Thursday, 6 December 2012

When ..... Got Stuck Up The Chimney.....

A few days ago I awoke in the wee hours to hear a frantic scrabbling, gurgley sort of noise from behind the integral, inbuilt metal chimney screen in our bedroom. All very eerie, no doubt. I turned over and slept as usual. Next morning I opened up the thing - for the first time - expecting to find, if not one of those ridiculous inflatable Santas the Froggos seem to love, a stray crow or other trapped behind it in the hearth.  As I poked around, clearing out years of twiggy debris, to our joint surprise a delightful Little Owl (Athene noctua) like this little fella hopped down  and froze when it saw me. We both stared at each other for a few surprised seconds before it took off, scrabbling swiftly back up the chimney.

He was gone, of course, long before I could lay hands on a camera. But soon after, one of the new kittens, Ali, decided to follow him up the chimney and fortunately stopped on a ledge within touching range so could easily be retrieved before getting herself into difficulty or danger. I've long been particularly interested in Owls, so this was a most pleasant surprise visit. J had thought she'd seen a Little Owl perched on a nearby building and it was probably this little 'un.  There are huge numbers of BArn Owls around here too. I've never come across so many. Sadly, there is also a string of them dead by the roadside leading into one of our nearest towns, Thouars. These have presumably been hit by traffic on the road at night while hunting.

Today we have a gloriously bright, sunny day albeit with lowish temps following an overnight frost. Still nothing like Sweden where our old neighbour, Monica, confirmed a day or two ago that it had been minus 23 overnight!  Oddly enough, we are sure we'll both miss the beauty - including temps and snowfalls - of the place, though the wine, food, weather and general lifestyle is better down here.

The two kittens are slowly adapting to life with us; the male, called, imaginatively, 'Ginge' is into everything, constantly curious. He cracked the catflap immediately and comes and goes happily. His sister, Ali, is much more timid and cautious, though she does come to me when I call her and jumps onto my lap most evenings. Today is thr first day of catflap usage. She was initially very wary of Jack but has come to realise he's not a threat. The same cannot be said for Rocky who, to our surprise, has suddenly grown enormously and will chase the pair of them at the drop a hat.  Sadly, there's been no news of Charlie - my all time favourite Swedish  cat - who has now been gone for the better part of two months. I still miss him terribly and hope he returns though the odds must now be stacked against it!

J has bought and planted three trees for the longer term in the garden: a Catalpa, Liquid Amber and 'Silk Tree' ( Paraserianthes lophantha.)  We also have our thirty-plus years old Pomello in a pot. Somehow or other It has survived all the moves and a few years in Sweden:

We've bought loads of wood to keep the fires and stove running and have oil and a new heating system in situ with only two pipes and electrics now to be connected. Then we'll have central heating. We could do with it now and hope to have it before Xmas.

We've had a bit of rain too, so the garden - or weed-patch - is a bit muddy for now. Hopefully we'll get over that soon. Maybe we'll even have snow!


  1. Nice cats! We have been feeding this semi-feral cat - Furry-Face nee; Maisey, but she doesn't come in the house at all - even when it's really cold. Been thinking of getting a house cat for our little housey here.

    Not sure about the C&W music though! A bit Eddie Grundy for me :-)

  2. Just spent a very pleasant hour looking through your blog list (not for the first time either!) Some lovely pictures of Scotland there, some blogs made me smile too and some were a bit ‘over my head’ but enjoyable to read as well. Thanks

  3. Enjoyed your travels and blogging immensely this year! Happiness to you and yours this holiday season!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Hi Sandy, nice to hear from you and thanks for visiting and the kind comments. Have a great Xmas and New Year.

  4. Nice owl image...we have an owl sitting on the tree outside the sleepout saying "morpork, morpork" all night!!...Quite reassuring, really.

    All the best for the Season to you and yours