Monday, 26 September 2016

Bathing Your Cat

Why bathe your cat?  Cats spend hours a day washing themselves.  In fact, most do manage to keep themselves clean without any additional help from us.  However, there are times when your cat may need a bath:

  • When covered with a substance you don't want them to lick off and ingest, such as oil, pesticides, or cleaning powders and fluids.
  • When you need to bathe your cat with medicated shampoo to treat the skin for fleas or as prescribed by a vet.
  • When you are showing your cats - a thorough bath a few days before the show is usually desirable.

For these reasons, it might be better to get your cat acquainted with the bathing concept when still young.  Small kittens rarely take exception to slightly warm water if you approach the job with confidence and soothing talk.  Then when you have that emergency and need to bathe your cat, the procedure will be familiar, although some will not tolerate it at all.

However, if you must bathe your cat, it should be groomed first.  By grooming first, you will remove any unwanted hair and knots which will prevent the shampoo from getting through the coat.  If your cat is wearing a collar, don't forget to remove it.  Bathing should not be done too often as this removes the natural oils from the skin.  If you use shampoos not suitable for cats, then you may damage the skin and coat.  The oils that are in the coat help in waterproofing and insulation.

If you are thinking to bathe your cat, perhaps you can use the kitchen sink or bathroom basin.  It's a good idea to put a non-slip mat on the bottom to stop your cat from slipping and sliding, as well as protecting your sink or basin from being scratched.  The water for bathing your cat in should be about the same as the cat's body temperature.  Make sure you wet the coat thoroughly before adding the shampoo.  When wetting the coat you can help to steady the cat by gently putting your hand under the chin.  Even then, they may not stand too well.  If that is the case, then gently hold onto the two front legs with one hand, while bathing with the other.  Remember to use only a special cat shampoo as they lather less and make it easier to rinse from the coat, especially if your cat doesn't like standing in the water for too long.  Talk to the cat to reassure it, it helps to keep everyone calm.  Start shampooing at the top and work down.  Firstly along the back and neck area, then the tail and bottom, next the legs and feet.  Lastly wash the head area, most cat shampoos don't cause much irritation if they get into the eyes, but do try to avoid doing this if possible.  Sometimes it is easier to leave the head until the cat is out of the water.  Use a facecloth and gently wash the face using clean, warm water and no shampoo.

Once you are sure that you have shampooed the cat all over, then rinse it top to bottom.  Repeat the rinsing process until you are sure that all the shampoo has been washed off, using your hands to gently squeeze the coat to get rid of the excess water.  The next step is to dry the cat.  Some cats will tolerate a hairdryer, but only if they have been accustomed to it from a very early age.  Others will need to be towel dried.  If using a hairdryer, remember to set it at a low temperature and move it around.  Don't concentrate on one place for too long at a time.  After drying, one last groom will finish off the whole process of grooming and bathing your cat.  If you are towel drying it, then please keep your cat in a warm place until it is completely dry.  Once completely dry, comb through the coat again.  This will remove any hairs that were missed before bathing.

Bathing can be quite traumatic for all concerned and may need more than one pair of hands as well as a lot of patience.  If you groom your cat regularly, and it has a healthy balanced diet, there should be no need for bathing as the coat will be glossy and healthy.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Kibbeh in Tomato Sauce

We have to make 3 versions in our home.
1 for the man of the house with turnips and sharia (small pasta noodles)
1 for the son of the house skipping the turnips and adding potato chunks
1 for the wife of the house with turnips but no sharia!

Places to buy frozen kibbeh:

In the USA Tasty N Healthy in Philadelphia sell frozen kibbeh
In London Archie's Foods in London N.W.10 sell the ones used in these recipes
Another supplier in London N.W.10 is Al Enam
A more central shop in London is Green Valley 36-37 Upper Berkeley Street, Marble Arch, London
W1H 5QF.

So for the basic version


3 large kibbeh per person
A large jar of tomato purée
A teaspoon of salt
A few grindings of black pepper
A 400g tin of tomatoes blended if possible
3 turnips per person, or potatoes, peeled and sliced into rings
Sharia if desired
Flat leaf parsley to serve
Olive oil
Lemon juice


In a large pan, fry the tomato purée in a little olive oil then add the tinned tomatoes and a litre of water.  Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Add the turnips or potatoes (even both) and simmer for 10 minutes. Then lower the frozen coubah into the liquid using a slotted spoon.  Simmer for a further 15 minutes.  Add the chopped parsley and serve in large soup bowls with crispy bread.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Trinidad - The Journey Home

In November dad's contract was cut short and he decided to cruise home to England rather than take the plane.

A few days later we found ourselves on board the Shaw Savill Line, s.s. Athenic bound for the UK.  The weather on departing from the port was, of course, tropical but a few days later the weather in the Atlantic was wintry so we didn't stay above deck for long periods of time.

The journey sticks in mind as on 22nd November we heard over the tannoy that President John F Kennedy had been assassinated.  It came as a shock and we felt a bit out of touch with the outside world.

Mum was seasick for two days and my sister tripped on a large deck step, needing medical attention as well.  We had cabin service but mum was given anti sickness pills, so we were soon able to enjoy the wonderful food on offer.  Meanwhile I had friends on board from the Texaco club swimming days so I had sophisticated teenagers to spend time with.  They had previously lived in India so were quite worldly for their age.

One afternoon mum and I sat on the deck overlooking the sailor's quarters. It was a laugh a minute as they entertained us with their off duty antics, telling lewd jokes and dousing each other with buckets of water. It was all very Frankie Howard style.

The highlight of the cruise for me was the Captain's Dinner except for the ballroom dancing, when I kept treading on the Chief Officer's toes.  I blame him as he introduced me to champagne!  The food was excellent and plentiful.  I experienced my first cream tea on the ship and managed to avoid any seasickness.

When we docked in London in midwinter it was a bit of a shock and at Liverpool Street, we all bought winter coats before getting on the train to Essex.  Mum got a faux ocelot and looked really glamorous with her long auburn hair.

We stayed in Essex for a little while with dad's relatives and first treat on the list was fish and chips next to the Elm Hotel in Leigh-on-Sea.  We then headed back north to our home in Staffordshire.  I returned to my school in Polesworth until dad was offered a job on a desalination plant in Kuwait, but that's another story.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Minced Lamb, Tomatoes, Chickpeas and Aubergine Medley


1 white onion, diced
500g of minced lamb
1 tin of chickpeas
4 large aubergines sliced into rings
4 large tomatoes sliced
A tin of chopped tomatoes
A large dollop of tomato purée
4 garlic cloves peeled and pushed through a garlic press
500 ml of stock, vegetable, lamb or chicken 
Salt and pepper 
Olive oil to fry


Fry the aubergines in 3 batches adding more oil as needed.  When softened, drain with a slotted spoon  and leave on a plate covered in 2 pieces of kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil.

In a clean frying pan, add some more olive oil with the onions and fry until translucent.  Add the garlic, tomato purée and minced lamb, stirring and frying for 5 minutes.  Pour in 500ml of stock and bring to the boil.  Turn the heat to a simmer and stir in the chick peas and tinned tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper, then simmer for 30 minutes until cooked.

Add the fresh sliced tomatoes and cover with a glass lid.  Continue to simmer for 10 minutes until the tomatoes cook.

Serve with white rice and a mixed chopped salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Activities for the Over Sixties

Gone are the days when people over 60 sat in a rocking chair and relaxed all day.  I'm a member of a local charity offering all types of classes, amongst which are:-

Arts and crafts, drama, jewellery making, music lessons, pottery, needlework groups, singing for all, English literature, book club, history of art, current affairs, genealogy group, reminiscence, Hollywood histories, philosophy, cooking and healthy eating, steady and stable, healthy lungs, beginners computing, social networking, online shopping, Skype workshops, iPads,  belly dancing, badminton, ballroom and Latin dance, chair exercise, chi gong, cycling safety, t'ai chi, gardening, table tennis, Pilates and water splash.  There is also acupressure, shiatsu, massage, beauty therapy, osteopathy, reiki, reflexology and aromatherapy.
Languages to learn are French, Spanish, Russian and lip reading.

Also on offer are coffee mornings, discussion groups, quizzes, lunch clubs, movie night, scrabble and bridge.
Who could be bored or lonely I ask?  There's a supportive programme of activities for unpaid carers.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Princess Diana and The Duchess of York

19 years ago last week, Princess Diana died in that car accident in Paris.  The world was in shock for a week and probably longer.

Back in 1997 I wrote to Sarah Ferguson to express my sorrow at the loss of Diana and she kindly sent me this letter and prayer:-

I have included some postage stamps purchased at the time.

I took my son, aged 10 to Kensington Palace where he threw a teddy and flowers onto the enormous pile, by then knee deep.   I do have many photos of that day but unfortunately they are in storage.

I have included some postage stamps purchased at the time.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Life in Trinidad Part Four

After the burglary, dad decided we needed a guard dog. He set about looking for one and came across a Trinidadian policeman who had two trained boxer dogs he was no longer able to keep. So suddenly the house was full with large dogs, one red and one brindle.  The postman was too scared to deliver our post and just threw them over the garden wall.

A replacement for Anita had to be found and dad brought home an Indian woman who was so beautiful as to seem a threat to mum.  The next interview was for an even prettier Indian woman with silky hair down to her thighs.  I don't remember her spending much time cleaning.  Her favourite room was the bathroom using talc all over the floor and standing in front of the mirror for ages.  When it was time for dad to drive her home, she opened the front passenger door and helped herself to the seat next to dad.  Anita would either sit in the back seat or volunteer to walk home with her umbrella.

The reception awaiting dad on his return home was not good and soon Anita was reinstated as cleaner, adviser and babysitter!

I found Anita great company, like an auntie.  She taught me to dance to West Indian music, a sort of sedate version of twerking.  Her craft skills were good and she showed me how to make plaited placemats out of dried banana leaves as well as pleated velvet cushions.

We'd go to the supermarket in San Fernando once a week for the groceries but they also had a fascinating array of American crockery, China with bamboo patterns.  Wooden glasses with bamboo patterns. Mum couldn't resist adding something to the trolley every week.  I still use the steak knives with bamboo handles she bought.

After the supermarket we looked at the menu of the local Chinese restaurant.  I'd never eaten Chinese before but mum worked in a Chinese restaurant in Southport, Lancashire in Northern England as a teenager.  I don't remember what was ordered but it was rather spicy to my innocent palate. I soon saw it as a regular treat.

I did my schoolwork early in the day, meaning much of my day was free for sun bathing in the beautiful garden.  One afternoon whilst my sister had a nap, mum and I sat quietly sunbathing and sucking frozen peas, a habit we developed to cool down. Mum said to me, "Don't move, but!."  3 seconds later I was indoors escaping some harmless but large snake and a very large lizard on the opposite side.

I missed my school friends and loved the postman throwing those blue airmail letters over the garden wall.  My friend from primary school Gillian Bazan wrote nice newsy letters about Jersey where she moved to after she was 11 years old.  When we lived near Tamworth, Staffs we had Saturday sleepovers every week. We kept corresponding until after she married and became Mrs Le Motee.  My other friend Maria Dutkiewicz went to my school, Polesworth High and kept me up to date on school gossip and school trips I was missing.  In my absence there was a school dance and I was really put out that I was missing things with my friends.

One Sunday we decided to skip Mayaro Beach and head for Maracas Bay in the North of the island.  It was a long way to go for a swim but worth seeing and reputed to be the best beach in Trinidad. To a 12 year old, the waves seemed incredibly high.  Dad was well out at sea and calling me to join him when I was caught by a high wave which tipped me into a ball rolling under the water in the sand.  I thought I was drowning but managed to right myself and rushed back to the safety of the beach.  I didn't go back in the water that day.