The internet is a wonderful thing and a source of much useful and useless information. Following Mrs. Parish’s great success in the Mole Wars I have been looking at alternatives to the minefield approach. Over the past week our mole patrols have reported no further incursions into the La Godefrere exclusion zone. There are some rather large mole hills at the bottom of our big field and it may be a matter of time before we have a red alert situation.

So I typed “removal of moles” into Google and came up with all sorts of suggestions of ointments or laser treatment. While the prospect of lasers led to thoughts of star wars technology when I realised that this referred to facial moles. I needed to put in “removal of garden moles” (Using “underground moles” only brings up websites about spies!). I came across a website Wiki how and 4 ways to remove garden moles. The approach was interesting and slightly bizarre. The first is the “shovel method”. This involves finding an active mole tunnel and then getting a chair and sitting and watching the run until a motion is detected and you can tell a mole is in the tunnel. At this point the shovel is inserted into the ground behind said mole. A hammer is then used to dispatch the mole! A more humane version is the “alternate shovel method”. This requires the same basic sitting method and then after the shovel is put behind the mole, cunningly a second shovel is then put in front of the mole. Thus trapping said mole in the tunnel. The live, if a little confused, mole is then extracted and put in a basket and taken away to some other field, presumably far enough away to ensure it doesn’t return. The website is unfortunately silent on the homing instincts of moles.

The third version does not require a lot of sitting on chairs. Instead this method requires inserting into the tunnel or mole hill a cardboard box. This must be light proof to trick the mole into believing it is still in its tunnel. (As moles are blind, I’m not sure if this is really necessary or just a theatrical touch) Inside the cardboard box is hidden a mousetrap with either pepperoni or salami which apparently moles seem to like. The website suggests regularly checking the trap and helpfully advises that is there is no mole then either the mole has a new tunnel or your camouflage is ineffective and the mole has not been tricked!

The fourth version is really a variant of the shovel and alternative shovel methods. It suggests that once you have the mole trapped in its tunnel you use a 12 bore shotgun to despatch the mole. The website proudly proclaims that this beats the shovel method as it never misses! You will not be surprised that this website is from the US and may well have been sponsored by the NRA. I think on reflection we will stick to good old French traps. I think if I am seen sitting on a chair in the middle of the orchard for hours at a time watching a mole tunnel with two shovels, a hammer and a mouse trap then my neighbours will really think I have totally lost it!

Anyway the clocks went back last night which has caused chaos in our house. The cats of course still work on summer time and want feeding at the same time. I managed to have an extra hour in bed but when I got downstairs to let the cats in for breakfast they were very annoyed at me being an hour late and there was much complaining. It is now 3pm on a Sunday afternoon and of course the cats think it is 4pm which is when they get their tea. They start the wearing down process at least half an hour before feeding time so I am now surrounded by cats all trying to attract my attention. This is now getting frantic as they believe we are past feeding time. I need to maintain my resolve until at least half past or else we will be permanently bringing meals forward. I am sat typing the blog at the kitchen table and all three cats are sat on the table. Every now and again they will walk across the keyboard or sit on it to stop me typing. Now all three of them are intently staring at me, either they are trying to hypnotise me or they are hoping that their collective scorn will make me feel so guilty that I will get their tea. Moggie is now trying to break into the cupboard where we keep the cat food. Only 10 more minutes to last out!

Moggie has been in trouble this week for breaking into cupboards. Earlier in the week he managed to prise open our food cupboard. This is where we have tins, bottles and packets of food. Nothing that he could actually eat but what we had not factored in is that he is very clumsy and managed to knock over a full bottle of olive oil which feel to our tiled floor and broke into pieces spilling out all over the floor, interspersed with shards of glass. Fortunately Mrs. Parish, who is our designated emergency operative, was at hand and together we leapt to action trying to keep Moggie from trying to lick up the oil (visions of olive oil mixed with cat blood featured high at this point). Mrs. Parish was trying to stem the flow with lots of kitchen role while I helpfully gave advice and grabbed Moggie by the scruff of the neck and threw him out the front door. By this time the oil had gone under the food cupboard so I had to clear out heavy stuff so we could lift and move the cupboard. When I lifted the cupboard we found underneath: 3 pen tops; 2 pencils; 4 walnut shells; a couple of wine corks; several pieces of paper. All things the cats had scooted under the cupboard over the past few months. We also found the rubber foot off the metal carving plate, which had been missing, presumed lost for months. So some good came from the mess.

Moggie has now climbed up on top of the food cupboard and is threatening the fruit bowl. It’s gone half past so I think I had better feed them and then persuade them to go outside!! This is quite exciting, a sort of real time blog!

20 minutes have elapsed and I am back, exhausted! I went to open the cupboard with the cat food and Moggie was inside before I could stop him. There was a lot of scrabbling and I eventually managed to extract him. I looked to see what he was doing and discovered that in several ventures into this cupboard he has been gradually breaking into a pack of dog biscuits. (This is a polythene bag of Tommo’s dog biscuits left here by Ian and Emma ready for their next visit). Moggie had managed to tear the bag on several visits and was keen to try the dog biscuits. The other two cats were not best pleased as this meant a further delay before they got their tea. Eventually the food was dispensed and then of course I have to oversee them eating as Moggie has a habit of bolting down his food and then trying to steal from Minou or even from Archie. Having secured a peaceful despatch of tea of course it was time to reintroduce the cats to their status as outside cats. Given that we are getting the edge of the dreadful storms in Britain it is windy and rainy and the cats were not keen to go out. Minou and Moggie tried to run in different directions to confuse me but I cut off the stairs and Mrs. Parish in a clever pincer movement managed to round up the two little cats and push them outside. Archie meanwhile kept on licking his empty bowl to try to fool us, then made a dart for the space under the sink but he too has now been ejected. They will be back early for their supper in a couple of hours!

Keeping the cats outside has proved a bit difficult over the past week as we have had our builders in putting in new front windows and doors so we are ready for winter with no draughts. They are beginning to look very smart but of course all week we have had the front of the house off and so the cats have been able to come and go at their leisure. Fortunately our builders are now used to the cats and so there were no sandwich incidents.

Also good news. On Thursday Emile and Yvette came around to collect our apples to be taken away and used for making cider. Emile had been around on Sunday when Mrs. Parish was still in England. This meant I had to entertain Emile and Yvette by making them a coffee and by conversing with them. They speak no English at all so this was a test for my French. I obviously did well as Emile complemented me on how much my French had improved and we had quite a conversation. It is still difficult to pick up what they were saying and sometimes frustrating to not know the French words needed to explain something. It is however remarkable what you can do by rewording things and by using sign language. They at least understood what I was saying! Anyway on Thursday Emile using an ancient old hook thing managed to shake the trees and cause the remaining apples to come down. All four of us then crawled around on the orchard floor picking up apples and putting them into Emile’s trailer which is a work of astonishing weirdness with all sorts of planks of wood creating a box for the apples. Then with Yvette riding shotgun he went off in his very old tractor. (If you have access to Face book there are some pictures of the La Godefrere page). So no more back breaking daily round of apple picking for this year, thankfully!!

Finally, our builder Mark was telling me that as it is half term next week he was off for a week’s fishing and camping. I took the opportunity to quiz him about local fishing as earlier in the week a friend (Ken) had asked about the fishing around here. I had heard it was good but Mark was able to tell me of places to fish on both lakes and rivers. All meaningless to me, who has only been fishing once in my life, but useful knowledge. So I decided to appoint Mark as the official La Godefrere, Freshwater Angling Consultant. Mark pooped by on Saturday to drop off some equipment for his staff who will be here next week. He was on his way to go camping and a look in the back of his truck revealed such an array of equipment and food that he was not a supporter of rough camping!

On Thursday my mate Anglo Al arrives with a couple of old union colleagues Mike Ellis and Dave Higgins. Should be a great long weekend and of course the added spice is the Backgammon trophy to be played for. It resides on my shelf at the moment and there will be fierce contest to determine whether it stays or returns to Britain. So next week’s blog might be late but it will be full of tension and excitement!

Bon weekend