Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A Very Disney Christmas


My humans remember a time before VHS when there were only two ways to see Disney movies. First, you could wait for them to come round to your local cinema (which happened once every 7 years). You then had to hope you weren't away on holiday that week and your parents decided there was some special reason to treat you. The second was to watch a little bit of them on "Disney Time" - a programme that was a fixture on the afternoon of every holiday Monday. The problem with that is you only got little clips from a few films. "Pinocchio" was often one of them but the clip they seemed to like best was of the little wooden boy meeting "Honest John" and Gideon and them singing, "An Actor's Life for Me". Surely, they could have shown the heroic little cat opening the window to reveal the Wishing Star!


Well, times have changed a lot. There is no "Disney Time" any more. But the good news is that daytime programmes on the main BBC channel (BBC1) seem to be given over to the Walt Disney Company for several days. Today is the third day when we have had as many as 5 feature films with only a short break for a lunchtime news bulletin. We have had 101 Dalmations (live action) and 102 Dalmations, Tigger, Piglet and the "2" films of Jungle Book and Sister Act as well as many others.


The fimal film today - showing as I type this - is Mary Poppins. So I have put up a picture we took at the Grand Floridian of me with her and one of her penguins. Yes, there's also my human Mikki - but she should be there because she, too, is practically perfect in every way. As I write this, she is working on a new Netbook PC she has bought so that I can continue with this Blog while we are away from home. Isn't she kind?


Yes, it is less than 2 weeks until we will be in Bay Lake Tower at Walt Disney World Resort. Prrrrr.



.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas



Merry Christmas (or, if you prefer, Happy Holidys) to everyone: to all my friends, to everyone who likes going to Disney parks as much as I do (about 3 weeks to go) and to everyone else too. "Tis the season to be jolly" . . . and get lots of cuddles.

It is Christmas Day and the picture is of me during our Christmas lunch. There were only 3 humans with me at the table this year: Andrew and Mikki and Andrew's mother. They sat on either side of the table and I am standing next to the end. I like to think that means I was at the head of the table, not just standing by the window.

Yes, there is some snow on the garden in the background. It has not snowed here today but there is still a little "white" in our Christmas. I hope all those who have far too much snow at the moment get through OK. I'm just glad that toy cats don't need to go outside! I think my humans may also be glad that toy cats don't shred Christmas decorations. Look where they put me!

Happy Christmas

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Christmas is Coming (3) - and so is my holiday

Today we heard of the sad passing of Roy E. Disney, the last of the family to have a leading role in the Disney company. We offer sympathy to his family and good luck for their future and for the company that shares his name. Where would I be without the Disneys?!
I know some people in the USA read this Blog, so for them my title is, "The Holidays are coming - and so is my vacation.

My picture is of two pencil drwings that go up during the Christmas (Holiday) season. We have quite a few of these drawings and they can't all be on view all the year. The one on the left (my right) has the theme, "The Night Before Christmas" and the one on the right is of Mickey Mouse decorating the Steamboat. Both were drawn by Lindy, who used to work in the Studios in the late 1990s. She also did a very good one of Figaro. Of course, she didn't depart from the approved design but she did shade in the balck fur a lot more than many of the artists.
Come to think of it, that picture of Figaro is one that not on the wall at the moment. Perhaps I can persuade the humans they can put up a few more pictures!
We have also been preparing for our trip to Florida. The bad news for me is that this has meant I had to have a bath. If you've seen "Bath Day", you know Figaro doesn't like his bath (yes, he's a toon actor playing a role but in this respect I am sure it is true). The humans say I am getting grey (gray) and have to be cleaned. Well, I am the most senior of all the toy Figaros is the house and I do get a lot more cuddles than almost all of them so I should expect to get a little worn. At least my humans don't spray me with perfume like Minnie Mouse did to Figaro in the film. Anyway, this picture was taken before the bath but now it is over and the humans say I look a lot better. I am certainly glad it is over.
What's that, Mikki? I feel softer after my bath too? Yes, I'm getting a hug!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas is Coming (2)


We watched "Mickey's Twice Upon a Chlristmas" last night. We saw the chaos Pluto get over-enthusiastic about putting the star on the Christmas tree. He wrecked Mickey's decorations. I strongly recommend this short feature to anyone who still thinks real animals about the house are better than toy ones. It did remind me it was time to tell you some more about our own decorations.
Outside, we have one large illuminated snowflake. It's lights flash - sometimes faster and sometimes slower. If my humans remember to shut the gate it is on, then it is visible along the private drive and can be seen by anyone who comes to any of the 3 houses on the drive. This year, we have added an illuminated snowman standing beside our front door. We think that's enough. The Osbornes we are not - and have no wish to be.
Inside, we have raised the Christmas tree. It's an artificial one: black in colour. My Mikki decorates it very well, with lights, lots of baubles (many "mouse head" shaped) and white tinsel. Unlike Mickey, we don't have a star on top: we have a Christmas fairy. And you probably didn't need my picture to guess which under-dressed pixie casts herself for that role. She even has some baubles with her on too. Oh yes, there are a couple of hanging ornaments of a smart little black and white kitten too!
As well as the couple in my previous picture, there are several plush toys who come out at Christmas. Most are Mickey in various seasonal costumes but there is one Minnie and one more Pluto - this one has reindeer horns. There are, of course, no Figaros who come out for Christmas. I have things arranged so that these days none of my namesakes are in st***ge.
Speaking of reindeer horns, on Friday night the humans joined others carol singing round the village. Mikki wore a red Santa Claus coat over her warm coat and Andrew put on reindeer horns and a flashing red nose. I think they had a good time (they came back from the pub late enough). I didn't go: it was cold out.
Christmas is approaching and we are getting in the mood. Prrrr Prrrr.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Swindon Magic

My humans have been to Swindon - the newly announced "twin" of Walt Disney World. It was a long time ago - so long that I wasn't with them - so there's no pictures. This post is based on what they can remember.

It was December when my humans spent a weekend in Swindon. It was snowing. In England, this means it is cold. It is not like Blizzard Beach. It also means that the roads are iced up and all the public services grind to a halt. In southern England people act like snow is as much of a surprise as it would be in Florida even though Swindon is further north than Canadian cities like Toronto and Montreal. My humans went to Swindon to a conference but many of the people who were due to go couldn't get there.

I think there was a time when towns "twinned" with places that were similar. I don't think this is always the case now. I hope not. I plan to go to Walt Disney World in January and I do not want it to be frozen up.

My humans travelled to Swindon by train. Swindon is on the main line west from London into Wales. Swindon used to be the centre for engineering for the company that built the line, the Great Western.Railway. The original line was famous for how straight it was - not just going round and round in circles like the train at the Magic Kingdom. The open sided carriages are also great fun in Florida but my humans were jolly glad they are not used in British trains. A lot of the carriages have been replaced in the years since my humans' trip to Swindon. That's good because their memory is that it was a cold weekend and the heating was not very good.

Talking of things going round in circles brings me to one of Swindon's most famous current "attractions" - the Magic Roundabut. The television reported that part of Swindon's bid to "twin" with WDW was a poem comparing this traffic system to Fantasyland's teacups ride. If so, I guess Swindon's "Mad Hatter" must have been the road planner who invented it. Now, Americans are said to be famous for getting confused by any roundabout so welcome to one that confuses lots of British people when they arrive at it for the first time (and often for several times after that). There is one large roundabout with 5 small roundabouts connected to it. I think the "Magic Roundabout" is supposed to be like the teacups because different bits have traffic that goes round in different dirctions. I'm a toy and you all know toys don't drive cars (or pizza delivery trucks or airport baggage tractors).

Neither I nor my humans know what either the people of Swindon or the Disney company want or expect from their "twinning" but in all seriousness I wish them well. I think one of Swindon's competitors was Lincoln - our county town. Lincoln has a real castle that was the scene of battles over 800 years ago. I dare say the people of Swindon could have made fun of Lincooln's differences from WDW too.

Now I just looking forward to Chirstmas, the new year, and my next trip.

Prrrrrr.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Christmas is coming


It's December and Christmas is on the way. My humans have started to get out the CDs of Christmas carols and we have already been to the Post Office to send our first card (to Australia). This means the humans have now written the Christmas letter they send out with their cards. There's a lot of news about Bermuda this year. I suppose I shall have to forgive them that there seems to be no mention of their favourite toy cat! The cards to the USA and Canada will have to go next week.

We haven't put up any decorations yet but my humans did get several boxes of Christmas things out of their loft when they were up there yesterday looking for something else. The two characters with me in the picture were first to get out of the boxes. You may be able to see that Mickey Mouse has been with us since 1999. Pluto is a little newer. Mickey is very cute (isn't he always). He is always offering people the candy cane in his sack but he always sems to have one left in it. My Mikki seems to like Pluto too. I suppose he's all right. He is a Disney character even though he is a. . . d-o-g.

You won't need me to tell you they are not the only Disney characters in our Christmas things but they were the most pushy - refusing to stay in st***ge any longer. So I had to go and have a chat to them to remind them just who is No. 1 in this house.

OK, it's quite exciting really to start getting ready for the celebrations. I shall have to post a few more pictures as things get going.

Prrrrr.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Toys, Cartoons and Animated Characters

My humans continue to tease me lots.

For the last few days, they have been comparing me to a cartoon cat who seems to be taking over the Internet (Simon's cat). The cat has a little moving cartoon where he goes to a lot of effort to wake his human and then points to his mouth to demand food. This cartoon has also been shown on breakfast television. Andrew grew up with real cats so claimed this was very realistic. I said this was yet another reason to prefer toy cats: we don't demand food all the time.

But today my humans wanted to get up and Andrew slept through the first alarm. Now they blame me for not waking them! They have had a couple of late nights recently and they can hardly blame me for that! Toy cats don't stay out all night either!

Simon's cat may do cat-like things but he's still just an outline cartoon. For the most part, Disney are very clear that their characters are not "cartoons", they are "animated characters" ("Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" is artistic licence). Dumbo wasn't just an elephant and the seven dwarfs weren't just dwarfs: they each had their individual personalities. So, if you want to see a cat with unique character being lively in the morning when someone else wants to sleep, have a look at "Cat Nap Pluto". Please remember, however, that the cat character concerned was just acting a part for Mr Disney and is really a very sweet, good natured kitty who deserves a cuddle.

And I'm just joking about the humans teasing me. What it really means is that they are paying attention . . . and that my place on the bed remains unchallenged.

Prrrrr.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Character 9 - Elastigirl



I wasn't sure whether to have another character picture yet but my humans were going through some picture of me and I saw this one. I couldn't resist her: Elastigirl, Mrs Incredible, Helen Parr or whatever you call her.

She was really nice to me. Look how she is stroking my head and holding me close. And of course it helped that she could reach across from the far side of the room to pick me up!


This picture was taken in the animation section of the Disney Studios park. I think this was one of those times when the Incredibles were just waiting in a corner of the room - not occupying the main "character greeting" area. That meant there was not so much of a line.


I hear Disney are now doing a "Toy Story 3". Surely it can't be stretching things too much to have "Incredibles 2"? Let me think. Several years have passed; the kids are leaving home; Mr and Mrs Incredible feel lonely and adopt a "super" pet - a black and white cat. Sounds good so far.


Prrrrr.

Monday, 16 November 2009

I'm Still Here


I have to aoplogise for being away but we have been having problems with computers that my humans couldn't solve very easily. They even had a professional engineer come in and tinker inside the box. It turned out it was just the monitor screen (the box was working fine - but the engineer charged them anyway). Of course, they never asked me for help. Serves them right. Anyway, we have now bought a new monitor and I can start catching up with what has been happening.

At the end of October we had Halloween. The humans held a party - as they did last year - and spend a lot of time decorating the house inside and out. The house name was changed to "Haunted House" and there were giant images of skulls with red eyes staring out the windows. One room was converted to a dungeon with a grim stone wall and a skeleton hanging in a metal cage. There were lots of spiders and one witches' cauldron bubbling mist across the living room. I was glad I stayed upstairs. I had to be firm with the humans. Neither I nor any of my fellow Figaros were dressing up as a black cat.

Quite a lot of local friends came and many dressed up. Perhaps it was one of the witches who came who put a hex on the computer. We were supposed to have a boy wizard (see photo) but he didn't sort things out either. Did he have any useful spells ("computus reparo"?). He's not a Disney character.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

A Real Star


My Mikki still won't allow me to tell you (more than I already have) about the cousins and brothers who live with me and her competition about me in Disney parks is continuing. So, I thought today I would post a picture of me not in a Disney park. This is me somewhere near 6925 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California.

You will notice a few things about this picture.

First, the humans are making me stand on the pavement (sidewalk). I much prefer the pictures I have in the parks where another Disney character holds me up and gives me a cuddle. On the sidewalk I might get dirty - and I might get stolen by a passing tourist (there were lots about). I know the human whose legs are in the picture would claim he was staying close to protect me but some people would say he was just spoiling the composition (couldn't you airbrush him out in "post production"?).

Second, the star is upside down as seen my me so I can't read who is celebrated here. The shot has been set up for the benefit of the audience who will see the pcture. I don't mind: it's just another example of what we stars do for our fans. Oh, and Andrew had been holding me when we found the star so I knew it was Mickey's.

This picture was taken in 2005. We also found stars for Donald Duck, Walt and Roy O Disney (I think Walt has 2), Snow White and the Sherman Brothers. I don't know if the Disneyland one was there yet but if it was we didn't know about it so didn't look for it. We shall have to go back one day. Now, wouldn't it be nice if my character was famous enough to have a star of his own?

Welcome to Hollywood. What's your dream? A real star please.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Good Homes Needed


I hear that there are people out there in cyberland looking for the other Figaros - my brothers and cousins - who live with me. I put one family picture on this Blog but we have an addition to the family since then (he's on the Blog too). In fact, we all got together on the sofa a few days ago and Andrew took a new group portrait but Mikki has banned me from posting it just yet. I will tell you that there is more useful quiz information about "our Figaros" available in cyberspace than that found on my blog!

So here is a picture of me with other Figaros taken in Walt Disney World in 2007. All these "cousins" are of the "Disney's Tote a Toy" type that was in the stores then and was still there when we last visitied in 2008. And yes, you are right: this was another example of my humans teasing me by putting me on a shelf in a store with other toys that had not yet been bought. At least they were quite quick about taking the picture and watched over me carefully so nobody could take me thinking I was for sale. Oh, the things we stars do for a good show!

I am sure these particular toys have found homes with humans by now but you know how it is, if your rescue one toy from the shop another is put in its place. I am sure there are plenty there noa and they all need good homes.

Yes, of course we have one of this design of Figaro in our family (but not one of the ones in the picture). We call him "Fancy Figaro" (or just "Fancy") because of the sparkly glittering gold dots about his fur. They look very striking on the fur but we are not so sure about the more regular spots on his nose. If there is a "gold spot disease" going round, none of the rest of us have caught it back here in England yet.

Talk to you again soon.

Figaro the Toy Cat

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Art if Retiring


Not all the great personalities of Walt Disney World are "characters" in the animated sense. If you were lucky when you visited the Beach Club (or passed through the lobby often enough) you could meet Art. I met him several times - either when we were staying at DVC at Beach Club Villas or "just passing through". This picture was taken in December last year. Art was great fun and really nice to me - but I think he was really nice to everybody. I know lots of our friends have also told us how much they enjoyed meeting him.
Now the Disney Parks Blog reports that Art is to retire. Mickey Mouse never looks any older but even in Walt Disney World humans (apart from Peter Pan) have to grow up.
Disney likes to think of its jobs as acting roles and they call their staff "cast members". However, the best are often those who depart a little from the script and allow their own individuality to make things extra special for the people they meet. I suspect this can take more courage than Disney like to admit (that's just how it is in large corporations). Over the years, we've met a few of these special people. They are definitely in our list of top memorable experiences and I think I should mention more in future posts on my Blog (Neil - first met at Mama Melrose and most recently seen at Tusker House is probably top of the list). Today, however, is Art's day. My humans and I wish him all the joy he brought us and others.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Characters 8 - Woody


A couple of evenings ago, my humans couldn't find anything they wanted to watch on the tv. We have several hundred channels of sattelite tv so you will realise this happens quite a lot of the time. They did what they often do in this situation - turn to the "Kids" section and look up "Disney Cinemagaque". They caught the last quarter hour of "Toy Story 2". After that, they could get out our DVD and watch the whole movie.

So here is a picture of me with the "rooten-tootenest cowboy of all time". I've met him a few times and also Buzz, Jessie and Bullseye. This shot was taken at "Al's Toy Barn" when it was in the Studios but the Round-Up Gang have also been in the Magic Kingdom. Bullseye couldn't hold me so I haven't had a cuddle from him. I don't think I have seen the Prospector in the parks - but would you want a cuddle from "Stinky Pete"?

Sheriff Woody, his friend Buzz and all the others in Andy's room have a lot to answer for when they told the world what we toys get up to when our humans aren't looking. However, they all seemed nice when I have met them in Walt Disney World.


By the way, the next night we didn't need to resort to DVDs or the Kids channels. "Pretty Woman" was on one of the regular sattelite film channels. And the night after that we had the Disney Pixar feature on "The South Bank Show" (a couple of clips from Pinocchio but no kitten).

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

My humans tease me so much

Sometimes, I think my humans are really mean to me. I've had them in the house so long now that I should be accustomed to their jokes and teasing, but once in a while they still get to me.

Every morning, my humans have coffee in bed before they get up. It's worrying enough for their toys that they might spill the coffee but they keep making jokes as well (well, they think they're funny). They have two cups of coffee each and they think it is funny to ask me to go and get the second one for them. Of course, I can do that in a sort of managerial way. I delegate execution (the trip to the kitchen) to Andrew and in the best traditions of managers everywhere I take full credit for everything that goes right and blame him for everything that goes wrong. Well, today, I actually went downstairs with him and presented Mikki with her second cup holding the handle in my paws. What did she do? She complained that I wasn't carrying his cup as well!

Hardly had I done that than they started asking when anyone was having their next bath. Now everyone knows how much Figaro liked his "Bath Night" so I realised we were just starting a "let's tease the toys" session.

Next they talked about the competition Mikki is running on one of the discussion boards with pictures of me. She has been getting a lot more entries than the last time she ran one of these. She's just had a couple of pictures from Disneyland Paris. One of the sad things about Disneyland Paris is that people don't queue (stand in line) for pictures with characters. You just have to push your way in. One of the quiz pictures was from the time Geppetto saw me and he was the one who pushed all the other people aside to get to me and give me a cuddle. Anyway, the humans started to talk about what prize they would give. I'm not going into details but just let me make one thing clear. I love all my fans very much and so do all my brothers and cousins who live in our guest room. But I'm not going to break up the family for you and I'm sure you wouldn't want me to.

I know the humans are only teasing me when they say silly things but sometimes I wonder why I put up with it all. Would anyone like one of them as a quiz prize? Oh yes, I remember now. For the cuddles. Prrrrr.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Character 7 - Minnie Mouse and a Quiz



I do like having my picture taken with other Disney characters in Walt Disney World. Here you can see me with Minnie Mouse. The humans were with me (you can see Andrew and a bit of Mikki in the picture) but claimed they couldn't see Minnie at the time. I bet they admit they can see her now. And if they thought she wasn't there, who were tney making room for on the bench?



Mikki has been asked to do a little quiz for one of the discussion boards and she has asked me to help so I have let her have some of my pictures with charactes. She is calling the quiz, "Figaro's Frolics". People have to say who the other character is; which film that character appeared in; and which park the photograph was taken in. We want to make some questions easier than others but I'm not allowing her to use any pictures I have used on the Blog. This one would be a bit too easy for who the character is but a bit complicated for the film. I think all the characters Mikki is using in her quiz appeared in animated features. Minnie Mouse appeared in so many shorts films (including several with Figaro). She was in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" but I don't think that counts as a "proper" aminated feature. Nor do featurettes like "Mickey's Chistmas Carol" and "Prince and Pauper" or movies made for video like "Three Musketeers". Oh, gosh, it is complicated. Have I given away that "Minnie Mouse" is not the answer to any of the questions?

As for which park this picture was taken in, that isn't the easiest it could be but it isn't that difficult for anyone who knows that Disney imagineers make the benches an important part of their theming. In the Magic Kingdom, you can usually tell by the benches not just which park you are in but which land you are in too. Time was when the colours of the waste bins were just as cleverly done but I fear the bean counters have caused a bit of a retreat on that! This is the Studios.

By the way, my Mikki is now counting down the days until our next visit. Her current projects are working out what car hire we will need and checking out the best flights for our "weekend away" in Bermuda.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Back to Disney


At last! Those darned humans have finished talking about Bermuda and I can get back to thinking about my next trip to Walt Disney World.

Take this morning. We were all lying in bed when one of the humans asked, "Why do people want to go on holiday when they can just lie in bed cuddling?". This was double perplexing for me. For one thing, I wasn't getting cuddled at the time. For another, the answer was easy. We go on holiday (vacation) so I can have my picture taken and can play "commander cat" on Mission Space. Oh, yes, and there is so much more. And it's not all about me: I let the humans go on Soarin and Big Thumder Mountain and Peter Pan and . . . .

So here is a picture of me with some of my cousins in front of Cinderella Castle. You can see we had to sit on the trash can but they keep those so clean in Disney World that we didn't mind.. Just look at that lovely blue sky and imagine how warm it will be when we next go back. OK, it will be January and it isn't always very warm in January (unless you mean warm compared to England or most of the rest of North America). But that's not the point. It's vacation time, and it's Walt Disney World and everything will be magical. And we will be staying at Bay Lake Towers and at Kidani Village so there will be lots of new places for me to have my picture taken; and we can go and meet Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and Tinker Bell and her friends and whatever new characters they have behind the Animation Gallery at the Studios; and I can have cuddles and ... and ..., oh! Prrr, Prrr.

And a lot of things will be the same as ever. The picture was taken a few years ago but Cinderella Castle will still be there at the end of Main Street. Oh did I mention we can ride on the Main Street trolley and if we are lucky the Dapper Dans will come and sing to us while we do it. And the humans can have cakes at the Bakery (keep your sticky fingers off me until you have cleaned them please) and ... and... .
Gosh, it's less than 4 months away.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Swimming: Bermuda style


The day after the wedding, my humans went out on a boat. That means going out to sea - where there is lots and lots of water and a toy cat could very easily get lost. I was very happy to stay in our hotel room but I thought I should tell you about it as my final post about our trip to the island.

So, I haven't seen the boat but it sounds like it is a beauty. It has just been bought by my Mikki's sister and her husband. It has lots of special features for fishing (which please him) and lovely cabins below (which please her). Please remember that toys of toon cats don't eat real fish. If I want to know what toon Figaro thinks of sea fishing, I'll go and watch Pinocchio: the scene inside Monstro!

It's ths swimming that my humans enjoyed. What you do is this. On a Sunday, you take your boat out, well stoccked with food and drink. You find a calm bay and join a group of friends in other boats where you tie your boats together, side by side. Then you all go off the stern of your boats and laze about in the water like you can see my Mikki and her brother doing in the picture. Yes, this is the man who was married the day before.

As you can probably guess, it was a very relaxing afternoon. Lots of adults bobbed about on floatation devices ("noodles") and drank wine or beer. There were some children but they went off on their own in an inflatable dinghy and did more sensible, active things. Mikki stayed in the water longer than she realised (and caught more sun than she intended too), but did enjoy herself a lot. If you want to go swimming (or floating) in the sea, Bermuda has very clear advantages over England.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Wedding in Bermuda


We have been busy for a few days again. Well, the humans have been busy. Can you believe they even went away for two nights and left me behind? Yes, I had the run of the house but it's not the same. I have had a few strong words with them! Anyway, I can now catch up with my news. First, here is some more about Bermuda.

Mikki's brother was married in August. I think I've shown you a picture of the place where the ceremony was to take place, so here is one taken on the day. No, this is not the Bride and Groom - although it is taken under the moon gate where they exchanged vows. It is of my humans. And yes, you will notice that, again, I am not in the picture. Well, somebody had to hold the camera (actually, that wasn't me either). There were lots of beautiful official photos taken and I think they may be on the web somewhere soon and I don't want to be accused of anticipating things.

You can see it was a lovely day in every way. The ceremony was delightful - and very relaxed by English standatds. My Mikki was specially impressed by the bit where the Minister presents the husband and wife to the assembled guests after they have signed the registers. She thought it was a lovely idea and one she is not used to in England. The food was tasty and the drink was generous. The weather was perfect. We had a canopy shading us from the sun. As the sun set, we all rushed to get more photos like the one on this post. Later, the humans had a disco and everyone enjoyed themselves some more. We were also lucky that Hurricane Bill didn't come past until the following week!

It was a very special occasion.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Lovey Time in Bermuda


Yes, I am back home from my trip to Bermuda. It was a great trip (Mikki even gave me a cuddle on the flight out) and we all had a lovely time. There's so much to tell that I expect to need several posts. I'll start with the super hotel we stayed in - which is where I spent most of my time - and the very hot weather.

I mention the weather because there's been quite a change since we got back. I started writing this as the wind blew here and the rain beat down on the roof. They say it is the remnants of Hurricane Bill. Bill was due to go past Bermuda last Saturday - and we left on Wednesday evening. The prediction then was that wind speeds would only get up to 60mph (only!). I hope everything was OK for Mikki's family's houses and boats but most of the family are off the island too so we have no direct news. Mikki's sister and father have gone to Canada and her brother is on his honeymoon in Europe. The wedding is one of the things I'll have to tell you about in another post.

So, back to the sunshine and the hotel. In the picture, I am sitting on the balcony of our room so you can get an idea of the view we had. The hotel rooms were all in low blocks dotted about a hillside so I think they all had good views. Mikki may have been right that we had a good room because it was also convieient for all the hotel facilities but that didn't bother me. I didn't need the restaurant or bar.

The weather was hot. We were all glad that the hotel had good air conditioning. The humans used to come into our room in the afternoon or evening and collapse (good chance for another cuddle). The hotel also had two cool dark caves. They were also damp, so I didn't like going there. We were told that was also what had spoiled the management's idea of setting up a night club in one of them. As it was, there were some clever flat areas includng one that looked like a stage. Mikki went swimming in the other cave. Everyone who swam there agreed it was cold! I stayed well clear of all that water and I think even Mikki preferred swimming in the pool with the bar at the edge and the bar stools in the water!

The humans also liked the frozen daiquiries at the pool-side bar (non-alcoholic version preferred). I got more concerned about the large black cat that wandered about there. He didn't look very welcoming to other cats like me. When he started scratching Andrew's chair, even he decided to move to another table.

I think tht's enough for today. Nice to be home.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Nearly Ready


Mikki has finally allowed me to talk about it: we are off to Bermuda again. This trip is for her brother's wedding.

I have just been reading my old post about our visit in March. All I said was that my human Mikki was visiting a family she didn't know she had. Well, you can guess there is a lot more to tell. Mikki was adopted as a baby and the family in Bermuda is her birth family. They hunted her out and the first contact was around Christmas. The big - and wonderful - surprise was that after Mikki was born her father and mother got back together and married so the sister and brother she has in Bermuda are full blood relatives. And the brother is geting married in a week's time.

In March, we stayed with Mikki's sister. She has a lovely house, only slightly spoiled by having a - real alive - cat and dog. Fortunately, Mikki's sister has them permanently banned from the guest bedroom, so it wasn't too worrying for me! This time we are taking a package trip to a hotel because there will be a lot of family visiting the island.

The hotel looks very nice and is actually just across the road from Mikki's sister's house. The hotel is on the beach and also has pools and other facilities. Most interesting, it has a cavern you can visit and sit or swim in it. We are all thinking that might be nice and cool this trip.

Well, you may have guessed that we have all been very busy in the last few days getting ready. The humans are trying to travel light (they always say that but this time they may mean it). The trip will be much shorter than our usual ones to Walt Disney World and they think they can be confident they will not need many warm clothes in Bermuda in August. Of course, they will need their special smart outfits for the wedding. However, I think it was unkind and unfair to suggest that they might try saving weight by not taking me! I try to get used to them teasing me but for a moment I almost thought they were being serious.

Mikki's sister has two young daughters. Mikki feels she has a lot of spoiling to catch up on, so there will (again) be a lot of presents in the luggage (mostly Disney of course: the older daughter is into Hannah Montana). In March, they even got a black and white plush cat (a brother of my cousen "long tail"). I will have to check that he is still all right.

So, to the picture. This is a picture we took in March of the place where the marriage ceremony will take place. Apparently the moon gate is considered to bring good luck so the bride and groom will exchange vows under it. I guess there will be a lot more people there then than there are on the photo.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Characters 6 - Silvermist


I'm still looking forward to my next Disney trip and so I thought it was time to remember the last visit again - and especially those sweet Disney Fairies we met.

We met Silvermist during an evening party at the Magic Kingdon. We thought the special event might make the line for the Fairies a little shorter. Well, it may have done, but they were still popular. It was worth the wait. Even the line was fun, especially the shrinking woods. Silvermist was the first one to greet us as we got into Pixie Hollow. This time I have my humans with me in the photo. I had a look but don't seem to have any of just me with Silvermist - can't think how that happened! I can remember she was very kind and attentive - but not quite as attentive as Tinker Bell was with Andrew when she saw he was wearing a light up pin of her!! Have I got a picture of that? Perhaps another time.

Meanwhile, back here at home, the humans are sorting through boxes of Disneyana they have in the garage. I am pleased to see some has come out to be displayed in a cabinet they have acquired from Andrew's mother. She was moving to a smaller flat (apartment). I am not sure I want to know or think about what is going to happen to the rest. For some reason I can't explain, Andrew has got it into his head that they don't have to fill the house with more and more ornaments and pictures. Well, I suppose that may be right - that way there is more room for the toys.

Love to everyone from Figaro the toy cat

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Among the Flowers


There has been some warm, sunny weather so I asked my humans to take me out to enjoy the graden. Usually this means I get to sit with the humans on a comfy garden chair getting a cuddle but this time they took me to have a picture taken with pretty flowers. I like flowers. I do not destroy them. My character may be a cartoon cat but not all cartoon cats act like Garfield!

Mikki tried telling me I could stand on the ground and that the earth was clean. I am not taken in that easily. I had Andrew hold me.

These are dahlias. They are especially pretty. The flower throughout the summer and you can keep them over the winter and re-plant them (as Mikki has done this year). I have been told this variety of dahlia may be better known in the US than in the UK. Its name? Let me think. Oh yes, Figaro.

Today, it's raining so I am back in the house writing my Blog. Can I have my cuddle now, please?

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Characters 5 - Geppetto


I thought it was time to see me with another Disney character. This time it is Geppetto. I always like seeing Geppetto and I think he likes me too. After all, Geppetto the wood carver made Figaro his own little wooden bed but didn't seem to mind when Figaro moved to Geppetto's bed after opening the window.

For one thing, Geppetto always knows who I am. This picture was taken a couple of years ago in Walt Disney World and I notice I am wearing my name badge. Geppetto would not have needed it.

Geppetto reminds me of one of the differences between Disney parks in the USA and Paris. In the USA, we all get in line to meet characters like Geppetto. In France, they laugh at people who do that (i.e. Brits and Americans). There is a crowd of childen round a popular character and they push their way to the front as best they can. It was lucky for my humans that they had me with them when they met Geppetto in Paris. As soon as he saw me, he was the one who pushed through the children to get to me! It's nice to be famous and popular.

Prrrr.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Great Fete

Our village had its Great Fete last Saturday. I didn't go because the humans were very busy and might not have had time to cuddle me - or even to watch I was safe. There were lots of things that worry me - like sticky cakes and ice creams and children. Still, I am a little sorry I wasn't there because it was a great success. There were lots of people, lots of fun and lots of money was raised to help with the restoration of the church building. The church building is very old - and I mean what British and other European people call "old": hundreds of years.

I have no picture for this post - but I have something better. Mikki make a video and put it on "YouTube". Try going to "YouTube" and doing a seach for "Beckingham village fete". The highlight is "The Red Arrows", the RAF aerobatic team, flying over in formation leaving smoke. They agreed specially to fly over our Fete on their way to salute the Queen on her Birthday Parade.

I must explain some background. The traditioal English village (like ours) has a church and a large house next to it for the vicar or (as in our case) rector(and No, I don't know the difference: I'm a toy cat). So the traditional Church Fete used the grounds of the house (the Rectory). Well, the Church of England does not have as many clergy as it used to. One person now serves several parishes and a lot of the old houses have been sold. So now you need to have someone living in the Old Rectory who will allow their garden to be used for a Fete - and this year we do. The ownsers of the house were also very active in the organisation. Someone said this is the first such Fete in the village since the 1950s - which is quite a long time ago in itself.

There were lots of other villagers working on the Fete but my humans did their bit. Mikki sent publicity messages to local newspapers and radio stations as well as making some of the posters. Andrew made signs for the day for the various stalls, car parks and so on. On the day they joined with some neighbours selling general donated items. A lot came from Andrew's mother - who is about to move flat (apartment). There were absolutely no cuddly toys from this family - and I don't like to be reminded that someone else did give some.

The Fete raised over £2,000. That's very good for a small village like ours. It may not sound much when you have a church to restore but fortunately there is a national body called English Heritage that is giving a lot of money.

Oh - just one other bit of really good news. Mikki has booked the first few days of our WDW holiday (vacation) in January. We will be in Bay Lake Tower. So look out for your favourite kitten having his picture taken there.

My humans are worn out. Time for a cuddle.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Tennis Season


Mikki likes tennis a lot. She likes to play and she likes to watch. So she is very busy at this time of year. She is a member of 3 tennis clubs (and on the committee of two of them). Most weeks, she plays several times a week. She also plays for club teams. She hasn't (yet) ended up playing against herself!

It is also tennis season on television. For the last couple of weeks it has been the French Open. Satellite channels and "red button" give Mikki lots of choice. I think she watched Roger Federer's semi-final 3 times over. She was very pleased he won and made lots of knowledgeable comments about his play (well, they sounded knowledgeable to me).

The French Open is played on clay. Mikki doesn't like playing on the clay surface - which is not very popular in England. She thinks it is slow - and you get your clothes dirty! Mikki is amused that when there is a challenge in the big matches on clay, the umpire gets down from his chair and looks at the marks on the court. How does he know which is the right one? She never understood why Disney seemed so proud of how many clay courts they have at Walt Disney World. Do you remember when they used to mention it specially in the monorail commentary?

This week it's grass court season and preparations for Wimbledon. Mikki has tickets and will be going. Of course, we used to live there but my humans don't miss it much. There is only one thing Mikki says she misses. When she is away and people ask her where she normally plays tennis, she can not answer, "Wimbledon".

Well, of course I had to add a picture of my Mikki playing tennis in Florida. Yes, this is one I have played with electronically so it looks like she really can be everyone on the court at once. In fact, she was getting coaching at the time - which is why she wanted some photographs taking to check her action. The people she plays against now know she keeps in form even when she goes away on holiday (vacation).

And talking about holidays, here is the really good news. When not playing tennis - or preparing for the village fete on Saturday - Mikki has booked some flights to Florida. We are all going to be there again in January 2010.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Another Holiday Weekend


Just a few odds and ends of what has been happening since I last posted on my Blog.

It's been a Holiday weekend. My humans tell me that in the USA it is "Memorial Day" when everyone remembers the contribution of people who serve in the armed forces. In England it is "Bank Holiday". I'm just a toy cat so I don't pretend to understand why the British make it a public holiday just because the banks are closed. If the banks closing was a reason for celebration, you would have thought everyone here would have been very happy over the last year. But then, I'm, just a toy cat - and I am getting off the point of what I have been up to recently.

My humans had two nights away seeing Andrew's mother - who is moving flat (apartment). There are lot of things to sort through!! Andrew's mother has a Figaro toy too. She has one of Floppy cat's brothers and I like to visit and see how he is. For some reason I don't know, Andrew's mother has named him "Mischief". I am sure he doesn't do anythig naughty to deserve that or break any rules. Most of the time he just lies along the back of her sofa. He is rather cleaner and softer than Floppy. I suspect he doesn't get as many cuddles.

We also celebrated Andrew's brother's birthday at the weekend. The whole family of humans went to a nice restaurant for lunch. They didn't take me even though the restaurant specialises in fish. Only joking, I am a toy: I don't eat.

I am not sure whether he would want me to say how old he is on the internet: it was one of those birthdays with a "0" at the end. Let's just say he is still younger than my character (70 this year, isn't it?).

Another feature of Bank Holidays in England is that the main tv company (the BBC) seems to hand over a lot of its air time to the Walt Disney Company. The main channel shows "Freaky Friday" followed by "National Treasure" while the second channel has just shown "The Moon Spinners". I still miss the old "Disney Time" shows when you would get clips of really great movies - like the one of a wooden boy setting off to his first day at school while a certain little black and white cat played round his feet.

Then, there has been sadness in the house over the holiday too. We were all sorry to hear that The Mouse has lost his voice. Wayne Allwine was like so many people at the Disney studio. His name may not have been known to many but his contribution to the happiness in the world was immense.

So my picture is of the original "Speak for Mickey" statue from the "Mickey InspEARations" set. My Mikki has a miniature but this is the big one. The 75 statues were created for Mickey's 75th birthday and we saw them outside the Magic Kingdom in December 2003. The decoration of this statue celebrates Mickey's first voice - that of Walt Disney himself. It was designed by the (then) current voices of Mickey and Minnie. If you can't read it on the photo, it says "I speak for Mickey and Mickey speaks for me: Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor".

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Welcome Big Fig


Here he is: the latest addition to our family of Figaros. He was rushed over freom someone who bought him in a Disney Store in the USA. Like "Long Tail", he has a patch sewn onto him saying he is a "Disney Store Exclusive". It's on his back left leg so you can't see it in the picture.

He is very soft and - yes - he is big. I like being in pictures but I am not sure I wanted to be in this one next to him. I am standing up and he is lying down but still as tall as me. His head seems especially large but we are too kind to make any comments about that. After all, we are all cute, adorable Disney characters so our heads are larger than life in proportion to our bodies and our eyes are larger than life in proportion to our heads. This new one's eyes are as big as my paws (yes, I did test it but I didn't hurt him really).

He also has a tale that manages to be soft and stand up at the same time. I suppose those Disney designers are getting cleverer and cleverer over the years.

Mikki has named my new cousin "Big Fig". I am not sure she isn't getting a little less imaginative with her names, but I'm sure he will get to like it here soon. He is new. His fur is fluffy, his black is very black and his white is very clean and white. I point out to him that if he wants to stay that way he will have to avoid getting cuddled (all the more for me).

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Characters 4 - Tigger


It's time to remember another character I met in Walt Disney World. This time, it's Tigger.

Tigger is very friendly and nice. He is an animal from the cat family - and he is also based on a toy! Those both seem to me to be positive characteristics.

This picture was taken at breakfast at Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom. I like going to meals with characters because of the chance to get pictures without having to stand in line. I do get just a little worried at some of the meals when the humans put me on the table with all their food and drinks. They haven't got me messy yet: I just get nervous. Fortunately, Crystal Palace has larger tables than some restaurants. The characters must also get a bit nervous as they go round tables while guests are moving about with plates of food. That probably explains why Tigger isn't as "bouncy" as he could be. As you can see, he was very gentle with me.

This was on a Saturday morning last December. We were up early because we wanted to get to Crystal Palace at 8.00 a.m. to meet some friends in time for the booking. One of our party was actually the very first guest to be let into the park that day.

Because we got in early, we were also able to get some lovely pictures of Main Street, Cinderella Castle and the Hub with no other people there. Actually, there must have been some other people there because one of the pictures has both my humans in it. It must have been a cool day too: they are wearing sweaters.

It's a good thing I get on so well with other cats who are bigger than me. And that will probably be my next post. The latest member of the Figaro family has arrived sooner than expected - and he is big!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Family Photograph


My humans have a web site. It is out of date. Around Christmas time and New Year, they tell friends that this year they are going to update it. And the next year they say that, no really, this year . . . ..

Well, I think it's time to give you some news. This year (2009) they have been doing some work on the web site. The main work so far has been to gather together all us toy Figaro plushes for a family photograph. Andrew collects us all up; carries us to a comfy sofa; poses us nicely; takes some photographs from different angles and with different lighting conditions; and takes us all back to our places. Then he gets on with other things while Mikki sees a new "Figaro" plush on "eBay". So a couple of months later we all have to pose again. It's all go when you're a star.

So here is the latest picture - but one that will probably never make it to the web. There will be another "cousin" for me on the way next month (June).

You don't need to count. There are 20 toy cats in the picture. Most are different (if only a little). They are all Figaro but they are all little individuals - and all of them except me have another name (like Softy, Floppy, Happy, Oscar or Long Tail). For the web site Andrew does a version of the picture with numbers on it and our names on the page beneath the picture. Naturally, I am "No. 1" And I have the centre spot in the group.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I can't complain - and my humans hate doing it


Do you complain? I can't of course - well not without breaking a few rules! Like poor Woody sufferring under Sid's magnifying glass, I would have to put up with anything. Sometimes I think I am very lucky to have such good natured humans. Then again, sometimes I remind myself there were lots of other Figaros in the Disney Store in Liverpool when Mikki bought me and she chose me because I was the best. Sometimes I wonder what happened to all my brothers in the store - but mostly I prefer not to think about that.

I really have no reason to complain. I have nice beds to lie on; I go on visits to Walt Disney World where I have my picture taken with other Disney characters; I travel with the humans most times they go out in the car for any distance; and so on. I leave any complaining to the humans.

In years long ago (I am told: I am not that old myself), this was one of the big differences between the British and Americans. Britons never complained: Americans did as a matter of principle. Britons could be served rubbish at a restaurant and would not say anything for fear of upsetting somebody. Americans would feel their evening wasn't complete without an argument about the bill (check). I don't know it that story was ever true of Americans, but things have changed in Britain. Some of the humans here complain all the time. Andrew had a colleague at work who never came back from holiday (vacation) without telling everyone how awful things were and complaining to the tour company. He always got something back and thought he was very clever!

My humans hate arguments and rows. Only occassionally they feel driven to complain - and sadly there have been several examples recently.

The first complaint was to the bank - Barclays. There is no problem with running the account but Barclays were also holding some shares (stocks) for my humans. They decided to move them to another broker and the process seemed unduly slow. Meanwhile the holdings wre frozen and the markets (you may have heard about this) were dropping through the floor. After several complaints to the bank, my humans wrote to a national newspaper. The end result was that the bank never really admitted they had been slow about the work but did acknowledge they had not handled the original complaints well. They gave Andrew some money and Mikki a hamper. I think Mikki was very sceptical when offerred a "luxury hamper" but it turned out to be jolly nice - as my photo shows. There were 3 bottles of wine (one sparkling) and lots of well known luxury brand food items. So, yes, they could have done better in the first place but thank you Barclays for taking some effort to handle the thing well in the end (and another big "thank you" to Jessica at the Sunday Telegraph).

Next came the AA (a British vehicle breakdown service. A bit like the AAA, I guess). Andrew's parents were members and after his father died his mother wanted to change the membership to her sole name. After many telephone calls by his mother, his brother and Mikki, Andrew wrote enclosing a photocopy of 5 of the new membership cards that had been issued so far while the AA tried to get the thing right! That got a nice apology, a rebate on Andrew's mother's membership and - perhaps best - some confidence things won't start again next year. So, a small "thank you" to the AA.

Finally was a well known British national charity to which my humans have been making payments every year. The humans were pretty well worn out with two complaints when they had a weird telephone call from a marketing company working for the charity. It was like one of those heavily scripted telesales calls. My humans have ways of dealing with "cold cals" of that sort. I am glad to say those ways do not (yet) involve putting me by the 'phone and telling the caller please to continue because someone is listening very carefully!

Anyway, this call resulted in a complaint which got a letter of reply full of the word "sorry" but actually revealing more things wrong. My humans can't be bothered to follow things up more. They are still undecided whether to find a different charity to support in future. Meanwhile, I think they need a little cheering up. Here I am for a cuddle.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Characters 3 - Governor Ratcliffe


I thought it was time to go back to one of the pictures of me with another Disney character. I am missing my trips to Walt Disney World and have been talking too much about things in England. Yesterday was Budget Day here and I definitely don't want to talk about that.

This is Governor Ratcliffe holding me. We met him outside the entrance of Disney's Animal Kingdom - which is often a good place to meet characters you don't see much of. I can't remember now what he was saying to me. It may have been something about his spoiled dog - or he may have been asking me if I knew where the gold was. And don't tell me Governor Ratcliffe doesn't vocalise: he can talk as well as I can.

Radcliffe is from "Pocahontas", which is one of my human Andrew's many favourite films. There are lovely songs. There are beautiful images: Andrew says some of the backgrounds are of "Sleeping Beauty" quality. But the element he thinks really stands out is the absence of a traditional Disney villain. The "bad guys" are prejudice, ignorance and fear of the unknown. Some people would say that was quite sophisticated for a movie intended primarily for children.

Governor Ratcliffe is stupid, arrogant, greedy and vain - but he's hardly evil in the mould of Ursula or Cruella de Vil. Put simply, he's too incompetent. With governors like him, the surprise is that the British managed to hang on to the thirteen colonies as long as they did! When "Pocahontas" was released, Andrew worked in the British Civil Service. He often said he took it as a compliment when people said he was not a typical civil servant.

"Pocahontas" is, of course, a fictional movie. It may be based on historical characters (I think there really was a man called John Ratcliffe who was governor of Virginia in 1608) but Walt Disney never bothered too much about faithfullness to the original if the alternative was to tell a good story. Disney's Ratcliffe has heavy eyebrows and a dour face with turned down mouth. He has laughably optimistic expectations about future wealth. And when his predicitons don't come true (the men don't strke gold), he blames everyone else around him. Clearly, such an absurd character is only credible in a distant historical setting.

By the way, did I tell you that while we were in Bermuda we heard that John Rolfe, the man who married Pocahontas, was on the "Sea Venture" the ship that was wrecked in Bermuda resulting in that colony being founded in 1609.

I don't have eyebrows.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Easter Weekend Away


We all went away for the easter weekend. My humans wanted to spend time with Andrew's mother. Floppy Figaro and I went with them. For some reason, Mikki likes to take Floppy with her when she goes away overnight. We stayed at a lovely country house hotel outside Harrogate called Hob Green. This picture is of us two Figaros on our bed - a four-poster. There was a lovely view from the window too - but we didn't take any pictures of that. The room was on the first floor (which in England means it is upstairs. Below was the dining room and a terrace where people could sit out during the day and have cups of tea in the sunshine and things like that.

The humans spent a lot of time with Andrew's mother who is planning to move to a smaller flat (apartment) so we toys spent a lot of time on the bed. But I did visit her: she always likes to see me.

Andrew's brother and his wife also stayed for two nights at the hotel and they all ate two lovely dinners and two lovely breakfasts. Mikki got especially excited about scallops one evening and a rhubarb sorbet the other one. Then there was a lot of strange talk about lambs' kidneys for breakfast. Anyone would think we toys are missing out on something by not eating.

While the humans were eating their dinner, a nice human came into the room and turned down the bed. This meant we were moved. Put another way, it meant we could play happily while our humans were away and not worry about getting back into position when they came back.

I think we may be spending a lot more time visiting Andrew's mother until the move is completed but I think most of the other visits will just be day trips. In fact, we have already made one day visit by the time I write this post.

Well, it was a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Fairy Tale Police

My humans have kept me busy again - and I will tell you about that soon - but I had to rush to tell you about the latest attack on "my" film. It was reported in the latest "Sunday Telegraph" under the headline, "Pinocchio sending out the wrong messages, say the fairy tale police".

It's a report of work by psychologists at Carleton University in Canada. I am sure it is an excellent university - and not just because I think one of my humans' relations may have studied there (in a different Department).

The researchers reviewed films several times, often using pause or slow motion features to capture the content fully. They place "Pinocchio" in a group where childlike characters are in "risky situations" where strangers approach with "hidden malevolence" and promise rewards in exchange for their compliance. They say Pinocchio had been "groomed" by Honest John and Gideon.

At least the research (as reported in the "Telegraph") does not blame everything on the kitten who started the whole thing off by opening the window and letting the Blue Fairy in!

I wonder if the researchers had spent a little less time on the pause feature and a little more watching the story, they might have noticed that Honest John and Gideon are the villains. There is nothing about their malevolence that is hidden from the viewer. "Don't go off with strange adults" is a pretty strong message. As for the danger that it will "influence children to believe it is unnecessary to tell a trusted adult", isn't there something in the film about the benefits of telling the truth? Geppetto is just the sort of role model trtustworthy adult who asks where you have been today.

OK, I may sometimes be a bit dismissive about the insect (Jiminy) but I think he is an adult character (the fairy tale police aren't going to hold his size against him are they?) and a lot of Pinocchio's woes come from not trusting and telling him.

I wasn't surprised to see the newspaper article ended with a note from Disney Company that they hadn't studied the academics' report. Mind you, I'm sure they did study the newspaper article long enough to verify that the large picture of John with his arm round the wooden boy carries the proper copyright mark. Incidentally, the picture illustrates perfectly that Pinocchio looks uncomfortable about this contact. I also suspect Disney will not be too sorry to see that on a holiday weekend the paper has a huge picture of two of their most recognisable characters in a news story. By the way, the DVD has just come out again. Gosh, my character is 70 years old!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Back from Bermuda


Hello, everyone. My humans and I have been back from Bermuda for a couple of weeks now but they have been busy with other things as well so I have only now been able to get back to the computer to put some more news on this Blog.

Bermuda was lovely and we were all treated very well. Mikki told me this was the picture I should show you because she said the colours are so accurate on it. I admit I wasn't there when the picture was taken because the humans went out on a boat and I'm not a ship's cat. All that water would just worry me. It was also one of the best days while we were there - with lovely sun and little breeze. I should add that it was no accident that they went out on the sea on a good day. The friend who was captaining the boat kept his eye on the forecast.

Bermuda is very pretty. All the houses are painted nice pastel colours. Mikki thought they all looked especially good in the sun. I won't comment: I think black and white are just fine as colours.

It is quite a small island - and one of the most densely populated places there is. There is no real countryside of the sort my humans can drive me around here. Visitors can't hire cars. I am not sure what the real reason for this is. Some say it is just one of the ways they keep the total number of cars down. It is a small island formed on an extinct volcano and a lot of the land is steep. Most of the roads are narrow and many steep or twisting. Some Bermudians also point out that most of the visitors are Americans and they don't understand the difference between driving on the right (correct) side of the road and driving on the right (hand) side of the road. Also, they have roundabouts in Bermuda. They don't want more accidents. They will hire scooters to tourists but my humans wisely kept well clear.

The humans had a very busy time visiting a family Mikki has only recently discovered she has. It was quite exciting for her - and all the rest of us.

We took lots of pictgures - although I didn't appear in as many as when we are Walt Disney World. I may show you some others in later posts.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Characters - Rosetta


Just before we leave the house I thought there was time for one more picture of me with a Disney character. Yes, it's one of those lovely Disney fairies who help Tinker Bell. I'm saving the picture of Tink herself for the moment: this is Rosetta.

We were all shrunk to fairy size to meet them. Look at the picture and think how small that must have made me. It's remarkable that the process was so painless and had no lasting effects!

Last time we were in Walt Disney World, we visited the fairies twice. We were lucky: in the two visits we met all four of Tink's friends. They were all so very nice to me. Tink also seemed specially interested in my human Andrew - but that's another story.

And now, in Merlin's words, "Blow me to Bermuda!" Actually, it'll be fly me by British Airways - but that may be another story too!

Prrrr Prrrr.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

And they say my humans are silly!

This post has taken me a lot of time to write because I think my humans are very nice. They take their toy cats on holiday; persuade Disney characters to pose with them for pictures; and even let me keep an internet Diary. This seems entirely rational and sensible behaviour to me. Why would anyone think that silly?

Well, everyone's odd in someone's eyes and I'm still happy. Take last week. We drove to see Andrew's mother - about 80 miles each way. I travel with them in the car and sit with Andrew on the front passenger seat. But we don't zoom past other cars that are already going at the speed limit; we don't weave in and out of lanes without even indicating and we don't try to overtake a line of traffic and try to cut in just before a lane closes. And our driver (Mikki - if Andrew tried to drive that is what I would call crazy!!) doesn't use a mobile phone while driving. If those are the sort of guys who think my humans are crazy, then they're as happy about that as I am.

Right now they are rushing around packing for our next big trip. This is to Bermuda and we will be there in a couple of days. I can now say "we" because my silly humans were thinking of not taking me - or were they just teasing me: they do that a lot.

I haven't explained the reason for our visit yet. I am told there are no Disney theme parks there but there are lots of good and special reasons to go. I am sure we will enjoy ourselves lots.

Prrrr.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Another Figaro (again)


My family continues to grow as we welcome my latest "cousin". He came from the Disney Store in London. My humans visited London last Saturday.

He nearly missed us - if it had not been for Mikki's persistence. As I told you, we saw him online and I sent the humans to look at him in the store. There was a cast member "greeter" at the entrance. They asked her if the store had the new Figaro. She said, "no". They had no toy cats apart from Marie - and there is always more available online than in the store. Well, we have come this far so they thought they might as well check anyway. Also, the greeter was standing in front of a display of cuddly toys from "Bolt" with several toys of Mittens the cat on it so her claim to have no cats apart from Marie couldn't be taken entirely at face value.

My new cousin was hiding upstairs. He and a few "brothers" were sharing a bucket with rather more toys of Pinocchio. My humans picked up two - this one for our family and one for a gift.

This Figaro sits about 8 inches tall and has lovely ears that curl round just like a real cat's. He also has a label "Disney Store Exclusive" sticched to his rear end. That must be quite painful. His other feature is that he has quite a long tail - sufficiently long that he is getting to be known as "LT".

After collecting Figaros, my humans went to look for trading pins. The Disney Store in London is said to be experimenting with selling them. My humans were not sure how well the experiment is going because they had to ask to see the pins which were on a board behind the counter. This may not help their popularity.

Anyway, it was after my humans thought they had finished and had paid that they turned round and saw a lovely fridge magnet of Disney's cutest kitten. So it came home too and is in the picture.

And, yes, my humans did tell the greeter where they found Figaro. She was suitably embarrassed. Perhaps the Disney Store should improve her training on stock. Or is it that they realise that Figaro is a very special toy and only determined and dedicated Disney nuts should be allowed to find him.

So, welcome "LT" Figaro. You are offically our 21st family member.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Does Tinker Bell feel the cold?

We were looking at the UK Disney Store web site yesterday evening and we saw a new Tinker Bell doll. It is called "Tinker Bell Winter Dress Up Doll Soft Toy". The picture shows everyone's favourite pixie "wrapped up ultra warm for the colder months" in a long, fur-lined coat and hand muff. The description then gets a little confused. The picture is definitely Tink and not Cinderella so you are very tempted to take them up on the offer and undress her to see whose gown she has on underneath. Go to www.disneystore.co.uk and you'll soon find it. The doll seems to be one of a series of princesses in winter outfits.

This does make me wonder if Tinker Bell really needs to wrap up against the cold. We never see her on screen in anything but her short dress. My Mikki says that is like an ice skating costume. Even so it can't be all that warm for her. OK, Neverland may be magically as warm as you want it to be but in her film Tink flies to the mainland at the end of winter when there is still lots of snow and ice about. Did she feel cold?

Yes, I'm just joking. It's one of those lovely Disney questions that animation makes possible. It's like another one I heard about: Why does a family company like Disney allow Donald Duck to wander about with no trousers on? I've heard official answers ranging from, "He's a duck: he has feathers all over him below his sailor top" to something to the effect of, "He's a drawing, you idiot. He's only a few pencil lines on a piece of paper. He has nothing to cover up. And we drew him so we can dress him how we like".

It's just a bit of fun. Besides, whatever else Tinker Bell is, she is definitely a girl. So why shouldn't she just like dressing up? Her very first act in Neverland was to take the scissors to the awful outfit the clumsy (male) Tinkers made for her. And I'm sure "Winter Dress Up" is far from the first doll to give her alternative costumes (come to think of it, I'm afraid there's already one in this house somewhere).

This all brings me to the question of why we were looking at soft toys on the UK Disney Store web site in the first place. You guessed it: there is a new Figaro soft toy there. We have to go to London in the next week and I have already got Mikki to re-organise things while we are there in the hope they have one (or two - we may need a gift) in stock. Pictures are fine but we would like to look at him for real. It doesn't look like he has a ribbon round his tail (like I do) but if Disney want to dress him up, that's OK by me too.

Look out for another new addition to the family in the next week. Lots of love to all families everywhere.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

House 1 - The new Den


Here is a picture of the room my humans have been painting last week. When I say "my humans", I mean Mikki did all the actual painting and I think she did it very well.

This room connects with the kitchen through an arch. The humans use the table for casual eating and there is also a television. We call it "the den". The colour on the left hand wall is called "brown sugar" but most people think it looks like milk chocolate. The other colour is called "pale gold". We think the overall effect is a lot warmer and more cosy than the previous neutral colour.

I hope you can see - and like - the pictures on the walls. The oil painting on the left hand wall is of a house where Mikki used to live as a little girl. You may notice there are three drawings of Figaro the cat - the two on either side of the oil painting and the one to the far right of the photograph. They are all the sort of drawings you can buy at "Art of Disney" or in the Studios. I think they are all old enough that we only had to pay $25 each for them. They show the only 3 poses of Figaro we have ever seen. We persuaded the artist to add "Clever Cat" to the one to the left of the oil painting. He had to think about it a lot to see it was allowed by Disney rules. I think we managed it by reminding him that Figaro's song starts, "Figaro was a clever little cat". The picture on the far right was drawn by Lindy, who used to work in the Disney Studios. We met her several times and I think we have a photo of her somewhere. We have other characters drawn by her but only one of me because there were no new poses she could do for us. She shaded in Figaro's dark fur much more than the other artists.

In fact, all the pictures you can see on the right hand wall are by Lindy. There is Mickey Mouse in his "Band Concert" outfit and a lovely Millennium offering with the classic motto, "If you can dream it .. You can do it!" Quite appropriate in a house called, "Horizons". There is one more picture on that wall which the camera didn't include but I'll keep that for another time.

This photograph was actually taken from the path outside the window. I made sure I was in this photograph after Mikki wouldn't allow me in yesterday's. I have called this post "House 1" in the hope that the humans will allow me to put up other pictures of interesting things around the house in the future.

Prrrrrrr.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Happy Valentine's Day


Happy Valentine's Day everybody.

We went into town yesterday. I stayed in the car while the humans went to shop. They went for a special deal where you could buy food, sparkling wine and a rose for £20. The store (yes, it was M&S) was busy. Andrew was pleased to see from the crowds that Valentine's day (or is it just a good deal) is not just for young lovers (or lovers with the name, "Young"). My couple were in longer than they expected because there was a mistake at the checkout which meant they did not at first get their discount. A supervisor sorted it out but it took a little time. They had the pink sparkling wine and a chocolate souffle desert as part of their meal yesterday evening. The rose sat on the dining table - where it is in my picture.

My humans' Valentine card is a lovely one they found several years ago and have got out every year since. Like spouses (and toy cats), if it's right why change it? On the outside are Mickey and Minnie Mouse with the message, "We're good together ... ". Inside it adds, "And we look cute too".

I offered to add to the cuteness of the picture by posing next to the rose but Mikki vetoed it. I'll try to get into some other pictures for you.

Andrew also bought Mikki some other flowers: she likes daffodils.

Tonight my humans are going for a special meal out at their favourite restaurant - which was also recently judged the best restaurant in the county by a local magazine. The food is great and it has the added advantage of being about 50 yards from the house.

Lots of love to everyone.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Characters 1 - Rafiki


As promised, here is my first picture of me with one of the other Disney characters. I thought of this one last Wednesday while we were listening to "Circle of Life" on the CD "Classic Disney, Volume 1".

This picture was taken in November last year. We met Rafiki, the wise baboon from the Lion King, at the Conservation Station in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Rafiki picked me up and did this without any request or prompting. It's like he presented young Simba to the animals gathered below Pride Rock. He must have thought there was something special about me - and who am I to question him on that.

My human who was taking the picture forgot to take one lookng the other way to show all the other visitors bowing like the animals did in the film. I'm sure you can imagine they must have been. We all have our dreams and they say Walt Disney World is where dreams come true.

Prrrr; Prrrr.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

More Snow

In fact, the snow has just about gone by now (Wednesday). We had a little bit more on Monday but since then there has been rain. Either way, I am glad I am a toy and not a real cat so don't have to go out in it and get cold or wet.

Last week was pretty cold every day except Wednesday. Fresh snow on Wednesday night meant that on Thursday the plumber couldn't get up our drive in his van. Fortunately, it was only a short way and he didn't have heavy things to carry so he walked. Mikki is having some work done in her bathroom (water again). One thing was fixed last Thursday so she is a bit happier now. One thing remains to be done.

We were lucky that last Wednesday was the best day to travel. We all went to see Andrew's mother - who lives about 80 miles away. I usually go too when my humans go for long car rides. I sit with Andrew in the front passenger seat. Sometimes, they expect me to amuse them and help the driver's concentration. Last Wednesday, we all listened to nice music on a CD (Classic Disney Volume 1). There weren't any tracks from my films on this volume but I enjoyed songs from other films that reminded me of some of the characters I have met. I think I may start posting some of my best recent pictures.

When it snows, the humans tend to stay about the house more. This can be great if they spend the time cuddling you - and this did happen once or twice. On the other hand, they can just spend their time wandering aobut the house looking for things to do and disturbing you when you want to sleep. One of the worst things is when they go out trying to clear snow or ice and come back cold and wet and then want to play with you.

For the last two days, the humans have kept out of my way while re-painting the walls of one of the rooms downstairs. So far, I have been lucky that they have cleaned all the paint off themselves before coming near me. That sort of thing can be even more worrying than water and snow. I'll see if I can find a nice picture when the work is finished.

Prrrrr; Prrrrr.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Let it Snow

It's been snowing in England. There is hardly anything else on the news (which is not entirely a bad thing bearing in mind what else is on the news most days). London ground to a halt. On Monday, there were no busses and few trains. Some people got to Gatwick Airport to find their flights cancelled and no trains to take them back home.

They say this was the worst snow for 18 years. I can't say because I'm only 16 years old. But my humans were in London for over 20 years and then never missed work because of snow. Now we live outside London, we join the rest of Europe and the rest of the World making jokes about London and the south east of England. Snow in winter and leaves falling in autumn: these are the sort of totally unforseeable things that London's transport system can't cope with.

The BBC has asked everyone to send in their pictures of what they are doing in the snow. I got my human Andrew to take one of me. I won't be sending it in because I don't think it is really what they want even though there may be many people who agree it is the best thing to do in the snow. I dedicate the picture to all the brave humans who have spent hours standing at bus stops or on open railway platforms.

Joking apart, I have been busy while it was snowing. Apart from this blog, I have now prepared more than 30 pictures of me (and 1 of my cousine Travelling Beanie) standing on or next to various Christmas decorations in Walt Disney World. This is for all those Intercot members who like a holiday variation of "Where's Figaro?"

Keep warm; keep safe; and good luck.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Quiz Time

We had a general knowledge quiz in our village on Friday. There were 8 rounds of 10 questions each. My human, Mikki, was the questionmaster and compiler - so people should have guessed what one of the subjects for a round of questions would be. But she wanted a cryptic title for the round.

Oh, haven't I told you about Norton Disney! I'd better now.

When we lived in London and visited Walt Disney World, it was easy to tell anyone where in Britain we lived. At least everyone had heard of London. When we moved to Lincolnshire, Andrew decided he wanted to say something more than, "about 100 miles north of London". So now when people ask where in Britain we live, we say, "About 30 miles from the original Boston and 3 miles from a village called Norton Disney".

Walt did visit Norton Disney on one of his European trips when he was interested in tracing his ancestry. In old english, "Norton Disney" meant "the big house of the Disneys". It is assumed a knight from one of the french villages of Izney (someone "d'Izney") came to England with William in 1066 and was given land here. The name was later anglicised to "Disney". We guess someone from the family may have gone to north amierica but I don't think Walt was ever able to join up all the connections. Of course, nobody in Walt Disney World has heard of Norton Disney (precious few of the original Boston) so we still have to explain we live, "about 100 miles north of London".

Anyway, Mikki was bound to have a Disney round in the quiz, but called in "Not Norton". Somebody should have guessed!

And now the questions:

1. What was the first full length animated feature film?
2. Name the father and son Kings in The Lion King
3. What was the first Pixar film released through Disney?
4. Who was The Little Mermaid's prince?
5. Who voiced Mrs Potts in Beauty and the Beast?
6. Name all seven dwarfs.
7. In which US state is the original Disneyland?
8. What year was Walt Disney born?
9. Mickey Mouse very nearly had a different name, what was it?
10. Who is Donald Duck's girlfriend?

I think they are pretty easy (except, perhaps, No. 8) even if none of the answers is me or comes from my film of "Pinocchio". So, I'm not giving the answers for the moment.

I'm not giving any prizes either. The winning team at the quiz received a prize of two bottles of "bubbly" (for the adults) and a box of sweets for the kids. Everyone seemed to have fun and they also raised some money for the restoraton of the village church.