Monday, 31 January 2011

Charlie and the Teabag...

This post is for Cats on Tuesday (should be 'Cats on Drugs' in this case), and also ABC Wednesday (C for Charlie, Cat or Criminal).

Now and again I've been drinking valerian tea before I go to bed as it's supposed to help you sleep (it's not my favourite drink as it has a suspiciously aniseed-y taste.  As far as I'm concerned anything to do with either aniseed or licquorice is the work of satan).  I'd like to point out that it does nothing for your sleep if a cat then screams at you at 4a.m. or another jumps on top of you to see if you're awake at 5a.m.  We'd noticed that certain cats seemed to become drug-crazed homicidal maniacs when they sniffed it have a strange obsession with the teabags I  used so decided to carry out a scientific experiment to see what happened when they were given access to this strange beverage.

First of all, and without the aid of thick, padded gloves, we bravely held the tea bag above a cat to see if it responded.

As you can see, there is definite interest from Pepper, although
this could perhaps be explained by sheer nosiness, and the hope that
there's a cat treat about my person...

To verify the data, we tried again this time with Charlie.
There's no doubt that his eyes are fixed on the teabag.
At this point he started to become a little insane so we ran away from him
persuaded him to come outside to continue the experiment.

Even in a different environment, Charlie's
interest does not waver.  If we moved the teabag
would he follow it?

Yes!  Here my gullible assistant husband
David bravely waves the teabag closer to Charlie,
who appears mesmerised.  What would he do next?

He would decide to take matters into his own claws that's what...
David wanted to leave and bathe the scratches at this point but
I ordered persuaded him to stay for one more experiment.

Taking umbrage at not being given the teabag by default, 
the Charlie beast retreats to his lair under the garden bench.
Would the valerian work it's magic here and persuade him to come out?

A resounding yes!  Note the crazed look on his face...
David's was almost like this too.

As a reward Charlie was given the teabag wrapper
to drool over to his heart's content.  And also 
because neither of us dare get close enough to take it off him.

I have since found out that the root of the valerian plant contains a terpenoid chemical called valerinone which is very similar to catnip's nepetalactone (the active ingredient that cats respond to).  As long as you don't use pure valerian root oil then it's perfectly safe for teabag-addicted cats.  It may however cause loss of fingers and/or blood in any human stupid enough to get near said cat.

For more cats visit Cats on Tuesday
For more words beginning with C visit ABC Wednesday

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Scavenger Hunt Sunday...

I decided not to add a texture to an image, but rather go for something that
had a few different textures in it, so here's a velvet background with a necklace of metal
and smooth round beads.  The necklace was a present from my friend Cath
 - I've not had a chance to wear it yet.

A bit tricky this as all week there hasn't been a sign of fog!
I got round it by asking David (nicely) to walk down a country
road in Northants whilst I took his photo, 
then converted it to b&w, 
then added a graduated fill layer of white
and adjusted the opacity and, voila, home-made pea-souper :O)

I was thinking about a button as in shirt button etc, but then 
decided to go with the interpretation of button as in badge.  Here
Posky claims his rightful award of Prince of Cats
(It's a badge from the Royal Shakespeare Company - my cats are
nothing if not cultured) :O)

Taken on my android phone at the RSC this morning.
(Mine's the black,
David's is with milk - 
and it was excellent coffee).

I admitted defeat with 'Seventies', just couldn't get my head around it at all, apart from wondering if I should ask David to dress up as either Mark Bolan or David Bowie.  There are limits to even his levels of co-operation however...

For more Scavenger Hunt Sunday entries visit Ramblings and Photos

Friday, 28 January 2011

Macro Friday - Red Heart Pendant

I took this for The Daily Shoot's 'Take a photo of something red'.

For more macros go to Macro Friday at Blogging from Bolivia

A pound of flesh...

Woo hoo! The sound I make on learning that my birthday treat in May this year will be to go and see Patrick Stewart in The Merchant of Venice with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon.  It's directed by Rupert Goold who also directed him in the version of Macbeth recently broadcast on tv, and whose version of Romeo and Juliet at the RSC last year almost converted me into liking it.  He's rather good.

Now Merchant is not one of my favourite plays, this probably has something to do with having to study it for O Level English Lit many moons ago, but I could probably listen to Patrick S read the telephone directory and still be enthralled.  I've always found the character of Antonio a tiresome wimp and I couldn't care less what happens to him, and how badly is Shylock treated? (I know, historical context blah, blah, blah, but still...).  And what the heck does a woman like Portia see in Bassanio?  I think she should have just set up her own legal practice and told all the men to take a running jump.  David's never seen the play so it will be interesting to see what he makes of it.

What has caused some 'gasp, shock, horror' however is the price of the tickets.  We're going on a Tuesday evening and it cost £92 for the two of us! £92!!!  I dread to think what it would be on a Saturday. Talk about a pound of flesh... what are the RSC thinking?  And why don't members get even a small discount on tickets?  I'm not going to moan, I'm really looking forward to it (possibly the only trip to the theatre that will happen this year at those prices!), but crikey that's expensive.  

And I thought the RSC were trying to make Shakespeare less elitist... 

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Ninja Meme Part Two

26. Whose responses to Stealing do you want to read the most?
I don't know anyone who does it yet!

27. What color shirt are you wearing?
I'm wearing a dusky pink fluffy dressing gown (too much info?)

28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
No, no, no!  The cats would slide off them anyway.

29. Can you whistle?
Yes.  I'm doing it now.

30. Favorite colors(s)?

31. Could you be a pirate?
If Johnny Depp was involved, yes.

32. What songs do you sing in the shower?
I don't.

33. Favorite girls name?
Haven't got one.

34. Favorite boy’s name?
Haven't got one. Alright, I'll say David for loyalty's sake.

35. What’s in your pocket right now?
Nothing, remember I'm in my dressing gown!

36. Last thing that made you laugh?
When David told me about his friend at work who once started writing a poem about David's moustache starting life in the Crimean War and then being passed down through the generations.  I'm still laughing about it.

37. Best bed sheets as a child?
We didn't have bed sheets when I was a child.  We had to use paper bags from the gutter.  (All together now... 'You had a paper bag???!?  Bloody luxury!')

38. Worst injury you’ve ever had?
Someone dropped a metal refuse bin on my toe when I was a child.  That sounds a bit pathetic really but it did hurt at the time!

39. Do you love where you live?
I love my house.

40. How many TVs do you have in your house? How many HDTVs?
We have two TVs but only ever watch one, it's not HD.

41. Who is your loudest friend?
Loudest?? That would be Cath, she's a maniac!

42. How many dogs do you have?
I have cats.  I like cats, and I don't like people who don't. (That quote is from Roger Moore in North Sea Hijack)

43. Does anyone have a crush on you?
George Clooney

44. What are the most fun things you ever did?
I made a paper clip chain at work, from all different colours of paper clips.  That was a good day :O)

45. What are your favorite books?
Too numerous to list, I like Hardy, Jasper Fforde, Philip Pullman, all kinds.

47. Favorite Team?
That would suggest I like sport.  That suggestion would be wrong.

48. What songs do you want played at your funeral?
This is cheerful!  Faure's Requiem? Bach's Cello Suite in G? If it's at Christmas Fairytale of New York would be nice, then people could join in.

49. What were you doing at 12 AM?
Sleeping, possible with a book over my face.

50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up?

Why is there a book on my face?  And why is there a cat trying to stop me from breathing by sitting on my chest?

The Ninja Meme

Found a great blog called Sunday Stealing, that steals the best memes from all over the place.  This one is the Ninja Meme and consists of 50 (yes, 50!) questions.

1. What do you add to your coffee?
Nothing, I like it black.  Preferably Lavazza or ILLE decaff filter coffee.  They used to have awful cheap coffee at work until I showed them the error of their ways :O)

2. What are you reading now?

Jo Nesbo's The Leopard

3. Do you own a gun?
No, that would be illegal! I wouldn't want one anyway.

4. Are you registered to vote?

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments?

So, so nervous.  And before opticians appointments.  I can feel my blood pressure going up!

6. What do you think of hot dogs?
I think I wouldn't eat one as I don't eat meat :O)

7. Favorite Christmas Song?
Fairytale of New York (I'm a closet cynic), and The Shepherds' Farewell by Berlioz because it's beautiful.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
First thing I drink a mug or two of Lapsang Souchong tea.

9. Can you do push ups?

Why would I want to?

10. What was the name of your first boyfriend/girlfriend?

David.  Not the one I married.

11. What’s your favorite piece of jewelery?

Haven't got one - I don't wear a lot of jewellery but I do have a weakness for earrings.

12. Favorite hobby?

13. Do you work with people who idolize you?

Yes.  And then I wake up.

14. Do you have ADD?

Sorry, I wasn't paying attention then...

15. What’s one trait that you hate about yourself?


16. What’s your Middle name?


17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment.

That I ought to get ready for work.
That I still have to have a shower.
What will The Daily Shoot's assignment be today.

18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday.

A flowery dress from a vintage shop (when did 'second hand' become 'vintage'?)
A top from a vintage shop.
Some Celtic chocolate.

19. Name 3 beverages you regularly drink.

Lapsang Souchong tea
Peppermint Tea
Lavazza coffee

20. Current worry right now?

There was something I needed to buy today and I can't remember what it was.

21. What side do you dress to?
You are joking!!

22. Favorite place to be?

With David in Stratford upon Avon.

23. How did you bring in the New Year?

I went to bed, I don't do New Year celebrations.

24. Where would you like to go?
Lake Como would be nice, as would Venice.

25. Name three people who will see today

Rob (the boss), Richard (the other boss), David (the husband)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

ABC Wednesday - B is for Buddah

Soon after his enlightenment, a man saw the Buddha walking toward him.  Seeing there was something different about this person who was approaching he asked:
'Are you a god?'
The Buddah answered, 'No'.
'You're a magician then?  A sorcerer?  A wizard?'
'Are you some kind of celestial being?  An angel perhaps?'
Again the Buddha said, 'No'.
'Well then, what are you?'
The Buddha replied, 'I am awake'.

The central idea of the Buddha's teaching is that all humans are capable of becoming enlightened, that is seeing things as they are rather than as we wish or believe them to be - it's about relying on the immediate experience of this present moment.  It's not about belief, doctrine, formula, or tradition.  It's about freedom of mind.
(from 'Buddhism Plain and Simple' by Steve Hagen).

And a couple of images of course :O)  The first one is an photo I took this morning for The Daily Shoot.

The second is of Pepper asking the Buddah to enlighten her as to how best to defeat Charlie's devilish plans against her.

For more words beginning with B go to ABC Wednesday.

Tuesday Photos

St Mary's Churchyard Tree
Tree in St Mary's Churchyard, Hinckley

Forgotten things

Monday, 24 January 2011

Meet Me on Monday...

Yes it's Monday again - I can't believe it!  First of all apologies to anyone who read that I was moving my blog elsewhere, for various reasons I've had to shelve the idea so please don't abandon me!  Anyway here we go...

1.  What is your favourite kind of fudge?
I don't actually like fudge!  I find it too sweet (my friend Cath loves it, I think her favourite is banana flavoured).  Now if it were chocolate... now we're talking!  It has to be dark chocolate, and my favourite is called Celtic Free From Luxury Chocolate...  Mmmmmmmmm!  

2.  Is there snow outside your window?
The very short answer to that is no.  The forecast for today is a cloudy, chilly day with brisk north-westerly winds, and then rain/drizzle for most of the week.  I'll be at work so don't care anyway! I'm not one of those people who moans about the weather, although it seems to be a national pastime in England. I think it stems from when my Mum was terminally ill, all she wanted to do was come home and be able to sit outside in her garden one last time, and she never got to do it.  Now I'm just grateful I can go out in whatever weather every day. And I like the rain anyway! :O)

3.  What is your favourite meal of the day?
Hmmmm, tough one that, probably breakfast, especially if it involves mushrooms on toast.  I just love mushrooms on toast...

4.  Do you text on your mobile phone?
Yes! I do it a lot, much more than I make calls.  I'm usually in touch with at least one of my friends by text every day.  The music I have on my phone to alert me to a text message is Bach's Toccata and Fugue. (I love Bach almost as much as I love chocolate, and mushrooms on toast).

My phone - the front screen tells me the time and what the weather is like
- it doesn't always get it right... We had brilliant sunshine on Friday
and it predicted fog! :O)

5.  Waffles or pancakes?
Well, waffles aren't really that common over here, and I think pancakes probably mean something different to me than it would to anyone in the USA.  I don't have a sweet tooth and I much prefer toast anyway.  Especially if it's crusty, home made bread.  And now I'm hungry...

We celebrate pancake day (see above image) in England on Shrove Tuesday (the day before the start of Lent), which is March 8th this year because Easter is so ridiculously late that it comes a week before the May Day Bank Holiday!!!!  Will someone please standardise it before we're eating Easter Eggs in June?

(All images courtesy of Google)

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Breaking News... and The Weekend in Black and White

Well the first piece of news is that after twenty-years, David has shaved off his moustache!  I've only ever known him with it so it's been a bit like having a new husband to look at.  Charlie looked a bit nonplussed when he saw him for the first time too... though it seems to have made him forget his fear of the table.  Oh yes, and we went to see The King's Speech last night - very good film.  I've never really warmed to Colin Firth before this but he was excellent, it was much funnier than I expected too.  Other news... Cath dropped her mobile phone down the toilet today.  I have no idea what she was doing at the time and probably don't want to.  The chap in The Carphone Warehouse said they had someone come in who had done the same thing, and who then tried to dry his phone off in the microwave... it didn't work :O)

Just a few of today's photos to finish with.



The road less travelled...

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Camera Critters and Pet Pride

Two kitties and a bunny... The first is not a brilliant photo, but it shows Posky caught in the act of using his superior size to squash Ben off his little foot stool where he likes to sleep next to the radiator.  True to feline-kind, Posky feels neither guilt nor remorse at being exposed as a bunny-squasher.  The other two photos are of Charlie, the first of which was taken by putting my camera on the floor and hoping for the best (it was for The Daily Shoot - take a photo from a low perspective).  Talking of Charlie - my half sister and I did a swap of dining tables (don't ask), and we now own a six feet long table with four chairs which she brought over last night with the help of someone who looked like a salty old sea dog (no really, he did).  Anyway,  for some reason Charlie is scared of  the table... he's a bit strange but we love him anyway.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Meet me on Monday...

Crikey, how can it be Monday again so soon?  Although this week there is the release of Jo Nesbo's lastest Harry Hole book to look forward to... I have my Christmas book tokens ready and clutched in my hot little hand and can't wait to start reading it.  Anyway, I digress (yet again).  I decided to join in with Java's Meet me on Monday meme.  Each Monday she poses five questions for people to post and answer on their blogs, so here goes (and for once the photos aren't mine):

1.  Do you like your ice-cream in a dish or cone?
I've never been a big fan of ice-cream, I'd rather have a starter than a dessert in a restaurant, and if I had anything similar at home it would probably be Swedish Glace, chocolate flavoured, served in a dish (although I'd rather have chocolate soya dessert poured over fresh fruit salad), mmmmmm :O)

2.  Do you read the newspaper daily?
No, one reason is I just don't get time, the other is I'd read The Guardian or The Times, and they're far too expensive to buy every day.  I tend to use the internet for news, usually the BBC.

3.  Marinara or meat sauce?
Well I don't eat meat so I'd have to say marina.  My favourite sauce for pasta however is just a teaspoon or two of a pesto type - I just love it.  Couldn't find a picture of vegan pesto sauce so here's some Sacla instead.

4.  Last time you cried?
Not sure, but not long ago, probably a few weeks back and probably something to do with pmt!  I did have a lump in my throat at some parts of Battlestar Galactica which we've been watching on DVD...  Some films make me cry, I was an emotional wreck after watching Silent Running, in fact just the thought of the ending has brought a tear to my eye, sniff sniff... I cry quite easily, but not as easily as my half-sister, who has been known to blub at adverts on the tv (yes, really).  

5.  What word/phrase do you find really annoying?
When weather forecasters say 'precipitation' instead of 'rain', even the Met Office use it on their website.  When did that start?  Teeth-grating stuff.  Also when people (including some U.S. presidents) say 'nucular' instead of 'nuclear'.  My least favourite word though has to be when people describe their husbands as 'hubby', it makes me want to scream.  David would never refer to me as 'wifey', or if he did the men in white coats would be carting him off as I'd know he'd finally flipped.  (Misplaced apostrophes also drive me up the wall but I don't think they count as a word/phrase!).


Link up with more Meet me on Mondays at Java's Never Growing Old.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Pet Pride

I took this for the Daily Shoot assignment of two complimentary objects arranged to show their relationship to each other.  Here it's Pepper ('oh what big claws you have'), showing how to kill, maim and destroy a catnip mouse.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

The Weekend in Black and White and Camera Critters

This dove was keeping his beady eye on me as he sat on the bridge above the river Avon at Warwick this morning.

This is part of the Warwick post but I'm also using it for The Weekend in Black and White and Camera Critters.


We nipped into Warwick this morning for a coffee and I took the chance to grab a few shots.  It was all very cold and grey so most of them seemed to look better in black and white.

Friday, 14 January 2011

The Daily Shoot (and phones that are too clever...)

The Daily Shoot - illustrate one of the meanings of the word 'Tag'.  In this case it's Posky's i.d. tag.

Posky's motto - Trust no-one and keep your paw on your collar...

Only the second week back at work and I'm ready for another holiday! On Wednesday I had a half day's holiday and met two friends for lunch (one of whom has started suffering panic attacks for no apparent reason and one who is leaving her husband. Made my dilemma about which mobile phone to get seem a bit trivial...). I then went to upgrade my mobile and see if I could get a cheaper contract than the one I'm on (I did, although it took an hour in the shop during which time I was standing cross legged as I soooo wanted to go the loo). The only trouble is I am know the owner of an HTC Desire, a phone that is far too clever for its own good and has more settings and options on it than my first computer (and probably my current computer). Does anyone else have one, and more to the point have you figured out how the hell to use it? I have managed to take a photo on it (it was Charlie looking even grumpier than usual), but have no idea as yet how to actually download it. Watch this space...

The other thing of note regarding phones is that my old one (I loved that phone) is now in the hands of David, who within 24 hours of taking possession of it managed to accidentally delete my favourite ringtone (the Dr Who theme played by full orchestra), and the best message alert ever (Stephen Fry saying 'Answer me damn you, will you answer me!'). He feels shame...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Catching Raindrops

I'm not doing the Daily Shoot assignment every day but this is my image for the photo featuring water.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

ABC Wednesday - Z is for...


Zola - not a lot of laughs...

Emile Zola:  19thC French author whose name is synonymous with the literary movement called 'naturalism', whereby the novelist attempted to emphasize the physiological and environmental conditions that determine individual character.  Works include Therese Raquin, Nana, and Germinal.  His books don't make for the most cheerful reading and are probably best avoided if you are feeling the slightest bit low, or in the case of Germinal, if you work down a mine.

Saturday, 8 January 2011


I found a list of themes at Digital Photography School and thought it such a great idea and how helpful it would be for those times when inspiration won't come, especially if you're doing either a 365 Day project or even a photo a week.  Click on the link and enjoy!

Friday, 7 January 2011

The Weekend in Black and White

I've used this location before but as the Daily Shoot challenge today was for strong converging verticals and I only had a few minutes between leaving work and meeting a friend I didn't have a lot of choice!

Go to The Weekend in Black and White for more monotone images.

Macro Friday - My Phone

I was at work today and suddenly realised it was Friday and I had no macro photo!  Luckily I had my camera with me so took a quick shot of my phone, it was either that or a paper clip and the phone was slightly more interesting - it's very grainy as I had to really up the ISO as the light was so bad.  Luckily I quite like the effect it's produced.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Daily Shoot

I've only just discovered The Daily Shoot, a Flickr group with over 1,000 members that gives you a photographic assignment every day. You take your photo, post it to the group, then Tweet a link to it (Tweeting is a whole new thing for me, I still don't have a very clear idea of what I'm doing or why).  I have a slight problem because of the time zone difference in that my day starts a whole lot earlier than the setters of the challenge, so there will be days when I'm not able to do it.  Anyway, I've done three of the assignments so far this year, including yesterday's (which is still today on the Flickr site!) which I took by accident.  I was actually trying to get a picture of oil on water yesterday morning (don't ask, BIG fail) and got frustrated with it so took a picture of Charlie and also of my cheese grater.  By chance the assignment was making something mundane and ordinary look interesting, so step forward the grater.  I thought it would have been insulting to cast Charlie in that role, so I used him for something else.  

And talking of yesterday... did anyone else have a weird day?  Our drains got blocked, I threw my phone onto the floor by accident then couldn't get the back to stay on it, then took it to The Carphone Warehouse where a bloke who now thinks I'm an idiot put it back on with no problem whatsoever.  Then at lunchtime I went to get some hay cakes for Ben from Wilkos and actually came out with no hay cakes but a black Christmas tree complete with lights and decorations for £5.  Then I made an appointment at the Vet for Mrs P for today as she has ear mites which I've been trying to get rid of for two weeks without success.  I came home from work, the mites have gone and the ears look fine.  Weird day...  Anyway, I digress, here are my Daily Shoot shots (eh?) so far this year.  If you're lacking in inspiration and need a challenge, have a go!

 Rule of Thirds... (This tree reminds me an Ent from Lord of the Rings)
I've posted this before but it fit so well with the assignment of the day I took
it that I used it for that.

Diagonal leading the eye into the picture (Charlie Big Foot here does the honours!)

A mundane and ordinary object made to look interesting
(those marks aren't mouldy cheese, they're where the veg
I grate up for Ben have marked the metal.  Those brussel sprouts are tough)


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