Tag Archives: cat

Making a pond

Pond LinerI’ve been thinking about building a pond in our garden for ages.  After cutting the grass this morning, I finally decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a shot.  We can’t run electricity to anywhere in the garden, for three reasons.

  1. I don’t have the skill to do that
  2. I can’t afford to pay anyone to do that
  3. I dread the day we ask someone to look at our electrics, because I fear the previous owners’ skills and enthusiasm

As a result, any pond will have to keep itself clean (solar powered pumps just aren’t up to the job, apparently).  We’ve got an algae problem in the water bucket thing I put together earlier in the year, and I’m pretty sure we’ll end up with an algae problem in the pond.  However, I’m not planning on putting fish in it, and if the local wild life don’t use it, then so be it.

I still want to build one!

We decided to start small, and use a pre-formed pond container thing.  We almost bought quite a large one, but decided to start very conservatively initially.  If it works, and it’s fun, we might go bigger.  However, as it turned out I’m glad we started small.  The second choice was where to place it.  We knew we wanted it at the bottom end of the garden, and since you can’t really see that from the house, it didn’t matter if it was the left or right side.

Given that algae issues are worse when ponds are subjected to a lot of continuous direct sunlight, we wanted somewhere with a bit of shade.  It was either left side near the fence, right side in the corner between the fence and the shed, or right side between the shed, Zorblag the troll, and our willow tree.

Left Side Right Corner Zorblag

In the end, we went for the third option.  That area gets the most shade, but still gets plenty of light as well, and we like the idea of Zorblag looking out over a new water vista.

For some reason, I decided doing this on one of the hottest days of the year, after having already been in the garden for a couple of hours cutting the grass would be sensible.  I started digging.  Well, I say digging, but really, it was more a case of excavating.  The turf layer was fine, but immediately below that was rubble.  Big pieces of rubble.

Rubble piling up Rubble with metal Final rubble

Hole in progressIt’s a mixture of reinforced concrete, bricks, and cement blocks from the looks of it.  All of that came out of quite a small hole.  I was going to take lots of pictures of the digging as it progressed, but frankly, it was too much hard work shifting the stuff to think about photographing it.  I started out with a spade, but ended up doing my impression of folk on Time Team and using a hand trowel.  I was literally digging around each piece of rubble to find out how big it was, and then removing it.  The hole ended up being bigger than necessary, because two or three of the biggest pieces were embedded in the side of the hole, which meant I had to dig under the turf layer.

In the photo with my foot, you can see the largest selection of the rubble.  I moved about 8 bags of soil as well as that rubble.  I am very glad we picked the smallest of the pond liners.

The PoolAfter about four hours, I had the hole lined with sand, and the pond inserted.  I filled the sides in as best as I could, and threw down some of the better looking pebbles that had come out of the hole.  Tomorrow I need to buy the plants, and get some proper gravel or pebbles for the edges.  Because the lawn isn’t flat, one edge of the pool is below the grass level, while another edge is at the grass level.  It’ll have to do!

The cats spent most of the day watching me working, and as usual, they refused to do anything useful like move some soil or get me a spirit level.

Bubbles is very interested in the new addition to her garden, and I’m hopeful it’ll be an interesting feature once we get some plants in it.  I really only care about it being useful for the wild life, I’m not too worried if it looks pretty.  Once I get some experience keeping it clean, we might get something bigger to go in the other corner.

Here’s Bubbles, with her first look at the pool.

Bubbles Pond

16 days in

My first post of 2012 was a bit whiny, so I thought I’d give you a slightly less whiny update!

Grete’s glasses broke at the end of 2011

Grete got her second set of corrected new glasses on Friday, and she’s very happy with them.  They look great, are very lightweight and have super thin lenses.  She’s much happier!

Grete has a bad back.

And now it’s a lot better!  Still painful, but getting back to her ‘usual painful’ level which is as good as it gets I guess.

My hacked VPS

Tidied up and resolved so far.  Everyone gets hacked eventually, such is the way of things.



Bubbles going walkabout

Well you already know she came back as if nothing was wrong, and she’s maintained that stance.  She’s still being bullied by Fizz but that whole relationship is weird anyway.

New Stuff

So that’s all good.  For fun though, the little Atom PC I bought last year from Novatech decided to die at the end of last week (internal 2.5″ drive now making mechanical ‘I’m not happy’ sounds).  I mailed Novatech, and they’ve given me a returns number.  So, we’ll see if they continue to live up to my expectations of them.

First post …

… of 2012 anyway.  If the quality of your year to come is inversely proportional to the quality of the first 14 days, we’ve got a stonkingly awesome 2012 to come.  To be fair, as with all things, the ups and downs in life are all relative.

Grete’s glasses broke at the end of 2011, she can’t see much without them.  Although she had a spare pair, they were tinted and not really suitable in the house or driving in Winter!  Thanks to the holiday period it was pretty fraught trying to get to an optician, but we did.  Sadly, they messed up and the glasses she eventually got have the wrong prescription, so now she’s waiting for them to be redone.  The original glasses broke at the joint between the arm and the spring, so I was cello-taping them together every day and Grete was living with nightmarish headaches.  The opticians we went to, to get new glasses, said they couldn’t be fixed – however when she went in to the local one to see why the new glasses were terrible, an older optician there was able to temporarily put a new arm on the broken ones while the correct new ones are being delivered.  All-in-all, a pretty stressful start to the New Year, which you can appreciate if you have vision which absolutely requires glasses.

Grete has a bad back, has had for a long time, which she copes with day to day, but every now and again she’ll get a muscle spasm and be basically unable to stand-up.  She got one on Saturday night, worst one for a few years, so we’re dealing with that!  She managed to get to the doctor today and has some pretty impressive pain killers, and they’re starting to help.

Yesterday, the VPS I host these blogs on was not responding.  It happens sometimes, the server doesn’t have a huge deal of memory and every now and then the Linux OOM Killer will kill something unimportant like apache2 or mysql.  So I recycled it via Gandi.net’s control panel thing and it came back.  A cursory check suggested everything was fine, and I went about my business.  Today I logged on briefly and found a lot of weird mail.  Turns out the server was hacked a few days ago – using an exploit in a PHP module a slightly out of date template on WordPress was using.  Fortunately, they hadn’t done too much damage, and were mostly using this server to attack other servers.  I got a nice abuse report from Gandi (which was polite, but forceful) while I was actually cleaning up the mess, encouraging me to clean up and reminding me of my legal obligations.  Anyway, I think it’s sorted, but I feel kind of bad, somewhat violated, a little paranoid and sorry that something I manage was used to attack other sites.  But it’s the Internet, everyone gets hacked eventually.  My top tip?  If you’re not using a plugin or theme, delete it.  You’ll forget about it otherwise, it won’t get patched, and just because you’re not using it, doesn’t mean the file isn’t there to be presented by the web browser when the right attacker comes along.

There’s some work related stress, which I won’t talk about, because I try not to on my blog, but it’s there, lurking.

Then finally for the first 9 days of 2012, there’s Bubbles.  She went out at around 11am yesterday.  As you know, it’s been Super Mild other than the wind here.  Yesterday was the first fully dry day for ages, and Bubbles has been stuck indoors.  I think she must have decided it was Spring.  By 22:15 there was still no sign of her which is normal in Spring but not Winter.  So we did the concerned cat owner thing where you shout like an idiot at your back door for an hour.  After that didn’t help, I walked the streets for another hour.  I got back, shone my torch down to the bottom of the garden1, and I could see her eyes glaring back balefully.  Even then she didn’t come in, and we got to spend the rest of the night wondering if I’d mistakenly seen another cat2.

I was pretty sure it was her, but if you love your pets there’s always doubt.

Anyway, she’s always there in the morning when she does this – ready to come in and eat – except not this morning.  So we’d started thinking the worst.  Grete was in pain, trying to organise a GP appointment, we left the house wondering where she was3.  When Grete got back from the docs, initially there was still no sign, but as she got to the kitchen door, Bubbles came running up from the garden, her flabby little tummy swinging from side to side.  Grete swears she could hear Ride of the Valkyries playing in the background.  Bubbles then promptly ate half a bowl of dried food, drank half a bowl of water, and has been sleeping all day since.  Little shit.

So, all in all a pretty stressful start to 2012, which is a shame because 2011 finished pretty fucking well to be fair.  Sorry it’s a bit of a whiny start to what I hope is going to be a year blogging more than last year.  Twitter really has sucked the blogging desire from me, just because I end up writing down what I was thinking in a couple of 140 character tweets instead of a 1000 word blog post.  I suppose the world is actually better off as a result.

Anyway, here’s to the rest of 2012, may it improve for us, and be awesome for you.

  1. I was waiting to get arrested, walking the streets around here, at 11pm, with a torch in my hand, up and down dead end roads, but it never happened []
  2. second tip, don’t watch Sherlock’s The Hounds of Baskerville before you walk the streets in the dark looking for animals []
  3. yes, I made Grete drive me to work when she can barely stand []

Fast Fizz!

Fizz hates the snow, she doesn’t like how it falls on her head without warning and how it looks on the ground.  I’m not sure she’s that bothered about the cold but the snow itself is a real issue.  She’s been out a few times, but she comes running back in.  I wanted a few shots of the garden (see previous post) and she wandered out.  While she was staring intently at the snow on the grass wondering if it was worth checking out, I managed to sneak up behind her.  These 5 shots are taken in the space of about 1.2 seconds.  She was a bit surprised, I love how in the fourth shot, her tail telegraphs the direction she’s about the head.

I was playing with the Picasa ‘movie’ stuff, because Grete suggested making an animated image, and as usual, it makes it too easy!  Here’s the youtube vid 😉


Grete’s dad stayed over last night after a semi-surprise visit.  He brings his little dog so we didn’t see Fizz all evening (she doesn’t like the dog) but Bubbles just tends to do her own thing, trying to pretend the dog doesn’t exist.

Once Grete’s dad left, it took us a couple of hours to convince Fizz the house was safe, but she finally came downstairs on her own.

We’d noticed Bubbles was keeping her tail down yesterday, but that’s a pretty natural pose for cats which are a bit spooked and just trying to go under the radar, but we were less happy when she kept doing it today, and then when we tried to investigate she made some pretty unhappy noises.

So 5pm visit to the vets, and I guess we both knew something was up when we got her into the cat box without any major struggling.  The good news is that it’s just a couple of small wounds on her back, near the base of her tail.  Either from Fizz or from some other creature in the neighbourhood, that had gotten a little infected and swolen.  The vet (and the vet we use is superb, Ashfield House Vetenary Hospital in Long Eaton, I really recommend them) had her cleaned up and gave her some painkillers.  We could tell almost immediately before we left she was happier because she was standing up in the cat box demanding to be out.  She’s got more painkillers and a course of anti-biotics to get through over the next few days.

Which means a lot of tuna.

We didn’t get into Tesco until 7:30pm to buy food for ourselves and the weekend, and haven’t been back in the house very long.

So a hectic two days.  Hopefully Bubble’s will heal up nicely and she won’t need a return visit.  This is her finishing up Fizz’s share of the tuna.


Got cats?

So I’m playing a computer game (yes, Lord of the Rings online as it happens) and Bubbles decides she wants to sit on my lap.  She’s taken to jumping onto my desk and sitting, staring at me until I move by chair back far enough for her to get to my lap.  I guess it’s getting toward winter.

Anyway, yesterday I was a little busy, so I ignored her for a few moments.  But she decided that wasn’t good enough.  Click for the full images.


It’s not easy taking photo’s of your left arm, with your iPhone in your right arm when you can’t see the screen.

A Day of Updates II #3 – The War Against the Cat

Well, while I was recovering from surgery seemed the ideal time to leave the cat sprayer switched off since setting it was beyond my frail and fragile post-op body (or something).  It went okay for about a week, we had some rain in that time which keeps the enemy cat away normally anyway, and on the nights that were dry it didn’t come around.  However, it eventually realised the device was off and we got up one morning to find it had sprayed and the place stank.  It did it again during the day, a day or so later.  We started turning the water sprayer on again in the evenings and that seems to have worked.

Except one day over the weekend we were both sitting in the computer room, Fizz was resting on her chair (hard day in the sun and she needed a break).  We heard a cat-chirp and both looked and the little bugger was either just coming into the room or just leaving the room and sprayed the bloody woodwork as it left.  Since we managed to catch it so early it was easy to clean off and left no smell but the little shit is clearly getting braver.

Having said that, we’ve not set the sprayer for a couple of nights again since our cats are out so late when the weather is this good and it’s not been back, so I think we’re wearing it down slowly.  I’ll set it tonight I think, just in case.