Up and over or the one above sees all! Mr Lewis, the ginger cat we rehomed a year ago this August, has finally discovered the shed roof. To be fair to him, that corner of the garden was such a jungle he’d have had a job getting up onto the fence there, let alone the shed.

The Mother got quite a shock when she realised she was being observed by our ginger ninja. He did look rather proud of himself, and when I produced my camera, he put on a bit of a show  which involved rolling about on the sloping roof, much to The Mother’s consternation, she was certain he would roll right off!

Once all the excitement had died down we watched Mr Lewis to see how he would return to earth. The Mother, convinced he was stuck, placed a garden chair against the shed wall, this he  ignored, preferring to jump the short distance across to the  neighbour’s shed roof before dropping down onto the only piece of fence free from ivy and down from there into our garden.

As Mr Lewis sauntered across the lawn towards the back door he gave us a look which seemed to say, ‘Why on earth were you making such a fuss?!

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Not a field but definitely further. Mr Lewis has expanded his territory into our nextdoor neighbour’s back garden. This came about with some help from me after The Mother mentioned she used to be able to get behind the garden shed to paint it.  Unfortunately the neighbour’s invasive bamboo, brambles and ivy had created a Sleeping Beauty obstruction, which put pay to anyone repairing the shed. It got me thinking that if I could clear a path, Mr Lewis might be able to get over the fence and thereby avoid the road and it’s traffic at the front of the house.

Pet sitting nearby, I was mostly free to call in and tackle the overgrown corner. It took me eight bags of garden waste, meticulously chopped up, before I could get all the way around the shed. In doing so I discovered a gap in the fence large enough for a cat to get through. This Mr Lewis did almost immediately and I discovered him sitting amongst the bamboo intently staring at the neighbour’s pond. It has become one of his favourite places to hide, especially now that the beautiful, blue iris have grown tall.

Having made a start on tidying the garden I turned my attention to the fence which, at a list, needed replacing. Short of funds I opted to hide it behind a row of slightly rusty brown planters. My thinking was, once they were full of colourful trailing plants, nobody would notice the wonky brown fence or the rusty brown containers against it.  There followed a great planting frenzy, I’m not sure The Mother was all that happy at first, the garden, being very much her baby. However, she began to get involved again and soon I had more plants than I new where to plant!

I even upcycled a neighbour’s large, wooden gate hanging  a black framed mirror on it, which looked splendid against the forest green paint along with a basket full of trailing fuschia. It made quite a feature  of an otherwise undervalued area of the garden. Chelsea here we come Mr Lewis, I told the cat, who throughout the back yard transformation had been on hand to offer his support, mainly by weeing on my freshly dug borders!

We didn’t have a problem with mice until Mr Lewis, the ginger cat we rehomed, came to live with us! I told him to leave the garden birds alone and focus on the mammals, he was to be in charge of ‘rodent patrol’. I think he took my instruction to heart, although the offerings were slow in coming they arrived, with Mr Lewis favouring a ‘catch and release ‘ policy. Release being in the house! 

One evening, between pet sits, The Mother suggested we open a box of Malteesers she’d been saving for my return. I duly got them out of the cupboard under the stairs only to find the box was missing a corner and half it’s contents gone! On closer inspection I found tiny fragments of chewed cardboard and cellophane on the shelf where the box had stood. The Mother was rightly concerned for the stash of M&S cheese straws, her usual lunch, that she kept in there along with the sherry and a couple of sun umbrellas. I had a good look for the culprit but was unsuccessful and to placate The Mother, told her that the rodent was probably lying under the floorboards in a diabetic coma after all the sugar it has consumed She wasn’t impressed, saying, if it died the smell would be awful and we’d have to have the parquet floor up!

The next day I bought a humane mouse trap and, watched by Mr Lewis, I baited it with peanut butter  then put it on the shelf where the villainous rodent had committed his crime. Mr Lewis spent the evening loitering outside the cupboard door and when I checked before bed, the trap has been sprung. It felt empty when I picked up the trap and I had to resist the urge to shake it! Instead I carried the tube and it’s possible contents out to the green beside the house and opened it to discover a woodmouse staring back at me, though not for long, as the nimble creature leapt from it’s prison causing me to drop my torch in surprise. I returned home to find The Mother in a celebratory mood, having bought another box of Malteesers and Mr Lewis in a huff, ignoring me until his breakfast was due!

I have noticed Mr Lewis’s tail is constantly moving, in fact even when he’s asleep it twitches while he’s dreaming. My Mother says Mr Lewis’s tail tells him to be naugty, which is why he is so loving one minute and the Devil’s own sidekick the next. I expect the diet we have him on at the moment is making him particularly crabby.  Despite his occasinal boughts of bad temper, Mr Lewis is one of the best family cats we have been privileged to live with. Although I may revise my opinion of him if he dives under my duvet in the small hours and bites my buttock again! 

Over my ten years as  a home and pet sitter, mostly spent on my own, I have noticed that I tend to talk to myself more often.  I like to think that it’s because I’m good at externalising my thoughts. Usually I keep a check on myself  in public, this morning however, as I got on the bus into town  I had a ‘moment’ while buying my ticket.  I couldn’t be certain if I’d  said out loud what I was thinking?!  As I didn’t receive any verbal abuse from our driver  I was reassured that I’d only thought that he looked like a right misery. Even so, I quickly took my change and headed for the furthest available seat at the back of the bus where I spent  the whole journey fixedly staring out of the window at the passing countryside.

I was woken at five this morning by a persistent tapping on my bedroom window and was out of bed and halfway across the room before remembering not to open the window as it would knock my client’s cat, Dangerous Dave, off the window ledge! I got back into bed and pretended I couldn’t hear him, he has access to a perfectly good cat flap I reasoned.

Unfortunately my early rising didn’t go unnoticed by the dogs who decided breakfast was due.  Thankfully they settled down again until my alarm went off at seven when the  mayhem began. Our morning got underway with a race down the stairs to see who could get to their food bowl first, the cats won as usual. 

After a quick empty in the back garden, the pets not me, breakfast got began  with a place for everyone and everyone knowing their place. This didn’t stop me being mugged  for my porridge by Dave, something he seems to have taught Bettie Spaghetti the saluki, who practically sat on my lap while I tried to fend off Dangerous Dave with my spoon and held my bowl aloft. I am still trying to assert myself as  Alpha female.

With the indoor animals emptied, fed, watered and emptied again, I left for the field and the outdoor animals. Down at the yard all was quite until I was spotted by The Mare from over her stable door, there followed much whinnying and stomping about  her loose box in anticipation of breakfast. Ash, The Mare’s diminutive, Dartmoor pony companion had a more laid back approach to things, he could just about see over his door and waited patiently as I  made up the feeds.

There being little nutritional value in what little grass managed to force it’s way up through the mud, I loaded the wheelbarrow with hay and tottered across the rutted earth to dump it’s contents in a sheltered corner of the field. As usual, when it came to releasing The Mare into the paddock, she turned into a rodeo horse, bucking, farting and galloping about whilst I winced and prayed she didn’t slip and break a leg! Ash, however,  daintily picked his way through the mud and settled down to eat the hay.

Having cleaned out the stables and swept the yard I padlocked the tack room and wondered where I would take the dogs our  morning walk. It was then I realized that the  keys were locked inside! I made a quick call to the neighbour who had a spare for the cottage, no reply, so I left a message and started walking to her house in the hope she’d be in. Unfortunately she wasn’t and I was almost at her garden gate when I remembered I’d left the front door key in the lock so the spare would be of little use.  I schlepped back up the hill ringing all my emergency contacts without success. Arriving back at the cottage I stood looking in through the lounge window at the excited dogs who couldn’t understand why I was  loitering about outside. I was wondering what to do next when a voice from behind me asked,“You alright?!” I turned to see a man in a green boiler suit with a tool box in his hand, what where the odds of that happening?! I recognized my Knight in shining armour as my neighbour from across the road. He was on his way to work and seemed mildly amused by my plight but very kindly accompanied me to the field where he took the tack room door off it’s hinges saving me from calling out a lock smith.

As I let myself in through the back door the Bettie and Lizzy  rushed at me with ecstatic barks. I let them out in to the garden, it was only nine-thirty and I felt like I’d already done a full day’s work. I decided the dogs could wait a little longer for their walk and put the kettle on!

Not since my teenage years have I been made to feel uncomfortable about how long I spend in the bathroom but Mishka, the poodle,  has an unerring ability to do so!  Every morning she interrupts my ablutions with her piteous whining, there seems to be an optimum point where  I should be finished so we can play?!  Mishka allows me a certain amount of time  to undress and shower before she starts to fuss, never mind about using the loo, that can be done with the door open and an audience! 

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