Thursday, 30 June 2011

More tales of rodents and critters.....(euro edition)

We arrived in Chalus on Saturday afternoon after a remarkably stress free journey by our standards. Of course there was the inevitable 2 hour queue for the Queen Elizabeth II bridge at Dartford on Friday afternoon. A lot of people would object to queueing for two hours just to pay to cross a poxy bridge, especially if that bridge were standing between you and the first holiday you had in a long time........and they would be right to. It really boils my piss, it's almost like the last ounce of stress is being squeezed from me before my relaxation can begin. But at least you have the view, which is as good as any view you will find anywhere in Dartford........

We eventually crossed on Eurotunnel at about 11pm and arrived at our traditional cheap and not very cheerful stopover hotel in Rouen at 2am, just in time to open a bottle of wine, glug it down between us in less than 15 minutes before falling into a comatic sleep. We were wide awake by 7am and after what has now become a celebrated event, the terrible breakfast at the hotel, we were back on the road by 8am.

With a couple of stops, we were within 2 hours of our place in Chalus when an old couple in an Audi chose to drift across all three lanes of the motorway without signal or warning forcing me into braking and turning my carefully packed Land Rover into a moving tumble dryer. We had packed three parasols for garden furniture which turned into makeshift spears and narrowly avoided impaling Mel and I. Bags moved from the back of the car to the front and Mel did a brilliant job of catching them with her head, whilst I wrestled with the steering wheel in order to prevent any fatalities.

We had a brief moment of stress where we realised how close we had come to tragedy before taking the easy way out, pissing ourselves laughing and continuing the journey as if nothing had happened.

We eventually arrived at 2pm, slightly frazzled but delighted to see Mels parents who have been working on our holiday home rennovation for the last six weeks. Mels sister Penny had also flown over on Friday afternoon and after a couple of journey loosening drinks we swooped round to marvel at the results of Pat and Freds hard work. We're far from finished and unlikely to be so until the end of this year but it's really taking shape now. Here is a preview of how the Gite is looking......

We still have much to do and much to earn to pay for it but we will get there in the next six months or so. We have a detailed schedule of work to organise in the next few months and we're all back again in September to supervise the final phase.

My time so far this trip has been spent organising a clearance of the mountain of packaging from the furniture we have had delivered, cutting grass and felling some trees around the gardens and generally tidying everything up. Naturally (being a man), I therefore created an enormous bonfire in an old steel drum I found lying around the old barn. I have spent three days burning rubbish, putting out stray fires and generally working hard to prevent the whole of France catching fire. My arms and legs are now pretty much bereft of any hairs and my face is a combination of sun bronzed and fire blackened. I smell like a fireman after a forty eight hour shift. Still it has been deeply satisfying at a very primal level . It also provided plenty of opportunity to get my little tractor out which is always a point of personal satisfaction.

When we arrived Pat explained that there had been an upturn in activity from our resident ceiling monster. Ever since we bought our house four years ago, our sleep has been occasionally disturbed by the sound of scampering and scratching in the ceiling from the loft that runs the entire length of the house. After a day or two it ceases to bother us and on the odd occasion where I have gathered sufficient courage to go up there and investigate there has been no sign of damage. Mel says that it is impossible to ascertain that by simply shining the torch round for two seconds and then quickly jumping back down but I have a feel for these things.

We take a fairly relaxed attitude to creatures and critters, its a fact of life of living in the middle of the country and Mel can't bear to kill any creature so we've let it pass. This includes the gigantic (and completely harmless) spiders that regularly inhabit our house and I have become fairly adept at the glass and sliding paper trick though on a number of occasions have thrown the glass out of the window along with the spider.

This time however, the noises are significantly louder, more regular and more.......playful. We had our friends Roz and Neil round for dinner and they mentioned the culprit could be a member of the rodent family called Lerot which is a kind of doormouse but bigger and slightly weirder looking. On further inspection, we've now seen two of the little blighters.

There are obviously quite a few up there and every night they have wild parties. I'm not entirely sure but from the noises they make I think they may be taking drugs.  They make a sound like they are moving furniture around the loft interspersed with the pitter patter of their leaden feet dancing across the plasterboard.

I was planning a rodent assault similar to my successful campaign in the UK but made the mistake of showing the above picture to Mel. I also mentioned that they do no damage which now means they are a permanent fixture and she made me cancel the appointment I had made with Le Ratman.

It seems I am inadvertently attracting every species of rodent known to man to my life. I am like the Pied Piper of Hamlin except without the pipe and to be fair I am not from Hamlin either (though I could accurately be described as pied). I have seen more rodents in the last six months of my life than in my previous 39 and a half years. I only hope that this is not a trend that will continue or else in two years I will be completely surrounded by exotic vermin.

In the meantime, Fred and Pat are off back to Blighty in a couple of days for a well earned rest and Mel and I are here for another week. On Saturday her friends are arriving to spend next week with us so I'm sure that there will be plenty more opportunity for mishap and adventure and you can be sure if there is then you will read it here first.

Also, Mel is already laughing at the prospect of my new swimming shorts that I will be modelling for the first time tomorrow. The local outdoor pool demands that proper swim wear is adorned and they do not even allow swimming shorts. So for the first time since I was six years old I will be sporting some tight swimming trunks, an event that Mel has promised to capture for posterity.......


  1. Great read as usual mate, hopefully those exotic vermin will stop arranging loft parties!

  2. I wouldn't count on it Cal. They seem remarkably settled. This morning, they asked me to keep the noise down, apparently they were trying to get some sleep.

  3. Think that is what is known as the Fat Dormouse my Dr had them in the roof and he said they bred like mad, best to get them out!!! I know I have them around as they really fancy the hazel nuts and there are piles of the shells all over the garden during August. I don't know where mine hang out but certainly not in the roof thank goodness.
    The holiday home is looking good. Glad you managed to survive the wandering Audi!! Diane

  4. Thanks Diane.. It will take some selling to Melanie but the more time we spend here the less desirable they will become for her. Not sure if ou saw my earlier blog posts in early 2011 but we had major problems at our apartent in Cheadle earlier this year. This is like deja vu....

    Glad you like the holiday home, still a way to go but it is beginning to feel worth it.

    Hope you are well....

  5. Great read as usual mate perhaps the disco mice are relations of your lodgers in the UK ? More impressive though is the fact you have to wear budgie smugglers ! If you need to put something down them though make sure its at the front .

  6. Haha Ray.... Though if I wear something down the back I might clear the pool.....

  7. Our French mates had a nest of vipers in a disused septic tank!! Mike was told one day,
    " Don't move whatever you do!!" . There were two under his sunlounger, where he had been zzzzzzzzzzz-ing. His solution was to get a pistol and blow their heads off!!
    The next lot he found in the roof of their "grange" so it was bit more difficult to shoot them as they then had a tendency to drop and be very mad by the time they reached the floor!
    I think singing mice are preferable if insomnia creating!
    Enjoyed the read, and happy hunting!!

  8. You are of course right Viv though there are a few adders here too. I was fishing here last year when one slithered past me and swam across the lake. I had no idea that snakes could swim.....

    Tonight the Lerot are having their olympics early, I can hear them competing for each event, swinging across the rafters and scurrying from one end of the roof to the other. But as you say, it could be a lot worse....

  9. Men + fires + captured rodents = barbeque!?!

  10. If I had been able to catch them I would have barbecued them on a stick like a rodent lolly. I saw Hugh Burnley-whatshisname do something similar with a squirrel.