First things first, let me say thank you for the kind comments that you took the time out to write to me on my last post. I know that everyone has a lot of blogs to read and not many hours in the day so I do appreciate that people took the time to say hang in there. I am hanging in there and I'm just seeing how things go at the moment before I make any big decisions.
The one thing that I did realise I needed was time out. Being unemployed is no picnic and I know it's probably hard to believe when you're not in this position, but it can actually be as draining as having a full time job. You never let up worrying and most of the time I spent working I now spend job searching.
Doley bums deserve holidays too y'know.
You know The Person? He may struggle with the washing up but one thing that he does not struggle with is buying presents. He's the best present buyer ever. Ever.
For my birthday in April he got me the present to top all presents.
There's more than a slight chance that you're aware that I like cats. Like pretty much a lot. I may be one of the few women who actively aspire to be a crazy cat lady when they grow up. What present do you get a lady who likes cats?
Unfortunately not a real cat (we live in a rented first floor apartment that doesn't allow pets, believe me, if we could have a cat we would have one, I don't torture myself for the fun of it), but the next best thing...
A Big Cat Encounter.
This encounter takes place at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation down in Kent. This is a breeding centre for big cats and only opens to the public a couple of days during the year but they do offer people the chance to be a Ranger for the Day, Photography Days and Big Cat Encounter Days where you get a guided tour around the centre, getting up close to the kitties and even getting the opportunity to hand-feed a cat of your choice.
Now. Has anyone seen the video of Kristen Bell and the sloth? If not, you should, it's hilarious.
I had a reaction that was somewhere on that scale, although perhaps not as extreme. I was so excited when I opened the envelope containing the voucher for the day that I didn't know what to do with myself. Any extreme emotion that I have has the uncanny ability to come out of my eyes - my emotions leak down my face whether I'm happy or sad. So when I opened the envelope my reaction was to cry happy excited tears and then phone/text everyone I knew, telling them about the present.
So last week The Person and I made the journey down to London. The next day we took a train out to Headcorn and then a taxi to the Foundation. I was a buzzing mess by the time we got there, oscillating between being over-excited and being convinced that I had somehow done the booking wrong and we were turning up on the wrong day/at the wrong time etc etc.
Then commenced the best few hours of my life. I really did get up close and personal with some absolutely beautiful cats and it was better than I ever could have expected. Our guide, Vanessa, was brilliant and her love for all the cats was so evident as she showed us around.
We saw pumas and a jaguar (whose spots were so perfect it was honestly like someone had painted him) and tigers and lions and a cheetah (who shares the same birthday as me) and leopards and Pallas cats and teeny tiny rusty spotted cats.
I knew that I'd be getting the chance to hand feed one of the cats but I had no idea that I'd get the chance to touch them as well. But some of the cats are really happy to come over and be stroked and will come and lie alongside the fence so, with the palm of your hand, you can feel their fur. The first time I got the chance to do that I nearly lost it...
The most surprising thing is that they're not rough like you might expect them to be. Their fur feels just like a domestic cats, all soft and fluffy and silky to the touch.
And let me tell you, feeding a tiger is easier and much less stressful than trying to feed Fred and Lily. It's impossible to do that without bleeding from some part of your hand or arm. Tigers however are impeccably behaved and take their chicken nicely.
I have now sworn never to say when I see a moggy, "Oh what big paws he has", because now I have seen, these paws...
...which belong to a beautiful snow leopard who gave my hand a lovely big sniff.
One of our favourites was the Pallas Cats who are strangely less like cats than the big cats. You would think they would be more likely domestic cats, given their size, but they are very strangely like monkeys in the way in which they look and move about.
In short it was a day to remember. I absolutely loved it and would recommend the day to anyone and also for you to go and check out the website and like them on Facebook. (Where you'll be able to see some of the latest additions to the park, 2 baby Amur leopard cubs who I was lucky enough to see playing about with their Mum.) And if you love cats then do it, do it do it do it because it is an experience of a lifetime.
It is safe to say that I'm no less of a crazy cat lady now than I was before.