Meeting the “locals”

“There seems to be something blocking the vacuum cleaner,” said dad as he attempted to hoover the carpets in the gite.

My parents are currently over to visit – or should I say, ‘work’. They very kindly offered to come and help decorate the gite, our first big project and one which is taking more time than we first thought. Armed with a paint brush and old clothes, they have brilliantly gotten stuck in with gusto and two of the bedrooms are now looking clean, fresh and ready to be ‘dressed’. (Photos will follow once the rooms are finished)

mum and dad coffee
What would we do without these pair, eh?

While cleaning and decorating, my parents have discovered one or two ‘local residents’ that had made our gite their home over the last few years. The mattresses appear to have made a very warm and safe bed for some mice, while the old stone sink was the perfect storage place for their winter hoard of nuts and seeds.

We knew when we moved here that we would be sharing our new home with all manner of wildlife. The former owner had warned us about mice – and indeed our four cats thought all their Christmas’s had come at once when we first moved in. Not a day went by for the first two months without one of them leaving us a little gift in our hall way (subsequently named ‘Dead Mouse Alley’). Occasionally it would be the whole mouse, but more often than not it would be a choice selection of entrails, the tail or even just the head. Delightful!

Last week I got very excited when I spotted a furry creature in the field next to the river. There it was, holding its paws to its mouth, hurriedly chewing away at something. As I approached, it looked up briefly and then promptly dived into the water and hid under the foliage. With its spiky hair sticking up on top of its head and goofy teeth I got very excited thinking we had some form of otter or beaver living next door. Oh how wrong I was.

Further investigation (and consultation with my sister’s hubby who helpfully knows all about these things) revealed that it was in fact a Coypu – a bloody rat of all things. Yes, it might have been cute and furry, but it is ultimately a pest, destroying river banks and generally being a right old nuisance. Indeed you can see where this particular one has dug holes along the river bank. I haven’t seen him again since but we do need to think about what to do to prevent him from becoming a problem.

Coypu, water rat or cute furry beast? (Image:Animal

Elsewhere, we have owls, a woodpecker and lots of other beautiful sounding birds whose music keeps us entertained throughout the day and night, while up over the hill, deer can allegedly be found, although we have yet to meet these neighbours.

And what was it that was blocking the vacuum cleaner? Dad bravely stuck his fingers in the nozzle and pulled out… yes, you guessed it – a dead mouse!


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