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Hamster Adventures

2011 started well but sadly in August, after fighting the inevitable fight against Old Age, Charlie was put to sleep. He fought well, and was his usual happy little self right up until the end, even though he could hardly move in his last day. He was our gorgeous little friend and we will always miss his cheeky, lazy manner and his little beady eye. Everyone who met him fell in love with him. We're not sure how many miles he did in the end as we lost track when we moved down here, although it was certainly well into the tens of thousands, and he was always ready to play when he reached his destination.Living in rented accomodation I couldn't face burying him here to move on in a few years time and leave him behind, and so we did the logical thing of wrapping his little body up in a shroud and putting him in a tuppaware box in the freezer. Next time we went to visit Dad we took him with us and buried him, in his wooden house, under the apple tree in the garden. I hope he finds a log in hammy-heaven to use as a base for all his 'splorings.

Inevitably, with the empty cage on the specially-bought coffee table/hamster cage table, Kev and I started casually looking for hamsters up for adoption and came across "Bell". "Bell" was a four-month old female hamster with very pale ginger mottles over her white fur, and where Charlie was "damaged stock", "Bell" was "past her sell by date". The name just didn't suit her. We still haven't found a name that really suits her, but we call her Winter as it sort of suits her. Her full name is Winter Bella Tiny-Marcusetta Andy-Andy Arlott, and she is as mad as a sackful of badgers on speed. Never have I seen a hamster chew anything as much as Winter does. Never have I seen a hamster choose not to sleep in a house/log/nook but make an elaborate nest of tissue, covering half the cage floor. Never have I seen a hamster burrow with the vigour Winter displays. I'm very grateful she's in the glass cage, as I think she'd get out of a normal cage.

Winter is quite a sizeable hamster - at only four months old she was already bigger than Charlie or Biscuit when they were much older. She has only continued to grow, so the super sized hamster tank is probably about the right size for her.

As such, the tank is too big to
transpot anywhere if we need to take Winter with us, and, the manic-chewing machine she is, it's too risky to put her in the small cage. We had to come up with a better solution.

In December 2011, Kev and I went on holiday to Cornwall. But how to take Winter with us. A chance visit to Dad, who happened to be throwing out some very large plastic storage containers ("Spacious and durable!") on wheels, provided a solution.

We (by we, I mean, Kev) cut a hole in the lid big enough to accomodate the top grill from the tank cage. With no sticky-out bits inside, Winter had nothing to chew, and so a lightweight hamster transporter the same size as the tank was born. The trip to Cornwall demonstrated how effective it was - Winter seemed happy (although doesn't travel as well as Charlie) in it and actually seemed to enjoy the change of scenery. Problem solved!

Quick Catch Up

It's been a long time since Kev or I posted on here properly and a lot has happened!

The wedding went well - we had a wonderful day, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves! And so now we are officially Mr and Mrs Arlott. Thanks again everyone who could make it and for all the lovely gifts we were given, they were all very thoughtful and have all been used!

About two weeks after the wedding, I got a call from a company I had an interview with in January offering me the job (they turned me down initially, but thankfully remembered me when some more work came up!) and so at the end of April Kev and I moved down to the outskirts of Southampton to a little flat, in the servants quarters of an old Victorian mansionette. Charlie (of course) made the journey with us, but his super-cage-tank was damaged in the move - he was a bit miffed at spending the next couple of weeks back in his travel cage.

The flat is quite small but it's more than big enough for the two of us. The main building is surrounded by much of its original gardens, including an old vegetable patch gone wild, manicures lawns and some wonderful old trees (including but not limited to the biggest horse chestnut I have ever seen, some interesting oak varieties, a larch, a fir and a mighty Scots Pine, but sadly no lofty flowering cherries and I'm not sure about the plucky little aspen). Being on the second floor and surrounded by trees it's often a little bit like being in a fully kitted out tree house. We have bird feeders on the windows and get regular visits from blue-, great- and coal-tits and even a family of nuthatches (and, on one occasion, a spotted woodpecker).

We finally got around to replacing Charlie's cage about a month after moving in, instead of the same size opting for one 5 inches longer. Charlie loved to be back in his log again and continued enjoying his adventures, especially when he started to explore the whole flat (although on multiple occasions, and quite by accident, not in his ball).

In my job (Marine Geophysicist, then Senior Geophysicist the following year) I enjoyed processing a range of geophysical data including magnetometer, sidescan sonar and sub-bottom data. Sub-bottom is definitely my favourite and something that never ceases to amaze me, despite it being something I have spent the majority of my time processing.

Kev was offered a job later in the year with a pretty big company based in Frimley - it means an hour long commute for him but he insists this isn't a problem!

Putting so many miles on the W reg Astra meant it had it's ups and downs and in September 2010 it failed it's MOT. We replaced it with...Another white Vauhall Astra estate, slightly newer! This one had a mere 88k on the clock, but this later turned out to be someone had clocked it (although the seller, a dealer, denied all knowledge of it) and we think it had somewhere in the region of 120k when we got it, which is annoying.

We both started playing badminton with some of my friends from work which turned into a twice-weekly habit. We're both getting pretty good now and it's definitely helped the two of us keep fit.

In late November my works had a Christmas Party, and we got the excuse to dress up and have some fun with our new friends.

Christmas 2010 was spent up in North Wales - for a second year heavy snow covered the whole country and we managed to get some fairly impressive photos of Kev snowboarding on the beach at Black Rock Sands.

We spent the weekend after our first anniversary in Florence. What a beautiful and inspiring city! I am also trying to learn Italian in my own time, but motivation issues are slowing me down.

Sadly we lost Charlie in early August 2011, and gained Winter two weeks later- I will post about that separately.

September saw Kev compete in the Euros at Hoylake, and our first package holiday to Isola di San Pietro, in Sardinia. It made a nice change to be able to swim comfortaby in the sea - I have never swum in a warm sea before! We did a load of snorkelling, and Kev enjoyed using his prescription mask and being able to see the multitude of fish.

That pretty much brings us to where we are now - so much for a "Quick Catch Up"!!

Brave Sir Charlie

Last night was a monumental night for Charles P. Hamster.

Since the arrival of Umber, our guide-dog-in-training, Charlie's ball-time has dramatically reduced. This is not, however, because of of anything we've done - Charlie hates the dog.

As soon as Umber moved in, Charlie started spending more of the evening asleep - when we got him out of his cage, he would just freeze and move very, very slowly. I felt like the worst mummy in the world, but there was nothing we could do but hope that it was just him being unsure - having never come face to face with a dog before, that would be perfectly understandable. But no, Charlie spent almost every night asleep in his nest, only coming out for the occasional toilet break and to stock up on food.

When we went down to do our notice giving, Charlie came with us and that week he was like a different hamster. 7pm sharp, he'd wake up like he used to and announce to the world "It iss teatime, where is my food?!" and then until we went to bed he would be out and about, running in his ball just like he used to. Obviously then when we returned, it was like someone flipped a switch - back to scaredy-Charles.

Umber on the other hand, loves Charlie. Umber has, on several occasions, sat and watched Charlie running in his wheel for up to 15 minutes.

Then the other night, Umber went away to see who might potentially be his new owner. We put Charlie in the ball first thing in the morning when we got up the following day (he was still wide awake and wanting very much to come out and play, we didn't wake him!) and he ran around the house, even though it still must have smelled like dog. He was running about, being put back in his cage every 20 minutes or so for a drink and a sleep if he wanted it) until 12pm!

For 3 days we did this, and he started coming out again more in the evenings. Umber came back and then last night, while Umber was shut in the kitchen and lounge, Charlie spent the best part of 2 hours roaming free and happily like he used to, top speed up and down the hallway.

Finally it seems like Charlie is not afraid of the dog any more, just as Umber is getting ready to leave us!

Giving Notice

Kev and I have finally given Notice for our wedding. We've had a load of problems because we're both living in Scotland but want to get married in England - apparently this isn't allowed, because it's classed as immigration! So to get around it we had to go and live with my Dad for a while. After much hoo-har with the Job Centre and various registrars we packed up, along with Charlie, and boogied on down to Derby for a while.

We got all sorts of stuff done - we had to make a special day trip to Chester for my first proper dress fitting, where I met up with Sarah and my Mum. I spoke to the florist and have pretty much all but settled on what flowers we're having, and we also got all our invitations handed out/posted.

We also added a load of miles to the Hamster Milometer:

Hamster Miles to Date: 1036.55 miles
Hamster Miles This Trip: 722.04 miles

TOTAL HAMSTER MILES:  1758.59 miles

But the main thing is that we managed to finally give notice, so, in about a week, we should legally be able to get married next March. One more thing struck from the ever growing list of things to do!

Travelling Hamster

Well on the 9th of October Leah and Kev packed my things up and stuck me in the big noisy motorhome and we went for a very long drive! I'm not a great fan of travelling.

Firstly we went down to the Sands of Luce. It wasn't so bad, although I got put in a cupboard and all I could hear all night while I tried to concentrate on my running in my wheel was Tom snoring! The second night though was much cooler and I had to make a big nest in the base of my house - I piled all the wood shavings high and snuggled down into them with my tissue paper and it was ever so cosy.

Then we drove some more, and came back home. I thought "Brilliant! I can stop this being chilly in the big noisy thing and enjoy some running around the house in my ball." So I enjoyed the evening - but then in the morning we were off again!

This was a much longer drive and I was really hoping it was going to stop soon when it did. We were at Chris' house! I like it there because I can wander about and enjoy the fireplace being all warm and cosy. The house is like a giant hamster-nest for people, although I personally find it doesn't smell as nice as my manly-hamster odour like my nest does.

We stayed there for a bit and then the big noisy thing came back and we went off again! Although not too far this time before we came to a nice stop in Cheshire for the evening. Well, I enjoyed a hearty run in my wheel again that evening! The next morning I was running about all over the living room of the motorhome - around the table and I even tried to climb the curtains. I think everyone was surprised when I worked out how to get out of the top of my cage - they kept putting me back in so I kept doing it again to prove how strong I am!

That day we drove about a lot, although at first this was punctuated by a lot of short stops. Then we did one big journey back home again. I was tired after this so I slept for a long time that evening.

So, to my Hamster Miles:

Hamster Miles to Date: 286.56 miles
Hamster Miles This Trip: 749.99 miles

TOTAL HAMSTER MILES: 1036.55 miles/1668.17 km 

Hamster Diaries - Cage Cleaning

Hello diary,

My name is Charlie. I am a 5 month old Syrian hamster (my unofficial birthday is the 6th of April, 2009), and I have decided to log my adventures here (as it looks like there might be a few!). I'm quite a handsome chap, if I do say so myself, although I am missing my left eye. I remember how I lost it but I can't write it here! It would give any diary finder nightmares.

Anyway, the first story to write in my diary is thus.

I hate Saturdays. They are, officially, the worst days in the history of weekdays. Picture this - you're cosily snuggled up in your warm bed, that has your food in one corner ready for snacking in the day, and all of a sudden there's a noise that shakes the bottom of your cage! Well that's what happens to me every Saturday, well, it's happened every Saturday for a month now, and I should imagine it will continue!

Today I was turfed out of my cosy bed and spoken to by Leah. She then handed me to Kevin - and started putting all of my hard work, stockpiles of food and cosy nests into a plastic bag! What's that all about? Anyhow, Kev held me captive - I kept trying to get back to my house but I watched as it was broken into two and all the bedding pulled out. Have I been bad? Why are you ruining my bed!? I'm so hungry!

Kev puts me in the ball, and it's then I makes my 'scapes - I run as far and as fast as I can out into the hall and down to the kitchen. I'll show them about destroying food-piles!

I ran about for about 20 human minutes (valuable sleep time any other day of the week), all the time there is a strange, sweet-ish but cloying smell in the air - I followed it to it's source and it's the bathroom - Leah is doing something in the bath, and that's where the smell is. There's water too....brr...I hate water! So I turned tail stump and ran as fast as I could - closer to the kitchen.

But I must have taken a wrong turn - there was a lot of light coming from a big wall at the end of this corridor, and it was a bit draughty - then a giant shadow appeared on the other side of the wall! I tried to run but it was too late, the wall opened and trapped my ball between it and the wall and the giant came closer! He had a big booming voice - but then I realised it was only Tom and he wouldn't hurt me. So I just carried on. He hadn't turfed me out of my nest after all, so there was no smiting to be done.

I eventually made it into the kitchen, and found all sorts of tasty crumbs on the floor - only tiny ones though, I wouldn't expect those humans to have seen them from all the way up where their whiskers are. They were a nice snack, but I was still hungry. So I just ran about a bit more!

In the end I found a quiet room with no humans. Thank the Great Ham for that! All this trundling about has made me tired and thirsty, so I found a quiet corner and took a nap.

No sooner was I fast asleep when Leah woke me up. Typical, inconsiderate humans. She took me back - and there was my house! All it's shelves and my Wheel and water bottle all ready for me to move back in. It looks so clean and tidy now - not how I left it at all! But humans have a funny habit of making their houses like this. Most uncivillised. But they can't be blamed too much, they are a very strange and unfortunate creature. And the smell! That horrible cloying smell is all over my house now and it's all I can smell!

I suppose it will take another week for me to make it smell back to my normal handsome hamster smelling self, just in time for them to muck it up again.

Thanks, humans. Maybe one day I'll try to make your house more like mine.