It was this upbringing that introduced Doreen to a variety of pets, as Grandmother was an inveterate rescuer of anything in need.
Together with her Aunt Louisa they shared a house with cats, dogs and an owl called Gladstone whose perch on the bathroom door dictated that the use of this room was a swift one as no heat could be kept inside with the continually open door.
Doreen went to Grammar School and passed her matric (as it was called then), she would have loved to go to university but knew her grandmother could never have afforded it.
After a couple of boring jobs she joined Imperial Tobacco and was with them for many years. Starting as a typist, then a secretary and, when they discovered that she could write, in their public relations department.
It was here that she met Rene, who was in the Accountants Department. They met on the staircase one day and six months later Rene went to war in the Royal Navy.
Rene came home on leave and they were married in Bristol by special licence on a Monday afternoon and spent a two-day honeymoon on a farm and Rene went back to war.
She spent most of the time Rene was away with her Aunt Louisa who made life quite fun for Doreen after the austerity of her Victorian grandmother, who loved her dearly but had set ideas how a young lady should be brought up.
Two and a half years later Rene was on his way home. His convoy coming via the Cape to avoid the still roaming enemy submarines, the war was still on and he was sent to London where Doreen was transferred to be with him. He was then posted to a shore station in the West Country and Doreen and Rene set about to find their dream cottage. They rented a very dilapidated ex public house with an earth closet, the dream cottage put on hold, both back working in Bristol for their old firm, Doreen now as their statistical librarian, writing reports that were read by the Board. A job normally only considered for a man.
After a couple of further moves, a Georgian relic and a happy period in a farm, they found the perfect place at Rowberrow, Somerset. They had also found a baby squirrel, which had fallen from its drey and Rene refused to climb the thirty feet necessary to return the little bedraggled mite to its nest. So Blondin became part of the Tovey family and unwittingly the reason Doreen and Rene got their first Siamese cat, Sugieh.
Blondin was a hoarder and the cottage soon became infested with mice looking for Blondin’s nuts and pieces of bread that he had stuffed under cushions and carpets for his rainy day. Whilst the mice had plenty to eat they did not cause too many problems but when Blondin caught a chill and died, their supply died too and they took to eating anything and everything. Doreen decided to get a cat and having seen a neighbour’s Siamese out for a stroll one day on a rather fetching collar and lead, decided that a Siamese would be the answer, she could also have a litter and maybe raise the Tovey finances.
Sugieh produced a litter of four kittens. Doreen decided that one’s fortune was not going to be made that way and when Sugeih died whilst being spayed (a far less straightforward procedure in the mid 1950s than it is today), decided to keep a sealpointed boy called Solomon and his bluepointed sister Sheba.
The antics of these kittens, a donkey called Annabel and the following Siamese inmates of The White Cottage were to bring Doreen world wide recognition of her books and writings, starting with ‘Cats In The Belfry’ published in 1957. The Canadian Government sponsored her and Rene on a trip to the Rockies to write about the Canadian Wildlife, with special focus on Grizzly bears. This trip can be read about in ‘The Co
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