'Deck the hall with boughs of holly'. Well, I've cleared the decks, inside and out, not that I meant to do any outside clearing. It was just that I had to clean the shed.
It happened like this. I was in a 'Santa's Grotto' recently, where there was an array of sparkly decorations and I heard a man say to his companion, who was looking at the wreaths, 'Don't buy any more tat', which I thought a bit mean of him, it being the season of goodwill, sort of thing.
I felt quite smug because last year I bought a wreath from this particular shop. It had velvety leaves, dark green underneath, but brighter where the fairy lights illuminated them and red, luscious berries. I'd wrapped the wreath up carefully after Christmas and put it on a shelf in the shed, where it was waiting for me to bring it out of hibernation. It was ready to grace our walls for a few festive days again and I could even imagine a Christmas robin perching on it and singing a 'Winter Wonderland' tune.
With a skip in my step, I went to the shed to get the garland. The floor was scattered with shreds of polythene, like tatty confetti. I unwrapped the wreath and found the berries had been gnawed. My beautiful wreath had been destroyed by a vandal. We'd had an unwelcome visitor, who had eaten my prized decoration.
An hour or two later, a humane trap was in place. Next day, there was no sign of 'Miss Mouse' but the trap was lined with leaves. (From this we realised it was a pregnant rodent).
But by the next morning, a little mouse with eyes glittering like anthracite, was poking her nose out of the entrance. Peter took the trap and occupant down to a nearby field and released her. Ungratefully, she tried to bite him. He stayed long enough to see her make her way into the bank.
A few days have passed and there are no more mousey goings on in the shed. Apparently, they can squeeze in through the tiniest of holes.
Since this happened, we have become experts on mice. Neighbours have told us to bait a trap with chocolate; mice much prefer it to cheese.
I wondered if we should have made a nest in a cardboard box and let the mouse live there, rent-free, until the mice-kittens had been born. Peter looked at me for a few moments when I suggested this before saying: 'No'.
When it is cold and frosty, like now, mice look for warmth and shelter, but when it is a warm winetr, they breed profusely. We should have re-housed the mouse at least half a mile away, because they can find their way back.
I caught a mouse in a humane trap a few years ago, released it in the garden, where it turned around and ran straight back in. Ah, well, 'Good lodgings', as a neighbour said.