A Few Days with Romans

Well, it’s me and Romans, which meant I was very happy… but after visiting Mr Gladstone, the Otter and I trundled over to Chester for a couple of days!

We walked the walls (several times), found the Rows, three charity shops, two jumpers and no books (I was a little worried about the book-loving Otter after that, but I think he got an overdose at Gladstone’s), ate fresh donuts and wandered round a Christmas market, dodged the drummers (loud enough to be heard two streets away, though) and sat by the river, and I got to squeak about the amphitheatre, walls, towers, gateways, street layout, armour, language, religion, invasion, Druids, Crazy Romans and general chaos that was classical Roman Britain. We also saw two centurions and a gaggle of small new recruits with foam swords in a very straggly line… and learned that the ‘orrible Celts used wee in their hair, urgh! (And that children are terrible at figuring out who’s in the front and back rows of said straggly lines.)

We did also ponder what Wild Beasts could have fought at the amphitheatre. Screw the lions, I’d bet on a really pissed-off badger winning against anyone…

 

We stayed at The Boathouse, which was lovely – the pub itself is right on the river with some lovely views, and the rooms are across the car park, so not noisy! We had a really nice evening on our first night; we found two cosy chairs (actually, the whole pub has a wonderfully cosy vibe) and the staff were quite happy for us to stay there for a few hours, reading and occasionally ordering new drinks or nibbles. Breakfast was also lovely, with sunny views over the river both days, and the chance to watch dogs and their owners on the other side of the stream.

We had a fantastic dinner at Hamayuu, which is tucked under the Rows on Watergate Street, and is absolutely recommended. (Also worth booking! – we got in as a walk-in by the skin of our teeth.) I can also highly recommend Melt Town on Music Hall Passage (just off Northgate St) – really good toasties, although you have to be a fan of cheese. The skunk plate above was some of the decoration…!

We got some glorious sunshine, some light drizzle, and a lot of really lovely walks. Chester itself wasn’t too busy and was lovely with the Christmas lights, and it was really good to be able to just wander – particularly after having four very sedentary days while reading/writing.

We headed home via a couple of days with the family (and I got to see some of a different side of Gloucestershire! – for despite the Otter actually growing up about 5 miles from The Pub, I’d never actually been to his area of the world. There’s some nice scenery and cute sheep, which is always a plus.) And then we got home to see a small grumpy lump, who promptly yelled. There was a List of Complaints, which seemed to feature “not enough biscuits” quite prominently… (he had actually had enough. Three people had been verifying that he had enough.) But he has forgiven us now, and everything is back to normal – with lots of purrs!

So a lovely week away, and – even better – when I logged back into my work this morning to 100+ emails… it was fine. No anxiety. No stress. I just trundled through everything, picked up all the threads, and everything carried on. Bliss!

Next up: Christmas! (Argh. How did we get to halfway through December?!)

A Year With A Grump (Cat)

We’ve had Bobble a year! He’s another year older (17!!), another year grumpier, and a bit fatter (thank goodness, because he was pretty skinny when he arrived!)

We got him from Oxford Cats Protection just before the first lockdown hit, and I’m so glad we did – he’s had a lovely year (fuss, snoozes, biscuits, more fuss) and it’s been wonderful to have a cat around. It’s been pretty much the perfect year too – he’s had undivided attention!

He yells me out of bed at 6.30 every morning, and complains bitterly until I have a) filled his biscuit bowl, and then b) sat on the sofa – food and cuddles in the morning are his routine! It’s been lovely to have that, even if I do feel bad for kicking him off on the mornings that I have to go to work.

He has adapted to laps – very happily, considering the amount of time I spend balancing my laptop on a sofa arm or back because he’s occupying my lap and having a snooze – and has got the World Sorted Out, or at least his bits of it: anything that arrives must be sniffed, all visitors must be vetted, and otherwise as long as he’s got naps and cuddles and biscuits then not a single fuck is given.

He loves cuddles – I get morning cuddles (he demands them) and my partner does evening cuddles, and he swaps during the daytime depending on who’s either available or can be yelled into giving him attention. He’s got a gorgeous rumbling purr, and he also does adorable little gnaaaaark snores through his wheezy nose when he dreams. It’s very cute.

He is Unimpressed by everything, wants to know everything we’re doing, does twice-daily patrols of the house, occasionally runs around madly (but then of course needs a nap afterwards) and enjoys singing in the bathroom. We have started joking about the pervading sound of WOE that fills the house, because there is WOE and WOE IS ME and WOE I HAVE NO BISCUITS and MORE WOE and ALSO WE HAVE NOT HAD ENOUGH WOE.

Also his ears go down when he meows which is actually the cutest thing ever. We have also started having conversations, which usually go along the lines of;

“Meow.”

“Your face.”

“Meow!”

“Still your face.”

“Meow.”

“I’m not feeding you. Also, your face.”

Imagine the meows getting progressively more aggrieved and you’ll have a taste of the tone. I’m actually quite glad I don’t really understand Cat, as I’m sure I’m getting called some lovely names for my refusal to fill his biscuit bowl. (Which is mysteriously, somehow, always empty. Thirty seconds after it was filled – empty! It’s absolutely disgraceful, and I don’t know how a cat is meant to cope with this treatment.)

So, in short; we have had a year with a seventeen-going-on-seventy grumpy, adorable and biscuit-desperate old cat, with a chin that eternally disapproves and a purr that’s always ready to come out, especially when he’s getting cuddles. He likes sleeping, fuss, biscuits, naps, yelling at the crows, more naps, cuddles, biscuits, yelling at his humans, checking out what everyone’s doing, naps, doing yoga, cuddles, biscuits, and naps. Also did we mention the biscuits?

Five Happy Things: January 2021

I know it’s February – but have some posthumous January happy things! (I am considering that a very appropriate word, considering that getting through each month in 2020 was… well, a 2020 challenge. I’m bringing the same energy to 2021. Take that, January! We got through you!)

1.Animal Crossing

I had a bit of a frustrating start with Animal Crossing: New Horizons (the learning curve is far too steep for a game that’s meant to be fun) but Otter and Gem trundled along to the island too, and we’ve been planting flowers and catching fish and making snowmen. It’s felt productive and gives me a chance to turn my brain off, which is pretty much the perfect combination in a game at the moment.

Animal Crossing characters wallpaper

2.Therapy

I’ve started therapy sessions with BetterHelp, on the basis that I need to take some sort of productive step forward! (I can rant about TalkingSpace but that’s not a happy thing, so let’s just say that it’s been very much a tick-box exercise so far.) I also, after two sessions with the first assigned BetterHelp therapist, took what I felt was a scary but needed step and changed therapist (that’s another rant) to someone that I hope will suit me better. It was anxiety-inducing, but there’s no point talking to someone that doesn’t quite click… so I’m counting that as a win!

3.Website work

As you may have noticed, Writing&Coe has had a bit of a facelift! Nothing major, but I spent an afternoon updating the theme and hopefully making everything a bit cleaner & simpler. I’ve got some back-end work to do next, just updating SEO and sorting blog posts, but it felt good to be organising that.

4.Bobble-cat

A cat glaring while being scritched
Believe it or not, this is his happy face…

He has decided, over the last month or so, that he has a Schedule. Mornings are lap time (and he may allow me to get tea first, if I’m lucky) and then it’s a combination of yelling, napping on convenient humans, and glaring out of the window at the crows to make sure they’re not Up To Anything. It’s got to the stage where if I sit down on the sofa, he’s right there on my lap – and if I’m not available then he’ll reluctantly take other laps into consideration… or just snooze on his radiator bed, because at least that has the bonus of being a mere three steps from the sofa. It’s such a tough life when you’re sixteen.

(I should add that the yelling is less cute because he’s mostly wanting more food, and as he’d go through his daily biscuit allowance in thirty seconds if we didn’t ration them, the yelling is very rarely productive. This doesn’t seem to have sunk in yet, but then he is a Cat With Opinions… one of which is that he should have All The Biscuits. Debate is ongoing on the matter.)

5.Sending Presents

A picture of colourful iced biscuits in cake & bird shapesThere’s a couple of birthdays coming up, and I’ve also been taking the opportunity to send things out! My current (expensive, but so worth it) favourites are Biscuiteers, because both their biscuits and tins are fab, and they do letterbox-sized packages! There’s also Say It With Brownies, which are made on the Isle of Wight and are AMAZING, and my old favourite Bloom&Wild, who do beautiful flower arrangements and letterbox plants. It’s been a lot of fun choosing things for people, and I’m currently in the middle of arranging a surprise for an upcoming birthday, too – it’s been hard to track down what I want, but I think they’re going to like it!

We’ve also got a serious family discussion going on about getting my father a Horrible Cherub for his birthday. Apparently the last one sadly got given away, so obviously that means he needs another… (mostly joking, but I am tempted to find him one of those wonderfully awful plastic ones, just to see the face he makes!)

 

I’ve also managed to do some reading – review post coming soon!

A Kate Update: May 2020

Still here, still going. Still grey. I have lots of posts I want to write but get halfway through and can’t get the words right. (Also, my hands won’t do what I want – I keep typing words wrong. It’s made emails a lot of fun.)

I just made almond & orange cake, and chocolate & orange cake (I had oranges to use up, ok?) The taste test hasn’t yet happened, but they smell good!

Bobble is asleep in his veggie box; his second-favourite place is on a different box, and his third is on his piece of packaging paper on the floor (maybe it’s cooler?). He’s still shouty, opinionated, loves cuddles and loves his new food. We aren’t so keen on the farts from said food, but hopefully they’ll decrease over time.

(Note the pigeon in the window above… we had a nest for a month! We got to see two chicks grow from fluff to pigeons, and then learn to fly. Bobble was Distinctly Unimpressed, and I think the pigeon was also Unimpressed. They mostly interacted nicely though.)

I’ve given up on the garden. The Otter has taken over it for me, as I have deemed it too large a use of spoons and just generally too much stress. However, we have finished painting the fence! At the moment I’m just letting everything grow – the irises in particular look gorgeous.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is my current go-to for brain-turn-off.

I have managed to read a couple of books – reviews to come, I hope! I’m also managing to get through full days at work, and not (always) needing a nap at lunchtime. I’m still sleeping badly, though, or at least waking up feeling exhausted even though I’ve slept.

Haven’t got the spoons to do a Happy Things post, but there have been happy things. I got some great card games for my birthday, and ate cake; I’ve been for some good cycle rides, and chatted to friends, and read some good books, and had plenty of Bobble cuddles. Work’s been going well – I get to reference Avatar The Last Airbender! – and I’m enjoying cooking.

On the downside, the grey has been getting worse, in some ways – I’m definitely not as bad in terms of emotion as I was, and I haven’t been breaking as much. But everything is still very flat and has now become more dream-like; I’ve been wondering where I am, or forgetting what the view outside the window looks like, or trying to remember what I did yesterday. (The last is a bit more of a problem for everyone with days all being the same, I suspect, but it’s still frustrating.) Grey and fluffy, maybe, rather than just grey? But I am being hit with random memories at odd times, which I think is a good thing; hopefully it means my brain is slowly healing. I’ve got another six months minimum on the anti-depressants anyhow, so it’ll be interesting to see how the summer goes.

So: still here, still going, still got Bobble snorkles!