Sunday, 31 October 2010

Happy Halloween

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Opportune moments for photography involving cats and devils...

It’s almost Halloween. The fireplace is tastefully decorated, we have a seasonal autumnal wreath, there’s a large stuffed spider hanging about and Count Dracula is sitting in the armchair.

The only thing left to do is to decide who is going to be this year’s Halloween Devil. To this end we decided to hold auditions for the part.

'Someone said they give you free chicken for turning up...'

Posky was the first to audition. Although he did try hard, his costume only just covered his head and to be honest, he’s far too fluffy and nice to be a devil. Even so, the judges applauded his effort and he was given a cat treat for turning up and looking beautiful.

'To be a devil or not to be a devil, that is the question...'

Next it was Pepper’s turn. We had high hopes for her as she is a little devil for most of the year. However, half way through a devilish show of back-arching and hissing, she got distracted by this year’s prize (a plastic pumpkin toy) and ran off to play with it instead.

'Did I win?  Did I win?...'

'Oooh look, orange shiney thing...'

There was a moment of excitement when one of the candidates was discovered to be human - they were quickly dealt with and evicted.
Not a cat

We have to say that we were very impressed with Mrs Pod, not only did her costume fit, she also posed in it as if born to say ‘I’m ready for my close-up Mr De Mille…’.

'And this is my Queen Victoria in devil-mode impression...'

As usual, Charlie was late. He came in, took one look at what was happening, stole the stuffed Halloween bat and ran for the stairs where he killed it. We thought that this improvisation was excellent although he did lose marks for not wearing a costume and for threatening violence to one of the judges (who then had to have a chocolate biscuit to calm his nerves).

'Hello... what's all this about then?'

'I see it... I don't believe it but I see it...'

'And I'll just be taking that with me thank you very much...'

'And this is my impression of a devil
about to rip your face off if you come any nearer with that...'

Even Ben the bunny got in on the act – or rather tried to. He really entered into the spirit of things although couldn’t actually be seen under the devil costume as it is ‘fat cat’ size and he’s ‘exceedingly small bunny’ size. Nevertheless he was given extra grated carrot as a reward.

Ben totally submerged himself in the role...

After long deliberations the judges awarded the title of Halloween Devil 2010 to Mrs Pod, a worthy winner who accepted her prize (after it was wrenched from the claws of Pepper) graciously and without any tears and boring acceptance speeches. Pepper was given a small ghost toy as runner-up along with Charlie, who won a fish and was obviously moved beyond words with it. (Posky didn’t turn up for his prize as he had fallen asleep in the study and was therefore disqualified).
'I'd like to thank the Academy...'

'I don't want any plastic ghost crap!  I wanted to win!!'

'Yeah, cheers, thanks a lot, you shouldn't have, I mean
you really shouldn't have...'

This was my entry for ABC Wednesday - to see more 'O' words go to

And for more gorgeous kitties go to Cats on Tuesday at

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Carrying on with the pumpkin theme from yesterday, this was taken at the pumpkin farm

And this is what can happen when veg goes bad... very bad.
The Screaming Squash!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Naughtiness and Non Co-operation

So I decided to do a photo shoot with the cats and some pumpkins that I’d just bought from Warwick Pumpkins, a great place with so many different varieties of squash it’s amazing. They also have two cats, one of whom sat on a pumpkin for me (she'd obviously trained from kittenhood for it) and let me take her photo.

Dora the pumpkin farm cat - 'Don't try this at home'

It was this that gave me the idea of getting my own miscreants to pose with some pumpkins at home. 

Anyway, I arranged the pumpkins artistically on the lawn and sure enough the cats arrived to be nosy, and that's when the naughtiness began... 

Things seemed to start off well with the ever-reliable Posky having a sniff at them, but before I could do more than take a couple of shots he got distracted by a leaf and was off practising his footwork on it. This was very discouraging.

'Yes but what's my motivation?  Oooh look, a leaf!'

'Skillz - I haz them'

Then it was Pepper’s turn – she walked into the garden, took one look at the camera, and threw up. I’m not sure what kind of comment she was trying to make with this… After she got that out of her system she had a brief look at the pumpkins before spotting Posky, still dribbling his leaf around the lawn. This obviously looked much more fun than stationary squash so she charged full tilt at him and jumped on his back.

'But I don't want to pose prettily with the pumpkins, I want to throw up
again... Hmmm, is that a leaf Posky has over there?  I'm going to take
it off him and I'm going to make him cry like a girl...'

'Just winding up for the attack launch... two degrees right, one degree left...'


I hoped I could count on Mrs Pod who was at least lying on the grass. However she obviously didn’t want to invade the pumpkins' personal space so wouldn't get any closer to them than about four feet.

'You can yell at me all you want, I'm deaf and I can't hear you.
Anyway, Charlie said the orange ones are poisonous'

'Why is Pepper beating Posky up?  And is that a leaf he's got there?
I want one!'

'Here's one! Quick, come and take a photo of this instead!'

I was beginning to tear my hair out at this point, not helped by Charlie doing his ‘don’t talk to me about life’ face and going to sit on the garden bench away from everyone else.

'I refuse to set foot on the lawn while there are weird looking vegetables on it'

'Are they playing with leaves there? Bloody luxury! I've never had a leaf of
my own.  All I had to play with when I was growing up was a dead twig'

It was then that I decided the only option was to dismiss the cats and bring in a professional.

'Hmmm, let's see, yes I think I can do something with these...'

'Next time, just come to me first...'

More N posts at ABC Wednesday

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Snowman - Jo Nesbo

A young boy awakes on a snowy night to discover his mother gone and a strange snowman has been built in his garden wearing his mother's scarf. When the police investigate the disappearance and delve into the files, they discover an alarming amount of young women have vanished over the years. From that starting point the book becomes a fast paced spine-tingler as dark as an Oslo winter as the tension mounts in the hunt for the serial killer known as The Snowman.

This is Jo Nesbo's fifth crime novel to be translated into English featuring the Norwegian detective Harry Hole. For some reason the first two books in the series have not been translated, although there is a rumour that they will be. Harry Hole (apparently it should be pronounced HEU-leh in Norwegian) should be a walking cliché; he is the typical maverick loner, a brilliant detective who has a problem with authority. He not only struggles with finding the killer, but also with alcoholism, a new female colleague who is more than a match for him, the feelings he still has for his now ex-girlfriend, and bosses who would rather have their detectives be less of a PR nightmare. That Hole works amazingly well as a complex, fully rounded character is testament to the skill of Nesbo’s writing (don’t believe any hype that says Nesbo is the next Stieg Larsson – Nesbo is the much better writer) and the work of Don Bartlett in translating from the original Norwegian.

Nesbo's books are always gripping and complex, and this is no exception. The Snowman is a long (550 pages) novel, ambitious in scope, and touching on moral and social issues such as parental responsibility combined with a very gritty narrative and horrifically violent crimes. It is also to my mind the best novel Nesbo has written to date.

Nesbo’s next Harry Hole novel, The Leopard, is due for release here next year.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Wordless Wednesday

At the Mop Fair in Stratford upon Avon yesterday (a funfair takes over the main streets!)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

ABC Wednesday - M is for Monotone

I bought the gang of four some knitted catnip balls from a Cat Action Trust charity stall on Sunday.  This is Posky using his as a pillow under the coffee table.  I lay flat out on the floor with my camera slightly raised on a curled up magazine to get to the right height to take this. 

Saturday, 2 October 2010

World Vegetarian Day

I meant to post this yesterday as it was World Vegetarian Day and the start of Vegetarian Awareness Month (strange title, as if you normally ignore vegetarians and now you get to notice them for October.. but what the heck!).

So...Why am I a veggie?

Because I don't think animals are there for our benefit.
Because I think it's wrong to make another living being suffer.
Because animals feel pain and fear as much as we do.
Because I think it's hypocritical that we treat certain animals as friends and companions and others as merely commodities.
Because we don't need meat.
Because factory farming is barbaric, and non-humans deserve their time in the sun as much as we do.
Because vegetarianism is good for your health, the environment and the animals.
Because I love good food.
Because it's part of who I am.

And a few words from the wise...

"Whatever my own practice may be, I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized." -Henry David Thoreau

"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." -Immanuel Kant

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." -Mohandas Gandhi (a.k.a. Mahatma)

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
"It is my view that a vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind."
Albert Einstein, physicist, 1921 Nobel Prize recipient

"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than blacks were made for whites, or women for men."
Alice Walker, American author, The Color Purple

"One is not a great one because one defeats or harms other living beings. One is so called because one refrains from defeating or harming other living beings."  The Buddha

Have a happy veggie day!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Restless - William Boyd

I picked this book up in a charity shop and am so glad I did, Boyd writes like a dream.  It combines two narratives, the story of Ruth living in Oxford during the heatwave of 1976, the other the story of her mother Eva, a British Secret Service agent during the second world war.  The two stories have different narrative techniques; Ruth's is told in the first person and we discover not only the details of her own life and past, but her thoughts on coming to terms with her mother's past that she knew nothing about, a past that she learns of at the same time that we do in the form of a third person narrative written by Eva.  Eva's story is a thrilling spy adventure as her training and travels take her from Paris to Scotland to Belgium to America, then to Canada and finally to England.  It is exciting, gripping and a real page-turner as the past continues to reach out and effect the lives of both women.  Highly recommended.


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