Sunday, 30 July 2017

More Kitten Fun

I did warn everybody not to expect any sense out of me once the kittens had arrived. All I can think about at the moment is kittens, kittens, kittens!!! They are so utterly adorable and we are spending as much time as possible with them, which of course means doing very little else – but at least I am managing to do lots of videos of them. This delightful time in their lives is so short and before we know it, we will have two mature cats, and we want to enjoy every minute of their sweet young lives with their vigorous play and endearing little ways.

For the first couple of days they were a little in awe of us, probably because we are so much bigger than they are, and they would run away if we got too close. However, this morning when I went in, I noticed a huge change. Ruby came running towards me, crying out to me! For most of the day when she hasn’t been occupied with playing with Lily, she has been trying to climb up onto my lap. I have spent a lot of time today cuddling her and she’s been purring her head off, and then sleeping in my arms, so soft and warm. She has really bonded with me! Lily is more distant with me but I think she is starting to bond with my hubby. It will be so nice if they will come to both of us, because I’ve had so many years of having to watch both our old kitties sitting with him and nobody with me!

Here are the videos I made today.

Catch the Birdie.

A neighbour met my hubby in the street a couple of days ago and gave him this feather wand tool and the tunnel. They have played with both these toys pretty constantly – they are a great success.

Feisty Play.

They had a quite manic play session earlier this evening! No wonder they are so tired afterwards and need a nice long sleep.

I did manage to do the ironing today and for most of the time they were asleep. I also managed to cook dinner! Still, I am going to have to start doing stuff again soon or nothing’s going to get done except kitty dazzling.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Another Busy Day for the New Kittens, and Video Editing

Lily and Ruby are getting much bolder and more adventurous with each passing day. They play so vigorously and then quite suddenly get overcome by tiredness and their little heads and eyelids droop, and they drop off into a deep sleep, usually one draped across the top of the other.

Lily seems better today and we think she is managing to pee OK. The vet said to minimise stress and she should settle down quickly and get over her initial mild cystitis. It certainly hasn’t stopped her from being extremely busy and active today with her sister! I did add to her stress briefly though, at lunch time when I was preparing their food, and stepped back onto her tiny paw – what a yell she gave out, and how terribly guilty I felt!! Kitties are so good though, and don’t bear a grudge, and it was soon forgotten (by her, at least!).

They are both eating very well, and drinking plenty of water, too – this is something we’ve never managed to persuade our previous kitties to do. They would all turn their noses up at a dish of water, preferring to drink rainwater and from other sources outside, whose cleanliness could not be guaranteed!

Lily has purred today. They are both sweet little purrers and the sound is quite delicious! Today we have also noticed the emergence of the most attractive little chirrups and squeaks they make when they are excited by their play. They have the sweetest little voices!

Fortunately they seem to be very much together as far as active and sleepy phases go, as they both enjoy playing together, and then sleeping together – they seem to tire at about the same rate. So we aren’t having one clamouring to play, while the other says “Leave me alone! I want to go to sleep!”

After their first night in the TV cabinet, last night they slept in the chair, and have had their daytime sleeps there, too. We bought them a snug little kitten bed with a cowl roof but they haven’t slept in there yet – my hubby suggested putting one of the incontinence pads in there, that we’d put in the cat carrier for their long drive from their previous home, which would have a recognisable smell, but so far all that has achieved is to give them something else to tug at and play with! I think it will end up in shreds all over the floor eventually!

Here’s a video from today, called “Wrestling Match.” Self-explanatory!

Video Editing

I have just acquired a truly brilliant app for the iPad – LumaFusion. As apps go, this was pretty expensive at £19.99 but a comparable video editor for the computer would cost considerably more. I already have Final Cut Pro X on the iMac and the MacBook (doesn’t run on Windows unfortunately) but for some reason this runs very slowly on the MacBook and I don’t want to spend hours sitting at the iMac in the studio as it’s very tiring. Discovering a video editing app for the iPad was great. It doesn’t have all the features of FCP by any means, but it’s pretty impressive.

I also discovered an excellent tutorial course called “The Epic Guide to LumaFusion” in the form of an e-book with video clips, by Eliot Fitzroy. This was a free download and I can’t imagine why because it’s chock full of useful information and a pretty comprehensive guide to the software.

I am gradually familiarising myself with it and producing some reasonable videos now. What’s so brilliant is that the iPad is both video camera and video editor all in one. My normal dedicated video camera will not transfer footage direct to the Mac and I have to download it to the Windows computer via a cable, and then convert the footage to a format FCP will recognise, which adds considerably to the work and the time involved, but with the iPad the footage is already on the device, and anything I want to add in the form of still photos or additional music/sound effects etc., can be acquired wirelessly. The iPad is so portable and easy, and I can work on it anywhere.

LumaFusion is still quite new, and additional features will be added a time goes on. I can’t find a way yet of capturing still images from the video footage or creating rolling titles, but these features could be in the pipeline. The choice of transitions is very limited but since I normally use simple cross-fades and dips (more fancy transitions can easily distract one from the footage itself) this isn’t a problem. Many of the features normally found on high-end video editors are present, such as key-framing, Ken Burns effect, colour correction, multiple video and audio tracks, picture-in-picture, titles, J&L cuts, etc. etc. There is a choice of destinations for sharing completed videos including Youtube, cloud storage and social media.

I am very happy to have discovered all this just in time for capturing the all-too short period of our kittens’ development. They are so much fun, and so desperately cute and adorable that I want to be filming every single moment of the day!!

I have recently bought a bracket to hold the iPad, with a standard tripod screw on it, and I am hoping to be able to rig this up in my studio over my main work area, but I am not sure yet if this will be feasible and how well it would work. If I want to edit the footage in Final Cut Pro, it will be a simple matter to transfer it wirelessly to the iMac.

Technology is definitely moving on!

Friday, 28 July 2017

Our New Kittens have Arrived!

Yesterday we had a great day out, spending the afternoon visiting Lytes Carey, a National Trust house in Somerset, after having lunch out. You can see pictures of this in my previous post here.

In the early evening we went to collect the kittens. We had been counting down the days till the great event, and then the hours and minutes! As we expected, they had grown quite a bit since we last saw them, and they were ready to go to their new home. We didn’t stay long because they hadn’t been fed for a while, in case they were sick in the car, and we had a long drive to do (it took us just over an hour and a half, better than the two hours I’d expected). Little Lily cried quite a bit in the car but Ruby was very quiet, and eventually they both settled down and even went to sleep for a while.

We brought them in, and opened the cat carrier in the flat sitting room. We have decided this is to be their nursery and playroom for the time being, until they are settled. Their food mat is in this room, and I have set up their litter tray in the kitchen, where we’ve also got their food stored for now. Eventually this will move into our utility room.

They were quite tentative and nervous when they left the carrier, and we allowed them to explore their new surroundings at their own pace and in their own way. It wasn’t long, though, before they got more confident, and started playing – we’d set up a few things for them to play with. I took quite a few video clips of them which I spent the rest of the evening compiling and this video is now on Youtube.

My hubby went in to see them before bed, and told me he couldn’t find them anywhere! He thought they must have got behind the fridge, but I found them inside the empty TV cabinet – my parents used to have video and DVD players in there, and there’s a smoked glass door that folds down in front. At the back of the cabinet is a hole for the cables, and they’d crept in through this! I got them out, telling them we’d got a nice comfy warm bed for them and the cabinet was a bit hard and uncomfortable, but they obviously wanted somewhere dark and enclosed, because my hubby said they were back there again when he went in in the morning!

Since then they have been sleeping on the mat by the door to the garden.

After Lunch Nap 28-7-17

Asleep Entwined 28-7-17

Asleep One on Top of the Other 28-7-17

Asleep Side by Side 28-7-17

They play very vigorously, and then, like all kittens, they start to droop, and drop off to sleep very quickly!

Today they have been playing very busily and enjoying all the toys we’ve got out for them. My hubby came back with a tunnel and a wand toy that were given to him by a lady he met in the street! Here’s the video from today.

We’ve been a bit worried about Lily today, because she’s been doing a lot of digging in the litter tray but not producing anything, and crying quite a bit while trying. I suspected that she might be suffering from stress-induced cystitis, which is a common problem with cats. They had a pretty traumatic day yesterday, being taken away from their mother and siblings, and all their familiar people and surroundings where they’ve been since birth, and trundled along on a long car journey, and then finding themselves in a totally alien environment with people they don’t know. We had planned on taking them to the vet next week, to register them there and get their first inoculations, but we decided to take them this afternoon instead. The vet confirmed my suspicion and said that this is not usually infectious, and the treatment is normally a dose of an NSAID, but in view of Lily’s very young age, she was reluctant to do this because it could cause more problems than it solved. She advised keeping their stress to a minimum, and keeping a close eye on her, and if she hasn’t passed any urine in the next 24 hours, to bring her back, but she had every confidence that the problem would resolve itself. On examination she found her abdomen to be a little bit tender, but she didn’t have a fever and in every other way she was perfectly fine.  She’s playing hard with her sister and is eating and drinking well. So we have decided not to allow any visitors for a few days, to let them settle in fully, and get used to their new surroundings. It’s very early days yet, anyway.

Everyone in the vet’s thought they were utterly adorable! We had a new vet who has just joined the practice, having just qualified, and she said she felt very honoured to be the first to meet our two gorgeous new babies! She said how pretty they were and how cute!

Because Lily isn’t quite 100%, the vet said she wouldn’t do their inoculations today, but all being well, she should be fine by early next week, and we can take them in then, as originally planned.

The lady we got them from said that they hadn’t purred yet and that the boys were usually faster at this than the girls. So it was a lovely surprise this afternoon when I was lying on the floor to be at their level (which my hubby said was a lot less intimidating for them that us great humans towering over them!) and they both came up close, and I was stroking them gently and talking softly to them, and Ruby began to purr! The sweetest little sound! She touched her nose to mine as well. Lily hasn’t purred yet.

Today it seems that Ruby is more forward than Lily, but it may be because Lily is feeling a little under the weather. This doesn’t seem to have stopped her enjoying herself with her new toys, though!

They seem more relaxed today, but they still jump at unexpected noises, even fairly quiet ones, and they run away from us if we try to catch them, so on my hubby’s advice we are trying not to do this too much, but letting them come to us, or getting down to their level.

I have spent the afternoon in the room with them, working on my photos, blog and videos, so that I can enjoy watching them, and for them to get more used to me. They have spent quite a lot of that time asleep – they do get very tired very quickly with all that vigorous playing, and anyway cats of all ages do sleep such a lot! It’s also given me a chance for a bit of a rest after our very busy day yesterday.

Visit to Lytes Carey

Yesterday was the Big Day when we went up to fetch our new kittens. As we did when we went to view them a few weeks ago, we made it a day out, and as before, we visited a National Trust house, this time the delightful little Tudor manor house Lytes Carey, very much smaller than Barrington Court, and very intimate, and one could imagine living there! This house was furnished, with a variety of furniture and artefacts from various periods of history.

We had lunch at the Podymore Inn in the village of Podimore (Podymore is the old spelling) – a delicious meal – we both had one of their speciality pies. We also had a starter, and I had a pudding as well – really pushing the boat out on our day out! (Extra diet days to follow this week!)

Here are the pictures of Lytes Carey.

01 Arches

02 The House

03 Archway

04 Main Entrance

05 Avenue of Topiary

06 Passageway with Firewood

There is a quite beautiful little chapel.

07 Entering the Chapel

08 Chapel Altar and Window

09 Chapel Roof Frieze

10 Chapel Roof Frieze

11 Chapel Door

12 Chapel Candlestick

13 Rear of Chapel

One of two framed Latin manuscripts in the chapel. I thought the script was very beautiful.

14 Latin Manuscript in Chapel

Moving in to the house proper, this is the Great Hall.

15 Great Hall Roof

16 Great Hall

18 Great Hall Roof Detail

19 Great Hall Minstrels' Gallery

An inner courtyard.

20 Courtyard

The drawing room.

21 Fireplace

22 Cabinet in Drawing Room

Spiral staircase leading to the upper floor – my hubby went up but I wasn’t able to get up there, so I looked at the album of photos of the upstairs rooms, where there are four-poster beds and beautiful plaster ceilings.

23 Spiral Staircase

Some beautiful antiques.

24 Display Alcove

25 Lantern Clock

26 Writing Desk

An ancient herbal.

27 Lyte's Herbal

28 Carved Chair

A pretty hydrangea just coming out, beside the front door.

29 Hydrangea

We were told to look out for the topiary of the peacock with the Mohican!

30 Peacock with Mohican

The place didn’t stay open very late, so we had tea outside the tea room (it was packed as a great party of people had arrived) and I ate a huge slice of cake! After this I felt absolutely stuffed and didn’t eat for the rest of the day!

We had a bit of time to spare after this, and had a look in the shop, and then made our leisurely way over to pick up the kittens.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


No change on my desk, apart from a bit more clutter making it generally more untidy and neglected, but I have been quite creative in organising my now complete walk-in pantry. The final step was for the electrician to fit the light on Monday, and I put some things on the inside of the door. Over a couple of days I made labels for all my recycled coffee jars containing dry goods, and these are now displayed where they are most visible when you open the door. I am beyond thrilled with it all.

47 Gen View Including Door

50 Labelled Jars

55 Inside the Door

Full description of the finished pantry here.

How quickly the time flies! It seems only yesterday that we had a whole month to wait to pick up our new kittens, and suddenly the Great Event is happening tomorrow! We are both so excited about it.

We have been busy preparing the place for their arrival, with my hubby working hard in the garden to kitty-proof the perimeter. It all looks pretty good, but if there’s the smallest cranny, our little escape artists are bound to find it! They won’t be let out for quite a while though. I have got the sitting room and kitchen in the flat cleared ready for their arrival – for the day or two, they will live exclusively in there so that they can get their bearings. The pantry was finished in the nick of time and I am now fully back in my own kitchen, and the small one in the flat is now cleared and cleaned.

We are hoping for fine weather tomorrow because we are making a day of it, having a meal out and visiting another National Trust house in the area where the kittens are, before going to collect them at about 6 p.m.

There will be photos of our new babies next week, I can promise you that!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Walk-In Pantry–Complete!

This morning the electrician came to fit the light in my new pantry. After he had gone, I finished putting the food in, and added the things to the inside of the door, so the job is now complete.

46 Pantry Complete - Gen View 24-7-17

Here’s another view, standing slightly further back.

47 Gen View Including Door

Here is the new light. To the right of it you can see the sensor. This detects movement, and turns the light on, so it comes on when you open the door. If you don’t keep moving, the light goes off again. There’s something you can adjust on the sensor to set this time interval.

48 Top Shelf and Light Off

The light switched on. In the photo it looks very dark beneath the top shelf but in reality the light illuminates the entire space very adequately.

49 Top Shelf and Light On

All my jars with their labels. I am more than delighted with how they look!

50 Labelled Jars

The marble slab. This feels lovely and cool. When I was growing up, my mum had a huge walk-in pantry with two vast slate slabs, and a ventilator window to one side. Every pantry should have a slab! My hubby and I chose this light colour, thinking that it would reflect the light and keep the interior of the pantry nice and bright. You can see I’ve got my water filter, the egg rack, some tomatoes and cherries, and the butter, keeping cool on the slab.

51 Marble Slab

The spice rack on the right-hand side of the pantry.

52 Spice Rack

Before replacing all the spices, I cleaned them all with a sponge and warm soapy water. When the spice rack was in the utility room, they got very dusty. The jars are now all in alphabetical order, making them easier to find. I have had to put the larger jars in the shelves at the bottom, and there are also some spare ones down there too. This rack was made for me many years ago when I got my first place, and it’s been with me on every move since. The top part of it has two rows of hooks for hanging utensils on, but I haven’t filled these yet. It will be good to free up a bit of space in the utensil jar beside the cooker, which is bursting at the moment – I will be hanging the ones I use less frequently on the spice rack, and now it’s in the pantry it is much more accessible.

Here is the left-hand side of the pantry. There are tins at the top, and the taller spaces are occupied by things in constant use.

53 LH Side

The temporary arrangement under the bottom shelf.

54 Temporary Floor Layout

I have taken one of the moveable shelves that I made from the top and put it under here for the moment – I can’t have it on the top shelf because if I do, there isn’t room for the really tall jars of pasta etc. The right-hand side of this space under the bottom shelf will eventually be occupied by the wine rack, which will be reduced in size to fit, but in the meantime it will be used by the new kittens as a climbing frame! Two previous generations of kittens have used it and they have all absolutely loved it.

Underneath this moveable shelf I’ve got a couple of plastic baskets with miscellaneous things in – these will occupy better places once we start munching our way through the huge number of duplicates found when I sorted out that horrible old cupboard!

Inside the door.

55 Inside the Door

This afternoon I put the finishing touches to the pantry by fixing the three metal mesh magazine racks to the inside of the door, for storing my rolls of paper etc. The top one holds greaseproof paper, baking parchment and foil – packets which are open and in current use. The middle one holds the centres of rolls of kitchen paper. Each one holds different sizes of freezer bags, and I’ve written on the top of each roll what it contains, e.g. “LH,” “M,” “S” – “Large with Handles,” “Medium” (without handles), “Small” etc. This was a storage tip I picked up years ago and it’s brilliant for keeping your freezer bags organised and tidy. Unless the bags have been used for meat, I wash them and re-use them. I used to keep these rolls in one of those red plastic baskets, but this way, they take up much less room. The bottom rack holds unopened rolls of baking parchment, cling film etc. To the right is a hook on which I have hung my apron. All this stows away tidily when the door is closed.

I thought long and hard how best to attach these racks to the door. I got this idea from Pinterest, and it seems that most people attach them with Velcro, but I didn’t want to do this. Because the racks are so thin fore-and-aft, there was no room to insert a screwdriver to screw them to the door. I drilled holes in the door where I wanted the fixings to go, and wrapped a cable twist around each screw, which I then screwed into the door. I marked the positions of the screws on each rack with a thread tied through the metal mesh, and lined these markers up with the screws, threading the cable twists through the mesh, and twisting them together to secure the racks in place. It was an awfully fiddly job but it works a treat! The racks had to be placed with plenty of space above them, in order to be able to get the paper rolls out.

The rest of the kitchen is still somewhat chaotic. Now that lots of things have migrated into the pantry, I’ve got the chance to free up space in the rest of the kitchen and get things organised better, which will mean having fewer things out on the tops, and the whole thing will be a lot tidier, and easier to keep clean. Positives all round!

Finally, a review of the journey from chaos to order, with some pretty horrendous stuff in between (dry rot!).

What the space originally looked like. When we moved, I had asked the kitchen fitters to leave this cupboard as it was part of the character of the old house, but this proved to be a mistake because it was a complete pain to use.

01 Original Cupboards Closed 25-3-17

You can see from this photo of the top half that it was absolutely full of stuff, but what I wanted always seemed to be at the back, and I had to take everything out all the time. My hubby put the intermediate shelves in for me which helped a bit, but the whole thing was absolutely awful and it made me tear my hair with frustration on a daily basis! I used to dream of a walk-in pantry but couldn’t envisage how it might work.

02 Top Cupboard Open 25-3-17

The bottom half of the cupboard, cleared, and with the old heavy duty sheet of lino on the floor removed, revealing the dry rot underneath.

03 Bottom Cupboard Open and Cleared 25-3-17

What a total nightmare!

04 Rot in Bottom Cupboard 25-3-17

05 Detail of Rot in Bottom Cupboard 25-3-17

It turned out that the rot had only invaded two short joists, and once these, and the rotten floor boards above had been removed, it was just a case of replacing what was lost. In order to do this, the whole of the old cupboard had to be taken out.

During the time the work was done, we decamped into Mum’s tiny kitchen in the flat. It did us fine! How fortunate we are to have access to two kitchens! (You can see how long ago this all was – there are primroses growing on the bank outside!)

08 Decamping into Flat Kitchen 1 8-4-17

The old cupboard and rotten timber removed.

09 Cupboard and Rotten Timber Removed 18-4-17

New joists going in.

14 New Joists 19-4-17

New rendering on the walls after the old had been hacked off – they had to remove quite a lot of material to make sure the dry rot hadn’t tracked up into the wall.

16 New Rendering on Walls 19-4-17

New floor boards.

18 New Floor Boards 19-4-17

The repairs completed, waiting for decoration and the construction of the new pantry.

20 Work Completed 20-4-17

The old defunct ventilator blocked off, and a new one installed.

09 Ventilator Plaster Completed

New flooring.

01 New Flooring and Skirting Board 4-7-17

The frame of the new pantry being constructed.

03 Frame 5-7-17

New shelves installed. When this work was finished, I applied several coats of linseed oil to seal and protect them, and finished them off with a coat of beeswax polish.

18 Shelves Completed 7-7-17

The door with the side panel made from spare laminate floor pieces. The cornice from the side of the double oven unit has been put along the top to complete the finish.

16 Finished Pantry Door Closed 7-7-17

Making additional free-standing shelves.

31 Shelf Factory 18-7-17

The additional shelves completed, and waiting for the slab to arrive.

38 LH Side with New Shelves

My beautiful new pantry all fitted out and filled with food and lit up!

47 Gen View Including Door

I am beyond thrilled with it. It probably sounds silly but to have a walk-in pantry like this is a dream come true for me. I am going to enjoy my cooking so much more now.

The whole project has been finished in time for the arrival of our new kittens on Thursday. This is a fresh start in so many ways!

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