That orchard was a great refuge. The cats loved it. Raven in particular, was in heaven. She did very well catching rabbits. One time, I was busy pottering about, when my attention was drawn to a sound of screeching, the like I’d not heard before. I turned to see Raven standing with a rabbit in her jaws. The rabbit was in so much pain that it was literally screeching. I shouted at Raven to put it out of it’s misery. Another time, she crushed the skull in her jaws.
Arian would hang around Tom’s shack as I would have to come pass it whenever I had been out in the Land Rover. As for Rowan, it was just a big adventure park.
I had lost heart in my caravan and as you know, I bought a small caravan and fitted a cat-flap. Then, in the Spring, we made a move.* It was the beginning of a horrible year.
On one of the occasions that the Land Rover broke down, I found myself at the ’Drove’ next to Crasken Farm again. One day, I happened to be walking down towards the drove and my caravan from the old farm courtyard. I noticed one of the cats sat in the drove alongside the caravan. Nothing unusual. As I walked on .... she flew away... (?)
Now, I know a cat when I see one and I know a bird of the crow family when I see one, but I saw what I saw. Either way, the one thing that I do know for a fact, is that I have never seen Raven again since!
I looked for her. A very intuitive friend, Deby, who is a very good medium helped. Nothing.
I’ve always had my concerns about what happened. At the time, the menace of a number of dogs that had packed up and roaming around terrorising every living creature in the vicinity of Crasken had become a serious problem. I have always suspected that Raven had been caught and become the umpteenth victim. I will never know. Deby had followed a ‘scent’ for a way through a hedge. After a short distance, she declared that the ’scent’ had gone. Make of it what you will. I can only present the facts.
I try to keep a lighter view and just tell people that that day, I lost my Mind.**
Back on the road, the breakdowns continued and the festivals were some of the worst I can remember. (I will tell you about the festivals another time.)
I would often park at a pub called the Riflemans Arms in Glastonbury. There was always a friendly welcome there. The cats loved it there. They would wander around the beer garden and sit over the gate ‘welcoming’ people in. I had parked there for a few days between festivals as I often did. When it was time to leave, Arian was nowhere to be seen. Nightmare! I had to leave without her. I was banking on her staying in the area while I was away.
The gig was a good one, which included a mate’s birthday. Rowan managed to race up a huge tree whose lowest branches were well over 10’ from the ground. We had to get a scissor lift up to her!
Back at the Rife’s, as soon as I pulled in and got parked up, Arian appeared. What relief. I was told at the pub that she had been hanging around all week.
The festivals and the breakdowns continued.
One day, after having already climbed Porlock Hill successfully, even overtaking a car that was seriously burning it’s clutch, I had then climbed out of Lynton. On a hairpin bend at a place called Hillsford Bridge (formally Hillsford Bridges [one was washed away during the 1952 flood]), the Land Rover gave up and blew yet another head gasket.
However, it happened at what proved to be my last bit of really good luck for a long time. Right on the hairpin lives an amazing man called Dom who only eats/smokes what he grows/rears. He now runs a shop in Lynton called The Moorland Pantry. (Again, I will have to tell you more about Dom another time.)
After sourcing a donor vehicle and formulating a plan of action, I made sure the cats had everything they needed for a few days and that Dom was aware, then took the decision to hitch-hike the rest of the way to the next gig. I really shouldn’t have made that decision. The whole party was a nightmare. There was torrential rain resulting in the festival being officially cancelled, I was let down by some-one I thought I could rely on, then we were stuck in the field for a few extra days. When we did get towed out, Ali (PureMischief.org), who gave me a bed, took me back to my home.
I was relieved to get home! Arian met me at the door, but no sign of Rowan. She never reappeared all day or the next. I went all over calling her. Gone! Eventually, the realisation that she wasn’t coming home dawned . I cried like a baby.
Eventually, I moved on. One calamity followed another until I found myself at the only refuge that made sense - the ‘drove’ next to Crasken Farm - and that, really is, another story!
One day, I got a phone call. It was Dom saying that he thought he had Rowan. I asked dozens of questions about her demeanour and looks, etc. All the answers matched the characteristics of Rowan. I was excited, but was desperately trying to not to be. It had been four months since that awful week. I told John of the news and asked him to keep a close eye on Arian while I shot off to Exmoor to see if it was indeed Rowan.
I left as soon as I was able. I got to Dom’s in good time. From there, Dom took us down to his girlfriend’s place where the cat was being looked after.
As soon as we were through the front door, I called. The next thing, Rowan came bounding over and up my leg as she often does. I was overjoyed! Dom said, “I knew she was friendly, but I’ve never seen that.” That was one of the most joyous days I’ve ever had.
Dom told me the following story:
It appears that there (is?) was a man nearby that enticed cats with bits of chicken and the like. Once caught, he would cage his victims. If no-one came looking for a ‘missing’ cat, he would take the non-claimed unfortunates out and shoot them!
When Rowan had first disappeared, Dom had asked around the village and surrounding area. No joy. Then one day, some-one entered his shop and asked him if he was still looking for a black cat. He took a minute, then remembered Rowan. Armed with all the information he needed he determined to save the cat regardless. Having gained her, he called me.
I can only imagine what she must’ve gone through caged up for how long, I don’t know. It could’ve been four months. I guess she would also have no idea how close she came to being shot!
Back at Crasken, Arian was not expecting to see her sister. They were fine, though. I made sure that one was not getting more attention than the other. It didn’t take long before we were plodding along as we always had. We hunkered down and I dropped further into depression. We survived. Then finally after three and a half years of hell we got out, via a chapel and travelled out of Cornwall and across southern England to where we are now. (All of which will be stories to come!)
Arian and Rowan are everything to me. We have been through a lot together. They don’t go very far and I won’t leave them for long. If I do need to be away for any length of time, I make sure there is some-one reliable to just pop in and check on them once a day. They still come for walks on occasions. As they are much older and there’s just the two of them, they don’t travel in the cage. Instead, generally, Rowan lays in the cut-out shelf of the dashboard at the passenger end and Arian lays on the dashboard nearer to me.
Rowan is beautiful. All she wants is love. She purrs constantly, even in her sleep! I suspect that she was the runt of the litter. She keeps me smiling and often I even laugh out loud! She brings joy. She encompasses all the qualities of her naming. She’s also cheeky, naughty and mischievous.
Arian really is my Soul. We have a close relationship. She is aloof and aware. She often gets under the blankets and snuggles up close to me, mainly in the Winter. She’s also very demanding. She has moods, too. She’s very spiritual.
This year, the Beltane Full Moon landed on the 7th. May. It’s fullest point was at 12:00. The cats reached 7 years or 91 Moons.
*see entry My caravan
** see entry Arian and Rowan, part 4