removed to lay the flooring), it made sense just to re-paint the walls and have a proper freshen up, especially since everything was packed away and the furniture moved upstairs...
Why?! Why did we do that to ourselves?! Two days. Two whole days of three people working flat out to go it all ourselves. I mean, we managed, it looks fantastic, and it was definitely a good call, but it was exhausting. Everything - and I do mean everything including muscles I didn't know existed - hurt by the time we were finished and don't even start me on lugging all the furnishings back into place, unpacking and re-hanging things over the weekend. I also had all the holiday laundry and our curtains to wash.
Fun times... Not.
Anyway, it's done now, the house looks amazing, and I need another holiday to recover from the travelling and the decorating, lol.

Thankfully, today is a bank holiday so I can be a lazy slug and catch up on things... Including posting this a day late!

I'm feeling surprisingly refreshed... Yes, I'm complaining about the amount of effort that went into it all but I think re-freshing the downstairs has given my spirits a boost! Next year, it'll be upstairs' turn.

In other news, I'm back to work this week.
I'm a little nervous as I've been out for 7 weeks? Maybe 8? But it'll be fine... I'll be on a phased return, so part-time hours, for a little while to ease me back in and make sure I'm okay as no one wants me to slip backwards whilst I'm still waiting on the CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) to start. 
I'm going to get super serious here but I can't state enough how appreciative I am of the help that my doctor and the support team at the health centre has given me, and to my employer who has been incredible since I was diagnosed with moderate/severe depression (I was one point off severe but the treatment is the same at that point...). Not to mention my husband and son... I seriously don't know what would have happened without them. Mental health is no joke folks... Especially when you ignore every warning sign and mask all you're feeling until you face-plant the bottom of a deep dark hole and can't actually pretend to be okay anymore. 
Top tip, it's best to pull up and seek help before that point. 😉

Finally, the little dude goes back to school later this week for Y6... Aka his final year of primary school.
This time next year, he'll be starting high school. I mean, wtf? Where did I get a kid this old from? lol
(I have no idea how our school years equate to US high schools but his class is made up of 10/11 yo's and they're 11/12 when they start high school.)
This of course means we have to do the dreaded back to school uniform shop and we still haven't been... And we have only a couple of days left. Ooops. You see, the little dude hates it. The professor hates it. I hate it but am usually the driving force for getting it done... This year? I'm sitting it out for my own sake so it's all on them. They're heading out tomorrow when I go back to work. 
May the odds be ever in their favour. 😈

Just one and it was on a 99p sale. 😊

Still Standing by Kristen Ashley

I've read so little throughout August but I managed to re-read two Mariana Zapata's which seems to have kick-started my drive again: Dear Aaron and From Lukov With Love.

Hope you have a great week all!

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Weekly Update #140

It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

Now that's explained, it's on to my weekly recap!

Hey all!
I've been absent again... Initially, I just hadn't been up to anything so didn't have anything to report. 
Then I was busy... Or unmotivated... Or struggling to get out of bed and enjoy anything so blogging was super low on my to-do list. 
Now, I'm a mix of everything. 

So, what has been happening?! Let's see...

I'm still on medical leave and will be until at least the end of August. I'm having weird-ass reactions to the meds the doc put me on and one of the most interesting is hot flushes! I tell ya, if this is a glimpse of my future menopausal self, I pity anyone who has to deal with me! Ladies at that stage of life... I salute you! How you function is genuinely beyond me.

The little dude has been on school holidays for the past 4 weeks and we've tried to get out places at least a couple of times a week to keep him amused... It's been challenging for me, with everything I'm dealing with, but it is worth it.
So far, we've been pottery painting, a trip to Stonehenge, Longleat Safari Park, Wookey Hole, crazy golf, a visit to see the Magna Carta, and the little dude had a 3-day tennis camp.

Aside from days out with the kiddo, I also saw Six the musical with friends at the theatre and it was fantastic! The tickets were purchased over 2 and a half years ago but because of covid... Anyway, it was worth the wait!

I also really enjoyed watching the Olympics in the evenings along with re-watching Stargate from S6 onwards with the professor... Man, I miss that show! 

The professor and I had our second covid jabs over two weeks ago so we're fully vaccinated now.
This is great because it allowed us to head to Scotland a few days ago to visit my mum! (Okay, and the rest of my family...) On the drive to Scotland, we stopped off for a day at Alton Towers theme park, stayed over in a hotel, then finished the drive the day after as it is a long drive from where we live in the south west of England.
We're still in Scotland and we're working through a list of stuff the little dude wants to do whilst we are here in between catching up with people... So far, we've been to the Museum on The Mound and Dynamic Earth. 

While we are in Scotland, my father-in-law is staying at our place and fitting our new downstairs flooring (switching from carpets to wood) and looking after our cats, fish and hamster. 

I think that pretty much sums up the past month. In between the fun stuff, I've celebrated simple victories like getting out of bed, showering regularly and remembering to eat meals! 

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Iris Moreland (Freebie)
The Varsity Dad Dilemma by Lex Martin
The Magic of Found Objects by Maddie Dawson (Freebie)
All Rhodes Lead Here by Marianna Zapata (99p Sale)
Hands Down by Marianna Zapata (99p Sale)
A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas (£1.99 Sale)
Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Sarah Morgenthaler 
Lies and Lullabies by Sarina Bowen (99p Sale)
The Bookshop of Forgotten Dreams by Emily Blaine (99p Sale)
The What If Guy by Lauren Blakely (99p Sale)
Thanks For Last Night by Lauren Blakely (99p Sale)
9 Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean (99p Sale)

I've not been reading much but I've enjoyed what I have read... 3 books.
Two new reads (Always Only You and Rogue Ghosts and Other Miscreants) and one re-read (Dear Aaron).

Have a great week all!