Monday, 14 November 2011

It's A Long And A Dusty Road.....

Charlie has suddenly become extraordinarily and demonstrably domesticated and friendly. Towards me, at least. He goes out for a few hours each day, bringing back the odd mouse for a quick nibble and bit of protein, and insists on sitting on my lap for an hour or two each day, being stroked and purring loudly. All very strange and more like an ordinary cat! Each evening he trundles ahead of Jack into the bedroom and settles at the foot of the bed. In the night he comes up to me and nuzzles me, nose bashes away, while padding and purring. After which he settles down alongside me and dozes off. He's invariably in the same position come morn, so as I say he's almost normal. Unexpectedly and certainly suddenly. Don't know what's got into him or come over him, though it's a welcome development:

Buddies together

I only hope it continues after his forthcoming visit to the local cattery, where he'll be sharing a cell/run with his old, deaf buddy, Jack. They'll be fine together and I think it best for them both to be together. We're lucky there's a Cattery/Kennels nearby and at about 14 euros a day for the pair it's not too prohibitive. I'll take them both down on Wednesday afternoon as I fly off from Almeria early on Thursday morning, Gatwick bound.

A friend in Kent has bagged a couple of tickets for a gig in Tunbridge Wells on the night I arrive: Show of Hands are one of those bands I've long known about but never seen, so I'm hoping for a pleasant evening out:

I'm also off to see an Argentinian based American player/singer/songwriter with J on Sunday. Richard Shindell is one of my favourites and I've yet to catch him live. He's a fav of Joan Baez too, who commissioned a song from him a few years back. Finally, we're all going to see an old sort of mate, (I gave up playing guitar for a while largely because of a continued failure to meet up with him back in the early 1980s - he thought it funny, and sad, when I told him, a few days before he boogered off to live in the States for many years) a great guitarist called Martin Simpson. We booked this one because our French friend, Patrick, will love his playing, I'm sure, and had never heard of him before his last visit here a few weeks ago!

Still impossible to uplaod from UTube. God knows why or why it's been changed. Just a small bit of film icon now which tells me the vid I'm inserting will be visible later - which it won't be!

Here is the useless interface now!

It does not download from Tube, whatever it might say! And with the new photo downloader I can't do more than one at a time and they all appear at top of page, so must be dragged (with difficulty) and dropped into place! Absolutely awful change. I think I'v some kind of hybrid with features from the old Blogger and some crap ones from the new style. I recommend everyone to ignore the new offering: it stinks!

Charlie's nemesis turned up yesterday afternoon as I sat plonking away here. He leapt from the street up onto the narrow window ledge. Obviously planning on a quick food fest, he was horrified to find me sitting here. The speed with wich he executed a turnaround and leapt off, especially on the narrow ledge with a substantially hazardous drop below, was impressive:

Pondering his next move, no doubt!

The little kitten, Panda/Rocky Cat in the Mask now allows me to lightly scratch his/her nape and head when eating. Today, when I fed the usual hoards, he/she was perfectly relaxed when I touched him/her. Progress, I think. I'll see what I do when I return from UK on the twenty-fourth. An old friend, originally from Scotland but now a London resident, is coming over with me for a week's holiday, so there will be lots of drinking and eating involved, I'm sure! There will also be lots of guitar playing too, though I've developed Dupuytrens Contracture in BOTH hands, so will have to eventually give up playing altogether, I think.

It's a bitter pill, after over forty years of mostly fingerpicking. I'm not very comfortable with general strumming, having not done it really since I was a beginner and having let my flat-picking skills atrophy; but it may offer me an alternative to simply quitting. I've also got my Ukulele and Banjo-Uke to consider though I think I'll persevere with those till the last possible moment. I'm planning to sell my best guitar - a rare Gibson AJ Special, number one of a limited 36 model run. The money will be handy and it will have to go anyway because of my developing disability!:

If there's anyone out there looking for a great guitar, a genuine collector's piece and, I'm sure, a good musical investment, do let me know! Sadly!!

Friday, 11 November 2011

That Ole Boy Ain't Never Coming Home.....

A perfect day here in Las Alpujarras: temps in mid to high twenties, blue sky and loads of pleasant sunshine. I wandered down to the centre of the village hoping to catch the Farmacia before it closed for the afternoon siesta; it closed early, and as I approached with Jack trailing behind, I saw the Pharmacist drive off! It means a second trip down, as I'll have to wander down later, sometime after five this evening when it reopens.

Panda/Rocky/The Cat in the Mask was on his/her own today, no sign of its buddy, the little Marmalade kitty. It was sitting out in the middle of the Calle by the Fuente wailing its head off for food, so I fed it, whereupon another three or four adults, including one of its siblings turned up to greedily have a share. Can't help but wonder where the Marmalade kitten is, though. Not a trace of it today. I do hope it's okay, safe and fed somewhere nearby.

I've been mentioning our neighbours, Maria & Juan, recently, as they usually are always here and always feed the feral cat population. Having stopped for a cafe and a beer (or two) at the local bar this morning, I asked the owner, Moises, if he knew where they were or had been. It seems that old Juan has passed on, which certainly explains things. He was a genuinely nice guy - unlike some of the neighbours around us. Always welcoming, smiling and game to try out my appalling Spanish, he was slow, patient and helpful to both J and I. when first we came here, some years ago, he'd often stop by the house and give us boxes of Cherries or whatever he was cropping at the time. We will miss him. He was a nice guy - a suitable epitaph, I think and hope.

I'm not sure quite how to tell his widow, Maria, who has been equally warm and welcoming, or son that we are saddened to learn of his death. But, no doubt, we'll get the message across somehow.

Jacquie over at suggested I try using the clapperboard thingy at top of Blogger page to download the usual UTube stuff but I no longer have that option: now got a useless Blogger own thing, a bit of film sort of icon that limits severely what can be used. Crap, I say. I will have to switch to WordPress, I think!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Old Friends.....

A quickie here. For gz really, about some stuff, stuff, stuff, (as the great late Canonball Adderley once said) bought last summer in SW France.

We were at a Vide-Grenier/Car-Booty thing in the Charente last year where I bought a load of crockery for the princely sum of five Euros: twelve dinner plates and three huge serving
plates/platters/bowls. All hand-painted and of a time. I simply loved the bright patterned look
of the stuff which comes from a pottery in Gien, somewhere to the South of Orleans, I believe:

Every time we use them, I expect Noddy Holder, T-Rex or Sweet, to pop in for a bite. They are very much, self-evidently of their time. At five Euros, not a bad deal, I'd say! Unfortunately, the pattern's not one that can still be had from the maker, otherwise I'd be tempted to add some of the missing ware to the bundle.

Our neighbour, Maria and Juan have returned. So the cats are again being fed. And possibly almost overfed, as I've kept up the daily feeding too. Impossible not to do this, having started. I'd feel too guilty if I stopped now, just when the gang are becoming used to me, clearly see me as a food machine and two of the little 'uns always now rush to greet me (and the food tin) with much wailing, optimism and hope. Maybe there's even a touch of affection: I like to think so anyway.

Charlie so far doesn't seem at all put out and has shown no interest in them. He hustles
off out and up into the Campo as usual, giving the local feral/stray population a neat sidestep.
Yesterday, as I fed the boogers, Charlie's nemesis, the wily old Ginger Tom, turned up and, keeping a safe distance, watched events with wide-eyed wonder. The last time I saw him, he was running out of our kitchen, hissing and growling angrily at me after he'd got in through an open window (left open for Charlie, of course) and scoffed most of Charlie's tucker.

Casing the Fishvan

The cats are pretty savy. Whenever the fishvan arrives, honking his horn in a two-tone sort of
way, they thunder up to the tailgate. It's clear they recognise the sound of the horn and the guy
who usually does the run is generous and often throws them the odd tidbit, probably just to
shut them up!

A typical daily offering


What the Hell''s happened to Blogger now? Can't post pix where wanted. Had to drag things all over the place after so-called 'uploading'. Is anyone else having problems? How do you overcome them and post pix as wanted in the text? Can't figure out how to sensibly move the boogers at all, at all! Vids are just as bad, if not worse; no more YTube options. Does somebody seriously believe these are improvements? God help them!

I'm coming round to the thought that if I try to catch the kitten with the mask, Rocky/Panda (take your pick - The Cat in the Mask makes a change from the old Dr Seuss books that we read to our daughter, LVP, all those years ago) I'll have to take on two kittens. They seem to be inseparable and are both keen on tucker and rush to greet me together. Don't know what J will
say about this potential feline population explosion. Or Charlie, for that matter:

Old Friends (to come)

Seems the only/best way to do this now. Maybe time to switch to Wordpress - and that's tricky enough to upload into, I fear!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Feed Me.....

Not been on here for ages it seems. Now into November and weather generally still pretty agreeable: low twenties with sunshine and blue skies for the most part. Getting nippy in the evenings, though, so we went out and bought a load of electric panel/wall heater thingies and had them fitted. Makes a difference for sure. Now all we have to do is get a load of Lena/firewood from somewhere......Mmmm. Not so many trees hereabouts so proving tricky....but not impossible!

J is back in UK on her final sortie. She won't be back out here until she retires on December 20th, and flies out from London City Airport - a most pleasant airport (for a change) and one we got to know and used often when SAS ran smallish-sized planes up to Stockholm - on December 21st.

One of our neighbours - Maria and her husband Juan - have been away for about eight or nine days. This is virtually unprecedented, we think. They have Hens and Campo/land, so don't usually stray far from home. Their son is a National Park Ranger and he went too.  Which meant that the local stray/feral cat population went largely hungry. Maria chucks out nosh for them every day. The cats were, of course, puzzled by her absence. Each day they'd gather in their usual spot alongside the Fuente/fountain and her house, whinnying loudly and inconsolably....until.....

Until I took pity on them and began feeding them too.  This was greatly appreciated. Within a few days, they'd come rushing to meet me whenever I stepped from the house and coming perilously close to tripping me up, would waltz under my feet mewing raucously until fed:

There are some really striking kittens among them: the little marmalade kitten is particularly fiesty and growls aggressively when eating and hisses at me until I offer it grub.  There's also a group of mother and kittens  that are clearly siblings of varying ages and from various litters. They are gorgeous things with a delightful and unusual creamy-white, mottled appearance with blue eyes. There are also a couple of Siamese types kept by another near neighbour and it looks like some of their genes have escaped and mingled with the feral pool at some time in the recentish past.

I have one favourite, a small thing with unusual markings that I'm thinking of capturing and domesticating. Only problem is, I don't know how Charlie might take to such a move; and he was - and remains - a difficult enough cat to domesticate in the first place, having been a Swedish feral.

Here's the little one, I'm interested in:

I call her - I think it's a queen - Rocky; J prefers to call her Panda

Many of the cats live in a nearby stable with the local Mules, so are warm, dry and relatively comfortable, as far as I can tell.  There is one guy - I call him John Wayne because of his dark clothes, hat and cigarillos - who keeps a proprietorial eye on them all too, but he doesn't seem to take ownership to the extent of feeding them responsibly. And, being Spanish,  he would certainly never think of having any of them neutered, of course.  It's a rather sad cycle of kittendom for the poor feral females here.

Yesterday, as I went to feed them, I unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on taste) trod on this huge, olive-green, winged buggy-thing. I've no idea what it was but it was big, about 3 inches long:

And to cap it all, last week I found this spider in the bedroom:

I killed this one, something I never normally do with spiders. They're far too useful and pose no threat normally. But...this one looked altogether just too much like a Black Widow from where I was.  They are around here in the campo, so I decided to play it safe rather than be sorry and possibly suffer an unpleasant bite in the night!

With Autumn colour now evident, the last of the fruits are still ripening on the trees. Persimmons, huge and brightly coloured. Not too sure what to do with 'em, but they're readily available and free, so must be worth a go:

I'm off to London and Kent for a week or so, leaving on the 17th. Our French friend, Patrick, is also flying over for a few days, so we'll all meet up again. We've managed to find a few gigs to attend in London, so I'm looking forward to some decent live music and also to meeting up with my brother who, though now retired, keeps his hand in by running the Chelsea FC TV channel so visits the Capital on a fairly regular basis.

Patrick was indeed so taken by the area here that he has taken a long-term rental of a flat in the neighbouring village of Yegen. He's coming down at the beginning of the New Year, much to our surprise, and has rented the place from Brit friends who have, ironically, boogered off to live in the Gers, in SW France!