Travelling Without Animals

A travelling garden reporter in summery England has a great life - zooming through the countryside on trains and buses, visiting new gardens, making new gardening friends, experiencing the (wet) English weather. What could be more heart-and-mind-warming?

 Rusty the dog and Tiger the cat outside in the winter rain.
Peeping Through the Moosey Door

There's no time for sadness - is there? Sadly, yes. It can be very lonely, travelling without animals, away from ones furry friends.

Missing My Dog

On Exeter Station, returning from my Winsford Walled Garden visit, I patted my first English dog. Not a symbolic bulldog, not a society corgi, but a small, nervous chocolate brown hybrid, with deep brown eyes and grey flecked ears.

Rusty Dog, beloved red border collie dog of Moosey, back home in New Zealand - how I miss you! I imagine you staring into the Moosey house from the wintry gloom of the patio, waiting for the head gardener and bicycling dog-companion to return.

I wonder - are you getting enough dog-exercise? Here in England dogs can ride on trains, and some London dogs go to Regent's Park every day, with their professional dog-walker... But I don't think you'd like it very much...

Missing My Cats

Moosey cats, snoozing on fireside chairs back home, how I miss you all! Tiger, the teenage fat-cat, maybe you'll be hiding under the sofa throw, a squidgy, lumpy, live cushion. Toddler cats Beige-Puss and Fluff-Fluff - are you both behaving? I hope you've both worked out the rules of safe roof-walking in the rain - namely, retract the claws!

 We start by the garden shed.
Off We Go - My Garden Tour Begins

Mugsy, Jerome the Grey and smiley Stumpy - keep your old lady bones warm, and make sure you get the best places in front of the log-burner. And please, please, please don't do anything disgraceful in the pantry!

Travelling Without Animals

But back to my travels - I was feeling sad, worlds away from my furry family, until I went to Brussels to meet a very special gardener, her family - and her two cats.

I was very nervous - would they like me? Would we be able to communicate? Would we make that special twelve-thousand-mile connection? I'm talking about the two Brussels cats, of course - sleek black Jeany and tabby Tina.

I shouldn't have worried - we hit it off immediately! I should have realised - cat-language is universal. The purr, the greeting miaow, the flick of the tail...

 You can see the shiny, healthy rose foliage.
This Way - To the Salvias

Meet Tina, My Brussels Cat-Guide

I've never had a garden tour guided by a cat before. I followed Tina the tabby past the pink rhododendron and the fresh-leaved hostas. We stopped to admire the blue salvias - their beautiful flower-heads tied up, away from the rain-soaked ground.

She looped into the middle of the border to indicate a stand of Delphiniums, deep blue flower buds ready to burst. And another loop, past the white Shasta daisies. We wisely detoured around the intoxicating Nepeta - no distractions, please.

Roses Ready to Bloom

Tina then led me underneath the back corner rose arch, planted with two Louis Lens Polyanthas. They are both Guirlande d'Amour, soon to be covered in snowy white flowers. My tour guide understands cameras - we paused long enough for the obligatory photograph.

Then she squeaked a commanding miaow and we were off down the side fence to the Viburnum Opulus. These creamy white flower-heads were drooping down, heavy with rain.

 Tina the tabby knows where we are going!
Then This Way - Past the Perennials

A flick of a striped tabby tail indicated a diagonal route crossing the lawn to the golden Azaleas. Here she paused while I duly photographed, then she cat-herded me gently back onto the house patio, coming to rest by the Gardenia pots. My first garden cat-tour was over. Would I be interested in checking out the cat-food plates on the kitchen floor? I could see what a cherished, much loved, Brussels family cat snacked on...

 A garden bed full of beautiful deciduous Azaleas.
Azalea Lutea with Pansies

The next morning it was journal writing time. The second house cat, Jeany the Black, had slept the night at the foot of my bed, purring loudly whenever I'd stretched out my travel-worn legs. This morning she was serenely settled on my lap, her nose pushed lovingly into my arm. There was a contented rumbling as I balanced my journal notebook on what was left of my knees.

 One of my new friends.
Jeany the Cat

Travelling without animals, I still miss the Moosey cats and dog, but my travel-sadness has evaporated like dew in the summer sun. Thank you, Tina the Tabby and Jeany the Black! Hopefully one day a Moosey cat will repay your kindness - by escorting your human-mother around my Moosey Garden!