Sunday, 1 July 2012

Assault on scratch post III

I posted a video of Misty so thought it would only be fair to post one of Roland too. At least he's attacking something that's meant for cats. I'm glad I'm not that post!

video

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Misty monkey

One of Misty's favourite occupations is attacking the soft furnishings and recently she's developed a new technique for the net curtains. She claims to be attempting to clean her claws by hooking them in the curtain first, but she's not very good at it:

video

What will she think of next?!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Roland

Roland (often known affectionately as Roly Poly) is settling in very well. He had a couple of medical problems relating to stress during his first few days, but a day at the vets and some medication has sorted him out. He's a lovely natured puss - very happy and friendly, but doesn't demand attention all the time. He uses the scratch post (Misty uses the carpet and furniture) and even enjoys being picked up - unlike the four other cats we've had at Frog End.


Roland is very interested in making friends with Misty, but unfortunately the feeling isn't mutual. Misty is currently avoiding him wherever possible and if he comes towards her she growls and hisses. At least he doesn't seem offended and is currently still trying to make contact with her by sitting near her and allowing her to get used to him. At least Misty doesn't seem afraid of him and having lived with other cats will probably back down after some more time has passed - presumably she's attempting to defend her territory at the moment.


Please keep your fingers crossed that the Frog End pusses make friends soon.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Toby or not Toby: that is the question!

Today we picked up the latest member of our household - a brown tabby to keep Misty company (not that they've been introduced yet). His name was Rooney, but we can't think of that without thinking of the footballer and not being football fans we were confident that the name had to go.

After much deliberation over the last week we decided that we liked the name Toby, but unfortunately on picking him up and having a good look at him we've decided he simply doesn't look or act like a Toby. Since we happened to know a similar cat called Roland and we were watching the women's singles tennis final at Roland Garros at the time we were thinking about it we came up with the name Roland instead.

So here he is:

Unfortunately he has a habit of curling up one half of his upper lip - probably because he just had three teeth out, which makes him look rather vicious, but I still managed to get lots of photos of him with a less ridiculous expression

or not!




Friday, 25 May 2012

Maldives Marine Life

We saw hundreds of new species in the Maldives. Most were in the water and as we didn't have an underwater camera I only photographed those that could be seen from the boardwalks and jetties. Apologies in advance for the quality of the photographs.

Black-tip reef sharks:


Sea cucumber:

Feathertail sting-ray:

Jellyfish:


A species of halfbeak:


Blackspot snapper:


Klein's butterflyfish with humbug dascyllus:


Either a goby or a blenny:


Bluespine unicornfish:

Unknown species:



Of the fish we saw whilst snorkelling we identified the following:
  • Grey-streak lizardfish
  • Flutemouth
  • Lionfish
  • Redmouth grouper
  • Peacock rock cod
  • White-spotted grouper
  • Jacks
  • Harlequin sweetlips
  • Black pyramid butterflyfish
  • Double-saddled butterflyfish
  • Longnose butterflyfish
  • Reef bannerfish
  • Schooling bannerfish 
  • Regal angelfish
  • Sergeant major
  • Blue-green chromis
  • Batu wrasse
  • Bird wrasse
  • Blackeye thicklip wrasse
  • Checkerboard wrasse
  • Jansen's wrasse
  • Bridled parrotfish
  • Roundhead parrotfish
  • Several other species of parrotfish
  • Longfin batfish
  • Coral rabbitfish
  • Convict surgeonfish
  • Eye-stripe surgeonfish
  • Lined surgeonfish
  • Powder blue surgeonfish
  • Thompson's surgeonfish
  • Orangespine unicornfish 
  • Filefish
  • Indian triggerfish
  • Picasso triggerfish
  • Red-toothed triggerfish
  • Titan triggerfish
  • Black-spotted pufferfish
Ian also saw a moray eel and we both saw a couple of turtles on our last day, but it was quite murky and we don't know what species they were.

My favourite fish were the batfish as they were really friendly. A group of them came right up to us and followed us around for several minutes. They were about 30cm long and were nearly close enough to touch (not that we would). Some of my other favourites were the parrotfish, the wrasses and the titan triggerfish. I really enjoyed snorkelling and am looking forward to doing it again sometime in the future.

Friday, 18 May 2012

A birthday in the Maldives

I had a fantastic birthday. The staff at Baros were wonderful as usual. Instead of breakfast in the usual restaurant we were treated to breakfast in our villa for no extra cost (bottle of champagne and beautiful flowers included).

In the afternoon we went in a glass-bottom boat which gave us wonderful views of the reefs near Baros.

We saw many species of fish, sea cucumbers, starfish, sponges, clams and lots of beautiful corals.

In the evening we had dinner on the beach - actually part of our honeymoon package, but we moved it to coincide with my birthday. They took a photo of us before dinner and by the time we'd finished dessert it was framed and on our table.

I also received a birthday card and this lovely cake:


Despite being thousands of miles away from home I was still in touch with family and friends via facebook, blogger and email and received lots of lovely birthday messages.

A memorable birthday indeed :-)

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Baros Resort

After taking a taxi, two trains, two planes and a boat we arrived on the island of Baros in the Maldives.

We stayed in a villa over the water:


Our villa had steps down to the lagoon and the reef was only a 2 minute swim away. Not that we needed to go to the reef to see all the fish as many swam under the villa and into the shallow water underneath the boardwalks (I'll save the photos for another post).


There are three restaurants on the island - the Lighthouse:


Lime Restaurant:

and Cayenne Restaurant:


The staff at Baros are incredible. They outnumber the guests 2 to 1 and whatever the time of day you can't go for a walk without half a dozen people saying good morning, good afternoon or good evening to you. The majority of staff seem genuinely friendly and you can't go to breakfast or dinner without someone coming over to chat and ask how you're enjoying your holiday. All questions were dealt with quickly and even when our air conditioning unit broke the maintenance people worked on it until midnight and then again very early the next morning to have it fixed (we slept in another villa that night).

The villas are cleaned twice a day and each morning the cleaners drop off bottle water and a couple of pieces of fruit. Ian tried rambutan for the first time:

Breakfast at the Lime Restaurant was the largest buffet Ian or I had ever seen. There were rolls, toast, croissants, pain au chocolat, doughnuts, danishes, fruit bread, muffins, fresh fruit, tinned fruit, nuts, seeds, yoghurt, cereals, waffles, omelettes, oatmeal, maldivian curry, rice, vegetables, nine different types of juice, smoothies, champagne etc etc. Needless to say we only ate lunch on one day out of the ten we were away.

Tropical fruits, including 3 types of melon, pineapple, papaya, guava, grapefruit, orange, apple and 2 types of dragonfruit:

A maldivian omelette with maldivian curry:


We ate dinner at the restaurants, but also on the deck of our villa and down on the beach one night.

The island itself is lush with palm trees and all sorts of beautiful tropical plants and trees. I bought a book to help me identify them so will be spending some time with it before I blog about the vegetation in greater depth


Although there were many hundreds of aquatic species there were relatively few animals on the island. One of the most common species was the grey heron. It was wonderful watching them fishing in such an exotic location:

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

We're back!

Ian and I just got back from a fantastic honeymoon on the island of Baros in the Maldives. Over the next few days I'll be sorting through the photos and I daresay there'll be quite a few blog posts. For now I'd like to say a massive thank you to Dad for Misty-minding and thanks to everyone who sent me birthday cards and presents.

Of course I couldn't really blog without a photo so here's one I've picked randomly from the folder of honeymoon photos:


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A trip to the zoo

Ian had a meeting at Paignton Zoo on his birthday and I took the opportunity to go with him and take one or two photographs ;-) Many of the animals were hiding from the cold and wet weather, but I was very pleased with my time spent in the reptile house. Not that I took many photos of reptiles - I'm no good at getting photographs through dirty glass. Rather I focused on capturing the tropical birds that were flying about freely.

Feeding station. From the left: speckled mousebird, green turaco and Java sparrow?:

Speckled mousebird:

Orange-headed ground thrush:

Java sparrow:

Young Java sparrow?:

White-rumped shama?:

Scarlet-faced Liocichla:

Unknown:

A long week

Unbelievably it's only been a week since Ian's birthday. We both had a lovely day, but unfortunately we received a call to say that Ian's grandad had been taken to hospital the night before. Although he was initially discharged he returned to the hospital after less than two days. Ian is currently in the North juggling work with visiting the hospital.

Since there's no internet at the house he's currently staying in I doubt that Ian has had an opportunity to thank you all for your presents and cards (indeed some of the cards arrived after he left so he hasn't even opened those yet). So I shall say a big thank you to everyone from both of us.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Maldives

We've finally got round to booking our honeymoon. We're going to the stunning Baros Resort in the Maldives. We'll be staying in a water villa, shown on the left of the photo:




As well as the stunning location they offer lots of excursions and water sports. I really like the clear canoes (enabling you to see marine life without the use of a snorkel) whereas Ian has his eye on sailing in a catamaran. A dolphin cruise is also a must.



We're really excited about the trip. I can't believe it's been 5 years since I last went abroad and this holiday of a lifetime will be a great way to get back into doing a bit of travelling.

Thanks so much to everyone who contributed towards our honeymoon fund for making this dream possible.

All photos taken from www.Baros.com

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Music 2011

As for most (if not all) members of the Edwards family, books are an essential part of my life. Music is also extremely important to me and whilst I may not have time to read when I'm busy working I always have time to listen to music. For some strange reason music is something I've never blogged about, but having just blogged my favourite books of 2011 I thought I'd blog about the music I listened to last year.

My tastes in music are eclectic, but whilst I do enjoy classical music I find myself listening to it only very occasionally. Most of the music I listen to on a daily basis would be classed as country, R&B or pop. I also love musicals and in the last couple of years have started listening to some blues and jazz.

Unlike my reading that I keep good track of it's very difficult for me to say what I listened to the most last year. I do, however, keep a record of my favourite songs of the year (not necessarily released in that year, but ones I find myself playing over and over again). Looking at the list for 2011 only two artists feature twice - Miranda Lambert (with 'the house that built me' and 'new strings') and Lady Antebellum (with 'I run to you' and 'hello world'), both country artists. Other songs that made it to my list of favourites include:

Charlene Soraia - Wherever You Will Go
Adele - Someone Like You
David Cook - Permanent
Jim Brickman - Lake Eerie Rainfall (Instrumental)
Etta James - At Last (actually I've listened to the Christina Aguilera, Beyonce and Josh Krajcik versions more than the original)
Bomshel - Fight Like a Girl
P!nk - I Don't Believe You
Christina Perri - Jar of Hearts
Demi Lovato - Skyscraper

With regard to actual albums I'm guessing the ones I played the most in 2011 were Carrie Underwood's 'Carnival Ride', Jim Brickman's 'By Heart - Piano Solos' and Michael Buble's 'Christmas'. The latter has introduced me to the 'Puppini Sisters' whose albums I will definitely be buying.

My favourite song of 2011 is 'The house that built me' recorded by Miranda Lambert. Both the song and the video can quite easily make me cry, but I love them for that. Enya's 'Book of Days' has also gained a big significance in my life having walked 'down the aisle' to it in July. What music did you listen to or 'discover' in 2011?

Reading 2011

I'm officially retiring my book blog, having only posted a couple of times in the last two years, so when I do write about reading it shall be here.

During 2011 I read 39 fiction and 11 non-fiction. I also started Catch 22, but couldn't get past 50 or so pages. It's unusual for me not to finish a book, especially one that I feel I ought to read. I'll probably try reading it again in a couple of years.

It's also unusual for me to read significantly more fiction than non-fiction, but last year I decided to focus on reading modern fiction that friends and family had recommended.

The fiction I gave 10 stars to were:

Iggulden, Conn - Emperor: The gates of Rome
Iggulden, Conn - Emperor: The death of kings
Hosseini, Khaled - The Kite Runner
Hosseini, Khaled - A Thousand Splendid Suns
Iggulden, Conn - Emperor: The Field of Swords
Iggulden, Conn - Emperor: The Gods of War
Golden, Arthur - Memoirs of a Geisha
Atwood, Margaret - The Handmaid's Tale
Martel, Yann - Life of Pi
Albom, Mitch - The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Mitchell, David - Cloud Atlas
Barbery, Muriel - The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Edwards, Clive John - 1874 (okay so I might be a little biased here!)

I'd not read books by any of these authors before and it will definitely encourage me to read more fiction in future.

The non-fiction I gave 10 stars to were:

Chang, Jung - Wild Swans
Harrer, Heinrich - Seven Years in Tibet

The other books I read were the following. The books with a star did not receive 10 stars, but I still consider them 'must-reads':

Goodkind, Terry - Temple of the Winds
Goodkind, Terry - Soul of the Fire
Goodkind, Terry - Faith of the Fallen
Kuegler, Sabine - Child of the Jungle (non-fiction)
Fuller, Alexandra - Don't let's go to the dogs tonight (non-fiction)
*Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
Horwood, William - The Boy with No Shoes (non-fiction)
Banks, Iain - The Wasp Factory
*Filopovic, Zlata - Zlata's Diary (non-fiction)
Horwood, William - Hyddenworld - Spring
Forster, E M - A Passage to India
Forster, E M - A Room with a View
*Zola, Emile - Germinal
Faulks, Sebastian - Engleby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
*Walker, Alice - The Color Purple
Latifa - My Forbidden Face (non-fiction)
Sebold, Alice - The Lovely Bones
Golding, William - Rites of Passage
*Donague, Emma - Room
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Sasson, Jean - For the Love of a Son (non-fiction)
Randell, Nigel - The White Headhunter (non-fiction)
Faulks, Sebastian - The Girl at the Lion d'Or
Shah, Hannah - The Imam's Daughter (non-fiction)
Wharton, Edith - The Age of Innocence
Twining, James - The Double Eagle
*Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Ishiguro, Kazuo - The Remains of the Day
*Thomas, Abigail - A Three Dog Life (non-fiction)
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz - The Shadow of the Wind
Fynn - Mister God This is Anna
Fielding, Helen - Bridget Jones's Diary
Fielding, Helen - Bridget Jones - The Edge of Reason

I find it extremely difficult to choose the 'best book' that I read in 2011 - for me it comes jointly between Cloud Atlas and Wild Swans. Interestingly my father's favourite book of 2011 was also written by David Mitchell.

I'm back reading non-fiction in 2012 and have already given 10 stars to Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Misty

Sadly we were unable to keep fostering Sophie because dementia had set in, causing all sorts of problems including scratching the walls and howling every morning at 5am for no reason. She's now back at Axhayes, so at least we can visit her when we like (I have the scars to prove it!)

Before Christmas we visited Axhayes to meet some of their older cats. We were very taken with two of them - Misty and Frankie, but unfortunately Frankie had come from the countryside and wouldn't be suitable for homing in the city.

We offered to adopt Misty, but didn't bring her home until after the New Year because we knew that we would be visiting family over the holiday period and didn't want to leave her on her own.

Misty is a 10 year-old white and silver tabby. She's a little shy, very affectionate and also quite playful - something we've not been used to, but are enjoying immensely.



Only a couple of days after her arrival and she'd already made friends with our other companions the laptops:

Welcome to Frog End Misty.