Sunday, 14 January 2018

A nest lined with bubble wrap: hoarding tips from a 'perfume packaging magpie'.

It is over eight years now since I wrote about the endearing and slightly bemusing practice of popping a sweet in with a perfume package - standard practice on Makeupalley swaps back in the day. Since then the business of sending parcels of perfume and the actual packaging used to do so have continued to fascinate. I have blogged about insulation tape and bubble wrap and a little cardboard box that shuttled back and forth across the Atlantic on multiple scent carrying missions. And I am still fascinated, despite the fact that my perfume sending of late has been radically curtailed: as regular readers know, I don't attempt it at all overseas anymore, and even domestically I worry a lot, as you are only meant to post full unopened bottles in their original packaging, preferably cellophane-wrapped according to the rather draconian post office nearest to me. In vain did I try to explain that these days not all perfumes ARE cellophane-wrapped, even if I were ever minded to send a bottle that was BNIB, as they say. In fact I am not sure I have ever posted a single thing that HAS met the official Royal Mail guidelines...!

Yet notwithstanding my dwindling postal habit, I am still hoarding suitable bits of packaging like a good 'un - or like a magpie. THE Perfume Magpie is obviously someone else altogether, with her own blog - her magpie tendencies doubtless relate to being attracted to perfume and stashing that away. And a magpie might not in fact be the correct term for my own behaviour, because bubble wrap and envelopes are not exactly the bright, eye-catching trinkets traditionally associated with this opportunistic bird. Moreover, according to an article on the Discover Wildlife site, entitled 'Debunking myths about magpies' (would you believe there are quite a few myths, beyond their alleged bling-nicking proclivities?) that isn't even true either. It seems to be a much misunderstood bird. On balance, perhaps I am more like a squirrel, then!

The avatar of The Perfume Magpie!

So, you may be wondering, to what in the way of packaging am I drawn exactly? A considerable array of things is the answer, starting with bubble wrap, that classically protective wrapping that augments the intrinsic bubble wrap of a padded envelope. There is always a trade off between appropriate levels of swaddling and the ensuing fatness of package and associated postage costs, but I usually come down emphatically - and pneumatically - on the side of wrapping.

Pictured in the basket at the top of the post (sorry, nest!) are some random scraps of bubble wrap of varying widths and lengths, all potentially useful to our cause. But before I go on I must point out that not all bubble wrap is created equal. As I mentioned in my 2012 post on the subject, the ne plus ultra of all bubble wrap formats, the jewel in the crown - to briefly reprise our magpie musings - is the ready-made bubble wrap pouch or pocket, with handy foldy over flap, complete with traces of adhesive, if you are very lucky. Could a more perfect receptacle be devised for neatly enclosing and protecting a clutch of decants or samples?




Also featured in that post is another variant on the same theme - I still don't know the definitive word for this material six years on!, but back then I thought that it might be some kind of polystyrene. It is opaque and a bit stretchy, and does the job pretty well too. I may be wrong, but I associate this second pouch style with the USA. Can anyone confirm if it is a common bagging material over there?



Then I also squirrel away assorted plastic bags like this - they aren't particularly aesthetic, and offer zero padding, but come in handy as a leakproof layer at the very least, for which there is much to be said.



Still on the theme of bags, I also keep and recycle any decorative drawstring bags I am sent, as these make a nice form of gift packaging, again with minimal protective value. Though saying that, the velvet and suedette ones are a lot better in that regard than the organza, while the mighty white faux leather ones from Micallef are best of all in the padding department!




Moving on from bubble wrap, bubble wrap bags, and bags of other materials, I also collect small boxes. I have many more than this example, but I suspect I may have hidden a whole bunch of boxes inside a bigger box and then gone and hidden that somewhere(!) for so-called 'safekeeping'.





Speaking of bigger boxes, a special tribute should be paid to the trusty Jo Malone box, which is ideal for a large collection of slim decants or samples. There is more inherent sound proofing with a box than a bag, so it is easier to conceal the incriminating fluid nature of your shipment(!). This particular specimen is much travelled, and its sturdiness and rigidity means it still has many more miles in it.




Ditto this Hermes box, a much rarer animal, with its striking orange livery. The mini orange sleeves that house Hermessences samples - of which I am sure we have all had a few in our time, thanks to the generosity of Hermes stores the world over! - are also handy for stowing the Hermessence tubes they originally contained, or other long thin samples. ;)




And no review of packaging for posting perfume would be complete without a mention of the humble Jiffy bag, or Bubble Mailer, for readers across the pond. I have a drawer absolutely rammed full of the things: in every size imaginable, some more padded than others, some in white and some in fawn, some with ID8000 labels already affixed, some without. I am often tempted to pop a reused envelope with the hazard label on it into the post box, but I believe you are supposed to have the thing scanned in a post office, even though this does invariably invite a barrage of awkward questions!




So there you have it - a house groaning with packaging materials, and an ever growing reluctance to post perfume. I also have a bowlful of appropriate postal sweets as it happens...maybe on the increasingly rare occasions when I do send scented packages, I should pop one in for old times' sake...





Please do tell me if you are also a packaging magpie - or squirrel - and if so, what are your materials / formats of choice?!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Happy New Year! Plus flu-induced musings on perfume and life in general, and yet another surfeit of cat photos....

'You're really not very well, are you?'
Getting back to blogging after a month's hiatus is not unlike getting back into exercise after a long absence. Though I wouldn't know about that as I haven't done any exercise yet. Not that I do an awful lot at the best of times. But I thought I'd have a crack at a blog post, even if it isn't overly perfume-themed. My Facebook friends are already aware that my mad work phase in December segued seamlessly into a protracted bout of illness, from which I am only just emerging: I succumbed to a regular cold, which then morphed into this pesky Aussie flu which is doing the rounds. Or maybe it was two separate viruses, not that it matters really. As anyone who has had full-bore influenza knows, it really chops the legs off from under you, such that you would instantly fail the "not too ill to pick up a twenty quid note from the bottom of the drive" test. When the flu was most acute, I stayed in bed for four days straight, drifting in and out of consciousness. As in sleep, sorry - I am not trying to be melodramatic and suggest I was in a coma or anything. Any sound from radio or TV would have been too intrusive, so I just lay there thinking and dozing. Obviously I had to get up periodically to fetch water, or the crispbread bites off which I was largely subsisting at that point. Or to put more crunchies down for the cat.

Before I took to my bed, I took to the sofa.

Oh yes, a special mention is due to Truffle, whose quizzically concerned looks and sustained ownerside vigil were a source of great comfort. On New Year's Eve, a night when I would usually be out whooping it up amongst friends, Truffle lay on my chest with her face pressed to mine, intermittently licking the tip of my nose as if to say: 'You're poorly and I don't like the loud bangs - but we can make our own fun here just as well.' A big thank you is also due to the friends who did 'porch drops' of home made soup, stewed fruit and other nourishing foodstuffs. When you live alone, the good offices of friends are an absolute mainstay.

A change of room is as good as a rest - which we also had!

As the days went by and I felt a bit better, the cat noticed that I was changing levels in the house for a few hours here and there, so she relocated her watch to the radiator cradle in the dining room. At the first sign that I might be tiring and need to lie down again (a daily occurrence over the past week), she would return upstairs and continue her bed sitting duties, whether to one side of me, on me, in the bed, or on the warm spot at the bottom of the bed occupied by the hot water bottle. And eventually, a couple of days ago, Truffle decided that if I was well enough to get dressed I no longer needed constant ministrations, and promptly took up residence again in her cooker top eyrie.

Now although it is customary at this time, I am afraid that there will be absolutely no 'launches of 2017' retrospective from me - and probably never again. I am too far out of the loop to have anything approaching a proper overview of new perfume releases, though I have tested and liked a number of things which were launched last year. In terms of my favourite scented discoveries overall, they might actually be Annick Goutal Songes - in both the edt and edp versions (my only full bottle purchase of the year, and technically a re-discovery!), and House of Cherry Bomb Immortal Beloved. Yep, if you restricted me to just two perfumes - one for summer and one for winter - at the time of writing these may be they. I cannot believe I just limited myself to two perfumes! And of course I reserve the right to change my mind at a moment's notice. I am indebted to perfumers and friends alike for continuing to send me samples, which is the main way I get to try new things these days, apart from my (exceptional) sniffing marathons like the one I had with Undina and Tara last May.

Songes also having a nice little lie down

If I am honest, I would probably not go near the perfume counter of a major department store even if I happened to find myself in one - not without being pushed in that direction. I know how much I already tune out to the fragrance section of Duty Frees in airports these days, albeit their selection is not typically in the same league. I will definitely try new perfumes if they land on my mat or are otherwise put in front of me, but I don't seem to go out of my way to seek things out any more, and a lot of the conversations that go on between perfumista friends pass right over my head. I haven't heard of whole houses, never mind individual scents!

I don't know if this is just a phase or whether my interest in perfume has now muted down to a positively passive level. Given that I already have such a huge stash to use up, it is probably for the best that I don't start developing too many new lemmings.


The night shift

During my time lying in bed all sorts of other random thoughts came to me about my perfume hobby: my attachment to friends is the blogosphere is as strong as ever, if not more so; I am still troubled by cliches in reviews (also from me!), by an excess of flashing, fruit machine-style ads - which to be fair you don't see very often, but I wouldn't like them if I did! - and by unspoken commercial connections between bloggers and perfume houses. As well as relationships that strike me as frankly coercive, whereby bloggers use a degree of emotional manipulation to 'extract' free product from perfumers and/or retailers to use in giveaways, or sell on privately to hapless newbies unaware of the bottles' provenance. I have been that (latter) soldier myself when starting out in this hobby. Nor do I care for perfumes with preposterously blingy bottles and eye-watering price points that cynically target stratospherically rich Saudi princes and Russian oligarchs, though I sense I have a problem with conspicuous luxury in every sphere! I also feel uneasy about decadently swanky perfume launches - apart from anything, the cost of those has got to be going on the price of the perfume...

Some of my sense of detachment from the perfume scene may be attributable to my current difficulties at finding work (notwithstanding the recent overload!). The enforced frugality which inevitably ensues may also have led to an estrangement from consumerism in general. For it is not just the scarcity of work: such projects as I have been offered tend to be pitched at more or less the going rate earnt by Romanian strawberry pickers. It would be unthinkable for a person in full time employment suddenly to be told they will be receiving a third - or even a fifth - of their usual monthly pay packet while doing the same job, yet in the freelance world it is clear that anything goes. So the viability of my current profession, and the need to find more lucrative and/or less stressful alternative sources of income is weighing heavily on me at the moment, such that the notion of buying a new bottle of perfume or an expensive item of skincare feels completely alien. In the event of a fillip to my finances that could of course all change...;)

Purple Christmas gin!

I haven't made any New Year's Resolutions as such, although one or two appear to have made themselves. For example I was very pleased to learn - following a statistical computation worthy of Undina - that in 2017 I achieved my target of an average of 2 alcohol-free days a week, up from 'just over one' in past years going back as far as I can remember. It doesn't sound like much of a lifestyle change, but that still probably equates to 40 days on which I consciously opted not to have a drink when it might so easily have been the default choice before. Thanks to the flu, 2018 has got off to a stellar start in terms of non-drinking: in the first week of the year I have had two days on which I have had a drink, rather than the reverse. So I am well in credit for the rest of the month at least, haha.

(Editor's note: In case I come across as a bit of a lush, I could perhaps add that I do mostly just have one drink at a time, so my weekly units remain within the Government guidelines. ;) )

The other 'not a resolution' that seems to be spontaneously happening - also prompted by my gradual recovery from illness - is reading. I am already 450 pages into the New Year, hurrah!, an unprecedented improvement on my reading rate in past years. I am sorry to report that I read just 11 books in 2017, so didn't quite make my target of one a month. Though work might make a jolly good excuse for December...




Beyond that, I have the usual clutch of vague aspirations: to go to bed earlier, knock off Facebook a bit(!), drink more water, and obey Michael Mosley to the letter and incorporate 150 minutes of medium intensity exercise into my life every week, at all of which I will most likely fail. Inspired by Louise Woollam, I'd also quite like to relearn to crochet...2017 has in fact been a great year for my knitting endeavours, and I have even earnt a bit of money from selling my wares. It is sadly too labour-intensive a hobby to ever become a full-time occupation, but it has its place as a hugely satisfying sideline. Oh, and I am actively considering doing Airbnb, as a friend in the next street makes a tidy living from that, with pretty much zero stress, beyond guests flaunting her house rules of not flushing the wc with the lid up. I have even let in one or two of her clients when she couldn't be around.


'Naja' the scarf

So we will see...2018 is definitely set to be a year of change for me on the work front - it just has to be. I haven't been wearing much perfume while I was ill, but here and there I did dab on a spot of Bois des Iles, which acted as a perfect complementary comforter to the cat. Thanks, Val! There are other perfumes I discovered in 2017 that I fully intend to write about, but simply didn't get round to, so I promise I am still a perfume blogger after a fashion till the fat lady sings. Or the thin lady more like, as I inadvertently lost 9lb over Christmas!

It remains to wish readers near and far a very Happy New Year - I hope your holidays were not characterised by illness or existential doubt. I will be back with perfume reviews in due course, and the inevitable tangential posts on toiletries, travel and Truffle...

Oh, and I am getting a flu jab next year. The requisite tenner is already on the hall table...;)

Monday, 4 December 2017

Hired, tired, and working up to the wire! Please excuse the Bonkers hiatus...

Well, after eight months in which I only managed to find work for two weeks(!), proverbial bus-style two big projects with short time frames have come along at once, and of course I have agreed to both. ;)

I was telling a friend who does Airbnb about how I may well have bitten off more than I can chew: "It's a bit like you having a guest in every bedroom - including your own - plus one on the sofa, one in the bath, and one on the bench in the garden."

Then because of the hours I am now keeping I can't give any thought to perfume at the moment, even though I have all sorts of posts in the pipeline. I am not even wearing the stuff on anything like a regular basis, such is the degree of my preoccupation with the tasks in hand. And my presence on Facebook is skeleton at best, which is highly unusual for me, as any FB friends will confirm!

So I will be back, but for the moment please bear with me for the ongoing hiatus. And for saying 'bear with me', for that matter.

Truffle is not too impressed either at the minimal interaction I have had with her lately, and has taken to staging dramatic stunts, such as this one with the radio flex outside my office door, which I am pretending I haven't noticed.


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Scent Crimes Series: No 20 - Aggressively Laundered Bedding

Different duvet and a working bedside light! ~ Source: Booking.com
Over the years, I have stayed in a lot of problematic accommodation - much of it cheap(!), with a natural tendency to fall short in some way, but even some relatively pricy business hotels have managed to wrongfoot and disappoint. The business hotels on expenses are very much a thing of the past, as on the rare occasions I have work these days, it is invariably on the phone, but I do still stay in hotels and B & Bs on a leisure basis. And when it comes to London, my modest budget per night used to run to half decent chains fairly close to my familiar stomping ground of King's Cross (er no, not in that way...!). For the money you could also bag a borderline boutique B & B in Paddington or Earls Court - with en suite facilities and the happy surprise of a small packet of biscuits nestling next to the tea bags and UHT milk pots. As time has gone by, however, those places have sadly nearly doubled in price, and I have been forced out to unfamiliar suburbs such as Tottenham and Tufnell Park, Archway, Acton and Penge, depending on what is available in my price range.

And thus it was that I ended up recently spending one night in a district billed variously as 'Camden' and 'West Hampstead', both of which turned out to be creative naming devices for Kilburn. I had booked a single room with shared bathroom, the bathroom in question being a quick scurry away up one flight of stairs, so that was okay, plus I had a small basin in the room. Other plus points were the veritable profusion of accessible plug sockets...I once memorably stayed in a hotel where I had to boil the kettle in the corridor, as the plug sockets in the room itself were largely obstructed by furniture. Moreover, there was the luxury of a full length mirror - something conspicuously absent on last December's band tour, to the point where I almost started to wonder if the hotels concerned were collectively teaching me a lesson in vanity - within easy reach of said plug sockets, making hair drying with bonus sight of own head an uncharacteristically viable feat!

Then the bed was comfortable, and the pillow - though lone and flat - adequately bouncy. The central heating worked (if rather too well!), and the staff couldn't be more helpful, pressing a huge jug of fresh milk on me after I reported the presence of only one milk pot, when as we all know even a strong cup of tea requires two.

But there were downsides...the hotel spanned two houses and the front door banged constantly as people moved from one to the other; the bed sloped; there was no bedside light, no hangers, and only one small towel. But worse, much worse than any of this was the duvet cover, which had evidently been laundered in an entire packet of washing powder. Trying to sleep under it was like spending eight hours straight with your nose pressed in the contents of a box of Surf. I am not even talking an overly strong scent - this was the neat unadulterated smell of detergent of the most aggressive kind, with no discernible trace of fragrance. Strangely, the pillowcase was at a normal register of cleanness, ditto the sheet and towel, but for some reason the duvet cover had been subjected to a much more concentrated wash. As you entered the room, a miasma of chemicals assailed your nostrils. It hung in the air like an ash cloud, and I could feel my skin turning hot and prickly, not helped by the heating being on at full blast.


Source: Appliances Online

I have since googled the main categories of ingredients in washing powder and came up with this list:

Surfactants
Builders
Anti-redeposition Agents
Corrosion Inhibitor
Bleach
Bleach Activator
Phosphonate
Fluorescers
Lather Control Agents ('Suds Suppressor')
Enzymes
Fragrances (one fragrance may contain a few to hundreds of compounds)
Preservative

I must say I rather like the sound of a 'Suds Suppressor' and hope that wasn't an element in the mix that was troubling me. I certainly was not aware of any builders, bothersome or otherwise. Why, there would barely have been room to swing a jackhammer.

All night long I clung to the edge of the bed - I was determined not to fall off due to the angle of inclination, whilst also trying to keep my face away from contact with the duvet cover, for fear that it would trigger my eczema / dermatitis. Miraculously it didn't, but the very real possibility kept me awake till about 7am, whereupon the frequent banging of the front door took over until I finally got up about 9am, bleary-eyed and still wrinkling my nose in a state of high alert and trepidation.

So there you have it...in all my years of travelling I have never encountered this particular curved ball of repellently scented bedding, and would be most interested to learn if you have. Or whether you have any theories as to how this laundry fail could have occurred. A powder dosing error? A rinsing malfunction? A lamentable lack of other items in the load?!

Meanwhile, I have chalked it up to experience, left a damning yet balanced review on Booking.com, and remembered that when I am down in town again next year I have a total steal of a Travelodge to look forward to in Finsbury Park. And it's even paid for already...




Friday, 17 November 2017

Results of the Bonkers about Perfume 8th anniversary prize draw!

Well, the deadline for the anniversary prize draw came and went at the weekend, but I didn't want to steal Truffle's limelight by posting the results too soon after her own anniversary special. Plus I don't suppose the few participants who didn't actively withdraw from the draw will have been feeling an overwhelming sense of suspense, owing to the undeniably lacklustre nature of the prizes. ;) I wish I could post perfume worldwide as I used to do, as I really don't like doing lopsided giveaways that are only open to readers in the UK. However, I simply don't dare risk overseas shipments again, as the next time I am caught, we might be talking a fine or a custodial sentence, hehe.

I guess I could try putting up one of my knitted items next year? I do also have some unused metal atomisers that take 20ml and come in various colours. These are left over from back when I used to be an associate of The Perfume Studio, helping people create their own unique scents from a selection of blends featuring different accords. The problem with that idea is that the bottles say 'The Perfume Studio' on them, whereas people might prefer completely generic receptacles. But logo aside, they are rather nice if someone fancied doing a very large decant from an even larger bottle! Anyway, I toss these ideas out there for next time. Assuming I am still writing in 2018, as hopefully I will be.

And now the moment has come to reveal who has won one of the book/magazine-type prizes this time round. I had recourse as ever to Random.org, and can declare that the winner is:

crikey!!

Crikey, crikey, you've won! Congratulations, and PM me with your preferred option and contact details.


Sunday, 12 November 2017

More cat capers, feline felonies, and fur-raising high jinks: a two year Truffle anniversary special

Last Friday marked the two year anniversary of Truffle coming to live with me: I vividly recall the long, foggy car journey from Leicester, during which the little ball of fluff on the passenger seat beside me cheeped all the way to her new home. Two years on, she is fully grown, with battle scars, a loving but feisty nature, and a healthy disregard for the concept of being anyone's pet - the cat equivalent of  'chattel', if you will. Would that be 'cattel' by any chance? One of the 'takeaways' from my recent post on why readers comment on blogs was that more pictures of Truffle would be welcomed. So I thought that as it is nearly a year since I last featured a slew(!) of photos in a post dedicated to my cat's antics, it might be time for another, and the aforementioned anniversary presented an ideal opportunity.

Coincidentally, Truffle (and cats more generally) have been on my mind this week, as I decided to apply to several national pet sitting websites as a carer in the Stafford area - specifically for cats, though I gather the big money is to be made on simultaneously walking the dogs of different owners, rather than visiting a single cat in its home. Be that as it may, cat sitting is my chosen calling, and accordingly I set about creating 'compelling profiles' about myself and my cat caring history, to persuade owners why they should award their cat sitting gig to me. You also had to compile a gallery of photos: these might be of your own cat, or other people's cats you had looked after, or both! One site required me to take a sort of online exam, and answer questions about how I would act in particular scenarios, such as 'the dog you are looking after has been involved in an accident'. The answer to which was either 'not applicable' or prefaced by the statement that I would be recasting this question to refer to cats. (Some of these sites started out by offering dog care only, and have only recently 'grafted on' cats, as it were.)




Here, for example, is my profile on Pawshake:


"I am bonkers about cats, a 'cat person' to the core. I have owned them all my life (insofar as anyone can be said to 'own' a cat - which isn't very far, obviously). My parents got a kitten the week I was born - possibly in case I was a disappointment. ;) The present incumbent is a two year old tabby and white called Truffle, who is extremely adventurous, with a special flair for tree climbing, shed roof leaping, and sabotaging knitting. She is also very loving, and a surprisingly compliant user of her radiator bed, despite its being specifically for that purpose. Some early photos of Truffle are in fact the first hit in Google if you search for 'bonkers kitten'(!). 
As well as my own, I have cared regularly for other people's cats for the past five years, and see cat sitting as an excellent way to get to meet more of these quirky and lovable creatures. I am in my late 50s now, and realistically won't have lived with more than eight cats in a whole lifetime, and even that has required a few 'double ups' along the way. If I pass a cat in the street I always say hello, and am also compiling a portfolio of photos of local cats randomly sitting on walls. If I get up to 12, I might have the makings of a calendar!
I specialise purely in cat sitting, in the form of up to two home visits a day. Job-wise I am a self-employed industrial market researcher, and when I have work it is very flexible and largely home-based, nicely fitting around pet care commitments."

Me with a friend's cat, Hector (early 80s)

If you click on this link, it will take you to my profile on the site, including a gallery of photos. (As if there weren't going to be enough in this post, haha.) The websites take about 20% commission, but look after all the public liability and vetting of clients side of things, giving me as their agent an added layer of security.

But on to what Truffle has been up to, 'up' being the operative word, for she is proving to be the jumpiest cat of any I have ever known, and the most given to perching on high surfaces.

High jinks of the jumping kind





Here she is caught in mid-jump between my garden wall and next door's shed. It has taken me many months of patiently waiting - and experimenting with shutter speeds - to capture the jump itself.




And here is Truffle climbing on top of the kitchen cupboards. She had taken to sitting there last thing at night, prompting me to put her old fleecy bed up there, which hasn't been in use since she was a kitten, when it acted as a (quite unnecessary!) booster seat on the sofa.




And there she is two years on, in her bed but considerably higher up! Please excuse the peeling wallpaper on the kitchen ceiling. That will all be tackled as part of a bigger project to combat damp in several areas at the rear of the house, pending the acquisition of work(!) and funds.




Supervising works

Speaking of my damp problem, another noticeable facet of Truffle's character is her interest in supervising 'works' of any kind undertaken around the house, whether by me or designated tradespeople. Well, I say round the house, but she was also extensively involved in overseeing (quite literally!) the decluttering of the garage, a much-deferred task of Augean stables proportions to which I dedicated a whole post back in the summer. Which reminds me, I have yet to write that post about the perfume memorabilia I found in there!

But firstly, here we are, changing the toilet seat. "You read the instructions, while I sit on the packaging." Cat owners amongst you will recognise this as a variant of 'sitting on important things', in this case an important piece of toilet seat-shaped cardboard I appear to have thoughtlessly discarded on the floor.




And here she is, keeping a watchful eye on the joiner's toolbox. "You won't forget to tidy this lot away afterwards, will you?"



And as billed, below are a couple more shots from the big garage clear out / clean up, which afforded perfect crossover opportunities for 'supervision of works' and 'perching on high surfaces'. Yes, Truffle was quite happy to get 'up and dirty' herself - you can just about make out a cobweb slung between her ears in the first picture.





"Is this really the best spot for the Christmas tree?"



Lying in wait at a major traffic intersection

Another common form taken by Truffle's 'sitting about watching me' is what I can best describe as a kind of 'lying in wait', to see what my next move will be. It is not exactly that Truffle wants to be with me, for it wouldn't take much to find out where I was in the house. No, it's more that she wants to keep me in several lines of sight at once - and where I cannot fail to trip over her.





Sometimes Truffle's curiosity gets the better of her, and she edges that little bit closer to where I am, though still without technically joining me. In the photo below she is heading off my access from the bathroom, a pose which doubles up as 'sitting on important pyjamas'.




And in this one Truffle is ever so slightly in the office, but not quite tipping over into a category I featured last time of 'Keeping my owner in line'.




Her expression is more one of mild interest I would say, rather than disapproval. Though she does still give me some of those looks too!



'Signature folded paw' gesture

The above photo leads me nicely into Truffle's signature paw gesture, in which her right front paw (always this one), is tucked under itself, something I wouldn't have thought was actually all that comfortable.

In this shot, another 'lying in wait outside the bathroom' pose, minus my pyjamas, Truffle is clearly saying: "Hey, I'll be the judge of whether this is comfortable or not!"




Impeding domestic activities

The signature paw pose segues neatly into the category 'impeding domestic activities', chief amongst them being 'impeding bed changing'.




Getting in the way of the weekly duvet change - on either bed - is great sport to Truffle, as it is to Val the Cookie Queen's cat Meeps, and possibly all cats! Truffle likes nothing better than to hide in the snowy folds of the outgoing duvet cover, or sprawl on the freshly laid clean sheet, much like protestors sitting down on a road. Only whereas protestors usually have a cause to which they are trying to draw attention by their blockade, Truffle's determination to sit on bedding seems to be an end in itself.

"Gosh, these are quite deep as fitted sheets go."



This category is of course merely another manifestation of 'Disobedience', which I had in the previous post, but it is such an ongoing issue that I felt it warranted another comprehensive airing. And airing is the perfect introduction to this series of photos of Truffle 'hunting' the old washing line, right as I was in the middle of trying to take it down and replace it.




Here she is, pausing in her savaging of the line for a moment to channel Tommy Cooper.

And now it is back to the serious business of chewing the line, while managing to do a passable impression of a flautist.



And finally, even Truffle has had enough. "Go on, Mum, put the new one up if you want...this one's definitely dead."




No post on impeding domestic activities would be complete without a photo of wool worrying. Check out that glazed look of ecstasy!




This time round I also have a picture for you of Truffle 'chowing on down' on knitting needles. Brand new ones to boot, that had only just arrived in the post as you can see. Perhaps she thought they were chopsticks that needed a bit of 'running in'.



Then, as you won't be surprised to learn, office-related disruption continues unabated. Stationery items, ornaments and perfume vials go missing on a daily basis, only to turn up months later in a terrified huddle under the bookcase or other sturdy and immovable object.




As touched on in the previous post, Truffle has always liked to play with sources of heat - and light - from an early age.



I don't light an open fire in the front room very often, but on the rare occasions I do, pyrotechnician Truffle obviously has to be involved.




The final category of misdemeanour involves unprotected upholstered furniture - Truffle openly flaunts the 'no sitting on pale fabrics' rule in every room in the house where she spies a qualifying chair.



"Any chair you were foolish enough to cover in cream damask deserves everything it gets."



And in case I have given the impression that Truffle is more wilful and disobedient than otherwise, let me redress the balance by adding a picture that shows her still compliantly using her radiator bed, whilst also being suffused in light in a somewhat spectral Close Encounters kind of a way.




Staying with our 'suffused in light' theme, here is fellow blogger Sabine playing with Truffle during her visit on a sunny day last June.


So yes, Truffle is very much a cat who walks by herself, yet who likes to know where I am much of the time. "I've got my eye on you....."