sareini: (tired)
Aaaannnnd I'm back. I didn't take my laptop in the end, because I couldn't fit it in my messenger bag and I couldn't find the charger.

The journey to Merseyside wasn't that bad - there was the part where we had to stop in Crewe, of course - the most depressing train station in existence, where if the architecture doesn't get you the prices will, at £1.99 for a single bottle of Ribena - but I've grown somewhat immune to that over the years and I brought my own water. No, the only problem came when I reached Liverpool, where there was a rail replacement service due to them completely refitting the Wirral Line. So I get off the train, and go ask the nearest staff member where the replacement bus service is picking up. "Oh, just down there," he points, in the general direction of outside. "You'll see a man in a yellow tabard."

Did I fuck.

After wandering around for 20 minutes and not seeing a single yellow tabard (or tabard of any other colour) I admitted defeat and changed my plans. Thankfully I spent years going to and from Liverpool on the buses, so I at least knew my way around to the bus stops that would get me under the river anyway, so I headed there and called my brother to pick me up at a different bus stop than we had planned. Gods only know what would have happened if I hadn't known my way around; I'd probably still be making laps of the station, weakly calling out for aid.

It amused me that, while the basics of Liverpool Lime Street and the bus station hadn't changed much in 20 years, the immediate surrounding area had. I walked past a 5 Guys Burger and Fries joint there, right next to a Nando's and a casino... yet all three were no more than 150 meters from a Poundstretcher. Pretty sure you wouldn't see that anywhere but Liverpool. And they've got sightseeing buses now - the topless kind you usually see in London. My brother pointed out that Liverpool's a major tourist destination now (yet you can only buy London souvenirs in the station shop), so I guess that growing up in the area has just made me unaware of the tourist potential. I just spent my time looking around and going, "Aww, they closed that shop? But I loved that place!"

At my brother's I got to meet his Rottweiler, Rogue. Rogue is about 15 months old and my brother's had him a little over a month. He's a good dog, most of the time... except when he sees other dogs, which he wants to play with, or cyclists, which he wants to chase, and then he shoots off like a rocket and won't come when he's called. They're working on training him out of it. He also likes to lick feet, and desperately wants to be friends with my niece's cat. Said cat is less keen on the idea.

Sammy is the cat, and my niece has had him for a little over a year. A friend of hers found him as a small kitten wandering the streets and took him in, but then asked Rachael to foster him as she already had cat food (for her hedgehog, which died this week). She did so, then fell in love with him and decided to keep him. He's a champion mouser and herds and protects the rabbits in the garden, but so far he's not at all happy with the big dog in his house, and has scratched poor Rogue's nose several times.

Cat standing on sofa with tail in air

Rottweiler sitting on rug

On the Saturday evening Rachael's boyfriend came round and we had a Eurovision mini-party, with cold pizza slices, cheese-and-pineapple/pickled onion sticks, pigs in blankets and traffic light jellies. Eurovision was... interesting this year, what with dancing gorillas, Epic Sax Man, rap and yodeling and a band apparently fronted by that masked guy from Watch Dogs 2. As for Portugal winning... well, I missed the start of the entry because my catsitter called, and when I came back in I thought the singer was female at first and had to be corrected. The song made little to no impression on me, but apparently the rest of Europe liked it so there you go. Personally I would have voted for Hungary or Croatia. Oh, and "Celebrate Diversity!" screams the event that was bursting at the seams with young white men. Well done. /sarcastic clap

We also played Risk: Godstorm, which is a version where you're an ancient civilisation with the associated gods, and your goal is to take over as much of the known world with your gods; help. So a lot like regular Risk, but with far more complicated rules involving faith and miracles and godsbattles. I got put in charge of reading and keeping track of the rules, which might have seemed a good idea, but... I'd had two bottles of raspberry cider by that point, and I'm on medication which shouldn't really be mixed with alcohol. So I was maybe a little drunk at this point, and so it was a rather... confused game at best. But fun.

(Rachael's boyfriend won, and created Party Valhalla, where defeated warriors who defended well got given a Beer Hat.)

And now I'm back home. Lily was waiting for me in the window, and has not left my side since I came back. Callie needed to check I was who I appeared to be, ran around for a bit, then got bored and wandered off. I had a good weekend, but I'm glad to be home. Also tired.
sareini: A quote from the book Good Omens (Good Omens)
I'm setting off to my brother's in about an hour or so, for my niece's birthday/Eurovision party (and to see them, of course). I haven't managed to finish the cardigan, of course, but I'm still taking it with me to (a) prove it exists; and (b) work on it a bit more while I'm there.

I'm only staying the night because I get way too anxious about being away from home and the cats for more than a night. This is despite knowing that the cats will be fine for a day or two as long as they have enough food and water, and having my friend Ross come round this evening to refill food and water bowls and provide medication. Lily absolutely loves Ross and thinks he's the best thing since Brian Kendrick. Callie is far less confident around him because he comes from Outside and is not me, so she will probably just stay upstairs lying flat on the bed.

My train tickets are already booked and ready to be picked up, my journey is planned out and I even selected window seats so I can be in my comfort zone. The only real problem is that the final part of my journey will be by replacement bus service, as Merseyrail are in the middle of a huge track upgrade. I'm not very fond of rail replacement buses as they're usually dirty and cramped and not that reliable, but my choices are limited so I'll have to take deep breaths and get through it.

I am taking my laptop with me so I can at least try to blog and chat about Eurovision while I'm there, but my niece wants to play Rift: Godstorm with us all during the show (she does not understand the seriousness of the most camp show in all of Europe). I'll also get to meet Rogue the Rottweiler and give him his pig's ear and dog beer, and see my niece's cat Sammy and let him complain to me about the dog that's taken up residence in his house. I'm also going to take a writing book and pen with me in case I get the time to try to dash something off roughly, but between family, cats, dogs, rabbits and Eurovision I'm not sure that will be too likely.

Otherwise I'll be back tomorrow evening.
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
It's been a busy day for me so far. First off I was up early so I could go to my local PetsAtHome for cat food, cat litter and other cat sundries. PetsAthome also has a selection of small mammals for people to buy as pets - rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, degus and of course, hamsters and gerbils - so I always go and say hello to all of them whenever I'm there as well.

Personally, I'd never even heard of degus before I first saw them, but now I think that, if I didn't have cats, I'd totally have a couple of degus. (Sadly I don't have my niece's talent for getting cats and other small furry animals get along; she might have managed it with her cat and her rabbits - the cat now herds the rabbits and guards them in the outdoor hutch whenever there's another cat about - but my cats, especially Lily, would just think I'd bought them free range organic food.) They look like someone crossed a rat with a chinchilla, which makes some sense when you read the background on the Wiki page, they're very social, and they're very active and clever. Every time I see them they're either all in a big cuddle puddle in their enclosure, or running on the exercise wheel in pairs. I've begun to suspect as well that, because they're relatively new in the world of having pets, people aren't getting them as much as they get rabbits or guinea pigs or the usuals, because the last two or three times I've visited them, one or two of them has run to the glass and peered out at me, almost as if they now recognise my indigo-haired self. I'm probably just imagining it, or putting more weight on behaviour than is needed. But they're still awesome animals.

While I was there I also went looking in the dog treats section. Just under a month or so ago, my brother got himself a new dog, a 14-month-old Rottweiler named Rogue. Provided all goes well I shall be visiting my brother and my niece next weekend (for my niece's birthday) and I wanted to get Rogue a treat the same as I used to do with their other dogs in the past. I was looking primarily for something like a pig's ear - which I got - but the range of stuff you can get for dogs now is astounding. Doggy yogurt (and why there's not a cat version of that I do not know). Stag antlers infused with spearmint oil for chewing. Pig trotters that are labelled as "Serrano ham". And dog beer. It's chicken-flavoured and 0% alcohol, but still - dog beer. So I had to get a bottle of that as well, so Rogue and my brother can have a lads' night in on the sofa together.

An hour or so after getting back from the pet store, I was off out again, this time with Lily for her fortnightly vet checkup. This time I managed to get her while she was sunning herself in the bathroom, so there was no sofa-wrestling involved. While at the vet's we saw an aging chocolate lab, a three legged dog, a friendly bull terrier who wanted to sit in my lap, and a big dog who looked like a one-colour Doberman with a buzzcut. He was pretty excitable but his owner was doing a good job of keeping him under control... till the Jack Russell came in.

This dog was trouble. Not even a minute after he came in, he managed to slip his lead and ran off to greet other dogs. Perhaps thankfully, he ran to the aging lab and the three-legged dog, who were happy to greet him, but after that, when he'd been re-collared and sat down, he started to bark. And bark. And bark. I know Jack Russells are known for their energy, but holy crap he just would not stop. And after a few minutes the other dogs started to get agitated and join in - or in the case of the buzzcut Doberman, jump around the place and try to twist free of his harness. It got so loud we couldn't hear names being called and - eventually - the Jack Russell and his owners were asked to wait outside in the hopes he would calm down. (It didn't work. You could still hear him barking through the window, but at least we could hear other things now as well.) Poor Lily tried to bury herself under her security blanket through all of this.

After all, that, her appointment was a breeze. Liver feels great, all other signs great - eating like a champ, playing with Callie, affectionate and only one vomiting incident - so we're giving her another two weeks and then we're going to try taking her off the antibiotics to see if we've beaten it entirely. Lily will not be happy with yet another visit, but right now she's been mollified with a tuna loin (and her sister's half as well; poor Callie needs to learn to eat quicker or start hiding her food) and has gone back to her sunbathing.

Me, I'm bloody shattered.

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