Currently we spend a lot of time on the French waterways, but on our travels through South Africa, Singapore, Australia, France, Germany, Spain and the UK over the years, we’ve seldom been without a camera.  The following photographs with accompanying information serve as a memento for us, and we hope you enjoy sharing them with us.  Should you wish to reblog or use any of the photographs, please let me know first.  Thank you!  And if you’re interested in reading some of my published work or cruising reports, you can find them at my other site http://www.castelsarrasin.wordpress.com


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Cat Lady

I’ve missed my morning walks over the past few months, since I developed a problem with my foot.  We live in a fairly well populated residential area that has lots of parklands, greens, play areas … and cats.  During the time when I was walking regularly I got to know quite a lot of the local cats (I think it’s fair to say we have more than our fair share of felines in the neighbourhood), and I’d know which ones were up for a stroke, which ones would welcome me in the hope that I might have a key to their house to let them in, and which ones would scurry off into the bushes.  This first one has the most beautiful markings I have ever seen.  And blue eyes…

IMG_1114Our local animal rescue centre at Wood Green, near Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire, tells me that black cats are the hardest to rehome.  This was one of the lucky ones:


They do say that ginger-haired people have fiery tempers.  This cat certainly didn’t look at all pleased to be captured on camera.  It’s a little blurry, I think I took it right at the moment of flight back into his own garden.


The first cat we ever had, in fact it was already in residence before I was born, was a tabby called Domby, named after a Dickensian character.  This tabby knows how to strike a pose:

DSCF3373I read recently that if you construct a circle on the floor, from anything – rope, hose, plastic etc, a cat will feel the need to sit in the centre of it.  I suppose a manhole cover suffices just as well.

IMG_0963Which one is your favourite?




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Daffodils with a Difference

I’ve always loved daffodils.  I’m not sure where I bought these from, or even what particular type they are, but these are always the last of my daffodils to flower each spring, and their blooms tend to last longer than the more common bright yellow ones.   If anyone recognises any of the strains, I’d be pleased if you’d let me know.

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Just a cat…

DSCF2366-001She was just a cat, and maybe not even have been a queen, but for the sake of brevity I’ll call this cat a ‘she’.  In any case, I’m not sure a tom would keep himself quite this clean, even if he were semi-feral as this one is.

I came across her every morning. and most evenings. as we went on our walks around the Spanish port of Moraira, and she soon became used to my intrusive lens and would tolerate rather than welcome me as I stopped to admire her.  In turn, the restaurant owners tolerated her presence, turning a blind eye as she dozed gently in the sunshine on their windowsill.   Sometimes she would crouch by the doorway to the kitchens , but she knew the rules and stuck to them, as if she knew she might lose her prime sun-lounger position if she stepped across the threshold.

During the mid afternoon, when locals and holidaymakers alike lazed in gentle winter sunshine at the tables, finishing meals, enjoying brandy and coffee, the cat was in her element.  She’d stalk gracefully from table to table, sitting daintily but not too intrusively beside the clients, waiting for titbits.   Not for her the beseeching or belligerent ‘miaow’ – her vocal chords must have been ruined by years of caterwauling – she simply fixed the diners with a steady impenetrable gaze until at last they succumbed.

On the odd occasion that she’d permit my tentative stroking, she would utter this cracked little sound that seemed almost torn from her throat, and if I approached I had to do it carefully so as not to startle her, for she was pitiably deaf.  She’d seen her best years, and what years they must have been, judging from her scars and missing ear-tip.  Now all she wanted now was a gentle, warm, leisurely retirement.

One day, in an uncharacteristic display of vitality, I saw her leap from the windowsill as we approached,  before scampering off in the opposite direction towards a young spanish woman who was approaching the restaurant, carrying a rucksack.  The cat rubbed against the girl’s legs affectionately, almost tripping her up until she stopped and crouched down by a palm tree.  Opening her rucksack, she pulled out a water bottle, and several plastic containers.  This was not the casual throw-away meal that only the luckiest of feral cats might get their teeth into.  This was a full restaurant service, as befitted a cat of her standing.  Dishes, littered with remnants of a previous meal were carefully wiped out with a damp cloth before they were replenished with dried food, a pile of titbits and fresh water.   It was good to see someone looking out for her.

We saw her almost every day for three months, and when I took my last photograph of her the day before we returned to England, I hoped that she might still be there when we return next year… still lazing, still surviving.


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Floral Friday, December 2013

Late summer blooms in central France. 

For other Floral Friday offerings, click the link.

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Sunday Stills: Bird Houses

The Canal Lateral a la Garonne winds through picturesque countryside and one of the villages along the way inspired the name of my other blog – Castelsarrasin.  In this village the canal widens out into a basin, where the locals have thoughtfully provided a floating home in the centre.  From time to time it serves as a maternity unit for the ducks/geese that populate the canal, other times it’s just a convenient point for sunbathing.

The French look after their ducks; besides floating homes like these they provide little walkways rising out of the canal onto the bank so that baby ducklings can easily climb out of the water.  They love to bring yesterday’s bread to the water’s edge to create a feeding frenzy first thing in the morning.  And then, when the ducklings are a litte older and carrying a bit more flesh on their bones… they smother them in orange sauce and eat them.  😦

To catch other takes on the Sunday Stills Bird Houses prompt, click the link.

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A Dog Around the House

What a lovely day I’ve had!

It’s several years since our two Border Collies died, after a long life that involved travelling with us from South Africa to Germany, on to England and then to their final home with us in Spain.   I’ve occasionally fostered from a local animal rescue centre since then, but they usually look for longer commitments than we can give, with our travelling schedule.  So when one of Neville’s colleagues at Nene Valley Railway was looking for part time care for his young dog, Peggy whilst he too does voluntary work at the workshop, I was more than happy to oblige.

DSCN4865This is Peggy, a Cocker Poo, about eight months old, and a sweet-natured little thing she is too.  This so-called ‘designer’ breed is, as the name suggests, a mix of Cocker Spaniel and Poodle, and is supposedly anti-allergenic, with low dander and very little shedding.  I’m a controlled asthmatic, so I was interested to see whether this breed provoked a similar reaction as some others we’ve fostered.

We’d met her last Friday when we had a brief ‘getting to know you’ session, and today was her first full day with me.  She’s a confident little dog, not a bit fazed to be see her owner leave, anxious only to start a ball game in the garden.  (She’d already sniffed out every corner of the house on her introductory visit last week.) DSCN4870

After a few games of ‘fetch’ in the garden, I came indoors to put the final touches to a cake I was making, and all the while she sat happily beside me, waiting for crumbs to drop, until she saw the black china cat sitting on the kitchen windowsill when all hell let loose.  I had to put the ornament on the floor for detailed investigation before she was satisfied it was harmless.

In the middle of another ball game after lunch she suddenly became very excited, digging, yelping, sniffing and tugging at the base of the ivy that covers the wall at the end of the garden.  I suspected that perhaps a field mouse was behind the root-stock.  DSCN4873And then I realised that what I thought was root-stock was, in fact, a sleepy hedgehog.

No wonder Peggy was yelping!

I hauled her indoors – no mean feat as once she’s fixated on something there’s no reaching her.  And as a precaution, I bathed her nose in cold water in case there’d been any contact with the hedgehog’s spikes.

Peggy whined and jumped about in the sitting room, gazing longingly out through the patio doors, until in the end I took her outside again and rigged up a lead DSCN4876extension with one of our dog’s old leads attached to the washing line at one end, and to her lead at the other.  This allowed her to run up and down the garden, but kept her out of range of the hedgehog.

Later, her attention became focussed on a spot several yards away from the ivy, and I realised the hedgehog had vacated his original location and was rustling his way down the perimeter fencing.  I placed the grass-box from the lawnmower close to him, hoping that perhaps he’d relocate there, thus making it easier to move him out of the garden to a safer environment.  But I wasn’t hopeful, and the hedgehog seemed content to crawl behind it to hide.


By the time Peggy’s owner came to take her home she was thoroughly worn out by her day, and her eyelids were drooping.  My guess is she’ll sleep like a log tonight.  I know I will, after three walks and half a dozen ‘fetch’ sessions.

And luckily, there’s a happy ending.  When my husband came home late afternoon, the hedgehog was already asleep again, safely tucked inside the grass-box, and we were able to easily release him to the thick shrubbery on the green beside our house.

DSCN4879I love it when a plan comes together!

But I expect Peggy will give that ivy a thorough inspection when she comes next week.  I suspect she’s a dog with a long memory.

I was encouraged that  I didn’t have any immediate allergic reaction to her, though with some dogs it can take a few days before I’m affected.  And as it was a lovely mild autumn day we were able to spend most of our time outdoors which helped too so we’ll have to wait and see how it goes.

So all in all, it was a pleasure and a delight to have a dog around the house once again.

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Ese’s Weekly Shoot and Quote Challenge – Scent

The splendour of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent, nor the daisy of its simple charm.  If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.  – St Therese of Lisieux

You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.Walter Hagen

Participate at Ese’s Weekly Shoot and Quote Challenge – Scent.

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Sunday Stills: Birds

Ducks, doves and a weird-looking pigeon.  Check out Sunday Stills for more inspiration.

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Mellow Fruitfulness…

Such a beautiful autumn morning!  For several months now, a foot problem has restricted my walking activity to a strictly ‘need to go’ basis, but the last few mornings I’ve ventured out again into the quiet streets of our local neighbourhood.  Today is an unseasonably mild September day, so much so that windows have misted up on the outside, and everywhere is drenched in the heaviest dew I’ve seen in a long time.  Flowers are long past their best but the leaves have yet to turn and fall.  One of those moments you just have to capture as best you can …

Rest your eyes well before September because with all its colours autumn is coming to visit them!”
Mehmet Murat ildan

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Ese’s Weekly Shoot and Quote Challenge – ‘Beginnings’

DSCN2053To me, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being – Mahatma Gandhi.


Or if you prefer a more prosaic outlook:

And there shall come a kingdom in which the lion shall lie down with the lamb.  Unfortunately for the lamb, it shall be inside the lion…  – Greg Curtis  😦

Welcome to Ese’s Weekly Shoot and Quote Challenge.  This week’s prompt was ‘Beginnings’.  Why not take a look over there?

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