A tough week – taking photos was not on top of my priority list. So this was what I did take.
The sun going down over the water meadows, a rainbow (a little bit of hope perhaps?), Mill Lane sign surrounded by elder still in bloom, Holly hiding, seasoned logs, blowing bubbles, Jemima off hunting.
I am behind, but life is currently a long way off simple; week 17, however, was good.
Small, but beautifully formed, Victoria Park in Salisbury; happy Kiwi; beautiful Wiltshire countryside; grand opening of the fabulous Andover Lawn Tennis Club; the Tribe walking to the tennis club (bliss!); GCSE art of the Eldest by her amazingly, fabulous and loyal friend.
The beginning of the Easter holidays and glorious sunshine.
Good Friday breakfast (at the end of the week), some Bobbi Brown therapy for the Eldest, ducks in the garden (yup, I’m obsessed!), GD practicising for the Weston Park Blades netball camp, cycling the Test Way, spring flowers outside Beccy’s Greengrocers in Stockbridge, Hiro at home.
So I’m a week behind, but hey, at least I’m just about managing a post a week … This was the week with the Eldest at home almost all week and a lot of doctors and specialists visits; still not very simple.
The Boy leading the fleet at Spinnaker Club, one of our neighbours in the water meadows, the watercress beds on a glorious clear morning, the Littlest very early on Monday morning, her face having been drawn all over by some night visiting pixie!, the return of the mallards to our garden – it must be Spring, the Eldest looking more like herself, one of the cats half heartedly stalking the ducks. I think Spring has definately sprung!
With 3/4 of the Tribe on half term and one still at school, life is a little more hectic than usual as I try and provide entertainment for 3 while attempting calm and routine for the Littlest. While I have a quiet two seconds here are the photos from last week’s daily life.
Early morning on Duck Street, homemade pizza made by the Littlest, Abbotts Ann watermeadows, the Littlest at Longstock, Star of Bombay gin (it must be the weekend), Hiro gets stuck on top of the kitchen cabinets, Pilhill Brook.
The first week of February brought a return to rain, grey and mud; half of last week’s daily photos were subsequently taken inside. A week of reading (brilliant book – very topical), writing (lots of coffee required), GD arriving home post netball match, tired and cold, snuggling on the sofa with cats, snowdrops opening, popcorn to go with a family movie night, a winter sunset walk up Bury Hill. Happy February 😊.
We’re away for much of August but towards the end of the holiday, we’re contacted by the friend who is looking after the Tribe’s cats. When she went to feed them in the morning she found one of them in the house, lying in a pool of blood. Pretty horrible for her and I’m so grateful to her and her husband for sorting everything out while we were away. The foaming around Max’s mouth together with the fact that he was safe in the house leads us to believe that he was poisoned. Rat poison we guess. I know that Max was only a pet, but he really played a big part in our family life. So this post is dedicated to Max, our much loved short haired moggy.
Max belonged to our son. We bought three kittens for the Tribe as a Christmas present in 2009. The evening we drove to pick them up it started snowing heavily. So much so, that Father of the Tribe put shovels and ropes in the back of the car – a true Kiwi! – and I wrapped the Tribe in blankets as they were bundled into the car in their pyjamas with no idea of where we were taking them. Arriving at the house where the kittens were, the landscape was totally white – the snow was definitely settling. Pretty exciting especially when you’re 4, 6 and 7! As we went through the door the penny dropped and the Tribe were besides themselves with excitement as they realised that they were there to choose their own kitten.
Our Boy was so thrilled at having a little boy kitten all of his own. He picked this little bundle of black with white socks and an upside down white V on his nose, cuddled him and announced to everyone, “This is Max”. No discussion of names, he just knew that’s what the kitten was going to be called. The kittens travelled home in a cardboard box in the back of the car and as we had three, there was never any trauma or upset; they cuddled up together and slept with one of them purring ridiculously loudly. And that was it; our family of 5 had expanded to 8 with our feline additions.
The kittens were always up to mischief – that’s their job, they’re kittens! But Max or ‘Mad Max’ as he became known, caused me a few grey hairs before any of the Tribe did. One day I was hoovering on the balcony, not long after the kittens had joined our family, Max, terrified, backed away, and to my utter horror, backed straight through the spindles of the balcony and into oblivion. I felt as though I was watching in slow motion and was frozen to the spot, “How on earth was I going to explain this to my son??”. When I finally did look over the balcony expecting to see a tiny, lifeless, broken body, there was nothing. Max had disappeared. Running downstairs, I found little Max, completely unperturbed, but more than happy to be picked up and made a fuss of. I guess that was one of his nine lives used up.o
The following Christmas we became 9 with the arrival of the Littlest and all three of the now year old cats, just assumed that she was one of them and spent hours sleeping in the Moses basket with her. That Christmas, Max, together with his two siblings, found it fabulous fun to climb the 12′ Christmas tree in our hallway. Carrying a 3 week old baby, I found a tree surrounded by a pool of water leaning at a precarious 45 degree angle held up only by the cable of the fairy lights that were still merrily flashing. The cats looked at me as if to say, “Nothing to do with me.”. Hmmmm.
On learning that we were to move to the Middle East there was never any question that the cats would come with us. When we picked them up in the scorching summer heat and brought them to our new home in Jumeirah, I realised it had been absolutely the right decision, despite the time, effort and money involved. Knowing no one in the region and without any help, we were very much on our own.
With the cats, we knew that we were all together and everything would be just right. The cats didn’t venture very far, cats don’t; but despite the fact that we lived close to a busy road, they were pretty streetwise. Even with the stray cats that roamed the streets, our cats would ‘protect’ their patch taking their positions on the high wall either side of the gate to the compound. A few times a stray would try and get into our garden, but this is when ‘Mad Max’ would live up to his name and chase the intruder over the whitewashed walls.
When we first returned to Abbotts Ann I found myself alone in the kitchen one night; Father of the Tribe was still living in Qatar and the Tribe all safely asleep upstairs. Suddenly I could hear a tap, tap, tapping. It kept going and I began to feel a little nervous – where the heck was it coming from? And then I saw him. Mac’s face with its upside down white V nose just outside the window and his paw going up and down tapping on the window. Brilliant! And that was how he always let us know that he wanted to come in.
I miss that tapping. I miss the fact that there are only two cats following the Tribe across the fields. The other two cats miss him; Father of the Tribe misses him much more than he ever thought he would; and the Tribe miss him, especially our son. Max, with the softest silky fur, will never again be the heavy weight sleeping at the end of his bed.
We scattered Max’s ashes over the fields where he used to play and chase and under the trees where he used to sleep in the sunshine. He was much loved and he will be much missed.
At the end of last summer (it was the day of our family’s Icebucket Challenge and quite glorious), the Boy discovered a huge, rather terrifying looking caterpillar. We found out that it was the caterpillar of the Elephant Hawk Moth. I guess that the name gives away its size.
As we had an empty ‘box’ (after I failed to keep a couple of tiny African land snails alive), the Tribe decided to keep it and see if they could ‘raise’ the moth that the caterpillar would become. The ‘box’ was duly filled with some soil, stones and leaves and within days the caterpillar had dug into the soil and buried itself. This was the beginning of its metamorphisis back in September. Since then the box has lived primarily on top of the recycling bins in the conservatory, occasionally moved to the floor when bins are emptied and sometimes brought into the laundry room when the temperature’s plumetted over the winter. And of course we all lost interest – nothing was happening.
Iwas pretty convinced that nothing would happen as it was so dry in the box and I thought that I would probably be cleaning out another dead occupant. But there was always a tiny part of me that hoped that something would happen. So I kept checking the box. Noticing a pile of earth on top of the bins one morning, I moved the box to clear it up and there it was, in all its striking splendour – a brand new Elephant Hawk Moth!
Fortunately I am not alone in my immense excitement at the moth’s arrival – all the Tribe have been thrilled (and amazed at its survival!). The Litllest has taken the box into Nursery to show her teachers and friends and she will probably know more about Elephant Hawk Moths than most adults.
We kept the moth in the box for a few days with fresh grasses and flowers, until there was a dry evening for us to release it outside. Our feline friends however, had other ideas. Coming down into the kitchen one night, I found three completely over excited cats running around with an upturned box on the floor. I can only surmise that the moth started fluttering in the darkness and the cats jumped on the box in an attempt to ‘play’ with the moth. We never found any sign of the moth again – hopefully it flew away somewhere. Unfortunately I have a horrible feeling that it ended up as a late night snack for one of the cats. I hope that we have more success with our butterflies.