New beginnings

Here we are in 2018, and so we have turned our attention to home alterations.  Well actually not alterations, more bulldozing down half of the house and building it back up again.  It seems such a minefield. Aided by Saturday Telegraph articles, architects’ quotations, and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, I am beginning to understand the magnitude of the operation. Where are we going to put everything whilst the work is ongoing? But for the fact that Heather and I are soppy animal lovers, the two of us would be moving into the Hedgefield Hotel for the duration of the work.  However, we will not have our three cats placed into a cattery, and so we’ve found a firm who specialise in caravan rental for people undergoing building projects.  It’s going on the drive and we’ll be offsetting some of the expense by launching into the fortune-telling business.


I say three cats. This time a fortnight ago we had four, but on the Thursday afternoon I took eighteen-year-old Molly to Jim Mclellan, for what I thought was a simple eye infection.  Not to be unfortunately, her eye would have had to have been removed.  Of course, had she been eight, this is what would have happened, but at eighteen, no.  I had her put to sleep, and for the first time in 50 years of animal ownership I elected not to have her ashes returned to me at the cost of a hundred quid.  You can do everything for live animals, there is nothing you can do for dead ones.  If you do have an animal put to sleep, please let the vet dispose of the remains and instead give a donation to an animal charity, any animal charity – but New Beginnings Cats Rehoming is a good one.  This piece reads as being light-hearted. In fact, Heather and I are utterly devastated at the loss of our girl, or “tart” as she was affectionately called.  They live shorter lives than us, and you can only do the best you can. I can’t praise the veterinary practice highly enough for the common sense and love they showed towards Molly, and the compassion they had for me.


Cat life goes on.  One of our remaining three is clearly as upset as we are, and is in need of boundless reassurance and cuddles.  The other two couldn’t care less. 

We’ve got a new car, another Hyundai, but a much bigger one than the striped arrangement we had before.  I’m not keen on cars, which makes me sound like some sock/sandal person with homemade earrings who is fond of listening to poetry readings in damp church basements.  I’m not that at all.  I am very much in favour of cars when they get me from A to B, and ashamedly, I’ve never fretted about the effect upon the environment or the size of my carbon footprint. It’s just that I find motor vehicles quite boring. Now that I’m retired and we live on a more convenient bus route, we only need one car, so we got shot of two little ones and acquired one big one.  I knew what I wanted. Another Hyundai.  We booked a test drive with Evans Hallshaw in Scotswood. They emailed to confirm.  Then they rang me to confirm.  Rang again to confirm.  All confirmed.  Heather and I turned up at the appointed time on a November morning.  There was ten minutes of rummaging through drawers and sorting through hooks attached to a wall panel near the door.

“Can’t you find the keys?” I enquired.

They did find the keys, but had worryingly mislaid the entire car. We departed to Motorpoint in Birtley, where we eventually made a purchase. Heather has called it Keith after our mechanic. I’ve so far resisted closing the door with my foot (I get into a lot of trouble for this) but only because we have dashcam/rearcam  and Heather reviews the footage every evening.  

A lady called Margaret Cutty who lives in Coxhoe, Co. Durham,  picked up on my blog after I wrote about the singer Clare Teal a few years ago.  We had both been to the same performance when Clare performed at the Durham Gala Theatre. Since then, Margaret has been a very supportive follower of this website and we became friends on Facebook.  We’ve never met however, not until yesterday when Keith and I made the trip down to Coxhoe to meet Margaret and one of her daughters, Joanne.  Keith sat outside obviously. It was lovely to talk to Margaret and Joanne, and I came away with the feeling that Facebook, which has had a justifiably bad press recently, can be a wonderful thing – when it’s used properly. I’m just sorry that I left my trip to Coxhoe for so long.   I had a lovely afternoon Margaret – thank you.