Mimi, my mother, has been visiting us for the past week here in England. She flew over from Texas and we've been exploring greater London. We were blessed with nice weather every day except Friday, the day we paid for a bus tour. We slogged around Leeds Castle in the drizzle and arrived at Dover in the cold mist, unable to see the 22 miles across the channel to Calais. The rain was coming down in earnest when we stopped at Canterbury to view the cathedral, driven by the wind up under our soggy umbrellas. This was the only day when we wished we had stayed at home in front of the fire instead of getting out to explore more historic sites.
In-between our touring schedule, we've been trying to lure the elusive fox to our backyard for a viewing. When we first arrived in England, the foxes were present all the time. At night they would wander into the backyard, tripping the motion activated lights to nose around the back patio. We would hear them yipping in the neighborhood. One afternoon I looked out the kitchen window to see a fox sitting on the edge of our front drive, up against the hedge, vigorously scratching fleas. The foxes aren't exceedingly wary of humans and are slow to wander off once we've spotted them.
After becoming rather blase about the foxes over the past few months, it figures that we would be unable to conjure one up for mother to see while she's here. We came up with the idea of luring one into the backyard with some cheap dog food from the local grocery store. We've been putting out terrine of lamb in gravy the past 4 nights, but no fox.
However, Mimi's visit hasn't been completely devoid of animalia. Remember the birds and squirrels? They've been busy, busy in the backyard, feasting on the feeders. Mimi has been amazed at the size of the ravens. The day she arrived, we were sitting in the family room when we heard that familiar squawk/caw, the sound of my nemesis. About that time, a 6" twig came rattling down the chimney flue and fell out onto the hearth. Mimi was amused... me, not so much. The management company finally sent someone out a few days ago to put some sort of cowl on the top of the chimney to keep birds from nesting up there. I'm just glad they got this accomplished before any hatchlings made an appearance in my family room.
Our other animal incident involved a mouse. We had to catch a 6:15 am commuter train into London for our guided tour out of Victoria station. We were one of the first people at the rail station here in town. Mimi was sitting on the bench and we were watching this cute little brown mouse scurry around, looking for crumbs. It was a tiny little thing, between 2-3 inches long, zipping to and fro, checking out every little scrap to see if it was edible. Every time someone new came onto the platform or a non-stop commuter train whizzed by, it would rush back to the wall, which must have concealed its home. After one of its disappearances, I looked down to see it adjacent to mother's feet. I squeaked out an alarm, whereupon mother promptly shrieked in surprise and threw up both feet, horizontal to the ground. In the process, one of her shoes flew off her foot and we earned some odd stares from fellow commuters.
Mimi flies back to Texas tomorrow, so it's our last night to set out one more container of fox food. We'll probably end up seeing it every night once Mimi leaves, now that it has become accustomed to the free meal we've been providing on a nightly basis. I guess we'll just have to take a picture of its little fox face plastered to a pane of glass in the french door leading out to the patio and email it to Mimi.