A losing game of cat and mouse

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TIRED of yet another dismal summer?

Not that the sun does not bring Spain its fair share of problems.

Just read what our monthly columnist has to say.

Polly, the ex-pat Poolie, as she prefers to be known, recalls a game of cat and mouse.

BY MAY 2006 we had a car, a phone, a gas bottle and we had also learned how to light a fire in our wood burning stove.

The last point had indeed been an amazing experience.

It had been more effective than a box of firelighters.

As the pinecone kicked into action over our gas hob, its tiny tenants ran for cover.

In our seconds of panic, our neighbour, Carmen, had carried the ball of fire towards our wood burner.

Selecting twigs then thicker and thicker pieces of wood from her sack, she created a wigwam over the pinecone.

The heat was on! Instead of looking at our white trails of breath in those cold months of 2006, we had been drooling over the oranges and red flames.

Our 17-year-old cat Poppy had come out of hiding and took pride of place on the hearth.

A valuable lesson learned but of no use to us at that time as we needed firewood and this would have had to have been ordered in the summer of the year before.

In that wonderful heat of May, a neighbour arrived with two kittens and, with a correctly-placed “gracias” to Carmen’s daughter, Paula, we became the owners of two “outside” cats, as Poppy wasn’t accepting guests.

Still, working cats seemed a natural decision, since we were living in the countryside, where sheep, pigs and hens complemented the village life.

We gathered that such animals might attract mice and rats. So “be prepared” was our motto.

I’m not sure where Tick and Tock were when the mouse came through the kitchen door and Poppy was also nowhere to be seen.

I had made a move and the mouse had ran for cover: We still awaited marble kickboards and getting the scared creature from behind the kitchen units proved an impossible task.

After more than an hour of staring at its tunnel entrance point, I knew that the creature’s voluntary exit wasn’t going to happen soon.

With dictionary at hand, mousetraps were on our shopping list for the next trip into town.

Forget any hopes of B&Q – we’re talking the old-fashioned hardware store where nails are still counted out and placed in the brown paper bag.

Our Spanish sentence was delivered and we got our reply.

“Pegamento? No entiendo.” This pegamento word was new to me and I hadn’t a clue what the shop assistant was talking about.

“Para matar los ratones. Como explicar.” Explicar? Ah, he was going to explain something to us.

Out came a tube of something and a piece of cardboard.

The shop owner’s gestures left nothing to question.

All we had to do was draw a perimeter of glue-cum-pegamento round the piece of cardboard, put some goodies in the centre, place the cardboard somewhere and await customers. It was worth a shot.

The cardboard was strategically placed, at the creature’s expected exit route.

Patience was called for and, if we were lucky, maybe we could catch the mouse and let it go.

The next day, we cut the cardboard into four pieces, as Poppy’s curiosity had left her in rather a sticky situation.

Wearing her four little cardboard slippers, she gave us “the look” and slunk into the garden.

The mouse?

We bought a stunning little trap which was made up of a round tin with a little plastic trapdoor and, three days after receiving our little friend, he found the biscuit in there too much to ignore.

Hubby took him far enough away from the house to release him, just in case he found us to be easy targets for all our English custard creams.

Not long after, mice presented a very strange difficulty in that they searched for shelter in the slate roof of our house and the odd one would be brave enough to take a holiday in the loft.

It seems that mice like eating the plastic sleeve that covers electricity cables and our lights quite often go out if they have chewed too far.

Although we’ve done everything we can to control this problem (yes, we’ve got pegamento up there), lights do still go on the blink and it seems that it is something we are just going to have to live with.

Galicia 1, Hartlepool 4.

In England, I never once saw a mouse in the house or, indeed, in the garden.

No doubt you’re wondering how on earth they got into our roof slates and we’re still asking ourselves that very same question.

Still we now live in a valley and have seen massive insects, lizards and even the odd snake a little too close for comfort.

Well, what you lose on the roundabout you gain on the swings and being that little closer to nature can’t be a bad thing.

Can it?