The dog ate my mouse!

And I don’t mean a computer mouse either, so if anyone is a bit squeamish then don’t read any further – though it is rather a funny story.
So a few weeks ago I was cleaning at the boss’s house and even though it was raining it was still quite mild so I’d left the back door open for Dylan the cat to wander in and out while I was working. I was just about to get ready to leave when I found a dead mouse in the middle of the kitchen floor – Dylan had brought me a present. Now I read somewhere ages ago that if a cat brings you a present you shouldn’t dispose of it while the cat is there or it will feel very insulted – I don’t know who thought that one up or even if it’s true but I didn’t want Dylan to think I didn’t appreciate his gift so I wrapped it carefully in some kitchen roll and put it in a small takeaway-type plastic carrier bag, to dispose of it when I went out.
Now to be quite honest, being the soft-hearted person that I am where animals are concerned, I felt quite sorry for the little mouse having lost its life to a big fluffy cat ; it didn’t deserve to be just dumped in the bin so I brought it home with the intention of digging a small hole with my trowel and burying it under the fuschia hedge. However, by the time I’d walked the fifteen minutes back home it was raining harder then ever so I popped the mouse, in its bag, in the top of the planter near the door with the intention of burying it once the rain eased off.
So much later on, with the rain having finally stopped and totally forgetting about the mouse, I let Sophie and Poppie out for five minutes in the garden, but when I opened the door to call them back in I found bits of shredded carrier bag all over the path. At first I couldn’t figure out where it had come from but then realisation hit – with the absence of a little furry body it seemed that rather than the mouse going into a hole under the hedge as I’d intended it had gone into one of the dogs instead.
At that point I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was no use being cross with Sophie and Poppie as I didn’t know which one had eaten the mouse but I felt a bit upset that the poor little thing had ended up like that. Fortunately neither of the dogs suffered any ill effects afterwards, and I was just glad that the little mouse had actually been dead before it ended up as a dog’s dinner.
Now I realise that anyone reading this will probably have come to the conclusion that I’m completely bonkers, out of my tree, totally insane and needing a visit from the men in white coats but that’s just me, I love animals and hate to see dead ones however they came by their demise, and though it was a sad ending for the little mouse it does make rather an amusing story.

Timber!!!

Walking to work on Friday lunchtime four weeks ago I turned off the main road and was met by the unusual sight of two of the firm’s vans and several cars parked along one side of the lane leading down to the works, something which I’ve never seen in all the years I’ve worked there. In the distance I could hear the noise of some machinery so wondered if maybe the car park was being resurfaced, however when I got round the bend further down the lane I came across something which I certainly didn’t expect to see. A huge tree several yards from the lane had toppled over and completely blocked it and there was no access for vehicles either in or out.
Now I don’t normally take my camera to work unless I know for certain that I’ll be using it so I hadn’t got it with me, but this was one occasion when I wish I did have it. As well as the tree across the lane there were two huge John Deere tractors, one with a front forklift and the other with a long rear trailer, a JCB telehandler, a cherry picker, a Bobcat skid steer loader, and six guys with chainsaws all dealing with the tree to get it moved – I could have got some great shots if I’d had the camera.
The guy in the cherry picker was in what would have been the top of the tree, sawing branches off it. The lane down to work bisects a steep bank with woodland on each side ; there are several bungalows at the top of the left bank and apparently the top of the tree had crashed down onto the conservatory roof of one of them. At first I didn’t think I’d be able to get through to work but the guys had cut a big chunk out of part of the main tree trunk and they stopped the machinery long enough to let me through. Apart from the two bosses and the son of one of them everyone else finishes at 1pm on Fridays but with the tree across the lane no-one was going anywhere, however by 1.30 the guys dealing with it had cut up and moved enough of it to allow various cars to drive through.
The photos below were taken by one of the bosses on his phone ; he’s not a particularly good photographer so they don’t really show just how big the tree was. He emailed them to Maddie and she emailed them to me ; it’s just a pity that was one occasion when I didn’t have my own camera on hand.
Tree 1 - Copy
The bottom of the tree with part of the bank still attached
Tree 2 - Copy
A bit of the tarmac lane just about visible underneath this lot
Tree 3 - Copy
Part of the tree across the lane
Tree 4 - Copy
There didn’t seem to be any particular reason why the tree had suddenly come down. It hadn’t blown down in the wind as there wasn’t any, not even the hint of a breeze, but we had just had a prolonged period of wet weather so maybe the constant rain had softened the ground underneath the roots, making it unstable. Apparently it had fallen soon after 9am and just missed one of our fitters who had driven down the lane seconds before, and since then the firm next door to us had turned away three deliveries of steel as no-one could get up or down the lane. I’m just glad the tree didn’t fall down the day before ; I finish work just after 9am on Thursdays and walk up the lane on my way home – if the tree had come down then I might not be writing this blog post now.

Thanks, and an update of sorts

First of all I must thank everyone for the comments and kind words on my previous post, and offers to share details of my stolen van in the hope that it can be found. To be honest I’ve been too tired and too emotionally strung out to reply to each comment individually but it’s good to know others are thinking of me and are willing to help where possible, so thank you everyone – and thanks also to Jayne for putting the van on her own blog.
Yesterday I had some news, positive in one way but still not good. I was at work just after lunch when the boss and one of the other guys came into the office to say that Maddie, who works in the office and had left for home earlier on, had phoned to say she had seen the van. It was on the M62 passing Ikea Warrington and heading west in the direction of Liverpool, towing a caravan and seemed to be in convoy with a green car behind it – Maddie had recognised it as she overtook it. I reported it to the police straight away but my worry now is if it’s been taken by travellers they may very well have changed the number plates, in which case it probably won’t be identified on any ANPR cameras or such.
Worst case scenario is it could probably end up in Ireland via either Liverpool or Holyhead, at best I’m hoping that whoever has it is has taken it just to have a holiday and it may end up back in Bolton, but to be honest I don’t think that’s likely. I’m glad in a way that it’s been seen on the road as it least it means that so far it hasn’t been broken up for parts, but it’s so upsetting to know that someone else is driving round in what, to me, was a big part of my life. I wonder if the scrotes who did this realise how much devastation and emotional upset they have caused? Would they care if they knew? Probably not.

Grounded!

Initially I wasn’t going to put this post on here and I thought long and hard before I did but then thought ”what the hell, I’ll put it on anyway”. The last week has been one of the most awful weeks of my life and one I hope no-one reading this ever has to go through. Why? Because last Wednesday night, soon after 10pm, my van was stolen from right outside my house and I actually saw it being driven away but could do nothing to stop it. It had been locked and the key was in my pocket so whoever stole it had obviously broken into it.
I reported it to the police straight away but from their initial response, ie they ‘won’t actively be looking for it’, I’m not very hopeful that I’ll get it back. It’s not only the van that’s been stolen though – it was packed up with all my camping gear ready for my holiday in North Wales in early September, plus I had various personal items in there which were of great sentimental value to me though worthless to anyone else. Some of these were rosettes which my previous little dog Sugar had won at various shows – sadly she died of kidney failure the week before Christmas 2014 so those rosettes were very precious to me and can never be replaced.
Needless to say, my forthcoming holiday plans have been cancelled, as have any plans of going out somewhere over the bank holiday weekend or in the foreseeable future, and getting to work is now proving difficult in some cases as two of the places aren’t on direct bus routes so it means I have a fair amount of walking to do. At the moment I just feel that not only has the van been stolen but half my life has gone too – yes, all my camping gear can be replaced, albeit slowly and at great expense (the van not so easy) but nothing will erase the gut-wrenching, stomach-churning feeling of having everything ripped out from under me and actually seeing it disappearing.
I wish I could feel angry at the low-life(s) who did this but strangely I don’t as other emotions are keeping any anger at bay. I feel I was targeted – out of all the cars parked in the street why mine? – but more than that I feel shocked, sad and upset to the point of frequently bursting into tears, and just so incredibly numb. I’m back at work this week after taking two days off last week but I’m not really working, I’m just going through the motions ; my world has been turned upside down and I feel like I’m just existing, not living.
New van (Granvia) - Oct. 08 003 - Copy
My gut feeling is that the van is still somewhere in my local area but just in case it’s gone further afield I would really appreciate anyone in the UK reading this to keep an eye out for it and contact the police if it’s seen – with the eagle on the front and the patterns along each side it’s very distinctive and not easy to miss. My lovely blogging friend Jayne has also posted it on her own blog and asked her readers to share so who knows, the power of the internet might  just bring a result.

Me 0, traffic cone 1

I suppose there have been times in the lives of many people when they’ve done something a bit stupid which at the worst could be a bit embarrassing or at best could be funny, depending of course on the particular individual’s sense of humour and frame of mind at the time. Well that was just the sort of thing which happened to me about three weeks ago.
To put you in the picture, the main car park at my evening job has a wide offshoot which runs between the works building and the office building and has a large storage unit at the end ; whenever there’s a delivery of steel components due a couple of traffic cones are put out to stop employees from parking in the offshoot and preventing a wagon from backing in. Deliveries aren’t expected or accepted after 4.30pm though and by the time I get to work at 4.45 the offshoot is clear, so in the recent very warm sunny weather I’ve been parking the van in the shade at the side of the works building and near the fire escape from the offices.
So when I finished work on the evening in question, instead of leaving the offices by the main door I left via the fire escape, straight down the stairs and into the van which I reversed along the offshoot to the main car park. Before I got there however there was a thud and a clunk behind the van and I knew I’d driven over something ; thinking that going forwards again would release whatever-it-was I did just that, except whatever-it-was insisted on staying under the van, and when I got out to investigate I found a rather large and extremely solid traffic cone wedged securely between the rear wheel and the wheel arch. Now I knew there had been no traffic cones around when I arrived at work as I’d driven straight into the offshoot so I could only assume that for some reason someone leaving the works at 5pm had left it there, and because I’d left the offices by the fire escape instead of the main door I just hadn’t noticed it.
A bit of to-ing and fro-ing in the van wouldn’t release it and I didn’t want to do any damage to the van itself so I went with Plan B and out came the solid camping mallet I use for knocking tent pegs into hard ground – if I could beat the cone into submission I might manage to get it free but this thing was solid and I couldn’t even put a dent in it. So Plan C came into force and I called out the AA – well I don’t pay astronomical membership fees each year not to make use of their services! The guy who came out to me soon had things sorted though, he jacked the van up at the side, pulled the cone out from underneath and checked for any damage (to the van, not the cone!)  Fortunately there wasn’t any but he could hardly stop himself from laughing and he did say that’s the first time he’s ever been called out because of a traffic cone.
And me? -well I could have been embarrassed about the situation but my wacky sense of humour saw the funny side of it. I never thought, when I first joined the AA several years ago, that I would end up calling them out because of a traffic cone stuck under the van but needless to say, whenever I’ve parked in the car park offshoot since then I’ve made sure to check for any stray cones before I reverse!

One person’s trash….

Is another one’s treasure so they say, and that certainly came true for me just recently. I’d only just arrived at my morning job when the guy who opens up the premises asked me what shoe size I am – now that was a bit of a strange question at 7 o’clock in the morning, however….
The unit across the car park from where I work is the office and storage/distribution depot for a locally-based manufacturers of outdoor footwear and it seemed they were having a bit of a clear out. A couple of days previously a skip had arrived and along with some office chairs and old files a large quantity of various (brand new but old stock) boots and wellies had been dumped in there, with the instruction for anyone to have a look through and take what they wanted. Many people had, so I was told in case there was anything in there which would fit me – of course I wasn’t going to pass up the chance of a freebie so I went over to have a look.
It took a fair bit of rooting as most of what was left was either too big, mis-matched, or had gone so far down in the skip that I couldn’t reach, however I was lucky enough to find a pair of wellies which were the right size and still wrapped in polythene. These weren’t your normal common-or-garden green wellies either, they were bright blue – according to the label inside ‘Ocean Blue’ – and for wellies they looked really smart. Guaranteed to be warm and waterproof, and with really thick soles and deep tread, they would be great for walking the dogs in winter weather but they look so nice it would be a shame to get them muddy – in fact I feel I should be wearing them to go to bed.
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Photo from the internet
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Now I knew that this make of footwear doesn’t come cheap – they aren’t the sort of thing you’d find at ten quid a pair on a market stall or in a discount shoe shop – but I didn’t realise what price they are until I looked on the internet. This style is actually still current and the RRP on the company’s website is £85! Needless to say I’m really pleased with my freebie but if they retail at that price I feel I should frame them rather than wear them!

When all else fails, turn the bucket upside down and sit on it!

During the thirty years I’ve worked as an office cleaner various mishaps have befallen me on odd occasions, fortunately none of them too serious and most of them quite amusing when thinking about them afterwards, and one such incident happened to me last Saturday. While on an errand in town I decided to do my Monday morning’s cleaning while I was there as the offices are close to the town centre, so following my usual procedure I parked at the back of the building then because the gate has a padlock which is difficult to deal with I walked round and let myself in by the front door.
With all the cleaning eventually done my last task was to mop the kitchen floor, pour the mop water down the front steps – with a bit of bleach in the water it helps to keep the steps clean – then return the bucket to the kitchen. Except on Saturday things didn’t quite work out like that. Normally the inner front door sticks and never closes properly but as I poured the mop water down the steps a huge gust of wind blew in and slammed it shut behind me – and not only was it closed but it was also very firmly locked.
So there I was, stuck in the 4ft square front porch with my jacket, bag, office keys, van key, money and home door key all on the other side of the locked door, and unable to go outside as it was pouring with very heavy rain. At least I had my phone in my trouser pocket so I turned the bucket upside down and used it as a seat while I pondered how to get myself out of the situation I was now in. With no windows open anywhere I couldn’t go out and climb back in somewhere, there was no point phoning the boss as he was on holiday abroad somewhere and I didn’t have anyone else’s number, neither could I ring Michael and ask him to bring me the spare van key from home as he was at work. Just on the off-chance though I phoned Richard, the painter and decorator who had been painting the offices last summer and was a good friend of the boss, to see if he still had the door keys – he hadn’t, but he did have the number of the boss’s son so he phoned him and told him of my predicament then phoned me back to tell me the guy was on his way to unlock the inner door for me.
It was about half an hour later when the boss’s son arrived, he knew I would be behind the front door but I don’t think he expected to see me sitting on an upturned mop bucket! He couldn’t stay as he had his child in the car so he just unlocked the inner door for me, and once I was back inside properly it only took a few minutes to gather my belongings together, set the alarm and lock the front door as I left the building. Thinking back on the experience it’s a good thing I had my phone with me and could contact someone, otherwise I would have been sitting on that upturned mop bucket until the rain stopped, and that could have been quite a long while!