To Shanti cat, my best friend

To Shanti Shants, my best friend

You brought so much joy into our lives in the 2 3/4 years that we knew you.

From the timid, unsure cat who hid under the sofa when we first got you – forcing us to feed you through that tiny gap – you blossomed quickly into the third and equal member of our family, often yelling at us in your silent way when you considered it was time for more food.

Walking through the front door will never, ever be the same again without you waiting just inches inside for dinner – or just for company from your humans.

Even when Frazer was already home, you almost always walked up the hallway to greet me when I came home from work and seeing you was so often the highlight of my day.

I’ll miss you every time we eat pizza, knowing that our Pizza Cat is no longer there. I’ll think of you when we get Byron delivered, remembering the time when we left the rubbish on the table and you mauled it, licked the containers clean and took the rubbish all the way to the bedroom to your bed (which you hardly ever slept in, of course, preferring to lie on our jumpers and in some really random places). I’ll always remember how you ate an entire bread roll one night, you fought through cling film to eat Frazer’s mum’s homemade fruit cake, and you got very sniffy and interested whenever Frazer had Sainsbury’s brownie bites. Continue reading

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Going vegan: Week one

I’ve been vegetarian for around 12-13 years, since I bought a Goldfinger album which contained some brutal information about slaughterhouses in the sleeve, and heard their songs with animal rights messages like Open Your Eyes and Behind The Mask. I declared to my parents as I returned home from that same shopping trip, having read the album booklet on the way back, that I was now vegetarian. (They were fine with it, except my dad was understandably mildly irritated that he had just been to Sainsbury’s and now had to go back out so I had food to eat!)

For years I’ve been a very happy and content vegetarian. I haven’t missed meat at all; in fact, I barely liked it anyway (I practically only ate chicken) and so it was an unusually easy transition for me. Throughout my vegetarian years I’ve found it easy to be quite strict, eschewing fish, gelatine and non-vegetarian parmesan. But I always held off from taking the next step to veganism, thinking about how much I love cheese and chocolate snacks like Minstrels and Maltesers.

Suddenly, though, practically out of nowhere, I’ve been filled with a new resolve. It partially came from watching Cowspiracy and What The Health last week, the former helping to remind me of the environmental impacts of dairy as part of the wider animal agriculture industry. I felt that not eating meat or dairy is the simplest thing I could do to help the environment. Plus I’ve always been aware in the back of my mind that dairy farming is just as cruel and often inhumane as farming for meat, but now I feel less inclined to ignore it. Continue reading

It’s the little things that matter when it comes to self-care

January is traditionally the time for self improvement, new life goals or big changes, with New Year’s resolutions and trends like Dry January and Veganuary. But it’s also the deepest darkest month, the glum period after Christmas, and the time when it’s acceptable to stay in all weekend and be cosy on the sofa.

So I gradually begun making some small changes at the end of the month and start of February instead, largely in an attempt to stop myself falling indefinitely into indifference and laziness outside work hours.

These are things I began doing, or continued doing with increased purpose, which I believe are good for both mental and physical health. Continue reading

Why we can’t let the terrorists win in London, Brussels, and around Europe

I live in London and I’m going on a city break to Brussels this month.

I got thinking about this after two police officers outside Buckingham Palace in London were injured by a man with a large knife on the same night (August 25) that soldiers on patrol in Brussels were attacked, also by a knifeman.

Both incidents are being treated as suspected acts of terrorism.

These events follow horrific incidents in recent months and years throughout Europe, in places that feel very close to home. London, Brussels, Manchester, Barcelona, Paris, Nice, Stockholm and Berlin have all been targeted.

Brussels_after_the_attacks_(4)
Tributes in Brussels after terrorist attacks in March 2016

But we can’t let the terrorists change our way of lives; that’s what they want. We must keep doing what we want to do in our home cities and go on holidays, supporting our fellow Europeans and their cultures and economies.

Continue reading

International Cat Day and why I love my job

Not every job would let you go and pet cats at the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in Old Windsor on a Tuesday afternoon!

International Cat Day was the perfect opportunity to organise this – the day was trending on social media all day and we had incredible success earlier in the day asking people to send in photos of their cats on the Get Surrey Facebook page. I’m sure the fact I put a photo of my beautiful cat, Shanti, on the post made it all the more attractive to readers 😉

Continue reading

Sharing the love: Lessons in compliments from my cat

As anyone who’s met me in the past year-and-a-half is probably aware, I have a cat. She’s called Shanti and she’s very fluffy and cuddly.

On any given day, I’ll probably say most or all of these things to her:

“You’re lovely.” “You’re so pretty!” “You’re beeeautiful.” “You’re perfect.” “You’re my bestest friend!” and so on.

All normal things for a crazy cat lady to say to her feline friend.

But one day I got thinking – how come I, or indeed so many of us, don’t give these compliments to our real-life human friends with remotely the same regularity?

Continue reading

2017 goals

A short list of 2017 resolutions/goals but I thought it would add some extra obligation if it’s written on the internet.

  • Do a 10k
  • Read 52 books
  • Blog once a week
  • Learn a challenging new piece on the piano, clarinet AND saxophone
  • Write some short stories
  • Go away somewhere new

And this is all the fun stuff already scheduled in that I can look forward to.

  • Live music: Busted, Caro Emerald, Electric Six, Frankie Valli, London Symphony Orchestra, Take That, Electric Light Orchestra, Michael Ball and Alfie Boe
  • Other live events: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Greg Davies
  • Two weddings of schoolfriends
  • Frazer’s return from New Zealand