Kevin Smith's Blog

Day 182 - mice

Sunday, 27 February 2011

I'm writing this particular blog for three reasons:

  • I had a piece published in Guardian Weekend yesterday and, as developing my writing was something I was keen to do when I went freelance, I'm feeling very pleased with myself. You can see it on the The Guardian Website (*1), although if you can't be bothered with that here's my byline to prove I'm not fibbing:

  • As part of my post Day 129 - resolutions I vowed to blog more, and as February is very short I thought I better crack one out before the month disappears.
  • I've got an interesting tale to tell. Here it is...
A few nights ago Gemma and I were woken by our cat frantically meowing. He eventually quietened down although when I woke up in the morning I discovered a dead mouse on the carpet by the side of the bed. Fortunately it was in one piece and, being one for a bit of a prank, I left it for Gemma to find when she got up. Sure enough, and much to my amusement, she hurtled down the stairs a few minutes later in somewhat of a panic. The best jokes are always the best.

Now, while the mouse made me laugh it also got me a bit worried. You see we don't have a cat flap and Sid, our cat, stays indoors all night.  He caught the mouse inside the house, which meant we could have a problem.

I tried my best to forget all about it, until the same thing happened again on Thursday night. Gemma discovered a dead mouse by the bed, hysteria, horror and panic followed etc etc. The story took another dramatic turn on Friday when I, with an enormous work load and an enormous hangover (*2), was working in my office. Sid began stalking something under my bookcase and, after a bit of on-front action with a torch, I spotted another mouse hiding in the corner. This one was ALIVE though. Unable to deal with the situation (my hangover required me to stay upright) I let Sid stay guard while I got on with my work. I eventually plucked up the courage to tackle the mouse and after shifting the bookcase and banging my head on my desk several times while crawling around the room I caught the little blighter. He was actually very cute and, unable to do anything grizzly to him, I set him free in a garden across the road (I hope they didn't see me).

Gemma and I sprung into full-on emergency mode and, after reading copious accounts of mice infestations, and how to deal with them, online, decided the mice were most likely coming from the kitchen. We emptied our kitchen cupboards, had a thorough clean and I even pulled out the washing machine and looked behind the fridge freezer. And do you know what we found? Absolutely nothing. No mouse droppings, no munched food packets, not gnawed stuff (these are all things the online articles told us to look out for). We have absolutely no idea where the little buggers are coming from.

Last night I was woken by a commotion coming from the kitchen and found Sid with his nose pressed against the bottom of the fridge. I got down on my hands and knees (luckily no hangover this time) and sure enough, there was a little mouse peering back at me. Sid didn't catch that one, there wasn't a corpse to deal with this morning and I have no idea where it went. And so the saga continues.

Until next time...

*1 If you do visit The Guardian website you'll notice they're showing an entirely different Kevin Smith. I'm a bit miffed about it, but some folk on twitter said it could be worse because the other Kevin Smith is quite good looking. Hmmm, not sure what I think about that.

*2 Gemma and I had been to our local theatre to see The Haunting and, do you know what? They let you take wine INTO theatres these days. What a marvellous development. Unfortunately we got absolutely sloshed and didn't quite understand the end of the play. Never mind, I suppose you can't have it all.

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Day 158 - an empty Stella can

Friday, 04 February 2011

What a successful day I had yesterday. Ida was in nursery for a solid 10 hours, which meant I got to be a proper adult for a while, and I made the most of the time by taking a trip to The Garden Press Event in big, exciting London town. I enjoyed the train journey, which is quite remarkable as I thoroughly detested my commute when I worked in the city, and I managed to finish the book that's been lurking on my bedside cabinet for months (far too tired to read these day - childcare's an exhausting business).

When I arrived at the said event I made a bit of a plan. You see there were some people I was very keen to talk to, others I was desperate to avoid and some I 'had' to see through an unfathomable feeling of duty. So, if I chatted to you yesterday it's most likely  I think you're very nice or want something from you. If I didn't chat to you, it probably means I was avoiding you. Sorry, but it's true.

The show was lovely although, as usual at these things, I spent my entire time talking rather than looking. I couldn't tell you one thing about anything I saw although I can tell you what I said: Sarah Cuttle, Helen Riches and me had a very lengthy coffee discussing the merits of location houses, iPads, hydroponics and Monty Don. Martyn Cox put my mind at rest about my appalling Twitter performance. Jodie Jones was as fabulous as ever. Adam Pasco invited me to Gardeners' World's approaching 20th birthday party. Marc Rosenberg got me all excited about Alan Titchmarsh doing a new gardening show on ITV1. Matthew Appleby seemed to avoid me, although I guess that's fine as it's a tactic I also use.

So, all chatted out I headed home with time to spare. And do you know what I did next? GARDENING. Yes, I actually went outside and got my hands dirty. Hurrah, it's been such a long time. I spent the majority of the time sprucing up the front garden, which involved a great deal of cutting back along with removing fox poo, crisp packets, bus tickets, lottery scratch cards and an empty Stella can. Okay, I know it's not 'proper' gardening, but at least I don't have to bow my head in shame every time I walk up the front-garden path. And then I ventured into the back garden and it all became worth it. Here's why:

Yes, that's right, my snowdrops are just on the way to looking gorgeous and I'd totally forgotten to even check on them. Okay, I know there's not exactly a swathe, but at a time when everything else in the garden looks pretty shite I'm thrilled with them.

So, there we are. A tale of a proper freelance gardening journalist who actually does gardening and journalisty things. Bet I don't manage another of those for a while.

Until next time...

Ooh, while I'm blogging, I must tell you that my lovely wife Gemma has just been appointed as a Deputy Head Teacher at a primary school not too far from us. She had to go through a grueling application and interview process and I'm so proud of her. She's so clever. Well done, my darling. x

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Kevin Smith | Garden Media Writer and Editor

On 31 August 2010 I quit my full-time job as the Commissioning Editor at Gardeners' World Magazine to be a stay-at-home dad  and to try and scratch a living as a freelance garden journalist. It's often said that a 'life change' is good, but can I cut it with the yummy mummys? Will I manage to get a single shred of work done? Will Ida (she's the gorgeous little girl who's the cause of all this) like gardening as much as me? Who knows, we're going to find out...