Les fruits d’une sécheresse

Non-Brits: check on your British friends. We are just about managing to haul our frazzled carcasses through what we really hope is the last hot snap of the year, and we are far from ok.

It’s been so hot that Cat Daddy’s iPhone flashed a warning message last Wednesday, about needing to cool down before it could work. (Ok, so he left it in the sun and forgot about it, but that’s not the point.) Our surroundings are so unreassuringly brown and parched that we have started having those conversations that old people have: “I really hope it rains, because we NEED the rain”, debating the probability of a hosepipe ban, and so on.

Not normal.

One of our water-saving measures at Le Château has been to invest the kingly sum of £8 in a washing-up bowl, which catches the water every time we use the sink instead of just letting it run down the plughole. It has made us acutely aware of how much water we use – I once discovered that I’d used a whole bowlful to rinse just one smallish pan – and, when it’s about half full, we empty it into the flowerbed.

As I thought it only fair that Louis Catorze cut down, like the rest of us, so I swapped his usual tumbler for, erm, a Chambord cocktail coupe. The tumbler holds 500ml of which he only ever drinks half, due to not being able to squeeze his silly face right down to the bottom, whereas the coupe holds half as much and is wider:

Très fancy.

Cat Daddy: “You can’t use that! It was expensive!” (Actual price of coupe: £0, because it came free with a bottle of Chambord.)

Cat Daddy again: “But that’s our favourite dessert glass!” (Actual number of desserts ever served in this glass: 0.)

The experiment failed. Although Catorze drank from it, he made the most almighty mess, which is exactly the opposite of saving water. I would far rather give his leftover water to the plants than see it all over the floor.

So Catorze is back to his pint tumbler again, and his part in our water-saving drive remains nothing, niente, nichts and nada. It’s a shame as I really wanted him to make a contribution to the planet.

Cat Daddy: “Well, that would’ve been a first.”

Why, yes, that is a piece of cobweb on his whisker, flapping in the breeze.

EDIT: To make up for his aqua-selfishness, Catorze has kindly agreed that the local wildlife may use some of his 9,983 bowls for their water. So we have dotted them around Le Jardin in shady spots and are refilling them daily. Catorze has always refused to drink from a bowl but I have a funny feeling he will start now, just to be difficult.

Le cafard post-vacances

Cat Daddy and I succeeded in our plan to beat the worst of the searing heat on Tuesday, and we were fortunate to spend much of the day in an air-conditioned car. However, when we arrived back at Le Château, it really was the end of days because the screaming started. Not that it had ever really stopped.

Saint Jésus, Louis Catorze has been BEYOND horrendous since our return and it’s like having the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse all stampede us at once. Is this really the same cat who received a glowing behaviour report from his chat-sitteur during our absence?

He screamed as we were unloading our bags from the car. He screamed as Cat Daddy watered the parched garden. He screamed as Cat Daddy let fly a string of Unrepeatable Expletives when it started to rain minutes after he had finished watering the garden. And, as if I wouldn’t already have difficulty sleeping with both the brutal heat and the grim realisation that all our summers could be this hot from now on, the little sod alternated between screaming, aggressive headbutting and parkour at hourly intervals throughout the night. And, naturellement, he only did this in my room, steering well clear of his papa (who was in another room as it was cooler than sleeping together).

Catorze only quietened down when dawn broke … and that was when the parakeets started. My happy holiday feeling was gone in an instant, as if it had never existed.

Here he is, watching the birds intently but doing nothing, nichts, niente and nada about their infernal racket:

Bastard birds and bastard cat.

Un tableau noir à la lumière

Cat Daddy and I have decided, last-minute, to extend our holiday, to avoid the London heat which now looks set to peak at 41°C (FORTY-ONE DEGREES CELSIUS). Sadly we can’t stay in the eco-croft as it’s reserved, but we have booked a place in the north-east, in the same complex where KettleGate took place. It’ll still be 30°C there, but come on: 30°C or 41°C? The latter sounds like a made-up number, applicable only to Death Valley and to that place in Ethiopia with the acidic water.

Non, non and thrice non.

We are very lucky indeed to be able to do this, and our wonderful, kind neighbours have agreed to take over Catorzian duties for the extra few days. We feel for anyone who has to endure this weather covered in black fur, but not enough to go and join them in it. Sorry, Louis Catorze.

Anyway … cats and circles. We all know about that. (If you don’t, please have a look here.)

However, cats and RECTANGLES? That’s a new one to us. But for Catorze, who always does the opposite of whatever is expected or wanted, it’s absolutely perfect.

It’s not often that Catorze creates perfect moments but, on this occasion, he did. The little sod decided to position himself in a rectangle that isn’t even a real rectangle, but a shadow one cast by the trellis above him. Perhaps he understands that every work of art needs a frame, and in this case the masterpiece is himself.

Here he is, demonstrating that rectangles are, apparently, the new circles. This was taken some time before the raging inferno into which London has just plunged but, to be fair, Catorze would do this whatever the weather:

This art installation created itself.

Londres est en flamme

Louis Catorze does not like sitting on bare skin. He favours fluffy blankets or denim, merci for asking.

He is also not a fan of, erm, the fan. It’s not the noise, but the breeze; he seems to find it quite annoying and moves away, flicking his ears and muttering obscenities under his breath, when I direct the airflow towards him.

So here I am, in a 30+ degree heatwave, sitting beneath a fluffy blanket and with the fan OFF, with the equivalent of a fur hot water bottle on my lap, to allow said fur hot water bottle to relax in what he believes to be comfort. I don’t know which is/are flowing faster: my sweat or my tears.

And, before you say anything, I bet you would all do the same (not for Catorze, obviously, but for your much nicer cats). In fact, I’m pretty sure you have done worse.

“Switch this on and I’ll slice you up, chère Maman.”

La canicule

When it’s this darned hot in the UK, two types of people emerge:

1. Those who stock up on Ambre Solaire and head straight for the beach, even if it’s a 14-hour drive and they have no air conditioning in their cars

2. Me

It’s horrendous. Just foul beyond belief. Last night was so grim that I came downstairs at 3am to sleep in the kitchen, and Louis Catorze, confused by the change and/or wondering whether I had gone there to die, kept me awake for hours by clambering all over me, screaming. The only saving grace is that I don’t have to go to work in this heat. Except for, erm, today, because it’s exam results day. And, given that assessment and moderation have been completely thrown into disarray by Covid 19, today is going to be more of a cirque de merde than we ever thought possible.

People who live in places hotter than the UK: “You should try living HERE!” No, I really shouldn’t. That’s why I chose here and not there. But thank you. Your comments have been duly noted.

Cats in heatwaves are another matter entirely, and they seem to manage much better than humans. Catorze has been spending his days playing energetically with his catnip toys and sunbathing outside, popping occasionally into his shady spot in the ferns to take a break. Sometimes he joins Cat Daddy at the end of the garden, lying at his feet like a guard dog and scowling at me – an audible scowl, would you believe – should I have the temerity to approach them.

Whilst Cat Daddy and I slow-cook in bed at night, Catorze is either enjoying nocturnal adventures, going exploring as far as Twiggy the greyhound’s house, or napping in his new favourite place: on our laundry basket. I imagine that it has the double benefit of air circulating underneath AND a textured surface on which to squirm and roll. A cooling, massaging/exfoliating spa treatment, if you will.

So it’s all right for him.

But, as any cat owner will understand, it’s all about them. It’s only ever about them.

Here he is on the laundry basket, looking as cute and kittenish as can be. But we know the truth:

“Très confortable, merci for asking.

L’effet de serre

IMG_9200

During the 30+ degree heat of last week, when most of us were desperately seeking shade, the Sun King, apparently, wasn’t warm enough, and spent much of his time in the greenhouse.

A word of warning if, like us, you happen to have both a greenhouse and an incredibly stupid cat: please be careful. Le fichu con was trapped there for about 3-4 hours one evening – thankfully after the worst of the heat had passed – and, because he is highly adept at slipping unnoticed from one place to another, we are prepared to bet a Roi’s ransom that it will happen again if we don’t watch out.

Catorze had just had a visitor and had been cuddled and spoilt beyond measure, so it would have been easy to assume that he were sleeping off the evening’s excitement somewhere. But it was unusual for him not to join us for Movie Night, so eventually we decided to go out and look for him. After being alerted by the pathetic wailing coming from the greenhouse, we were able to release him – and, fortunately, he was perfectly fine and unharmed, just mildly outraged at the inconvenience of it all. A few cuddles later and he had completely forgotten about his ordeal.

Even if your cat wouldn’t be that stupid/nosey, be prepared for the fact that other neighbourhood cats might. Cats sneak into sheds and outhouses all the time and are usually fine, even after days of entrapment, but greenhouses are like ovens in this weather so the consequences could be disastrous. And, although it may seem illogical for any creature to actively seek shelter in a greenhouse when it’s this hot, trust me, they still do it.

Please, please check carefully before closing up for the day/night, especially if your greenhouse has lots of nooks and crannies in which a silly (or lost) animal could hide. Or, better yet, if you’re in any way unsure, don’t close up completely at all, and leave an escape route for said silly/lost animal to use in an emergency.

 

La chaleur est là

Le Château, its contents and its occupants are melting in the heat. We have dealt with heat before, of course, but, when it’s so hot that packets of salted peanuts in our kitchen cupboards start to ooze oil – which doesn’t sound that bad but, in reality, it’s like the initial signs of a poltergeist haunting and is creepy as hell – it really is the end of days.

But it’s all right for some, who are able to lounge languidly in their cool chaise longues. The glamorous piece of cat furniture that you see was a gift from one of Louis Catorze’s wonderful supporters and, because it’s positioned on the ground floor by the patio doors AND raised off the hot ground, it’s the coolest spot in the house. On sticky nights, when it’s too uncomfortable to snuggle in bed with us, Sa Majesté heads here instead.

Le Roi is also partial to having a freezer-cold bottle of vodka rolled up & down his body when temperatures soar (see photo from the archives), but Cat Daddy has imposed strict conditions on this. “It’s the chaise longue or the cold vodka massage, not both. Let’s not go overboard.”

Exactement. We don’t want the Sun King becoming too pampered.

 

Il fait trop chaud 

I often say that I prefer excess cold to excess heat; when you’re too cold, there are measures you can take which will warm you up whereas, when you’re too hot, nothing whatsoever cools you. Today has proven that I was right all along, although being right doesn’t help in the slightest and, in fact, just annoys me more.

That said, it can’t be much fun being a black, fur-covered animal in these record-breaking temperatures, either; poor Louis Catorze has spent the last day or two shunning all close physical contact, preferring instead to flop languidly around the house like a limp feather boa. At times his body seems to almost liquefy and seep into the floor and, although it’s quite funny to watch, I do feel sorry for the poor sausage.  

Luckily I don’t have to worry too much about him becoming dehydrated in the heat; even in moderately warm weather he drinks up to 1/3 of a pint of water a day, and I know this because he drinks from a glass and not a bowl. We were told about this strange quirk when we adopted him, and we thought at the time, “That’s absurd – he WILL drink from a bowl when he gets thirsty enough, because we will give him no choice.” No. He would rather shrivel up and die of thirst than be so vulgaire. And he won’t settle for any old glass, either: he will accept a pint glass or a wine glass, but not a cocktail glass nor a tankard. Figure THAT out if you can. 

So, whilst there’s no doubt that he’s suffering in his perma-fur coat, at least he has his butler on hand to chill both the royal pint glass AND the royal person using a freezer-fresh bottle of Absolut Peppar. Let’s hope temperatures start to drop soon.