L’effet de serre

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During the 30+ degree heat of last week, when most of us were desperately seeking shade, the Sun King, apparently, wasn’t warm enough, and spent much of his time in the greenhouse.

A word of warning if, like us, you happen to have both a greenhouse and an incredibly stupid cat: please be careful. Le fichu con was trapped there for about 3-4 hours one evening – thankfully after the worst of the heat had passed – and, because he is highly adept at slipping unnoticed from one place to another, we are prepared to bet a Roi’s ransom that it will happen again if we don’t watch out.

Catorze had just had a visitor and had been cuddled and spoilt beyond measure, so it would have been easy to assume that he were sleeping off the evening’s excitement somewhere. But it was unusual for him not to join us for Movie Night, so eventually we decided to go out and look for him. After being alerted by the pathetic wailing coming from the greenhouse, we were able to release him – and, fortunately, he was perfectly fine and unharmed, just mildly outraged at the inconvenience of it all. A few cuddles later and he had completely forgotten about his ordeal.

Even if your cat wouldn’t be that stupid/nosey, be prepared for the fact that other neighbourhood cats might. Cats sneak into sheds and outhouses all the time and are usually fine, even after days of entrapment, but greenhouses are like ovens in this weather so the consequences could be disastrous. And, although it may seem illogical for any creature to actively seek shelter in a greenhouse when it’s this hot, trust me, they still do it.

Please, please check carefully before closing up for the day/night, especially if your greenhouse has lots of nooks and crannies in which a silly (or lost) animal could hide. Or, better yet, if you’re in any way unsure, don’t close up completely at all, and leave an escape route for said silly/lost animal to use in an emergency.

 

Il y a un rat dans ma chambre: qu’est-ce que je vais faire?

IMG_8653A couple of days ago, Oscar the dog’s mamma told me that she had seen a large brown rat in their garden. Ever-hopeful, I asked her if she were sure that it wasn’t a very big mouse, or an unusually skinny-tailed squirrel. She was sure.

I suggested to her that, if she ever saw it again, provided Oscar weren’t in the vicinity, I would happily flick Louis Catorze over Le Mur and let him have a bash at catching it. However, I hadn’t quite expected him to catch it of his own accord, so soon after our conversation. Nor had I expected him to bring the damp, stinky carcass up to our bedroom.

Worse yet, it was our easily-startled cleaning lady who found it. I came home to find her so traumatised that she could barely speak, and eventually I managed to get it out of her that there was a rat in our bedroom. (Once again I said, “Are you sure it’s not a mouse?” although, deep in my heart, I knew.)

As she and I stood staring at it and wondering what the heck to do, Louis Catorze picked that very moment to switch into psycho play mode and attack her feet. Because he ambushed her from behind, she felt him before she saw him and, thinking he was another rat, she screamed as if she had been shot.

I went to look for a bin bag and, naturellement, we didn’t have any, so I had to take the sturdiest plastic bag I could find, which was a Selfridges one. Once Ratty was safely entombed I dropped a 2p coin in with him, hoping it would land squarely on his body and give a sense of scale when I provided people with photographic proof of how big he was. But, unfortunately, it sort of wedged in at his side and, because it was the same colour as his body, it ended up looking more like some sort of cystic growth than a 2p coin, adding to the horror of the whole situation.

Whilst our cleaning lady sat in a corner and cried quietly, I headed for the park bin where so many of Catorze’s victims have been laid to rest, praying that nobody would see me. Although, if you don’t want to be seen, you should carry an unobtrusive, plain bag and leave the house whistling nonchalantly. Leaving the house holding a bright yellow Selfridges bag with your fingertips and at arm’s length, all the while shuddering and retching, probably isn’t the way. And, of course, I bumped into Bert the dog’s daddy, who was working on his car in the street right outside Le Château, and I was forced to explain the bag and the shuddering and retching.

So now I am confined to Le Château on account of being too ashamed to leave it, and Louis Catorze is banned from the bedrooms on account of being too disgusting. And our poor cleaning lady will probably never lead a normal life ever again. Cat Daddy, however, can’t help but admire his boy’s pest control efficiency, and this has been echoed by Dog Mamma, who is delighted that Catorze has done his civic duty. Another friend said, “Isn’t it reassuring to know that he’s such a good rat-catcher?”

I don’t know what makes a “good” rat-catcher. But I’m pretty certain that depositing smelly rat corpses in spotlessly-clean places where there were no rat corpses before, isn’t it.

La chaleur est là

Le Château, its contents and its occupants are melting in the heat. We have dealt with heat before, of course, but, when it’s so hot that packets of salted peanuts in our kitchen cupboards start to ooze oil – which doesn’t sound that bad but, in reality, it’s like the initial signs of a poltergeist haunting and is creepy as hell – it really is the end of days.

But it’s all right for some, who are able to lounge languidly in their cool chaise longues. The glamorous piece of cat furniture that you see was a gift from one of Louis Catorze’s wonderful supporters and, because it’s positioned on the ground floor by the patio doors AND raised off the hot ground, it’s the coolest spot in the house. On sticky nights, when it’s too uncomfortable to snuggle in bed with us, Sa Majesté heads here instead.

Le Roi is also partial to having a freezer-cold bottle of vodka rolled up & down his body when temperatures soar (see photo from the archives), but Cat Daddy has imposed strict conditions on this. “It’s the chaise longue or the cold vodka massage, not both. Let’s not go overboard.”

Exactement. We don’t want the Sun King becoming too pampered.

 

Le petit coin, partie deux: cette fois-ci c’est personnel

The vegetable patch is fighting back. Or, rather, Cat Daddy is, after catching Louis Catorze digging around yet again. The sweetcorn plants were eventually salvaged – you can spot the dug-up, flung-around ones straight away as they are much smaller than the other ones – but, this time, one of the passion flower vines has gone. And by “gone” I don’t simply mean “been uprooted”: I mean utterly vapourised without a trace, as if the plant never existed.

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As you can see, Cat Daddy has taken his role of Defence Minister very seriously indeed. And, yes, those are plastic forks. One of Le Blog’s lovely followers recommended them as a protective measure, so I passed the tip onto Cat Daddy; and whilst I had somehow imagined them being placed the other way up in the earth, handles pointing upwards, I can understand why Cat Daddy chose this way, for maximum pointy surface area to threaten la derrière royale.

Will it work? It’s not looking promising, I must say. Even during the impaling process Louis Catorze was ever-present, slaloming between the sticks and forks like a prize-winning Border Collie at one of those sheepdog competitions, not even deterred when Cat Daddy tried to jab him in the arse with a stick of bamboo. So his chances of staying away now that the sticks are static, are slim-to-zéro.

So now Cat Daddy and I need to agree on our next steps should the bamboo and forks not work. My idea: citrus peel and netting. Cat Daddy’s idea: inhumane bear traps and poison-tipped barbed wire.