Anyone that knows Amanda and I will know that our life revolves around our aged black petite moggie, Bonita, to give her Sunday name. She went missing for a very long three days earlier this year only to turn up sleeping quietly in a neighbours vintage sports car. Neither of us could sleep, eat, or concentrate on work for the entire time that she was missing.
Our biggest concern since deciding on the move to Galicia was how we would get our Boni over the sea to our new home.
It was never going to be a nice trip, our final return to Spain with our precious feline cargo, but the week leading up to our departure last Friday meant that it was with our hearts in our mouths that we set off for Portsmouth at 10:30am.
We'd initially toyed with the idea of flying, but that would have meant a high cost flight from somewhere in London to Madrid and a long journey north. Horror stories on the internet of uncaring baggage handlers, and frequent pet deaths in cargo holds, meant that the consideration was short-lived.
We'd thought about driving all the way through France via Dover-Calais. Boni's previous longest journey had been a short five miles to the vets (which usually included at least one toilet accident) and the thought of 800 miles filled us both of us with dread. We also suspected that the stress of such a long journey may have been too much and we'd arrive with an inanimate bundle of fur in the pet carrier.
Finally we opted for the Portsmouth to Santander Brittany Ferries sailing with a 'pet cabin', which would mean that she was with us for the entire voyage. Happy we'd made the right decision we left her at Mums' house as a temporary lodger while we transferred the rest of our possessions to the barn, and bought a left hand drive car for the pet transit.
Then the nightmare began. When we got back home Mum told us that Boni had had a 'funny turn' where she collapsed for a couple of minutes but then regained her feet and acted as though there was nothing wrong. We thought nothing of it, perhaps a bit of arthritis or a trapped nerve, until we witnessed the same on the Friday, exactly a week before we were due to travel.
Three vets visits and two more 'episodes' later and she was on three different medicines to try and manage a newly diagnosed congenital heart problem. One widens her blood vessels, one slows her heart-rate, and one thins her blood to try and avert the formation of any more of the clots which caused her TIA's and led to the 'episodes'.
Now we were really in a quandry. Should we cancel plans and move back to our Huddersfield home to reduce her stress? Should we leave her at Mum's and save her the stress of a long journey? Should we stay with her at Mums and let her see out her days with all of us around her? Should we do what some, now 'ex-friends' suggested, and have her euthanased?
We agonised for days and decided that the only real option was to chance the journey with the philosopy that if she died in transit then she'd be with the two people who cared most about her in the World.
So, you can imagine the stress of the thirty-six hours from leaving Mum's at 10:30am on Friday to arriving at the barn at 21:30 on Saturday night, with us both wondering whether her every breath might be her last.
But I am pleased to report that she did brilliantly. She hated the car journeys but seemed relatively comfortable on the boat, so fascinated by the sea that I suspect she was a ships cat in a previous existence.
Now settled in the barn she loves her new home, and after a few hours exploring she slept for almost twenty-four hours to recover from the journey.
Our old cat is back, and touch wood she has had no more 'episodes', so the medication must be working.
We are under no illusion about the precariousness of her life expectancy and we will be getting her in to see a local vet later in the week to get some blood tests and check on the medication dosages. But every day that she has here she is sharing our dream, and she seems to be enjoying the good life.