Neville. 29th March 2015 – 10th January 2017

I was about to apologise for a self-indulgent blog posting, but then I figured that all blog posts by their very nature are basically saying “me me ME!”, so I won’t. However I will say if you’re not a fan of cats, nor of blog posts about cats, then look away now. This is a large post about a big cat.

Neville was a sturdy cat. To say he was fat would be rude and untrue – he was large of frame, width, hat size, and also personality. He was large, dependable, chunky even, but definitely sturdy. On hearing of his death my brother-in-law referred to him as a “stout fellow” which was most definitely true.  Of all the cats I’ve lived with over the years, Neville was the friendliest. Whereas most cats would run away at the sound of the doorbell – someone was going to invade their territory! – Neville would run towards the door to see who was coming. We said he was our “meeter-greeter”, and as guests came in he would run ahead of them as if to say “you can put your coats here, the toilet’s on the left if you need it, straight on through to the kitchen!” You know the safety announcements they make on airplanes when they have to point out the emergency exits “here, here and here”? Well Neville would have excelled at that.

As with every part of him, Neville had a big meow and a big appetite. On the morning he died, as I was talking to his brother Luna in the garden, I could hear a foghorn-type cat cry coming from beyond the garden behind us. A cry of dismay, the cry of a cat stuck or trapped somewhere? I did not panic, I simply called his name and lo and behold with a loud and untidy scramble, Neville eventually appeared over the back fence. He wasn’t stuck, he wasn’t trapped, he was just shouting.   This was a regular occurrence, although in a “boy who cried wolf” moment I always had at the back of my mind the time when, as a very little kitten, he got completely stuck in our tall leylandii hedge and I had to rescue him whilst balancing on a ladder. Not his finest moment. He would often appear when I was out in the garden, and seemed to enjoy the company. Luna as well often mysteriously appears from the shadowy depths of the borders and hedges, just to check on what I’m doing in their garden. Neville’s finest hours in the garden came when the pond froze. It’s a fairly small pond, he was a big cat, but as the temperature dropped to 0C he would transform into Christopher Dean and slip and slide at speed. He obviously would have loved Luna to be his Jayne Torvill. However to be honest Luna’s extra-fluffy paws have zero friction on the wooden floors indoors so on ice he didn’t stand a chance. Neville would sniff and lick the ice, and chase frozen leaves around and around the icy surface whilst Luna watched on with mournful eyes. Neville was so disappointed each time the ice melted (or became so thin it couldn’t stand his weight).​​ 

​We would know when Neville was happy, because he would purr. Loudly. Like everything else he did, Neville put all of his effort into purring. Not for him the calm, effortless rumble of other cats. When Billy Tibbs sits on my knee and purrs, it’s a warm, quiet, calm vibration deep down in his tummy. When Neville purred, it was all in the throat with a loud raspy exhalation interspersed with a gulp of air back in ready for the next purr.

Neville loved his food. It was quantity rather than quality that interested him, and the sheer speed he could put away a bowl of food left Billy Tibbs astounded, horrified, and growlingly protective of his own (still full) bowl. Neville would eat anything. I’m struggling to think of anything he turned his nose up at. His love of food led him to the depths of his wickedness. The time he unwrapped a jumbo hotdog roll and ate half of it. (It was after this we decided he was gluten intolerant, judging by the litter tray the next morning). The time my daughter threw a party, and after greeting all the guests (naturally), Neville was later found on the kitchen table tucking into a slice of pizza whilst a bemused guest watched him helplessly. The time my daughter left her advent calendar on the table overnight, and like a small(ish) furry tornado he tore through the cardboard and the foil to eat the chocolate underneath.  He was always sneaking up onto the kitchen worktops to see if he could find anything left out. We would often hear the tell-tale “clink” as his magnet stuck to the breadbin, and the muddy paw prints on the worktops drove me to distraction. Fortunately by now we have pretty robust immune systems, but there was way more than a peck of dirt left in the kitchen by that wicked lad.

Of course, all of this snacking led him to put on extra layers of winter insulation. We liked to say that his chunkiness was due to his extra thick winter coat, and to be honest you can see the difference in photos of Summer and Winter Neville. His winter coat was so thick and so soft it was a dream to stroke and run your fingers through. If you tried to stroke Billy Tibbs as much as we did Neville, you’d lose a finger pretty rapidly. Fortunately, Neville not only put up with all of this physical affection, he seems to enjoy it too. He was the most huggy cat we’ve ever had, and was more than happy to be put on your shoulder and cuddled. With his long legs stretched straight out behind you and his head snuggling in close to your neck, I’m sure he enjoyed it as much as we did.

It wasn’t just people, Neville loved cuddling up with his brother Luna, although these cuddles would often turn into wrestling matches. Being so much bigger Neville would always win these physical games, although Luna excelled at “squeezing into the tiniest cardboard box possible”. This didn’t stop Neville from trying, and we have many memories of Neville “muffin top” Jiwa sitting in a box, maybe with one leg hanging out because there just wasn’t room. ​


​Neville also loved Billy Tibbs, and would follow him around the house and garden exactly like an annoying little brother trying to join in with a much older and cooler sibling. Billy greeted this adoration with the expected hissing, spitting and swiping. However, as time went on, he did relax his guard just a little when Neville was around. When he was asleep he made an easy target, and Neville would often sneak next to him and pretend to be asleep so that Billy wouldn’t attack him. As Billy relaxed and feel more deeply asleep, Neville would ease himself closer and closer until they were touching. We have a lovely photo of Neville asleep with his head resting on Tibby’s back leg. Tibbs is way off in the land of Nod, but Neville has a thought bubble coming out of his head saying “LOOK AT ME! I’M SLEEPING ON BILLY!!!”


All of this fur (and insulation) didn’t stop him getting into mischief and scrapes. He would squeeze down the back of the big sofa, and we would only know about it as he pushed past the radiator and his magnet “dinged” on each of the radiator’s ridges. He would scramble up onto the roof of the house, although he did often have problems on the descent and had to be talked down on more than one occasion. As Sheni drove off back to Italy last Saturday morning, both Neville and Luna saw him off from the ridge of the roof, like a pair of furry dragons. He would climb the big tree in our garden, then look disgusted when Luna shot straight past him to swing from an even higher branch. On the morning of his death, he attempted to leap from a unit in the kitchen onto the back of one of the kitchen chairs. He never would have made it safely, but with amazingly quick reflexes my daughter managed to catch him in mid-air, much to his disgust and our relief. Fences would tremble and shake as he hauled himself over them. Plants were squashed when he slept on them. He would knock things over. I’m very glad he didn’t try and climb the Christmas tree this year, as it was wobbly enough without the addition of a large over excited cat. I’m extremely glad he didn’t chew through another brand new set of Christmas lights, and even more thankful that they weren’t plugged into the mains when he did.​

Quite quiet for Neville

I’m thankful for every minute that my son could call this large, soft, furry, naughty cat his cat, and devastated that we lost him so suddenly and so cruelly. I pray that the large (very large) Neville-shaped hole in our hearts and lives will heal quickly so that we can remember him with smiles rather than tears. I know that next time we take another cat into our lives our number one requirement will be that he or she is a huggy cat, because Neville showed us how wonderful a large armful of cat could truly be.

Kitten Videos

Okay, so I’ve been very restrained and haven’t posted many kitten pictures lately. I’m about to make up for this, so brace yourself!

Whilst watching the kittens racing around the garden, I was reminded of the old “Black Beauty” opening titles for Luna, and “Roobarb and Custard” for Neville. *

So first up I give you our kitten, Luna, as Black Beauty:-


To follow, Neville as “Roobarb”. I thank you.



N.B. The pictures are my own, the music isn’t, so if the writer or publisher wants me to remove this then just contact me and I’ll take it straight down.

*If you are younger than me, and / or didn’t grow up in the 70s in the UK and so have no idea what I’m talking about, then go on YouTube and search for the originals. It’s a wonder anyone of my age turned out sane with kids programmes like that!

Farmers using Psychology

On my run down through a field today I spotted two signs, one on either side of the footpath both in a crop. Being nosey of course I had to stop and read them.

“This is malting barley to make beer. Please keep your dogs out”
“This is wheat to be made into bread and biscuits . Please keep your dogs out”

Of all the ways to get people to keep their dogs out of the crops, I thought this was brilliant. Self interest is a very powerful motivator!

Oh and for a quick kitten fix, these were my little cheerleaders seeing me off on my run today:-


Juneathon Day 30. Last Chance Saloon

Day 30. We made it to the end of Juneathon. Well done everyone! To celebrate, the sun has got his hat on (all together now “hip hip hip hooray!”) and the weather is beautiful if a little hot for a run.

Never mind, time to go out with a bang*. 11 mile long run – done! Yes it was hot, yes it was sweaty, yes I wore my dorky cap and hydration backpack and yes there was some walking involved, but done.

See how much I'm enjoying this?
See how much I’m enjoying this?

And just in case you’ve not had enough of the kittens, just time to sneak a few more photos in

The paws just kill me
The paws just kill me everytime
I wouldn't want to be that close to my trainers after that run ...
I wouldn’t want to be that close to my trainers after that run …

Off to cool down. Juneathon round up tomorrow.


* If I’m honest, it was more of a whimper

Juneathon Day 20. Delayed Parkrun

So I was intending to go to parkrun. I really was. But a brilliant meal out with my best friends that ended quite late put paid to that. I want to bed thinking “I’ll see what time I wake up…” and promptly woke up at ten to nine.

To give me some credit, I did feel guilty about it, so a little later I decided to do a delayed parkrun. This was over my own route, it had no marshals, I could happily forget my bar code, it wasn’t in a park but it WAS 5K. It’s down and back a small lane that can be busy during the week but I reckoned would be safe on a Saturday. As I set off, true to parkrun form I briefly thought I should have had a warm up, then I carried on anyway. I also suddenly remembered that last Juneathon I ran this route at the start and end to see if I could improve my time.

It was really hot and muggy and I remembered using that excuse last Juneathon on this route as well. The route has an enormous dip that you run down and up twice, once in each direction (I always use this as an excuse on this route – even when I’m on my bike). Anyway I stopped my Garmin at 3.11 miles and dripped the remaining short distance home. I was so sticky I am sure I left a slug trail behind me. Attractive.

On checking the data, I was delighted to see the following times and dates:-

29:40 June 1st 2014
27:10 June 30th 2014

26:37 20th June 2015

Go me! Looks like the “Killer Tuesday” sessions (as we affectionately call the club “Efforts” evening) are working.

On a slightly more relaxed note, here are some sleeping kittens. Anyone remember a song from the 70s by Terry Scott called “my brother” (pronounced bruver”). It has a classic lyric that is so apt for these bruvers: “I know he’s good when he’s asleep … But you don’t know what he’s dreaming about, do you?!”

Juneathon day 18. Definitely not a run streak

Warning – this post contains failure and pottering. And more than likely a feline or two. If that’s not your thing then look away now.

Right. The day started promisingly enough. Not running in the morning because I planned on going to the tough club run that evening. Lunch with my parents and daughter (very nice) and a quick trip to collect my son and do some shopping. Foccaccia bread in the oven and minestrone soup on the hob and my resolve was wavering. It was very warm still, I was tired and had a bit of a headache (more cat early morning shenanigans), and dinner smelt so good so … I didn’t go to running club. Sorry. I ate dinner with my children instead.

Watering new plants out in the garden later I thought I could still pop out for a little run, and if I had managed an unbroken ‘streak’ up to that point I would have done. However after the disaster of the weekend that streak was long gone and the pressure (and incentive) was off.  Instead I had a lovely potter around the garden: some watering,  a little weeding, a general check up on my new plants accompanied by older tabby boy. Then I went inside and played with the kittens.  It was lovely, so I’m having pottering and kittening* as my Juneathon activities for today.

So innocent. Hem hem

* Of course this is a real word, and it is definitely NOT slacking. Those kitties run damn fast!

Juneathon Day 17. An expensive day

As I plodded around 3 miles this morning feeling tired, I grimly reflected that maybe I had over compensated yesterday for my recent slackness. Or maybe having three cats bouncing around on the bed and hissing in the early hours might have made me feel a tad tired. Whatever it was, I was glad when I finished my 3 miles.

The rest of the day was spent getting my car sorted out. I left it at the garage and caught the train into Bath with my just-finished-GCSEs-and-needing-a-new-wardrobe-for-sixth-form daughter. The distance we walked around clothes shops would have counted as a Juneathon activity on its own. With the clothes she bought and the car’s bill from the garage it was an expensive day!

Juneathon Day 16. Making Up for Yesterday

After yesterday’s slack day I thought I’d better make up for it today. 4 miles with 2 hills was a good start to the day.

As I ran I was struck by how running was an activity of contrasts. I set off thinking what a lovely temperature it was – just warm without being hot. By the time I staggered back I was dripping and cursing the sun.

I ran through thigh high grass enjoying the cool, tickly feeling on my legs then thought “I must check I haven’t picked up a tick when I get home”.

I was overjoyed to be greeted by the kittens when I got home, and also Tibbs, the big tabby boy. There was a lovely moment of temporary truce as they all shared the kitchen, followed by a hiss frenzy as Nev cracked, and patted Tibbs’s twitching tail. Ah well, one day they’ll get along.

Uneasy truce
Uneasy truce

Update. I was so ashamed of Monday’s Juneathon I thought I’d better redeem myself. So as well as the morning’s run, I went to the Chippenham Wheelers Midsummer Bike Ride in the evening with husband and son. Husband shot off whilst me and son worked out how few laps we could legitimately do before we could stop for a snack. 3 was the answer we decided upon, so we stopped for the food of champions.
image We did manage another 2 laps after that, but my son was tired so we headed home. In total we cycled 20 miles, which after my hilly morning run I was happy with.

Juneathon Day 15. Sliding

After such a good start to Juneathon, by the halfway point things are definitely sliding. I have no real excuse for today, no broken bones (thank heavens) or iffy cars (what a relief), just a bit of a much needed slack day after a hectic few weeks.  I said I wouldn’t do it, but today’s Juneathon is a plank. *

Less boring is today’s kitten picture


* Update. I had intended to do my plank before bed, but come bedtime I lay down to do it and just rolled into bed (we currently have a mattress on the floor). My activity for the day will have to have been walking around the town centre with my parents-in-law. Sigh.