A Springtime Hello 🌷

Been so long since I wrote here and just wanted to say a springtime hello from us… Here in our wee corner of the world things are coming to life… the daffodils in the driveway have been out for a little while but our first doorstep daffodil opened up yesterday, causing much excitement among the kids!

We’ve had a mix of weather recently – mostly really lovely and warm and sunny which has been amazing, but also some dashes of rain, hail, wind and snow just to keep us on our toes. I’ve been reminded as I am every year of my favourite quote about this time of year…

Life has been hurtling on a fair pace, with the kids reaching new stages and keeping us on our toes, and in the past few weeks I’ve started a new job as well as taking on another voluntary role that’s been keeping me busy too. Really loving my new work – still in elderly care, but in a new care home I’m so enjoying settling in to; and also the new challenges and lots of learning as chair of the committee of the playgroup the kids have been to / will go to!

I’m going to start working more over the next little while – in the care home and also (eventually, taking a little longer to get all the training set up!) in the NHS at our local hospital too. Both are very similar roles and both on a relief/bank basis so I can build up my hours slowly and adjust as needed, and I’m really looking forward to it all.

But I continue to love all the time I get to have at home with the Littles – which has been all the more this week as we’re one week into the Easter holidays and filling our days with soft plays, park explores, cycles round the village and just all those chilled-out everyday things – and we met Bluey this week which definitely wasn’t an everyday thing and blew everyone’s mind!

Since I last wrote, we’ve had the whole spring term and got established a school start date for our biggest girl, something we’d been spending lots of energy deliberating over as she’d been on the younger end of her year and we had the chance to defer and therefore choose whether it was best to go at 4 1/2 or 5 1/2. We’re now set that she’s starting in August 2023, with one more year left of nursery, where she’s really learning and growing, which feels like the best decision – and it’s lovely to see everyone settle into a new settled-on plan! Our littlest too has been enjoying her toddlers groups, wee music class and a new gymnastics one too which is right up her street – building up her confidence of different places and groups before she starts at the playgroup in October when she turns 2 and a half.

It’s been lovely to have lots of time with both wee ones – and we had an extra special time last week as the tiniest turned a big 2!

We spent the day the four of us at the sea life centre we’re lucky to have just ten minutes away and are very excited to have booked a family pass so we can make trips there more often, as it’s something both girls are loving just now.

The animals have been doing very well too, with “young” Charmer creeping up on his 26th birthday and even younger Rosie and Theo following a few days later with their 1st! The last week of April is a big one for the furry members of the family, celebrating our oldest on the 23rd and the youngest pair of tearaways on the 29th… so expect more ramblings on all of them very soon!

Little Sparkle-hamster is doing great too, 21 months old and enjoying life – in fact this little positioning of chosen bed and food bowl the past few days have been making me laugh that he has life made – doesn’t have to move far! Though actually he really does choose to, such a happy wee exerciser, especially for his age!

We have actually added a new addition to our pet count since I last wrote (and it’s not Pidge, though more on him in a minute as he is still going strong – against all odds!! – with the rehabilitation people who have him) – a new very handsome six-year-old Sarasa Comet goldfish, inherited from family and here with us to join our household now. ❤️ I had no idea there was such a lot to learn about goldfish, it’s been such a learning curve so far! But also no idea how quickly you could become attached to one, very fond of my swimming friend.. ❤️

(As is Rosie….!)

(If anyone is a fish expert let me know!.. as I am learning all I can about them and currently like a little chemistry student with my test strips navigating the world of nitrogen cycles before we transfer Fish to a new tank we’ve got for him..!)

Last but absolutely not least is the handsome Pidge, who has made a remarkable recovery and is still in the very capable hands of the pigeon rescue experts at the moment. They don’t have the capacity to keep him long term so we do think at some point he may come back to us again for a wee stint before finding where he’s best to spend his days! Part of me would love to keep him and offer him a base here but I’m really not sure we’re the best place and want him to have a happy life after all he’s come through. But wherever we end up finding for him, or what next twists and turns his wee journey takes, Pidge has had some story and we will have been so glad to be a part of it for as long or short as we are.

It’s a very eclectic mix of animals at the moment! Been taking me back to my days of rat cages stacked up and new and interesting characters coming in from rescues and teaching me lessons every day. The last two have just found us when we were least expecting them, and very glad to have them all as temporary or permanent additions to our home.

Saturday morning now as I’m finishing this off and and have enjoyed a wee bit time with my biggest boy and some whole-family biking fun before my back shift later. With the new working routine time making the most of all the time we get to have the four of us and a proper springy day this morning to enjoy it.

Hope you’re all doing well, have a lovely weekend.

Building an outdoor area for the cats

This week we have completed a project we’ve been deliberating over since we first decided to bring home our cats almost a year ago now, and built them a secure outdoor area in the garden they can access from the house. They are absolutely loving it and thought I’d do a wee post just with the progress of it in case it helps anyone else doing something similar!

We live in quite a rural setting but on a really busy road that we’d never be happy letting a cat free roam on, so when we’d first started looking for one to join our family, we’d been looking specifically for a rescue who had already been used to living indoors and who would also be happy living with our young family. This turned out to be a bit of an ask however, and after a couple of months we started looking at whether it might be possible to have a kitten introduced to an indoor-only life from the off (and then ended up with two, but that’s another story 😬).

Theo looking out the front window over the road

I wasn’t too sure at first, always having cats freely accessing the outdoors growing up, but we found some really good articles and forums online with a lot of people who had chosen for various safety reasons to keep cats indoors, in cat-proofed gardens or with enclosures, and we started to explore it. Interestingly, we found out, this is pretty much the norm in some countries, either to protect cats and or to protect birds and wildlife; so when we started reading further we found lots of options on ways to let them out a little without letting them on the road.

Ideally we would have loved to cat proof our entire back garden, but although it’s a good space in many ways, and already had fencing we could definitely have worked with (when the kittens were little enough it was secure without us trying due to the height of the fences); the different levels in the garden and various extension and shed roofs made it too big a challenge once climbing was mastered; so we decided to go with a smaller “catio” enclosure in space just at our back door that leant itself to door and window access.

The kittens playing in the garden at a few months, before they figured out the scaling the fences thing!

We looked at a few different options – buying some panels with cat-proof mesh (which we found was recommended to be 16g) to put together, buying the mesh and posts seperately and doing it ourselves, or buying a ready-built enclosure; and in the end settled on the Omlet Cat Balcony Enclosure which fitted the space we had almost perfectly, and which we’ve made some adjustments to to attach it to the house and let the cats access freely from a small window in the kitchen.

I was worried that a small space would be too little for our Rosie, who is a big adventurer, and had already been trying to make a break for an open door at any opportunity; and also that Theo, who likes human company and is quite the opposite in terms of adventuring, wouldn’t particularly like it at all; but a few days in we are amazed at how much they love it!

Our space (spikes are next door’s and not part of our cat proofing!!)

On Thursday, we began work (overseen by the cats of course!) and started to get the enclosure itself put up. It was relatively easy to build between two of us and we were pretty impressed with it. We do plan to move in the next few years and it will be ideal for shifting to a new place, not being too permanent, and if we have a bigger space in the future it can also be added to with extension panels to any size.

By Friday morning, it was up, decorated with help from the kids and standing with all panels on and door access only; and Rosie and Theo had their first morning’s exploring – which they really enjoyed. Theo took a wee while to settle, but Rosie just sat as if all her dreams had come true chirping to the birds and enjoying the fresh air!

Later in the day, my husband did his handyman bit and began the DIY modifications to secure it to the house wall and remove a panel so that they could get in and out through the window.

This was huge hit with both of them and a game-changer for Theo who instantly warmed to it much more when he could come and go as he pleased – they have spent the entire weekend going in and out like a pair of little yo-yos and just loving their freedom.

Today some final additions have been added – a shelf to make access easier as the window was a bit awkwardly high (not that it stopped them!) and a ramp to make getting down easier too.

The result seems to be two happy cats and we’re so pleased to have done it. I’ll keep my fingers crossed the novelty doesn’t wear off and they start protesting to get further, but at the moment just having that little bit of the outdoors and their choice of in or out is making them very happy!

Theo flits between being in with us and having an explore out there, and Rosie can be found sitting out for hours on end just watching the world go by, between the deepest sleeps she’s ever had inside! (She’s also not diving for the door anymore as she knows she’s got her own route out which is a big relief!)

So far our little corner of Scotland has given them a crash course in just about every type of weather, and they’ve enjoyed zooming about in the wind and shaking their wet fur on their way back in out of the rain. One thing they’ve not yet got to do is lie in the sun, but I’m sure they’ll enjoy it when spring does come!

I still don’t know where I would land on contained vs free-roaming for them long-term – if we lived somewhere that felt safe enough in the future (and when they’re less reckless teenagers and more sensible grown cats!) I’d maybe like to see them finding their own territory, but I’m kind of a convert now to the idea of knowing they’re definitely safe, even if they could have a bit of a bigger space, and I’m relieved that for now it’s working, so we’re sticking with this for the time being!

Hope you all have a great start to the week! X

The Pets ❤️ ~ Winter update

Just a wee round-up of how the animal members of the family have been doing this last little while… 🥰 Have been feeling very lucky to have our wee brood recently and to be seeing them doing so well. Life has been as busy as ever here, with the kids at all their various ages and stages and lots going on, but (even though it’s been so packed it doesn’t feel much like it!) I’ve actually got a bit of time off for a few weeks before I start two new jobs; and so I’ve had a real chance to focus on these wee furry (and feathered!) characters!

First the biggest and oldest of them all, my Charmer 🐴❤️, who is doing very well at the moment despite some highs and lows of temperatures and a few storms in the last few weeks. He had managed until early January to winter out in his field pretty much all the time, coming in around 8am for breakfast and a wee stint of hay in his stable and going back out about 11 or 12. It’s wonderful to see him spending lots of time in the field and being enthusiastic about it at that – it’s his natural lifestyle he’s always loved, it’s good for his movement for his arthritis and it means he’s eating more grass than hay which is easier on his teeth these days.

However, I always do him a wee weekly weigh-in with condition scoring and a weigh tape on a Monday, and I did notice he was starting to lose weight ever so slightly week on week. Totally normal for this time of year I know but I know from the years I’ve struggled with his keeping his weight up that once he loses it can be hard to get back on, so we’ve had a slight routine change and he’s now spending every second night in the stable. I know that’s a strange routine to some but it seems to work for Charmer – it gives him more time in, building himself up with hay, some nights away from the cold but still some that he gets to enjoy being out in the moonlight. So far it seems to be working. He seems happy enough, I don’t feel like too much field time has been taken away and we’ve nipped any weight loss in the bud.

Last weekend he actually moved stable, just within our barn when there was a wee reshuffle happening, to one with extra thick matting for those wee arthritic knees, and he seems very happy with his new surroundings. Next week we have the vet for an MOT, jags and teeth so will see how everything is, but I’m very happy with how the old boy’s doing. ❤️

To bridge the gap between barn and home, our wee companion who began in the barn and followed us home, Pidge, our little rescued pigeon who I wrote about last week (https://amischiefmanaged.wordpress.com/2022/02/04/the-adventures-of-pidge-❤%EF%B8%8F/). We are not quite sure what Pidge’s future holds. Since I last wrote, I had been very grateful to have found some help with a pigeon rescue team not far from us who were giving me some advice on housing, feeding etc, as this was all so new to me. I’d been sending photos and when I did at the weekend the wonderful pigeon rescuer I’d been talking to was able to see that Pidge was looking unwell, something I couldn’t as such a novice.

He offered to help and I took Pidge over that night, where it turned out that firstly, he is definitely a boy, and secondly, he was a very strange case as although he presented very healthily to look at, shiny and clean and broad, underneath he was very underweight. Since the weekend, he has been in their care and he remains a mystery. There seems no reason for his illness as he’d been eating and drinking and appears generally bright but doesn’t seem to be putting on weight. I’m not sure what the future holds for him, and I think it’s probably most likely poor Pidge just reached us at the end of his life, but he’s got the best chance where he is just now, so we shall see.

The good thing is he seems to have no injury preventing him from flying so if he did manage to get back up to health the hope would be we could bring him back here and release him, but at the moment I think that’s a long shot, although you never can tell with these amazing animals, and the people looking after him at the moment for us are certainly doing all they can.

In the house, the cats and little Sparkle the hamster are doing well too.

Our big project of the week has been getting and building Rosie and Theo’s “catio” , their wee outside space out the back of the house. They are indoor cats primarily as we live in a small village but unfortunately right on an A road that gets very busy and we wouldn’t have them out there, but we have been so excited about giving them a space to come and go as they please and enjoy the outdoors. I’ll do another post on that when it’s complete and they’re in it (should get their first morning in today!) as it’s something we’ve wanted to do for ages and borrowed ideas from lots of other people online to choose what route to go down. For the moment however, certainly on these stormy nights, I would say both cats have been pretty happy with the indoors ❤️

Rosie relaxing
Theo ❤️

The project getting underway….

And last but never ever least, little Sparkle ❤️ For Sparkle, a part Winter White hamster, this is an interesting time of year as his coat lightens and much whiter.

He is around 19 months old now and still very active and a lovely wee character, we’re very lucky to have him.

It’s been lovely to have a bit of extra time to spend on the wee troops, and will post again soon with the kittens’ outdoor adventures and the progress of wee Pidge.

Hope you’ve all had a good week and have a lovely weekend. X

Hello from our now Christmassy corner of the world 🎄

It’s been so long since I last wrote and having just realised how much I’ve neglected this lovely wee space that I do so appreciate gathering my thoughts in, thought I would do a little catch-up post, as we somehow (how fast has time gone this year?!) enter the home straight with just under two weeks to go until Christmas.

Since I last wrote, here in this little corner of the world we’ve just enjoying watching October turn into a sunny and bright November, and then before we knew it we were here in a stormy December, with our tree up and excitement levels for the little ones reaching heights I could barely do justice to!!

Term has tumbled on and I’ve so enjoyed in this first half of this year getting my littlest one out to a village toddlers group where she’s grown so much in confidence, her little weekly toddler music group we’ve always loved so much, where again she’s ruling the roost now, and just all our usual play dates, wanders and adventures. She’s at such a fantastic age where she’s starting to look forward to meeting her friends and learning the routines – leading me down the hill in the village from nursery to toddlers very determinedly. ❤️ Meanwhile, we’re two terms in at nursery for my big girl who’s going to be 4 this week!! (Can’t quite get my head around that one..) and for the most part she’s settled so well, finding her feet and now loving coming to the end of the first half of the year, Christmas party around the corner and coming home with her face shining with a Christmas centrepiece for the table and stories of dressing up for the little nativity play 🤩 We’ve still kept nursery part-time for the moment and as a result I’ve still been loving some time with both my girls in the afternoons – and our activities are growing steadily more festive every day just now, hanging lights and baubles on our old bedraggled but beloved Christmas tree in the garden, making a wreath for the door under the direction of Grandad who does them every year, and wrapping up to head round the village on “twinkle walks” that definitely do not disappoint. 🤩❤️

And if the kids are hyped up at this time of the year, I’m not sure what that makes these two….

Rosie and Theo, now almost eight months old, could not be loving their first Christmas more!! I am forever gathering baubles from around the room, re-adjusting the branches on the Christmas tree from where some cat-shaped dents have materialised and re-hanging stockings by the fire.. but they are having quite simply the time of their little kitten lives, so we can’t mind too much!

Teddy-cat in the Christmas tree

We also have another little character in our home that I still need to introduce on here, the lovely Stitch Sparkleworks 🌟🐹 (long story short… he was originally named Stitch, but my wee My Little Pony fans had decided his new name for his new home was to be Sparkleworks… however by the time we went to collect him they had also got attached to the name he had in the rescue centre and didn’t want to part with it… so Stitch Sparkleworks he is, often variously shortened to Stitch, Sparky or Sparkle which gives him a range of identities but which he doesn’t seem too troubled by 😂)

He is a little 17-month-old dwarf hamster, a Campbells x Winter White hybrid. He came from the lovely local hamster rescue where we also adopted Sandy from back in 2019, and he is a truly lovely little character. I am so so happy to have him in our home and he seems so happy and settled which is just wonderful. We weren’t expecting him to be especially friendly, and knew in the rescue he had been a great character but handling very much on his terms and he was likely to want to be left alone a lot, but since he arrived he’s actually really got into interacting and when I open the cage door is often climbing out and keen to be handled and is just a wonderful wee soul.

Arriving home, 2nd November 2021, his fan club waiting ❤️
These two are endlessly fascinated by him, not that he minds one bit, think it’s mutual as he climbs up the bars to have a good sniff at them!

And I couldn’t forget Charmer in a round-up of pets, who is doing away really well so far this winter. He’s been out at nights, and at the moment just comes in for a wee breakfast and 2 or 3 hours at his hay in the morning, and I’m so glad he seems to be thriving on that. We’ll just have to play the winter by ear depending on the weather that comes our way but for the moment enjoying him living his favourite outdoorsy life. ❤️

Life is going at some pace, the end of 2021 coming round fast, and we’re so looking forward to this Christmas season, hoping for some lovely cosy times at home and with family. ❤️ We had a first little impromptu gathering together in a family home at the weekend, round a Christmas tree with all our usual pets, kids, chatter and chaos, which was all the more special as my mum was just back recovered and able to join us again after having Covid. This year more than ever before just so glad for us all being safe and well, and for the cosy glow of time together. ❤️ Have definitely enjoyed gathering some wee thoughts on the last few months and will write again sooner! Hope you have all had a lovely weekend and have a lovely start to your week xx

Animal Adventures – September into October 🍁

As we move deeper into my favourite season of all, watching the leaves slowly change on the trees and begin to tumble to the ground, just a wee summary of how the pets are getting on, filling our wee world as they do with so much character and love.

It’s not long since I last wrote about Charmer, and not too much has happened with him, just a shiny new pair of shoes since I last wrote, and a start to our October of charity walks with his first couple of half-mile wander on his rope this week, one just with me and one with the A Team in tow!

Little Sandy too is still pottering away very happily, almost 31 months now and I’m so delighted with the shine in his coat still and how he’s holding his weight.

The cats are our biggest changers ❤️ Rosie and Theo have just turned 5 months old, and been with us just over 3 months, and they are growing and changing all the time. Their characters are really becoming so clear and they have transformed life in our little house. ❤️

Rosie is very relaxed and loves cuddling and playing with the whole family, often joining in the kids’ games (kids’ toys and cat toys appear to be interchangeable, there is often a cat toy joining in the dolls house and one of the kids’ dinosaurs turning up in the cat bed!). She is always on some mission or other and tends to keep herself busy nipping upstairs to steal the bath plug and hide it around the house or paddling in the shower or sink after someone’s used them – and whenever I open a book, especially a big hardback, she jumps straight in, I barely do any reading anymore without a purring Rosie on my knee with her nose in the pages.

Theo (affectionately known as Teddy) is more of a reserved type, he’s very affectionate but keeps more of a distance from the chaos and comes into his own in the evening when the house is quieter – he has also settled to being a bit of a one-master cat, he definitely loves my husband most of all, seeking him out for 3am cuddles every single night, but now and then I get my moments with him and he’s a gorgeous and lovely boy.

Last week I had them both at the vets for their neutering, but in the end Rosie was still a little too little at just under 2kg, so she was given a few more weeks to bulk up. Theo, who was originally the littlest, has streaked ahead of her to become a strapping boy-cat, and at 2.4kg was ok going ahead with his operation.

He did really well, charmed everyone in the vets, the receptionist reported she’d barely been able to get any work done for cuddling him as per his demands! And when he got home he recovered really well. Unfortunately wee Rosie though was disconcerted by the smell of the vets or maybe just their first time apart, even though it was only a day, and gave him a hard time when he came back, hissing and not seeming to recognise him. It only lasted an evening before she settled, but it seems to have upset the balance a little between them and they had not been sleeping curled up together or spending all their time together since.

About a week later we actually made another appointment for Theo thinking something was wrong as he was sleeping round the clock and very lethargic but the vet could find nothing and believed the poor wee dot was just reacting to Rosie having been more aloof with him and missing the security of how close they were. The vet nurse at our local practice has a keen interest in cat behaviour so she gave us a few tips on ways to ease things for both of them to hopefully allow an improvement and fingers crossed it does seem to be working – We’ve gone from them keeping to opposite sides of the room to this….

To this..

And yesterday, briefly, their old tumbly cuddly selves ❤️

Teddy seems much more relaxed and like himself as a result so we do hope they get back to their wee pack of two before too long; but they are both such wonderful characters regardless and we just love having them in our home, it feels like they’ve part of the family forever.

Last but not least a wee cameo from our newest unofficial “pet”, Henry the Hedgehog (named by our eldest!) who frequents the garden at night. Was so happy to see what an excellent size he is! But we’ve been putting a wee bit of the cat’s food out nonetheless and a wee bit shelter in the bushes for him and love to sit out late and watch him in the dark.

We are on a week’s holiday here at the moment, and really looking forward to it, we were originally going to go away for a few days but have decided to stay closer to nine and do day trips here and there which we are all so excited about. Will post at the weekend some at-home adventures. Whether October break where you are or not hope you all have a really lovely week. X

Theo watching the world go by this morning ❤️

Summer holidaying…. ☀️

We’re a few weeks into our summer holidays here, and have been enjoying them so much. It’s been lovely having so much time all together and the kids and I (and my husband too whenever he can, on holiday with us now for a couple of weeks and having some good flexibility with still home-working) have been enjoying parks, beaches, lots of time in the garden and reacquainting ourselves with soft plays at last!

The weather has been fantastic which is not always the case here, it’s been pretty consistently sunshine every day the past few weeks so there’s been lots of outdoor fun – some days so hot it’s paddling pool weather and ice lollies have been stacked up in the freezer.

We’ve also so enjoyed play centres and cafes with soft plays, something I never dreamed I would miss as much as I have the last year! Our youngest who is the keenest little climber imaginable had never had a chance to see any of these places until a few weeks ago but is absolutely making up for it now with so many adventures and finally a safe space she can test out her capabilities which gives us a break from pulling her away from walls and ledges in the real world!! And our oldest, after her playgroup year has drawn to a close, and with nursery on the horizon in August, seems to be so enjoying relaxing into a summer with us – being at home, seeing friends and family and enjoying the holidays with nothing too scheduled.

Of course, our summer is being dominated by our two newest additions. Rosie and Theo, our wee kittens, are now 12 weeks old and have settled in better than I ever could have hoped. They are such wonderful characters and in the three weeks we’ve had the they have become such a huge part of the family it’s hard to imagine life without them. When they first arrived there was so much that was new to them and that they found daunting but they have adapted to everything so well. They absolutely love to play with the kids and all four of them have got so used to them each other and enjoy mad half hours as a team! Then by evening they are just the purriest wee souls, curled up with us on the couch – they love company and follow us wherever we go, we’ll be sitting down to dinner and they’ll slink to their comfy spot on a stool under the kitchen table or when putting the kids to bed they’ll be padding around on the end of the beds. I just love having them around and getting to know them both. ❤️

Rosie
Theo

They’ve grown in confidence so much that we’ve abandoned the dog crate we originally had for them to sleep in at night, which the first week or so they seemed to really love and need the security of, and instead, treating the comfy cat beds on offer with the disdain they deserve, they have chosen the living room window sill as their sleeping area, which we’ve now emptied of all the picture frames and ornaments it once gave home to and laid a blanket down on (met with much better reviews than all other beds!!); and they are in a lovely routine of a bedtime play, a late dinner and then they curl up there to sleep. In the morning I invariably find them both still there, sleepily watching the world wake up. ❤️

They’ve made friends (of sorts!) with Echo our lovely visiting cat too, who comes and sits on the outside of their window when he’s done his rounds chatting to us in the garden.. though after an early assertion of his right to the house from a then really teeny Theo (first photo below!) Echo, despite being bigger than both Rosie & Theo combined, is always the first to back down if Theo takes exception to him!

Charmer is enjoying his summer – this heatwave is quite unusual for us here and I was a little worried about how he’d cope with it but he’s actually doing really really well. He comes in for a few hours’ respite every day in the cool of the barn which he seems to really appreciate, but he is still mostly enjoying life in the field. He’s been a little stiffer again recently so I’d do no little ambles on horseback for that reason and the heat, but he just loves to potter in the field with his field mate and seems very content.

And our little Sandy hamster is doing well too. In spite of two kittens who love nothing more than to sit at a vantage point where they can watch him pootling about with mild curiosity, he is neither up nor down, living his life quite happily and even benefitting from the youngest’s practice with the kittens by getting some lovely strokes from her – before Rosie and Theo taught her so much about gentleness she was just slightly too heavy handed to risk with teeny Sandy but she is loving now getting to give him a wee stroke more as well as watch him as she’s always rushed to do. On Monday it was 2 years exactly since he came to join us, and he’s such a lovely wee soul, just doing his thing and enjoying his old age!

It’s been a time of change for me and a bit of a whirlwind this last week as I finished up at my job last weekend and started a new one this week. I’ve been in my old job, working in home care, for over two and half years now, and have loved it so very much – it’s been more stressful, more heart breaking and more challenging than any other job I’ve done but also more rewarding than I can put into words and the wonderful clients I worked with meant so very much to me. Although overall it was a good time to move on, saying goodbye to some was incredibly hard and I found it a really difficult decision to make. But already now four days in to my new job, working in a care home, I can see that all of that same tug between sadness and joy – the struggle of difficulties and the soar of successes – that I’ve come to be driven by and love in spite of its hurdles, is just as present here; my first week really solidifying for me how much I love working in care regardless of the setting and how glad I am that I moved into this back after I had my first daughter – I really can’t imagine doing anything else now.

Usually I just work a couple of days a week at weekends and most of my week at the moment is spent chasing after the littles, but between doing a few extra shifts to help out before finishing and doing some extra in my new job to get up to speed I’ve been working most days the past couple of weeks. I’ve actually really enjoyed doing a bit more again for a change, but today am so glad to be returning to wrangling with my pair of tearaways. I’ve missed all the home things and it’s wonderful to be back to making packed lunches, catching a squealing toddler, laughing at all the nonsense, juggling everything round Tesco while both hands get pulled in different directions… all the lovely chaos! Really looking forward to another week of family holiday and time all together.

Hope you are all well and having a good summer. X

Rosie and Theo, Chapter One 🐾🖤

It really is hard to believe it’s under a week since we finally completed the Biggest Little’s daily countdown and reached our long-awaited Kitten Day at last. On Wednesday I drove my way through beautiful countryside to the farm where some lovely little kittens had started their lives, and brought two of them, this lovely wee pair, who we’ve named Rosie and Theo, home to join our family. 🖤🖤

Even looking at that first photo I took, all secured in the car and ready to go, texting home to the rest before I drove them on their first journey, they look so unlike themselves now as we’ve got to know them. They’re just two unknown nervous little kittens in a carrier there – but now, a few days on, they are such absolutely wonderful characters, so full of their own very different personalities, and such a wonderful part of our family already.

Spending their Sunday afternoon dozing yesterday beside us all

As I type this, with an early morning coffee and the radio on in the quiet of the living room, kittens just up and kids not quite descended yet, Rosie is watching her first raindrops roll down the window with great excitement while Theo cuddles in beside me and watches her from a comfy distance – pretty typical of them both!

Rosie is the bigger of the two, and much darker, almost jet black although with the teeniest hint of her dad’s tabby hidden away under a black coat that is really similar to her mum Mindy’s. We always loved seeing photos and videos of Mindy looking after her kittens so well and hearing from her owner about her lovely character, and she was so friendly when we visited and then collected them. Rosie seems to be a little double of her mum except for a little flash of white on her chest, just a few hairs. Back when we visited when they were six weeks old it was little Rose with that distinctive little flash who was adventuring out to greet us and who I had a little cuddle with and took such a liking to. I was having a glimmer of nerves about whether we could handle two little kittens when we met them all and they were so little and fragile, but stroking her and seeing her such a calm and steady little cat in spite of how tiny she was, really settled me, and I’m so glad she’s come to us. Her adventurous character has stood her in such great stead as she’s found her feet here, and she’s got a lovely self assurance too as well as a really affectionate streak, both to Theo who she is very much the “big sister” to and looks after beautifully and to all of us who she loves to cuddle with.

Theo, our wee tabby boy, is just a wee dot. He was just 830g when he was weighed on Friday, and is much more kitten-like in appearance than Rosie, very fluffy and with a short tail and eyes that are still in the process of changing from blue.. so our wee tiny tiger still has some growing to do but at both his 8 week check with the breeder’s vet the week before he came home to us and at our vet now he’s been given a clean bill of health, just one of the little ones in the litter. 🖤 I absolutely love his coat, he’s so stripy in the light and a light brown sometimes depending on how the sun catches him. Not sure if he’ll darken as he grows but will be interesting to see. He’s very much Rosie’s follower, at the moment at least, though he’s got a determined streak when wrestling with a ball on a string and sometimes when he loses himself in the chase completely he growls and wrestles it from us and stalks off very defiantly with it trailing behind him, making us laugh so much.

Both of them have done so well to settle so well in just a few days. On Wednesday morning when I brought them home they shot straight to a low-down bookshelf and hid there, spending much of the next 24 hours peering out from behind a row of books, coming out gradually in short bursts to play and eat. We knew their life before had been so quiet, in a porch room set apart from the rest of the house, so we were worried in those first hours about how they were going to adapt to life in a busy young family home; but they have absolutely just slotted in. Everything that’s made them nervous they’ve met so bravely, and we’ve done our best just to consistently keep doing it – the kettle, the hoover, the kids’ noise and bluster – and they’ve warmed to it all so much quicker than I dared hope.

The children have actually been brilliant so far and given them their space despite their excitement, but the kittens seem to recognise their potential as playmates and just join in games with them and bounce around all together and then retire to the grown ups for their sleepier times! Already we’ve got little lap cats of an evening and I just love opening a door and having two wee ones purring round my ankles.

It’s early days as they’re really just finding their feet and are so very young and so very tiny (Rosie actually not much bigger than Theo at just 930g, both going to be petite like their mum I think). We’ve got a lot of work to put in socialising them to life here, but so far we’re so very lucky with how well they’ve settled and what lovely characters they seem to be.

They’re thriving on routine, running to the sound of food in a dish, taking themselves off to bed at night and greeting us the same way every morning; and every day are getting more and more confident in their games and interactions. It really is lovely getting to know them. Will update on how they’re getting on in a while!

Hope you’re all having a good week. X

Books on a theme… 🐾 🐈

It’s 4 days and counting until our new feline members of the family come to join us, and thought I would write a wee summary of some of my reading in the last couple of months that’s been very inspired by them while we’ve waited! When we first started looking for a cat to join our home I jumped straight back in to some of my old favourite Tom Cox books, and then enjoyed it so much that I also added a few extra memoirs on a similar theme over the next few weeks, so just a wee round-up of them all.

📖 Under the Paw; Talk to the Tail; The Good, the Bad and the Furry and Close Encounters of the Furred Kind ~ Tom Cox 📖

I have read and enjoyed Tom Cox’s writing for years on his blog and in his books on nature, as well as – in these 4 books in particular – on life with his cats, and I love his depictions of a life touched by (or dominated by!) pets, one I’ve always known myself and could relate to so much.

This time around I read these all out of order – originally re-reading the final book, one of my favourites, but then enjoying it so much I found myself picking up my paperback copies of the first and third before finally downloading on my Kindle app Talk to the Tail, the second instalment and only one I’d never read.

These books are dotted with humour and are smartly written and entertaining but are also full of compassion for the animals who share Tom’s home and bring to life their characters so vibrantly. When these stories were first unravelling in real time, I loved the gentle tales of The Bear’s ageing in his quiet dignity, the evolution of Shipley & Ralph from boisterous kittens to elderly gentlemen, and I waited with baited breath as Roscoe recovered valiantly and with her usual business-like efficiency from an accident against all the odds.

Reading these again now, I remembered how much I loved Tom Cox’s witty writing style, and most of all the warmth and colour with which he draws his little companions. Immersing myself in these characters too gave me so much scope for planning, learning and looking forward to our own cats joining us. These books have comedy, heart and some simply unforgettable little characters. 🖤

📖 Casper the Commuting Cat ~ Susan Finden 📖

A few days later and feeling the void after loving my streak of 4, this lovely little book – the story of the life of a characterful little cat who took to riding the bus around Plymouth, tenderly recounted by his owner Sue; was my first book browsed and chosen from the library in six months. It also marked our first trip back to this one of our local libraries in over a year – one we used to visit every week for Bookbug sessions with a group of other parents and children and enjoy such a lovely social side to library life. Some of the smaller libraries near us had remained shut all the way through since the very first lockdown, and it was wonderful to return there for their reopening last week at long last, see the lovely staff again and browse the shelves. I had both my daughters with me – my oldest suddenly remembering the weekly visits that are so far in her past now, and my youngest taking it all in for the first time – and it was so lovely to catch up with the staff, and to each choose a book to carry back home together.

I really enjoyed reading this story not only about Casper, a very quirky cat, but about Sue herself, her gentle devotion to all the animals in her care, and the huge impact pets can have on a life throughout all its ups and downs.

Read here and there over a few days – with coffees, in the garden, and sometimes with our lovely neighbour cat visiting to join me – this was a touching story; and it was all the lovelier in its marking of our return once more as a family to a place we’ve loved so much and so look forward to frequenting again.

📖 A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob ~ James Bowen 📖

In the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed these two touching and honest stories by James Bowen about life with his cat Bob, – who came to him originally when he was living in sheltered accommodation in London, busking on the streets to get by and taking his first tentative steps in his recovery from a drug addiction. They are not only a fitting tribute to a cat who had a character more than worthy of the books and films he’s inspired, but also an enlightening and important insight into some of the issues around homelessness in our society today. James Bowen writes in a straight-forward way about the realities of the challenges he faced when he was living and working on the streets, and in particular – especially in The World According to Bob – gives an interesting insight into the work of the Big Issue and the world of its sellers. The transformative nature of James and Bob’s relationship is very notable – as their bond deepens and they share more of their lives together the impact of it on James’ perception of himself is evident, and his books are a moving testament to what animals can do for humans.

I have always loved animal stories – I love my pony books so much even now, I’ve always loved an animal book back to childhood and now – in fact I’m just embarking on an old favourite in a new format in the classic All Creatures Great And Small, after loving James Herriot stories so much growing up. I read all of these focused entirely on cats particularly because it was a really enjoyable way to learn all I could from the ups and downs of the stories – the vet trips, the escapes, the adventures, the settling in and the older age – before our cats arrive. But what these books reminded me of most of all was something much wider than that – the truly wonderful impact our animals have on the lives of their humans, no matter where they are in life.

From Tom Cox writing, relocating, weathering relationship break ups and discovering the nature around him; to Sue Finden working long hours in care and pouring all her spare time with her husband into rescuing cat after cat; to James Bowen working his way out of a living situation and addiction that had ensnared him for so long and finding his feet again; these people’s lives were all very different but all enriched so much in exactly the same way by the loyal companions who came into them.

I’ve been so lucky in my own life to have had so many animals do the same for me, and am looking forward to adding to their number; and I really enjoyed these wide-ranging books with a theme in common, and reminding myself once again just what a blessing pets really are.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. X

Our very first weekend away as a four ❤️ lovely time staying with family, Scotland touring and rambling, and meeting our kittens for the first time.. 🐾 (Wordless Wednesday)

Travels down south – service stations, car games and dinner break, stopping off in pretty Roslin on the way home for an ice cream and a wee glimpse of the Chapel
Summer holiday read and enjoying lovely stay with family 🥰
Enjoying the winding roads
And meeting our beautiful little soon-to-be new family members 🥰

Sunny farm days, growing kittens and back to some travel adventures… summertime begins ❤️

We’ve been lucky to have some wonderful warm weather here the last few weeks and have all been enjoying moving into summertime. It makes such a big difference to see the sun shining after what seems to have been a long winter and it’s wonderful that it’s gone hand in hand with the easing up of Covid restrictions to let us get out more places, and spend some time with family and friends. Last week I took the most wonderful trip with my mum and the kids up north, just all in a day, but it felt like a few days away by the time we were done – up to my uncle’s in Kirkmichael for a lovely visit, making a big loop and stopping off in Blairgowrie and Pitlochry as well as enjoying all the countryside and villages along the way. It was absolutely wonderful to be back in some favourite places again that I haven’t seen in so long and to spend some wonderful long time with family in such a relaxed way.

And this weekend in fact too we’re doing a trip not just for a day but our first overnight since our littlest was born 14 months ago, again enjoying time with family then too, and are so looking forward to the novelty of it!

As part of our trip we are also going to visit our soon to be new kittens, who are 6 weeks old today and growing well. Their breeder has been so lovely sending us photos and videos of them growing and changing and it’s going to be so lovely when we get them home to have had such a lovely insight into their early days.

Kittens at 4 weeks

One of the most absolutely fascinating things about their early days that’s developed more over the past couple of weeks, is that there are actually two cats with kittens in the home at the moment, born 7 days apart, and although the mother cats were originally each given their own space, they have chosen to raise the kittens together, and form a shared group between them. It’s incredible in the videos we’ve seen watching the two litters of kittens interacting with each other – the others so much bigger than those of ‘our’ litter, the mum of ours being a very petite black cat and the mum of the others a much larger ginger. The kittens will go to either mother even for milk and one will watch and look after all the kittens together while the other goes out. It’s really incredible to see the way they’ve organised themselves in such a similar way to big cats in the wild, and just lovely to observe.

Kittens at 6 weeks, and other litter at 7, with our lovely mum cuddling up with them all

I’m so looking forward to getting to meet them all this weekend and to bringing our two home in just a few weeks. Still reading around the clock on best care in the meantime and the catio project is underway too!

As part of our getting ready for the little ones coming I was doing some organising of our old small pet cages out in the shed – we are planning to use one of our larger rat cages as an “outer” cage for little Sandy hamster, so he can stay in his own environment in the kitchen where he likes to watch the world go by but be extra secure from any feline attention! Having a clear out of the rest of the cages and going to send them to the lady who runs the Hamster Rescue where Sandy originally came from so gave me a lovely chance to speak to her for the first time in a while. Had sent her a photo of Sandy and only when we were chatting about how he looked for his age, – and when I looked back at the photo I’d sent her of a young Sandy first settling in with us – did I realise how much he had changed! Such a little elderly gentleman these days!! She also mentioned his date of birth was down as 3rd March 2019, something I’d not realised before – we were giving him an approximate birthday mid-month! – so now he can definitely enjoy a monthly fuss right on time! 🥰

Sandy in July 2019 & May 2021

For Charmer the new season is definitely here, bringing with it the world of fly sprays, rugs and summer field maintenance. He’s in a lovely routine of taking a long lie in the morning before I bring him in for his breakfast and his fieldmate’s owners pop him back out after a couple of hours respite in the stable, and every morning just now I am finding him very relaxed in his field. ❤️

Been spending a couple of evenings at the old ragworting, and it’s actually been so lovely. Because I’m often at the farm in the mornings just now and because Charmer is all taken care of early doors, it is lovely to have the chance to just be in the field with him watching him graze and just co-existing. That’s always one of my favourite things to do especially at this time of year.

De-ragworting begins

Charmer is doing really well at the moment all-round. Got his new shoes again this week and he’s sound and happy… possibly edging towards being put on a diet shortly! But that’s quite a good problem to have, just really pleased he’s kept condition coming out of winter, and enjoying him enjoying this new season.

New shoes day
Summer nights ❤️

We are all really enjoying the good weather here and the beginnings of summer time.. hope you are all well and getting to do a little of the same! Have a lovely weekend x