Sunday, 25 April 2010

Saturday walk, and a bit more history

We had a lovely walk yesterday up through Morwenstow a tiny cluster of buildings on the North Cornish Coast. It is almost as far North on the Cornish Coast as you can go before you move into Devon. There is a fabulous Church at Morwenstow and a beautiful old rectory. Close by at what is actually Crosstown but also considered by many as Morwenstow is the lovely old pub 'The Bush' which serves excellent food and good beer (sounds like an advert, but it is one of our favorite eating pubs).

The walk itself is circular and passes through open country, secluded glades and includes part of the South West Coastal path. This part of the Coastal path is not for the faint hearted, some is quite vertiginous (and I suffer from vertigo so had to 'cling on' for a few bits). There are also some very very steep bits. Sadly the weather was very misty yesterday but the views must be fantastic on a clear day. (I have added a link on my links to the website that has this walk on it). The walk also includes 'Hawkers Hut', this is a small Hut (I am sorry, completely forgot to take a picture, but we will go back there and I will take one then)built into the cliff by the eccentric 'Vicar of Morwenstow' Robert Stephen Hawker, who used to sit in the Hut and smoke opium and write poems. Some say he is the inspiration for Daphne du Maurier's Vicar of Alternun, but Hawker was not a naughty vicar, he was one of the only clergymen who would busy smugglers and pirates in the churchyard. He is also known as the person who gave us the Harvest festival as we know it and who wrote the words for the Cornish Anthem. He loved bright clothes, the only black items he wore were his socks (apparently). You can still find his writings in old book shops and the most well know of his biographers is Baring Gould, but it is difficult to find this book still in print anywhere.

The walk was well worth it and I would encourage anyone visiting this area to do it, stout walking boots are a must and a pole would be useful (wish I had not forgotten mine, might have made me feel less dizzy!). At the end of the walk there was a good pint of beer at the end in the garden of 'The Bush' or you can get teas at the church house down by the Church itself (St Morwenna).

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Summer is here!

I had heard that someone in South Devon had seen a swallow on the 1st April (I thought it was an April fools to start with) and did think that I had heard one at around that time but never saw any until yesterday when I saw 3 flying about late afternoon. Today I have seen one sitting on the electricity cables, so they are definitely here. Makes you feel all summery when you see them again.

Edited 24th April: Just looking back at last year, seems the swallows are 5 days late this year here, maybe they got delayed due to the ash!!!!!!!

Saturday, 17 April 2010


As I think I have mentioned, we have two cats, one long haired tabby and one short haired. When they were young I was always worried that they would get run over or hurt in one of their fights. They are now 11 and apart from a few minor problems have always been well.

Charlie Cat (the long haired one) has always seemed the more robust of the two, but ever since he was a young cat he has had a bit of a thirst. I have mentioned it at vaccination time to the vets, but no-one ever seemed very bothered about it. Also, since we have been down here and not working 9-5, they have tended to be fed (now and then) on a 'demand' basis (mainly because I cannot stand the nagging). They always have fresh water, but Charlie prefers to drink out of; the sink; your water glass when you are not looking; standing water outside and any other water that looks pretty horrible. About two weeks ago we noticed that we were having to fill up the fresh water next to their food alot more regularly and he seemed to be sleeping alot more. Also Charlie had developed a snore (he has had it for years, but it has got worse recently). Finally we decided that we really had to take him to the vet; now this is not a simple event, he is not good in cars (although behaved impeccably when we moved down here, involving a 6 hour car journey); he is known to be sick, wee and the other thing within 5 minutes of being in the car, so we have to plan well and try to make sure he hasn't had anything to eat for about 8 hours before the journey. On Wednesday evening last week we took the food away and Thursday morning we set off for the vet (he did wee, puke and the other thing but it was close to home, so I brought him back, we cleaned him up and went off again). The upshot of this is that A) he has a slight heart murmur (only minor panic on my part) and B) he is Diabetic (major panic). We really can't believe it, but here are some things to know about Feline Diabetes:-

1. It is common, 1 in 500 (some say 1 in 400) cats have it.
2. It is predominant in obese and/or male neutered cats (Charlie isn't fat, but he is a neutered male).
3. Bengal cats are particularly predisposed to it.
4. Signs of diabetes are; increased thirst (yes), increased hunger (yes), loosing weight (no).

Cats should not be fed on demand (smacked wrist), and some dried foods can cause problems as they are high in carbohydrates (it can also cause kidney problems if insufficient water is provided and can cause impaction of the cats gut - one of my parents cats developed this and did survive but it could have been otherwise).

Since his diagnosis we have had to feed him (and the other cat) at 12 hourly intervals followed 30 minutes later by a nice quick injection of insulin (I never thought my nurse training would be put to use on one of our cats). He is very good about this but is starving most of the time. We tried to keep them in at night to stop him filling up on mice, but this has proved challenging and last night he went AWOL when it was time for us to go to bed, so we left him out; thankfully he was waiting downstairs when we got up this morning. He is off to the vet hospital tonight for a day of checking his blood glucose tomorrow and hopefully it is good news, he is certainly alot more lively than he has been and has cut down on his drinking considerably. Our poor other cat is very fed up and cannot understand why he cannot have his food when he wants, we have been giving him a mid afternoon, small snack to keep him a bit less miserable.

So an adventure for us all! Hopefully Charlie will get stable on his insulin and hopefully we can feed him a bit more than his is currently allowed as he is so hungry. He is never now going to live to a great old age, life expectancy is about 2 years (on average) for diabetic cats, but he is 11 now, and the average age for cats is 14 years (although most people I know with cats seem to keep them going up to 16 or 18 years). He has had a good life and hopefully we can ensure that his quality of life for the rest of his days is not compromised too much. I will update for those animal lovers amongst you when we have more news.