Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The taming of the shrew...

In which this has nothing to do with Shakespeare. But the story goes like this....

"Mouse!" shrieks H7 as we are all dozing in a row on the sofa, adults wondering when to struggle out of torpor and send the children to bed, children wondering how long they can spin out the snuggling on the sofa. Monsters Inc. is playing on the Blu-ray.

H7: "I saw a mouse! I definitely saw a mouse. That's the third time I've seen it, but I wasn't sure. Now I am. It was definitely a mouse."

"Where?" says Brian, rousing himself slightly. I open an eye. I wasn't really asleep on the sofa at 7.30 pm. Really.

"There, in that little hole," says H7 pointing to the bottom of the stairs*.

(*Weird Welsh cottage layout number 1: Here I'll introduce you to our stairs. This is a little Welsh cottage. The stairs run from the living room and they have a door at the bottom. There's about six steps up, a turn on a landing, then another six. The door closes on the bottom step and then there is a weird stone buttress which juts out into the room. This is a convenient table or extra seat, but it has a little hole at the bottom where it meets the stairs. Brian keeps filling this hole - once I was sitting on the stairs with H1.5 and something which later turned out to be a big hairy spider tickled me on the back.)

This hole has history. Now it contains a mouse. We have no reason to doubt H7. After all she'd checked her facts three times before informing us.

"I'll put a trap out for it," says Brian.

"One of those ones where you put some cheese on and it comes down snap onto the mouse?" says H7.

"Yes," says Brian.

My children aren't in the least bit squeamish.

Later they go to bed and Brian sets up two traps. One of the snap sorts and the other a big trap which catches them alive.

"I'll give it a 50:50 chance," he says.

We settle down for the end of University Challenge.

"There it is!" exclaims Brian after a couple of seconds.

Sure enough there is it, a little shrew, not a mouse, frantically running up and down the bottom stair. It whizzes straight past the live trap, tries to climb the walls a few times, negotiates the bookshelf and squeezes under the door into the kitchen.

"We'll never find it in there," we say, giving up and going back to Paxman and forgetting all about the shrew.

Seconds later: "AAAARRRGGGHHHH!" (That was me.)

"What the f*** are you doing?" (That was Brian, slightly pained. I'd landed on him. Feet first, into his lap.)

"The shrew just ran into my toe!"

"It what?"


"Good God woman!" says my dear husband, dripping with sympathy.

I look under the armchair and there it is, wiffling its little nose and looking at the door*.

(*Weird Welsh cottage layout number two: The front door is in the living room.)

To cut a long story short, we opened the door and, after a little more frantic to-ing and fro-ing, the shrew apparently left.

Later Brian goes out into the bathroom and comes back with the large lidded see-through yoghurt pot we keep specifically for ONE purpose.

"It could have been worse," he says happily, referring to the shrew plus toe incident, "it could have been this." Here he thrusts pot plus large hairy spider in my direction.

I HATE men.


  1. Brilliant read. Glad the shrew escaped alive.

    If you come to my cottage, there are large, lidded jam jars like ornaments scattered in every room. No need to tell you what they are for.

  2. Yes, I'm glad it got away too; I like shrews but hate mice and rats - not sure why that should be.

  3. Yuck! The Great Dane is in charge of all mice disposal in this house. It's getting close to that time of year and the critters will be trying to move indoors soon. Traps will be laid under the kitchen sink and in all the cupboards - then we wait for the SNAP.

  4. I don't think I know anyone else who has had a close encounter with a shrew. You've certainly told your tale beautifully.

    Hoping that shrew of yours did not have any family members under your stairs.

    (Other than spiders and shrews, your cottage sounds just wonderful.)


  5. What a darling little shrew. I don't think i've ever seen one in real life. Certainly here the mink in the river would probably eat it. I agree with Frances that your cottage sounds sweet. Ours is too, but very full of spiders - it must be all the crevices!

  6. We oft get dead ones - the cat's bring them in sometimes still alive but not for long. Fortunately I am not the squeamish type so pick them up by their tails and fling back in to the garden! Cats don't eat Shrews they don't taste good apparently tho I've never tried one myself. Mice on the other hand are regularly eaten and the hard bits left for me to find in the morning - so delightful!

  7. I was running on Cleeve Hill recently when I spotted a couple up ahead studying something on the ground, and training a camera on it. I was ready for a break so I slowed up and they were watching a shrew doing what I had been doing - running for all it was worth. Maybe escaping your choice of traps! And as for spiders - well, Lolly seems to hve acquired a taste for them, though she left half a big one on the kitchen floor last night. Which was nice.

  8. Hooray for the release of the shrew!! somewhere in my posts is one about a mouse in my shoe... while I was wearing it. Glad other people have wild life while watching the TV. :)

  9. Urghh, not keen on either option Mags! That's the only real problme I have with an otherwise favourite season: all the wildlife try to move in! xx

  10. tormenting girls with spiders is always a good move.

  11. Gabby to me: "Mum, when we move, can we live in a house without spiders?"

    Tam to me: "Mum, when we move, can it not be a spooky house again?"

    Guess it will have to be one with shrews then . . .

    I hope you have since put ex-lax in Brian's chocolate muffins for lunch . . .

  12. I love dear little shrews, even though Mr Grigg calls me Shrew-face sometimes when I'm squinting. So glad you it didn't fall into your trap.

  13. Think I would have froze! But you saved it, I guess!!

    CJ xx

  14. I should add that we removed the traps when we found out it was a shrew not a mouse. When the traps went out we weren't entirely sure that H7's 'mouse' wasn't a rat!

    Mr Shrew was far too intelligent for a trap and just needed us thick humans to realise he needed us to open the door.

  15. I do quite like shrews, we have hundreds in the field, hence so many owls too. But in the house - maybe not. Although, yes, preferable to hairy spiders (or daddy long-legses).

  16. Well, you encouraged the little critter to find a way out, and it did.

    Shrewd move on your part.

  17. Love the story - and specially the word wiffling - it's perfect!

  18. OMG!!! I so wish I hadn't read that. Too vivid. The shrew, ok, I'll deal with the shrew, but the S word!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Conkers are what we haev scattered everywhere and it sort of helps. Don't want to tempt fate here, though. As E says, well, he alludes, I say, Thank God for Lolly.


I am sorry to have to add word verification thing again but I keep getting spammed.