Archive for the ‘This is why we’re numero uno animal’ Category

Over the last couple of weeks, Whiskas has developed a strange, but amusing wee habit.

It started when our nephew, Liam, was staying with us. We’d eat our dinner, feed Whiskas and then head out on to the back porch to get down to some seriously competitive games like the Really Nasty Horse Racing Game’ (which is great fun, but be warned, I’ve known one couple split up because of it).

On Liam’s second night, Whiskas wolfed down his Felix and Brekkies, ambled passed us and disappeared into the bougainvillea at the bottom of the garden.
“Typical,” Andy muttered. “He’s had his food, now he’s buggering off. We’re just a free meal ticket.”

It certainly seemed like typical mercenary behaviour, but about twenty minutes later we heard a loud rustling in the hedge, followed by a white flash as Whiskas leapt from the bougainvillea and, making loud but muffled mewing noises, sprinted at full pelt across the garden, up the porch steps and ran past us as though we weren’t there; strange.

He headed straight for our front door, where the muffled mewing continued.
“What the hell’s up with him?” I asked an equally perplexed Andy.
The three of us jumped up from our chairs and ran around the front of the house where we found Whiskas stood with his front paws on the doorstep and his nose pressed up against the door; still making strange noises.

“What’s up, Whiskas…what is it boy” I asked; concerned.
“For God’s sake,” Andy laughed. “You sound like you’re in a Lassie movie.”
At least I didn’t ask if anyone had fallen down a well.
Whiskas completely ignored us and pressed his nose more tightly against the door.
“I think he wants us to open the door from the inside,” Liam offered.
“That’s just ridiculous,” Andy scoffed, but the three of us headed back to the rear of the house, through the back door, into the living room and opened the front door where we found out what all the fuss was about.

What we couldn’t see from behind the cat was that he had a gecko clenched firmly in his gob. However, the opening of the front door was the trigger he was waiting for. He made sure we saw the gecko and then let it drop to the ground where it landed with a splat before taking off into the darkness like a reptilian version of the ‘Roadrunner’. Oddly enough, Whiskas didn’t make any attempt to go after it. Instead he stood looking up at us expectantly.

“Err, I think it was a present,” Andy suggested. “Good boy, that’s very clever.”
She reached down to give Whiskas a pat, but he backed off and turned to stare at his bowl.
“Aha,” Andy announced. “It’s all becoming clear now.”

A couple of nights previously, Whiskas had been playing (i.e. torturing) a gecko on the front porch for ages. Taking pity on the poor creature, Andy had thrown a few brekkies into Whiskas’ bowl, distracting him so that the gecko could make its escape. As it was something which benefited him, Whiskas clearly considered that this one-off incident had established a pattern.

Thereafter for every night of Liam’s holiday, the same thing happened. Whiskas got fed; Whiskas disappeared, reappearing 20-30 minutes later with another gecko in his mouth. Ran to front door; waited till we opened it; let gecko go; turned to bowl for reward which never came (well we didn’t want to encourage harassment of the gecko community).

Despite the lack of reward he’s still continuing with this strange little habit, the only difference is that the 20-30 minute ‘hunting’ period has been reduced significantly.
Whiskas gets fed; Whiskas disappears for about thirty seconds; Whiskas returns with gecko in his mouth.
There’s no disputing that Whiskas is a frighteningly efficient hunter (when he can be arsed), but 30 seconds? Come on, he’s not that good. I have a couple of theories:

  1. Whiskas has a bucket full of pre-captured geckos hidden away somewhere that he can dip into anytime he wants.
  2. It’s the same gecko every night and the two of them have concocted some sort of a deal. Maybe he’s offered it a share of the non-forthcoming brekkies.

I reckon it’s 1) because, since he started this business, the gecko population around the house has reached near plague proportions as a result of the numbers that he’s brought back and let go.

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Okay, you might as well put the cuffs on me and drag me off to the big house for some serious sing sing, the guilt’s become too much and I want to spill my guts. I have become a lizard serial killer and my latest victim lies in the garden as I type, writhing in his (or hers-I’ve no idea how you tell the sex of a lizard) death throes, in two neatly cut halves, like the victim of a magic trick gone seriously wrong.

I’m guilty for letting the grass grow too long, so that when I was mowing it today I didn’t spot the copper salamander make a life changing decision by seeking shelter under the mower instead of doing the sensible thing and legging it for all he was worth in the opposite direction. This now takes my tally to five gruesome deaths:

Number uno: I knew geckos lived in the little cupboard which houses the gas bottles, but I didn’t think they’d be stupid enough to hide in the ridge which runs around the door, or worse to stick their head up to see what’s going on just as I slam the door shut. Result – one perfectly flattened gecko head, its little mouth open permanently framed saying ‘ouch’.

Numero dos: Another gas cupboard victim. This one hitched a ride under the rim of the gas bottle when I took it to be renewed, but obviously decided that the boot of my car was a much more comfortable home. Trouble is – no food. I eventually found his emaciated little body under the back seat.

Numero tres: Quite simply complete lack of observational skills. Shut the bedroom window and didn’t notice that there was a little scaly fellow resting on the ledge enjoying the view, until I heard the squelch.

Numero cuatro: The worst really. I shut the skylight in the bathroom, but as it was dark I couldn’t see out of it, but it did seem to stick on something. Next morning I found that the top half a lizard’s body was silhouetted on the glass, his little front legs splayed out like a cartoon character. To my shame I left him there for a couple of weeks, his disembodied head staring down at me accusingly, a constant reminder me of my crime.

These are only the ones I know about, there may be more. However, in my defence, none were cold blooded murders; the worst I could be accused of is lizardslaughter. In fact writing this down has made me realise that it’s me that’s the real victim here. I’m obviously being used by a lizard suicide cult to despatch them on their way into the next world.

It’s that nightmare time again, the three month cycle when Andy bluntly points out that my hair’s getting to the point where I’m starting to look like Quentin Crisp and a visit to the hairdressers is on the cards. I hate going to the hairdressers. For me it’s part of a trio which includes Doctors and Dentists as places to avoid if at all possible. Unfortunately, the Quentin Crisp thing is a deal breaker. I’m not sure why hairdressers are on the list, possibly because when I was a kid my mum, unhappy with a particularly shoddy short back and sides, kept sending me back to the local hairdresser until she was satisfied with the result. All this meant was that the novice who’d been let loose on my bonce, just kept chopping off more and more hair until I was left with a skinhead; a sure sign in those days in the West of Scotland that someone had ‘nits’. This obviously left me with deep emotional scars.
What nobody really prepares you for when you move to another country is that it’s the little transactions, the ones that in your home country you do without even thinking about, that can be unexpectedly taxing. But learning another language isn’t just about conjugating your verbs, it’s about learning a new vocabulary for every single little area of your life.
When we moved to Tenerife, this just sent the stress levels for visiting the hairdresser through the roof. Despite having spent a year trying to learn the lingo before moving, we were utterly unprepared and often mixed words up. A visit to the hairdresser was an embarrassing disaster waiting to happen. On my first visit I was nearly thrown out before I began for asking for the hair on my backside instead of the back of my head to be cut. Then, deciding to take what I thought would be the safest approach, I asked the hairdresser to cut my hair like his. In my anxiety however, I mixed up ‘pelo’ with ‘perro’ and inadvertently asked him to give me the same style as worn by his dog. I suppose he must have done a good job as a Golden Labrador tried to mount me as I left the shop. God, I hate going to the hairdresser.

I tried to remind myself I was in a country with a decidedly casual approach to obeying rules, which was a much healthier philosophy than my British conditioning which dictates that even the most inconsequential rule should be strictly adhered to.
The sheer nerve of the woman. If this had been in the UK, security guards would have been setting off alarms and reaching for their angina pills by now, but there she was, bold as brass, in Puerto de la Cruz’ halls of power, the town hall, right outside the mayoress’ office and not only did she have a dog in tow, it wasn’t even on a leash.
The woman stuck her head through door after door, obviously looking for somebody in particular, with the dog mimicking her every move. I waited for the shouts of indignation, secretly gleeful at the thought of her being ejected from the building for her crime, but none came. Maybe it was because the dog was a Chihuahua and was passing below everyone’s radar. The woman was eventually pointed to the door she wanted and duly disappeared inside. The dog, however, in typical dog-like fashion was distracted at this exact point by something and nothing, and didn’t spot this. Chihuahuas never seem very confident creatures to me and this one obviously had abandonment issues; it went into panic mode. It skittered around the building (that’s what Chihuahuas do they don’t run, or prance, they skitter), running through every door that the woman had stuck her head through previously, until finally at one it was met with an “AYE” and the sound of a chair being pushed back. The dog ran out of the room, followed by a young bloke.
That’s it now, I thought, it’s one thing a dog being in the town hall with its owner, but on its own must be a complete no-no, now the dog’s for the offski. But the young man did something that completely floored me. Instead of turfing the dog out of the building, he pointed down the corridor and unbelievably gave it directions.
“She’s not here; she’s in the room at the end of the hall,” he said to the dog.
Of course, he had to repeat the directions a couple of times before the dog got the picture and toddled away to be reunited with its owner.
It’s little incidents like these which are part of the joy of living here. Viva la diferencia!

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I’m not a twitcher, but I like a side serving of the dawn chorus with breakfast, well not so much dawn, luckily the birds here don’t fully find their voices till after 8am.
We’re lucky enough to have a diverse little gathering of African tits (who delight in vandalising the hibiscus), chiffchaffs, Canaries (which are actually brownish green in the wild), a shy Hoopoe (who hoops away for hours, but rarely shows him, or herself), the occasional parrots (who just squawk and fight as parrots are wont to do), and the Pavarotti of the lot, the little black cap (not his real monicker, which is something like tinto negro), who can out sing the lot.
Today a new fellow entered the fray, soaring gracefully in wide circles in the blue yonder- a fish eagle. Unfortunately, if he was looking for new territory, his quest didn’t go too well. First he had to suffer the ignominy of a dopey flock of local homing pigeons mistaking his markings for one of their own and joining him in his royal meanderings (don’t eagles eat other birds?) which obviously didn’t help with any stealthy hunting he had planned. Then he was attacked by a pair of hawks, who despite the zillion or so lizards that live hereabouts, obviously didn’t feel this particular bit of sky was big enough for the both of them and promptly saw him off. I’m sure he could have taken them and I half hoped he would puff up his chest and flash his talons in a ‘don’t mess with me, I’m the lord of the skies’ manner, but, despite having superior firepower, he didn’t rise to the bait. It seems to me that he was far too good natured to be an eagle. I hope he comes back.