John is a sports fan, just to clarify, I mean watching not playing. He used to participate in sports in his young athletic days and I’ve seen proof in the form of judo medals and a picture of him holding some kind of paddle (otherwise I would never have believed it!). Although he doesn’t play anymore (unless you count the leg lunges he has to do every morning because I run under his feet), he still supports competitive games through the lens of his camera. Technically speaking, portraying the mood and movement of sports in a still-shot is a big challenge. It requires the photographer to take pictures of moving subjects without making them look blurred and be in the right place at the right time to capture the emotion of the scene through let’s say the expression on someone’s face. I often go along with John to give him a few tips and critique his work, but mostly I go for the snacks. My John is an expert in seeking out and preparing the most sumptuous of snacks (yes I’m a lucky cat to have such a devoted friend). On the menu can be anything from steamy steak stew, whisker lickin’ chicken or luscious lamb crockpot.
When John asked me if I wanted to watch an ice hockey game with him, I had a frightening flashback to square-looking bodies adorned in plastic shields crashing into the huge Perspex barriers that surrounded the ice rink they were playing on. I distinctly remember a bewildered man with thick furrowed eyebrows staggering around the ice looking for his tooth. So I opted out of this particular trip and negotiated a small tub of tasty turkey terrine from John before he headed out the door and I headed to my favourite blanket for a nap. If napping was a sport, I’d be a gold medallist I’m sure. As for all you sports fans, keep up the good work. Here’s a few pictures of some brave fit humans working together to score points by hurtling a puck across the opponent’s goal line at anything up to 100 miles an hour with a long curved stick.
When John suggested a photography trip to Lee Valley White Water Centre in Hertfordshire to watch canoe racing I was a little unsure – cats, water, mmm! But never let it be said that Shad the Cat is anything other than bold and adventurous. Yes I know I’ve got my sensitive side, but this was a moment that called for the courage of my convictions, the vavavoom that lights my fire, the curiosity and tenacity of my ancestors the sabre toothed tiger. Being anywhere near the canoeists could result in the moistening of a paw or the dripping of an eyebrow but I was willing the take the risk. And anyway John would be there and he always looks after me.
The water park has a purpose-built slalom course that was constructed to host the canoe slalom events of the 2012 Summer Olympics and it cleverly creates rapids, eddies and drops through a system of pools and pumps. As we walked towards through the gates to the park, I heard the gushing of water and my whiskers tingled with the moisture in the air. The thought of the water overflowing sent shivers down my spine and as the fur on my back bristled, I look anxiously up at John who smiled serenely back at me. Providing the water was contained in one place and I was not in it, I’d be fine.
Soon my unease was replaced with excitement as I watched the canoeists hurtling through the cascades and chutes with nothing but a paddle and a dream. They seemed to be going so fast and appeared to be completely out of control, the water being far more powerful than any of them. But that didn’t stop the competitors in the Canoe Slalom British Championships that were being held there from continuing their daring water activities with gusto. Anyone being swept into that water would have a terrible job getting out so I kept a safe distance from the edge and managed to avoid getting splashed. I even evaded a giant splodge of water that hit the ground not 2 feet away from me thanks to my super swift reflexes and a warning from John to look out! To my delight, he took out a soft fluffy towel from his bag just in case my paws had got damp and I remembered why I find him such a wonderful human.