Monty the ginger and white cat. Given to Jeannie when she was working as Publicity Manager at The Savoy Hotel, Monty was then just six weeks old. Derek was not pleased! However, like all cats faced with a 'cat disliker' Monty finally won Derek over when Monty was just a few months old and Derek had been home alone when Monty scampered in the room, did a typical cat dsplay across the sofa and then lay on the floor upside down tempting Derek to tickle him tummy. He did so, but with a pipe cleaner. Half an hour later Monty was sitting on Derek's desk, now playing with a pencil when Jeannie walked in to find Derek roaring with laughter at his antics.
He was named 'Monty' after Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein.
Monty was born 1943 and died in May 1958. In the evening of the day he died Derek had said 'On one condition only will I ever have a cat aagin, and that is if a black cat comes to the cottage in a storm...and we can never find where it came from'.
Lama born within the sound of the sea. Her mother was the little grey cat, named daisy, which came from a nearby farm but would carry her kittens across the fields to Minack. She too is buried at Minack and was mother to both Lama and Oliver.
Lama had been sighted several times; by Jeannie's mother in February the year following Montys' passing, then again in March by Shelagh and Jane.
It was Easter Sunday when a storm blew up and they were indoors; Jeannie reading her diary from the previous year talking of Monty, when there was a pause in their conversation. Derek cried 'Did you hear that?' Jeannie replied she had heard something. Derek got up from the sofa and opened the stable door and as he did part of the storm came in bringing a little black cat with it!
Lama was named after the Dalai Lama who was fleeing Tibet at the time and a news headline which had been cut out read "Dalai Lama Safe.'' The comparison of being safe struck similarities and so Lama was named Lama. She was likely born in December 1958 - she had her home at Minack for nearly 14 years and passed 3 March 1972. She is buried in the little wood nearby.
In September 1965 a black cat is sighted on the land east of Minack. It is thought to be Lama, but is it? Over the next three years a number of black cats are sighted and there is some doubt as to whether they are the same cat or different cats. One of them decides to come near the cottage and Jeannie feeds it but Derek has concerns over Lama. Felix as he has been called by Jeannie, causes them to set out to St Francis Animal Home in Newquay to see their friend Mike Oliver and whether he can take the little cat and find it a new home. However, as they set off they see a local farmer and ask him about the cat and he decides to give Felix a home! In March 1970 we finally solve the mystery of the second black cat when Lama and 'Rosebud' meet either side of Monty's Leap
This second black cat that Jeannie had named, Rosebud, actually turns out to be a male cat and he is then named 'Oliver' after their friend Mike Oliver. Oliver passed away in February 1980. Oliver land the nature reserve is named after this little black cat and he is buried in the Honeysuckle Meadow.
There was Derek standing at Monty's Leap watching Oliver, when suddenly he was startled by an astonishing sight when suddenly out of the undergrowth at the side of the lane stumbled a tiny ginger cat towards Oliver. The kitten was devoted to Oliver and Oliver was the same towards the kitten. Acting like a mother cat and teaching him. Jeannie thought this tiny kitten's fur was like the colour of Amber. For some reason she also thought of the musk rose in the garden, in front of the bedroom window, and joined the two together to make 'Ambrose'. As always Jeannie's names for the animals have place and meaning. St. Ambrose, a saint in Italy, who lived during the fourth century and had a special love for animals. He was known for his sermons on preaching kindness towards animals.
When Derek and Jeannie acquired Oliver land, Derek had cleared what he describes as the 'Celebration Path' and they decided to walk it. As they did so Ambrose joined them. All the way along its length until they came to hump of a granite rock which had been hidden in the head high bracken where they stopped. Ambrose too stopped and jumped up on it and began to purr. They had been sitting on the rock for while enjoying the moment when Jeannie described it as an 'Everest' moment and then said she was going to call the rock 'The Ambrose Rock'. Since then it has become known as a place to sit and enjoy solitude and to make wishes.
Ambrose had never showed any inclination to go in the cottage, until the day after Oliver died. He was and went underneath Derek's desk to wash himself.
Ambrose passed on 30 April 1987 and he is also buried in 'The Honeysuckle Meadow.'
Cherry was, a small kitten, a few months old, found in late 1984, by Jeannie, under the Cherry tree which grows in their garden.
A beautiful Tortie and White she was named after the Cherry Tree, which Derek had planted when his mother died.
The search for her origin began. All they managed to establish was that she looked as though she might have been neutered a couple of months earlier as there was line of fur on her side that was just growing back. Derek's reluctance continued even though she was gradually wheedling her way into their affections. Eventually, after several weeks Derek announced to Jeannie that if Cherry was to stay permanently she was to pass an examination he called the ''C' Levels.' It was to take a year. These were:
She must not catch birds.
She must be house clean.
She must not show interest in food on the dining room table.
No rotovating of the carpet with her claws.
Must not be too friendly with strangers.
Must never wander far.
No bringing into the cottage of live mice or rabbits.
She must not cause us anxiety at night by hiding when she is called.
Derek nearly added she must not annoy Ambrose but he knew she might not pass that one!
Needless to say, Cherry passed them with flying colours and so on 3 October one year later she was officially recognised as a Minack cat.
Cherry was to be the last cat at Minack and died, aged 11 years, in late 1995.
This is the tree under which Cherry was found and where she is buried. The second Cherry tree in Clover Downs was planted in memory by a cousin.
This photo is from The Evening Gull.
There was one more cat that we must not forget. Derek called him Hamlet. He had started to appear when both Cherry and Ambrose were alive, but after Jeannie had died. It presented Derek with a conundrum because once again he was faced with not wishing the existing cats to be upset by a newcomer. It was the end of April and Derek was feeding the cats, standing at the corner of the cottage by the water butt. having just fed Ambrose he called for Cherry, seeing what he thought was her halfway down the lane. It ran away from him up the lane to Oliver land. Hamlet stayed for about 8 months that we know of, a regular visitor to begin with and then becoming more spasmodic as time went on.
Sadly, we do not know what became of him as Derek's efforts to find out also seem to come to an end.