Category: Snapshots

Returns, dinosaurs and cat flaps.

Tach, Possums!

I shall refrain from writing another apology and yet another promise that I shall post more regularly.  It seems that every time I write such a thing, the exact opposite happens.  I was in Germany for a terrific 9 months and met some of the most fantastic people.  I also had hardly any internet, thus the radio silence.  Until I moved back to the UK nearly 2 months ago.

ANYWAY. ¬†My new excuse is dinosaurs. ¬†A friend of mine is expecting her first child at the end of the year, and naturally I’ve gotten *slightly* carried away knitting¬†for the poor thing. ¬†In addition to a bear and a starry cardigan, I’ve started on a dinosaur. ¬†Because who doesn’t want a brightly coloured dinosaur? ¬†He’s part-way through construction, has been a joy to knit, and will no doubt inspire a few sibling dinosaurs in time.

knitted dinosaur with legs
HE HAS LEGS

In addition to knitting, my furry adopted little sister had a slight disaster, and ended up spending a week at the vet’s. ¬†I think¬†that in pulling through the ordeal, she may well have used up one of her nine lives. ¬†We suspect the cause was an injury acquired in a cat fight, but because it had healed over before any of the symptoms appeared, we can only speculate. ¬†In short, she was lethargic, off her food, withdrawn and short of breath. ¬†It turns out it was a pyrothorax; a build-up of fluid, in this case caused by an infection, in the chest cavity. ¬†The vets drained 350ml of what I can only politely describe as goop, and she was on IV antibiotics for a week. ¬†Last October she weighed 4.1kg, just to give you an idea of the proportion of fluid drained in relation to her weight. ¬†(For the Imperialists among you, that’s nearly a pint of fluid.)

RIght, so now that we have a¬†partially¬†shaved feline back home, we decided that perhaps we ought to install a microchip-activated cat flap. ¬†I take my hat off to the people who wrote this manual. ¬†Sureflap, kudos to you. ¬†You clearly know what it’s like to be a feline’s chosen human.

The first thing that struck me about the manual was the helpful information for cats on how to use the cat flap:

Not suitable for fancy dress.
Not suitable for fancy dress.  Keep away from kittens.

Now, for those of you wondering why one would splash out on the kind of cat flap that has diagrams of use for your cats in its manual, then you probably don’t have cats at home. ¬†For those interested in the rationalisation, here’s an excerpt:

“This cat flap has been designed […] allowing access to your pet whilst keeping out animal intruders.”

Oops.

But this isn’t just any cat flap, oh no. ¬†This cat flap¬†learns. ¬†But a word to aspiring crazy cat people (it’s not always us women): you can only register 32 cats. ¬†I find this a shame. ¬†Any fool knows that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42 and for us cat-crazed individuals, cats are that meaning in life, ergo one should be able to have 42 cats, register them all, have one’s cake and be able to eat it, cat fur and all.

But the highlight of the manual for me has to be the advice aimed at the human side of this human-feline partnership under the section on how to get the cat flap to register your cat’s microchip. This point is of such importance, that it even has an exclamation mark in a warning triangle next to it:

“In order to learn a cat’s microchip number, a sensor located in the tunnel must detect a cat’s presence to trigger the microchip reader. ¬†Therefore it is important to ensure that your cat either puts its head into the tunnel or passes through the flap. ¬†No amount of waving your cat in front of the flap will have an effect.”

Whoever wrote that last line clearly has a wealth of experience either dealing with scratched, disgruntled customers phoning customer support, or of having personally tried “waving” a cat in front of anything.

I also suspect that there were a few felines who managed to get their paws on the manual, as in the troubleshooting section on how to get your cat acclimatised to the new cat flap, the author notes that “strategic positioning of food inside/outside the house can also help encourage the initial use of the flap.”

All I can say is that our resident feline would never allow herself to be waved in front of anything, and aside from presently snoring softly on a bean bag whilst I write this, the cat treats have so far been successfully retrieved without the cat flap successfully learning her chip.  This one has cunning.

Damn straight.
Damn straight.

Travellings: Deutschland #13 ZOO

SO. We went to the zoo on Saturday and I spent the best part of the day (okay, the entire time) running around like the over-excited, hyperactive 5 year-old loon on E-numbers that I (not-so) secretly am.

If you had any illusion that I am in any way mature, intelligent or sophisticated, prepare to have said image shattered. Brutally.

If, however, you wish to retain said normal-if-slightly-eccentric image, then please look away now and skip this post.

First stop: PELICANS.

I cannot get over how “bah-humbug” these birds look. In a comical, if not slightly loveable kinda way:

Pelican
One is not amused.

Then we saw the bears, white mountain goats that looked really furry and cuddly (with the exception of the massive horns) and elk.

Then we wandered on a bit further and saw rhinos, sloths, and birds that looked suspiciously like fat white flamingos.

Then we met Dave:

Penguin
You have to watch the quiet ones. You never know quite what they're thinking...

Except Dave was being a tad boring. I didn’t go all that way to watch penguins playing musical statues. Though his mate Fred seemed to have more of an idea of things:

Penguin
*Refuelling in progress*

What we did go all that way for, was to watch this:

By which point I was being laughed at by the people I was with (who eventually got bored of my penguin soundtrack and buggered off) and I received strange looks from other people visiting – probably because I was more excited about the whole penguin thing than most of the children there.

There is also a second video of madness, and it would have continued, had Doriane not pointed out that the others were so bored that they’d moved on to a different section.

Honestly. How can you be bored with penguins?

The best bit? I was talking with a colleague today who told about something even better. In winter, if the weather reaches below -10 degrees Centigrade, the penguins are allowed out of their enclosure and you can go for a walk with them.

Edit: it would seem that I’ve been misinformed. The penguins used to go for walks, but have since moved in with each other and have decided by an overwhelming majority not to leave their enclosure anymore. Disappointed is an understatement.

This is even better than the time I discovered last Christmas (when we had all the snow in England) that Edinburgh Zoo has a PENUIN CAM.

After seeing the penguins, nothing was nearly as exciting, to be honest. We walked around and visited the elephants with their baby, and the giraffes, terrapins, zebra finches, ocelots, tigers…

And then I reached the kangaroo enclosure.

At which point I did the Skippy whistle and the kangaroo which was munching in front of me stopped, looked me in the eye and then started hopping over.

Best. Day. Ever.

However, my weekend gallavanting at the zoo and working 8-6 for the past 2 days has meant that I am now resembling this:

snoozing kitten
Arf.

So please bear with me whilst I recover from my excitement.
Daaaaanke :)