When you arrive at a house that has been closed up for a long time there’s an important routine to go through. Firstly, turn the electricity on. Good. Then check for water damage or leaks before turning the water on. Good. Then there are the little things to think of, like emptying the toaster crumb tray of woodlice before the children use it and getting the slug out of the kitchen sink. Excellent. A quick visual check and all seems fine. There’s a dead bird on the lounge floor. That’s upsetting. It’s a beautiful Wren, with stunning plumage which must have sneaked in through a crack in a boarded up broken window. I really must check all the boarding as I really can’t stand feeling responsible for such a beautiful creature being trapped and dying alone. It’s on my list to do.

I check the outside of the house and see rabbits in the field and a skylark ascending. There’s the sound of water gushing from an overflow pipe. My boys are playing football next to it. “Why didn’t you tell me about it?” I shout in the wind. “We thought it was meant to be doing that.” they reply. Orkney is an altered reality. It’s coming from the attic. I get a torch and climb up. It seems I’m suffering from a sticky ball cock. Easily solved.

Then I notice a mouse has been in the house and had a thorough chew of my cycling gear. Three gel saddles are shredded in a rubbery mess of a nest and a few other things randomly test-bitten. Strangely I don’t mind at all. If fact I feel quite pleased that there’s been a visitor and it’s made itself comfortable. I suppose it could even have been an Orkney Vole; now that would be exciting. I’m still feeling charitable about our little visitor in the evening when I go to inflate my airbed. There’s a mouse hole in it. I’m feeling less and less charitable the more air blasts out of the hole as I try to pump. I get my patching kit out. I read the instructions and on the cement it says “Known in California to cause birth defects.” I thought being born in California was a birth defect. I try to reinflate. There are three more holes. It’s a night on the sheepskin rug in the lounge for me.

Tomorrow I’m off to the shop for some mousetraps.

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