Tilly: The Cat on the Back Beach


Teignmouth is a pretty little fishing town, in South Devon, England – and, as its name would suggest is sits at the mouth of a river.  The ebb and flow of the river Teign bends around and forms a spur of land – and the bank that faces the moors and away from the sea is known as the back beach. I used to walk along this beach in all weathers.

Some years ago, on a rainy, blustery day I spotted a cat prowling this beach.  There are beach huts, bits of basket, brightly coloured cork floats, scraps of netting, and boats.  Some floated on the edge of the beach, some had been dragged up onto the sand and others turned upside down on blocks to keep the rain out.  What a hiding place – or a cavern or fortress – for an inquisitive cat!  Rather than give the impression that this was her territory she sniffed and explored as if seeking out adventure.

Now, adventure to a cat is not the same as adventure to a human – oh no! A dead mackerel, a ball of fishing twine or a paper cup can be the source of perilous endeavour for a cat. As her imagination moulded and forged simple things into exciting plots and happenings I observed her and wrote about her.  Although I never knew her real name, she had a feisty, scruffy charm, and her charismatic grace and her adventurous spirit to me conjured up the name Tilly.  Her stories were published in the local newspaper – the Teignmouth Post – for quite some time.

A short while ago someone asked me  whatever happened to that loveable and cheeky kitten, and wondered where her whiskers had taken her now – well, I answered, I was on the back beach not long ago and I’m pretty sure I saw her still prowling, still rootling out adventure – and still cheeky!

I thought it was long overdue to remember her from her kitten-hood, so watch this space!  In the upcoming weeks I will reproduce the adventures as they appeared in the newspaper all those years ago. So keep looking back – favourite the page – so you can read her adventures.  Tilly the Cat will be back soon!

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