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Amidst the news of spending cuts, spending cuts and even more spending cuts this morning, a couple of statements confirming the start of the wintry weather, as if de-icing the car wasn’t enough, sneaked across the radio airwaves a few mornings this week. A week or two ago, I mentioned that pink footed geese had arrived at a local nature reserve and on Wednesday morning the BBC weather forecast mentioned the early arrival of Bewick Swans in England as an indicator of a potentially cold winter ahead. For us in Scotland, the real signal that winter has arrived is the mention of the Cockbridge to Tomintoul road in the the traffic and weather report and sure enough those wonderful names floated across the radio waves.

When the clocks go back next weekend I will be driving most of my journey to work avoiding the snow and ice mainly in the dark. This week, though, it has been a pleasure driving for most of the week in gorgeous winter sunshine showing off the beautiful autumn reds, browns and golds of the trees as the leaves fall to the ground.

Loch Leven, which I pass by each day, has looked incredible and the pink footed geese have been evident in their numbers; as well as a few deer, magpies, who I have to acknowledge as I pass them, buzzards and a white tailed eagle. Every day I pass by, I moan because I haven’t a camera with me. I promise if I do I’ll post the pictures.

What no pictures of cats I hear you say. It isn’t possible to have a Rhumtetum blog without a cat picture so as not to disappoint I have included a picture of Bernie and his sister, Teaser, who still lives with us. As for his book I’m holding all the promo stuff back until the book is available on Amazon.

Loving Purrs to all

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A new Howler

Meryl and her baby (BBC news picture)

I saw this story today and just had to change the planned blog.

This six-week-old baby Howler Monkey was revealed to the public for the first time at Edinburgh Zoo. The full story can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-10687938 as can the picture.

These monkeys hail from the forests of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. The male Howler Monkeys, according to National Geographic, ‘have large throats and specialized, shell-like vocal chambers that help to turn up the volume on their distinctive call.’ This apparently makes them the loudest animal on the earth and their howls can be heard for up to 3 miles away.

But they haven’t heard Costa. I’m not aware of Costa having modified vocal apparatus but when he is in full shout he can be heard around our whole street, just ask our neighbours. We have had to resort to locking him down at night so he doesn’t disturb any one. His strange peacock like cry echoes through the night if we don’t. Not only is he loud he is as regular as a church bell ringing every hour, not on the hour mind you, but certainly at hourly intervals. As I’ve said before I think we get away with it because he doesn’t sound like a cat.  I can hear you say that your street can’t be three miles long so there isn’t any comparison. But there is.

When we compare strength  among animals, ants are rolled out as superheros due to their ability to lift 5 times their own body weight.  Howler Monkeys from my very brief unscientific research are on average at least three and a half times the size of Costa which probably means that they have a much larger lung capacity than Costa. So far so good but the comparison loses ground due to the Howler Monkey having modified vocals. For that reason the Howler Monkey should be disqualified.

All things considered I think that pound for pound Costa must be the loudest animal on the planet. At 4.00 am, usually after he has cleared his throat with a couple of mini – shouts, when he decides to offer one of his Pavarotti type vocals I defy anyone to say he is not the loudest animal on the planet. Our neighbours will, I’m sure, support our position on this. They may, of course, wish to compare notes with those people who stay near Edinburgh Zoo but in the early hours if we haven’t locked Costa down, the debate may well be a little academic.

Rhumtetum

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It’s been a strange old week. Last week, I told you about my need for company and how it was rewarded on Monday when Coco moved in. Well, on Wednesday, Coco left me so my reward was a very brief one. But later onWednesday Fara joined me, she is also a gorgeous cat, so since Wednesday I’ve been trying to woo this beautiful young cat. She like Coco comes with an impressive pedigree but she is playing hard to get. Every time I make a move she gives me a clout over the head for my troubles and she hisses at me like a snake. But as I have said before on this blog I will succeed. So no company for weeks and like the proverbial bus two lovely companions arrive in the same week.

Fara Waiy

I do like this time of year with its lighter nights; lots of birds in the garden and dad and mum working and sitting out in the garden makes it fun place to be. The weather has been great and because mum and dad are on holiday and have been at home most days I’ve been allowed to wander round the garden to my hearts content. Mousa, the one I battled with the other week, has been out on his harness. I’m not sure that a big tomcat like him should be seen on a harness but he seems to be enjoying it and dad is happy with him. As long as he, dad that is not Mousa, doesn’t try to put me on a harness we’ll be fine. The neighbours I think see dad as the one that’s behaving strangely as he wanders round the garden with this huge cat on a leash.

Mousa is being trained on the harness because he has behavioural problems and is very aggressive. He is an exceptionally large powerful cat and is a stunning example of his breed. He was a big softy who loved dad and would sit on top of the couch until dad came home from work and as soon as he arrived Mousa would ask to be picked up and cuddled.

As he got older, he like me was difficult to keep in the house. As entire cats we like to make our mark by spraying. We love the smell but mum and dad don’t, especially in the house, so we moved out to the pens. The pens are fine they have heating and lighting, a huge amount of spac,e and we get out and about in the garden. Things went well until last summer when the next door neighbours got garden contractors in. The contractors took chain saws to the trees behind the pens and scared the wits out of us. Mum and dad were at work when all this happened so they didn’t know anything about it. The workmen accidentally cut through all the power cables to the pens and because Mousa lives in the front pen he saw it all. I ran and hid in my cabin as did the other cats but Mousa had no fear of people and stayed out to watch. We think that one of the workmen came into the pen to check on any damage they might have caused and somehow scared Mousa. Whatever happened, since that day Mousa has been difficult to handle, biting dad and scaring mum. Dad has been working with him for weeks now and has managed to get Mousa to walk on the harness round the garden and he is handling much better. I wouldn’t have that patience.

Dad says he has to go back to work next week so my freedom will be curtailed. He also says, if his Bernie book is successful, things will change but until then I have to wait until he returns home from work every night before I can stroll the garden. He also says that he will continue to work each night with Mousa as he is responding to the attention and support that dad is giving him.

Mum has more confidence and is now happy to speak to Mousa and dad says he won’t give up.

Dad is  continuing to work hard on his book  ‘Bernie Bolts Bergen’ , The book is, I think, beginning to look really good and will be ready to launch soon so dad won’t give up there either.

I won’t give up on Fara because if I’m lucky I will be rewarded with another gorgeous feline companion. A hat-trick of lovely friends in as many weeks would be such a wonderful way to start summer.  If I’m lucky, I’ve been lucky so far this year, 2010 could just be my year.

So if you feel something is worthwhile don’t give up. Until next week I’ll leave you with the words of Peter Gabriel

‘Don’t give up
‘cos you have friends
Don’t give up
You’re not beaten yet
Don’t give up
I know you can make it good’

Purrs and meows

Costa

Costa

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Since last week’s blog I have spent my entire week sitting longingly outside the girl’s pen staring at Coco.  Normally I would run around the garden, chase the odd sparrow and robin, chew a bit grass and laze around. Not this week, as soon as I was let out of my pen, I ran round and sat outside her pen. Every now and then I would get up and spray either the nearby bush, the pen and even Coco. The latter caused problems as she would run to the opposite side of the pen and lick frantically until she was clean.  I sang as much as I could through the day and night, much to mum and dad’s displeasure and, apparently,  the neighbour’s,  and  every now and then when forgot the words to my love songs, I shouted out as loudly as I could, just so she knew I was still there.   I suppose in any other walk of life my behaviour would be classed as stalking but I’m a cat, a tomcat, so I’m expected and I’m allowed to behave like this.  Towards the end of last week Coco’s ardour seemed to cool off and I was worried but I kept going. Another week of celibacy had passed.

Yesterday, Coco’s interest seemed to return and I sang as loudly and as clearly as I could, much to the displeasure of Mum and Dad, and the neighbours, but it seemed to work. Today, I sat in the garden and crooned outside her pen. Dad distracted me and somehow sneaked her into my pen. He shouted on me, I ran over, as I always do to see what he wanted. It was only then I realised that my dreams had come true and Coco was in my pen.

Coco: The love of my life

I sprang immediately into action but Coco was more interested in Mousa in the next door pen. Now I know that Mousa is a strikingly handsome guy, a Grand Champion and a big strong cat with all the attributes that one would expect. I managed to sneak a photo of him in  So far though he hasn’t sired any kittens and I have. Coco and Mousa spent some time together before and it would appear that she really likes him. She was previously Rhumtetum’s gal and I think she sees a lot of Rhumtetum in Mousa. Her whole time in my pen has been spent  purring, whimpering and meowing to Mousa. Every time I have made any sort of move she has walloped me.  Mousa has attempted to intimidate me from the other side of the separating mesh by pushing his chest out, stretching to his full 5.5 kg weight and fluffing his fur making him looking even bigger than normal.

So today I made a number of advances, the majority of them have been unwanted and I’ve received a couple of swipes for my troubles so mating is going to require judgement on my part as well as timing. I know I don’t have the classy pedigree, the Grand Champion medal and rosettes, the good looks or the sophistication of Mousa but I’m still a decent looking bloke and my track record as a loving daddy is way better than his. I know how to behave myself and unlike Mousa I don’t need to be harnessed and walked like some silly dog,  I can manage that all on my own.

Mousa Catcha - The third person in this relationship

Mousa has watched my every move and attempted to talk to Coco every time I have attempted to perform which is causing me real problems.  I am not an exhibitionist but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do, so I will persist.  Meantime, Coco still wants to be in his pen. While she is in my pen, she is mine but the victory feels a hollow one.

I will do my best and I hope that I can win her over. I may be able to report success by next weeks blog until then wish me well   in my endeavours

Costa

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Easter Break

Easter break or spring break, if you prefer, feels like it has been a long time in coming. The last few weeks at work have been very tiring and almost manic at times as a result of staff absences, student issues and other work pressures. This has meant that time on the book, over the last few weeks, has been squeezed in.

Good Friday was my first breather from the seemingly relentless chase of these weeks. I had thought I would get up a little late, have a late breakfast and then back to the computer to finalise the book. However, we had agreed apparently to babysit for one of the grandkids, so plans to re-key were set aside and and off we went. We took the train across to Edinburgh, a 30 minute journey, and went to the National Museum of Scotland (NMS). The visit was excellent and grandson enjoyed every minute of it. We didn’t manage to see all the exhibits, he  is only 6, and there is 6 or 7 floors of exhibit to see but nonetheless a good time was had by all. If you ever have the opportunity to  visit the NMS please do so, it is certainly worthy of your time.

While there was no work done on Bernie’s story the visit provided the working title of the next book. I must finish off Bernie’s story first but the broad plans for the next book now have a focus. The day finished with us taking said grandson home, having a curry with his parents and then sitting til late evening. Result – a late morning this morning and another change of plan.

After a late breakfast we decided we were in need of fresh air. So we jumped in the car and drove to St Andrews. This old university town holds a special allure for me. I must visit the town umpteen times a year, walk its old streets, use its restaurants and coffee shops, watch the golf and walk the marvellous beach (if you are old enough to remember it is the one used at the beginning of Chariots of Fire). I do have in my head a quirky golf story for young kids that would need an illustrator but it is some way of from being firmed up so enough of that for now. The old place was busy, it is amazing that this smallish town in the East Neuk of Fife attracts people from all over the world because of a game with a stick and ball. I think that is also part of the town’s attraction for me, as we can hear different accents, dialects and languages in our little corner of Fife.  Today, there was a little antiques fair and a book fair to visit so it made for another good day.

The two day break I think was needed. It has put the plans back a little but I’m now off for the best part of two weeks so catch up is possible. The book launch date I’ll sort over the next few days and I hope to blog about the various stages as we go. Meantime I’m in the good books with my better half and grandson and have a working title for the next book.

Happy Easter

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I’m back. I had to use all my cutsie skills to get back on the blog today after last week’s shenanigans, more of which I will tell later.

Today was a glorious sunny spring day and dad was working in the garden all day.  I worked hard too. I chased that big juicy blackbird again, there is enough meat on that bird to feed me for at least two days. Despite my best attempts he is still at large but his time will come I’m sure of it. I wasn’t sure if I would be allowed out today after last week which I suppose I should tell you about.

After posting my Saturday meows  last week I was allowed to wander around the garden some more. Dad was popping in and out of the house so there was no problem. He spent some time in the cat pens speaking to Mousa one of the other cats and until last week’s encounter, one of my friends. Dad left Mousa’s pen unlocked. Mum asked him if that would be a problem. Dad said no because Mousa would not be able to open the run door. He was partly right because Mousa, despite being a huge powerful pussycat isn’t the brightest pussy cat in the world. But the problem bit he got wrong, he forgot that I could open doors and that is where the difficulties started

Dad popped inside the house and I decided to go and speak to Mousa in his run. We’d spoken lots of time before but he gets a little jealous when I get out. Anyway, I opened his door and walked into his pen. He snarled at me and I snarled back and that was it. He launched himself at me, taking me by surprise. I don’t like fighting, if you’ve seen my picture you’ll see I’m a friendly boy. But I had to defend myself from this 5kg plus cat so Round 1 of the fight commenced. The fight was nasty, it was a bit like the fight in Bernie’s book when he and Jingles do battle.

‘Both cats moved their heads violently from side to side trying to escape the others vice like grip whilst attempting to sink their razor sharp front fangs into their opponent. Locked together the two cats spun in a blur rolling around the floor of the tunnel. Unable to hit with their front paws they kicked and clawed each other with their back paws leaving deep scratches in the belly of their opponent. The noise and snarling continued and the air around the two cats was filled with flying fur and spit’  (Bernie Bolts Bergen (release April 2010)).

I managed to escape Mousa’s clutches and moved to another part of the pen. Dad appeared, he had heard the commotion and had come to separate us. I was glad. As I watched Dad coming towards the pen Mousa realised that I wasn’t paying attention and launched another attack. It was round 2; once more, we were locked in battle. Dad ran over and grabbed the nearest thing he could, a snow shovel. 

Slowly wedging the snow shovel between us he separated us and Mousa retreated, But I wasn’t finished, Mousa had started something and I, despite being a lot smaller than him, was going to finish it.  Much to Dad’s surprise and Mousa’s surprise I bounded over the top of the snow shovel landed on Mousa and knocked him over. Round 3 and I had the upper hand now and  I managed to get a few more blows in before Dad separated us for a final time.

Dad wasn’t pleased. We both had to be cleaned up I had a few scratches as did Mousa. I had taken some skin off my back leg which required Dad to treat it, it really nipped, and put a bandage on me. He then cleaned Mousa up and treated his wounds. We were both given some cat painkillers. In fighting terms it was a draw but Mousa can no longer claim to be top cat.

As for me Dad removed the bandage today. everything has healed. I’m back to my usual purry self although Dad hasn’t completely forgiven me, especially after that last attack. The girls now think that I’m not only a good looking cat but I’m also a brave boy having taken on the big bruiser.  Mousa, I think, would like a rematch but I can’t see Dad agreeing.

Better Go

Love

Costa

PS problem with the pics tonight will load some later

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I enjoy Saturdays. I get to roam the garden and chase the birds. The robin that I talked about last week is back but I’ve decided, for today, just to ignore him.  I’ll let him get over confident and then I’ll get him.There is also a gorgeous big juicy blackbird that I would like to catch but he’s too wise. One chase and he’s off, unlike the robin who likes to tease.

Mornings are great just now the birds are all back after a cold hard winter. There are a couple of nesting birds in the garden and the whole thing bursts into life at 5.00 am for a few hours. Even though I can’t catch them I like the activity.

I’m still banned from the kitchen, something to do with my attempts to re-scent it with the occasional spray.

On a very personal note I am extremely disappointed, and frustrated I may add, as I have had no female company so far this year. I am caring, affectionate, handsome and look after my girls when they are with me. There are three girls next door and each one would love my company but it doesn’t appear to be happening. As you can see from the pics I produce the most adorable kittens.  The last litter I sired had seven kittens in it and every single kitten looked like me! That’s dominant genes for you.

Apparently mum and dad have said that they don’t have time for kittens just now and we will have to wait until later in the year. What time they need I don’t know. I do all the initial work and then the mum rears the kittens. Meantime they will have to put up with my singing throughout the day and night. ‘I’m just a lonely boy’ is currently my favourite number. I’m thinking of starting my own facebook campaign to get mum and dad to change their mind. I wonder if anyone would vote?

It’s sunny out there and there are cat tasks to do.  I’ve hedges and trees to scratch and spray, birds to chase, songs to sing and a warm spot to lie down on.

See you all next Saturday

Love

Costa

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