Saturday, 29 September 2007

Edinburgh Cribs

So, a few days ago, Mags joined Alien Wally in the “early 30s” of life. To help her get over the trauma celebrate this momentous occasion, Alien Wally took the day off work to take Mags out for cake and a tour around Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh, which she visits every summer. As summer is, sadly, over, the Queen had headed back to England, kindly leaving her home open to such lovely people like Alien Wally and Mags. What was she thinking?! Does she know how close Mags came to jumping the barrier so that she could sit on the Queen’s throne…? And, as an aside, what is it with Mags and thrones anyway?

After following the audio tour through the palace itself (sorry, folks, no pictures allowed inside), Alien Wally and Mags went outside to visit the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, still attached to the palace. Alien Wally and Mags are always awed by the fact that even ruined churches still retain their powerful, yet immensely peaceful, energy. This particular abbey, set against the backdrop of the magnificent palace gardens and Arthur’s Seat, is well worth a visit, and Alien Wally and Mags will definitely be returning.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007


Strike a pose!

“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Mercedes, and I will be your guide for this trip to Edinburgh Zoo. Aah, who are we kidding, actually? I don’t get out of bed for less than £10 000…. You’ll have to amuse yourselves, dahlings.”

And so Alien Wally and Mags did just that. Here are some highlights of the day:

They’re not even African penguins, yet crime is rife in this small patch of Edinburgh suburbia. You have to keep a close watch over your neighbours – if you turn your back they sneak up and steal your pebbles….

And while it takes courage to stand up to your neighbours, it seems that, for some at least, it takes much more to get up the nerve to take the plunge. After about 5 false starts, this chap gave up on the diving board and waddled off to get more fish.

Perhaps the penguins need to employ armour-plated bodyguards to protect them. These guys not only look tough, but can clear a room in two seconds flat by turning their backs on everyone and making, well, let’s just call it a very large deposit.

Proof that some small dainty looking bokkies actually do have nasty pointy teeth….

And lastly, the MacNoodle’s cousins illustrate the fact that cats will be sleepy cats, no matter how big they are.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

A blast from the past.

Ever wondered what happened to Martin Bailie, he of Radio 5 and Turn On The Telly fame? In her post on Cornwall, Mags forgot to mention that the Irish Devil is now gracing the airwaves on BBC Radio Cornwall – a pleasant surprise to hear his familiar voice while channel hopping on the car radio driving around the Cornish countryside!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Sticking to her knitting.

The last time Mags knitted anything, she was 13 years old and in junior school. Knitting was good and fun, and was the better option after Mags had been banned from using the sewing machine because the bobbin kept breaking every time she sat down at it. Hey, some people mysteriously break computers. Mags had (has) the same effect on sewing machines. Go figure.

Anyway, now Mags has taken up her knitting needles again and is knitting up a storm. Or at least, knitting scarves so that she and Alien Wally are warm in the storms. The sun is rising later and going to bed earlier here in Scotland, and winter approacheth.

But Mags reckoned without the challenge of knitting anything with the MacNoodle around. Buried deep in the collective unconscious of cats is a knitting archetype. Madam loves the wool, to be sure, but even just the sight of the knitting needles is enough to get Madam’s whiskers twitching and eyes crossed with concentration as she figures out how to pounce for maximum wool-gathering effect….

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Maid of the Forth

What to do on a beautiful hot sunny day in Edinburgh, when the Forth is sparkly and inviting? Get on a boat and take a trip to an island? Sounded good to Alien Wally and Mags, so that’s exactly what they did on the weekend!

The Maid of the Forth ferry takes passengers to Inchcolm Island, site of the ruins of Inchcolm Abbey, a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. The island was also used as a military base during the wars, and, while the island as a whole is lovely, the contrast between the ugly functional military buildings and the abbey is quite jarring.

Alien Wally and Mags made the pilgrimage to the top of the bell tower at the abbey to see the panoramic views from the top. The narrow spiral staircase at the Scott Monument had nothing on these steps – narrower, spiralier, followed by a straight steep staircase with steps about the size of half of Mags’ foot. And in case you don’t get the implications of this, let Mags just remind you that she has very small feet….

The trip was also an opportunity to get up close and personal with the Forth rail bridge. After some serious neglect of the bridge in the 80s, it now costs £20 million per year to keep the corrosion under control, hence the constant scaffolding covering parts of the bridge. A standing joke in Scotland compares any endless project to the painting of the Forth bridge… as soon as you get to the end, you have to start all over again at the beginning.

And on a final note, a health message… what has to be the world’s largest “no smoking” sign, seen on the oil tanker currently loading up with supplies of North Sea oil pumped to the Forth for distribution worldwide.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

MacNoodle in da house!

For once in the household, a Saturday dawned bright and early as Mags started bouncing on the bed to wake Alien Wally up for the momentous occasion of Fetching The MacNoodle. Alien Wally grumbled a bit at the early hour, but he was secretly very excited too. He just chose not to express himself with girly squeals of joy like Mags did.

The cattery lady said to be there any time from 9am. But Alien Wally and Mags were late, rolling into the cattery parking lot at 09:00:02. In order to transport Her Ladyship and all her toys, Alien Wally and Mags rented a car. No bus for Madam. Definitely not.

Madam was suitably confused when, instead of her breakfast being served, the cattery lady brought in those two annoying yet lovable pink blobs who hang around and perform useful functions like scratching Madam’s ears and feeding her treats. Madam was even more confused when the two pink blobs popped her deftly into a cat box and took her outside. Outside! The MacNoodle’s nose twitched from side to side and her eyes followed suit as she wildly tried to take everything in all at once.

Before her little brain could overheat at all the excitement, Madam was placed on the back seat of the car, and, after all the pink blobs had said their emotional goodbyes, the family was off, together once again. The MacNoodle kept a rather strident running commentary from the backseat for the first half of the trip until she decided that it was getting her nowhere and she settled in for the ride.

Upon arrival back at home, the MacNoodle’s cage door was opened and she stepped tentatively out. Then she ran, only stopping when she came to the bedroom and found the bed. Or more precisely, under the bed. Where she stayed for a few minutes until the whole procedure started again. Run around flat. Map territory. Hide under bed. Repeat. Once breakfast was served, each circuit was broken by a pit stop at the food bowl.

And then the purring started. Madam was still doing circuits of the flat, but every time she noticed either Alien Wally or Mags she would make a slight detour to run up to them, her little body vibrating with massive purrs. If Alien Wally and Mags had the ability to purr back, they would have.

And then the MacNoodle found The Sunny Spot. At first she hid herself behind the curtain to enjoy it. Later, she came out and made use of her new soft bed, strategically placed in said Sunny Spot. After the sun had disappeared in the late afternoon, Madam moved her attention to the couch, where she remained until the early hours of Sunday morning when she eventually wandered through to sleep on the end of the bed.

Alien Wally and Mags hadn’t intended for Sunday morning to dawn quite as early as Saturday morning had, but then they had forgotten how persistent Madam can be when she wants breakfast. It’s not a violent persistence, but more of a subtle emotional manipulation that ensures that someone (ok, Mags) follows Madam sleepily down the passage and puts food in the bowl before heading sleepily back to bed. After 6 months of not being able to do this, it was fascinating how quickly the MacNoodle got back into this routine. And how quickly Mags let herself be manipulated…. Only the funny fluffy thing seems to have this power.

When the day finally dawned for a second time at a more respectable hour, Mags headed back through to the lounge and kitchen to start preparing breakfast for herself and Alien Wally. But she’d forgotten about the MacNoodle’s stealth tactics… the ankle biter was back! One of Madam’s favourite games was (and still is, it seems) to hide somewhere and then race out at unsuspecting pink blobs and try to bring them down by rugby tackling them around the ankle. Since the newly acquired throw on the couch (ostensibly bought to save the couch from cat hair) provides an excellent hiding place, Alien Wally and Mags are sure that they will be targeted regularly. All visitors to the household are hereby forewarned. Meep!