it's been a kind of ratty day - not at all an attitude problem, but a real problem concerning rats.

First the weekend.

A good gig on Friday night. A small café in a far flung village with drunken, garlic-stinking locals dancing on the bar, then at the end of the proceedings, throwing their arms around you, kissing you fervently on all cheeks, and all the while stinking of tripe sausage, unattended teth and garlic.

Saturday - a wild party in the hinterlands of deepest France. Sunday was a blur and this morning was ratty.

So, on the subject of rats - welcome back tp my very agricultural office sidekick - Maude. She's already featured on the blog.

If you don't remember Maude - she is my work colleague who runs a smallholding and is still busy eating the cow and calves she had to slaughter a couple of weeks back - just to say that Maude is a true country girl with a Master's degree in computing. She shoots straight and is 200% organic.

So, this morning, I stroll into the office just before 8am, and Maude informs me that we have to go to Tours tomorrow.

For those who don't know Tours, it is a town to the east of my town and is roughly 3 times the size. The good citizens of Tours consider themselves as Parisians because they have a high speed train link to Paris. They look down on the likes of us folks from Bourges, because there are only 70,000 of us and what is more in Tours, they have a medium sized regional branch of Ikea. Tours is also the home of all the French Army Training Command, and tomorrow we are off to Tours to talk about English teaching in the French army.

This morning Maude informs me that we are not going to Tours by train but by car.

Why the change?

Obviously we are going to try and go to Ikea, because Maude has to buy some shelving units. On the way home though, we have to stop off in a small farm to pick,up a couple of cages of guinea pigs.

Now, Maude nevere buys an animal without a utilitarian or economically viable reason.

Recently she bought angora rabbits for their fur.

Last week, she bought a trap for their pony to pull. The pony ain't dumb. Knowing his future traction fate, he twice braved the electric fence over the weekend in unconclusive escape attempts.

So, guinea pigs

Well, those things that some parenst might buy as furry love accessories for their kids are actually quite fierce creatures that can live up to five years, if they are not the domesticated pet shop variety. Male guinea pigs (according to Maude) are very effective rat hunters. Male guinea pigs hate rats and will, apparently chase and even kill the former. Maude is buying guinea pigs because they will chase out and perhaps even kill the large field rats who have invaded Maude's small-holding, right into her living quarters.

For all city types reading this post, out here in the country it is rat season. Forget your miniscule, mild-mannered sewer rats, here we are talking about massive, brown field rats - several of which have already bitten Maude over the weekend, which is possibly why her hands have briken out in large, yellow, pus-filled blisters.

Rat season is that time of year, where field rats approach warm,domestic, food-filled dwelling places to nest for the winter. Until it was decided to build 200 houses behind my house, we too had rat problems at this time of year. Never leaving garage or cellar doors open from mid-October to mate November for ear that rats might invade your house.

Maude has plenty of cats to eat the rats, and when the cats don't finish the rats, she gives them to her weasels, but the guinea pigs are destined to live in the house to chase the rats away.

And when the Guinea pigs have fulfilled their purpose and useful lifespan. Hate to say it folks, but they are going in the pot, because, (so says Maude) if the people of Papua New Guinea bred the animals in the first place it was only to have a source of fresh meat.

And how was your day at the office?????

PS - you'll have to look up field rats on the Net, but they really are big nasty buggers