Tuesday, 24 December 2013


Peace and Plenty to everyone at Christmas time and always.

Time to remember all of those who we have lost this year, all who have stood by our side through good and bad times - and all of those less fortunate than ourselves.

And do not forget to feed the birds in this cold weather!

The tree is lit on the Village Green, carols have been sung, presents wrapped and cheers to everyone.

We are having a quiet Christmas this year, staying in, watching The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, drinking lots of spiced tea and eating Turkish Delight - of course. It has been raining and the wind blew in gales on our hill, but no snow, Narnia has not come. 

Later there will be a ghost story. This year we are reading this, with a haunting portrait of the ravishing Violet, Duchess of Rutland on the cover.

These are a few of our favourite ornaments and items which brighten winter.

We once had a real mouse, named Marvin, who lived under the stairs. Since then we keep to china and cloth versions.

It is a family tradition to exchange a Santa Claus. We have far too many and this year we shared them with anyone who had none. I love the skinny legs on this one and his tails.

Who would have thought? Bunny Santa, with wings! Look at his delightful little pink nose, and his pointy shoes. He is kind of an Edwardian Santa.
Best of all I love the idea of Santa as a simple, but magical wood being
who lives at peace with the animals.
We collect lots of things which seem to belong to Winter, and Christmas.
Trees are a favourite theme.
And Polar Bears.  
Despite all of our collections, we live in a tiny cottage.
It seems china shaped like little houses has found it's way into our collections.
Our clock is even house shaped.
You should share what you have with those who have not. Be they 2 or 4 legged.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares..

This year a little cat named Munchkin is with us. He has been living rough for 3 years after his elderly owner died and he was rehomed many miles from there. Not understanding that she had died he ran away and over six months he slowly made his way back home. To find that it was no longer his home at all. Kindly neighbours continued feeding him but cat shelters were full, no one could take him and so he remained homeless for 3 years. Until now. Mrs Black so misses Issy, her Naughty Kitten but we were not looking for another cat. This one found us. He may not stay forever, but he will be at home for Christmas.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


Isabella Elizabeth
May 14th 2007 - October 18th 2013

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light.
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay ~   A Few Figs from Thistles, 1920

Bright eyes, burning like fire
Bright eyes, how can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly,
Suddenly burn so pale?
Bright eyes
~ Mike Batt ~  for Watership Down



Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
~ Christina Rossetti ~  


I Am Not There
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.


This year the glowing embers of Autumn were snuffed out.

Our home is very quiet and still as if blanketed with deep snow.
It’s Narnia without the magic.
For the moment it feels safe here, silent, wrapped in all things white,
we are numb and dim of pain. 


We will return to posting when the ice that grips our hearts begins to melt.




It had been a long time since a kitten had come to share our home. We had lain to rest our three elderly cat companions, moved from life in town to a remote part of Devon and taken on two completely wild ferals to roam the farms. Then she came.

Issy ruled our house and stole our hearts and those of the two wild cats who hissed and growled at us, but were her 'Big Cats'.

Mrs Black and her husband who had once had their own kittens took Issy under their paws and brought her up as family.  They taught her to climb, to fight and to hunt.

She taught them to play and to trust in humans. Without Issy Mrs Black would never have become the excellent housekeeping and shoppe keeping cat which she is today.

A classic Tortoiseshell, from the beginning she was the centre of attention. Known as ‘the naughty kitten’. She was a pouncing contradiction, fiery yet frail, wanton yet affectionate, fearless yet timid. Always into everything, ferocious defender of her territory and a fierce hunter.

Her star burnt ever so brightly. She was, quite simply, luminous.

We took thousands of photographs of her.

It was impossible to resist her. She was a Peter Pan, never really growing up, a Tiger who was afraid of her own shadow if she thought her humans or the Big Cats were not near to protect her. Always reaching out to us with an uplifted paw - she is our eternal kitten.

Being feral and having lived rough before we took them in, the Big Cats had fragile health and many vet bills. We did not know that Issy was ill until it was advanced. We lost her to one of the big three of fatal cat diseases, FIPs (Feline Infectious Peritonitis). It is a secret killer, we seldom know when it strikes, it takes those with weak immune systems, and there is no effective treatment or cure. It is always fatal and takes the form of many disturbing and horrific symptoms before it finally stills the life which it has crept up on.

Issy fought it like a Lion inside of a beautiful kitten and hid the deadly disease from us. She suffered with resorption ulcers and had dental surgery .... and more dental surgery. She began to fade away and the bright light to ebb.

Her fever could not be controlled, she had blood tests, then an operation, we kept faith with Hope, who abandoned us. FIPs was found to be active in the tissue of a lymph node in her stomach. The vet visits and operations terrified her and we chose to have her put to sleep before the disease had the chance to frighten her further. She was recovering from the lymph node surgery and yet the evil disease would still claim her. But we did not let the wraith take her.

The Angel of Death - Evelyn De Morgan, 1880

We entrusted her to gentle Death who came on great silent wings and softly wrapped her in her cape while we held her in our arms. 

You cannot reach the age I find myself now at and not have loved and lost, pets, parents, lovers, friends and colleagues. I have known great love and am grateful for this. Yet in the face of all reason and logic - the truth remains that I have never loved any person or anything more than I loved this bright kitten.

In the greater scheme of events we realise the life of one small cat was rather insignificant. But to each of us our own sorrow is a deep dark ocean that we must cross without a lantern, boat or sail.

Our hearts and thoughts are one with all who have the courage to love.

 There is a light that never goes out.
 "Resembling a London street lamp it stood in the middle of the forest and shone day and night.
A lone connection to the outside world."

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


I do hope that you received your invitation by Owl or Raven post

 Welcome to our little village soirée, my husband is the host. 
I know that some of you have really come quite far
Such a pretty dress - you always are the star! 
Dear me! I seem to have misplaced my hat  
Such a crowd, mind you don't tread on a cat!
Come bewitching ladies, do come near 
many dashing gentlemen await you here.
This one is impatient to dance. You like his costume?
He is quite merry and enjoys a game of chance. 

Do come on through, 
  your familiars,  are very welcome too!
A dear rich old Uncle and Aunt run a crèche in the dungeon,
  he is very entertaining and her cooking is sublime.

No need to worry they will all be fine, and The Professor will look in from time to time.

And teach them a few things.
Please, make yourself comfortable in the drawing room while I check on dinner
From Here:
Barbara Hulanicki wallpapers, from HERE:
Enjoy our art collection, Uncle was a lottery winner. 
John Atkinson Grimshaw
Under The Moonlight
A Wood Nymph, lithograph by Henry Bencke
Nocturne in Black and Gold,
James McNeil Whistler
Mrs Black's dear departed husband

Follow the housekeeper
 if you want to have a look around the house,
Go quietly
 and your cat might catch a mouse.
Stop and admire the view
but whatever that you do
     beware the East Wing ......
It's haunted, by more than just one thing.
Take in the gardens
and the terrace if the evening is fine
But what becomes of you should you wander into the woods
 is no fault of mine.  
Come on through to the dining room when you are ready to meet

Take a seat, we could use some extra chairs I think.

Things could get a little wild
Better have a drink. 
"Do join our after dinner games", the host said.

"And, if you are staying, don't forget to take a candle to bed,  or unawares,

you may find that you trip over a cat on the stairs."
   We hope you like your room, 
or you may have to make your way to a local Inn
 through the gloom.
We trust that most will sleep well .....
The Nightmare, John Henry Fuselli

If not, keep the light on and read a good book,


  We even have some for your cats, there, in that little nook. 

Safe journey to all of you out on the roads, and the skies

And as we say our goodnights and goodbyes

  - to one and all -

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