It took  me a long time to accept that the number of other people who wrote  letters  was dwindling,  we  were becoming an endangered species, talked of but rarely seen.

I’m not contributing to the cause, unfortunately, despite having the time. I put it down to age related brain shrinkage and apathy!  I did try emailing friends, which  was almost like writing a letter, although not the same as  receiving one until once again a lack of time and a preference for immediate gratification  put pay to lengthy email correspondence.

I was reluctant to join Facebook at first but over the ten years I’ve been a home and pet sitter it has proved very useful. In fact, a couple of people have commented on how much time I seem to spend on  it,  I do apologize for all the photos of ginger cats!  I do enjoy hearing people’s news, seeing photos of their families and their holidays, for the most part It has  been a positive experience.

As with life, technology moves on so quickly, leaving me behind  to ponder and scratch my head over Snapchat and the like.  I wouldn’t mind so much if only I didn’t have to keep putting  my reading glasses on!

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This year I celebrated my fiftieth birthday, twice! Once unofficially in August, hosting a party that coincided with the British National Fireworks Championships and then officially in October, quietly at home with my aged Mother and our cat Mr Lewis.

I also held the party to celebrate ten years of running my business as a home and pet sitter and many of the guests I invited to my soirée were valued clients who have also become valued friends. If it hadn’t been a night of live music and fireworks my clients’ fur families would’ve been most welcome to join us. Infact my  venu, The Orangery at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park  is dog friendly, although I’m not sure how they would’ve catered for the horses?!

I was delighted that so many friends from near and far could join me and my family for my half century happening, some took their summer holiday in West Country rather than going abroad which I appreciated and thankfully the Cornish weather was mostly kind to us!

I have to admit that I enjoyed planning my evening almost as much as the event itself. It wouldn’t have been the success it was without the hard working  and professional catering staff and their Manager, Michelle. Or  my wonderful friends who created firework inspired table decorations and delicious cupcakes. What really made the evening go with a swing, apart from the prosecco, were Howard and Baker Entertainment, with top tunage from Aiden on his decks and cracking vocals from Tom, it was a good job wore my sparkly dancing shoes!

Finally, we  made our way in the dark to the battery, luckily nobody fell over the cannons, where we watched the spectacular, if somewhat distant, displays of fireworks from different regional teams competing against each other  to win the championship. I really didn’t want the evening to end but unfortunately it being a Wednesday most of my guests had to work the next day.

I definitely have got a taste for big birthday bashes  now, so roll on sixty, that should give me enough time to save for another ‘do’ at The Orangery, pets will be invited next time!

“Mrs What’s-Her-Name’s cat likes this!”  My Mother said brandishing a pouch of eye- wateringly expensive feline nosh at me.  “I’m sure Mr Lewis will like it!” I believe my Ma’s thinking was based more on the cat’s flatulence than his pallet.

“He likes the one we’re feeding him now.” I replied scanning the ingredients of tickled trout, catnip and conjunctivitis nonsense listed on the packet.

“He just eats the gravy and leaves the meat!” Mother’s jaw was set, she wasn’t going to back down.

“How many packets of this have you got?!”  I asked my Aged P doubtfully.

“Oh, just a couple.” I could see she sensed victory and decided to let it go as Mr Lewis might enjoy the change, although my pocket wouldn’t!  It had been agreed before we rehomed Lewis, that I would take care of him financially, whilst Mother, being at home, took care of his person.

That evening I fed our ginger boy his gourmet dinner and watched him as he tucked into the finely minced protein.  He seemed to be having a bit of trouble eating the close textured mixture.  “I think it’s getting stuck around his gums!”

“No, no,”  Mother insisted,  “you just need to mash it up more.”  I watched dubiously, as the poor cat struggled on for a few more mouthfuls before giving up altogether in favour of his biscuits.

“I’ll get some of the other food from the garage.” I announced turning on my heel rather too dramatically for the occasion.  When I went to the cupboard where we stored the cat supplies  I was met with a row of Furry Friend Posh Nosh boxes. “I thought you said you’d only got a couple of pouches?!”  I shouted from the garage.

“Oh yes, well ah, it was on offer!”  Came the reply.

Mr Lewis looked on nonplussed.  The only thing I think he needed was a tooth pick and something to gargle with?!

 

I didn’t think we would have another cat again what with Mum’s failing eyesight and my nomadic working life but it was love at first sight for me when I saw Mr Lewis’s photo on Facebook, although I had to describe him to my Mother.  It was not, however, love at first smell as the nervous feline arrived having had a dirty protest in his cat carrier!

Despite occasionally lounging on the stairs, our potential moggie trip hazard has settled into the Affleck household nicely.  Mr Lewis (Aka Pinkie, Louis, Louie and Lord Lou!) does like to be included in everything that is going on and often seeks us out to oversee what we are up to!

Mr Lewis spent his first two months with us under house arrest whilst I sorted out his vaccinations and microchip details.  He was not best pleased with his new enforced status of house-cat.  Every day, several times a day Mr Lewis would sit and stare out of the glazed back door into the garden whilst he pawed at the glass and yowled a most plaintive, “OUT!”  Every day, several times a day, I would tell him, “No out yet Mr Lewis, but soon.”    I think I told him once too often as he turned around and bit my ankle!

The day Pinkie Lewis was allowed in `The Out’ was marked on our calendar as exactly a week after his second booster.  Thankfully the sun was shining as I opened the back door to his freedom and the nesting sparrows!  It was quite touching how Mr Lewis followed me at first but as his confidence and curiosity grew he slunk off to explore our small back garden on his own.  He’s not one to go far is Mr Lewis, which is fine by us, but he does enjoy sitting on the back step of an evening, taking in the air and listening to the sounds of suburbia.

 

Mr Lewis

Mr Lewis arrived at our house having had a ‘dirty’ protest in his cat carrier. Covered in his on excrement he was unceremoniously given a bath in our sink by his soon to be ex owner who sadly had to give him up. After the indignity of it all, Mr Lewis took himself off to hide behind the fridge for several hours eventually coming out for some food.

My elderly Mother had resisted having another cat for some years as she was worried that one would prove to be a trip hazard. Unfortunately, Mr Lewis has taken  to lying along the stairs!  He further blotted his copy book by biting the hand that fed him, three times, but  after being told he would be sent to  live in the shed if he did it again he seemed to settle down. 

Mr Lewis is not a cat who takes being told no very well. While waiting for him to have his  second booster, I wouldn’t let him out into the garden, so he bit my bare ankle! My bite soon healed though, my Mum however, had to have a course of antibiotics when  her hand became infected after Mr Lewis sunk his teeth into it. This put pay to her lunchtime sherry  for a while but it did sort out the infection.

Mr Lewis has a penchant for licking plastic bags, he started on one fromn Malcolm Barnicuts’ which had held a couple of steak pasties and then  progressed to various supermarket carriers including a bag  for life, he isn’t fussy.

When Mr Lewis’s funny five minutes  turned into a bonkers fifteen minutes we discovered that he was working himself up to using his litter tray, something he isn’t really keen on doing. Mum, who is on litter tray duty when I’m working away, decided to change his diet for a less oder inducing one with little success. Cat poo is cat poo and we all look forward to the day when he can go out and empty himself in the neighboring gardens!

We were told that Mr Lewis would be okay as long as he knew his boundaries and I would say that on the whole, he does. Initially he did sense weakness in my Mother and tried to bend her to his will. Most of the time he is a very affectionate cat who enjoys a warm lap to sit on. He does have the occasional Jekyll and Hide moment when he can bite without provocation. I came home to find Mum wearing a pair of sheepskin gloves with Mr Lewis sitting on her lap. “Just in case!” She told me.

On the whole Mr Lewis has settled in very well, it is still early days but he is fully vaccinated and has had his microchip details updated so is now ready to  go out and explore his garden and the surrounding environs.  Look out Liskeard, Mr Lewis will soon be on the loose!

I’m not retraining as an arborist – I have entered the world of commerce, in a small way, by having some of my photographs  made in to postcards.  Being fortunate to live  in Cornwall where my working day is spent walking other peoples’ dogs across moorland and fields or along the  coast I am often inspired to  capture the stunning scenery with all it’s moods, so it stands to reason that I always carry my camera (along with poo bags and  dog treats).

Yomping over the  countryside in all winds and weather can be thirsty work, which is why I favour walks with dog friendly cafes on route.  It was after  I’d  slaked my thirst at one tea room that I approached the Proprietor with a view to selling my postcards there. I was encouraged to find him receptive to the idea  having liked the few samples I’d  brought with me. We agreed  I would return with a variety of local scenes and that they would be displayed for sale in their shop. 

So if  you find yourself in Cornwall and would like a memento of your visit and an excellent cuppa  then head for Trevallick’s Farm Shop  or Minions Tea Room and look out for my postcards!

“It’s rather like going for a walk on your own.” My clients told me apologetically as we watched their, German Pointer, Brodie roving along the shore in the distance.  “He’s obsessed with wagtails.” I could just make out that Brodie was stalking something. “I swear he thinks he’s invisible!”  We laughed. “Don’t worry,” they reassured me, “he never leaves the beach!”

We carried on along the pebbly shoreline with Morgan, my client’s other dog, another pointer,  watching his owners intently as he waited for his tennis ball to be launched into the sea.  “At least you’ll feel like you’re on a dog walk with Morgan!”

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