Monday, 10 September 2012

Scratching Post Charity Needs Votes To Win £5000

Phew ...... stretching creativity to its max! Although I've always thought that Tweeting was for the birdies, I've succumbed to Twitter ..... but only for a Good Cause :)

I think I've mentioned before that Flossie and Minstrel came from The Scratching Post, a little Cat Rescue Charity that operates in the Cheshunt/Enfield/Waltham Cross area in Hertfordshire/North London/ Essex UK (and actually in the areas surrounding there as well)?

Well, this month (September 2012), they are in a competition where they stand to win £5000! This is money they could desperately do with! To put it in context, £5000 would just about cover a low month of vets bills!

All they need to do is collect the most number of votes from people in this month and they'll get it.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, let me explain!
A UK pet insurance company (link below) gives money away each month to a charity and the Scratching Post has been chosen as one of the charities for this month. The top prize of £5000 goes to the charity with the most votes!

To help, you need to be a Facebook user and need to log onto  It only takes 5 mouse clicks: Just go to the page, Choose Vote for a Charity (the box near the top), Authorise the App (it's nothing sinister ..... honest!) and then click on The Scratching Post and finally click the pink Submit paw. 

Right at this moment, they are at 2nd place and I have been submitting messages to all sorts of groups on Facebook and cat related websites to try to get as many people as possible to vote for us. Then ..... Twitter! Decided to bite the bullet on Twitter and try to use that as well to contact people. I can honestly say I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm giving it my best shot :)

Friday, 29 June 2012

My Last Post Before Our Holiday

Here's a little 'something' I at long last finished the other day! A crochet kitten! I used a free pattern from Beth Webber.

Why did I make it? Well ..... my son left home to set up in a flat with his girlfriend in January, but he sorely misses our cats! Although they did entertain the idea of possibly having a cat in their flat, I think they have (thankfully!) decided that a flat is not really the right place for a cat. It wouldn't really be fair. So ..... I thought I'd crochet them one!

I was aiming to make him to look like Minstrel but, as a very novice crocheter, I couldn't quite work out how to do the white on the body to make the 'tuxedo' bib under the chin. I must actually say that I found the pattern a bit of a challenge and I'm sure I went wrong a couple of times.

I also haven't quite got the ears right ...... but try as I might, I couldn't make it appear more like the examples in the pattern. Also, for ages I pondered how I could give it whiskers as the pattern doesn't have any whiskers ...... and no whiskers just didn't seem right!!

For several weeks he wasn't finished whilst I wondered what to do! Then John had a good idea! We have a swift tag gun that shops use to attach labels to things. What if we put several tags into the whisker area and then cut off the square end of the tag? We tried it ...... and they make pretty effective whiskers. So ..... yesterday off he went to be an 'indoor cat' for James and Liz :)

Finally ...... we're off on holiday to Devon tomorrow! I have a horrible feeling that they are having even wetter weather than we are ..... but never mind! I always take a craft activity with me and I shall be taking my cross-stitch tiger. I know I haven't blogged about him for ages but I have been steadily doing a little bit most weeks even though I've been doing lots of other projects in between.

Here is how he looked the last time I blogged about him back in October last year (believe it or not!) .....

And here he is now ......

Let's see how he looks by the time we come back :)

A Birthday Treat!

My First Ever Lampwork Bead Necklace
As I mentioned in my previous post, it was my Birthday on 19th June. Just about everyone in my family was asking what I wanted for my Birthday but I didn't know!

Some of the beads in close-up
 However, when we went to the Herts Heavy Horse Show at Capel Manor over the Jubilee weekend, I noticed an advertising postcard for a place called Art Shed Arts in Ware that run lots of different craft courses. Now, I had heard of them before and, in fact, a long time ago after being fascinated by some Lampwork beads, I had searched out for places where you could learn to make them and found Art Shed Arts straight away.
More of the beads in close-up
Seeing the postcard reminded me of them ...... and I thought ...... if my family give me money I can go on one of their courses! So that's what I did!

Yet more close-ups!
It was a fantastic day! We were shown how to use the equipment to initially produce quite simple beads. Potentially, the blow lamps are quite dangerous things to use, so safety glasses and keeping safety aware was paramount! We then added other colours to make different patterns.

We were shown how to use more of the glass to produce cylindrical beads. I found these more difficult to do as far as getting a nice even shape and a 'clean' area around the theading hole and I think they'd need more practice to produce really even beads.

The glass beads had to slowly cool by using, of all things, a slow-cooker! By the end of the day, they had cooled enough for us to clean them up and take them home! I have strung them all on a piece of voile type ribbon and tied the ribbon to a 'clever-clasp' as the fastening.

So ...... my first ever lampwork bead necklace :)
I am really chuffed with how it has come out and can thoroughly recommend Art Shed Arts in Ware for a fantastic day where I learnt a lot :)

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Birthday Day Trip to London

Big Ben
It was my Birthday on the Tuesday of last week (the 19th June) and we decided to go up to London for the day ..... although, in truth, it's not 'up' but 'down' to London, given that we live in Hertfordshire!

Still ...... although we live so close to London, we really don't visit places in London anywhere near as often as we should.
The London Eye
So ..... determined to do the whole 'tourist' thing, we went to Trafalgar Square and took a trip on an open top bus. These first few photos are from the top of this bus and taking photos whilst on a moving bus isn't all that easy!

Strange Sculpture at the back of South Bank
This strange sculpture could be seen just before we went across Waterloo bridge! I have no idea what it was in aid of!!

St Paul's
First Glimpse of the Shard
One of the Dragons 'protecting' the City of London

A Closer View of the Shard
Memorial to the Women of WWII on Whitehall
Another View of Big Ben
We then went on the London Eye. Thankfully the weather was very good on my Birthday, so the views were incredible.
Engineering Close-up of the London Eye
Westminster from the London Eye
Waterloo Bridge from the London Eye
Looking down on Westminster
Another Engineering Shot of the London Eye

After going on the London Eye, we then went on a boat trip from Westminster Pier to Tower Pier.

Tower Bridge from the River
All in all, a fantastic day :)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

This Rain Can't Last Forever, Can It?

.... or perhaps it can!

Yesterday morning, the skies were blue and I suggested that we go out for a walk. Especially since the BBC website said rain wasn't forecast until the early afternoon and I really felt the need to get out! My hip has been aching over the last week or so and this is a sure-fire indicator that I haven't been walking enough.

We set off at about 10.30am, although even in such a short time period, the blue skies had become grey and there was rain in the air! Still ..... we're British ..... we don't let rain put us off, do we!

It really does seem like a while since we last walked through the Lea Valley Park and everything has certainly grown! 'Lush' comes to mind! Must be all the rain, obviously! I guess it's thanks to the rain that Britain can claim to be a 'Green and pleasant land' rather than 'dry and arid' but we do seem to have had a bit too much of the wet stuff recently. Some sun would be nice, for a change.

However, 'sun' wasn't on the agenda! By 11.30, it really started to rain and, even with water-proofs, we got soaked. I know Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go Out In The Noon Day Sun ..... but they also go out in the rain as well. We took shelter under trees a couple of times when the downpour got a bit too heavy and eventually got home by about 12 noon having only walked about 4.5 miles ...... the last little bit of which was with sun and blue skies! Amazing! You really couldn't make it up but, without this weather, what would us Brits talk about :)

Monday, 11 June 2012

In Sheds They Can't Hear You Scream!

.... although thankfully I could have also named this post 'The Prodigal Son Returns!'

On the evening of Thursday 6th June, Minstrel went missing. Now, much though I like cats, I also like birds and I always make sure our cats are in at night as cats catch most things at dusk and dawn. This is usually no problem, but if you mis-time the 'getting them in' bit, both our cats think that the growing darkness is very exciting and they're off!

Flossie came in quite easily when she heard the rustle of the 'Dreamies' cat treat bag, but there was no sign of Minstrel. Since this has happened before a couple of times, I wasn't unduly worried and we left our outside conservatory door open, thinking that in the morning he'd be there, curled up on the settee, waiting to come in for breakfast. However ...... no Minstrel ..... and as Thursday was a very wet and windy day here, I started to get increasingly worried.

On the whole, I don't think Minstrel goes far. If you call him when you go out into our garden, he comes back very quickly, often only appearing to jump over one fence to get home. He's also quite shy. When new people visit, he usually disappears upstairs, unlike inquisitive Flossie. Although once he knows someone, he quickly sits on their laps and likes a good fuss.

On Thursday morning, John and I walked all round our estate to see if we could find him, going far further than I really thought he would roam, but you never know! I must have sounded like a mad woman, calling his name and giving bushes and shrubs a good look but I really didn't care! I did attract the attention of at least two other cats ..... but no Minstrel.

By Thursday evening, I was very worried and contacted the database holders for his micro-chip to report him missing. What was worse ..... I was due to go to a conference for the Foresters Friendly Society from Friday morning to late Sunday afternoon, and I hated the thought that I wouldn't be at home to do things to help!

First thing Friday morning, with still no sign of Minstrel, I contacted our vets and they said they'd pass his details, plus a photo I sent them, to all their branches in the area, which I thought was nice of them. I then had to go off, although I left John with the task of doing a poster/leaflet to distribute round the houses immediately near to us to ask people to look inside their garages and sheds. It really was most likely that he'd got shut in a shed or garage. He can be very nosey! We have to be careful when we go inside our own garage to make sure he doesn't slip in without us noticing ....... and I have shut him in the cupboard under the stairs a couple of times as he can't resist a cupboard!

Over Friday and Saturday, I had to have my mobile phone off most of the time but at every available opportunity, I texted home for news. There was none! However, a nice lady did phone John on the Friday afternoon to say she'd seen a poster for a 'Found' little black and white cat on a road near us. Although this wasn't likely to be Minstrel, given the short time lapse and the fact that I don't think most people would call Minstrel 'little', John trudged up the road in the pouring rain but the poster wasn't there. However, it was so nice that someone cared enough to ring and let us know.

I must confess that by Saturday evening, I did send a frustrated text to John that just said 'Bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger ............. where has Minstrel gone!' It was so upsetting to think that he might be somewhere scared or, even worse, hurt and I couldn't bear the thought that we might not see him again.

By the way, John did say that all day Saturday, Flossie was wandering round the house from room to room meowing! He said he wasn't sure whether she was moping for Minstrel or for me ....... but he said the pair of them made a 'Moping Couple'!

However, at 4.30am on Sunday morning, I got the best ever early wake-up text from John. Minstrel was home! In the early hours, Flossie had started meowing loudly and John thought ...... OK ...... I'll go downstairs and look. So down he goes, without even putting on his glasses ...... so that there stretched up at the conservatory window was the black fuzzy outline of Minstrel!

He was obviously hungry and Flossie stood back to let him eat ....... and thirsty as well. But when I immediately phoned John, he said Minstrel hadn't stopped purring. That he felt rather skinny but was clean and not injured and seemed to be OK. I told John to update the poster on the lamp post outside our house to let people know he was home and to thank them for looking in their sheds and garages, which he did.

I can't express the relief I felt and it was the best home-coming ever for me! As to where he's been ..... who knows! Perhaps if whoever let him out sees the poster, they might let us know, but other than that, it will be a mystery!

However ..... Minstrel ...... please don't do that again! And stay away from garages and sheds!!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Stotfold Mill Steam Fair and Country Show

This is really another catch-up post from a gloriously sunny day back on 12th May when we visited the Stotfold Mill Steam Fair and Country Show. The weather had been horribly wet in the week leading up to that weekend, but thankfully the sun came out and it was a fabulous day.

There were lots of displays in the ring but the steam powered vehicles were the most impressive things to see.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Jubilee Weekend

I hope everyone in the UK enjoyed last weekend's Jubilee Celebrations. I was glued to the TV, enjoying the Boat Pageant, the Concert and the St Paul's service and carriage parade and the flypast.

We didn't go to a street party or anything like that. However, on the Monday, we went to the Hertfordshire Heavy Horse Show at Capel Manor in Enfield. As a great horse lover, I'm sure the Queen would have approved and I think she would have enjoyed it more than a pop concert to be honest!!

Although it rained a little bit a couple of times, we had a great day. The horses were lovely! I think I'll just let the photos say it all!! :)

A Suffolk Punch called Thor

This was Thor's first show

Shire foal; one of two. One 3 weeks old, the other 5 weeks old. Gorgeous :)

Not a Heavy Horse clearly! A rescue Shetland that was a stable mate for a Heavy Horse

Such lovely horses and ..... even at 52 ..... I'd still love to have a horse of my own! :)
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