Sunday, 29 November 2015


So November is all but over. I spent it trying to ignore Christmas displays in shops, put out even before Halloween, because I still could not get over the quickness Summer turns to Autumn turns to Winter.
I wanted to spend a few more evenings outside after work before I was ready to cosy down indoors. Where has the time gone?
Meanwhile another stray has appeared. I told myself no, I'm not feeding it or giving it any sort of encouragement to hang around, but it's been up at the stables raiding the bins and becoming very unpopular with neighbours who may not be sympathetic. Traps were talked of, so I've started a feeding schedule in the safety of my garden, right away from anyone else. He's already got used to it, and during the wet and windy weather we've had at least I know he's sheltering somewhere with a full tummy.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Holiday At Home

 I booked a week off work to go and visit my parents in Nottinghamshire, but circumstances changed so I stayed on the IOW. It was sunny all week!
Explored some beaches we have not been to before, in all the 25 odd years we've lived here. Lovely and deserted!


Spent a lot of time pottering about in the garden with the birds.....

Time with the cats too,,,,,,

and time walking along quiet lanes......

All too soon it was Monday and back to work again. And the rain came back!

Friday, 4 September 2015

At The Races

We went to Salisbury races. I had not been before an it wasn't exactly what I expected. We did not realise that our pass to the grandstand and the paddock area excluded us entry to the one restaurant as well as a cafe. We had access to a loud bar selling real Cornish pasties, though, so things did not look so bad......until the chef said all the pasties were cheese & onion as they had ran out of traditional! Seeing as the races had not even started and it wasn't even noon, I would have thought a more likely explanation was they had messed up the order.
I don't mind a cheese & onion, but Den hates them, and he was very hungry.
Luckily a burger van came to the rescue. I was getting a headache by then, but there were no shops to buy aspirin so I just put up with it, and had it all day.
On top of that I did not back a winner out of eight races, not even by backing favourites.
On well. The horses were nice to look at. I was taking photos quite happily and didn't realise this was not allowed until just before we left, when I read it in the brochure.

My hanging basket looks so cheerful, and it was a half-price-forgotten-to-water-at-b&q one!

My white passion flower has finally bloomed!

Lovely sunset one day last week, a little reminder of what we have missed out on this miserable 'summer'. I write this in front of the warmth of the wood burning stove.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Minor Irritations

 I am still struggling with the tablet. I can add photos from my camera straight on to Gallery with no problems.....

But when I try to add them on to the blog or fb, I can find them, select them, download.......well, it says it's downloading, but I have time to go away, boil the kettle, brew tea, make a sandwich, eat the sandwich........and it's still trying to download one photo.

So I have discovered, through trial and error with lots of trial, the way to do it. I am writing it here for my information as much as anything, as I guess I am the only person who a) has this trouble and b) reads this blog.

Kitty Paws

First I have to upload the photos from Gallery onto Picassa. Then I have to create a Picassa web album.
I have called said album 'Can't find it' for obvious reasons.
Then I have to upload, one at a time, photos from Picassa to the said album.
Then I can find them to add quickly to the blog or fb.

And that is why I have virtually stopped blogging!

Enjoy the following........

 There's nothing Whiskers loves more than a rug thrown on the lawn. He claims it straight away.
One very hot day we rested a door on the lawn for about an hour, and in that short time it burnt a rug-sized patch in the grass.
Whiskers decided that would do nicely, thank you!

Meanwhile, in the two years we have had Smudge, he has gone from a quiet and easily intimidated cat, often distant and clearly still unable to trust us not to treat him like his previous owners, who abandoned him in a derelict holiday centre during one of our most severe winters recently, to a loving boy who especially loves being carried on his dad's shoulder and dribbling with delight.

There's a bumble bee nest under my shed, right by the door. I sit in my shed doing arty stuff, and the bee can still get in and out, no problem. It took me a while to realise there was more than one bee. I thought bumble bees were solitary, but not all varieties it turns out. I have counted 7 bees using this nest.
They only nest for a few weeks, and their nests are small and intrusive, so why, when I googled bumble bee nests to find out more about them, did I have to wade through pages of how to destroy them?
Some people are so intolerant. Meanwhile it just so happens my buddlea has done better than any other year, and it's right next to the shed.

My landlady continues her battle with pigeons, who she thinks are removing straw from her thatch. She has bought so,me fake hawks and a ridiculous plastic owl that is completely ignored by the blackbirds, thank goodness.
Meanwhile.....up on her roof......

Two real, live kestrels regularly shelter from the wind. If that doesn't stop the pigeons, nothing will! Of course, she isn't even aware of their existence, and if she was she would probably want them shot.

Finally, I have changed the blog title to Stray Cat Cottage. Give me a month and I might be able to change the cover photo, too.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

The birds and animals of Manor Farm

 This blog is just photos of a place I visited in the village I was brought up in, and where my parents have lived for over fifty years.
The village is East Leake in Leicestershire. It's one of those villages that has everything. Shops, doctors, vets, schools, housing estates, more housing estates, even more housing estates. Yes, a lot of new houses get built here, probably because East Leake is surrounded by oh-so-pretty villages where you never see a sole. You know the ones. No shops, no doctors, no vets, no housing estates, just flash houses belonging to city commuters, and maybe a gastro pub if you're lucky.

Well, East Leake has something extra it didn't have when I lived there. It has a place called Manor Farm, which is a family park with animals to ride, pet, stroke, talk to or just quietly observe.
The animals and birds have all been rescued from bad pasts, and now receive with all the care and attention they deserve. They have wide open spaces, and all have comfy stables or hutches or coops to bed down in at the end of the day.

Manor Farm has been open for over 10 years, but I have never been there thinking it was just for children, but last week when I was visiting my parents I was a bit bored. It was too hot to go out in the car, so I walked up to the farm. It was a week day during term time, so I thought there wouldn't be many visitors.
I don't think they get many single adults, but I had my camera with me and explained I was at a loose end and wanted to have a look round, so I was made welcome and given a little guide map.

There were small groups of very young children from local pre-schools and nurseries, but they didn't walk round the nature trail and I soon found myself in a lovely, quiet place surrounded by bird song and butterflies.......and pigs!


The deserted playground.

There were goats to be scratched and donkeys to have their ears rubbed.....

Not to mention some very hot ducks and chickens.....

It was hot. There was a cafe, but my parents' house is five minutes away, so I considered leaving when I realised I had not seen the owls. The owl sanctuary was back down a hill I had just walked up, and for a minute I thought, shall I bother?

I am so glad I did. The owls were stunning. I just missed a noisy group of children, who didn't bother the owls at all, so I was free to wander round and read all about each one. It was quite upsetting to learn that people actually think they can keep enormous birds of prey as pets, and when they loose control of the owls they resort to bullying them with brute force. One large owl had been kept in a rabbit hutch for years. Others hardly dare leave their wooden dens, but the skill and patience of the staff had paid off and they were all improving. There was a staff member there I spoke to. She was hosing down the large enclosures to keep the birds cool, talking to them all the time, reassuring one female eagle owl that she was not going to hurt her.
She told me some of the owls are much more confident than others. Some have been well looked after, but their owners just could not cope. Some had been allowed to fly regularly and still do. Others are just too scared and can only manage to fly in the safety of their aviaries.

These two below were the only ones sharing an aviary. All the other owls can see each other, though.

 This little chap never took his eyes off me, even ducking his head when the branch got in the way.

How amazing is this?



This one below was super-confident, showing off right next to the visitors and hooting away at them!

This fluffy little bird had plenty of high branches but chose a low one right next to the wire. He looked like he was pretending to be asleep!

This bird was amazing. Some children mistake him for a penguin! He watched all the children closely, and had a lovely, deep hoot.

I left feeling grateful that this place is giving these birds and animals a second chance in life. There were lots of staff on hand to share experiences with children of all ages and adults too, and it was not commercial. No in your face gift shops to distract children away from what matters.