Mid January 1999
and Dracs arrived at Ann's and decided to keep a diary to give
to Simon on his return from holiday.
January/Early February 1999
friends and neighbours read the diary. Spock and Dracs couldn't
understand why they laughed so much; they thought it was an
intellectual masterpiece. However, they forgave them when they
said it should be published and suggested the boys could give
the proceeds to the Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA),
a charity which gives free veterinary treatment to pets whose
owners live on means tested benefits.
a friend of Simon's, agreed to do some illustrations. Deakin
Ltd., a local printer gave us a special rate, that we could
afford, for the printing.
and her friends told local businesses and organisations about
"The Diary" and asked them to sponsor it. Ann was lethal! she
wouldn't have been surprised to hear shutters being closed and
locks being shot whenever she was sighted in Whitley Bay. No
one with whom she did business escaped. Everyone was very generous
and the total amount collected actually exceeded the sum needed.
This meant that we could afford better quality paper and bromides
for the front and back covers.
book was published. The boys were delighted with the final result
and thought Deakin Printers had done a first class job. Ann
said that no one had warned her how heavy they'd be. The boxes
didn't look that big and the chaps loading them into her car
didn't seem to be having any trouble with them. Then she got
home and tried lifting one out of the boot herself! She was
heard to say that, if she ended up with arms like Arnold Schwarzenegger,
she'd put the blame entirely on Spock and Dracs. Whitley Lodge
Post Office, Paws for Thought (Petshop), The Park Bookshop,
and the PDSA shop, all in Whitley Bay, stocked copies. W H Smith
and Celebrations in Blyth also took copies.
put on her shabby mac, picked up her tatty suitcase and went
off to do some street trading in Newcastle city centre. Provided
she asked for a minimum donation, rather than actually selling
it, she was covered by the license the PDSA had been granted
to do a street collection. She said she quite enjoyed her three
days in the city centre. Ann from Winlaton came and helped her.
The sun was shining and they were quite happy to sit in the
middle of the main shopping street and watch the world go by.
Her circle of acquaintance now includes a one legged street
artist, a gypsy and a number of Big Issue sellers. She also
sold lots of copies of "The Diary."
continued to advertise and sell copies locally. She also took
a break from "The Diary" for a week and went down to London
to visit some friends and to hear Vladimir Chernov sing at two
concerts. She thoroughly enjoyed both performances. Spock and
Dracs came to stay again. They were featured in the North Tyneside
Herald and Post, a local newspaper although they got very camera
shy when a press photographer came to see them. They were horrified
when Ann suggested that they could help her with mail orders.
She suggested they could lick the envelopes and stamps for her
and even had the nerve to say it might keep them quiet for a
while. Was she out of her mind they asked. They reminded her
very forcibly that they were managers, not minions. They were
the ones who had masterminded the whole project and they were
the ones who had worked their paws to the bone getting it off
two branches in Newcastle upon Tyne took copies of the book.
One branch even displayed it on the counter by the main tills
on the ground floor so everyone would see it. Barbara, Ann's
neighbour on the other side to Paul, phoned a local radio phone
in and told listeners about "The Diary". Barbara was also heard
to say that, living next door to Ann meant never knowing what
to expect next. But life was never dull!
boys began working on their sequel. They said they'd got plenty
of new material when they were staying with Ann and they didn't
want to be "one book authors" if they could help it.
Metro system offered to help Ann by advertising "The Diary"
on the local trains. Spock and Dracs were delighted. They've
never used the Metro themselves. They prefer their chauffeur
driven existence, but they've heard that it's a great way to
advertise. All those commuters with nothing better to do than
sit and read all the adverts! They warned Ann that she'd have
to act quickly if she wanted to catch the Christmas shoppers.
Ann designed a carriage card in no time flat and Bruce at Design
Aid dropped everything to turn it into a really professional
job. Deakin, the printer came up with another low price. (We
all think you're great Graeme!) Waterstones helped out with
the printing costs by agreeing to pay slightly more for copies
of "The Diary".
After hours of work, Paul finished the Web site and he and Ann
officially launched it on 27th October. Everyone thought he'd
done a brilliant job. Paul also started to teach Ann how to
update it herself. As Spock and Dracs commented, "He's got a
job on his hands there!"
carriage cards went on display and Spock and Dracs sent Ann
off to have a look at them. She was happy to report back that,
not only did they look very good, but sales had increased considerably
as a result and she was fast running out of copies. She phoned
Graeme at Deakin Printers to order a further print run. Paul
spent more hours registering the website with all the search
and Dracs issued a Press Release. Some of the local newspapers
showed an interest, so Simon brought the boys over to Ann's
and they held their first press conference. Had to stay awake
for a whole hour while they were interviewed and had their pictures
taken. They weren't very impressed and the photographers had
their work cut out getting a good shot of them. In between times,
Dracs found time to pull all Ann's towels off the radiators
and Spock tried to make off with a small stuffed toy she keeps
on a shelf in the living room. Some things never change.
got back from a weeks holiday the day the Evening Chronicle
printed a very flattering review of "The Wilderness Weeks".
They called it "a sheer delight" and said it was "a must have".
Waterstones were inundated with customers who'd read the review
and wanted the booklet. In between doing the washing and catching
up with everything that had happened while she was away, Ann
had to rush into Newcastle with extra copies because both branches
had completely sold out. As Spock and Dracs commented, "it's
not as if she's got anything better to do with her time."
agreed to do some illustrations for the sequel. Ann's had a
lot of compliments about the illustrations he did for the first
book, so she was very pleased. So were Spock and Dracs. The
boys fame started to spread. Ann received orders from bookshops
in East Sussex and Norfolk.
The boys came to
stay again. They were delighted to discover that their book
was available online at Amazon and W H Smith. Ann sent more
information to Amazon, who added it to their entry. Typos included!
Spock and Dracs wrote to Amazon themselves, in their own inimitable
style, to ask if there was any chance of some extra publicity.
So far there's been a stunned silence! Paul spent a lot of time
designing a new improved website with a direct link to Amazon
for overseas buyers.
from holiday and collected Spock and Dracs. The last Ann saw
of them, they were having a major sulk and Simon was their target.
A week later Ann was still finding fur and cat litter in unexpected
Paul and Ann launched
the new look website on 9th February. The compliments are already
coming in. Despite being so busy with his own business, Paul
always finds time to help Ann and the boys and they would like
to give him a public "Thank you".
Ann tried her hand
at surfing the net. She was able to find some cat related websites
with whom she could swap links. She also entered her first chatroom
ever. Naturally it was a cat chatroom. Spock and Dracs were
still with her and would have given her very short shrift if
it had been any other kind. Despite their supervision, she had
a struggle to keep up conversations with 3 people simultaneously,
and was panting and mopping her brow by the time she came out!
Everyone was very friendly and helpful.
No sooner had Ann
removed the last of the fur and cat litter than Spock and Dracs
were back again for a further few weeks. Simon's been treating
himself to a lot of holidays lately. It meant they were on hand
to supervise when Richard brought over the illustrations for
the sequel. Everyone was impressed with Richard's work; popular
opinion is, that he's made an even better job of them than before.
He's a very talented guy.
Ann came across
another online bookstore that stocks the Wilderness Weeks and
even has free delivery for UK customers. Naturally she got in
touch and now has a direct link to them. (Click on"The
Book" in the Index on the left.) She was also delighted
to discover that despite sales being slow now that Christmas
has been and gone, 2 of the local branches of Waterstones needed
more copies from her.
The boys received
another very good review, this time in Mensa magazine. As self
appointed honorary members of Mensa, they'd written to the editor
themselves. It resulted in another flurry of mail orders
Sales have topped
Spock and Dracs
extended their stay with Ann. They were very offhand with Simon
when he came to visit them a week before Easter. They were torn
between giving him the cold shoulder and giving him a piece
of their mind. Most of the time the cold shoulder won, but every
now and again it got too much for them and they told him exactly
what they thought of him. He went home a subdued man.
Ann managed to
create a new website page all on her own. (See Ann's Page) She
was very pleased with herself, Spock and Dracs were downright
amazed. Now she's got the hang of it, they're mulling over a
few ideas of their own for her to try.
Ann was delighted
to be asked to contribute an article to www.ukpets.co.uk, an
online magazine. Spock and Dracs thought she didn't give them
nearly enough of the credit when they proof read it. As they
pointed out, they'd done the whole thing entirely on their own!
The article should be in the June edition.
The boys finally
went home after a marathon 9 week stay. Simon had to do some
mega crawling before they'd talk to him again. It took Ann about
3 days before she stopped carrying her food around with her
if she was interrupted when she was eating.
Bruce at Design
Aid finished the layout and Ann took the sequel, "Spock
and Dracs, The Wilderness Revisited" to the printers. Graeme
said it should be ready by early June.
started to get a lot more visitors, looks like the hours spent
registering it with search engines is finally starting to produce
results. Ann's been intrigued to find search engines she's never
even heard of listing Catsup.
Ann collected "The
Wilderness Revisited" from the printers. Once again they've
done a great job.
She's also setting
up a special page so people can send a free postcard to a friend.
She's used some of Richard's illustrations as well as photographs
of Spock, Dracs and Alexander. All suitably captioned of course.
Paul helped her a bit, but Ann managed to do a lot of it on
her own. (Sometimes she frightens herself.) Spock and Dracs
aren't too happy with some of the comments she's put on the
pictures. Mutters of "Lies, all lies" were heard.
The word "Libel" even wafted through the air once
or twice too. Click on the postcard button and judge for yourself
whether you think they've got a case.
Ann dicovered that
Freeola, with whom she registered the domain name have listed
Catsup in their top ten customer sites. Naturally she couldn't
wait to tell Paul. They were both delighted.
Spock and Dracs
set Ann to work producing a range of cards and notelets. She's
started selling them locally. Her living room is beginning to
lookd more like a warehouse with every passing day and she's
still folding paper in her sleep.
Sales passed 1500
Spock and Dracs
came back for another stay. No sooner had they settled in than
they had Ann issuing some more press releases. The Journal,
the region's biggest daily morning paper got in touch. They
sent a photographer round to take some pictures of the boys
with their latest book. As usual, Spock and Dracs gave him a
hard time, but the following day an article appeared with a
great photo of Dracs.
Sales passed 1600
The boys invited
some of the people who'd helped them most to come to Ann's and
watch them present their first cheque to the P'DSA. It was for
£500. Marion, the senior veterinary nurse at the PDSA's
Newcastle clinic came along to accept the cheque on behalf of
the PDSA. Spock and Dracs had managed to persuade Ann and her
friends to exchange their Sainsbury's Reward Vouchers for some
bottles of champagne so they could have a real celebration although
Dracs had second thoughts when he heard the noise of the champagne
(If they can sell
all the copies of their 2 books, the next cheque will be for
Ann's put the pictures
that were taken on Catsup. They were originally on Ann's Page,
but now they're in the Archives. Click
here to see them. She
and Paul are on them along with Bruce, Graeme, Ann from Winlaton
and others who've helped the project along Naturally Spock and
Dracs were there too and had something to say about it all.
Sales are now over
The books continued
to sell steadily. One customer even offered to translate them
into Portugese. Spock and Dracs were very taken with the idea
and Ann's always fancied a trip to Portugal!
Yahoo! agreed to
list Catsup in their directory and it's receiving noticeably
more visitors as a result. Catsup was also awarded a 2000-2001
Golden Web Award (see
Home Page). Ann's heard that they're one of
the top awards and not easy to win so she and Paul were delighted.
Ann heard from
a website called www.care4free.co.uk.
They've awarded Catsup £25 for sending them a "fundraising
idea of the month". Spock and Dracs were delighted. The
money has to be given to a charity or good cause of their choice.
Their first choice was a few gallons of gravy, they thought
that would be a very good cause indeed. They've settled for
it to be put towards their project or just to be sent direct
to the PDSA however.
The boys have extended
their stay with Ann. They've spent so much time with her this
year that she's almost forgotten what life without them was
like. Until she has to remove what seems like half a coat of
fur from her duvet before putting it in the washer that is!
Sales have passed
The boys celebrated
their 14th birthday on 8th October! They got a new catnip mouse
and a packet of their favourite "Catnip Crunchies"
each as well as extra portions of chicken gravy for tea. They
also received 3 birthday cards from Internet friends.
The new book, "Spock
and Dracs the Wilderness Revisited" was featured in the
October issue of Mensa magazine. Ann wrote to some cat magazines
and Siamese cat clubs to see if she could obtain even more publicity.
The website grew
even bigger when Spock and Dracs launched their new Awards pages.
very generously said Spock and Dracs could advertise on the
local trains again. The boys were really pleased because it
got them a lot of extra sales last year. There's currently another
race on, to get the carriage cards designed and printed in time.
Ann was a bit worried because she knew that Bruce at Design
Aid was up to his ears, but Graeme at Deakin Printers stepped
into the breach and said if Ann told him what she wanted, he'd
sort out the layout for her. (Aren't people kind?!)
Sales reached 1,900
Ann and Graeme
had a chat about the cost of printing good quality glossy cards
using Richard's illustrations. Looks like Catsup could be branching
out. Ann signed up with CCNOW so that Catsup can sell online
via a secure server.
Spock and Dracs
were featured in the Mail on Sunday's Pet of the Year website.
They were rather pleased until they discovered Ann had entered
them in the "Wackiest Pet" category. Then the fur
flew. They told her they were dignified authors. "Did Charles
Dickens or William Shakespeare have to put up with being called
'Wacky'?", they asked. They thought not
The Catsup shop
went online. There was quite a bit of excitement when the very
first order came in! The carriage cards went on display, so
the boys are hoping that will help the Christmas sales locally.
David, the PDSA
Trust Officer with whom Ann liaises, had business in the north
east and stayed at Ann's for a couple of nights. He got a bit
of a surprise when he saw for himself the cottage industry that's
sprung up since she started the "Diary Project".
The cards arrived
and look very good indeed. The PDSA are talking about test marketing
them in their own shops. If they sell well, it could mean a
Sales passed 2,000
Ann began liaising
with an artist who is interested in designing some prints to
sell in the Catsup Shop. She also started to think about the
possibility of introducing a range of ceramics. She began liaising
with Falkirk Cat Register and Rescue too. They do a great job
and Ann's discovered they have some original products. She likes
the idea of being able to help them as well as the PDSA by stockcing
some of their goods.
Ann sent packs
of cards and noteletsa to the PDSA and they should be in 3 of
their own shops in the New Year. Spock , Dracs and Ann are keeping
fingers and paws crossed that they'll sell well.
Spock and Dracs
received some Christmas cards addressed to them personally.
They've also been sent some presents.
Sales passed 2,100
Emails began flying
between the UK and Brazil when Ann and Ro got together. Ro has
very kindly agreed to let Catsup sell prints of her delightful
illustrations of her Siamese cat Méia and is happy for
the profits to be given to the PDSA. Graeme at Deakin Printers
is helping Catsup to produce professional prints at affordable
prices. (A link to Méia's website is on the Links and
Daryl, who owns
Leo Ceramics came over and met the boys. She and Ann spent some
time discussing selling her bone china mugs, trinket bozes and
thimbles in the Catsup Shop.
Ann spent a lot
of time working on the website as she began to build the extra
Sales of the books
Ann spent some
time costing packaging if Catsup sells framed prints. She began
to have a great deal of sympathy for small businesses as she
discovered that items only ever seemed to come in minimum quantities
of 100! As ever, she received nothing but friendly interest
and, with help from everyone she approached, she was able to
sort something out.
Catsup made the
"ton" for the first time with over 100 visitors on
Ann and Jen went
to Falkirk to visit the Cat Register and Rescue. (See their
in the Catsup Shop for more information.) Spock and
Dracs have never heard the last of it. One minute Ann's telling
them she hopes they appreciate how lucky they are, the next
she's asking them how they'd like to move to a nice new home
in Falkirk! (She's only joking!)
Catsup Shop opened for business. It was also accepted into the
"Which Webtrader Scheme" which made everyone very
Ann bought a digital
camera. The boys have had a hunted look on their faces ever
since and the postcard page is expanding rapidly!
Catsup had its
best month ever, with nearly 2,000 visitors and 5,000 page views.
Sales of the books
Ann was invited
to the PDSA's Sunderland clinic. John Mills, one of the vets
there had offered to show her the equipment and explain to her
what it was all for and how it all worked. She found it all
extremely interesting although she hadn't expected to be introduced
to John when he was still doing an operation! She surprised
herself by staying upright.
All's quiet at
the moment with everything ticking over nicely, so updates to
this page are going on hold for the time being.
Spock and Dracs
full year of living with Ann. (Ann spent the anniversary in
a darkened room with a cold compress and a stiff drink!)
The boys couldn't
understand how they'd been overlooked by the Nobel Prize Committee
for Literature. The word "Fix" was heard being muttered
at regular intervals.
The boys celebrated
their 15th birthdays on 8th October.
Channel 4 Teletext
is to have a new section about volunteering It will highlight
the different ways people can volunteer and their experiences.
Ann has had confirmation that Catsup and the boys will be featured.
To celebrate "The
Year of the Volunteer", a book about volunteering is being
published in North Tyneside. Earlier in the year volunteers
were invited to send in articles, poems and pictures about their
experiences. The boys sent in a piece, written with their very
own paws. It is to be included with a picture of them.
Spock and Dracs
sent Ann and Jen up to Edinburgh where they attended their first
cat show. The boys couldn't attend themselves as they had some
urgent appointments with a duvet lined up, but they'd booked
a stall there so Ann and Jen could sell Catsup's goods. Everyone
was very pleased with the money raised. It also gave Ann and
Jen a chance to see their friends at the Cat Register and Rescue
in Falkirk again.
The New Year started
well when a big order from the Siamese
Internet Cat Club came in. They're going to start
selling the boys books in their own online shop. Their profits
will go to US Siamese Rescue, so all the copies they sell will
be helping 2 charities, one in the UK and one in America..01.
Sales are well
Ann went to PDSA's
Head Office at Telford for a Training Day. While she was there,
she presented PDSA's Director General, Marilyn Rydström
with a cheque for £1,000. To see a picture of the presentation,
After their success
in Edinburgh, Ann and Jen ran a stall at the Durham Cat Club's
Annual Cat Show at Washington. They've also booked a stall at
the Teesside Cat Show in Spennymoor at the end of August.
Ann continued to
run stalls, helped by her friend Jen. They even have their own
" now. As well as going to cat shows, they've been doing
Craft Fairs as well. Along the way they've met some interesting
and generous people. A special thank you goes to the stall holder
who gave Ann a lot of fabric out of which she made catnip toys.
At the last count she'd sold over 100 of them. Also, another
stall who gave her two large bags of lavender. (She sells her
lavender bags locally although you can see some of them on the
Charity Shop Message
Board. Spock and Dracs are very relieved that Ann
hasn't so far thought about taking them along to the Cat Shows
with her. Having celebrated their 16th birthdays on 8th October
they feel that kind of thing is more suited to younger cats.
Ann and some of
the friends who've helped her visited PDSA's Newcastle PetAid
Hospital and presented them with a cheque for £1000. Ann
also took pictures of the plaque that PDSA had put on the wall
in the reception area, thanking The Boys for their fundraising
efforts. To have a mini tour of the hospital and see the plaque,
This page is no
longer being updated regularly because we have reached our original
target of £3,000. The fundraising still continues however
through both the website and local initiatives.