Everything I Know About…Cats
Stef Burgon, formerly Dubai 92’s Geordiebird, on owning a castle, campervan life and, of course, Frank the cat.
After years gracing the airwaves of Dubai 92 and then Dubai Eye 103.8, Stef ‘Geordiebird’ Burgon’s cat Frank became one of the UAE’s most well-known felines, thanks to Burgon sharing tales of his antics with listeners over the years. In 2018, Burgon and her husband Simon Hunt departed UAE shores for six months exploring Europe in a campervan, Frank in tow, before settling in Scotland to live out many people’s dream – renovating their own 16th Century castle! Here, Burgon shares what she loves about cats, travelling, buying a castle and the time Frank met UK TV personality, Chris Tarrant!
My first cat was.... our family cat. A white one called Candy. She ended up with us because her owners were emigrating to New Zealand. This was back in the 80s and I guess not as many people travelled with their pets then?!
The best things about cats are... when they choose to hang out with you. They can be so aloof and independent. It feels like a real win when they decide that they are going to be friends with you. It's like the guy who doesn't settle down asking you to marry him.
I ended up being Frank's pal… when he walked into my villa in Mirdif the night before I moved to my apartment in Downtown. He was tatty and dirty but extremely lovable. When I took him into the vets they guessed that he had been abandoned as so many pets are in Dubai. He was covered in scratches from attempting, but failing to protect himself on the tough streets of Mirdif. He is a lover, not a fighter!
My best memory of Frank on the Catboy and Geordiebird Breakfast Show on Dubai 92 was… when he came into work on the morning that Chris Tarrant was on the show. I was heading off on holiday straight after the show and Frank was going to the cattery near 92 Towers. It was surreal chatting to Chris with Frank sitting on the studio sofa. I've got this daft photo of the three of us together, with Frank looking up at Chris.
Frank's funniest habit is… following us on walks. He likes to explore, but only if he has us nearby as back up.
I would sum up living with Frank in Dubai in these three words; Expensive, worth it.
Travelling around Europe in a campervan with Frank was… absolutely brilliant. I had worried about so many things before setting off. Frank getting disoriented and lost or being bored and meowing non stop in the van. There was none of that though. He loved it. He liked to pop out when we stopped the van somewhere new, but he was always back within 20 minutes, and he always stayed in view of the van. We would call it his perimeter check.
The biggest challenge of taking a cat around Europe was… out of the van time. It was ok in the countryside but I wasn't keen on leaving him in the city. I'm a worrier though, and he was always fine.
And the best bits were… hanging out with him on the drive. Seeing him curiously looking out of the window. He seemed excited about the newness of it all.
Frank ate the same biscuits every day… If we ran out of biscuits, he would sample the local tinned tuna of whichever country we were in. Frank LOVES tuna.
We decided to buy Kilmartin Castle after… taking a road trip around Scotland together in January and absolutely falling in love with the place. When we got back to Dubai we saw Kilmartin Castle advertised and without putting too much grown-up thought into it made that first call to the estate agent. It kind of just snowballed from there, and before we knew it we were standing in the grand hall, keys in hand, realising how much work there was to do.
The best thing about buying the castle was… having our wedding here the following year and having the opportunity to gather all of our friends and family together. There are so many good memories here now.
Frank's favourite place in the castle is… on the sofa in the kitchen. He can keep an eye on anyone coming and going, it's the room that offers the greatest opportunity of food treats and it's cosy.
My life is better with Frank in it because… he has such a great little personality. He's a part of our family.
The main lesson I've learnt from having a cat is… not to slam doors. You never know if there could be a tail in there!
Interview compiled by Jenny Haward
All images Courtesy Stef Burgon and Simon Hunt