Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

It’s been a long time since there’s been a chapter in The Whiskas Chronicles. In my naïve human way, I believed it was because we’d all matured a little. Whiskas was no longer getting medieval on my legs and subsequently I was no longer fighting him off with the hose. We believed we’d reached an unspoken pact, where peace reigned and we lived together in perfect harmony…like ebony and ivory.

Wrong. The cat had just raised his game. He had another range of tricks up his fluffy sleeve that he’d kept hidden from us.

I should have known better (this is turning into a blog full of dodgy song lyrics). This is the master criminal who actually played possum during a storm to avoid being thrown out into the dark night; got into a bathroom cupboard and somehow managed to close the cupboard door behind him and hid from us by standing still underneath the duvet hanging over the side of the bed (given away only by the curve of his belly causing a ‘bump’ in the cover).

During these hot nights his MO is that once he’s eaten his dinner he trots out of the back door to cool down somewhere outside – or so I was led to believe. I’ve watched him do this on loads of occasions and seen him leave the premises by way of the gently wafting curtain between the bedroom and the back terrace. What I only discovered last week was that he was implementing one of his cunning plans.

As usual I’d watched him leave but this time I had to go outside a few minutes after he’d gone. But there was no sign of the cat. As I came back through the bedroom and into the living room something caught my eye. The damn cat was sitting motionless, as though playing statues, on Andy’s pillow watching me intently to see if I’d spotted him. He was abruptly despatched from his throne with a shout and a helping hand on his furry backside.. God knows how long this has been going on, Andy has been suffering with an allergic bout of sneezing for weeks. We thought summer, but cat hair on the pillow was clearly the culprit.

I’ve tracked him since and discovered that as soon as he exits the house he does a U turn and comes straight back in again via the other side of the curtain which is out of my line of sight. Obviously with us thinking he was safely outside, he’s been free to jump up on the bed and curl up on Andy’s pillow for most of the rest of the night…or until one of us made a move. Since being found out he still makes attempt after attempt to get back to what has become a favourite spot so now we have to shut the doors from the bedroom to the garden, closing off our source of air conditioning in the summer.

You cannot trust this cat for a moment, he has schemes galore in his arsenal and I had simply forgotten this or, more likely, been lulled into a false sense of security. Who knows what else goes on in that Machiavellian head.

Maybe whilst the chimps have been taking over the planet in the cinemas, the cats have been plotting and hatching plans like Billy-o. By the end of the decade we’ll all be their slaves, feeding them mice as they recline on the sofas we once lounged about on…mark my words.

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We returned from Britain to discover that some strange creatures had taken up residence in the trees around the house. When we stumbled home at 3am on Thursday after a 10 hour journey we were met by haunting calls piercing the darkness from at least three different locations. They carried on throughout the night until daybreak.

Thursday night was exactly the same, some of the calls sounded as though they were coming from directly outside our bedroom window. It’s wonderful that we live in a place where nature can make itself known but hell, these ‘moans’ were a bit disconcerting.

A bit of internet research came up with the answer (I think). These are possibly female owls left on the nest whilst Mr Owl has buggered off somewhere (men…eh?). She’s calling for him to return. We’ve always had a big owl that swoops past the window every so often scaring the bejesus out of us, but from the sounds the other night it looks as though he’s moved in the extended family whilst we were away. Not that we’re complaining, the sight of an owl is always magical.

I tried to capture the sound on video, but by Friday two of the creatures had stopped calling. There’s nothing to see (it was dark) but hopefully this gives an idea of what we’re sharing the night with. BTW, the other noises are just the resident frogs – much more soporific.

Everybody knows Tenerife, course they do – sun, sand, Brit bars aplenty and feels about as abroad as Skegness.

Oh yeah? Well anyone who really believes that clearly knows jack about Tenerife. A visit to one of the biggest fiestas in January, the Fiesta de San Abad in San Antonio in the La Matanza hills, might make them reconsider their views.

On a damp and dreary day we made our annual trip to the ganadera (livestock fair) to mingle with the farmers and caballeros and share a Pepsi bottle carafe and a goatskin of vino del país.

These are some of the faces of the real Tenerife.

If you want a real taste of the Fiesta de San Abad and get some tips on what colour not to wear at a gathering that includes bison-sized bulls , have a look at Andy’s blog and video.

Cruelty to animals or just an unusual fashion accessory?

Actually it’s neither; at the Fiesta de San Abad in La Matanza in the northern Tenerife hills it’s custom to dress up your animals for their party day.

Last weekend staying at the Hotel Señorío del Valle and exploring the surrounding countryside threw up so much material that we could be writing blogs and articles for weeks about it.

The hotel was wonderful and the staff incredibly friendly and interesting to talk to – I learnt quite a few little snippets from them. But one of the things that rang my bell about the place was the seriously relaxed atmosphere.

I loved the fact that with temperatures up above the 30C I had to share the shade of the trees in the Señorío del Valle car park with the centre’s gang of ducks who, I have to say, weren’t in favour of creating a space for me and bitched like hell when I tried to shelter from the sun.

Come on guys, shift over a bit...I'm frying here.

I oohed and aahed at the little black kitten with the big green eyes that had a ‘feed me I’m so cute’ act off to a tee and spent its time between the tasca and the bodega & rincon de queso looking for soft-hearted suckers.

But my favourite was Maria, a plump-breasted hen who roams the hotel’s dining room terrace which overlooks the stables.

Andy and I can be a bit Neanderthal pre-coffee in the morning; the brain doesn’t kick in till the caffeine does, so first stop was the breakfast terrace, stopping en route to chat to the chef and waiter. Trying to hold a conversation in Spanish prior to a coffee was not an easy task (not that it’s a stroll in the park afterwards) – thankfully a few si, si, si’s, a couple of claro’s, an exaggerated nawwwh and a final ah mi madre worked its usual magic. Discussions about the exhaustingly  hot temperatures during the night over, we settled into our seats with the sun assaulting our faces even though it was only 9am…and then Maria introduced herself, by having a quick peck at our feet to see if we were worth eating.

Andy’s response was to shoo Maria away, who reacted by squawking indignantly, fluffing up her feathers and heading in the direction of the door to the kitchen to have a nosy what was happening there – a brave move for a hen if you ask me.

Freshly laid eggs delivered straight to your table...

Maria used to have a friend, but he was eaten by a dog in the car park. Now she struts around on her lonesome, clucking in outrage when the waiter nods in her direction and suggests that some fresh chicken soup might be an idea for lunch.

It’s the little things like this that I love. I’m a sucker for stuff like having to negotiate my way past a cocky hen just to get a cup of coffee. I’m a big fan of hotels with more personality than amenities; then again maybe I just enjoy being henpecked.

At the moment relationships between ourselves and Whiskas are a bit like the relationship between Pakistan and India – fractious to say the least.

As always, Whiskas is the instigator of the deterioration of the fragile peace which exists between us. Not that he would see it this way; we, of course, are the clear guilty party in a series of events which have led to Whiskas muttering away like Mutley in the Wacky Races every time he comes near us.
The root of the problem is the ‘irregular’ feeding patterns of the neighbour’s cats. One of whom has taken to spending most of their time on our terrace hoping to feed on any scraps left by the ‘Great White One’.

Personally I think, not unfairly I feel, that the cat world is Whiskas territory. He should be the one who decides whether another cat can spend time here or not. But no, even in terms of feline matters, Whiskas thinks we should be the ones who should keep his territory cat free.

This situation has been the cause of Whiskas being unsettled for the past couple of weeks, but the situation dive-bombed over the weekend after a couple of unfortunate incidents which were hilariously funny, but which ripped Whiskas’ credibility to shreds.

The cat which has ‘moved in’ sits, strategically, on the part of the wall beside our front gate that Whiskas uses to get in and out of the garden. I have actually built a cat’s entrance on the opposite side of the gate which every other cat in the neighbourhood uses… except Whiskas. So Whiskas usually simply sits and glares at the cat blocking his entrance.
On Saturday he made the mistake of trying to bypass the rogue cat by using a rather complicated method of getting over the gate – climbing up the mesh like a commando.
Whiskas was never very good at this and normally he’d make a run at it, but for some reason (maybe he thought it looked cooler) he simply started to climb.
Unfortunately he’s put on a bit of weight since he last attempted it and his front paws obviously couldn’t support his big belly. He climbed a couple of rungs of the mesh and got stuck, front legs and back legs fully extended, like a prisoner caught in the spotlight trying to escape from a POW camp.

Andy ran out as fast as she could to help him down before a claw was pulled out, but this meant opening the gate inwards with the cat stuck to it. It was a ridiculous sight and we both creased up which didn’t go down well especially as it all took place under the smirking gaze of the feline interloper. Whiskas bitched like hell as Andy lifted him from the wire whilst trying to avoid his lunging jaws. Once again we were to blame for his predicament.

The situation went from bad to worse later in the day when Whiskas tried to sneak into the house whilst we were working. We have a beaded curtain across the front door to keep flies, dragonflies, butterflies and big scary looking wasp things out. Sometimes a couple of the lines of beads become entangled and the route Whiskas chose took him through two beaded strands where this had happened. We heard a commotion at the door and turned to see Whiskas caught in the doorway with a silver glittery necklace restraining him from moving forward. I should have gone to help him right away, but instead we laughed which annoyed the cat. He turned and tried to go back the way he had came, tangling the beads further and creating a straightjacket effect – he was comletely trapped. By the time I reached him he wasn’t a happy bunny. In his head we’d obviously set up an ingenious trap to stop him coming in the house.

I managed to unwrap him with no injury to myself (no mean feat as it was like trying to get a great white shark out of a fishing net) and he ran off into the undergrowth chuntering all the way. I could still hear him long after he’d disappeared from sight.

So that was Whiskas’ disastrous weekend. If he had digits instead of claws I’m sure he would have phoned the Canarian version of the RSPCA by now.

Another cat has taken to hanging around finishing off Whiskas’ meals; not a state of affairs that he’s comfortable with. He’s such a precious creature that he’d reached the point where he wouldn’t eat at all if there was another cat in the vicinity (obviously not that hungry then). The result of this was that his bowl was moved back into the kitchen so that he could eat undisturbed (thank goodness we’ve never had children; they would be right spoiled brats).

Recently he’s been treating us as little more than a fast food joint. Whiskas turns up at food times, Whiskas eats and then Whiskas disappears to who knows where until it’s feeding time again. Cats – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – are such mercenary little bastards.

However, we’ve been out all day quite a bit of late so haven’t always been ‘en casa’ when Whiskas turns up for his chow. This is good for Whiskas as it makes him reassess his ‘taking things for granted’ attitude, so when we got home on Saturday night Whiskas obviously felt the need to rebuild some bridges.

At around 23.00, as we sat with a glass of wine on the candlelit back porch the still night was broken by a rustling in the bushes before Whiskas emerged triumphantly with some poor creature fixed firmly in his gob – a present.

“Aw, he’s brought us a gecko,” Andy announced.

But as he trotted closer, we saw that it was too big for a gecko, it was a mouse and this is where things went pear shaped.

Whiskas completely ignored us and, before I could stop him, trotted straight past me and into the house heading for the kitchen with the intention to drop the mouse there in exchange for some brekkies (why he thinks this is a good deal for us, god only knows). This would have been disaster. Had the mouse managed to get under the washing machine, fridge, or tumble dryer we would probably never have seen it again… not until a little mouse family emerged anyway.

I managed to cut him off at the front door, still with mouse in gob, and opened the door to shoo him out. But this didn’t go down well. In Whiskas’ eyes he was being punished for bringing us a present and that was simply unfair. Unfortunately he felt the need to protest this point by opening his mouth at which the mouse fell to the ground and immediately shot into the bedroom and under the bed with Whiskas in hot pursuit followed by me cursing the cat for being such an eejit.

The space under our bed is used for storage for all sorts of rubbish and is the perfect place for a mouse to go to ground. Whiskas must have spent all of 30 seconds trying to track it down before he got bored and sauntered off with an ‘I’ve delivered the present, it’s up to you what you do with it now’ expression on his face, leaving us to sort out the problem he had created.

For the best part of an hour we pushed and prodded boxes with a plastic Carnaval sword before we eventually manoeuvred the mouse behind a corner cupboard. Then we built an elaborate tunnel out of games and shoe boxes which connected the cupboard with the back door (Andy’s inspirational idea) and, with some gentle prodding with the sword, we finally persuaded the mouse to try out its new mouse-sized walkway and it  scurried happily along it back to the garden and freedom.

We were relieved the mouse was out of the house and the mouse was presumably overjoyed that his Saturday night hadn’t been ruined by being eaten by a cat. The only dissatisfied party was Whiskas who had not only not received a reward for his present, didn’t even get to eat the animal as compensation.

No doubt we will pay the price for this outcome at some point.