La chasse aux baies

Poor old Louis Catorze. Here he is, dutifully fixed to his post at the virginia creeper and utterly unaware that the tantalising sounds within are, in fact … falling berries.

Oui, mes amis: there are no birds, no mice and no bugs, nor has he discovered an opening to The Underworld. It’s just berries. Cat Daddy made this discovery during an alfresco session of Boys’ Club, and it perfectly explains not only why Catorze assigned himself to a spot too high for mice and too low for birds, but also why he hasn’t caught anything yet (not that we are complaining about this).

Anyway, he has spent most of the week still in the same place. No doubt he will be there today, tomorrow, the day after that, and the day after that. It would be tragic if it weren’t so utterly hilarious.

L’oiseau libre

This cheeky sod (see photo below) has been hanging around for a number of days now, nibbling at the sedum flowers at The Front. He is a very distinctive dark colour, so I am 100% certain that it’s the same pigeon coming back repeatedly.

Like most of the world, I am not a fan of pigeons (or “winged sky-rats”, as I have called them for most of my life), but I don’t mind him too much as I can’t imagine just one pigeon would be capable of decimating our entire sedum crop. Cat Daddy, however, is livid. He has kept the window open in the hope that Louis Catorze may poke his head out and remind the feathered interloper whose Château this is … but, of course, now that we actually WANT him to go out at The Front, he won’t do it.

The window was open for a good few hours this afternoon and Sa Maj didn’t budge from his important nap. And, naturellement, in the few minutes AFTER the pigeon’s departure (of his own accord), he was in and out about 378 times.

Cat Daddy: “Typical. I don’t even know why you’re surprised.”

Incidentally, the stick sticking up under the pigeon is bothering me greatly. I took a number of photos and the stick was not visible in any of the other shots, yet it’s far too neat to be something I drew by accident using the Mark-Up tool. Could we have … a ghost stick?

Le maudit hebenon

One of the glorious things about our garden is that plants just magically appear without us actually planting them. Neither Cat Daddy nor I know a thing about gardening so we very much welcome this, especially if the plants turn out to be particularly attractive or unusual.

A new and quite pleasant-looking plant recently appeared which we didn’t recognise. A family member thought it might be something called “tree tomato” and suggested popping a couple of the berries into our cooking. And merci à Dieu that we didn’t, because a bit of Googling – using the sophisticated and targeted search term of, erm, “plants with purple flowers and red berries” – revealed it to be … deadly nightshade.

As the name would suggest, every part of this plant is poisonous and if you so much as look at it, you die. This is the Hallowe’eny witch-plant of nightmares, the enemy-eliminating poison of every story book I read as a child, so frightening that I half-believed it to be of Shakespearean fiction along with hemlock (Cat Daddy: “I’m fairly sure that’s an actual plant”), mandrake (Cat Daddy: “I think that’s an actual plant, too”) and wolfsbane (Cat Daddy, tapping on his phone: “You’ve just named three ACTUAL PLANTS”).

I even asked a friend to name “the worst plant she could possibly think of” and, despite not having much horticultural experience, she said “deadly nightshade” without hesitation. (Well, her first guess was “cucumber” but I disqualified that for silliness.)

When we first moved into Le Château we were very strict about the plants we kept, because of Louis Catorze’s medical issues. But, as we started to realise just how many seeds were unstoppably air- and bird-borne, and how often Catorze pitter-pattered into other gardens with less desirable plants, we gradually became less strict. And it seemed that Catorze, despite not being blessed in the brain department, was cleverly able to ascertain which were to be avoided, such as the spiny butternut squash which he would clear with a flying leap when it strayed across the path. That said, knowing that we had the worst plant in the world in our garden – OVERLOOKING LE ROYAL NAP SPOT – didn’t fill us with joy. The little sod has shown no interest in consuming toxic matter in the past, but we know, don’t we, that if I assume or tell people that he won’t do it, he will. The deadly nightshade had to go.

So, whilst taking great pains not to dislodge any pollen, Cat Daddy snipped off the branches and dug up the roots. We can now relax knowing that the most lethal plant ever to exist won’t be shedding death-dust onto our precious boy as he sleeps. However, we feel somewhat less relaxed about future dinner invitations from that family member who told us to eat the berries, and we are drafting our list of excuses already.

See below for an indication of the the terrifying proximity of Sa Maj’s nap area to the devil-plant:

Sous le soleil

Quelle joie: the Forbidden Greenhouse is no more! As you may be aware, this was Louis Catorze’s go-to place during heatwaves, so we were just in time before he could cook himself during Saturday’s 33-degree scorcher. (And, yes, we know perfectly well that, if it’s hotter than the depths of hell and you’re a black animal covered in fur, basking in a greenhouse like one of those desert lizards isn’t a very good idea, but this is Catorze we’re talking about.) Anyway, what a relief to no longer have to worry about a potential “Cat dies in hot greenhouse” shocker, with me protesting, “But he CHOSE to go in there, and he kicked me in the face when I tried to pull him out!” as the baying mob come for me with their flaming torches and pitchforks.

The crumbling shed has also gone and Cat Daddy has treated himself to a whizzy new one with a sedum roof, despite the obvious risk of Catorze finding some way to ruin it. We are very pleased with it and we are now taking bets on which of the following scenarios we will see first:

  1. Sa Maj sunbathing up there
  2. Sa Maj and a friend (Cat Daddy: “He’s going to have to find one first …” sunbathing up there together
  3. Sa Maj hunched creepily over a row of drying-out-in-the-sun mouse corpses, cackling to himself as he decides which one to lick first
  4. Some other bizarre and abnormal “You couldn’t make this up” type of incident that I haven’t thought of

All suggestions are most welcome, Mesdames et Messieurs.

Creuser sa propre tombe

We have a Code Rouge situation at Le Château: SOMEONE HAS BEEN DIGGING AROUND AMONG THE SEDUMS. Although we have no actual proof, a certain suspect ticks all the boxes in terms of past history (he did the same thing to Cat Daddy’s chilli and strawberry plants), motive (generally being a shite) and opportunity (multiple escapes at The Front since we installed the planter).

I suppose we should be trying to find a solution, but the truth is that we’re utterly defenceless against the little sod’s sorcery, i.e. Cloak of Invisibility, teleportation, astral projection or whatever the heck he does to get past us and breach the security perimeters of Le Château.

The one thing saving Louis Catorze’s royal arse at the moment is the fact that this is only a Code Rouge and not a Code Brun. (At least we hope not; we daren’t poke around in the soil to find out.)

Please see below for the evidence discovered by Cat Daddy. Any advice on how to deal with the Dark Lord and his forces of evil would be much appreciated.

L’apocalypse commence par Le Roi Soleil

Armageddon must be nigh: although Louis Catorze has escaped out at The Front about 78 times since we took delivery of our plant-topped recycling box thing, not once has he attempted to use it as a litter tray. Much as it pains and repulses me, I have been checking for signs of disturbed soil every time someone knocks at the door to return him to us, and there are none whatsoever.

Whilst we are delighted that Sa Maj is, for once, doing what we want him to do, something about it makes us rather uncomfortable and we can’t help waiting for the axe to fall at some random and inopportune moment. 

Here he is enjoying the new green surroundings of The Front, with the sedums now in place. Has he turned over a new leaf (metaphorically, I mean), or will his inherent evil triumph at some point?

Maintenant lavez-vous les pattes

We have just treated ourselves to a fabulous green solution for storing our unsightly recycling boxes. However, once the top bit is filled with soil and plants, I am concerned that a certain someone may mistake it for the world’s fanciest litter tray. So … how to keep Louis Catorze from doing unwanted business here? 

Cat Daddy, rather naively, is insisting that Catorze will never use this as les toilettes royales “because he isn’t allowed out at The Front”. But we all know better, don’t we? 

We – well, I – thought about everything from cat-arse-activated sprinklers to filling the top with spiky cacti to deter la derrière royale, but then my mum suggested sedums. No, I had no idea what they were, either, until now. 

As far as I can gather, sedums are low-maintenance, semi-succulent plants which (my mum says) will spread quickly, leaving little-to-no soil exposed to tempt wayward cat behinds. And although they are not covered in spines like cacti, they can be quite pointy in places, so I can’t say I would especially want to sit on one.

So, now that we have a genius idea for Roi-proofing our new purchase, all we need to do is ramp up our efforts to keep The Front under lockdown. Player 1 (me) is ready. Player 2 (Cat Daddy), not so much.

If you also fancy treating your cat to a ruinously expensive outdoor litter tray, we got ours from bluum.co.uk. We even managed to assemble it without Cat Daddy losing his temper and without me stabbing either him or myself in the head with the screwdriver.