Early last week, Leslie trotted downstairs, bleary eyed and half conscious and made his way to the kitchen. I was still tucked up in bed because 7am is such an unreasonable time to rise and I always steal an extra half hour once he leaves for the surgery.
On this particular day, an extra disco nap was to prove impossible when I was summoned downstairs and asked 'Does this tupperware look like it's been chewed?'. And, alas, yes it did. I didn't chew it (I much prefer Betterware to the tradition Tupper) and, as Les was posing the question, I guessed he hadn't, either.
This left only one real possibility: ALIENS. I'm kidding, obviously. Aliens don't much like my Nigella recipe breakfast bars (which was what was stored in aforementioned Tupperware). They told me this the last time they came to collect me for experiments.
Moving swiftly on... We clearly had a small visitor who HAD been attempting to enjoy the oaty deliciousness of coconut cranberry granola bars made by my own fair hand, and who could blame him? They are seriously tasty. For humans AND mice.
Anyway, several days, three half chewed plums, one slightly gnawed apple, and half a bread roll later, we realised that Kenny Cheeseney (that's my mouse's name), clearly had no intention of leaving voluntarily; he'd moved in. He was a crafty wee thing, though, moving in stealth mode during the night and only coming out to raid the kitchen when he knew we were out.
That was, until late on a cold Spring evening, when I had gone to bed early, feeling ill and was unceremoniously dragged from peaceful slumber by a rather manic little Dr. 'He's in the kitchen!!!', proclaimed Les. 'He's hiding in the cubby hole and he's just, like...sitting there watching me'. I need you to come and help me catch him!'.
Firstly: No. Secondly: he's a mouse and he runs really fast. And finally: how do you even attempt to catch one, anyway? Were the things I didn't bother saying as I stumbled to the kitchen. It's not like a spider, where you can hit it with your shoe/newspaper/anything within your grasp and squish it without feeling even the tiniest bit guilty. Plus, he was really quite cute, with his little beady eyes and tiny little chops, and I couldn't have bashed him even if I'd caught him drinking my good wine. I opted to keep him, but was promptly overruled.
As it happens, we both stood, frozen to the spot on the kitchen floor in a kind of Mexican standoff. We stared at him, he stared back, lots of time passed, and it was apparent that the three of us had the faintest idea what to do. We lived in a city in Scotland; mice were not an issue. The biggest problem we faced in Stirling was neighbours letting their dogs take a dump in the garden (seriously, people: who does that??). It was evident we were vastly under prepared.
Cue the frantic raking through cupboards to find something, ANYTHING, that we could realistically use to catch Kenny. This include an empty Pringles jar, a massive clear plastic mixing bowl, a wine glass (because obviously I have so many within easy reach), and a tea towel.
I felt a bit like one of The A Team when they used to disappear into a garage with two oranges and some page dividers and came charging out a short time later with a full loaded monster truck, replete with All Of The Guns. Unfortunately, Hannibal I am not. And neither, as it happens, is Les.
After some crazed searching, we decided Les would utilise a kitchen utensil-come-poking device board to entice KC out of the shelf, and I would stand, with my huge baking bowl, like a lion waiting to pounce, as soon as Kenny tried to scurry off to tell his family about The Crazies Who Own The Cottage.
Astonishingly, it worked, which is more a reflection of how rubbish Kenny is at mousing, rather than a reflection of our mouse-trapping prowess, believe me.
And so, Kenny was released to the field next door and scuttled away to seek out another unsuspecting host. Life has returned the quiet normalcy we've been used to on the farm and I can, once again, eat Emmental without fear.
Totally sure I heard scratching last night, though, and now wondering if my little friend has returned, or whether I'm just paranoid. I'll check the fruit bowl for evidence at a decent hour in the morning. Late morning, I would think.