Life, photos but not the universe

Of balloonists, cats and mice

About twenty miles away from here, there is a village called Faccombe.  Rural, idyllic and fairly isolated.  Once (the story goes) a balloonist floated overhead and seeing a local person on the ground below, shouted down “Can you tell me where I am?” (I believe balloonists often do this).  The local person shouted back “Faccombe!”

“Oh!  Sorry!” shouted the balloonist and sailed away to ask directions from someone less rude in another village.


And here is another story, which I may have told before (but I can’t find it in this or my earlier blog so you probably haven’t seen it before).  About sixteen years ago, I suddenly caved in against the pressure of requests from children and trite comments from Barney and said “alright then, we can have a dog.  Oh alright, and a cat”.  We had three children so it follows as night the day that we would end up with a dog and two cats.  The usual promises were made and forgotten (except by me of course) and Nutmeg, Tosca and Mandu joined our family.

We made a plan, that we would get the cat(s) first so that they would have the psychological advantage of posession over the dog when it arrived and we wouldn’t have to deal with too much murder and mayhem.  So we went to the cat rescue home and there was a general consensus that little black and white Tosca was perfect and then Mandu fixed me with her golden eyes and let it be known that she would be prepared to dominate us for a consideration or fifty.  Tosca came home first.

After her two weeks quarantine, she was let out for the first time and promptly vanished.  We called and searched and there was no avail.  But later that day, I heard her distinctive voice (must be some Siamese in her ancestry) floating hauntingly through the great outdoors and by imitating her and heading towards the sound of her enthusiastic response , I found her, up a big oak tree, yelling away there in the gathering dusk. (Not our oak tree of course, but another one across a field or two).

Dusk finished gathering and darkness fell.  So did some rain.  Tosca and I continued to communicate (I thought she needed emotional support – heaven only knows what she thought I needed).  Then I rushed indoors and rounded up the posse (they all seemed to have given up cat hunting in favour of pizza, TV and stamps).  A little later, after much discussion, the Bardsley family could have been seen (by someone with a big torch or appropriately aimed car headlights) trudging up the road and into the fields, carrying a ladder, a big cardboard box, a torch, a piece of rope*  and some crunchy cat food.  Oh and an umbrella.  One of them mrrowwing  loudly.

The communications between me and Tosca increased in volume and intensity, arguments, exhortations and exclamations followed the family in cartoon balloons over their heads, the rain fell and Tosca communicated for all she was worth.  When Eldest (then about twelve) climbed up the ladder carrying the box (while everyone else had a go at waving the torch in every possible, useless direction), her communications reached a pitch of great intensity and she scratched him.

The cartoon balloon full of exhortations, exclamations and arguments expanded and hovered over Eldest’s head and he attached the rope to the box** (now containing Tosca and emitting a kind of concentrated silence which was quite unnerving), lowered her to the ground and was dissuaded from climbing much higher into the tree, so he could fall out and break some bones, before rejoining us on the ground. Various small female people were heard to say they would have done it much better and Tosca remained silent.  The next day she brought us a mouse – the first of many.

Of course, since then Tosca and I have had a special rapport and she chooses, often, to make me carry her upside down in my arms while she dribbles copiously all over us both.  Because of our special relationship, she allowed me to photograph the following sequence when we discovered an intruder in the larder.***















.You may want to look at the last one large.

Anyway, today I trekked to yet another stamp fair and after taking some photos in spite of the obdurate greyness of the day, went to Didcot and rewarded myself for being so good and useful by buying a new mouse.  It’s little and light and shiny and turquoise and does clever things.  And when I went back to collect Barney with his stamps, I found a bacon sandwich waiting for me.  Not so bad really, stamp fairs.

*no idea.

**oh that was why.

***Well I discovered it.  She had probably introduced it herself.


May 20, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. rather sweet mouse – the one in the cupboard, although no doubt the turquoise one is too. Turquoise is a difficult word to spell.

    Comment by Linda | May 20, 2012 | Reply

  2. Nice link. My view on mice coincides with that village near you.

    Comment by Rog | May 21, 2012 | Reply

  3. Did you save the mouse or is he going in the ginger pudding along with the suet?

    Comment by rosie | May 21, 2012 | Reply

  4. A few weeks ago, one of the bantams was seen proudly carrying a dead mouse by its tail. She might have done rather better than Tosca did at catching yours.

    Comment by Z | May 21, 2012 | Reply

  5. It was a trembling but triumphant mouse Linda. I’m not sure which of us was most surprised to see the other. (And yes. I wonder if we’ve both got it right)

    Generally I feel the same Rog. However they are good value for entertainment purposes.

    I shut the door and left the window open rosie. He’d done so well, I couldn’t be so cruel as to finish him off. Also, I’m not very good at catching mice.

    I love Bantams Z – in theory – I don’t actually know many. I’m loving the image of a bantam in my larder though – a live and hunting one obviously, not a cooked one.

    Comment by letouttoplay | May 21, 2012 | Reply

  6. Awwwwww…..poor shivering mousey! I’m glad you offered him an escape route. Let’s just hope he takes it!

    In the meantime, WOW what a very nicely organized and NEAT larder/pantry you have.
    I’m afraid if a mouse entered mine, it would set up camp and have three generations! Seriously, there’s so much STUFF in there it’s frightening.
    But I blame himself–who is just not THAT neat.

    Think I’m gonna show yours off and see how he handles that one. LOL Betcha his gets organized in the next 48 hours!!

    Oh, but that’s a very pretty, clever kitty you have there ma’am.

    Comment by Mel | May 22, 2012 | Reply

  7. I’m afraid I banned our b/w – and very similar – cat Tonip from reading this. He gets over-excited very easily.

    Comment by Christopher Campbell-Howes | May 23, 2012 | Reply

  8. The lower levels are where things set up and multiply Mel but not mice – yet. Tosca lost interest in the larder an hour or two later so I think the little chap escaped.

    Oh but Tosca and Tonip could have begun the first feline internet romance Christopher – do reconsider. Or at least write a song about them – one of those Languedoc folk songs.

    Comment by letouttoplay | May 23, 2012 | Reply

  9. […] couldn’t find the photos of Tosca’s mouse hunt in the larder so I can only offer a link to the relevant […]

    Pingback by In the past « Letouttoplay | May 24, 2013 | Reply

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