Arian and Rowan, part 3 - festivals - dogs - the ‘cave’ - life skills
Updated: Aug 25, 2020
It wasn’t long before I was ready to get back on the road; home re-organised with new mattress and the largest dog cage I could find that I could fit in the Land Rover. With so many little tearaways, I could not have them running around while I was driving. The cage was huge, so they had plenty of room. There was even enough room for the litter tray and their food and water. They took to the cage straight away. As they got older, they would make their own way to the cage when it was time to move on. They settled down easily. They would hardly stir all the time we were on the move. They always seemed to know when we had arrived at a destination. If I stopped for a break or fuel, or to clean the litter tray, they didn’t move. But as soon as we arrived at wherever, they were up and eager to stretch their legs. It was amazing. They would jump out, have a quick look around, then go off and explore.
Anyway, I gathered up the troupe, then we were off. This time, for a more prolonged period. At the time, I was working the festival circuit. I can’t remember how many festivals we did that year, but it was a lot. There was a party on most weekends, so I would hazard a guess at 15 - 20.
It didn’t take long before the kittens were well-known! As they got older, I often had to wander all over the festival site at the end of the weekend (usually a Monday or Tuesday) to round them up! It was always my worry that some-one would steal one of the kittens, but it never happened and they always came home.
They would all come for walks with me, especially when we were not at a festival. My mate Robbie (www.psychedelic-art.com), who I worked with, putting his art gallery/chill-out space together, used to call me the ‘pied piper of cats’ as wherever I was, there was a line of kittens following me.
Yiyin was an awesome mother. She was a menace to anything that came within six feet of my caravan. I used to have to warn people with dogs not to come anywhere near the caravan. “Oh, that’s alright. My dog gets on with cats.” was the usual comment. “No, you don’t understand.” I would have to say, “Its the other way round. Yinyin doesn’t take to dogs and she will attack them if they come too near, especially as she has kittens in here.” Sadly for the various dogs, my warning was rarely heeded. More often than not, it wouldn’t be long before I heard the sound of yelping! Some people complained to me. Either way, I usually had to mention that I did give them fair warning. Pretty much every dog soon learned that my caravan was not safe to approach. On one occasion I literally had to prise Yinyin from the head of a really friendly Staffy who only wanted to say hello.
Another time, at a Sunset Festival, as I remember, I had a woman try to warn me about her cat-killing terrier. She pointed to the dog in question. As she did so, my next-door neighbour on site laughed and said, “Oh, isn’t that the dog that’s just been attacked by your cat? She was wrapped around its head.” The woman’s jaw hit the deck as she looked in disbelief. I just said, “No worries. It appears they’ve already met and sorted things out.” I never saw or heard from the woman or the dog again.
There was one time that I thought that I had lost one of the kittens. I turned my home upside-down searching desperately. I could not understand how I could have miscounted. I was going out of my head! After a couple of hours or so, the missing kitten came wandering out from where it turned out she was sleeping. As you will remember, the left-hand bench seat came out of my previous caravan. As the previous caravan had a different shape where the floor meets the bulkhead, there is a small triangular-shaped hole in the corner which I had never bothered to cover. This little innocent had found the ‘cave’ and settled down for a lengthy snooze. All the time oblivious to the human frantically losing the plot outside!
Generally speaking, though, we never really had a problem. Only once did I have to sit and wait for Yinyin. I think it was Sunrise Festival. I had parked in a quiet lay-by as the site was closed to traffic at night, so had to wait until morning. That morning Yinyin had gone off, which was nothing unusual. Only, on this occasion she stayed out for hours! I was stuck. I couldn’t get on site as I couldn’t leave the lay-by. After about four hours or more, she finally came home and we could get going.
It was great watching the kittens growing up. I heard loads of stories from various people who had witnessed seeing Yinyin teaching her babies all the skills they would need in life. One story for example was of an occasion when Yinyin ignored the attention of a young woman who wanted to pet her. That is, until she had caught a mouse and presented it to the kittens to deal with. Then she went over for some attention. I was even told how some-one had seen her teaching them road sense. Unlike most, these kittens had the benefit of being raised by their mother for six months rather than being dragged from their family at just 6 - 8 weeks old. They soon became proficient in everything.