Week 5

The French have an annoying habit of reckoning the year in weeks.

An example – the boss says to me today that I have to go down to Toulouse in week 36. And just when is week 36 ? Well it turns out that week 36 is actually the first week in September. Monday 2nd September – the first day back from the summer vacation, and I’m off to Toulouse (at least an army base near the town) to teach radio procédures to a bunch of air despatchers – they being the men and women who push things out the back of transport aircraft.

Technical English lessons for air despatchers however, is actually not the subject of this post. I started by railing against the French practise of speaking in weeks rather than proper dates. Anyway, I thought that the idea of « weeks » might be a good way to date posts on this blog.

So readers, here is your chance to catch up on French happenings for week 5 (or la semaine cinq) as the French say – otherwise meaning the week from 28th January to 1st February.

« THAT’S NOT A WHOLE WEEK !! » I hear you scream (or not) and it is not a whole week – it is rather the working week. Saturday still has to happen. It would therefore be best to entitle the post « THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT IS »

On the home front (chez moi), It has been a week of unwelcome visitors. The sounds of rodent feet, scurrying through the roof. At first I thought it was just pigeons or even a cat on the roof, but no, the sound is coming from inside – in-between the tiles and the insulation. Rodents in the roof

RATS - AAAAAAAAAAAAGH !!! – Our attic space has become room 101 – that place you will meet you greatest fear. Winston Smith feared rats. I am very much in the Winston Smith mode, and very much a « rodent coward » - mind you, I’m even scared of mice. The wife is okay on mice – I mean if there were hundreeds of them scampering around the house, she wouldn’t stand on a chair and scream – that would actually be me. I’d probably also tie string round the bottom of my trousser lesg so the mice wouldn’t run up. Now, whereas the wife might be matter of fact on mice, she hates spiders. I normally deal with our eight legged friends. Trap then in a glass. Slide a bit of paper underneath and then pop our unwanted arachnide guests outside. I don’t like killing spiders, but I don’t mind killing mice – this brings me back to the subject of our unwanted « roof » guests – who, as it turns out, are not actualy rats (or a rat – for I have only heard one beast for the moment) NO, our « invader » is probably a weasel or a rodent of that particular branch of the rodent family. So, explained the very imposing, bespectacled mid forty something « rat man » who turned up this afternoon to résolve our rodent dilemma.

The ratman was very most diligent in his approach to the problem. A thourough inspection of every nook and cranny in our attic space. « They won’t get in your living space » he announced, confirming that those distant and unseen corners that might have been neglected by the last owner when he installed roof insulation, had in fact been « well sealed. » The problem remains though that we have a stoat or weasel wriggling its way up our outside drain pipes and nesting somewhere in our loft insulation.

Now, my only expérience of weasels and animals of that ilk is that they are those untrustworthy « weasely » créatures that took over Toad Hall in « Wind In the Willows » - There was poor old toad, languishing in prison after his various motoring offences, whilst an army of weasels lived it up in Toad Hall. It was finally Ratty, Badger and good old Mole who put the weasels to flight and won back Toad Hall – of course not a weasel was killed, and I am loathe to kill my weasel or stoat visitor
I need the likes or Ratty, Badger and Mole tp pay me a visit – come to think of it, our « rat man » is very much like old Badger.

So, reasons for weasels in my roof space

Well, before I go any further, I have to tell you, that our roof space is also our office space. One of those loft conversions with Velux windows in the roof . The weasels have not made it into the office, but are under the roof tiles and nesting in our rather thick (but ineffective) loft insulation – yes we have to get the insulation redone, it’s over twenty years old, several inches thick and rather ineffective, but snug enough for rodents to make a nice winter nest.

So, our garden is a weasel paradise – plenty of fruit trees, including two huge cherry trees, whse branches have grown into the guttering. On both sides of us, we have neighbours who are keen vegetable growers and behind us, we have recently installed neighbours who have seen fit to keep rabbits and hens – as the « rat man » said – we are a five star hôtel for all rodents. So the weaels have climbed up the drain pipes or jumped from the cherry tree branches and found shelter in our roofing.

How to get rid of them ?

Traps or poison at all possibel weasel entrance and exit points. Failing that, I have to cut large chunks out the insulated loft walls to place traps and poison or(as one of my wife’s colleageus suggested) an ultrasound device – you know the sort of thing – a device that emits a sound that humans can’t hear but, that will drive our visitors crazy – the same principle as the dog whistle, or those other ultra sound devices that small UK grocers and off licences installed to send teenagers packing. Now, noise might work . The other day, when the wife was out, I slapped on a slice of vital vinyl – Motorhead – Ace of Spades, and truend the volume up to ear-bleeding point. Oh wow, there was frightened, hurried rodent scampering across the whole roof.

I suppose in a way, I could be happy with this solution. A valid excuse to play all my heavy métal albums at ear-bursting volume in order to get rid of our rodents.

Of course the other solution is to let the rodents in peace , let them reproduec and wait until April, when they will probably départ for their spring and summer holidays (with a bit of luck they will move next door ans eat all the rabbits and hens)

Okay folks, that is new on the home front. Tomorrow (or another day) some national news.

One final thought though. One of my colleagues at work, who has a serious rat problem, wants to come and get our weasels to chasé away her rats.

Don’t worry, you can still come and live in France without being infested by rodents, but, as the rat man said – « you’d be surprised what people have in their roof space – and a thought for those with new houses – rodents just love all those new, well insulated, eco friendly houses, they make lovely warm places to live in winter.