Monday, 29 February 2016

Poor Sore Paw

I noticed the Nu was limping on her front right paw leg last night.
Now the Nu is not a cat to takes kindly to casual picking up or touching outside her strictly enforced parameters of acceptability.  Stroking - ok, examining body parts - not ok, stoking belly at  night on the bed - ok, touching paws - not ok, sitting next to you - ok, sitting on the lap - not ok, brushing - ok, picking up - not ok, anything the vet might want to do - definitely not ok.  We put this down to a traumatic youth and try to accommodate her foibles, however she obviously needed some closer inspection last night and so without further ado Jean-Luc exercised the skill gained in misspent teenage years working at a vets and 'scruffed' her.  After some initial and vocal protest I was able to get a good look at the paw and was horrified to see that one of her claws had overgrown and was now piercing the pad.
I managed to pull it out and then quickly clipped the claw down, all accompanied by the most vocal of protests, a quick bathe in some boiled and cooled salt water and she was released and placated with tinned tuna.  Sounds smooth but it wasn't and none of us were happy at the end of it, least of all the Nu.

Today she is recovering in bed - and milking it for all it's worth.

She's not limping any more, the pad doesn't appear infected and she seems fine.  In future I'll be keeping more of an eye on her paws, no matter how unpopular that is.
We're not sure how it happened as her other claws are fine, but it may be due to her not going out so much this winter due to the almost constant rain and so not wearing her claws down naturally.
Lesson learnt but with hindsight we should have known better and been more vigilant.  It would have saved her some pain and the stress of being handled in a way she didn't like.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016


First off this is a collaborative post and I was asked to write about the recent floods.

It's been almost two months since the village was flooded on Boxing Day and to the casual eye everything seems back to normal; the media and politicians have departed (apparently David Cameron even visited but he helicoptered in and out and I don't think a single villager spoke to him - well we don't matter only the soundbite opportunity); the pubs and restaurants are all open, most of the businesses are trading and this week the bank reopened.

The roads and footpaths are clear and the rivers run their usual courses and land that was inundated now sprout a delicate patchwork of spring flowers.

But, and this is a bit but, many of the residents have not yet returned; good friends of ours are will be renting a house in another village for at least six months while the house drys out and they sort out repairs, insurance and replacement furniture.  This is a story repeated across the village.  As you walk around it you can see vans scattered by the roadside; plasterers, electrician, flood reclamation; houses throb to the sound of large scale dehumidifiers and front doors are wide open as the cleanup and repair goes on.  Many of the tradesmen working in the village are local businesses who worked for free during the flood, helping homes get power back on, lent vehicles to help move sandbags or rescue residents belongings and generally lent a hand to help their customers and neighbours clear up and get back on their feet.  Their generosity of spirit is being recognised and people are choosing to use and recommend  those firms that helped them out.

For some people the process of repair and renewal is taking a little longer as they struggle to carry out the work without the benefit of insurance.  Parts of the village have flooded before and insurance excesses of £10k are not unknown. 
Solicitors Simpson Millar have put together a really interesting website called Floodwatch, which shows impact of storms Abigail to Frank, including the damage costs of each storm.
The village has really come together to help each other with insurance and with the cost of refurbishing the communities resources like the sports and social club, village hall and community centre and has organised a music festival with all the pubs and restaurants hosting bands over the whole weekend   We're hoping for loads of outsiders to spend money and support our lovely local businesses - the money raised is going to the flood relief fund which the parish council has set up .

The reason why the village flooded quite so badly still hasn't been resolved and people are looking firmly in the direction of the Environment Agency and muttering about rivers needing to be dredged but this is not the whole story.  There's a whole range of contributing factors including the Governments insistence on putting development ahead of common sense and actively enabling the building of housing on flood plains, the increasing amount of hard surfacing from new roads to paved over front gardens which prevents rain from soaking into the ground and overwhelming our drainage systems; the gradual decimation of ecosystems and habitats that have evolved to be the 'coping mechanisms' for heavy rainfall, canalisation of rivers which speeds up water flow in rivers; cuts in the budgets of the EA and local councils which leave them less able to plan efficiently and carry out large scale flood relief projects quickly.
This is only the tip of the iceberg and the search for someone to blame goes on; Emma Thompson has written an interesting article about this in the Huffington PostThe truth, however, is less clear and we are all in part to blame; we pave over our front gardens for parking, we buy the houses on new estates built on flood plains, some of us own businesses that build those houses, we elect the governments that don't address important issues such as climate change, habitat protection and who put profit over sensible planning.  We all need to step up and be a part of any solution.

On a personal level, although Jean-Luc and I weren't flooded we have still been affected by what happened.
The weather forecast for last weekend four days of heavy rain; in times past I would have taken this in, sighed at the thought of a weekend of lost walks and miserable weather and thought about what alternative activities we might do.
Now I peer out the bathroom window to check the level of the pond in the field behind us; look on the EA website for flood warnings and on the village facebook page to see if there are any other warnings.
Unsurprisingly since the Boxing Day flood we’ve have all become a bit paranoid about heavy rain and in particular prolonged heavy rain.