The Mating Ritual

It happens every year at this time. Bug-eyed little darlings hopping and waddling their fat shiny bodies towards the water and – sex. Lots of it. In human terms it would be called something rather naughty, in frog terms it is merely ‘the mating ritual.’

I like frogs – as long as they give me plenty of warning of their presence. If I’m plucking out the odd weed and they suddenly leap-up in front of me then that’s a whole new ball game. Then, I’m having a heart attack and backing off to a safe distance. But, I do like them. In fact, I’ve even written the script for a ‘froggy’ children’s book. Done nothing with it, obviously.

So, for the past week or so I have skirted the pond on my way to the greenhouse etc. with great stealth, hoping to catch the first arrivals unaware. They feel the vibration of approaching footsteps and, like Nemo’s Nautilus, dive . . . dive . . . dive. Yesterday I saw the first arrivals, already in a tower-block stance with the female somewhere in the heaving pile.

This year there is a slight problem.

The pond is now twenty-six years old and during this time our little fish shoal has diminished to just one remaining orf. He is the size of a small dolphin. He has never had a name – until now. He is Solo, for obvious reasons.

Solo is not going to last much longer. His once perfect carrot-shaped, bright orange form is bent this way and that and he spends much of his time flat-out at the top of the water, so much so that on two occasions, both when Richard had toddled off to see his mother, I texted him to say, ‘Come home in the light you need to bury the fish, he’s dead.’ Richard, obedient as ever, has arrived home in the light, sought the spade from the shed and grabbed the net. Moments later he has replaced the spade in the shed, returned the net, and informed me that, ‘Solo isn’t dead.’ If there’s a part going for a bent oaf in one of those costume dramas or similar perhaps we could send him to work because he’s a bloody good actor!

I should say that despite his ‘bent’ and ‘dead’ impressions he’s a happy-ish fish, sometimes taking to rather exhausting laps of the pond, and floating up to watch me rearranging the odd rock or two.

But, this is the problem. These sex-mad grab-anything-that-moves frogs are going to rape the poor lad. They have, in the past, grabbed onto the face of a fish and performed their sexual acts with the poor fish pinned down beneath their pulsing bodies. Solo will not live through this kind of behaviour. He’s a game old boy but this, I fear, is a little too much at his age?

A couple of months ago he also survived a near squashing.

My grandson, Jake, was bending over the pond, pointing at him, when his darling sister, Grace, came up behind him and with two hands slapped hard to Jake’s buttocks pushed him in.

Richard instantly grabbed Jake and hauled him out.

So much mud and debris had been stirred-up that we couldn’t tell if Solo had survived or not. Fortunately, he had.

Jake was a mess. Duck weed and other stuff (?) stuck to him and of course he was crying. I whisked him into the shower and made him stay there until his goose-flesh had disappeared and he was at last beginning to see the funny side of it – no mean feat I’ll tell you. Then, I dressed him in a pair of my leggings and a jumper. He soon recovered – such is life, and the remedial effects of chocolate is amazing.  Mind, it was kinda worrying because the leggings almost fit him. I mean, he’s ten. I can only hope that he is growing fast and that I am not shrinking fast?

And that is that. The frogs are returning in their droves and we must now be on ‘frog-on-the-face-of-Solo watch. Have you ever tried unhooking a frog off a fish’s face? No, I thought not.

Some people find it hard to believe that this is my life. Trust me – it is.

Between starting this post and finishing it I have popped up the garden to check on Solo. He is still ‘frog-free,’ but the first small heap of frog spawn has appeared. This might be the first year that most of the tadpoles/froglets survive. Solo is too old to bother eating the tadpoles and now that the chucks are no longer present the baby frogs will make it safely from the pond, across the lawn, and into the damp shrubbery – so, again – something positive comes from the negative!


Take care x



No News Is Good News . . .Isn’t It?

When I first started blogging, back in the dark ages, I seemed to have a lot to say and managed to say it on a pretty regular basis. This, does not appear to be the case these days, hence a spasmodic blogging pattern has formed – here one day, gone for a week – or more.

I think if this was a blog dealing with the subjects of writing, publishing, self-promotion etc. I’d be banging out my opinions 3 or 4 times a week – but it isn’t. Yes, I’m a writer. Yes, I’m a published author. And yes, I’ve done (or attempted to do) my own bit of self-publication. I say ‘attempted’ because I am utter crap at it. Some people could sell coal in a heat wave. Not me. I’m useless. So, this is not one of those blogs.

This blog is grounded on nothing more than life – and living it and, as we all know, there are going to be times when nothing exciting, humorous or interesting etc. happens. They’ll be times when life ticks over. Nothing good. Nothing bad. Nothing to interest anyone. And, to be honest, I’d rather bring something to raise spirits, rather than drop people into pits of misery. Don’t get me wrong I can do ‘misery’ and what’s more I’m extremely good at it. I could have you snivelling into your porridge in seconds. But that isn’t me, is it? Yes, I also ‘do’ digressing very well too . . . sorry.

So, because nothing much of interest has been happening I’ve been rather absent of late – absent as in ‘not here’ not as in absent-minded.

I’ve recently gone rather mad (I know you find this hard to believe) and started taking the house to pieces. Walls have been stripped. Paper replaced.Furniture moved up stairs – only to be moved back downstairs after I’ve slept on it. Not literally. Just lived with it overnight and decided it looked crap – more crap (crappier?) than it did when it was downstairs. New furniture has been purchased. Tables stained. Items in cupboards have been changed round – Richard can find nothing. It’s like a major O.C.D. spring clean.

The last thing on this particular agenda (they’ll be another shortly) was the tidying of the top drawer in the kitchen. This drawer has been tidied recently but I happened to notice that Richard had placed the Sellotape dispenser in the wrong place. Yes, I’m a freak – but you knew that.

So . . . with Richard skulking in the background I set about lifting out the drawer and manically tidying. When I came to refit the door, back on its runners, I found that I couldn’t close it. The drawer below is full of ‘packaging’ material, padded envelopes for Richard’s playing cards (his new little internet business) and all things paper. He watched me struggling to shut the drawer and this, along with the fact that there was an envelope rammed at the back, all screwed up, made me snatch it up, shake it at him and yell, ‘look, you’ve put too many bloody envelopes in here and now I can’t shut the drawer! Why do you have to put so many in here?’ He said nothing. Actually he did open his mouth but I think he thought objection was pointless. He knows when I’m ‘on one’ it’s usually best just to hang his head and accept defeat. I threw the creased envelope on the floor and rammed the drawer back in. It still wouldn’t close. I rammed it in again and it still wouldn’t close. ‘There must be more bloody envelopes down the back of it!’ I yelled, and pulled it half way back out. At this point a tabby front leg and hooking paw shot out from behind the back of the drawer.

My first reaction was . . . ‘what the f**k’ followed instantly by ‘what the f**k it’s Chea . . . I’ve squashed her.’ Naturally I yanked out the door and screamed, ‘you stupid cat how the hell did you get in there?’ I think when we are terrified we often over react by attacking? With my heart thudding I watched as she bellied out, shook herself and blinked.

From across the kitchen Richard stupidly said, ‘didn’t you know she was in there?’

‘Of course I did,’ I said, throwing up my arms, ‘I thought I’d just try to squash her for the fun of it!’ I was still in over reacting, attacking mode.

With Chea out of the drawer it slid back in like melting butter and after my heart had returned to normal, and Chea looked none the worse for her squashing, I had to apologise to Richard for saying that he had overloaded the envelope drawer.

Chea has turned into the nicest cat that anyone could wish for and, other than her ridiculous fascination, as a young cat, with climbing to the top of conifers and being too scared to come down, she doesn’t really do life-threatening stunts. I’d like to think that she has learnt a lesson but I fear not. This morning, as I rammed a few jigsaw puzzles and game boards into the pine chest in the bedroom, she was breaking her neck to push past my hand and slip into the chest for another adventure.

And this, my friends, is really all I have been up to just now . . .

Take care and watch out for pussies in your drawers!20170203_105745