The Adventures of Shirley de Cat

Some years ago a group of us at work had a fun project going involving our team mascot, a small toy cat called Shirley de Cat. (The Shirley bit was because our work was carried out in the Shirley/Papanui community – and somehow the name Papanui for a cat just wasn’t a goer – and I seem to remember that we thought ‘de Cat’ sounded a bit more poncy than just plain old Cat, ie a little bit more aristocratic and not quite so ‘New Zild’ …)

Here’s Shirley on my desk chewing the fat with her calendar cat-friend, who was a great listener but not much of a talker …

Shirley de Cat, June 2008

Anyway, it turned into a bit of a competition between us all to see what Shirley could get up to, and how far she could travel with various members of the team as we headed off to far or not-so-far-flung destinations overseas, such as Wellington… šŸ˜‰

Shirley de Cat in Wellington 2
Shirley says hello to one of her rellies …
Shirley de Cat in Wellington 3
… visits the War Memorial …
Shirley de Cat in Wellington
and … Shirley! How many times do we have to tell you, NO drinking on the job!

We had to take photos of Shirley, to prove that she had actually been there and done that, and pretty soon our intrepid feline had an impressive dossier of activity and travel photos, including a trip to China, where she got to visit the Great Wall (unfortunately, her minder on that trip has since left our team and taken all his photos with him …).

There was mini-golf with the team at Caddy Shack …
Shirley de Cat at Caddy Shack 2
Shirley de Cat on Caddy Shack carousel
Shirley de Cat at Caddy Shack
Shirley! How many times do we have to tell you, NO snacking on the job!

… official events, such as the opening of a new reserve …
Shirley de Cat at Morrison Avenue Reserve opening
Shirley de Cat on the digger
Good job, Shirley, good job!

… a visit to the Courts …
Shirley de Cat visits the Courts

… and even a night at Super Rugby (go, Crusaders!!)
Shirley at Crusaders vs Bulls match

At last, in June 2008, it was my turn to invite Shirley to join me for a trip to the UK and Italy, where I had a week’s family reunion planned in Tuscany, along with visits to other family and friends in the UK. Shirley was quite taken with the idea of a week in sunny Italy – words such as bon giorno! bella! and porca miseria! were soon tripping off her tongue like a native – so, off we went.

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In the Transit Lounge at Hong Kong airport, waiting for our connection to London

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A quick visit to Stonehenge on the way to stay with rellies in Wales …

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… then across to Canterbury in Kent, to stay with some old friends from Zimabwe days, and pay a visit to Canterbury Cathedral for a moment’s reflection overlooking the Cloisters garden, and a spot of climbing … Shirley! Get down off that windowsill!

After that came the real holiday, as we headed off to Stansted Airport …
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… jumped on board Ryan Air to Pisa …
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… and caught the train to Firenze (Florence) and then on to Arezzo, our final destination.
Shirley de Cat on de train Shirley de Cat at Firenze<

The week in Tuscany flew by, although there was time for a nap or two on the hammock overlooking the beautiful Italian countryside…
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… and close examination of one of the flower beds for use as – oh, never mind!
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… before heading back to Heathrow to farewell my son, who was travelling on to America …
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… and then Shirley and I headed off to Bournemouth to catch up with another old school friend from Zimbabwe and go for a few walks in the woods …
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… before eventually making our way back home to Christchurch.

We all had an absolute ball in Tuscany – 42 of us altogether, aged from 9 months to just shy of 70 years, and from places as far afield as Iceland, Canada, New Zealand, Scotland, Australia, England, Wales, France, USA and Italy. Fabulous food, fabulous accommodation, fabulous scenery: I can thoroughly recommend it as a reunion destination! šŸ™‚ šŸ™‚ (PS Shirley enjoyed it too.)

Shirley’s slowed down a bit since then: age is catching up with her, and nowadays she seems to spend most of her time sleeping (typical cat) or mooching around looking for someone to reminisce with … maybe it’s time for another holiday jaunt, hey, Shirley – what do you reckon?

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