Search Results for: cat mint

Catmint, cannabis for cats

We have two cats. Tessa, a lively and feisty three-year old black-and-white female and Tom, a typical relaxed and chilled ginger Tom cat . Tom came with two speeds, slow and stop and never breaks into so much as a trot until “foodie” time. Tom now weighs nearly 7kgs so is a “big” cat and our vet did warn us that ginger toms are prone to relaxing a little too much and gaining weight so we try to kick him out of the house (not literally) as much as possible so that he gets some exercise.

Having been ousted from his pad however, Tom will usually stroll out of the kitchen door and straight into the garage where he has his comfy seat on some of the outdoor furniture stored in the dry whilst this incessant rain continues. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” comes to mind.

Tom doesn’t roam far preferring surroundings that he knows and loves. Our garden is full of little trees and plants under which he can hide undetected and, with his selective hearing, ignore calls for him to come inside.

One thing Tom does adore, is catmint. I have grown some plants from seed and they are now big enough to plant out but I have a problem. Tom doesn’t just paw the leaves and roll in the bushes he eats them. I understand that sniffing the leaves gives cats a “high”, and may also be hallucinogenic (like LSD) whilst eating the leaves induces sleep. I may have found the reason he spends half his life asleep but I suspect that our neighbours have no catmint left!

My dilemma now is, where do I put the plants so that they can grow into big bushes?

Hanging baskets!

Sound idea, but I need to be a bit more imaginative with the placement………..


Pets and depression

021When I saw my GP last week, we had a good chat about my lifestyle, support network and outlook on life all of which took 45 minutes of precious patient time. I’m sure that was a lot more than my allotted portion but we both felt it necessary and I am grateful for her support.

One of her questions took me a bit by surprise.

“Do you have any pets?”

Perhaps it was because I had explained that we don’t have much of a family support network living close by with my husband’s family in Iran, and my sister living 3 hours across the country or perhaps she sensed that I commune much easier with our four-legged friends when in a depression.

It is well-known that pets can help people recover from depression, and certainly my big, 7-kilo ginger tom-cat, Tom, has not left my bedside all week. He has followed me round and slept at my feet night and day clearly sensing my distress and fatigue. I know that he knows. How? I just know. He is amazing and I love his constant attention which is never imposing but always obvious; always attentive but somehow remote enough not to threaten; undemanding and unconditional. A true friend and companion. He understands my need for a friend and is sensitive enough to appreciate when I need to be alone.

I can even forgive the vast amount of cat hair that he sheds on the bed covers as he is so gorgeous.

As a treat today, I bought Tom a cat-mint (Nepeta) plant. It is the dried leaves of this plant which makes cat-nip so attractive to cats in toys. Tom adores it! He goes mad for cat-nip spray and he loves the real plant even more.

Last year I wrote a post about the Nepeta plants I grew for him.

This year, I haven’t sown any seeds yet but as a reward for looking after his mummy this past week, he gets a plant ready to put in the garden. I’m not sure how long it will last but he deserves his treat.

Tom and Nepeta

Thank you Tom!

Tom and catmint

Tom and catmint

50 ways to kill a slug…..

I love charity shops. I can’t walk past without popping in and scouring their bookshelves for little gems. I found some on Saturday and whilst I wouldn’t have spent £4.99 on a little green book called “50 Ways to Kill a Slug” I was more than happy to hand over 75p. It was worth every penny!

I grow some gorgeous hostas, one of the principal targets for slugs and I am always trying to find ways of deterring these grotesque slime-balls  from munching their way through the luscious leaves. I have tried beer traps, WD 40, Vaseline, sawdust and egg shells. So what advice does the author give in her book as we head into Spring and those tasty green shoots start to appear? Here are my 10 favourites.

  1. Keep your garden tidy- clear out all secluded dark moist areas and compost what you find, including the slugs!
  2. Expose the clutches of white slug eggs and watch the birds feast. Caviar.
  3. Grow mint, chives, garlic, geraniums, foxgloves and fennel.
  4. Collect all that hoovered up dog and cat hair and spread it around the base of your plants.
  5. Copper tape wrapped around plant pots will not only provide a physical barrier but will also emit small shocks when crossed. 🙂
  6. Upside down grapefruit skins attract slugs so make sure they are provided with a door to enter the dome and they will congregate in their newly created “house”.
  7. Encourage hedgehogs and frogs into your garden. They love slugs for breakfast.
  8. Feed them to next-door’s chickens!
  9. Fill a bowl with beer and the slugs will drown in a drunken haze. What a way to go.
  10. Pine needles can be a fine deterrent-too prickly to persist.

The author finishes off her advice with “If all else fails……

Venture out into the garden armed with this book. Locate a slug, remove it from among your plants, place the book unopened on top of the slug and squelch down with your foot. Then flick off the dead remains. Finally, wipe down your book!”


I love……

In no particular order, random thoughts of a stir-crazy-fed-up-with-the-snow-bored-with-being-cold-grumpy-Blogger.

50 things I love……….

1.  Poppies-my favourite flower. Blousy, vibrant, delicate and easy to grow.

2. Aston Villa FC- Attending since 1969, the football club of my heritage. Great memories, claret and blue heaven.

3. Butterflies-lacy, colourful, free and wonderful to watch bouncing along on the wind.

4. Chris de Burgh-since 1975 his music a source of peace and inspiration. A great story-teller.

5. My camera- makes walking less boring and the photos remind me of all those things I’d forgotten.

6. Chocolate-Cadbury’s preferably, again part of my Birmingham heritage. That melt-in-the-mouth sensation…a girl thing!

7. My computer-As an information & communication junkie I’d be lost without it.

8. Friends-Wonderful, fantastic, genuine people who support and challenge me to be a better person. Thank you.

9. William-my son. Perfect.

10. Swanage- a pretty, Victorian seaside resort in Dorset. We’ve had great times there-please don’t change.

11. Prozac-Lifesaver

12. Romanesco caulifower-fascinating and tastes nicer than the traditional white. Fractals….

13. Stationery-notebooks, pens, craft paper, scrap-books, stickers, postcards……etc etc

14. Marks & Spencer- I can always find something to wear in here and you are never far away from a store.

15. Jane Eyre-my all-time favourite book. Can’t beat it.

16. Feeding the birds-I love to see the robins, wagtails, sparrows and tits descend on fat-balls and peanuts.

17. Tomintoul (16) – Speyside Glenlivet single malt scotch whisky. Smooth and mature. The “gentle dram”

18. Sunflowers-the last bright reminder of summer.

19. Having my hair cut-always feels good and guarantees 30 minutes of “me” time.

20. Ice-skating- indoors or outdoors, Invigorating, fun and a great way to get some exercise.

21. Strictly Come Dancing/XFactor-guilty pleasures. I can do most things except dance and sing. I’m just jealous.

22. Kicking leaves- the rustle and annoying the Park Keeper! Try to avoid the dog poo.

23. The white horse joke-my all-time favourite.

A white horse
A white horse trotted into a pub and asked for a whisky. The barman said “Certainly Sir, which one would you like? We’ve got Bell’s, Teachers’, Famous Grouse and we’ve even got one named after you.”
“What, Eric?” said the white horse.

24. Clinique ivory foundation- helps to hide those horrid rosy cheeks. Never go outside without a healthy slap of the stuff.

25. Getting off a plane- complete with jelly-legs but the ultimate relief.

26. Fridays-the end of the working week and Crunchie Time.

27. Coniston “Old Man” (803m) – Copper Mines Valley, Goat’s Hause, Brantwood, Walna Scar, Torver Beck.

28. Steak and chips-Sirloin with tomatoes, mushrooms, peas and french mustard. Not exactly gourmet but delicious all the same.

29. Black trousers- only have to worry about what colour top then.

30. Hairspray, the musical- great story, great songs and wonderful feel-good factor.

31. Sunrises and Sunsets- pink, orange, streaky, yellow, nature’s fresco.

32. A ticking clock in an empty room- relaxing and soporific.

33. 8 hours sleep- a rarity and much appreciated when it happens. Not to be underestimated.

34. Swings, roundabouts and bouncy castles- we need adult play-parks!

35. My birthday-it’s my day and it’s special. I never work. My secretary books me the day off without having to ask.

36. Castles- turrets, port-cullis, knights in shining armour, banquetting halls, peacocks, flags, pageantry.

37. Stars- twinkling in a clear, black night sky.

38. Magic painting books-the ones where you paint over the picture with water and a picture appears! True magic.

39. Harrison Ford-simply gorgeous.

40. Barges-colourful, compact, relaxing, freedom of the waterways.

41. The smell of freshly baked bread- yeasty and mouth-watering.

42. Amethysts-purple gems which are my birthstone.

43. VW Camper vans- I sooooo want one.

44. Sparklers-especially in a Mai-Tai cocktail.

45. Mai-Tai cocktails-preferably with sparklers in

46. Christmas dinner- at any time of year. Turkey, sprouts, bread sauce, gravy, Christmas pudding and brandy sauce. Yum Yum.

47. Thunder and Lightning-dramatic and refreshing, awesome.

48. Writing poems- therapeutic, cathartic and fulfilling.

49. The smell of petrol-I always volunteer to fill the car. It’s a shame that this simple pleasure is getting more and more expensive!

50. My husband- tolerant, patient, a great chef, chauffeur, cat-carer, PA, funny, and caring. Thank you!

Dream Alliance-overcoming the odds

I have always loved horses. Majestic, elegant, powerful creatures, full of character and stubborn determination. I have had several “favourites” in my time including Desert Orchid, Sefton, Milton, Master Oats, Tingle Creek and now, Dream Alliance.

Dream Alliance: from slag heap alotment to Grand National hopeful

The fact that Dream Alliance should be challenging the great Denman in the Hennessy at Newbury tomorrow (currently 66-1), weather permitting, and defending his Welsh National title in December is a miracle in itself and I know that his rags-to-riches story of serious injuries, recoveries and subsequent triumphs has made grown men weep. I know. I’ve seen them. So why is this horse so special?

Dream Alliance  was reared on a Welsh allottment above an old slag heap in Cefn Fforest, and is owned by a syndicate of amateurs including an ASDA cleaner, pub landlord, and a tax colleague of mine who heads up the syndicate, Howard Davies.  Almost 2 years ago when “The Dream” was developing nicely and showing great promise he struck into his tendon running at Aintree and  the vets at Liverpool University gave him no chance of racing again. Slicing through the tendons would normally sound the death knell for a racehorse but this is no ordinary syndicate of owners. They decided that experimental stem-cell treatment was the best option for the horse and the team invested a sizeable chunk of the Dream’s retirement fund into the rescue programme. Their faith was repaid when Dream Alliance won the Welsh National last Christmas at Chepstow and then gave the owners a fabulous experience at Aintree in the Spring when he ran in the Grand National itself. A real fairytale for all concerned and a fantastic example of triumph over adversity. What an inspiration this horse and his owners are and I would love to see the proposed film come to fruition and take the cinemas by storm.

They never gave up hope. They cared for their horse and made sure that he received the best possible care and opportunity to come back and show everyone his true spirit.

I am a huge fan of this horse and win or lose this week or next month I will still  send him his favourite treat of Polos or Extra Strong mints via Howard.

He’s a star and he deserves them.

Read more about Dream Alliance;

Iran-Family and food

In Iran it is the family which holds these people together with strong values and a cohesiveness that we rarely see in the UK. Due to the intensive heat between midday and late afternoon, the family work  during the morning, then gather for lunch and a catch-up including some sleep before returning to complete their working day in cooler conditions coming home for evening meal at around 10pm. This sounds a long day, but the benefits are such that families who work and live locally have the chance to get together during the day, see their younger children and enjoy a relaxed sit-down meal rather than a snatched sandwich purchased and eaten on the run. An enviable work/life balance.

Usually, 8-10 people gathered for lunch, and in the evening this could easily double so that between 16-20 were fed. Meals are eaten on the floor. Iranian food is delicious and, apart from a fairly high sugar and salt content in some of the drinks and dishes, is very healthy. Iranians drink a lot of tea; a mild form of Earl Grey, never with milk. This is very refreshing but anyone watching their weight or wants to keep their teeth intact needs to avoid the many different types of sugar products which usually accompany the tea. Another traditional Iranian drink is “dogh”, a chilled mixture of natural yoghurt, iced water and chopped mint. Many home-made versions include salt, but I prefer the sodium-free version which again, is very refreshing on hot days.  Well worth a try. You can buy a large selection of western-style soft drinks as well as bottled water here in Iran. Pepsi and Fanta are  popular.

Iranian food.  Whether you eat everything in moderation, are a “carb-freak” or enjoy your high-protein diet, there is something for everyone. The food is tasty, seasoned with herbs rather than spices, and a variety of meat and meat-less dishes are served at every meal. Rice forms a huge part of the diet.Dill rice, saffron rice, lentil and sultana rice, to name but a few. Sabsi (greens) are served in small dishes at every meal with chunks of raw onion.  Greens Iranian style consists of herbs, freshly picked or collected every morning, washed and prepared on the day. Tarragon, basil, purple basil, chives, mint all mixed together and shared out. This is not something that we usually sample in the UK, preferring to use our herbs in cooking. Try them raw sometime and get the full benefit of the flavours.

With the huge variety of stews and dishes made with vegetables, chicken, fish and the favourite meat lamb, you don’t miss pork or bacon. It’s sad to see however that even with all these wonderful traditional dishes, tomato ketchup is used extensively on rice; hamburgers and chips are popular and we even sent out for pizza. For me, a real shame but it’s hard to deflect the influence of the West when the world is becoming a smaller place each minute……