Monday, August 13, 2012

Off to Sunny Spain via Sunny France

Well, what with work, the Olympics and trying to learn the WHOLE OF SPANISH I haven't been blogging much recently.

However, I will blog some more - - - but not for nearly three weeks, probably.  For Stephen, Silverback and I are off on a summer trip abroad.  We'll be travelling down through France to Northern Spain and then back again - - so we're hoping for some sunshine after the weeks of rain that we've had in Blighty this summer.  I'm anticipating a bit of Scenery so will be taking the camera, oh yes.

Update:  A couple of blog posts ago I wrote about Wendy the Disappearing Cat.  After very nearly twenty-four hours we found her under a distant bed: she had quite a bad infection but is now a lot better (and our vet's quite a lot richer.)

I've enjoyed learning Spanish from both the excellent Michel Thomas course and the BBC Quickstart Spanish audio courses.  I can't really do JUST audio courses - I need to see things written down before they'll go into my head.  I haven't had much practice speaking except in the comfort of my own living-room, but at least I can follow written Spanish now.

I did Latin and French at school and have done some Italian since and if you throw these three languages up in the air and add a few extra words they seem to come down as Spanish.  Unfortunately I do tend to break into Italian occasionally, and probably also into an entirely new language that I've just invented.  We'll see how it goes.  But I have really enjoyed it and would love to do more.

So - - now we're off to sunny Spain and ever-delightful France too.  Back soon!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wrong About the Olympics

So.  I was wrong.

Well, that's not a thing I say very often.  Probably because, of course, I'm hardly ever wrong.  Obviously.

What I was wrong about was the Olympics.

When Britain got the gig a few years ago, the first thing that happened was that some overpaid designer came up with that terrible logo.  You know the one - it looks like a jigsaw puzzle that won't quite fit together.  Or - if you have a filthy mind, which I obviously don't -  like a copulating couple.  Anyway, it's hideous and I decided from that moment on that I didn't like these Olympics.

Then I heard about all the cuts in other areas that were happening to fund the Olympics, and all that corporate rubbish where McDonalds were a big sponsor - - - and yes, I have been known to eat the occasional McDonalds' burger - say once every six months - but I don't think that McDonalds and athletics sit happily together.

And then there was the scramble for tickets where big companies got lots and The Rest of Us didn't get any, or not many, and they were all very expensive.  Also I knew that transport in London is generally both crowded and difficult - - and I couldn't see how they could possibly cope with the extra crowds.

Then there's the thing that here in Britain we're known for a Good Effort and I thought that's how it would be in the medals table.  Well tried.  A few bronzes, maybe the occasional silver or gold.

To sum up, I thought it would be a sort of unmemorable damp squib, with lots of traffic problems.  And it would probably rain throughout, like it has done all summer.

I'd always enjoyed watching the Olympics right up to Beijing which happened when the Communist was ill and so I didn't see any of those Olympics.  I'd forgotten that I'd really enjoyed previous Olympics in the days of Olga Korbut and David Hemery and many, many others.

I did enjoy watching the progress of the Olympic Torch round the country, though - - - and then I thought well, I'll just watch the Opening Ceremony, and see what I think - -

It was fantastic.  Quirky, very British, endlessly entertaining and superbly creative.  I loved it.

Then the Games started and I've spent every spare moment watching sports that I like - such as swimming - and events I've never heard of before - such as the keirin in the cycling - and bizarre sports like rhythmic gymnastics and handball, and some sports that I swear were drawn up on the back of an envelope by someone under the influence of alcohol.

Team GB has done brilliantly and achieved many well-deserved medals and left me - as many others - wondering why we hear hardly anything of these amazingly skilled people, when our media is full of dreary reality television stars who are skilled at  - - well, only at self-promotion.

Of course, the athletes from my home county of Yorkshire have done particularly well and I've enjoyed seeing various tables suggesting that if Yorkshire were a country it would be seventh or eighth in the medals table!

It's been a fantastic fortnight.  I've loved it, and everyone I speak to - even those who don't like sport in general -  seems to share my feelings.

Congratulations to Team GB and to everyone involved.  It's been wonderful.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat

Wendy the cat is suffering from a type of dermatitis which makes her skin all itchy, with the result that she licks it, especially on her legs, and pulls all the fur of and it all gets inflamed.

Just before we went to Tenby, at the end of June, she disappeared for three days, outside, and just when I was sure she was dead, there she was, yelling indignantly outside our bedroom window and I let her in, very relieved to see her.

She's always had the ability to disappear.  I think she shape-shifts, becomes completely flat and slithers under doors.

We took her to the vet and explained that we were going on holiday and that she was going into the cattery whilst we were away.  It's a good cattery, and the vet thought that might be a good thing as it would give her skin time to recover.

So he gave her a steroid injection, and we kept her indoors for a week, and she got markedly better, and off we went to Tenby.

When we got back and collected her, she seemed fine but has refused to leave the house ever since.  Clearly something out there has traumatised her.  Perhaps another cat - - perhaps one of the local foxes - - or the vet suggested she might have got herself shut in somewhere.  That's quite likely, as she has always been keen to climb into any open car.  It's a shame that she's become scared like this, though, as she was such a bold, brave cat before.

Then her skin started getting bad again so we booked a vet's appointment for yesterday.

With typical cat instinct - she HATES the vet's - she disappeared all day.  I knew she was in the house, but simply couldn't find her.  Finally she emerged at about four o'clock for something to eat - - and I never did see where she'd come from.

Our house is quite large and there are lots of nooks and crannies - - but I thought I'd searched them all!

We took her to the vet who explained that one reason she might have been hiding was that she had a high temperature - - it looks as though her skin's become infected.  He gave her an injection of antibiotics and suggested we should bring her back on Friday, with a view to giving her a steroid injection for her skin then, if she was well enough.

She didn't seem too ill - - we brought her home and she ate a large meal - - and then she disappeared.  There simply was no way she could get out of the house - - and yet I can't find her.  That was nearly twenty-four hours ago.

I have checked cupboards, the cellar - though the door to it was firmly shut - all the nooks and crannies of the house - - but I haven't found her.  Of course now I'm worried that she has simply curled up, gone to sleep and died - - and yet she didn't seem particularly ill.  So it's a mystery.  I've done lots of different jobs today, but I can't really think of anything else.

Perhaps she overheard us booking her another vet's appointment for tomorrow.

Wendy, if you're reading this - - please come back!