Saturday, 28 December 2013

A to Z of Cat Breeds - Abyssinian

This breed got its name from its origins of Ethopia which was formerly known as Abyssinia (Now Somalia)

These cats are thought to be the oldest breed of cats known.

These cats are quite slender and muscular cats. They have quite short fur which is characterised by ticking which means each individual hair has bands of alternating dark and light colouring.

These cats are very playful and inquisitive. They are also very good hunters.

The Abyssinian is a bright cat which is often said to have a very sweet temperament and intelligent nature.  The breed resembles the cats which can be seen in murals of ancient Egypt. Some believe that it is the Abyssinian which was worshipped by the Pharoahs.  They give the impression of standing on tiptoe and seem to be more inclined to use their paws like a human would use their hands.  Abyssinians have the "look" of a cougar, enhanced in part by their regal appearance and feral qualities.

The four most common colours of Abyssinians are: ruddy, red, blue and fawn.  The most common colour is ruddy -- reddish-brown with black ticking.  Some breeders claim ruddy Abys are the most active. Red, or sorrel as it's sometimes called, is also fairly common.  Blue Abys are a bluish-grey with a creamy stomach and slate blue ticking.  Fawn is the least common colour.  Fawn Abys are light beige with dark beige ticking. Other varieties are lilac, silver, silver sorrel and silver blue. The coat is short and dense, but very soft and has a lustrous sheen. 

The Abyssinian has large ears which are quite far apart. Their green, amber or hazel eyes are almond shaped.
Although not generally a lap cat, they make a wonderful companion and will want to be wherever you are.  They are very loyal and once you have acquired an Aby as a companion, you will never be able to complain that no one understands you. Abys are very good at training people to do just what they want them to do.  They are extremely intelligent, beautiful, graceful, muscular, inquisitive and always willing to help out with whatever chore you may be trying to accomplish.

Abyssinians are often thought of as cats that like to be in high places, such as the top of a refrigerator or a bookshelf. Abys are not known for being particularly loud cats and can communicate their feelings and desires in many ways.  It is often said that Abys have a great love of water. They seem to enjoy playing with a dripping tap, as well as drinking from them.  Normally Abys are very protective of each other and seldom quarrel.  

Friday, 27 December 2013

Pandoro cutting

Do you have a Pandoro at Christmas time?

This is my first attempt at cutting one.  We did have one two years ago but my son dealt with it although, he doesn't remember doing it.

It came out a bit wobbly.  Was going to put cocktail sticks in to steady it whilst cutting (as instructed on the box) but Other Half dropped them on the floor and I refused to use them!!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Pet Sitting

On Friday I had my first pet sitting appointment.

The owner of Stitch needed to go to the dentist and Stitch misses her and cries when he is left alone, so I took care of him for 2 hours.  He has a lovely friendly personality and I look forward to seeing him again soon.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Drawing Class

Yesterday, I attended my second drawing class.

The first class was about light and dark, which I found hard to follow.

This week, it was a lesson in perspective, so I now have the basics for that.

I initially started oil painting as a relaxing hobby, but haven't had a lot of spare time to pursue it.  My thoughts on learning to draw are that one day, the skill could be useful to illustrate the books I am writing.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Thai Cooking Class

Yesterday I went to my first cookery class since domestic science at High School. 

The teacher is a professional chef from the Thai Square group and the class is limited to 10 people so we can all see clearly from two benches facing the kitchen.

She made spring rolls, showing us her technique for rolling them up and sticking them with egg yolk, before frying them and serving with plum sauce or spicy sauce, or both.  She also showed us how simple it is to shred the vegetables without resorting to a food processor.

Then she gave us the recipe for Golden Curry which consists of chicken and potatoes cut into large chunks in a delicious mild sauce with a little kick.

She finished off with showing us how to prepare papaya with a squeeze of lime on it to liven it up.

The drinks on offer were Thai tea and lemon grass soaked in hot water.  There was a surplus of lemon grass so she cling filmed it and handed it to students to take home.

Some of the ingredients might be hard to find so she handed out cards of a supplier in central London.

The whole thing was very enjoyable and eating the food was a bonus.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A Basic Paella

A BASIC PAELLA – There are many variations

6 or 8 pieces of chicken thighs on the bone, skin on or off, to your taste
Rabbit is fine if you have access to it
Olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
Lots of garlic cloves, skin on
Chicken stock
2 large pinches of saffron
If you have access to a Spanish supermarket, (I buy mine from Mercadona) a teaspoon of Preparado Paella con azafran....this is a mix of colouring and saffron and is great if you have it, but not necessary to the recipe
2 heaped teaspoons of paprika, either sweet or smoked according to your preference
500g paella rice
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves picked, washed and chopped, stalks chopped
2 handfuls of fresh or frozen peas
A portion of fine green beans or asparagus...whatever is your favourite....why not both?
Half a kilo of king prawns with shell on
Any seafood such as slices of squid, mussels etc.
Lemon wedges

A paella pan....otherwise a wok or wide non-stick saucepan will do

Heat the olive oil in the pan and add the onion and fry for a few minutes on a low heat until translucent.  Add the chicken pieces or rabbit and fry until it is brownish.  Throw in the garlic, saffron, paprika, seasoning, stock, paella rice, and cook on the hob (low heat) for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Then add the green beans or asparagus, the prawns and seafood.  Continue to simmer for about 10 minutes and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and lemon wedges.

A good starter to accompany this would be “Pan con ajo y tomate”....which is bread with garlic rubbed onto slices of bread and topped with fresh tomato wiped across it.

Alioli (a garlic mayonnaise) is usually served with paella.

Thursday, 22 August 2013



1 large Spanish onion, peeled and sliced into thick rings
2 beef tomatoes sliced into thick rings
2 aubergines sliced into thick rings
1 packet of grated mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste

Lay the onion slices in an ovenproof tray
Put the tomato slices on top.  Season and sprinkle with the oregano and herbs.
Lay the aubergine slices on top.

Bake in the oven (180 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes.

10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the mozzarella cheese.

Sunday, 18 August 2013


A cat can be a wonderful pet, but before choosing a companion, it is necessary to realise the care, attention and commitment required for the next 10-25 years or longer.

The commitment includes day to day care, feeding and the occasional provision of veterinary treatment should the cat become ill or need to travel from one country to another.  They need to be vaccinated annually and wormed every six months, so there will be regular medical costs to be set aside.  Long haired cats require daily grooming in order to avoid matting.  With improved nutrition and veterinary care, cats are now living longer than ever.  Too many cats are waiting to be re-homed due to a change in the owner’s circumstances, so please think carefully before taking on the responsibility.

Another consideration is the cost involved in caring for a cat or cats.  There is the initial cost of the pet, as well as the bedding, bowls, litter tray, cat door, cat carrier for trips to the vet or cattery etc.  Then the on-going cost of food and litter.

A scratch post is a good idea as if kittens are encouraged to use them, it will save any wear and tear on your furniture.  Even if a cat is to be kept indoors it is wise to still fit a collar and identity tag in case the cat should escape through an open door.  Safety collars include a short piece of elastic, allowing the collar to stretch and enable the cat to free itself, if it becomes accidentally trapped by its collar.

If an identity tag is attached to the collar, it can be useful if the cat becomes lost or has an accident.

© Janice Ascott
Previously printed in the Costa Blanca Euroweekly news

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Have Some Fun with your Kitten or Cat

It can be hard in these busy times, to find a few minutes to relax, but playing with your kitten or cat will benefit both of you.  Here are a few ideas to give your cat some entertainment.

Cats are very playful anyway and will often initiate a “chase me” game when you are sitting down in the evening feeling totally relaxed and planning to go to bed.  This can be when a cat will decide to run round in circles and if you chase her, they will hide behind the cupboards or curtains, or into the wardrobe if the door is ajar.  It’s an invitation to play “hide and seek”.

Cats don’t normally fetch objects like dogs do.  However, some will return light things thrown for them.  We used to have a kitten Dusty who loved to play a game on Sunday mornings when we’d have a lie in with coffee and pro-biotic drink in bed.  As soon as she heard the rustle of the silver lid coming off the drink, she’d leap on the bed full of excitement.  We would throw it on the tiled floor and she’d leap at it, skidding all over the place, then put it in her mouth and return it to us for a repeat performance.  For safety’s sake it might be better to use a larger ball of tin foil, rolled up tight so she cannot swallow it.

Some will play with fake mice, especially furry ones on a string.  It’s her chance to pretend she is a ferocious hunter, stalking prey.

Toys need not be expensive:-

- A ball of wool or a piece of string (it is best to keep an eye on the cat, so she cannot strangle herself), or ping pong balls can keep her amused.  

- An old sock filled with catnip and tied at the end.  

- They also like to play hide and seek in a large, strong cardboard box.  Put in some newspapers as they love to screw them up and hear the sound of the paper.  Cut some holes in the sides, so she can peek out.   

- If you can afford one, there are many scratch tree posts with one or more houses on top to hide in.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Salt Beef Sandwich at Selfridges Department Store

Why is it so difficult to get a salt beef sandwich in London?  The Brass Rail at Selfridges is always busy.  I have rarely been able to walk straight in, and to find there isn't a queue.

If it is so popular, why are there not more salt beef bars, cafes, restaurants on the London scene?

I am off to enjoy one right now.

Since writing the above, I spent two days doing the tourist spots with a couple of old friends.  This salt beef stall is at Borough Market

and as we walked from there back to Charing Cross, wandering through the backstreets of EC4, we came across quite a few salt beef cafes.

Monday, 10 June 2013


The A-Z of Cats
Pedigrees of the World - The Munchkin

Munchkin cats are a relatively new breed created by a random mutation that produced a cat with extremely short legs. Munchkin cats have short or long coats in a wide variety of colours.  There is no doubt that your first glance at a friendly, self assured Munchkin will leave you feeling like someone cut their legs off.  The cats exhibit shortening and bowing of the long bones, similar to that seen in the Corgi and Dachshund, but no other skeletal changes associated with the gene. The spine is usually indistinguishable from that of other cats.  There is no evidence to suggest that the gene for short legs hampers survival, or quality of life.

Although the short legged cats from Europe seem to have disappeared, the trait reappeared in New England in the 1970's and in Louisiana in the 1980's.  In 1983 Sandra Hochenedal found a pregnant black, female, short legged cat (Blackberry) under a pickup truck.  In Blackberry’s first litter and in each subsequent one, she passed the trait on to about half her kittens. Sandra  called them Munchkins after the little people in the Wizard of Oz. Toulouse, one of Blackberry's sons, was given to a friend named Kay La France who established a colony of Munchkins on her Louisiana Plantation. The present Munchkins are thought to be descendents of Blackberry and Toulouse.

Munchkins have kitten-like personalities, and they keep their kittenish ways all their lives. They are very affectionate and love to be around adults, children, dogs and other cats. They never tire of human company and prefer to be with a companion.  They are not aggressive cats, and are very social and out-going. They are very playful and love to run, chase, climb and play with toys. When it comes to chasing, their short legs give them an advantage over cats with long legs. Those little legs allow them to scramble faster and corner sharper when scurrying after ping pong balls, cat toys on poles, as well as live insects, if they get the chance. This is the cat which may well hide your jewellery under furniture, just like a Magpie. They readily accept a harness and lead and seem to enjoy taking their owners for walks. The short legs do not seem to affect its climbing ability, but its jumping ability is limited by the shortness of the hind legs. Due to its lack of jumping abilities, the Munchkin can find it very difficult to escape from fights with other animals so it is best kept as an indoor only cat.

This breed is not currently recognized by the GCCF or CFA.