Thursday, 22 July 2010

Skiathos Cat Welfare Society (SCWS)

If you read my Tumblr post from last weekend you’ll know that I’ve been making friends and sharing my meals with the cats around the beachfront tavernas. Sadly, I’ve now come to realize that these cats roam the island in abundance, breeding like crazy and scavenging for food around restaurants and refuse areas.

They’re known as ‘bin cats’ (for obvious reasons) and they’re usually left to fend for themselves. There are no vets living here so accidents and illnesses go untreated and the poor little things are covered in fleas. I have the bites on my legs to prove it!

Without a decent neutering programme the cat population of Skiathos was obviously increasing year on year, as were the number of blind and disfigured little moglets requiring urgent vetenary care.

With no accessible services on the island, many locals seem reluctant to take on the responsibility for these cats, which I can understand as the cost implication alone must be quite daunting. I have my own pampered little ball of fur at home and I’m sure I’d feel ‘slightly’ put out if I had to pay for her to FLY to the vets for her annual jabs!

However there is one person who is clearly making a huge difference to the feline population of Skiathos. The lovely lady pictured here is Sharon Hewing who, along with her husband Peter, relocated to Skiathos from the UK a few years ago, lock, stock and barrel. They brought their own family pets along too (various cats and dogs) and have lived on the island ever since.

As a cat lover, Sharon obviously felt the need to do something about the ‘bin cat’ situation and started taking some of these furry little waifs and strays into her home to care for them. Over time, she’s created the SCWS and now takes in sick, injured and unwanted cats from all over the island.

She’s also started a neutering programme and she’s systematically targeting small areas of the island at a time, ‘befriending’ the stray cats there by feeding them regularly and then, when she’s gained their trust, she bundles them into her van and whisks them away to be neutered.

They get fussed up while they convalesce and then released back to their old haunts where they can practice ‘safe sex’ with feline abandon for evermore.

She really is doing a great job in what must be quite challenging circumstances. We went up to visit the cats today and almost every one of them had an eye, ear, leg or something else missing. Vetenary care is expensive but she’s been able to wangle help from vets who come over to the island for holidays and who tend to combine an offer to help out with the opportunity to enjoy some sunshine too.

It certainly seems to be working. She told us today that they’ve been able to neuter 2500 cats so far which really is quite an achievement.

The SCWS is a UK registered charity which is wholly dependent upon gifts, donations and the ‘sponsor a cat’ scheme where you basically pay for the upkeep of a cat throughout its life with her.

 Sharon with Rupert and Athina

We agreed to sponsor two cats today - Athina (on the right) and her brother Rupert. We’re looking forward to getting pictures and updates as they live out their little catty lives in comparable luxury with Sharon and the rest of her ‘family’.

I’ve included the link to the SCWS website below where you can find more information about the project.

Why not take a look? You might find yourself wanting to sponsor a kitty too. Or better still, if you ever visit Skiathos, make a point of calling up to see Sharon and her brood. I promise you’ll enjoy the experience ;)

(Migrated from Tumblr)

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Late Night Reflections...

It's 2.45am and I can't sleep again.  I realise this post probably won’t make much sense to anyone else but me but I’ve got a massively muddled head tonight and I often find that writing is a good way to clear some space and make sense of the swirling debris in there.

Like most people these days, I maintain accounts for Buzz/Twitter/Facebook etc., but I class my postings there as ‘surface nonsense’ as they largely tend to consist of shared banter and idle chit chat with fellow ‘Buzzers’ and ‘Tweeters’. Just to be clear, I am only referring to my own posts on those forums and I am fully aware that there are many people who post interesting, informative, educational articles and observations about the world in general. I am not one of those people.  I'm all about the laughs but there again, I'm also probably quite shallow ;)

I also maintain a mini blog in a kind of half arsed way and I post occasionally when I want to capture moments from my day or items of interest as I come across them.  I don't kid myself that my efforts on the blog, or indeed any of the social network sites I frequent, are likely to be of that much interest to anyone else and I certainly wouldn’t consider myself to be a creative person. I am however, very much aware of the benefits of writing for reflection and therapeutic purposes and over the years I have fallen back on this tool as a means of straightening out my thoughts when I am feeling particularly swamped by them, as is the case right now.

My better half blogs regularly ( and has kept a journal consistently for years now so I see the benefit he gets from doing it time and time again. I have tremendous admiration for his level of commitment but for myself, I'm more of a 'foulweather friend' in that I find it impossible to keep the momentum going and instead I tend to scribble frantically when my thoughts are muddled whilst neglecting it completely when I’m on an even keel.

There was once a time when I was constantly scribbling in my journal as my younger life seemed to lurch from one chaotic scene to another.  Thankfully, over the years, as I’ve matured and developed a modicum of common sense and control, I’m happy to say that I’m largely on an even keel most of the time and as such, my poor journal has been cast aside and has not seen the light of day for quite some time now. Until this evening, when I find I have the urge to write something down and hopefully purge myself of the 'buzzing' thoughts that feel as if they have been ricocheting around the inside of my skull for the last few weeks...

I suspect it may be a build up of a number of things rather than one isolated incident.  It has, after all, been a very strange year which has included some real life changing events.  For those who don't know me I refer to a serious accident I was involved in last year which may well have resulted in me losing a leg but instead, thankfully, only rendered me immobile for the majority of the last 12 months.  Frustrating in itself, my own situation was put into sharp perspective when my better half was then diagnosed with a brain tumour at the end of 2009.

After undergoing neuro surgery and a subsequent course of radiotherapy, we are hopeful that his condition has been arrested and will stay that way for a long time to come but we have to take each day as it comes for now, although we are actually very grateful to be in that position at all.

Mark's diagnosis was a real life changing event for us both and it had the effect of making us re-evaluate our lives and our priorities.  He just recently went back to work but we are both determined that work should not take over our lives as it often has at times throughout both of our careers.  We're moving house soon and we have plans to grow our own fruit and veg and possibly even keep a few chickens.  It's not a complete overhaul but there's a definite intention from both of us to reduce the importance of work in our lives and instead, to concentrate more on living, travelling, enjoying our friends and family and getting back to a certain level of health and fitness after the events of last year.

As part of this strategy, I was determined to be more selective in the situations I get involved with and the tasks I take on and in fairness I have been able to offload a number of things lately to free up my time.  However there are also one or two things I simply can't get out of, for example the property dispute currently ongoing amongst the neighbours on our shared site in relation to a forthcoming repair bill of £315,000! Yes, that's right; I really did say that amount! Sadly, you didn't imagine it.

There are also lots of family commitments and work issues that are small beans in isolation but in the combined 'pot' of angst, they become much more of a chore than usual.

And there is one major issue, we'll call it 'The Big Deal', which I can't discuss publicly but which has been sapping the energy from my very core for over a year now.  All of which leaves me wondering whether I am actually scaling down anything at all or if I am just letting my side down.

I have to watch out for bad behaviour in this kind of situation.  Much like a petulant child, if it's a small matter that I'm feeling ratty about I can convince myself to put it off until the last minute on the basis the 'I shouldn't have to do it anyway'.  On those occasions I will procrastinate and look for escapism in other areas - very often the aforementioned Buzz/Facebook/Twitter - or more usually my fantastically loyal friends who can ALWAYS be relied upon to support my stance in any given matter.

I eventually do the job in question in a big rush at the last minute, becoming even more annoyed at the weight of unwanted and seemingly unnecessary responsibility, at the time stealing crap which lands on my desk and particularly, at the individuals who cause it.

Perhaps more importantly I get annoyed at myself most of all.  I know I can get quite 'passionate' about certain issues.  I have a strong sense of fair play, try to behave ethically and responsibly wherever possible and usually manage to live by the 'Treat others the way I'd like to be treated myself' mantra.  Injustice and inequality drive me crazy and I despise all forms of sneaky, underhand behaviour. 

Sadly, our property dispute has brought out a lot of these negative human characteristics and 'The Big Deal' is completely riddled with them.  Under normal circumstances I'd relish the opportunity to wade through it all, like an ethical warrior, and I'd take great pleasure in combing through the finer details to find the flaws in arguments and supporting evidence to bring about 'justice' but strangely for me, I just can't summon the energy or enthusiasm for it at the moment.

I'm not sure if I'm getting older/wiser/lazier or whether it's the compounded effects of a hellish year which has used up my reserves but in any event, I simply don't have the 'oomph' for it all. The property dispute is in the process of being handed over to the solicitors and although I can't believe I'm about to say this, I am seriously considering just checking out of 'The Big Deal' altogether.

I had a few tears tonight; a sure sign that I'm overtired.  I'm also not sleeping properly, which may well be the result of an overactive, muddled brain.  I've allowed myself to get distracted by one or two things lately too and I'm generally not feeling very happy about my own behaviour so I talked it through with Woody before he went to bed.

He tells me I'm passionate (arsey), dedicated (obsessive) and tenacious (I don't know when to check out of things). I'm prepared to concede that he might have a point. Also, he knows me better than anyone and I trust his integrity and judgement implicitly.

So I'm sitting here, thinking about what I hope to achieve from seeing 'The Big Deal' through to the bitter end and I have come to the conclusion that the main objective is to achieve the satisfaction of knowing I'm right and that the fuggers in question won't get away with their shoddy behaviour.

When I see that written down in black and white it actually makes me laugh!

First of all, I already know I'm right.  Someone else telling me that I'm right is not going to make a jot of difference to what I already know.  So why do I care? 

Secondly, the fuggers involved are indeed that; fuggers.  Whether I'm right or not, win or lose, I very much doubt they will change their behaviour on my account.  They are much more interested in furthering their own mean, spiteful, piggy ends through ever greater acts of fuggery to give a toot about me. I'd like to think I'm 'David' to their Goliath proportions and resources but I suspect I'm more akin to a mildly annoying gnat buzzing around their oversized heads every now and again.

Thirdly, and more importantly, if I continue to pursue 'The Big Deal' there will be a court case and all of the associated preparation that entails.  The date has been set for the first three weeks in January but we move house next month so all of this preparatory stress and angst will be taking place in our new home, which we are determined will be a haven of happy vibes and positive chi!

Do I really want to taint our lovely new environment with those fuggers?  Do I not owe it to both of us to fully commit to our new regime? If so, I suspect I need to be quite ruthless about cutting out the crap from my life - much more ruthless than I've been so far but I suppose it's 'no pain, no gain' as they say.

I'm exhausted now so I'm off to bed to sleep on it (hopefully).  I'll make a decision over the next day or two when I've had time to reflect properly.  In the meantime, thanks for listening to the exhausted ramblings of a mad old woman.  I suspect it helped me more than it helped you dear reader ;)

(Migrated from Tumblr)