I love mountains. In particular, the Black Mountains on the eastern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park grabbed my heart strings in about 2001.
I often stayed at the Capel-y-ffin Youth Hostel, in the beautiful Ewyas valley, looking out at the Offa’s Dyke footpath and the border between England and Wales.
Looking out onto Offa’s Dyke from the farm
I visited for a walking weekend, and from that visit ended up running guided walks and navigation training courses at the youth hostel. As a bonus (and as a cat-lover) the hostel had two cats, black and white Gypsy and distinguished grey and white Bertie.
Years later, after the hostel was sold into private ownership, I returned there to host the mountain retreats that encompass every aspect of what I love doing most. This work reflects the deepest nurture for me and, I think, the deepest, most gentle and respectful nurture for those that visit.
And when I returned in 2009, there was Bertie, happily voting with his paws, staying with the place he’d chosen to live.
Bertie Cat in his element, July 2009
With smiles from his previous owner, I now care for him and pay his few vet and food bills. As I don’t live at the farm, I also found myself hating leaving him… I’d have a fabulous week with my guests and then blub extensively as I left the mountains, cat and farm that I love so much.
So after a few years, thinking about the bit that I could do, I went looking for a Bertie look-a-like. (A first step…!)
Through a great friend, I heard of a grey and white kitten on a farm in Exmoor. I drove down without hesitation, and met what became Bertie Junior. She’s a girl… but she’s called Bertie anyway.
Love at first sight… Bertie Junior
Even more amazingly, I took a punt and brought her with me to the farm in Wales for the first retreat after I’d got her. As a kitten, she took to the spacious farm rooms and scampered around happily. And as soon as she had had all her inoculations, she met Bertie Cat. It was instant friendship.
September 2011 – First meeting of the two Berties
Little Bertie loved Bertie Cat to bits, followed him everywhere. Dear Bertie Cat had the patience of a Saint and put up with her pouncing and bouncing about. They are – and continue to be – the best of friends.
May I share your armchair please?
They are not related, they see each other for only one week a month, and Bertie Junior happily naps her way through a 3 hour commute to get to the farm… in short, they are utterly not cat like. If you are a cat person, you will understand that they nurture in a way that I could never have conceived!
I made this film in August 2012, whilst enjoying a quiet and restful few days at the farm for myself. Watching it nurtures me on many levels. Maybe it will for some of you too.
Either way, these two cats prove that whatever you assume… you may get waaaay more than you’d ever imagined!!