Tag Archives: Fox

Much love Mondays…

I might not have managed much silence yesterday, but I’m sure I can manage a little Monday Morning love. It’s Monday. It’s December. Here, it’s bleak, wet and miserable – it rained all yesterday and the house looks like a Chinese laundry as I try to dry all the clothes off. It’s yucky. Steve won’t let me start my Christmas playlist and got all Grinchy when it accidentally started itself (I swear I had nothing to do with it!) so Much ♥ Monday is Much Needed…

So what are my raves today?

♥ my sister who has put together a mystery package and I’m so excited I can barely contain myself

♥  Tilly who got very wet yesterday and I had to wash her in Timotei because I’d run out of dog shampoo. It’s not so bad. I once used Dog Shampoo to wash my hair, so fair’s fair.

♥ the fact I’m up to Medusa in the poetry anthology and I ♥  Carol Anne Duffy in a non-lesbionic way – she rocks the poetry world.

♥ Aurelio Zen – just working my way through the second book.

♥ Fires and cute dogs.

♥ Marge’s new tail feathers, even though she still looks very pale and her legs are very yellow – moulting must be horrible

Marge's new tail feathers!

♥ that it’s only 10 days to my birthday

♥  planning a new Alphabet lesson for Lilia – teaching primary literacy is SO much fun!

♥  Christmas tinsel

♥  Mr Fox who is scabby but purring. I ♥  Mr Fox our beautiful cannelle cat

♥  having great ideas about what to do with that big square of  “grass” that is really just dandelions and mud – oh just you wait and see!

♥ my Christmas ladder

Things I love today…

Loving The Bird and The Fox, who play all day long. Fox has caught two mice today and no birds. Both of them have played underneath the sofa for at least an hour, climbing under the throw.

Loving the long evenings

Loving the fact my Mum will be here on Friday

Loving having my Dad over here too

Loving my turnips which are coming on great guns

Loving the garden

Loving the Tilly Flop when she skip-dances and when she skips back to the door, her ears flapping

Loving the Moll and her random energy bursts where she races about

Loving being in my comfy bed

Loving having  a bedroom that’s now 16 degrees at night

Loving having a posse of boys wave at me and call me Madame Lee

Loving how gorgeously made-up Marine, one of my Bac students, is – subtlety and style – no thick make-up that I went for when I was too young and dumb to realise what perfect skin I had.

Loving Deb and Joanne: how lovely it is to have some sensible company beyond my family

Loving cauliflower cheese and hoping that my cauliflowers grow into big ones

Loving finding photos of Dylan I’d forgotten I’d taken

And loving Jake, who is very sweet and very funny. I hope he knows he’s fantastic.

He came in after school and asked me what a ‘tire-bouchon’ was. I didn’t know. I know a bouchon is a cork or a traffic jam, a bottle neck. And I know tirer is to take. So ‘take-cork’??! Corkscrew of course. Not only did he have to read in class, but he handled it with aplomb. I’m so proud of him. Later, I was uncorking a bottle of wine for Steve and I said to Jake: “What’s this?” as I brandished the corkscrew.

“It’s a C-O-R-K-S-C-R-E-W…” he said, totally deadpan. “God, Emma, you’re so clever, but you don’t even know that??!”

And not loving??

Death threats

Sore ankles and feet from being on my feet all day

Tilly jingling all night last night. Back to the crate

How some people spend less time on their kids than I do with my plants. 81 minutes a week, say the stats. How can you justify that??

My gorgeous boys

Before I start, I need to say that Fox and Bird had bloody big paw-prints to fill. Basil was a whimsical, petulant spoilt king who I adored. He’d been with me through so much and I still miss his little furry body next to me in bed. I miss him poking me to wake me up, and I miss his constant chatter. He was a very chatty cat.

So Fox and Bird had to follow in the wake of this great beast, well worthy of TS Eliot.

But they’re so endearing and so lovely, it’s impossible not to love them to pieces.

I worried about them coming here – if they don’t have good road sense, they’re not going to get far. Plus, Basil was so distressed when I first got him, he ran away for 5 days. I worried these boys would do the same. I worried about them with the dogs and with me and with new space.

But they’re brilliant. It’d be impossible to have more fantastic cats.

Fox always leads the way: he’s the brave one. He’s the one who first came in the house and the one who first curled up on the sofa, claiming it as his own:

In fact, he quickly started claiming wherever he wanted to lie as his own, not even caring about silly Tilly – and she’s really glad to have a new friend. She’s so waggy when she sees them, despite chasing them for  a couple of days:

Fox is so playful. He spends half his time racing round the garden, sticking his head into holes. He’s caught two mice that I know of and he seems to love catching moths that gather near the windows.

He’s so full of playfulness it’s delightful. Whilst some cats (like Clint, our ex-foster revival) are savage as well as playful, he’s so gentle. He is very happy to be petted and purrs so loudly. He will clean anything that gets near him: hands, dogs’ heads…

Birdie was less confident – and still is a little timid. He spent the first couple of days in the barn, nowhere near as adventurous as Fox, and he would come down for food then go back up again. It took him a while to want to venture near the dogs, but this afternoon he was sitting with Molly and Tilly under a tree – rolling on his back and enjoying their more peaceful company. He’s spent the last two nights getting happier about coming in, and spent the last two nights curled up on my bed trying desperately to wash my hands when I’m trying my best to re-read Annie Hawes’ Extra Virgin – a book about a woman who bought a house in Italy in the 80s – by house, I mean a rustic old summer house up in the mountains. It’s a great book. Whenever I think I’m roughing it, she reminds me I’m really not. Plus, I read it in England whilst dreaming of a life like the one I have now, so it’s so much nicer to read it with a little more sympathy and ‘insider’ knowledge. She’s a great writer.

Anyway, I digress.

My little Bird seems to channel the spirit of Basil, curling up next to me, demanding attention and, fondly, shitting in a corner. He pulls my hand to him to be petted. And that’s where the Basil similarity ends, because Basil would lock on and claw me to shreds, and Birdie just washes my hand.

Birdie got just enough confidence to come in and say hello, and now he won’t leave! What I love about the boys is how they play together and how they cuddle up to one another. They really are the best brothers. I love it how they sleep in Saffy’s old basket on the windowsill, arm in arm.

By far the cutest, though, was when both got into bed with Molly. Molly likes to put herself to bed when she’s decided it’s late. She doesn’t bother waiting for us, just takes herself off and that’s the last you see of our lazy dog. But a couple of nights ago, Bird and Fox decided to join her. Excuse the unmade bed. I’ve no excuse.

Beans, peas and farting.

Apparently, Steve turned the air blue in Charmé today. As usual, I got the blame. Apparently, my cooking gave him rip-roaring, blue flame wind. Meh. I don’t have wind so I don’t care.

Jake has been doing his second paid day of work. He has ably assisted The Aged P. I’m not sure who is worse off – my father for having to put up with Jake, or Jake for having to put up with my father. By all accounts, it was a success. Jake got some appropriate wellies – which was way beyond what Steve or I were capable of achieving with ‘nike boy’ – who has blue fits every time he has to wear them, including saying his socks don’t fit and saying he can’t walk. Meh. I think they kept each other very well occupied. Not only that, but Jake’s first 20€ was spent on a tool belt. I like that. He did buy some devil bangers, but that’s just as much a part of the real Jake as the tool belt. He’s now accumulating tools, and we are mucho proud. He did go in Leclerc and look at knives, but c’est Jake! He’s got great plans for his new-found earnings, including xbox gold membership and COD Black Ops.

I had a busy day of animals and plantings…

Broad beans

Finally my beans have emerged in both the polytunnel and the pot. Took a bit of time!!

Pea babies

The peas in the good soil in the lean-to are a lot bigger than those in the polytunnel but they don’t have to put up with being pecked by the chickens. Steve bought more polythene today so we can re-make the polytunnel – hoorah! Thus the chicken ladies are out of a dirt-bath hammam, but needs must. I can’t sacrifice seeds to nosey chickens. It’s bad enough they’re IN the trenches you dig and ON the spade and AROUND your feet, pecking your shoe laces and sitting on the spade. Tomorrow, they are being shut out. Such is life for a chicken. Not that they don’t have enough space to make room for, but I’d love to dig a straight line trench instead of digging in L shapes around me, moving from one side to the other just to escape chickens grubbing over the soil like old ladies with a new charity shop arrivals box. It’s like someone went in Oxfam with a box and shouted “Dior… Chanel… Kurt Geiger…”  – they’re all over it.

Preparing lunch of worm sashimi

Not only that, but my savoy cabbage have popped up a couple of leaves, as have the red cabbage. The cauliflowers are darkening up their baby leaves.

Infant cauliflowers

Although it must be said, cats are still big news here. Bird and Fox get more and more comfortable every day. Here’s to their long and happy dwelling in co-habitation with us!

Fantastic Mr Fox
Gorgeous Mr Birdie

Mr Fox and Mr Bird

First published on Anglo Info – but it’s my only news. Apologies if you read both!!

The naming of cats is a difficult matter…

It was as inevitable as karaoke at a Japanese bar…

Mr Basil passed away last Thursday. He was my child – my petulant, spoilt, lovely boy. I cried buckets. We buried him on Sunday underneath one of his favourite trees, complete with everything he’ll need for Cat Valhalla. He might not have died in combat, but he was a fierce warrior, and I like to think the Valkyries escorted him to sit outside Valhalla and there he sits.

Yesterday morning, I’d decided I needed new cats. Sure, I could do with a bit of time grieving. I keep looking over to the windowsill, seeing a reflection and thinking it’s my boy. But we have mice and a home for cats, so Sunday was as good as any day to place an ad on the wanted section of Anglo Info.

Within minutes, I had several offers. Some were a little older, or a little young, or a little far away. But a very kind lady was the first to reply and the deal was done. I’m a great believer in kismet.

“I’ve got two cats on offer.” I said to Steve.

“Hmmmm.” He smiled beatifically from the corner. I could read his thoughts. He thinks we have enough animals. He thinks we don’t have money going spare. He remembers Mr Basil’s spraying when we arrived here, and the way I pampered him. He remembers that animals can be hard work. He looks at Tilly, asleep in her basket and I can see him thinking ‘we have enough trouble’. But we don’t.

I showed him a picture.

“Hmmmm.” he said.

Not convinced.

But he loved The Basil, even though he hadn’t known him very long. He liked it when The Basil curled up on his pillow. He liked the whimsy and I’m inclined to think he felt a kinship with the petulant one. I think maybe he was more sensitive about Basil’s passing than I was. However, I’m accustomed to losing what you love. I’ve taught thousands of kids who I’ve loved dearly and let go on to college or work. In fact, on my first teacher placement in a primary school, I realised I could never spend full weeks with kids who I would grow to become too attached to. It would break my heart. I much prefer things that are brief and a little distant, because I know I’m going to find it hard to let go.

The Aged Parent arrived this morning. I’ve decided to call my dad this in honour of “Great Expectations”

“I’m picking up two cats later,” I said.

He smiled fixedly at The Man. The kind of smile that says: “Can’t you stop this madness or at least reign it in? You aren’t building an ark you know, or running a rescue centre, and could you not keep a tighter hand on this mad girl?”

The Man smiled fixedly back. The kind of smile that says: “Not a chance. You’re her father. You should have beaten this out of her as a child.”

Both of them smile fixedly at me. The kind of smile that says: “You’re several sandwiches and a pork pie short of a picnic.”

I smile. I’ve got cats to pick up at lunchtime.

Linda, their previous mum, had been ‘brought’ them by some other strays she feeds. Trouble is, like many of us, she’s a little short of cash when it comes to feeding the feline five thousand, though I could see she’d love to.

And when I saw them, I knew why. They’re beautiful!

I’d a conversation earlier in the day with a French client – a feline friendly guy. We talked about cats we’d loved and lost. I described the new ones to him.

“They’re ginger.” I said.


“Hmmm. It’s a cat colour. We call it ginger. Red.”

He didn’t know what colour it was in French, but it’s decidedly not gingembre. He laughed as if it was the silliest thing I could have said. Turns out it’s cannelle or roux. Cinnamon. Not sure why it’s funny to call them gingembre but okay to call them cannelle, but there you go.  We went a whole conversational detour around The Spice Girls (Ginger Spice, of course!), why we think Posh Spice would be better to embrace an inner bitch and stop trying so hard, why kids in England are bullied for being red-haired. Turns out we both have red-haired mums. He was proud of his mum’s flamboyant hair colour. I have a friend who jokingly said if she had a child and it was ginger, she’d drown it.

Anyway, the two boys were asleep on the swing when I got there – and as soon as I approached them, they purred, licked my hands, nuzzled me… I was smitten.

Truthfully, I wanted the privilege of naming an animal, and I was kind of glad she’d held off naming them. It’s such a… personal thing. I had a couple of names in mind. Basil had been named before arrival, and he was definitely a Basil, not a Baz or anything else. I liked to stand outside shouting him like Sybil Fawlty. His name became a little like Oiseau – and I’d already decided one of them would be called Bird as a kind of loose namesake. Birdy. Good name for a cat. Plus, we’re watching re-runs of The Wire and I love some of the characters in that.

The trouble lay with the other name. I liked Bubbs to go with that, but neither cat was a Bubbs. I thought about Mac for a bit, like McVities Ginger Nuts, but it didn’t work either. Linda had mentioned something about calling one of them Fox or Foxy for his marmalade colouring and it seemed to work really well. Foxy would keep his name, and Birdy would be my other little cat. Foxy and Birdy. Fox and Bird.

It works.

And so I ask you to bid welcome to Foxy Loxy and the Birdman of Alcatraz, our new resident predators.

Please don’t smile fixedly at me. I’ve had enough of that for one day. Just indulge me a little like The Aged P and Steve