Friday, October 30, 2009

The Year of the Cats . . .

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The feline with those clear blue eyes posing by the deep blue shutters on her house (see post below this one) was photographed this past August one day which I spent strolling around the town of Morlaix, Brittany. From near the train station there is a flight of stairs which descends the steep valleyside toward the center of town. Going down those stairs, I stopped to photograph this aging stretch of wall (for the texture Loulou and Desi !), before going just a few steps further along where I was sizing up those blue shutters for photographic potential, when the owner of the house stepped out on the windowsill to see who the stranger was . . .
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And back by popular demand, as there were so many of you who said you liked the adorable blue eyed purring sweetheart from the photo in the post just below this one, here she is again, . . .
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And while celebrating the color blue, this boat was photographed just a few hours later the same day, in the tiny little port town of Dourduff, just downriver a ways from Morlaix, where the river turns into a bay . . .
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A very short distance down the stairs from the abode of the blue-eyed cat was this very black cat, proudly proclaiming ownership of the wall on which he holds court, looking askance through narrowed eyes at the interloper with a camera . . . "Who does he think he is, that horrid human, daring to take my picture without my permission and not even a single mouse in offering . . . ! ! !"
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Right across the descending alleyway was another alley cat, peering cautiously from behind his well protected wall fortress . . .
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Continuing down that same feline inhabited alleyway, I found this flight of ancient, well worn stone stairs going back up the hillside. I could not resist a side trip to see where they went . . .
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Going up those stairs a way took me to the level of the local rooftops, and I was surprised to find that they were inhabited ! This curious fellow seemed to be the chief, he came up close to check my credentials . . .
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In fact, there was a whole crowd of cats up on those rooftops, and these are just a few who deigned to sit still to be photographed . . .
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There were wilder sorts of cats in the neighborhood too . . .
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The only dog in town just didn't seem up to the task of keeping all those cats in line . . .
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And what better piece of music to go with all these alley and rooftop aristocats than this piece from one of my favorite musicians . . .
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50 comments:

louciao said...

It's official--you're ready to publish your cat calendar! I don't think it would be too catastrophic. At least, your post hasn't left me catatonic or caterwauling. In fact, it's left me purring quite contentedly from viewing all those fine felines, and exploring the narrow worn stairway, and contemplating the deeply textured wonder wall.
Every bit as good as lapping up a warm saucer of milk (and by saucer of milk I mean bourbon).

English Rider said...

The young cat looks as though he may well be the love-child of Blue-Shutter-Kitty. The roof-top Motley Crew look right at home. I love the passage of time represented so subtly by the wear and tear indentations of centuries of feet on the stone steps.

That is the chicken said...

This is an amazing sequence of shots. The cats are fabulous but I love the walls! The textures and subtle colours are great!

Allegria said...

Wow--there's so much of wow in these photos! The blue shutters and the beautiful cat are a given--but the others add so nicely to it--the colors, textures, kitties--AWESOME!

Allegria said...

Wow--there's so much of wow in these photos! The blue shutters and the beautiful cat are a given--but the others add so nicely to it--the colors, textures, kitties--AWESOME!

Fin said...

These are awesome Owen!

Janie said...

You certainly found the catty part of the city. The blue eyed cat is beautiful, but all of your photos are great.

Marguerite said...

Mon cher, Owen, what an incredible series of kitty shots! And the little blue-eyed cat is so cute that I could just take her home with me. Fabulous photos and music, cher!!! Cheers!

Kristi said...

I'm amazed to see so many cats outside - none remain in our neighborhood thanks to the coyotes.

Martin H. said...

Owen

Nice photographs, as ever. I can take or leave the cats but I thought the shots of the boat and the steps were outstanding.

Adam said...

Excellent post and photos. It all reminds me of the Aristocats. I bet they've got a good little jazz club up on those rooftops too!

Karen said...

I love this post and all the blues and the cats, but the little "Chief" looks skinny and hungry. I just want to take it home and fatten it up. Cats are so beautiful and make interesting subjects.
Great post... more more more..please..

Karen said...

I was looking at your photos again and in the first photo of the little "Chief" I spotted a look-out cat sitting on the wall in the background.
I think I would like this place. It reminds me of my back yard.

Sar@h said...

Ah les cent marches. Je vois que vous avez trouvé cette venelle "coupe-gorge". Impressionnant d'y passer à la nuit tombante.

Sinon, désolée de vous contre-dire mais ce n'est pas un chien sur la dernière mais le loup du Petit Chaperon Rouge.

Il vous manque un chat ! La prochaine fois que vous viendrez en Bretagne, je vous montrerai où le découvrir !
http://picasaweb.google.fr/ladamedenage/SarH#5190569669197043394

Ça sert, les visites de la ville avec les drôles ! ;-)

Laurie said...

A classic Owen photo essay - wonderful! I worried about the steep flight of steps. If you had fallen, it would have been cat astrophic!

Laurie

J said...

Perhaps you stumbled across a roof top nip den? Lucky for you they didn't think you were a threat...

ladydi said...

Wow! The stone stairwell is most impressive - don't you wonder how long it's been there? Love the cat photos - how did you get a photo of our black cat, right down to the little tuft of white on his chest??

Steve said...

Such a feast for the eyes... gorgeous textures and colours and most of all a real sense of wanderlust...

Jill said...

Owen, I can't believe you've had these great photos since August and didn't get to post them till now!...What an enchanted walk it seems...cats with colorful, spooky eyes, a boat with magical dolphins, and those stairs! (they have a weird effect of the walls pressing in, the doorway at the top pulling you upward, while the steps themselves bow downward...and what a feeling of age and history). These are super photos, Owen...You outdo yourself!

K'line Bloom said...

Owen, merci pour cette très belle série "Chats".
Comme le dit Louciao, tu es prêt pour publier ton calendrier !
Et je serai la première à l'acheter !
Bises,
K'line

TechnoBabe said...

The color of the blue, amazing eyes!
Thanks for a second shot of the cat.
The black cat is giving you such a haughty look. Who could resist a walk up those stairs? I would have been driven to see what was up there too.
The video fits this post and is one of my favorites too.

Roxana said...

"cat calendar" :-)))

i love the frail white kitten with the big sad head, it looks almost unreal... how can he be the chief, i wonder, with such a weak body. tremendous will power, for sure :-)

@eloh said...

I love those stairs. I wonder how old they are?

That blue paint (shutters and boat)is just the most beautiful shade. Wish I could find that shade in material for a quilt.

Roxana said...

i've just discovered this, check what the geisha in front has in her arms :-) but scroll down to see the animation, isn't this incredible?! the whole set!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7726011@N07/4041731542/

Alberto Oliver said...

Owen, in plain words, this is one of the best post you have ever made. I really enjoyed.

Margaret Pangert said...

Interesting how he starts the performance with As Time Goes By leading into Year of the Cat! More cool jazz. I went to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary at the Garden last night: Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Simon and Garfunkel, BB King, Smoky Robinson, Steveie Wonder, Dion, and then Bruce Sprinsteen with a special duet with Billy Joel (I'm in a New York state of mind.). Can you imagine Bruce singing that?! Strange how you found two royal blue doorways with cats in them! Jeff at Life Is Beautiful is always finding blue: in boats, in buildings, in the Marrakesh... I would have to say my favorite is the black cat as tomorrow is Halloween!

Harlem's A Hatin said...

These are gorgeous photos!

http://harlemshaterade.blogspot.com

jeff said...

Et un second âne qui tise arriva...
- Salut l'ami chat dit-il !
- L'amicale des chats ?
- Non non non...! Les amis chats... vous connaissez ?
- Les entre chats, les à chats, comme les à chiens d'ailleurs, et c'est peu dire que c'est chien de faire tant d'achats, pour pas dire que c'est chiants ces chiens de chats ! ça... heuuu ! Chat ! Je connais... mais l'amichat des amicales... je connais pas !
- Sorry Sir ! Vous faites erreur ! Quand il y a autant de ça.... mince... voilà que chat me prend aussi... autant de chats... que dis-je... une armée rien que pour chats... on peut parler d'army chat !...
- Faut qu'on arrête tout les deux la bêtisâne... pour voir autant de chats !...
- P'têt ben que nous parlons de cat alors ! ! !
- Cat ou c h at... il n'y a que du "H" pour faire c h at !...

Pfffff... Au secour Owen...! Tant de chat me font perdre la raison...! Mais j'ai vu qu'il y a une ruelle... étroite... pour canaliser le retour à la maison !...;-)

Chaoooo !

robert said...

I was once allowed to have a cat made a gift for me by a wonderful friend of mine...thank you for that memory.

A wonderful weekend for you all.

Caroline said...

Terrific post! Ol' blue eyes just beautiful, young blue eyes - want to feed him up!! The cats on the rooftops reminded me of the aristocats and I love that gnarled dog!

Lydia said...

You have, with this one, treated the blogosphere to one of the best posts ever ever ever! I swear that first shot will win awards.....you must show it! Can't believe the blue shutters and the blue eyes and the orange stripes and the roll of orange tape. Outstanding! And the one of the stripey alley cat peering out over the wall - that cat has such a beautifully shaped head and the foliage almost looks like it's a garland. And those stairs? You are so lucky to live where you see things like those. Oh, and I love the blue boat.

AB said...

That dog does look a bit worn out. I wonder how long he has been putting up with cats.

Adrian LaRoque said...

Well at leas you live in a country were you can see cats. Here I can't see cats sometimes not either people, it depends on the winters.

Nadege said...

Al Stewart's voice is so soothing.

Jo said...

I swear to goodness, the photographs on your blog always take my breath away. The kitties are wonderful...!

That cerulean blue is one of my favorite colors. I actually gasped when I saw that gorgeous photo.

You are so lucky to live in a country where there are so many interesting rustic things. It really is part of the charm, isn't it? "New" can get "old" very quickly.

Wonderful photographs...!

Owen said...

Ah, Lynne, I new you were a cat lover, but I didn't know you were a bourbon drinker... well, just don't overdo it and start getting catty on us... Well, for the calendar there is definitely more than enough material there. I don't know what it is about cats and me, when I get out and start wandering around, before I know it the cats start coming out of the woodwork. That could be because they are already well on their way to achieving their goal of feline superiority on the Earth and they are already everywhere... or it could be that my karma is simply one that attracts cats... but I love dogs too, which reminds me about that old line... Excuse me, but I think my karma just ran over your dogma... Be well out there in the wild west...
:-D

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Hi English R., one can never tell which alleycats may be cousins or parents / offspring, siblings, etc, but I agree with you, I was wondering the same thing, if that adorable plump blue-eyed window sitter may in fact be a little late night wild child at heart out romping with the strays after dark... And yeah, I was also wondering about the age of those steps, and for how many hundreds of years people have been climbing them, wearing down "les marches"...

PS And thanks again for the olive oil info ! And the potty pitch... I'll have something in return up shortly...
:-D

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Dear Chicken That Is... many thanks for dropping in... hopefully your chicken wings haven't been clipped to the point that you couldn't fly if you had to, to get away from this posse of hungry alley cats, who might like nothing better than some fresh chicken for dinner... Glad you enjoyed the walls...
:-)

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Hi Allegria, many thanks for stopping by here, and even greater thanks for your kind comment ! Do come back...

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Fin... mmeeooowww... (that was a thank you meow !)

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Hey Janie, thanks so much... the funny thing is, I always seem to find the catty corners of whatever city I'm in... maybe I smell like milk or something ???

Owen said...

Bonjour Marguerite Chère... I'm sure that scrawny skinny legged blue eyed kitty would love to go back to cajun territory with you, where he could dine on crab and crawfish every night ! Great to see you, and wow, those stuffed mushrooms and apple crumble looked absolutely scrumptious !!!!!! I swear you make me starving hungry every time I dare to peek at your pages ! Take care, and as we used to say up north... party hearty !

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Kristi, wow, so you have coyotes that keep the cats in check ? We don't have any coyotes here in France, just a few wolves back in the Alps, but not near cities. Was just reading a terribly tragic story about a folk singer in Canada who got attacked by coyotes a few days ago... hope yours aren't that hungry...

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Martin, many thanks ! I guess cats don't get everybody's warm and fuzzy feeling factor going... are you more a dog person ?

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Adam, that's exactly it... I'm sure they're up on those rooftops wailing away at night to a jazz beat... and no mean-spirited foot-servants in sight to box them up in a trunk...

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Hi Karen, yeah, that place was crawling with cats, I'm sure there aren't too many mice around, or if there are, they must keep very low profiles indeed. The skinny white one does look like he needs to TLC to fatten him up a little. Maybe you've got a kilo or two of space left in your bags ? Or we could always put him on the next boat bound for Florida. I did read a couple of years ago about a cat that stowed away in a container in the US, near Chicago I think, and ended up in France... was identified as an alien and got to go home on an airplane.... hope you had a fabulous time in Paris !

Owen said...

Salut Sarah ! Je m'en doutais bien que tu connaîtrais les marches et ces allées "coupe-gorge" peu fréquentées de Morlaix... j'ose espèrer qu'il n'y a pas trop de gorges tranchées quand même dans l'année...

En fait, oui je sais que c'est le loup du chaperon rouge, j'ai fait d'autres photos là ce jour... mais bon, pour le petite histoire j'avais besoin d'un chien, et entre loup et chien la distance n'est pas énorme, donc je me suis permis de transformer legèrement le personnage... artistic license... j'espère par contre qu'il vont soigner leur loup un petit peu avant qu'il ne tombe en ruine...

PS Merci bcp pour le lien vers ton chat... je me demande ce qu'il a pu voir pour le faire hisser le dos comme ça ! Alors, lui il habite où ? Pas à Roscoff par hasard ? Aller, à bientôt...

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Hey Laurie ! I'm so glad to see you back in blogland ! You're right, one would not want to trip and fall down those stairs, especially with all those hungry looking kitties up on the roof ready to pounce on any likely looking prey...

Hope you are well, sent you an e-mail a while back, would love to hear how things are going with the job and all... Hope to see some smoke coming from the chimney at Creating Pictures one day...

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Hi J, I'm not sure what a nip den is, but sounds dangerous, one must watch one's heels in such a place no doubt... and I always assume very non-threating body language when approaching large numbers of wild cats...

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Hey Diana ! It's been a little while, hope all is well with you all in Ohio. Well maybe this black cat is your kitty's long lost brother ? Or father ? Or first cousin ??? Have to do some DNA testing to see if they're related... does anyone do DNA tests for kitties ?

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Hey Steve, well, that is the intention, to give you such a case of wanderlust that you make your way across the channel one of these days... in the meanwhile, keep purring...

Owen said...

Hi Jill, some days one just gets a little luckier than others I guess, that's life. But for someone with an outsider's eye, many places in France are rich in subject matter, for me everywhere I go here is a feast almost... many thanks though, will continue striving onward and upward... many thanks...

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Chère K'line, je t'en prie, c'est un plaisir d'offrir à toi et à tous ces petits tableaux felins, et bon, pour le calendrier, faut voir si ce projet s'acheve un jour, en tout cas c'est bien gentil de proposer d'être un des premiers clients... meeooooww... (qui veut dire merci en chatlish...)

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TechnoB... many thanks, indeed, those stairs were simply irresistible (which happens to be the title of one of my favorite movies by the way... Simply Irresistible...)

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Hi Roxana, well the calendar will surely be coming if people keep clamoring for it... Yeah, I know it looks improbable that the skinniest one of the bunch should be the chief, but it sure seemed that way to me, he was livelier than all the others combined... he could run circles around them...

An many thanks for the Geisha link, with a cat in arms, really appreciate that...
:-)
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Hi @eloh, many thanks... I'm wondering if that shade of blue is not too far from lapis lazuli, of which there are paints made, good luck tracking down the right shade for a quilt...

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Hey Alberto Oliver, many thanks ! Will have to work harder to do better then...

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Dear Margaret P., sounds like you had a fantastic night out then ! Wow, what a lineup, must have been out of this world... I'm green... and yes, Jeff is excellent at finding blue in the neighborhood, he just did some boats a day or two ago... so, Happy Halloween, just don't let the black cats cross your path...

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Dear Harlem, many thanks for stopping by this little blog ! Love your paint pots in the title... will be back to look a little more...

Owen said...

Salut Jeff ! Je vois que la vue de touts ces chats te rend moins raisonnable que d'habitude, to pousse à des nouveaux hauteurs, tu approches le domaine de la Fontaine il me semble, bientôt ces chats vont commencer à nous apprendre des leçons de la vie... merci en tout cas pour cette lancée de pensées chatelaines, c'est l'art du chat, autrement connu comme l'artichat, qui chauffé donne, l'artichaud, ah, je déc..ne, et pas un seule verre en vue... mes des araignées, j'en ai vues toute à l'heure, une grosse arraignée...

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Hi Robert, you are lucky to have had such a gift given to you, glad to serve as the catalyst for memories returning then (no pun intended) Take care...
:-)

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Hi Caroline, glad you enjoyed all that ! The gnarled dog, which I hope will be saved from his impending disintegration, is in fact a wolf, he is a sculpture of the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood... I used a little artistic license to transform him into a dog for this story...

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Hi Lydia, many thanks for this extra lovely comment ! I'm blushing. Well, as for showing photos, this blog is exactly that, the vehicle to allow me to show photos to the world at large... Whether anything will ever come of it, other than the already immense gratification of getting feedback from all of you wonderful folks out there, well, I'm not holding my breath. If I hadn't started blogging, all these photos would probably have sat in drawers and on hard drives for decades longer... so, this is it... this is the show....

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AB, that's an excellent question, looks to me like he's been getting the stuffing scratched out of him for centuries now, and is literally on his last legs. I hope there is a good dog hospital nearby that can save him from rack and ruin...

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Hi Adrian, hmmm, where have all the cats gone where you are ? Don't people keep them as pets, and let them out to roam around ?

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Hi Nadege, Al Stewart has been a favorite of mine ever since way back in the 1970's my brother gave me a copy of Past, Present, & Future for my birthday, and I was hooked...

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Hi Jo ! I'm so happy if you had a good time with all these kitties ! Maybe not as crazy as Samantha, but a fun bunch for sure ! And yeah, cerulean blue, after the movie "The Devil Wears Prada", who can forget cerulean blue... hmmm, I wonder if your Samantha had the cerulean blue eyes that some Siamese seem to have ?

PS this is the first time someone reported "gasping" at a photo... I'm blushing again... Hmmm, I wonder if a new rating system for photos might be worth considering, based on "gasp factor" ... ?
;-D

Lyn said...

Cat after cat..you sure know how to seduce your bloggy friends. I'm in heaven after viewing your pics..thanks!

jeff said...

Paf ! C'était l'araignée de tout à l'heure ! Tu l'avais, collée dans le plafond !...



Si si... Je t'assure ! Mais me crois pas !... Artichaud va ! M'en parle pas... de ce lancer d'arti... Merde ! je suis à court de conneries d'un coup ! J'ai peur Owen ! ! !... Qu'est-ce qui faut faire dans ces cas-là ?...
T'aurais pas une photo de chat pour me remettre les idées en place ?... Non je disais chat... heu... ça par hasard ! ! !

Ciao L'artiste chaud !...

AmyR said...

Wow, it's amazing how many cats you turned up just by looking around! I'm thinking of fun stories about what all those cats do on the rooftops...hmm. I think there's a childrens book in that somewhere. :)

I adore the textures and applaud the exploring of unknown staircases. Great post as usual Owen!

Owen said...

Lyn, too kind, too kind ! Thanks ! It sure does seem like there are alot of cat lovers out there...

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Jeff ? A court de conneries ? A court de mots qui s'enchainent tout seul avec aisance et verbe et esprit ??? Dans ces cas, je sors mon Rostand et je lis un peu l'oeuvre d'un vrai maître pour me remettre les idées en place... Non, je ne le crois pas, a court de conneries, qui n'en sont pas d'ailleurs, car tu as le merveilleux don de l'esprit vif, l'esprit bien attisé, ah, nom d'un chien, attisé, d'où ça sort, ce mot avec des assonances, attisé, tisé, tis.... ah très vite on peut passer vers d'autre tis... voilà ce que l'on fait quand on est à court de bonnes répliques... on attise...

;-D

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Amy, the cats were coming out of every nook and cranny imaginable that day... no doubt you've seen the Aristocats, if you enjoy Disneyland... ? Many thanks...

Peter said...

What a fantastic post! What a pleasant reading! ... and how well chosen music! Bravo and congratulations!!!

babbler said...

Owen,
I want you to know that year of the cat was my favorite song way back when, and I had it stuck nicely in my head all day today. I was deeply moved by the entire photo and music presentation and give a standing O to you. The only way to get year of the cat out of my head will be to think of these words and repeat with me: Bad Bad Leroy Brown.
Mrs. Slug

Corinas said...

Wow! Really beautiful pictures. Simply natural.

Owen said...

Peter, as they say here... mille fois merci... !

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Dear Mrs Slug,
Oh dear, I can just see a chorus of slugs singing "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" by your window to get you to stop humming The Year of the Cat, which is indeed a very catchy tune...

"On a morning from a slug-art movie
In a garden where they turn back time...
You go sliding through the grass, like Mr Lunchbox
Contemplating a crime..."

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Hi Corinas, many thanks indeed for stopping by !
:-)

Sar@h said...

Le Chat est à Morlaix, au-dessus de la rue des lavoirs (En face des Morlaisiennes), rue parallèle à la grand-rue.

Jilly said...

Oh what a marvellous collection of photographs, Owen. My favourite has to be the skinny kitten leaning into the camera. It's fab. So many are great. Love that old piece of wood carved into a dog. Stunning, those steps, so narrow. So glad you took a trek up them.