Autumn chores

Writing is such a snatched delight from the travails of daily life.

Medical dramas have intruded on September. I have stories stacked up like a holding pattern above a major airport, waiting to land. But I thought I would sneak one in while I am home.

I have just four days in between ‘commuting’ back to London and I had so many plans for the garden. That sad, sorry neglected slice of the mountain that has run rampant for months. Like the wild boar all over the lawn. Quite a scarifying.

Instead, I am consumed with hilarious autumn chores of the indoor variety.

Beasties lurk within. And I don’t mean the Cat. (Although she is trying to sit on my laptop as I type which is tiresome.)

Many of you reading this might know that particular earthy, wet and pungent odour when you walk into a room. That instant sniff and sigh.

Yep. A mouse. A dead mouse somewhere within. Or worse, please don’t let that be a rat.

It was a mouse. And in this case it was in the worst possible location. The crowded and very full to the brim workshop.

Where on earth to begin?

Follow one’s nose. Under a crowded trestle table full of heavy tools, right in the far corner in the most yoga-defying niche at floor level.

So on my very first day back and it began with an excavation of a dead mouse who managed to get trapped in the anti-mouse grill covering said niche. And by opening the workshop door to the outside I managed to usher out his mate who did get through the grill and into the snickers bars in an open box on the floor.

Poor mouse. It waddled out. And as we describe its shape in French ‘fort corpulent’.

I didn’t have the heart to do anything but watch it stagger to the viburnum shrub and make sure it didn’t sneak back in.

It wouldn’t have outpaced a slug.

Cue a session of furious sorting and tidying and putting everything in boxes again (we got complacent over the summer). And checking for pest number two of the indoor disaster.

Or should I say pest colony.

Moths. My friend Elodie warned me there was an infestation when she came to check the electrics (we have had storms while I was away). She found a few jars of those divine organic seed and nut and fruit mixes merrily breeding a few more organic protein delights. And vacuumed as many as she could find.

But we all know that when you get food moths. (Is that what they are called? Pantry moths. Oh, that’s okay. I have two pantries. They are appropriately termed.) You are tasked with a massive clear out of anything and everything. And chucking out expensive Brazil nuts in what you thought was a well sealed jar just hurts.

Two sacks full of foodstuffs. Endless, endless vacuuming. And I call it done.

I did try the large tea towel thwacking technique to get the moths off the beams. But I misjudged a backswing and toppled a jar on the rather busy shelves. Now I keep the vacuum cleaner close by and have a session every few hours.

It isn’t ‘done’ of course. But I am vigilant and pleased that at least I can see the buggers on the ceiling of the kitchen because I painted the whole area white.

To escape the inner drudgery of pest control I popped out for some lunch. In this case a wander down to the potager to pick tomatoes, basil and some kale.

Infestation! Despite my netting, a cabbage white butterfly has done the breeding deed and my kale was a crop of lace. So instead of sitting down for lunch. I squished.

And squished and squished. I have a technique of lightly bashing the kale plants and watching the grubs fly through the air and land on the mulch (fortunately neat and brown right now before the chippings go over the top.) They roll into tight coils and you can attend.

That’s a euphemism if ever there was one.

I did one good go around each plant in the main raised bed. And then went in for lunch.

Grubs on the basil. Grubs in some of the tomatoes. Will this ever end?

I found so many floaters in the salad spinner after washing the basil it became comic.

I couldn’t even wander down to the orchard to pick apples (I was actually heading down to charge the mower in the stables) because I just knew what would be lurking within.

The apple sits in the kitchen awaiting my gnashers. But not until I slice it carefully with a cleaver first.

And now did my day end? Sipping a whisky and perusing the Eurobulb catalogue online with my feet up?


Creature decided to reward me for my sudden reappearance by bringing me a late night snack.

One mouse. Not dead. Panicked enough to crawl out of her grasp and make a beeline for the small space under one of the bookcases in the living room.

A teensy tiny space. Excellent for evading re-capture.

Luckily I had asked Bernard when he built this case to add rollers to the feet. But it was a good old heave to get it far enough from the wall to ‘attend’.

One very, very long day bookended by mice.