October 09, 2014

The Cats of Lanzarote

This week the BBC has been showing a three part documentary about cats, called Cat Watch 2014 and presented by the lovely Liz Bonnin.  I’ve only seen the first part as I’ve come out to Lanzarote for a short break, however it’s inspired me to do a blog post about the cats of Lanzarote.  Anyone who knows me will know it didn’t take much arm-twisting once the inspiration sprang to mind, I’m a cat fan and self-confessed cat whisperer.

I’ve visited the Canary Islands a few times and have come to understand a bit more about the relationship between Canarians and the cat population.  Just like back home some cats here are kept as pets.  In Lanzarote there can be few cats more spoilt than those owned by Barbarella Buchner, aka The Mad Cat Lady.  Not only does Barbarella dote on her cats, she runs a cat photography business, and owns the excellently named thekitti.es web domain.  And if that didn’t qualify her for ‘mad’ status then her marriage to her cats surely does.  Look here if you don’t believe me!

Sadly not all cats are as lucky as Barbarella’s.  There’s a lot of feral and stray cats in Lanzarote which I guess is down to the environment here.  The year-round nice warm dry days are ideal for cats.  In Playa Blanca where I am right now, many of the strays live amongst the coastal rocks and use them for daytime shade.  In the evening when the cats come to life many tourists are around to feed them.  Some of the cats are so used to people that they’re quite happy to approach people dining on the sea front, and with a purr and flick of the tale they often get treats.

Some of the locals aren’t too keen on all the cats.  I know cats aren’t to everyones taste, and so luckily a charity has been created to help out.  9 Lives Lanzarote runs a neutering programme in an attempt to keep the population under control.  The 9 Lives team have also placed a few Cat Cafe's (feeding stations) around the island, meaning that the cats get fed and watered, but away from the hotel complexes and the like.

If you like the photos in this blog post then please donate to 9 Lives Lanzarote via their donations page.  If you'd prefer to dontate to a UK charity then look no further than Cats Protection, one of the Just 10 Photos supported charities (look here for details).

Possibly one of my favourite photos ever! A cat amongst the bushes at the Princesa Yaiza hotel.
A cat sits beside a water bowl with 'Water Please' written on it, on the coastal path.
Captivating eyes on this cat, getting some shade by a bicycle.
A 9 Lives Lanzarote collection tin at The Wax Bar.
This cat wasn't too keen on having his photo taken.
This cat looks to have a poorly eye.
Not far away was a skeleton, which I think was a cat.  I chose not to post a photo of that.
A black cat takes shade under a car, just next to a pile of cat biscuits.
A cheeky cat meows at some tourists eating at a restaurant.
A cat feeding station next to one of the holiday tour vendors.
A cat seeks a little shade from some plants.

October 05, 2014

An Eerie Evening

Last night (or should that be this morning?) I, along with some friends, did a ghost hunt.  When it comes to ghosts I'm quite open minded but firmly sat on the fence - I'd like to believe there is something after life, but my scientific mind won't let me believe anything without proof.  And I think the only proof that would mean anything would be for something to happen to me.

The ghost hunt was run by Eerie Evenings at The Manor House in West Bromwich, from 9pm through to 2am the next morning.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect, so rather than risk taking my 'proper' camera I took my small Samsung Galaxy Camera (and a big jumper, two torches, and some gloves - it was a chilly night).  It's not the best in dark conditions, but a lot cheaper to fix if I dropped it in the dark!

The evening started with an introduction from the Eerie Evenings team to the twenty seven people there - and they explained they were all open minded, there'd be no tricks, and everyone should take away from the evening whatever they wanted to believe.  We then had a tour of the house, had a session with a medium, and then split up into small groups to start the vigils.  On the vigils we tried Ouija boards and table tipping, used EMF monitors and laser thermometers, and talked in order to make 'contact'.

The Ouija boards and table tipping had limited success for us, but in all three areas we went we had EMF readings and even banging in response to questions we asked.  There were areas of the building where I felt very apprehensive and uneasy, but for the most part felt very at ease.  

The only point where I had any kind of personal experience was after the group was asking a young girl ghost called Lucy to touch me.  They'd given up and gone for a tea break, and as I was making my way out of the room I felt something touch my on my arm.  I'd say it was about the same force as when a fly or wasp flues into you.  Not quite conclusive proof, but unexplained all the same.

Other people claimed to have seen a ghost - a bearded man staring out of a window - but there were no photos. 

At the end of the evening we did a 'human pendulum'.  Something I'll leave you to experience for yourself if you ever do a ghost hunt.  I'm just surprised I didn't dream about Shaun of the Dead afterwards!

I'll definitely do another ghost hunt some time, and will take the proper camera to get some better images of the event and maybe some video too.

The Manor House looks lovely in the evening sun. I spotted a squirrel and cat walking around.
In the darkness the Manor House still looks majestic, if a little daunting.
There wasn't much feasting (but tea and biscuits were supplied)
but there was plenty of merriment!
The Eerie Evening team give us some history of the building.
The Ouija board we tried - but there was no contact.

On this staircase a ghost cat trips people up. Despite my reputation
as a cat whisperer the cat didn't come to me for a cuddle
In this corner of the room apparitions have been seen before.
The figure to the right is one of my friends who walked in during a long exposure photo.
Photo 1 of 3. Some 'orbs' appear - could be other worldly beings or perhaps dust or moths.
Not the small one about half way up the photo and a third in from the left.
Photo 2 of 3 (six seconds later). The orb has moved to the right and up slightly.
Photo 3 of 3 (another six seconds later). The orb has moved further right, or maybe towards me.