When I first came here to the corner house back in 2010 I was greeted with the sight of a petite black and white cat carrying a dead vole in its mouth, tip toeing rapidly towards me along a slow curve of dry stone wall. Already some eight years old by then Pip had come originally as a kitten from North Farm, arriving half feral and stand alone fearsome. An astonishing runner up of trees and lethal predator of birds and all manner of small furry mammals. A winning combination of slim good looks, set in handsome black and white Geordie strip, this feline was a natural born killer who worked her passage as a skilled pest control operator. As late as this summer our mature ill cat was catching baby rabbits and decapitating them. We never found the heads but their bodies would be deposited in corners about the house, to be detected in due course as much by smell as by sight.

Stephen & Pip taking a nap, 2017

On this day last week, Pip died. Diagnosed with cancer a few months back, we watched with concern the tumour on her right side growing ominously. The decline was gradual yet the miaow remained as strong and urgent as ever with an appetite that showed no sign of abating until just a couple of days before departure. We found her in the morning, stretched out & still warm where we’d left her the night before, on the rug in front of the wood burner. We buried our old friend in her natural garden habitat, at the foot of the curving bank below an old oak post, wrapped in her carry box blanket with a farewell note from Kim slipped in. Pip’s spirit will be quite at home here. We’re resigned to sensing a passing night shadow; finding her curled up in the strawberry beds in the heat of summer; leaping off the porch bench of a chill morning wanting to be let in; gamefully enduring an infant’s attempt at stroking or padding up to greet visitors with her affectionate easy nature. It was that quality that allowed our youngest grandchildren, Emily & Lois, when visiting as toddlers to overcome their fear of felines. Here’s a picture that captures that relationship.

Lois & Pip, Summer 2019

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