All she wants to do is play, but the cats are still a little wary of her ‘enthusiasm’, although recently it has been turning into something a little more like aloof contempt, as you might expect from cats. Still, they both have their reasons.
They have both been pregnant for some weeks (gestation for cats is 9 weeks) so we have been expecting the patter of little paws imminently.
Europa and Callisto are about a year old, but we wanted to give them the chance to have a litter before having them spayed, thinking it only fair to give them that opportunity and also believing that they might ‘mellow’ if given the chance to be mothers! Time will tell 😉
So, as our elder boys have already reported in their blogs (Joshua’s Blog and Morgan’s Blog), Europa gave birth to a single kitten on the 13th Feb, which has (provisionally) been called Ash, since it was Ash Wednesday. She has been a good mother since and been looking after it well, spending the majority of her time with the little one except when she is sleeping, despite our initial panic when she disappeared from her ‘birthing box’ in the evening, and it was not until the next morning and after a lot of furious searching that we found her in one of the drawers under Morgan’s bed.
No such problem with Callisto though as she gave birth early this morning to four beautiful black kittens, very similar to Ash. Black that is, except for one little kitten who has ginger flecks about its eyebrows and forehead, rather like a fleur de lys but which Luke is convinced looks like flames bordering an ‘L’ for Luke, which he is happy with, given he was desperate for a ginger kitten. So we now have a Flame to go with our Ash; hopefully not too much of a pyromaniac theme emerging here 😉
Callisto clearly had a rougher time of it than Europa, but the latter has been ‘helping out’ with the duties around the box, cleaning and loving her sister and all the little ones as if they were her own. It is very cute to see.
A quiet day with no running again, but that is normal for a Saturday anyway.
A different matter for the kittens though. They were keen to explore the garden and have been venturing a little further out ever since we have opened the doors to them a couple of weeks back. Today they were running around and hiding underneath the playhouse when they got scared and jumping up at each other. It is hilarious to see how large a tiny kitten can make themself look when they jump up to present their profile, with their fur a mile high, on their tiptoes.
Unfortunately it is such a transitory state, we’ve not been able to capture a picture yet.
Callisto has been venturing up the trees as well.
She’ll be a bit more surprised when the dog next door, a boxer, spots her next time she climbs up to the fence though!
And maybe we should warn the local fire brigade that there are two candidates for likely rescue in the near future….
Lots going on today, with kittens and plans to move house.
The kittens were due for their next injections, which (thankfully) will last them for the next year. So after the next week or so, they will be allowed to start venturing out. The vet, Douglas, explained there were two schools of thought on when to let kittens out, but basically, the longer you keep them inside up to 6 months when they would be mature enough to be spayed, the more domestic they are likely to be. Although for Callisto and Europa, having come from a family home, as opposed to a wild feral farmyard environment, this is not really likely to be an issue. The only other thing is to consider is when they are likely to start ‘attracting the attention’ of the local tomcats!
Douglas is a chatty south African vet who has been here since ’92. The treatment for the kittens was over quite quickly, but he noticed Liz’s MdS jumper and we chatted about that for a bit as he has applied for 2014.
I had been randomly selected to carry out a Surrey ‘crime’ survey and the lady carrying out the interview was waiting for us. Lots of perceptual and personal questions and 45 minutes later, I had completed the confidential questionnaire. They had also asked Joshua to complete one as well, and since this was the first time he had been asked to do such a thing, we thought it would be a good experience for him. The police will probably be knocking on the door of his school on Monday morning after some of the answers he gave though 😉
The rushing around continued as we packed ready to go away for the weekend as we were going to leave straight after the little one’s swimming.
They had a good lesson, Luke first, then Savannah, but then all too soon, we were on the clock again rushing with a lunch on the go, to get to Battle in East Sussex, where we had planned to meet an estate agent to view a house in Westfield at 3:15, before seeing the house we had seen originally, some months ago, in Boreham Hill.
Two totally different houses, the first was a quirky old place with masses of space, 10 acres of forest and farmland on an old dairy farm with plenty of outbuildings with which to play. The view was very limited though, and the area was also not the best. Location, location, location, as they say.
The original house in the area we saw was, by contrast, set in a much nicer hamlet to the west of Battle and was more modern with a better layout and views over the rolling countryside of the south downs to the English channel.
It was quite late when we left the second house, Julian, the owner is quite chatty and we have a lot in common – he used to work for British Aerospace, likes cars and astronomy – so we had quite a bit to chat about. We’ll be talking the conclusions over with the children tomorrow morning, before we see another three houses tomorrow afternoon.
Initial indications are that they like the farm though!
It had to happen sometime, as the kittens were getting smellier and smellier.
The house they had come from was, as I may have mentioned before, home to a miniature pig, which they apparently used to sleep with 😯 That was three weeks ago, but their ‘bouquet’ has not improved much since, especially with the way they have been practising their construction skills in the litter tray.
So, today Liz could not stand it any more and decided they needed to be introduced to some aqua naturale.
Having had experience of bathing cats before I was a little dubious as to the sanity of this operation, but in the end they behaved very well.
They were obviously nervous about the whole situation, cats and water and all that, but they didn’t panic too much and that is about the best we could expect.
I’m not sure if you’ve tried drying a cat before, but it seems to take forever. The children were very good though and dried them with the towel and groomed them with a brush very gently and Callisto even started purring when she had settled down a bit! We didn’t go as far as turning the hair dryers on them as I think that would have been a bit too much for them.
After the excitement of the bath, they were exhausted.
The kittens were pretty tired too 🙂
Morgan continued his day with his drawing, and did an excellent rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian man, while the kittens dozed with the other children before we all went to swimming followed by a very relaxing afternoon.
Dad was travelling up today and I was working from home, so a fairly quiet day all round after the normal school runs in the morning and afternoon.
The children have been looking forward to the weekend for some time and to seeing their grandad again, as it has been a couple of months since he was last up in Guildford.
Talking of Guildford, we have had an offer on our house, which has thrown us into a different stage of the moving process – i.e. we now have to consider where we actually want to move to and if the extra travelling time which I would have into town from Battle station in East Sussex, which we have been looking at, would be worth the benefits of living in the country. That’s a discussion for another time though.
In the meantime, the kittens have been settling into life in the house and have been practising for their latest theatrical appearance in the sequel to Puss in Boots, namely ‘Kittens in Tutus’.
Who needs a scratching post when you have daddy’s backpack to play with?
The rain didn’t abate much today but I’ve managed to spend some time at the gym and got another good session in with some physio exercises as well. The killer for me at the moment is the dynamic lunges; with a run before and after.
I’m sure this is doing a great deal of good as the effort required for such a short amount of time is considerable. The after-effects seem to be reducing considerably thoug, so that is positive and bodes well for my training over the next couple of months.
Thought I’d leave you with our version of ‘Puss in Boots’.
The kittens had their first set of injections booked in with the vet this morning.
After a good night’s sleep, I felt a little more human, but still felt like I needed another few hours rest, which with kittens, children and chores to do, didn’t really end up happening.
The vets is a couple of miles away, down the Epsom Road to the east of Guildford, along a route Liz and myself have often run. The “Cape Veterinary Clinic” is run by a South African who has been over here 18 years. The session was early but swift, and the little kittens are fine. Their first injections were carried out and they have been relatively quiet and sleepy for the rest of the day. I’m sure it will be a different matter in a few weeks when they need to go back, having already experienced the associated of basket, vet, and discomfort!
When we got home the children had some of their “Lunar Candy” which they had been begging us for ever since Thursday. They each chose a different colour and then had great fun for the next 30 minutes eating them. Then the rush came and there was mayhem! I’m not sure why we keep doing the sugar thing, although in a way it is to get them used to it – this seems to be working for the elder boys, but the younger ones still have the occasional post-sugar reaction.
The little ones had swimming starting again today which they were reluctant to go to, to start with, but as usual, once they were there, they were fine and both enjoyed themselves – it is strange how they react so badly to changes in their activities sometimes.
I had only just got back from swimming when I had to take Morgan to his party at the Spectrum in Guildford, where he had a spy activity and picnic, and I only had about 5 minutes when I got back to grab some lunch, as we had a house viewing at 2:30pm which the estate agents could not attend (as it was last minute) so Liz did the ‘showing’ while I took the remaining three children out to the local hostelry, where they played mousetrap and monopoly for a couple of hours before we picked Morgan up and then journeyed back home to meet a resting Liz, before we all collapsed.
Some years ago I used to drive an hour to work, up the M3 from Basingstoke to Chertsey. It was during this period of my life after several cycles of seasons, holidays and society based calendar events, that I noticed that the roads became a lots clearer from the Easter holidays around March / April time, until the beginning of September, when the schools start their new year.
It is logical, if you think about it, that people start taking their holidays at Easter and the average number of people ‘off’ at any one time increases towards the summer months (this being an unashamedly northern hemisphere based blog and hence observation, although I’ve no doubt a similar connection would be noticed in the southern hemisphere), culminating in the enforced absence period for school-aged children’s families for the six or so weeks from mid-July to the end of August.
The upshot of this is that the roads tend of be clearer during these months. Perhaps other mode specific effects come into play as well, such as the ability to drive faster during the lighter and clearer, better weather summer months, increasing the ‘flow’ through the arteries of our transportation network.
So, of course with Easter weekend over and the holiday week in full swing, I was reminded this morning of this effect and although the train / carriage I was in was still standing room only, when we arrive at our destination, the tubes were distinctly empty and as the timing was perfect, I practically walked straight onto the dreaded Waterloo and City line for short jaunt to Bank station.
The office was a similarly changed space, with several of my team on holiday or ‘sick’ 😕 so I’ll have to see how that progresses over the next few days.
I had left Liz and the children, and the kittens, this morning resting again, although I have no doubt it didn’t last long. The children have been allowed to play Skylanders again as that has occupied them during the holidays when we have needed to have a break as well, and there are only so many Pom-poms that four children can make with the floor space that we have available; think back to the final scene from one of the original ‘Star Trek’ episodes – ‘The trouble with Tribbles’ and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the way we are heading at the moment 😆
Still they seem to have occupied their day quite well, despite the variability of the weather – first thing this morning it was glorious blue skies, which, after the weekend was not only typical of a British Bank Holiday, but also caused innumerable people to bitch at work to me this morning. Presumably they were, however, happier that they were at work after it started to rain mid- morning and then again mid-afternoon.
I managed to get down the gym briefly at lunchtime, but after yesterday’s long run I consigned my effort to some physio work with a brief warm-up and cool-down run. I followed my physio instructions and did leg extensions, leg curls, weighted squats and dynamic lunges. These are the exercises that seem to be working for me at the moment so I’m sticking with them. I’ve been thinking about adding core exercises to this set on a regular basis – I used to do pilates but haven’t been back since before Leadville – perhaps a bit of peer pressure from my readers is needed to get me to take the plunge back into my core training, since as with restarting every discipline, I know it will be difficult 😉
The Marathon des Sables 2012 is underway at the moment and our friends Rory Coleman (#391) and Jen Salter (#521) are out there and have just completed the third stage. Jen is doing extremely well, and is currently the 4th woman in the race and 46th overall (out of over 1000 starters), which is absolutely incredible. They will be trying to get a good night’s rest this evening, in preparation for the feared ‘long’ day, where they may have to travel up to 85km across the heat of the Sahara desert.
However, since I had not run yesterday I planned a long run for this morning. As per normal I have been increasing my weekly mileage slowly and by less than 10% a week – in fact for both the weekly mileage and the distance of the long run; such is conventional wisdom regarding endurance training nowadays.
I have had a couple of hilly runs and a pace run during the week, and since today was to be a milestone run, I decided it would be best to just get the distance under my belt without the additional stress of hills, or indeed pace. So today’s run was a classic LSD, or long slow distance along the disused railway line to Cranleigh for 10 miles and then back again.
Afterwards, I was more nauseous than normal, having not eaten before I left, but after some lunch and rehydration everything was fine. So, 20 miles under the belt and a training step-back planned for this week to ensure everything I’ve done is consolidated.
The kittens have settled in even more, and to our delight have actually started using the scratching post we got for them. They are also becoming much more familiar with the children and have been allowing them to stroke them and have even sat on Morgan and Joshua’s laps while they’ve been busy, and still, throughout the day, so pretty positive on all fronts.
We had promised ourselves a home-made Thai green curry with salmon for a meal this evening, which we had prepared yesterday. In the end it turned out very well, but there would be some improvements I would make if we made it again as, following the recipe, the sauce could have been thicker and the vegetables were a touch overdone for our liking – so when I’ve perfected it, I’ll share it 🙂 Good to try these things and a great end to the weekend.
The kittens woke up several times during the night.
We didn’t want them to feel on their own so we, perhaps mistakenly, took them up to our room, where of course they cried out and meowed every so often, but nothing more than one would expect when settling into a new house. It probably only seemed frequent because it was in the middle of the night and frankly they didn’t behave badly in any way at all, so we have been very lucky so far.
The children woke without any thoughts of Easter eggs, and rushed down to find the kittens and play with them, and again, on the whole, they’ve had a good day with them, as they been finding their feet around the place and getting as used to us as we have to them. So far they’ve done everything that you would expect of kittens, to the delight of the children; they been rough and tumbling together, running manically throughout the house chasing each other, hiding themselves in impossibly small spaces on bookshelves and then curling up together to sleep in their box 🙂
Liz was again keen to go to church today, especially since it really is the Christian ‘big-day-of-the-year’ – the day in the calendar that represents the culmination of the Christian gospels.
After church Liz and a few neighbours with children had arranged what is fast becoming traditional Easter egg hunt in The Court. Many of the residents, some of those even without children attended the brief festivities (it never seems to take children long to find even the most carefully concealed eggs) and a good time was had by all. There were masses of eggs of all varieties provided by the corum of The Court, from creme eggs, to boxed Cadbury’s button eggs, mini eggs and chocolate rabbits, as well as soft fluffy rabbits this year as well. As well as helping to organise and providing eggs, Liz produced a great printed ‘checklist’ of the eggs hidden in the flora; important given the range of ages we cater for, to ensure everyone have ‘one of everything’!
We (the boys, Savannah and myself) all received an Easter egg after the scrumptious lamb dinner Liz had cooked us all and after a few more rounds of the house with the kittens, who are now completely exhausted (no doubt until 3am this morning), we settled down to watch the Steven Spielberg / Peter Jackson – Adventures of Tintin.