Des jonquilles aux derniers lilas

The spring equinox is here.

Last spring, we had the most beautiful daffodils in the world and everyone admired them. Although I’ve always loved a cheering display of these heralds of spring, I have never thought individual daffodils to be truly beautiful until I saw these ones that Cat Daddy had planted the previous autumn. Whilst they were recognisable as daffodils, the ragged edges gave them an untamed oomph, like the kind of daffodils one would more likely stumble across in Faeryland than on earth.

I loved our first spring with them. Sadly it was our ONLY spring with them because, as soon as they had withered, Cat Daddy pulled them all up again (although a few somehow escaped the cull, and we are still debating what to do with those). This was partly because daffodils are toxic to cats – and maybe we should have known this before, but the list of cat-incompatible plants is so long that it would be impossible to memorise everything – but also because that late winter/early spring was when Louis Catorze’s health took an especially bad turn. I don’t think we will ever know what caused him to deteriorate, but introducing a new thing known for its toxicity probably wasn’t smart.

So now the daffodils have gone to a new home with my mum, whose cat has no health issues and steers well clear of flowers. I hope my mum enjoys them as much as we did for that one brief season.

Here is one of our daffodils, photographed last year:

Fun while it lasted.

And here is the reason why we can’t have nice plants:

It’s all his fault.

La joie de l’automne

Today is the autumn equinox, which signifies the start of my favourite time of the year. Normally I would mark this by lighting a scented candle but, because of a certain sneezing little sod, this is now off limits. (He actually hasn’t sneezed in a while, but we are being cautious as we really don’t want another trip to the vet.)

And, if my memory serves me correctly, this time last year I had also hoped to treat myself to a relaxing spa bath but the same little sod ruined it by battering at the bathroom door and screaming himself senseless. So I guess that is also off limits … unless, of course, I invite him in to make use of the steam to clear les narines royales.

Instead, Cat Daddy and I will be celebrating with Louis Catorze cuddles – which, despite everything, are always a treat – and fillet steak when we get home from our autumn walk. And, yes, Catorze will be getting a little sliver of steak with his dinner. (His preference is medium-rare. Thank you for asking.) 

Happy autumn to you all. Here is Sa Maj, resplendent among the Japanese anemones, heralding the new season in the only way he knows how: 

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Les fleurs du mal

Our plans to buffer Le Château’s perimeters have hit a bit of an obstacle: the patch where we had intended to plant the prickly shrub consists of just a few inches of soil on a base of solid concrete, plus it’s curiously boxed in by a mini-wall of concrete. Planting anything substantial there just won’t work so, for the moment, it’s become the new home for our mint plant, which was starting to stifle our other herbs faster than Louis Catorze could eat it and puke it up.

And, just as we set up our outdoor furniture, the weather turns to merde. Typical. Luckily this hasn’t prevented us from enjoying a few snatched moments of almost-warmth outdoors, wrapped up in jumpers and blankets and with Louis Catorze pitter-pattering around us. But, yesterday evening, in the half-light, we caught sight of his stupid little silhouette flicking an object around, diving onto it, then holding it with his front paws and doing that really fast bicycle-kick with his back ones.

The thing, whatever it was, was motionless. But, as we focused our eyes around the garden, more and more of them – also motionless – came into view in the flowerbeds. It was like that internet meme: “The harder you stare, the more zombies appear.” Saint Jésus. We had a massacre on our hands.

“What ARE they?” asked Cat Daddy. There must have been ten, fifteen, maybe more, of these rodent-shaped lumps strewn around our garden, and we were not looking forward to attempting to identify them. Mice = not great. Rats = worse. The pet hamsters of various neighbours = sell up, move house and don’t leave a forwarding address.

After several minutes of procrastinating, we took a deep breath and switched on the main outside light.

And so it was revealed that our dear little boy is the mass killer of …

… [drum roll and fanfare] …

… the dead heads of camellia flowers.

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Ok, so the object in the photo looks far more like a flower head than a dead rodent but, when you’re a couple of glasses of Cava under and in semi-darkness, it’s an easy mistake to make.

Phew. So Louis Catorze isn’t in the dog house after all. It still doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten MouseGate or SlugGate, though.

Le nouveau jardin

Life is good at the moment. The bank holiday weekend is almost here, Oscar the dog’s folks are still talking to us, and Cultivate London have just about finished working on Le Jardin (“during” and “after” photos attached).

They are absolute perfectionists and have been doing it all properly, taking out every trace of cruddy old plants and putting fancy new stuff down. We now have a lovely selection of flowers and herbs for Louis Catorze to dig up and/or chew, and the little sod has already started on the mint: yesterday he regurgitated a whole, intact mint sprig, complete with leaves and flower buds.

Le Roi has been a constant companion/pest to the gardeners throughout their labours, inspecting everything, flirting and rolling at their feet.

I was initially concerned that they would get impatient with notre ami, and I could understand that maybe they wouldn’t want a stupid, annoying cat getting in their way. However, when I heard them greet him with “Hello again, mate!”, and when they proceeded to give me a detailed account of how much time he’d spent outside, which plants he’d sniffed and which spot he’d visited for les toilettes royales, I knew it was probably ok. (They didn’t call it “les toilettes royales” though.)

The fact that he’s so friendly is, no doubt, because people have been kind to him throughout his life. What a lucky little Roi he is.