Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Christmas in the campo

Last Christmas I had the extremely exciting opportunity to spend Christmas with the family in Brighton as my little grandson Jaxon was born mid December.  This year it was back to just the two of us, with our feathered and four legged friends.  Obviously I had a wonderful time last year.  I was with the kids, the grandchildren, and Frankie's partner Jordan's family were very kind and squeezed another place for me at the dinner table at least twice.  It was lovely, and I was very grateful.

It did make me realise however what I really miss at this time of the year are the Christmasses of the past.  Especially when the children were young and we would visit family and friends over the festive period.  A highlight would always be a trip to my Auntie Jess on Boxing day.  We would pick up Uncle Charlie, her brother en route, and usually drop him at the pub first, and he would join us later. We would arrive, usually to the familiar smell of roasting pork  which was her favourite. Auntie Jess was in catering and her food was always lovely.  If any of you are fans of Peter Kay the comedian, he has me in stitches when he talks about the 'reserve chairs' coming out at  Christmas. I would always stifle a giggle when we would be at different heights all around the table with our hats from our crackers. Especially as Auntie Jess and Uncle Charlie being so small their feet wouldn't touch the ground!

Just a couple of years before we lost Auntie Jess we turned up on Boxing Day, as planned, although bless her heart she had forgotten she had invited us, even though she had just spent Christmas Day with us. Luckily I had brought all the food.  She did hunt through her kitchen cupboards and came tottering out with a few bowls of things.  One particular bowl, Mark and Frankie were pondering over, so I decided to dive in first.  The taste was vaguely familiar, but I couldn't quite work out what it was.  I had to ask... "Auntie Jess, if you don't mind me asking, what's in that bowl?"  "Oooh I don't know" she replied.  "I'll show you the packet" It was a packet of Smash, instant mashed potato, bless her heart.

I'm digressing again, but it was those days when we played cards with pennies with the neighbours, and we never worried about what was on television, apart from maybe the Morecombe and Wise show. We  cannot go back however so we need to start making new memories now.

This year I was determined to enjoy my Christmas Day and not get too upset about not being with the family, and I did so well - I even put up my Christmas tree.  Alan and I don't buy each other presents, however we did treat ourself to something... more news on that in another blog post.  We did get a huge bag of Cadbury's chocolate from Alan's auntie, which went down an absolute treat and is still laying on our tummies!  On Christmas Day I spoke to both Mark and Frankie on  skype which was great, and they were both spending Christmas with their loved ones. Alan and I enjoyed a good roast dinner, we also had a walk by the lake and had a relaxing evening in front of a roaring log fire.

Ww hope you had a lovely Christmas. With love from Alan and I and some of the gang!

Alan with Eduardo

With Cassandra

Galaxy and I

Big Beautiful Blue


Our little Miliko

Big Arf!

Our gorgeous Gabi

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Celebrating Little Jaxon's First Birthday

Before I knew it I was back on that train to Malaga and dashing back to the UK.  It was going to be little Jaxon's birthday.  I'm not sure I ever remember a year flying by so rapidy! This time Mark was away working in Liverpool, so no luxury drive down to Brighton, the good ole train it was. Frankie knew I was on the way, but had burnt the dinner, bless her, so she picked me up from the station and we popped to the shops to enable me to chose my own pizza... and yummy it was too!

Pretty Christmas Tree at Malaga Station

This was a real flying visit, as I only had three whole days with the family, so I had to treasure every precious moment. Poor little Jaxon was suffering from a slight tummy bug, as were I think most other people in  the UK.  A couple of nights prior to my visit he had been sick numerous times  during the night.  My Frankie is like me and not good with 'sick' but luckily nothing phases Jordan her partner, so she had some help.  Poor little Jax also has a floppy larynx and reflux so he struggles with tummy pain and sickness as it is.

The following morning was Jax 's first birthday and of course another school run, after which Frankie and I popped into town to get Jax's birthday present from Alan and I.  I was open to options and when she mentioned that he needed his first pair of shoes, I jumped at the chance to get him something useful. As we got into town however, he fell asleep... "Ohhh let's have a  hot chocolate and relax first whilst we can" I said to Frankie. No sooner had we drunk the gorgeous hot choc, yes with cream and marshmallows, it has to be done sometimes, and Jax was awake. Time to head for Clarks.  He was star and was happy to have his big fat feet measured, admire himself in the mirror and try some shoes on.  The new shoes were decided on and were packed up and paid for, and we managed a few more shops until His Lordship started complaining, tyical man, so off we went home again.

I timed the trip well as that afternoon was Kaci's first school nativity play and I was going to be able to watch it. It was one of those moments that made me wonder where have the last 20 years have gone. It seemed like no time at all I was watching  Mark and Frankie's nativities. I was a very proud nanny Lorna watching Kaci singing away on the odd occasion  but spending most of the time seeing the back of her head, as the person behind her seemed to be so much more interesting than her audience.  It was lovely to see Chris, Kaci's dad there too as he had managed to take the time of work. During the evening Jordan's mum  and dad came over too and we chatted and all enjoyed some chocolate birthday cake which Kaci had chosen.  It was all pretty low key sadly as Frankie didn't want to pass any germs round.

The following day was possibly one of the best days I can remember for a very long time. Kaci hadn't seen her little cousin Maisie for a few months, what with the girls starting school and one thing and another.  We had arranged to secretly pick Maisie up, we were all going to spend a lovely day together. The girls were so happy to see each other and walked hand in hand like little twins, in their matching coats, and cuddled lots too.  It made my heart melt! First stop was Funplex, where the girls could run around and have loads of fun together and Jaxon could sit in a little play area and throw balls around until his heart was content!

The sun came out to play and so our next stop was Brighton Pier, a real favourite of mine. The girls had an absolute blast going on all the rides and we met up with our great friend Micklos who is the DJ on the pier.  Micklos was one of my fab dance teachers that used to work with me. He has such a huge personality, all the kids loved him.  If you are ever on the pier in Brighton, look out for him, he's near the helter skelter!

Our pal Micklos

My precious girls

Next on the list was something I had been planning for ages.  I decided not to buy the girls a main Christmas present this year and to take them to their first pantomime instead.  I had booked for Frankie and I and the girls to see Jack Frost's Frozen Christmas at the Pier Pavilion in Worthing.  It was a new style panto about how Jack Frost was out to destroy Santa Claus and  Christmas. Kaci and Maisie had no idea what to expect and their little faces were a picture.  They soon got the hang of booing and cheering along with the rest of the audience, bless them.  In the interval little Maisie shed a few tears as she told me she really really didn't like Jack Frost, but thankfully she  believed me when I said that the good guys always win in the end, and not to worry.  Sure enough Jack Frost turned into a good guy and that was Maisie's favourite part of the panto, and she cheered her little heart out! During the finale the 'snow' fell from the ceiling and I  somehow managed to stop myself from being a blubbering wreck but I did struggle to fight back the tears watching their little faces.  It was an   evening I'll never forget.

On Sunday poor little Jax still wasn't feeling 100% and neither was Jordan, Jaxon's daddy the day before, so I decided to take Kaci into Brighton for some last minute Christmas shoppping and she was an absolute star.  We had a treat of a hot  chocolate and she chose a boring ole cheese sandwich but luckily some shortbread fingers for us to share too.  We spent most of the day in town and I think I wore her out, bless her heart.

  Kaci fell asleep on the bus

Mark and Laura came over later that evening, the only time I had managed to see Mark as he had been on an exciting job in Liverpool.  He works as a detaining officer and a lot of extra man power had be sent to a Liverpool prison due to an incident up there. It was lovely to see them if only for such a short time.

The following morning I was up early, I had an earlier than usual plane to catch, I was a little concerned as I didn't feel 100% so unlike me I decided to skip breakfast and head off for a gentle stroll of about 20 minutes to the train station, it felt good to get some fresh air.  On arriving the direct train I had spotted on t'internet was delayed and nowhere near, so I was advised to get a train into Brighton where I had the chance of more trains to Gatwick. The train was full of commuters doing their daily trip to work, and due to signal failures and delays plus cancellations of other trains, the one I had to get was heaving.  I managed to squeeze in with my  cabin luggage and wedged myself in the corner by the door.  The doors shut and we were off, it was a short journey of possibly not much more than 10 minutes.

As the journey began I started to feel extremely hot and uncomfortable.  I didn't have any room to take my coat off and there was definitely no where to sit apart from in the first class carriage  next to me. A few minutes later and I had that awful feeling that I was going to be sick.  What do you do in that situation as an adult? As a child you can get away with throwing up down your coat and everyone feels sorry for you, and even more so whoever has to clean you up, but I'm an adult, it wasn't an option!

I was getting hotter and feeling so sick, I was aware that I was breathing deeply, slowly in and out, hoping it would pass.  The next thing I knew, a very tall. smart gentleman was helping me up.  I had fainted. However, luckily the train was so crowded I didn't land on the floor, I simply slid down the wall. Being a typical Brit I remember apologising and confirming to everyone that I was fine, when seconds later I faintly heard some 'ooohs' and  'ahhhs' and I was being helped up again.  The kind, tall smart man insisted I sat in the first class  carriage, which was empty, for the rest of the journey.  We were in fact just pulling into Brighton station.  He told me to stay there as he wanted to get someone to check me over.

I did stay there, but only for a couple of minutes.  I was cold and clammy and felt pretty poorly, but I knew I would feel better when I got off the train and had some fresh air. I found the toilet and freshened up and splashed some water on my face and set off on what I hoped would be a much less eventful part of the journey.  Thankfully it was! I managed to get a seat but low and behold 10 minutes before we were due to  stop at Gatwick, the driver announced over the tannoy that a bird had hit his windscreen and smashed it, and he didn't feel it safe to continue the journey.  We stopped at the next station, and all had to change trains.  Finally I made in to Gatwick Airport.  The earlier flight however meant I had no time to spare and rushed to get myself a bottle of lucozade for the  flight.  I couldn't wait to land at Malaga and luckily Alan was going to be there to meet me this time, as he had brought friends down that were flying to Gatwick.  I had a young  couple beside me on the flight, so I leant against the window and hoped to sleep as much as possible.

Once I get on a flight I rarely move.  I don't like travelling, I feel motion sickness very easily.  When I'm in a car, I just need to look down  at something  and I go all of a wobble. I am certainly more used to flying, I used to hate it, and would be very scared of feeling sick on the flight but I seem to be better these days.  However the awful feeling returned. I knew I had to get to one of the few toilets on the plane and sods law it was engaged. I wanted to be on my own, I felt so bad but the stewardess asked me to wait back out in the main part of the plane as she was getting trolleys ready for something.  God I felt awful, when was this lady going to come out! I stood with my head against the partition, it was cool and it felt good.  Luckily possibly only a minute passed and the toilet was vacant, otherwise I think I may have fainted again... what a nightmare.  I managed to splash some water on my face and cool myself  down, compose myself and hope to sleep the rest of the journey.  Luckily I did and before we knew it we were  coming into land. Oh my word it was good to see Alan, and even better to be home.  Shame it wasn't a great ending to the most magical long weekend!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Brighton for little Kaci's 5th BIrthday Bash

My  night in the 'urgencias' was certainly conducive to a good sleep on the journey to Brighton, where I was going to celebrate my granddaughter Kaci's 5th birthday. I felt no ill effects from Dolores the previous night, so I slept the whole way on the train to Malaga and then fell asleep again as soon as I got on the plane.  That certainly helped speed up the journey. Mark, my son had managed to get the day off from work and came to meet me from the airport, which was lovely, and he took me back to his girlfriend Laura and his new place, and he even cooked me a lovely meal too.  It was great to spend a few hours with them, and then they drove me then back down to Frankie, my daughter's where I was staying. It had been such a long 9 months since I had seen the family. They had both planned to come out however coincidentally both got the opportunity to move house, so of course I was very happy for them, but missed them greatly.  Frankie had just a month earlier moved into a lovely little house with a garden, which will be just perfect for the grandchildren in the summer!

I was sleeping in Kaci's bedroom, and she had been told I wouldn't arive until very late and she had to go to sleep like a good girl, and I would be there in the morning, when she woke up.  I was awake early as I'm not used to a lot of traffic noise, and at one point noticed her peering over at me, to check if I was there yet.  I said to her "Good morning beautiful" and she smiled and went back to sleep for a little while. 

It's great being a nanny and having to wear all this lovely jewellery!

Before we knew it, we were off on the school run. Blimey I don't miss that! Kaci and Maisie, my other gorgeous girlie both started in September, where has that time gone! I did think that with Kaci being at school it would mean Frankie and I could share some quality time together, however little Jaxon at 11 months old is both adorable and a bit of a handful.  He doesn't sleep and my Frankie is totally exhausted.  She is up most nights 3 or 4 times, sometimes for an hour or 2, and during the day he may sleep for an hour in the morning.  Good job he's gorgeous! So I'm not sure it was quality time together, but simply a lovely time together.

On the Saturday the weather was lovely and sunny so we had a trip to the pier, it was suprisingly warm for November and we enjoyed all that Brighton Pier has to offer, rides, 2p machines and naughty food! Hence the slight return of Dolores the following day... silly me, but wow that chippy on the pier was scrummy!

Sunday was Kaci's birthday and we had a great time at Monkey Bizness in Lewes, what a great place for a kids party.  We hardly saw the children... that's got to be a bonus, until they were called for their food, and then a monkey came along and we sang happy birthday.  I was a little sore with over indulging the previous day, so I had a lovely time in the ball pit with the toddlers. It was super seeing all of Kaci's family there for her birthday, family and friends all both sides, just the way it should be!

A couple of evenings later Mark and Laura came over to Frankie and Jordan's and I cooked for us all, it was the night before Mark's birthday, so Laura brought some lovely cakes and Mark played the game well and pretended to be very suprised as we sang Happy birthday to him, even though he had provided the matches for the candles.  

I managed to have a quick check on Uncle Charlie, who I was delighted to see looking very well. He seems to have a good little band of helpers and carers around him at the moment.  They are descreet enough that I think he probably thinks they are friends popping in to check on him, so that's all good.  

It's so difficult managing to divide time with family and friends, and this trip I did only see the family apart from a quick get together for our good friend's granddaughter who celebrated her 2nd birthday whilst we were there.  Plus of course now the girls are at school it wasn't so easy to spend time with my little Maisie, but thank goodness we had a lovely time playing after school one day. It was lovely to kiss them all goodbye knowing I would be back again very soon.

Friday, January 2, 2015

No Dolores, not tonight!

We had some miserable weather leading up to my trip back to Brighton in November.  I was so looking forward to my nanny cuddles and kisses. Sadly  neither of my children had managed to get out to see us this year and the time between my journey back in March for my granddaughter Maisie's birthday, through to November for little Kaci's birthday seems like a life time. The washing couldn't be done until the last minute as the solar was so low, and it was on an airer in a bedroom, and the miserable weather was our excuse for eating bad food so it should have been no suprise what happened, really.

It was around 8pm the night before my flight and we were sitting watching rubbish television, as we have such few channels now.  We get Irish channel 4 plus a few oldies like Challenge and Pick.  So our TV life revolves around the Channel 4 comedy 8 out of 10 Cats, Bullseye and Family Fortunes, on which Les Dennis looks about 25!  We watch the odd downloaded series too, it's not all bad. Anyway, I felt that pain, I knew immediately it was Dolores the gallstone(s)  I fidgeted about  and walked around but needed to double up really. This couldn't happen now, I had a  plane to catch in the morning.  I had some strong painkillers prescribed from the hospital so I took one and realised I needed to tell Alan.  "I hate to admit to this now", I began," but I've got a pain!"  He knew immediately what that meant.  The options were to sit tight and see if it passed after a few hours, but risk needing to go to the hospital in the middle of the night for pain relief or go now, hope I could be seen quickly and possibly be back home tucked up in bed by midnight. We decided to do that.

We arrived at a particularly busy 'Urgencias' at the Reina Sofia hospital in Cordoba, but you always hope maybe they'll whizz them through fast. No such luck on this occasion.  We saw a young beautiful female doctor who looked about 18 and was proud to try out her English on us, which was a great help. She asked me all the normal questions... bomit? deearea? She had a good feel about then the ladies rushed in... as they do. They put the doo dah on my finger, checked my blood pressure, then they tried numerous places to get a little blood out of me.  It's usually third time lucky, with a bit of wriggling involved. Eventually the line was in, blood taken out and a pain killer on it's way.  Once the pain killer was in, and it works incredibly quickly, I was sent back out to the waiting area for a while. Next stop was an xray, then await to see the pretty little girl again.  Time was ticking away, and we were getting concerned.  We had to leave home about 7.30 in the morning for me to  catch the train from Cordoba to Malaga then my flight to Gatwick, and it was now around 3am! We sat patiently, now and then checking the phone for the time, and sighing. At last we were called back in to see the young doctor.  She confirmed it was my gallstones, and or gallbladder.  Not to eat fat, or drink alcohol and if I become yellow to go to the hospital in Brighton straight away.  We managed a brisk walk back to the car, and arrived home at 6am.  Alan decided he would have an hour in bed as he thought it was better than nothing, but I was sure I would feel worse so I finished drying my clother by holding them up to the calor gas fire. Alan's alarm soon burst into song and I was still feeing great... full of drugs, so off we went.  With any luck I would sleep  most of the journey and see the family  very soon! 

Sadly he wasn't a doctor at the hospital!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Grey Cloak

I have great admiration for writers that can completely bare their soul whilst writing.  It's something I've never felt I could do, I always needed to keep a little of me back.  If I have been brave enough to click 'publish' on this post, then I feel I have opened up a little more.

I have recently published 3 blog posts, although I have many more posts prepared and saved, but I've found it quite hard to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard should I say. I'll try and explain as best I can.

At the end of March I had an appointment with the eye consultant.  I was diagnosed a few months ago as having sarcoidosis in my eye, which presents itself as uveitis, and I also had inflamation the the retina. I was becoming rather blasé about it.  The different tests were a doddle, even the one where she injected dye into my arm, which shot into the blood vessels in my eye and made my mouth feel a little drooly. As were the steroid injections I was having regularly under my eye. I was quite aware than my sight in my right eye wasn't improving but I just thought we would trundle along for a while. Then she hit me with it! She said the treatment wasn't working and I had 2 options, an injection the eyeball or to go on steroid tablets.  The needle in the eye was my big fear. I thought she would think I was silly if I ran out the door, so I stayed put, clammy handed and trembling. I immediatly wussed out and said I wanted the steroid tablets.  I had read that the injecton of steroids into the eye is very likely to cause cataracts... and that means more injections in the eyeball.  Err no thanks!

I was pleased when Alan said he thought I had made the right decision. Lots of people in a wonderful and caring facebook group I belong to, are on the steroid Prednisone, so I thought it could help other symptoms that were going on.  This is where it gets difficult for me to talk about.

Depression, there you go, I've said it!  As a female, I have of course suffered with bursting into tears at inopportune moments,  generally feeling down and wanting to stab the odd person in the back, however this was or is very different.  I was first aware of it in 2006, I was suffering with eye problems then, and the most extreme tiredness I have ever felt. I was teaching dancing, and I would arrive home and would be asleep within 5 minutes.  I didn't look after anyone, feed anyone, to be honest I hardly remember that time in my life. We took Frankie my daughter to Paris for her 18th birthday, it was the perfect present for her, apart from I had no voice at all, and was so very tired. We also had a family holiday of a lifetime in Florida but I felt so ill.  After our evening meal we would go back to the hotel, to put me to bed and Alan would go back out with the rest of the family!

Christmas was coming up and Alan and I had a trip to Bluewater shopping  centre.  On the way home my eyes itched so much I felt I wanted to scratch my eyes out and then it happened very suddenly. It was as though someone threw a dark grey cloak over me, and it stayed there for months.

When we moved to Spain because of my illness, (that took 18 months to diagnose  after my first symptoms), it was such a relief.  I was very sad I could no longer do the job I loved as a dance teacher, but of course this bloody illness also seperated me from my family and friends.  It was the decison I made, but at that time I wasn't sure I could sit in a front row seat, and not be a part of the Lorna Roff Dance Centre anymore. It felt less painful to be distance myself.  Of course moving to Spain meant I no longer had the pressure of being a competitive dance teacher, so if I felt tired, apart from keeping the house and the multitude of weeds under control, my work load was in fact, pretty easy.

Until March this year I had never taken any medication for my sarcoidosis.  It is not a curable disease and the granulomas that cause the problems, can spring up anywhere in the body, and ideally if you can soldier on through it, it is better off that way.  I was however still suffering from boughts of depression, plus a few other problems although for me the depression was the most debilitating!

Ooops, I've digressed. OK, back to March and I was put on the prednisone, a huge dose of 80mgs every day.  I was quite  nervous about taking it. Vainly I wondered how much weight I would put on, although I had heard of a few other nasty side effects too, but my eye sight was so important, it had to be done. You take it with breakfast (so it doesn't keep you awake at night... yeah right) along with a stomach protector and a couple of hours later I already felt different, like I had more energy. Those first few weeks I felt bloody marvellous.  Better than I have for many years. I ate like a horse and everything tasted amazing! I would cook slighty more than usual (putting it  mildly) but I would have it like two dinners, and I was snacking in between with unsalted nuts and dates.  The strange thing about the steroids is that your stomach can be full, but you can find yourself shaking as though your blood sugar is low, and I would feel the need to cram food into my mouth. There are great cartoons about prednisone, I'll share some at the end.

A  month later and I returned to the ophthalmologist and she was very happy.  Already there had been a significant improvement.  We could already begin reducing the steroids, what great news!  At first I was dropping 10 mgs every 10 days.  I didn't notice any side effects for a while, until I got to around 40 mgs.  I then  had 2 or 3 days where I would feel very down and tearful, and well as other symptoms I had from my sarcoidosis. From then onwards every time my dose lowered this happened.  I knew it would only last a few days whilst my body adjusted to the new dose. 

It was around the middle of the summer when I reached 20 mgs and that was  by far the hardest for me. The feeling down and tearful turned into a major depression.  I have only spoken about it on a couple of  sarcoidosis posts before and to Alan on ocassions.  For me the depression meant the My Grey Cloak went over me and there was a thick barrier between me and the world.  Some people can talk about it when they are in that situation, but I prefer not to.  I would sit at home staring at the screen of the laptop.  I would ocasionally click 'Like' to something on facebook, but I hadn't got the energy or inclination to converse with anyone at all. Alan and I would sit for hours and I would hardly talk to him.  He never pressured me, he knows when I'm bad that's just the way it is. 

When  I feel like that, my face looks different... older, obviously miserable but it almost feels like it's being dragged down.  My posture changes too,  I become round shouldered and I feel a physical weight on my head, neck and shoulders.  Everything is such an effort. When  I was feeling particularly bad in the summer I did confide in a couple of good friends.  I also told my daughter. I had managed to keep it from her before, but I thought she ought to know. What was usually lasting just a few days stretched out for about 3 months.  I would wake up, and it was there, My Grey Cloak was already over me. There is a fantastic video on youtube called The Black Dog, it is how someone describes their depession, and it is so accurate.  Some people call their depression The  Black Dog, for me it's My Grey Cloak. The strangest thing about it is it usually switches off rather like a light switch.  It can be anytime of the day, or I guess night, and it's gone.  I usually keep rather quiet at first as I have a fear it will come back.  Rather like having a tummy bug, you don't want to eat too much as soon as you are feeling better... just in case! 

The Black Dog

When My Grey Cloak lifted, and of all the strange days for it to happen was when we lost of little Outsider. Now, how weird is that, you wouldn't expect a depression  to lift on that day!  Since talking more about it to Alan I think what happened was the sarcoidosis symptoms were stronger than the dose of steroids I was on.  Some of the old symptoms came back.  The headaches, breathlessness, the cough and the extreme tiredness. I would sometimes sleep in the morning, as well as a siesta in the afternoon AND be in bed by 10pm! Some days would also feel I had insects crawling under my skin, and one day I made  my arm bleed I scratched it so much, all on top of the depression. The last couple of weeks however I have felt on top of the world again, and life is good. I've even been kept awake in the night with the steroids, it's almost like I have just started taking them. I'm so hoping this will last... please!

So there you go, an attempt to bare my soul, and why I have not had the energy or mindset to manage  my blogposts.  If you are suffering and living with depression, can I please say surround yourself with the right person or people.  I could not have coped without the patience of Alan, and I so wish he didn't have to go through this with me!                          
In  the words of Jerry Springer "Look after yourself, and each other!"   

Monday, October 27, 2014

Our poor Outsider....It was like a horror film!

The day after we lost of dear Geri we had an invite from our lovely friends Ray and  Nikki to see their super new house in the campo and have a bite to eat with them.  We knew it would do us good, especially being around their gorgeous little children, who are always very free and easy with their cuddles.  So we took them up on  their kind invitation. Sitting round the dinner table we were chatting about the different animals that have come into our lives, and Alan stated that we hadn't had any stray animals around for a while.... hmmmm sods law or what! After a lovely relaxing time we them we set off home.  As we approached our house we often hear the dogs barking or howling, of course they recognise the car, however this was different, more urgent!

It was Carlos and  Miliko mainly, they were on our big front terrace, Blue and Arthur of course joined in with the commotion, as thats what they do, in true mastin style. Alan went out to check what was going on and called me frantically.  There was a kitten, and it wasn't one of ours.  She had obviously been out over the fence, made her way through the alpacas and somehow jumped up a high wall that led to our big terrace. Miliko can only open his  mouth 18ms due to an accident when he was just a month old. How on eath he manages to catch and suck birds, and even frogs is beyond us, but he does.  I didn't think he could harm the kitten with his mouth but he has strong paws and legs and she was only tiny.  Carlos on the other hand, is the most nervous and gentle dog you could imagine, but he is a hunter, and it's in his blood.  I'm not sure what he would do if he was able to get to our kittens when they are tiny.  I hope we never find out.

Anyway the kitten had no fear and ran towards the dogs and jumped down into their terrace.  It was so lucky Alan was there, he managed to keep them back until I could rush to help, whilst he got stung twice on the head.  Poor Alan, the wasps love the taste of him! Pure panic must have set in and she leapt onto the wall where there is a huge drop the other side.  Eventually she must have realized she needed to trust us and Alan held up a plank of wood up to her and she gingerly crept down it, onto Alan's shoulder, and into my arms.

At this time we had 3 adult cats and 9 kittens that had developed into one big happy family, with the two females feeding whoever needed feeding, and not just their own.  So we put the little kitten down beside them, and it was obvious to us she was possibly only a couple of weeks older than the rest of them. She sat on her own for a while and gingerly a couple of the kittens would get close to her, and would run back to their safety again. We knew she would be ok and safe if she stayed with the rest of the kittens.  By the following morning she was one of the family, and being allowed milk from Meeny and Mo like the rest were.

Outsider is the slighter larger, black'ish cat on the left.

Stuck well in, and in the middle

So that's how the little girl came into our lives.  I'm sorry that should have been a blog post in its own right but I've had a bit of a difficult sumer health wise, and I'm just so behind however I'm feeling so much better now, I'm going to try my very best to get you all up to date.  You'll be sick of my posts soon!

As most of you know we have holiday rentals where we live, and because we hadn't named this years kittens, for the simple reason that 4 of them were almost identical and there were NINE of them, so most of our guests would tell us the names they gave them. This little kitten  had be named 'Outsider' by one guest, as of course she was, and the name stuck.

Outsider visits the new baby alpaca

Our little Outsider was a gorgeous girl, extremely pretty as looked though someone had dabbed a little bit of orange on her black fur, and she had the loudest strangest meow I have ever heard of in a cat, let alone a kitten.  She was very tactile and was one of our cuddliest kittens. Suddenly one morning in the beginning of October, we found heartache yet again!

I was out with Carlos and  Miliko on the big terace, and I heard a noise.  I thought at first it was one of the chickens in what we call the indoor outdoor garden.  Once they are let out of their chicken room they roam where ever they like.  Apart from too close to the dogs, they're not daft! Miliko was very intersted in what or who was making the strange noise.  He stood trying to see through the window with his one leg that's shorter than  the other just dangling, bless him.  I looked and spotted Outsider lying on the table,  nothing unual there but I could see there was something not quite right about her. 

Ok now this is where it be comes rather like a horror film.  I have decided to be totally honest about what happened, so please think about if you want to read the details of our dear little Outsiders final hours, or hour!

I rushed round to see her and I could immediately see something was wrong, but I couldn't tell what. She was fine the evening before when I fed them all. My mind was racing.  Did she have a chest infection? Had she hurt herself?  She she eaten something poisonous? I called to Alan and explained something wasn't right with Outsider. He realised straight away also.  I picked her up in my arms and she slumped over to one side, so I tried laying her on the floor.  She seemed to have no strength in her legs.  We felt her all over and couldn't work out what if anything was painful.  All the time she was making an awful crying noise.  The other kittens wanted to see her but we managed to keep them away. We were nervous she may have had a disease that could possibly wipe them all out!

Alan suggested we take her into the casita in a bucket with a blanket.  We thought she was dying and it was just a matter of time.  We were gutted! Alan phoned Andres to see if we could take her to the surgery but he was out and he would be back later.  We would do what we could to keep her calm and relaxed and of course help if at all possible.  We tried her with a little water in a syringe in case she had heat stroke and was dehydrated. She took it and she began to try and be sick although nothing came up. She was clambering to get out of the bucket to we let her out and she threw herself violently at the wall, and ran around as though she was possessed by something.  I picked her up to try and calm her down but she bit me hard.  I cried out in pain and Alan managed to prise her mouth open to enable me to release my thumb.  She was so desperate and I couldn't help her, what a dreadful feeling that was. We tried a few times with the water hoping that maybe if she was sick the problem would be resolved.  All the time her breathing was becoming more and more laboured. Time was running out... fast! 

Something suddenly clicked.  Could she have something stuck in her throat?  We could not have managed to look until now, now it was near the end.  Alan prised her mouth open.  "I can see something" he said urgently.  At first he wasn't sure if it was a stick or a piece of plastic.  "Quick, get my tweezers!" I replied. He ran and came back with  my tweezers, the inevitable was getting closer, we had only seconds.  He got the tweezers in  and he pulled.  He pulled and pulled, it wasn't coming out. At the moment she stopped breathing, we were too damn late!  Why oh why hadn't I thought of that before!  Although I know we wouldn't have got her to open her mouth. She was gone, but there was still the thought if we could get out the foreign body out maybe she would begin to breath again. So I held her tightly and Alan pulled.  We then realised that there had actually been a   nasty smell around her, but we couldn't work out what it could be, then we realised .... the foreign object was in fact a dead mouse.  What Alan was pulling was the tail.  Could we still do it? Goodness knows how  big it was, but as Alan pulled as hard as he could the tail came away from the body. That was it, we could do no more.

It really was like a horror film. She was so desperate to tell us she was in distress,  crying and literally throwing herself about, whilst she was slowly suffocating.  It was one of the worst things we have had to deal with.  We realised that even if we had taken her straight to the vet, we would not have made it in time. There are those awful moments though, where you say "What if we had managed to look inside her mouth earlier?" and "what if I had heard her her crying sooner?"  We will never know.  We only know we hope we never have to go through anything like that again. 

When we told our vet what happened he was as philosophical as always and said "As a predator, her hunter spirit was stronger than her. She couldn't avoid to try swallow her prey. It's the Law of Nature. I'm sorry so much. You have done everything was in your hands." 

He always tries extremely hard to find the right words.
RIP Outsider. We loved having you in our lives,  we wish it had been for longer.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Well what a beautiful little surprise!

At very long last we have some awesome news to share. Our big beautiful Bermuda the alpaca, gave birth to a stunning baby girl on the 29th September. 

Now most of our longer term holiday bookings have finished, we are still enjoying overnight and weekend breaks from families living in Spain and wanting a little getaway. That means we  can enjoy a bit of television between guests, for the first time in months. Even though the most exciting channel we can receive by far, is channel 4. The rest are strange programmes with Judge Judy doing her thing most of the day! So on Monday 29th we decided to watch some tv for an hour.  Rumour has it that alpacas give birth in the morning, or up until early afternoon, but Alan checked on Bermuda at 5.30pm ... as you do, and when we  came down at 6.30 he looked out and very calmly said “There’s a baby!”  A baby?  A baby what?  He was so calm he couldn’t possibly mean a baby alpaca? He bloody did!  He grabbed a towel and the iodine, and I grabbed the camera, and the first photo is literally the first moment I saw her.  She was already dry and sat cushed beside her mum.  Bermuda must have had her, moments after we had gone indoors, typical! She  had delivered the placenta too. As we got closer to the cria she leapt up and she walked extemely well, we couldn’t believe it.  Alan and I went inside the paddock to check her cord, and to see what sex she was.  The cord was long but not bleeding, and we were shocked to see it was a little girl.  The only females born to any of our girls have been Lily's two that have died. Once we were happy that all was good we left her with Bermuda and within 2 or 3 minutes of looking for the milk supply, she found it.  

Naming Bermuda's baby was also one of Alan's crowdfunder rewards, and he contacted Russ and told him the good news a couple of days after the baby was born, and when we were feeling positive that everything was going well. After a little while he  came back with the name Gabi.  The story behind it is that Russ is originally from  Brighton in the UK where we were from also.  The nickname of the Brighton and Hove Albion  football team is The Seagulls.  The Spanish word for seagull is 'gaviota' and in Spain you pronounce the 'v' as a 'b' , so she is our little Gabi, and we love it!   

I must admit this last week or so, we have realised that this is so different to Lily’s little fella, Milagro, which still breaks our heart, but we must try, as hard as it is to put that behind us and move on. I have to admit when Gabi was born and Alan disappeared to find the scales, I saw Lily look at Gabi, and it upset me so much, I don't mind telling you I shed some tears.  It was just all too much.  I was worried something would happen to her, plus I knew how broken hearted Lily was, and I could tell the way that she looked at her, she was missing her baby terribly!  

Gabi weighed 7 kilos the day she was born, so not very big, but she is putting on weight beautifully. We are still weighing her every other day, however she's getting stronger now and she's not so keen on  being picked up, although when we do I'm lucky enough to get a nibble on the nose from her.  We are now feeling very blessed!

Since then she has certainly been giving Bermuda the run around! At dusk we like to sit and watch her discretely as she pronks around the paddock.  Chasing kittens, kicking buckets and darting between her mum and Aunite's Lily and Cassandra. I must try and get a video of this, so please check back again in a few days to see if I have been able to add one.

She is a little beauty!