Monday 14 June 2021


When we got Beanie, we realised she wasn't quite like other cats. Sphynxes are known to act a bit like dogs (they are known as puppy cats!) which means that they like to follow you around, they are total sooks for physical affection and want to be on or near you at all times, they are friendly to other animals, they are happy with baths, and they don't have any hesitation about walking with a collar and lead.

As Beanie's so relaxed about everything and we live in a little flat without a garden, we thought it would be nice for her (and us!) to get outdoors. We got her a little harness and lead (I thought she'd need loads of time to get used to it, but no, she was instantly fine), and started off with little walks in the car park behind our flat. These went well, so we ventured a little further afield! Before we knew it, Beanie was happily coming along to parks, and we've started taking her on bigger trips too.

We didn't have any trouble getting her used to her harness or lead, she adjusted straight away. If you are walking a cat you have to accept that they'll go at their own pace, and that isn't always the direction you want to go in! We've found that if she's on a woodland path Beanie's quite good at following the trail, but when we take her out in the city, we usually carry her until we get to a park or a cat-friendly space where she can just explore as she likes. It's important we don't force her to do anything, and keep the experience positive for her.

As Sphynx don't have a proper fur coat (they do have a peachy fuzz which is incredibly soft), they can easily get cold, so we only take Beanie out on warm days, and will put on her jumper or tshirt if she needs it. We always take water and some treats - she's never tried to wriggle out of her harness or get away from us, but you never know, so we have Dreamies to reward her for being good and as an emergency bribe in case it's needed. 

Exploring heather

We've got a little cat backpack (this one!) which makes us officially cool guys, but it's really great. We let her get used to it in the house first (she loves sitting in things, so she took to it really quickly), and it's a convenient way to carry her whether we're on our way to somewhere, or if she's got a bit tired of walking. If we're just chilling out in a park or stopping for a rest she'll often use her cat backpack as a little den too, and takes herself to sit in it for some shade or if she wants to just look at things.

Other animals LOVE Beanie, and luckily she's very relaxed about meeting people and animals, probably because she's been used to this since she was a kitten. She used to be quite curious about dogs, but now we think the excitement has worn off, and she's less bothered about them, but very patient and calm when they come to say hello. Obviously we're hyper cautious when dogs approach, but normally dogs are on the lead and their owners are polite and make sure their dog is being careful.

A rare no-harness moment when we were in the Highlands last year

People love to say hello to Beanie too, but even if they don't come over, people will NOTICE - so prepare to get a lot of attention if you have a cat out on a lead! At first I was a bit nervous about feeling embarrassed about being such a massive weirdo (let's not sugarcoat it, walking a cat is pretty unexpected) but other than getting a few strange looks, most people are just really pleasantly surprised to see her and have lots of questions! People tend to assume she's a tiny dog at first, and often it's the first time they've ever met a Sphynx - Beanie's super sociable, so she's happy getting lots of pats from strangers.

Beanie's an energetic, super inquisitive cat, so it's so nice to feel like we're giving her a more interesting life, and it's so nice for us to get to take her places! A few weeks ago we hired a car and drove up to Killiecrankie and she was just such a good girl in the car, on the walk, everywhere. It is like having a little dog, except on rainy days you don't have to worry about leaving the house. We're hoping to try going camping with Beanie soon (we are just fully obsessed with her, so why not), so we shall see if we can take our adventure cat to the next level!

Monday 7 June 2021


 Can you believe that we are actually allowed to go to things again? Since my last slightly-nervous-about-everything post, I'm starting to feel a bit more relaxed about the return to normal life. I'm still being pretty cautious, but the idea of doing things with other people isn't the big stress it was for a while.

So on that note, it's very exciting that this year's Science Festival is just around the corner! This year's Festival (running 26 June - 11 July) is themed around how science connects us - from how we've relied on technology to keep us connected in the last year, to the scientific breakthroughs that have guided us through the pandemic, and how we're all connected to Planet Earth and the wider Universe. 

This year's Festival boasts 160 online events and experiences (so many) for people of all ages, but they've also got a fun programme of live experiences with outdoor events, walks, exhibitions and installations. This year loads of their events are free too! 

There's a lot to choose from, so here's my top picks from this year's Festival.

1. The Dead Interesting Tour Take a journey back in time to Warriston Cemetery and hear the tales of its fascinating tenants and the trails they blazed during their time on earth. This is hosted by science storyteller (and my pal!) Sian - I can confirm she is wise and funny, and definitely worth following around a graveyard.

2. Women in STEM street art trail I am ready to get out of the house and this art trail encourages you to go explore the city, discovering 9 remarkable women who have made amazing achievements in science, technology, engineering and maths. 

3. Elemental This event promises a magical, multi-sensory journey through an intriguing, immersive digital world where magic meets alchemy and alchemy meets science. I don't really know what that means, but it sounds fun and it's free!

4. SciMart A Science Festival favourite, SciMart is a farmers market with a scientific twist! This year it's hosted in Edinburgh's beautiful Royal Botanic Garden, and will be packed with local producers, artisans and scientists who'll reveal fascinating facts about food. 

5. Ask the Experts at Edinburgh Zoo Imagine working at the Zoo and getting to hang out with penguins, lions and zebras all day! At this event you can find out what it's really like behind the scenes and ask whatever you'd like (for starters, I'd ask - do the penguins like doing their little parade? Do you think any animal has wanted to eat you? Do animals secretly ever escape?).

6. Glitter Bar: A Makeover Takeover! Promising to teach you how to sparkle without shame, this event sounds ace! Hosted by Dr Nicole Seymour, a queer ecology scholar, and Mystika Glamoor, the high priestess of Edinburgh drag (what a title!), this event showcases biodegradable alternatives to microplastic cosmetic glitter. You'll get glitter and glues to try on at home - this ain't your usual Zoom call.

7.  Botanicals - The Heart of Gin Imagine the scene: it's a balmy summer evening, you're walking through a beautiful Botanic Garden with a Botanist who's showing you a unique blend of botanicals that have been combined to make a lovely gin. You then get to drink that gin and learn cool facts from Edinburgh Gin's Head Distiller, followed by a private viewing of an art exhibition. Culture is baaaack, and I bet it tastes amazing. You can do all of that at this exclusive gin tasting! 

8. Spacewomen I always scout the SciFest programme for space (and dinosaurs), so I'm pleased to see this online talk, taking place 60 years after the first woman was launched into orbit. This panel of cool space women talk about their experiences and hopes for the future as we enter an exciting new space age.

9. Cheeseology at Home It's fair to say that the Science Festival loves cheese, but don't we all. If you're not quite ready to hang out in public spaces with strangers (fair), elevate your at-home entertainment with an evening of cheese facts and a special cheese tasting (I.J. Mellis are producing a special SciFest cheese box so you can eat-a-long as you learn). 

10. The European Stone Stacking Championships If you fancy a day trip, you can head out to sunny Dunbar and watch some champion stone stackers! Stone stacking takes materials found in nature and works with Earth's gravity to create sculptural towers, archways and over awe-inspiring structures from rocks and stones. You'll see some cool things, and can have a go yourself!

This year's Edinburgh Science Festival runs Saturday 26 June - Sunday 11 July, and you can browse their full programme here.