An Ornithological Observation


Being a parent can be confusing at times ,especially when you tend to suffer from foot-in-mouth syndrome.  As your young child grows older, you often have to be careful not to read too much into what he says, and you most definitely need to take time to consider any reply.  Failure to do so could lead you into all sorts of problematic situations.

Take yesterday for instance.  There I was, washing up in the kitchen when son no 3 appeared.  As he merrily chatted away about nothing in particular, I nodded my head wisely.  To be honest I was barely listening, instead pondering the important question of what I’d cook for tea if Robin Thicke ever came to visit.

Suddenly son no 3 exclaimed loudly, “If Dad was a bird, he’d be a Great Tit!”

006Snapped out of my reverie at such a statement from a small boy, I turned to look at him as I tried to suppress a giant guffaw.  I didn’t know whether to reprimand him for being so rude, or to slap him wholeheartedly on the back for cracking a funny, albeit a naughty one.

Wondering how on earth to answer, I felt my eyebrows shoot skywards.  Barely keeping my hilarity under control, I just managed to utter a scarcely audible, “Errrm, what??”

Son no 3 pointed innocently to a large bag of bird food on a shelf.  He smiled and said, “Look at the bird pictures on the packet.  That one looks like Dad and it’s called a Great Tit.”

Oh.  Right.


*breathes a sigh of relief*


Party Planning, Chuffin Cat Style


Games Best Avoided048

Musical Chairs – By all means play some music.  Pick a Chair.  Just don’t pick the chuffin cat’s chair.  She won’t move.  Unless there’s food involved of course.

Hide and Seek – Initially you may think this is a good game to play with the chuffin cat.  Think again.  The fun of the search is completely ruined when you walk into the bedroom to be greeted by a purring wardrobe.

Dead Lions – No.  You will never win at this game.  The chuffin cat can lay on any surface and sleep.  For hours.  However if you lay down on any surface, she will eagerly take the opportunity to use your bladder as a springboard.  It’s been proven.  Repeatedly.

Rock, Paper, Scissors – Or as the chuffin cat calls it: slap, bash, wallop.  With added claws.  In other words *ouch*

Musical Statues – So you sit or stand in one position, motionless.  That’s what the chuffin cat practices for several hours a day.  Every day.  How on earth could you win?  Oh, and never enter into a staring contest with the chuffin cat either, unless you want to end up with an inferiority complex that is.  Plus if you find yourself inexplicably near the chuffin cat’s food bowl, you’ve most certainly been hypnotised.

Simon Says – Game or not, nobody tells the chuffin cat what to do.  Even if your name is Simon.

Pass the Parcel – Another bad idea.  If you hand something to the chuffin cat, you won’t get it back in a hurry.  Particularly if it’s wrapped in crackly paper.  Only once she has chewed it and boxed at it with her back legs will she relinquish her ownership of it … by which time you won’t want it back as it’ll be completely mangled and covered in cat dribble.

Recommended Games





Balloons – Oh yes.  Balloons are a fantastic idea.  Particularly if there are small children around.  The resounding <pop> of a balloon when it meets a sharp claw is immensely satisfying.  Plus there’s nothing better than giving a human a heart attack at a party.




Karaoke – The chuffin cat rocks at this.  Feel free to join in with some harmonies, if you can sing soprano that is.

Salsa Dancing – The chuffin cat’s forte.  Particularly with an army of small rodents.  Just make sure you don’t tread on any though, as that could really ruin the party atmosphere.




Oh, and just remember: if you lose sight of the chuffin cat at a party, she can usually be found in the corner of the room sucking on a bun case.  How uncouth.



A Buffeting of Bear Ears


051So, the anxious wait is over. Your 17 year old son saunters down the garden path, cheeks rosy with excitement, a self-satisfied grin on his face.  Yes, he has just passed his driving test.  No more grey hairs for you, no more white knuckle rides with your foot crushing the imaginary brake pedal.  Or so you thought.

“I’ll take you for a drive in my car now Mum!” he declares.  He’s referring to the little kit car that he has lovingly spent the last 6 months renovating and titivating.  “It’s OK,” he adds, “I’ve put 5 litres of fuel in it.”  Ah.  Welcome back to the world of student poverty.  And even more grey hairs.

There’s less room to squirm about in the compact car.  There’s also no “Jesus handle” to grab in moments of sheer terror, as your loving son has thoughtfully taken the roof off for your first ride.  Perhaps he is expecting a lot of fright-induced flatulence.

When you sit down in the little convertible, your knee hits your chin as you wrestle your legs into a comfortable position.  Resisting the temptation to hug your knees to your chest while rocking back and forth like a total loon, you settle down and fasten the seatbelt securely.  Without thinking you pull the belt tighter, then have to loosen it slightly to enable yourself to breathe: it’s not advisable to pass out through lack of oxygen before you’ve even set off.  Son no 1 looks across at you, his eyes bright.  He hasn’t stopped smiling all day.

Then he turns the key in the ignition.  The engine starts to splutter and cough.  Just as you think it’s refusing to join the party, the motor roars into life with a giant belch.  Son no 1 glances across at you again.  You share a wide-eyed look of excitement and apprehension as a blizzard of butterflies swirl in your stomach.  You try to loosen your grip on the seatbelt, but your fingers are glued tightly in place.

Then you’re off.  Not so much a white knuckle ride as a heart-stomping assault on your senses: the smell of burning oil, the boisterous burble of the engine as you thunder down the road with the wind slapping you rudely across the back of your head.  You can feel the ears on your bear hat being buffeted about in the breeze.  What a total blast.



You feel 20 years younger as you remember the last time  you rode in an open-top car: memories of your brand new Handsome Hubby staggering to plonk you on the car seat as the netting on your wedding dress threatened to engulf him.  Ah, those were the days.  When he could lift you in the air without giving himself a hernia.


Talking of Handsome Hubby, it was his turn next for a ride in the kit car.  On their return, son no 1 filled me in on his latest journey.  “That was great!” he said cheerfully, before mumbling something that sounded like “We went 83”

“You went 83 miles per hour??”  I asked, shocked.

“No Mum,” he replied.  “We went on the A3..”  As I breathed a sigh of relief, he added quietly, “We actually went 85” before plodding off into his bedroom.

I can feel more grey hairs sprouting by the second.

Rules of the Chicken Coop by Cobweb Gladys


1  The appointment of Head Chicken will be decided upon every 5 minutes.  Or sooner.

2  Broodiness is not to be mocked.  A broody hen is always Head Chicken.  She can eat all the food and is never wrong.  Is she.

3  If you must poo in the dust bath area, make sure that you do so after your bath and not before.

4  Cats are not allowed in the coop.  They bury their poo and eat your food.

5  The nesting box is only to be used for laying neggs.  And sulking.  And hiding.CobwebGladysfull

6  Neggs can be laid at any time.  Or not at all.

7  Singing is good, whether or not you need to lay a negg.  Humans love to hear a chicken sing, especially at 6am on a summer’s morning.

8  When roosting, only one perch should be used, regardless of how many chickens or how many perches there are.

9  Tomatoes are not to be touched.  They will kill you.

10  Grapes are not to be squandered.  Or shared.

11  All bugs found on a chicken’s body are the property of the finder, not the host.

12  If you find a bug, you can eat it; if you drop it, anybody can eat it.

13  Regurgitated food is the property of the chicken who eats it first.

14  Preening should be practiced every hour on the hour, and 60 times in between too.  A well-preened chicken is a happy chicken.  Unless all your feathers fall out.  That would make you a cold chicken.

15  Human living quarters should be inspected on a regular basis.  Just remember to wipe your feet on the way out.

16  Any freshly-laid cement in the coop surroundings should be trodden on as quickly as possible.  It’s always important to leave a good impression and you can pick the dried lumps of cement off your feet later to prevent boredom.

Cobweb footprints

A Cat and Mouse Collaboration


The chuffin cat prides herself on her prolific hunting skills.  There are times however, when I think that she’s more into socialising with the local rodent population than hunting them.  I do wonder if one day I will come home earlier than expected, only to find her hobnobbing with an assortment of mice, shrews and voles at a cheese and breadcrumb party.  Of course, if there’s any chance whatsoever of illiciting help to irritate or embarrass her human staff, she will grasp that wholeheartedly with both paws: a laugh at a human’s expense is always worth pursuing.

For example, picture the scene: a glorious day, the sun is shining leaving a hint of warmth in the air, whilst the sound of sweet birdsong floats in the gentle breeze *sigh*

I step outside and take a deep breath as the chuffin cat approaches me. She carefully deposits the lifeless body of a small, brown mouse at my feet and steps backwards. Shaking my head sadly, I grab a tissue from my pocket and bend down to pick up the peace offering. 

So what happens next? 

Yes, that’s right. 
The mouse gasps, springs to life and runs straight up my leg. Aaaaggghhhrrrrr.


“Remember, you play dead and I’ll drop you right at her feet!”

The Futility of a Feline Rooftop Protest


The news of the chuffin cat’s rooftop protest was spread quicker than a flock of chickens in a drumstick factory.  Whilst I am loathe to publicise and thereby condone this type of manipulative feline behaviour, I feel that some kind of explanation is needed.

The chuffin cat is well-known for her outspoken views on a variety of subjects, particularly concerning the inappropriate use of thermometers by veterinary surgeons (vets).  As such, a trip to see the vet can be a very traumatic event: it takes me a long time to calm down on such occasions.

The appointment was booked for yesterday.  Gauntlets, goggles and earplugs were gathered, along with the riot police on standby.  The cat carrier had been left in the corner of the lounge: the elephant in the room (An elephant?  With hindsight that might have been a good addition).  All bedroom doors were closed, windows shut, cupboards blocked off.

Half an hour before the appointment time, I realised that the chuffin cat had disappeared.  I also realised that I had neglected to lock the most important door of all – the chuffin cat’s personal security door (cat flap).

I ventured outside and stopped when I heard an indignant but distant <miaow>.  Looking up, I spied the chuffin cat on the very top of the roof, a black cloud hovering above her head in contrast to the vivid blue sky beyond.  I won’t demean myself by giving too much detail on what followed next; suffice to say lots of calling, begging and pleading could be heard.  Expletives littered the air (mainly from the chuffin cat).  A food bowl was fetched, along with a crackly food bag, biscuits, cat toys, cat nip spray, cat nip bubbles, a pot of cream, a banana (great for throwing), a bar of chocolate (I was really working up an appetite) but all to no avail.  A small crowd began to gather on the other side of the path, adding to the pressure – who would win?  The negotiator or the protester?


Rooftop Protest


After 30 minutes, I felt it necessary to ring the vet.  When he had stopped laughing, he told me to make my way to the surgery once the offender had been captured.  By this time, the chuffin cat had made her way down to the porch roof.  A much better position – high enough to stay out of reach but low enough to eyeball her negotiator in defiance.


I then had a sudden thought.  I waved goodbye to the chuffin cat, came into the house, locked the front door behind me and hid.  After 3 minutes there was an almighty explosion of scrabbling and wailing outside.  As I opened the door in strutted the chuffin cat, nose in the air, tail rigid like a fluffy toilet brush, wondering why she was no longer the centre of attention.  Quick as a flash, I grabbed the errant animal, stuffed her headfirst into the cat carrier (bit of a squash) and dashed off to see the vet, with a swirl of dust and a squeal of tyres.  There was no need to play any music en route as the chuffin cat serenaded me for the entire journey.

Walking into the surgery was particularly awkward, especially as I felt obliged to announce, “I’ve got the rooftop protester here for you.”

Back home a little while later, I wondered what had caused such extreme behaviour from her naughty chuffness.  As I glanced across at the calendar on the wall, it all became clear: when listing the appointment to see the vet, I had for some strange, unknown reason written ‘take cat to Sainsbury’s’ instead.  She clearly hates shopping far more than she hates the vet.  And I really should get tested for Alzheimers.

How to Wrestle a Frog from a Chicken


1  Look the chicken in the eye and say in a very stern voice “DROP!”

2  Chase the chicken round the garden.

3  Offer the chicken a grape.  If the chicken drops the frog to eat the grape, problem solved.  If not, panic.

4  Stop panicking and fetch a strong boy.

5  Chase the chicken round the garden.

6  Wait for the chicken to run head-first into a bush.  Extract the chicken by grabbing it firmly and pulling it backwards.

7  Pick yourself up off the floor and chase the chicken round the garden.

8  Corner the chicken and grasp it firmly with both hands.  Instruct your boy to grab hold of the frog’s legs as they dangle from the chicken’s beak.

9  Shout “PULL!”

10  If the chicken’s eyes begin to bulge, you are gripping it too tightly.

11  If you end up with 2 uncooked chicken drumsticks in your hands, you are pulling too hard.

12  If your boy ends up with 2 frog’s legs in his hands, you can share the meal with the chicken.

13  As the frog starts to dislodge from your chicken’s beak, pray that the chicken’s innards don’t follow too.

14  Once chicken and frog are separated, make sure that the frog discovers a new talent for flying (preferably over the garden fence).

15  If the frog’s flying talent remains undiscovered, watch in dismay as your second chicken excitedly scoops it up in her beak.

16  Refer back to point number 1.

Who was the original Chuffin Cat? A joint post – human v feline


A post written with the original chuffin cat – sadly no longer with us, but her successor continues the fun and frivolity! Read on to discover more about Ethelbert, the main character who inspired me to write this blog.

The chuffin cat is a large fluffy sod of a cat with fat fur, bad breath and a mean attitude.  Not to mention delusions of grandeur.

What?  Oh sorry, apparently I’m not allowed to write that.  Ahem.

“The Chuffin Cat, aka Ethelbert Mulberry Rabbitsfoot, is a beautiful tortoiseshell Maine Coon with long, silky fur that shimmers in the sunlight as she glides gracefully around the garden.”


She’s also a bully who terrorises son no 3 and falls off tables.

What now?  Oh for goodness’ sake.

“She is a highly skilled hunter who manages her staff with ruthless efficiency.”

She’s also scared of chickens.

OUCH!  And she bites when she doesn’t get her own way.

“She is a superb salsa dancer and is well-known locally for her amazing vocal skills in late-night karaoke sessions.”

Yes, that’s true, she does have a big gob.  Nothing that can’t be solved with a foot to the arse of her fat, fluffy trousers to enable her a swift exit outside though.

Ha!  Oh yes, and she’s also frightened of her electronic cat flap.

Eh?  What now?  Oh.  *sigh*

“She has a personal security door which she is reluctant to use as the loud <beep> it emits really cocks up her expert silent ninja routine.”

Plus it’s a real effort to squeeze her fat arse through it.

“She is also an expert at meditation and finds it helps her to achieve inner peace.”

Yes, she’s often stoned on catnip.

“The Chuffin Cat would like to extend her grateful thanks to all her loyal fans for making this blog possible in her bid for worldwide domination.  Even the commoners.”

Yeah, yeah.  I get it.  Where’s the food?