Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Feline Progress

Here's a couple of gratuitous cat pictures for you.

Sunshine Cat is settling in very nicely. She is so sweet. She loves nothing more than to sit on you and purr. She sleeps with us at night, too. Smokey only sleeps with us in the cooler months and he has vacated that position for the summer, so we don't have any conflicts there at the moment.

I think she has been very well house trained. She doesn't jump onto tables or chairs or kitchen counters, but she will jump onto the bed or your lap. She has done her business only in her tray, which is nice.

Sunshine is not very happy with me this afternoon though; she is skulking away and hiding. I put some anti-flea juice on her this morning, the kind you put on the back of their necks. She's got very quiet and dozy this afternoon. It has the same effect on Smokey; I think it just knocks the wind out of their sails for a little while. Hopefully she'll be back to normal by the morning.

This was taken yesterday when she was out exploring. We have a very wide open plan front room, of which she seems to be enjoying the discovery. I think Smokey has smelt her on his cat tree though...

To even the score, here's Smokey, sitting outside this afternoon. He knows something is Up. He keeps detouring via the bedroom door when he comes into the house, to see if he can spot anything going on.

So far, we have had the door open a crack to let them see each other, while giving them treats. There has been some growling and hissing, but slowly does it and we're getting there. Hopefully they will be integrated soon...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sleeping spots

So, you get a new cat...

And you buy her a nice new bed...

And then you find her in your sock basket.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Introducing... Sunshine Cat!

Yesterday afternoon, we inherited a Cat! She is named Sunshine, which we will keep. Sunshine is a pretty name and a pretty cat :-)

She came to us via a friend of Alan's - Marla - at his work. Marla's mother lives in San Angelo out in West Texas, and she had a friend who sadly passed away recently, leaving her cat in need of a home. We had been thinking to get another cat for a little while, so this seemed like a good match.

Sunshine is about five years old. She arrived at Marla's mother's house, pregnant, and had a litter of kittens. Marla's mother kept one kitten, found homes for the others, and gave Sunshine to her friend, where she spent the next three years as an indoor cat. She's been neutered and microchipped and came with vet records, which is handy. She certainly seems to have been well looked after, and is super-friendly.

Here's a few pictures... the one at the top is from this morning, when she sat on my lap for the first time! She's difficult to get a picture of since she's always curling around your legs or head-butting the camera... Hopefully better pictures soon.

We have her isolated right now, and she will remain so for a week at least, before beginning a very slow introduction to Smokey Cat.

She has a medium-loud, squeaky mew, which she employs liberally, with quite a vocabulary! She can also purr for her country, and does so any time you're in the room with her.

Caught mid-mew.... won't be the last time, I think.

She is very long haired, too. There's cat hair everywhere already. It is moulting season, to be fair, but I think regular brushing is going to be in order.

I think this blanket is her favourite so far...

Watch this space for updates!

Monday, April 8, 2013

UK2013: Sudbury Water Meadows

Sudbury town lies alongside the banks of the River Stour. It is unusual in that the river does not run through the middle of town; instead, the town stops just before reaching the river. This leaves some beautiful flatlands on either side, which have several little tributaries and lakes running around. The land itself is ancient common land, used for grazing cattle. It is a really nice place for wandering about. I always make time to walk here when visiting Sudbury.

This footpath entrance is just outside the Mill Hotel. There's a duck pond to the left, and a small part of the river runs to the right. The painted houses make a lovely backdrop to this view.

Here's the rivulet running off behind me.

The next morning dawned very cold and frosty. I walked in a different part of the meadows, alongside the river proper. Footprint trails are evidence of early morning walkers, while the trees paint a pastel scene.

A pair of swans come to say hello.

There are many swans here.

Oh-oh, there's food on offer! A squadron of ducks in line abreast formation arrives to join the swans.

Feeding time... and a drink for the dog.

This is one of several wartime bunkers dotted around town.

Ducks and swans on the move. I think they were curious about whether I had any bread.

Footprints lead on towards the corner of the river.

Frosty, crunchy grass. The muddy areas were all frozen on this morning, too.

Tree reflections.

Another bunker, with the town in the distance.

The third morning was warmer and muddier. Here's a slow-flowing section of river further upstream.

There's a few swans here too. This guy decided to block my path. I decided not to fight him over it. The path was pretty muddy, anyway.

Lots of tall reeds and grasses line the waterside here.

I'm not sure what this tree is, but the buds were nice to see.

Likewise with these catkins and fir cones; Spring is on the way!

And some more.

One last look at the river, reflecting the morning sun.

Friday, April 5, 2013

UK2013: Sudbury Town

These are some pictures from wandering around the town in Sudbury.

Painted houses feature strongly in Suffolk architecture. The houses are made from wattle and daub; this is a technique using thin wood strips or twigs woven together to make walls, and then coated in daub, which is made from hay and earth and water mixed together and allowed to harden. This is then painted in the variety of bright colours that one sees around Suffolk.

Some older buildings have exposed timber frames.

As does this pub in town. I like the strong windows here too.

And some go for really intense colours, and not a right-angle in the place...

Paler tones abound on this street.

These houses adjacent to the cricket pitch all complement each other.

This is the Mill House Hotel, where I have stayed in the past. It is alongside the water meadows. It contains a water wheel in the bar/restaurant area, which the river runs through.

Market day is on Thursday in Sudbury, and takes over the town centre.

This stall had some lovely fruit and vegetables.

Look at all this rhubarb! You can get it in Texas but it's imported and expensive.

This is the Quay Theatre, with some early morning fishermen.

And some ducks, making patterns on the water.

This is the old Corn Exchange. It is now the town's library. I should have taken a picture on Tuesday evening when the lights were on; it has some very unusual patterns in the glass windows.

Detail of the archway over the front door. Not sure why there's fish represented on a corn market, unless the tradesmen expanded their repertoire.

The statue in front of St Peter's here is of Thomas Gainsborough, a famous English artist who made his home in Sudbury.

Close up of Mr Gainsborough in the rain, the next morning.

The dog here is a Dalmatian. His head sits on one of many red pillars around town; these form a historical trail and each pillar has something different on top. The dog is looking across the street at a memorial flowerbed/sink dedicated to Dodie Smith, who wrote '101 Dalmatians'. In one scene, the dogs come through Sudbury town, and that passage of text is inscribed on a plaque next to the sink basin.

This is the top of an archway that used to lead to a pair of schools, but is now (sadly) a parking lot. Note that the schools share the same saints names as the local churches.

Lastly, this mosaic work is above a shop on North Street. I did not see any more mosaics. There's probably a story behind this one somewhere. I wonder what happened in 1876?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

UK2013: Sudbury Churches

I spent a week in the Suffolk town of Sudbury, where I spent my days in the office and my evenings seeing friends and family from the surrounding area. It was very good to catch up with everyone. My company put me in a B&B near the centre of town which was very convenient for walks. I spent the early mornings going around the town and water meadows (of which more later) and checking out the local churches. Although I'm not religious, I do enjoy church architecture, and Sudbury has three very nice churches within easy walking distance of the town centre. You can find out as much as you like about Suffolk Churches from this fine website: SuffolkChurches.co.uk.

St Peter's

This church is hard to miss, since it lies at the top of the market square right in the centre of town. It is not used as a regular place of worship any more but is opened up for art festivals, craft fairs and the like.

View as you come into town

Tower clock with battlements

This sundial is just above the side vestibule entrance. It reads 'The Lord's name is praised from the rising of the sun'. There's a Green Man underneath which is interesting, too.

The side entrance.

Close up of the three figures over the side entrance. No idea who they are, but I do like the attention to detail; the one on the right has a metal staff, too.

All Saints

This church is down at the bottom end of Sudbury. It is in regular use but was closed up when I came by.

This side door is interesting, I wonder if it has been altered over the years, or if the thin red stones over the lintel are purely decorative. Maybe they were an original archway?

This is the main door at the front of the tower. I love the ornate carving they put into the woodwork on these doors.

Looking up at the tower.

Round the corner we can see more of the church. This tower has a staircase in the corner by the look of it; that rounded piece running all the way to the top.

St Gregory's

This church is back towards town, along the line of the water meadows. There is a lot of greenery here which apparently used to be houses; now it's open space from which the church stands out. I got lucky here, arriving at the same time as the Vicar, who opened the church for morning services. He kindly let me in to have a quiet look around.

The war memorial stands guard as you approach.

Carefully-shaped yew trees are a common feature of British churchyards. You can see this tower also has a staircase.

The main vestibule

Another nicely carved door, although this one is worn from use.

Coming in from the door, you enter the nave and can admire the elegant arches, and ornate font.

Standing near the font, looking the other way.

Standing in the middle of the nave, looking towards the altar. Notice how the chancel does not line up with the nave.

A close up of the painted ceiling, restored in 1966.

Lastly, another little side door... I never notice where these come out inside the church. Maybe they keep gardening supplies in here!