While I’ve recently spent the best part of two weeks suffering from the debilitating effects of Aussie flu I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and though I’ve got a couple of recently purchased books waiting for attention I didn’t really feel in the mood for either of them so I decided to re-read one which I knew would cheer me up. Enough To Make A Cat Laugh by Deric Longden is a humourous and true-life look at the ordinary and sometimes extra-ordinary goings-on in the life of the author, his almost-blind wife, and a houseful of cats; it’s actually the fifth book in a series of seven but can easily be read without reading the preceding four first.
I bought the book back in 2009 from a stall at a car boot sale; it was the picture on the front cover which initially attracted me and when I read the synopsis on the back cover I just knew it was the sort of book I would enjoy. The author has a genius for taking the most ordinary and mundane events and transforming them into laugh-out-loud accounts of various aspects of his life, in fact I’d challenge anyone to read without laughing his account of feeding the neighbour’s cat. I first read that part while in the waiting room at the hospital’s eye clinic not long after I bought the book, and I found it so funny that I had to disappear into the nearby loo so I could laugh without everyone else thinking there was something seriously wrong with me.
This is now the third time I’ve re-read the book and I still find it funny – just the thing to cheer me up and relieve the boredom of being unwell and off work. I remember I only paid 50p for it when I got it, the best 50p I’ve ever spent, and I enjoyed it so much the first time that I went on to buy (mostly new) the other six books which I’m now re-reading in chronological order. So if anyone wants a bit of light reading with plenty of giggles along the way then get a copy of this, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Yesterday I went to the festive open day at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary; I would normally take my friends Lin and Dee but Lin was full of a cold so didn’t want to go out and Dee was working so I went on my own – and to be honest I don’t know why I bothered as the afternoon turned out to be quite a disappointment in more ways than one.
In previous years the whole place has had a real Christmassy feel to it – coloured lights decorating the buildings, Santa’s grotto, some of the staff dressed as elves, a stall selling mulled wine and mince pies, a reindeer parade with proper reindeer, and lots of other festive things – but this time it’s been completely changed. Next Sunday will be a special Santa’s Workshop day aimed more at kids, with the reindeer and other festive attractions then, so yesterday was more like a normal open day – in fact if it hadn’t been for the Christmas songs being played through the sound system I wouldn’t have known that yesterday had anything to do with Christmas.
Of course the recent bout of bad weather hasn’t helped – it’s rained on and off here every day for a week, periods of sunshine have been few and far between and on Saturday the surrounding hills and moors got a covering of snow. It was raining again yesterday though it had cleared up by late morning and the sun came out, but obviously not soon enough for the sanctuary. Most of the stalls and attractions which would normally have been outside were completely non existent, and with nowhere near as many visitors as there would usually be the whole place seemed to have rather a flat atmosphere about it – even the donkeys looked miserable.
Once I’d looked round the stalls in the barn I did my usual rounds of the kennels and the cattery where I spent some time with the oldies, then with nothing much else to see I made my way back to the van and came home. It’s a shame that the current weather had literally put a dampener on the day so I hope next weekend’s event is more successful – and I hope too that next year they revert to having the sort of festive open day they’ve always had as even disregarding the weather this one was really disappointing.
Following on from this post which I wrote back in April, this story has just been in my local paper
Swan put down by RSPCA after suffering severe injuries on canal
A swan which survived an attack on a local canal several months ago has had to be put down after it suffered severe injuries in another incident.
In April this year a male swan was shot and killed by a gang of youths on the stretch of Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal in Little Lever, and its partner has now died. The cause of the female swan’s injuries has not yet been discovered but the RSPCA said the bird had not been shot.
The charity went to the canalside to try to catch the bird after a member of the public called to say it had been seen with injuries above its beak. RSPCA animal collection officer, Gina Ratcliff, said: “I was very lucky to catch her at all, someone else had been out the night before, but had no success. She was very wary of me and the water was quite deep where she was so I knew I only had one chance from dry land. I lay down on the canal bank and luckily managed to get hold of her with a swan hook.”
“We don’t know what caused the injuries she had sustained, but they were severe. She was taken to our specialist wildlife centre RSPCA Stapeley Grange in Cheshire but very sadly there was nothing that could be done for her and she had to be put to sleep. It’s always upsetting when things go this way, but more so here because of what previously happened to her mate.”
Patrols along the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal have been stepped up in response to a rise in illegal incidents affecting the bird population in recent months. Anyone with information about what caused the swan’s injuries should call the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.
With no mention of any cygnets I can only assume that any eggs she had at the time her mate was killed didn’t hatch; there’s currently no evidence to suggest that she was targeted by the same youths who killed her mate, but however she came by her injuries the fact remains that a whole family has now been wiped out – and that’s just so, so sad.
No doubt many people will be familiar with the Disney film Homeward Bound, in which two dogs and a cat trek across America to find their family; well this story is in my local paper today and though the journey is nothing like crossing America it’s still impressive for a little dog so I thought I’d share it.
Lost dog Patch’s incredible eight-mile expedition to find his mother
PATCH the Jack Russell has an extraordinary ‘tail’ to tell after he went missing and turned up eight miles away at his mum’s front door.
The little five-year-old was out walking in Hall i’th’ Wood on Sunday evening when he got lost in the woodland. His family desperately searched for him to no avail . . . but the next morning he was found sitting on the doorstep of his mum Bess’s home in Westhoughton.
Patch has lived with Lisa and John Hilton and their children Annabel, aged 15, Oscar, aged 12, and Millie, aged nine, since he was a puppy while Bess, aged 12, lives with Lisa’s father, Edward Horrocks, aged 90. The family, who live in Crompton Way, were shocked and delighted to discover he was safe and sound, but are completely amazed by the unusual journey.
Mrs Hilton, aged 47, said: “It has been a traumatic experience, but we are so glad it’s a happy ending to the story. We have always gone to my dad’s house in a car. Sometimes the windows are open and maybe that’s what led him there. I said to the kids, ‘when you are vulnerable who do you want? It’s your mum’.
“That little dog of ours, we can’t believe he made it all that way and what he might have gone through when you think about all the roads and roundabouts he would have had to cross without getting run over. We don’t know how many miles he ran – he’s absolutely exhausted now but he’s our little hero!”
Patch — who is microchipped — was walking in the woods off-lead with Mr Hilton, aged 53, when he disappeared at around 4pm. Panicked, the family gathered around to hunt for him, handing out numbers to passing dog walkers and posting Patch’s picture on Facebook. Meanwhile it’s believed the dog made his way to Crompton Way and started his journey west.
It is not known exactly what route Patch took, but his family believe he could have travelled along part of MossBank Way and through Johnson Fold before arriving at Landedmans in Westhoughton some time between midnight and 6am, when a neighbour spotted him sitting obediently outside Mr Horrocks’s front door.
That morning, after a sleepless night of worry, Mrs Hilton received a call from her dad. She said: “He asked if I was sitting down and I thought the worst, then he said ‘You’ll never guess who’s sitting next to me!’
“It went from tears to thinking what a clever dog we have got. He wasn’t hurt, just a little shocked and tired. We are thrilled he’s back home now though and just hope he doesn’t do it again!”
I know the place names won’t mean anything to anyone else but the Hall i’th’ Wood area isn’t far from where I live and I’m familiar with where little Patch ended up – I know it’s quite a trek from one place to the other so it beats me how on earth he managed to find his way. An in-built homing instinct maybe? A desire to find his mum driving him on? Who knows, but whatever it was it just shows that dogs aren’t as ‘dumb’ as many people think they are.
Today I took my friend Lin and her daughter Dee to the autumn open day at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary about ten miles from home. It’s a place we visit regularly and it’s open daily from 10am to 4pm, with the special open days being held four times a year. As well as the normal gift shop and book shop they have stalls in the courtyard and one of the barns, a bouncy castle and other attractions, and in dry weather they have fun dog agility classes which anyone can join in for free. These events are always well attended and they make a good couple of hours out. The place seems to be very well named though as it’s close to the moors and in winter it really is bleak, although it’s lovely there in summer.
Although the morning had been cloudy and grey it did brighten up at lunch time and the sun came out, but unfortunately it was very brief and it soon clouded over again. While I was in the cat block, sitting in with the oldies, it started raining and when I came out it was pouring down, so I found my friends and we took shelter in the cafe where we had a meal and a brew so none of us had to cook anything when we got home. We were in there for quite a while but it was still raining when we came out so we just had one more look round the stalls in the barn then called it a day and set off for home. It was such a shame that it started raining as it literally put a dampener on the afternoon for everyone, but it won’t be long before the pre-Christmas open day which is always a really good event, so hopefully the weather will be kind and the sanctuary will have lots more visitors then.
As I was coming home from work this morning I was overtaken by this vehicle; there was nothing remarkable about the vehicle itself but what did attract my attention were the two big dogs in the back. They both had harnesses on and were obviously fastened in somehow, but it struck me that transporting dogs in this way is a pretty stupid thing to do. I dread to think what would happen if the vehicle were to be involved in an accident – if it was, those dogs wouldn’t have much of a chance, they would either be seriously injured or even killed.
I don’t know who the driver was or where he was going, but I very much suspect that he often transports his dogs like that. Convenience, unthinking ignorance or just plain stupidity? I don’t know, but for the dogs’ sake I just hope he never is involved in any kind of accident – the possible outcome really doesn’t bear thinking about.
While cleaning in the kitchen at work this morning I moved the large kitchen bin to mop the floor underneath and saw what I thought was a small bit of paper down in the corner. I was just about to bend down and pick it up when it moved – it wasn’t a bit of paper at all, it was a tiny baby frog not much more than in inch long and so pale that it almost blended in with its surroundings. How it managed to get there is a mystery as the kitchen is quite a distance from the works entrance and it was so small it could easily have been trodden on by someone’s big work boot. I couldn’t leave it where it was though so I caught it and took it outside.
The works building is surrounded on three sides by woodland and on the right there’s a bank sloping down to a stream, so I thought that would be an ideal place to release my little friend. Walking halfway down the bank I placed him gently on the ground near the base of a tree then waited and watched – sod work, I wanted to make sure he was safe. He stayed still for a minute then with a couple of hops he was gone, disappearing under some damp leaves a few feet from the tree. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of him as I didn’t have my camera with me, which was a shame as he really was the sweetest little thing – fingers crossed he stays safe, finds some friends and lives a long and happy life somewhere in the woodland.