Annual Boosters

Evening all!

We had a stressful evening yesterday because it was time for that most awful of trips! Time to take our furry girls for their annual jabs at the vet.

Unless you have a very chilled out cat like our old cat Sherry, anyone who’s ever had a cat will sympathise with the ordeal of having to install your cat in his or her cat carrier.

We did everything right. We got the carriers out a few days before the appointment to get the girls used to them, and it appeared to be going quite well.

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Tink packed herself all ready to go, but unfortunately two days early! Olive curled up in the other carrier too but seemed to develop camera shyness so I didn’t manage to snap any evidence.

So far so good. However, yesterday, the day of the appointment, they knew! I have no idea how, but they knew something was going on and all of a sudden it became apparent why cat burglars are named after these beautiful furry escape artists of ours. Normally it’s no problem to pick up either of our girls but yesterday they wriggled, they stealthily slunk away and they used down right brute force!

I’m currently sporting the scars!

This was the work of Miss Olive.

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Looks like butter wouldn’t melt doesn’t she? Bless her, she was just scared. We gave up after the savaging and tried Tink instead. She wasn’t at all happy with the situation, but we managed to get her in the smaller carrier without further injury.

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Deep breaths! Back to Olive. We tried telling her it was for her own good but she didn’t believe us. We promised it wouldn’t be that bad and she’d be back home before she knew it, but she still didn’t want to go and kept running round the room with me trotting round behind her dripping blood as I went! Eventually I had the bright idea of putting a blanket over her and, boom, worked a treat. She was in!

See how they’re both studiously ignoring me and concentrating on something far less mean in the opposite direction.

We have to make sure they can see each other at all times when they’re in their carriers otherwise they panic and cry. The only time they’ve been apart throughout their four years was when they were spayed and had separate operations. Obviously they have times when they’re in different rooms, but they always know they could go to the other if they want to.

I didn’t take photos when we were actually in the consulting room – didn’t want the vet to think I was completely mad – but they were really brave. Olive didn’t want to come out of the carrier, having kicked up (literally) such a fuss about getting in! Not even a Dreamie could convince her! She curled her tail and legs under her and stayed that way no matter what the vet did! Tink was more brave. She came out with minimal coaxing but kept trying to seek refuge on hubby’s shoulders!

Anyway, ordeal over, they both got a clean bill of health and they’ve been jabbed for this year.

They both recovered quickly when we got home and assumed their usual sleeping and lounging activities with gusto.

It seems a real shame to put them through this every year. They’re house cats so are highly unlikely to come into contact with any nasties, and they don’t go to a caterie when we go on holiday. You never know though I suppose. We could move to somewhere in the future away from a busy road and it might be safe to see if they want to go out (although I doubt it – I have absolutely no intention of doing anything that involves a solicitor ever again if I can help it!)

I can look forward to the weekend now we’ve got this horrible event out of the way. It’s the biggest tennis weekend of the year – Wimbledon finals weekend!

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I’m not going to be able to watch the ladies’ final live tomorrow so I’ll catch the highlights but I’m fully intending to be ensconced in front of the telly on Sunday for the men’s final. Unfortunately, my fave, Rafa Nadal, got knocked out today in the semi-final by Roger Federer. I took the afternoon off work to watch it because there’s a finite time left in which these two champions could meet and play and I wanted to soak it up while I still have the opportunity. It wasn’t as epic as I was hoping it would be, and the result didn’t go my way, but it was a great match all the same. I’ll be Team Roger on Sunday now. Let’s go Roger, let’s go!

Toodles.

Taranto Trip

My company made a huge acquisition last year, of a steel mill in Taranto in the south of Italy. It’s the biggest steel mill in Europe but it didn’t come without its issues, so my first trip was only organised this week. Even the model of it was huge and required the guy explaining it to use a big stick and lights to illustrate which bits he was talking about!

I seem destined to work with mills which are, without putting too fine a point on it, a pain in the bum to get to, so my Monday consisted of flying from Birmingham to Dublin and then Dublin to Bari. This was with Ryanair. For those of you who know me, or are regular readers, you’ll know my opinion of Ryanair – money-grabbing and seemingly hellbent on making travel as irritating and difficult as possible. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ll still go out of my way not to fly with them if at all possible, and it continues to irritate me beyond belief that they have no seatback pockets in which to stash your stuff, leaving you doing a juggling act with your hand luggage (40 x 20 x 25cm and not a millimetre over!) your passport (which you had to show to board), your phone (which you needed to keep in your hand to use your mobile boarding pass and then show as you boarded to prove that the combination of you and the ground staff weren’t stupid enough to get you to the wrong plane) and your bag of essential sustenance (because you can guarantee Ryanair will have sold out (or not bothered to load) what you want to eat/drink, however Monday’s experience was actually reasonably pain-free and seamless, helped by the fact that I had check in luggage due to the length of my trip and the fact that work were picking up the bill, so I didn’t have to rush to board in order to do battle for a space in the overhead lockers.

Yes I had to book my connections as two separate flights (Birmingham to Dublin and Dublin to Bari) because Ryanair don’t want to be held responsible if you miss your connection, which meant I had to collect my check in luggage in Dublin and recheck in for my onward flight and deposit my bag again, but for once, Ryanair’s insistence on making you doing their job and making everything as speedy as possible worked really well! In Birmingham I had to go to the self serve machines and print my luggage tag and attach it, and then check the bag in myself on the conveyor. In Dublin my bag was one of the first out, then I had to go through the same process again and then I was on my way. No standing in queues or even speaking to people! I do find the fewer people I’m forced to speak to, the more advantageous it is for my state of mind!

Both flights were pretty much on time (which breaks my recent trend of being delayed everywhere I go!) but thankfully they didn’t blow their stupid bugle upon bouncing down, and pretty uneventful, with the exception of the luggage, passport, phone, drink juggling situation!

Being a seasoned traveller, I thought I’d got that sussed. Hoodie! I thought. Wear a hoodie – easy access to a pouch to stash the aforementioned belongings, and, although I was officially working, I was in transit so no jacket required (eat your heart out Phil Collins). This worked perfectly in Brum, but by the time I got to Dublin it was too hot for a hoodie, so then not only was I juggling my luggage, passport, phone and drink but I also had a hoodie tied round my waist that kept threatening to fall off. Sigh!

Anyway, I arrived at Bari airport without incident with it now cool enough (south of Italy versus Ireland – go figure!) to make use of the hoodie pouch and I headed out to meet my shuttle driver. Bari is the nearest airport to Taranto, but it’s still over an hour’s drive to the town so transport of some sort is needed. The shuttle driver informed me through some combination of semaphore and sign language due to the language barrier that we had to wait for another flight to arrive because he was collecting more people. Hands shoved in hoodie pouch (did I mention it’s a Gryffindor hoodie?) and another sigh, ‘ok,’ says I (somewhat redundantly since I had no choice in the matter) ‘wait we will’.

Sometime later the doors from arrivals open and I spy a familiar face heading in our direction. Imagine I’m hovering around the clouds (hopefully not with my head in them!) in terms of business hierarchy; this person is somewhere orbiting the moon. And there’s me in my Gryffindor hoodie! Sigh. Again. This is someone with whom I would only ever want to make the best possible impression and here I am demonstrating my allegiance to Godric the brave! I mean, I guess it could’ve been worse …. it could’ve been a Slytherin hoodie!

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Anyhow, I did my best to make intelligent conversation during the journey to the hotel (did I mention it’s over an hour?) and I don’t think I let the side down. I pondered the situation that I’d found myself in as I was settling down to go to sleep (in Mickey Mouse pyjamas) and I concluded that wearing a Gryffindor hoodie (or a Pooh Bear T-shirt or carrying a floral Cath Kidston laptop bag rather than a boring, black, corporate uniform laptop bag – you get my gist) is an integral part of who I am, and I’m not prepared to change who I am in order to fit into a corporate box. I am absolutely prepared to work hard in order to prove myself and forge a worthy career, but I’ll be doing it with colour and interest and quirkiness on my side.

During our visits to the mill we had to leave our passports with reception when we arrived, and collect them again at the end of the day. One of my colleagues (who I didn’t think knew me particularly well) was handing back the passports one day and he got to mine and without even opening it said, ‘oh, well, that’s Sarah’s’. How did he know?

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It’s in this case. This made me happy. 

The hotel I stayed in was called Albergo Del Sole and inside it was pretty nice. I felt like I was sleeping in a cathedral!

Even the bathroom had the same feature.

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The breakfast room was on the third floor with a lovely view of the sea.

They even had Coco Pops which pleased me greatly.

Outside there was a cute little church with a bell that pealed out each hour.

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Unfortunately, outside there were also several homeless people who, whilst not aggressive, were very persistent and made me feel uncomfortable being outside. For once I was glad of the male domination of my industry because I was always with a group of male colleagues who I suspect were more of a deterrent to the hassle than I would’ve been alone or in a group of women. Several of our group had hire cars, and the homeless guys would try to guide them into parking spaces and then request money in return. Worryingly, one of them was the spitting image of our window cleaner (this actually says more about our window cleaner than the homeless guy!)

The area we were staying in was, I think, the old town, and I still can’t decide if it was Mediterranean shabby chic, or if it’s just run down and in need of a cash injection. We ventured further out in the evenings and as I was being chauffeured around on the second night I saw some of the traditional houses that the area is known for. They have round roofs and reminded me somewhat of a Hobbit house, but they were lovely. I bought a fridge magnet representation at the airport.

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On the last evening we walked for twenty minutes or so to a restaurant called Desco. At first I felt wary because we were strolling through back streets with graffiti and guys sat around on mopeds but then we came out onto a nice sea side promenade and we crossed a bridge into what I guess is the new town. It was much more lively and vibrant and, bonus points for Taranto, I found a cat to ease my pining for these two.

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It was a plump ginger tom and it wound its way round my legs happily.

I was determined to have some decent pasta before I left Italy, and I managed it at Desco.

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Tagliatelle con Porcini – yum!

Coming home I came a completely different route with an airline that is the antithesis of Ryanair – Lufthansa. German efficiency and service at its best. The first leg was Bari to Frankfurt. I like Frankfurt airport – it has a McDonalds which, even if I don’t go to it, reassures me that there’s some home comfort available should I feel in need of it. Its seating area has a great view of the airfield too so you can watch the planes taking off.

It also has Steiff bears!

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How I resisted I don’t know! They even had a Blue-footed Booby for goodness sake!

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When we were in Orlando I tried to find a neck pillow for the plane, but they only had boring plain ones so I used my new Eeyore as a pillow instead. I wanted an interesting one, I was really angling for a Disney one of some sort, but it wasn’t to be. Today though, I found this one.

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This one’s not boring and it does kind of look like Melman, the giraffe from Madagascar.

The homebound leg was Frankfurt to Birmingham and this time I didn’t have to collect my bag, it was all one booking so I checked in my bag at Bari all the way though to Birmingham. I’m typing this on the flight so hopefully my bag is somewhere underneath me waiting for us to be reunited shortly! (Edit: it was).

I love flying! I don’t understand being scared of it (but that’s because I’m not). I love settling into my seat with all my comforts and letting someone else be in charge for two or four or nine hours. I have my kindle so I can read, my iPad so I can watch downloaded shows or films on Netflix, my phone so I can Candycrush (is that an acceptable verb?) and the aforementioned drink to keep me hydrated. After that I just settle back and enjoy the ride.

I love the feeling when the plane starts to accelerate down the runway – I find this is best in a smaller plane like an A320 or a Boeing 737. The bigger planes take too long to get up to speed so you don’t get that pushed back in your seat feel. I especially like it when they accelerate round the corner onto the runway and then continue into the ascent without stopping. It makes me smile the way a rollercoaster does.

I love airports too. Even when it’s for work, they’re still exciting because other people are going on holiday and there’s a buzz. I love the moving walkways that get you round the long distances. I don’t understand why people avoid them or just stand on them. You need to walk on them, it makes you feel like your legs are sixteen feet long because you’re going so fast without any extra effort. It reminds me of a recurring dream I used to have where I was running super fast, taking massive lolloping steps.

Anyway, I’ve landed – I’m home, whoop – and this has turned into a mammoth post, so I’ll finish here and post when I get home.

Friday tomorrow already! Happy weekend all when it arrives.

Happy National Pet Day

Evening!

Really really quick post tonight because I’m absolutely exhausted today after burning the candle at both ends. I was at a retirement do last night for a wonderful man, Robert, who was my boss for the majority of the last sixteen years. It was a lovely evening. Really lovely and, most importantly, Robert had a fantastic evening.

I mentioned in my last post that I had to rush off to desperately finish some crocheting. I was making an elephant as a gift for Robert. I got him a couple of other gifts, but I really wanted to give him something handmade so it had that personal touch. I managed to finish it at the eleventh hour – phew!

Here it is deconstructed.

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And drumroll moment ….

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Cute huh?

Talk of elephants leads me nicely on to the topic of the day – it’s National Pet Day. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show some of my favourite photos of the various pets in my life.

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This is my hubby with our friends’ dog Pip. She’s a lovely dog with a great temperament. Hubby loves her (I think the feeling’s mutual).

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This is Charly who belongs to my brother in law and sister in law. This photo was taken after we’d done the Poppy Run a few years ago. Charly is proudly sporting her poppy medal.

Now on to our pets who are no longer with us. I don’t have many electronic photos of cats that I had pre-smart phones.

This is Sandy who was our cat from approximately 1980 until 1996.

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He was really tiny for a tom cat. He was around for the whole of my childhood and taught me how to care for and love animals.

Sherry was our next pussy cat. She lived with my parents and I, then my Mum and I, then she was just my housemate and she was still around when I met hubby.

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The first picture is my favourite pic of Sherry. It was taken on an early phone camera before you could turn the camera round to do a selfie so it was pure luck that I managed to get us both in. The second was taken in the communal gardens of our old flat.

Sherry was with me through thick and thin, through break ups, through my degree, my wedding. The day she died was (and still is) the worse day of my life. It was so emotionally traumatic, but I wouldn’t change anything because she was an amazing cat. I still think about her most days and she’s been gone almost a decade.

We had Willow next.

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Willow was completely different to Sherry. Sherry was super confident but Willow was the epitome of a scaredy cat. Bless her, she was happy to be with us  but she was scared of anyone she wasn’t familiar with. If the doorbell went she’d race into our bedroom and hide under the bed and wouldn’t emerge until she felt it was safe to do so.

Poor Willow met with an unfortunate end in a road accident so we made the decision to keep our current cats as house cats. I don’t think it would be fair to make a cat that was used to going outside into a house cat so we had them from tiny kitten so they have never known the outside.

I’m going to spam you with the gorgeousness that is Olive and Tinkerbell now!

Every cat that I’ve owned (or should that be that’s owned me?) has been from a rescue centre. One of the main purposes of National Pet Day is to promote adopting from rescue centres because there are so many animals – cats, dogs, rabbits, chinchillas and many others – that need forever homes. Take a look at their website if you’re interested.

Right, ‘boing boing’ said Zebedee ‘time for bed’. In the words of Bridget Jones ‘I’m off to Bedfordshire’.