My partner and I are keen wildlife enthusiasts…ERM…correction, ‘I’ am a keen wildlife enthusiast. My other half is one by default and can often be seen skulking around in the background whilst I avidly take photos or try to stroke anything that has fur, feathers, scales, exoskeletons, shells etc.  You get the picture.

When we are on our travels, I’m always looking for exciting Wildlife Encounters and wasn’t disappointed on our recent trip to the Isle of Mull, where the eye watering scenery, wildlife, walks and opportunities to relax are in abundance.   On every journey we take travel notes and I attempt to sketch some of the highlights.   By far the biggest highlight of our holiday this year, was getting up close and personal with puffins on a day trip organised by Turus Mara!

Animal cruelty?

Walking to the shops earlier this week, I passed a lady, perfectly coiffed, with two dachshunds in tow.  Looking rather forlorn and somewhat embarrassed, both dogs were draped in sparkly pink coats and matching collars.  Had their hair been long enough, no doubt it would have been styled accordingly.

We all do it to some degree, but should their be a cut off point beyond which our desire to anthropomorphise (sp.?) our pets becomes animal cruelty? If they could talk, I should imagine these dachshunds’ tales of woe would all hinge on their owner’s desire to dress them up like barbie dolls.  No doubt the poor mites are laughed at by the other dogs in the park on a daily basis…

Having said all that,  I couldn’t help dressing my cat up at Christmas! – he looks happy doesn’t he?!

And whilst I’m on the subject of domestic pets…how about this as a method for taking your dog for a walk? (snapped from the car as I drove past)

Silent rooms

Yesterday our big fat ginger cat left for a new home and a new life. The decision to give him away seemed sensible given that we will be starting a new chapter in our own lives too.   A move to a new city, a new job and a new flat (which doesn’t allow pets) meant we had to make a difficult choice.

Since adopting the cat three years ago, he has been the source of many different emotions: annoyance at his 20 minute conversations that consist of ‘meow, meow, meow’ even after he’s been fed and groomed to within an inch of his life; murderous when he tangles himself around your feet if you are in a hurry or carrying pans of hot food across the kitchen; disgust at his tendency to drool whilst purring and padding in contentment on your tummy or worse, when he sneezes the excess drool over your face if something tickles his nasal passages; amusement at his ‘mad’ half hour when he runs around the house batting anything that moves; delight when he loudly attempts to sneak up on a fat pigeon then visibly sighs when he inevitably fails; but most of all, he made us love him and now he’s gone, the house feels empty and the rooms are all quiet.

There’s no one to great you as you step through the front door or feline calls of ‘is anyone there, I need company?’ if we are upstairs busying ourselves in the office. I miss the half hour before bed time when he chooses to sit on my lap and keep me company with a purr like an outboard motor.  My big, fat ginger friend has gone and I miss him.  So here is a tribute to fatty – I hope they look after you in your new home and appreciate your loveable personality and odd little quirks!

One more day

Berries in Frost
One of several fantastic wire sculptures over looking
Lac Leman (Geneva)

Christmas has passed and I only have one day left in the bosom of my family. We’ve been slothfully but pleasurably inactive over the last couple of weeks. A typical day would be little more than moving from the warmth of our beds to the breakfast table, to the sofa in front of the fire with a good book, back to the table for a hearty lunch, to the sofa for games, tea and nibbles, to the dinner table for leftovers and finally cradling our paunches, to the sofa again to veg in front of a movie (regardless of quality) before retiring to bed. Phew it makes me feel lethargic just writing it.

Ok, we did sprinkle the weeks with a couple of small walks to prevent our joints from seizing up completely… oh and a bout of last minute shopping to spend some vouchers before they expired. But generally, if it wasn’t our table we were munching at or our sofa we were sprawled across, it was someone else’s.

Bro doing an impression of
Mr Napkin head (relevant to anyone who’s
watched Holiday)

Of course, January 2007 will start with a concerted effort to get back into the gym regime that was abandoned somewhere around the time I started university. L and I are aiming to make some changes to our physique in preparation for my Brother’s wedding in May. We have 5 whole months to transform so how hard can it be?? Yes, you’ve heard it all before, but surely THIS time.

I should mention that I’m also a bridesmaid at ‘The’ wedding so unless I want to be remembered as ‘the wobbly one bringing up the rear’, I have to do something!!! All the fondues, mince pies, roast dinners, cold chicken sandwiches, curries, cheeses, chocolates, bottles of wine, biscuits, crepes and ice cream have merrily clung to my waist line in the last 10 days. So hear my war cry “BE GONE OH POISONOUS PLEASURES – no longer shall you seduce my gorged mid rift!”

I was actually supposed to be jetting home yesterday but couldn’t face the return to the UK. The comfortable isolation of this village helps to rest the mind and clease the soul. Plus, L is ‘on nights’ and most of my friends are celebrating New Year with family or on hot, sunny islands. I think I made the decision to change my plans with one hour to spare and was quite relieved that it only cost 6 pounds for the privilege.

I’m glad I stayed. We saw the sun for the first time in a week today! Boy was that a welcome relief! My parents house is not far from Lake Geneva, at the base of the Jura mountains so it’s often shrouded in thick fog during the winter. The last few days have been dull and grey with cold hard frosts but there’s still no sign of snow. This is usually the weekend that most French people set off for their first ski of the season but unless they’re heading for the highest peaks, they’ll be terribly disappointed.

A good view of the mist in the valley


Hard Frost

Dad and I did make it to the piste at the invitation of my cousin and his family on holiday in Le Gets. However, the snow was so poor, only one icey, gritty slope was open. I quickly passed up the offer to snowboard for fear my coccyx would not survive.

Anyway, I’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable Christmas and feel a little guilty that L has been working her little socks off at the hospital. Not only is she ‘on nights’ for the New Year but she had her nose to the Grindstone over Christmas too – these doctors EH!