47 – Witch Fever

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Dear Lucy,

 I’m the sort of mouse who likes, when reading, to impart snippets of knowledge to anyone who may be within earshot.  I think I may well stop being that sort of mouse.

On Monday I spent the morning perusing a couple of book deliveries that Millie had taken receipt of whilst I was away.  ‘Bitten by Witch Fever’, an account of wallpaper and arsenic in the Victorian home had a rather funny excerpt, which I’d read aloud to Millie whilst she was filing her monthly invoices.  A German scientist by the name of Leopald Gmelin had reported in a Berlin newspaper that a strange ‘mouse-like’ odour could often be detected in damp conditions where wallpaper containing arsenic, was present.  I thought very little of this brief impart of humorous information and even less of Millie’s sudden announcement around lunchtime that she was taking the afternoon off.  Having already arranged to go round Millie’s for tea, her parting mumbled words “I’m popping off early to intercept the waffles” held no worries in my mind other than whether she’d remembered to stock up on maple syrup.

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When I arrived at Millie’s around 4.30 that same afternoon, to my horror, not only were there no waffles in sight, but, the cottage was in complete chaos.  It didn’t take me long to conclude that Millie hadn’t left early to intercept any waffles, but rather, had spent her entire afternoon inspecting the wallpaper after coming to the rapid conclusion that her cottage smelt of mouse and hence must be full of poisonous arsenic.

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Now, at this point I could have offered up the suggestion to Millie that her house was bound to smell of mouse due to the fact that she was, in actual fact, a mouse smelling mouse.  However, fearing Millie might think that I was implying she stank and looking around at the already half stripped walls, I decided to keep quiet and perform the most logical course of action required in a panic situation of this gravity; that of checking to see if the casserole was ready whilst considering new designs for Millie’s walls.

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I am including with this letter the series of designs that Millie chose as her favourites.  After a week of full on DIY we’ve pretty much completed most rooms and am, as I write, just adding the finishing touches to the trompe l’oeil in the study.  I think we shall celebrate the completed restoration with a well-deserved plate of waffles; it’s been a tough week!

Lots of love,

M. M.

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Moris’s recent activity has been inspired by a number of sources which he’d like to tell you about.  Obviously, the wallpaper debacle is explained in the letter, however, his layout for the letter was inspired by the Edward Bawden Scrapbooks, a fascinating read published by Lund Humphries.  Moris’s trompe l’oeil design for Millie’s study was inspired by some snaps shots of Stephen Courthauld’s bedroom, recently sent to him by his friend Dave, who lives in Eltham Palace London.

Do you have a favourite designer?  Morris would love to hear from you, so please feel free to hit the comments box.  Morris will get back to you mouse style.

© All images and story content copyright of lynncf

 

46 – International Book Giving Day

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Dear Lucy,

To avoid disappointment down at the depot this year, Millie decided to enforce an outright ban on all things Valentine.  Instead, she and Gertrude organised a giant book swap for International Book Giving Day.

Everyone arrived at work with a small selection of books from their private libraries, each containing, as per Millie’s instruction, a nice message to the new owner, hand written on the title page or thereabouts.  Everyone was also asked to make a special bookmark to pass on to a friend.

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An inspired idea by Millie which ensured everyone was remembered on Valentines, although as far a productivity was concerned, not much mail went out today due to most mice spending a distracted afternoon with their new reads.

Happy International Book Giving Day!

Love M.M.

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Have you shared a book for International Book Giving Day?  Morris would love to hear about any swaps, so please feel free to hit the comments box.

Morris will get back to you mouse style.

© All images and story content copyright of lynncf

45 – The Mice of the Round Table

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Dear Lucy,

Having had a whale of a time at the jousting tournament, Tommy and I decided to spend a while longer in Medieval England.  After a few days heading south Tommy started to complain of an annoying, but not unpleasant tasting, greasy stain on his fur.
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I had warned Tommy previously that butter, in the absence of a Tupperware container, wouldn’t travel well in warm weather, but after failing to heed my advice, his insistence that all would be well if he packed up some supplies in a hessian parcel inside his backpack was evidently now resulting in a terribly oily mess all down his fur.

Making a pit stop for tea and snacks, we soaked up what butter we could with what was left of the bread and flung the oily pack on top of a nearby stone to dry out in the sun.  I must have only been half way through my tea when Tommy jumped up with a start and began shouting at a local scoundrel who was seemingly about to ‘half-inch’ his backpack.  What ensued next I can only describe as a furious exchange of riotous angry squeaks which went on for several minutes until we all calmed down, and discovered that the thief wasn’t a thief at all, but a rather nice young mouse by the name of Arthur.

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Over a fresh brew of tea we discovered that Arthur had recently come down to London with his brother to attend a knight’s fighting tournament.  In his capacity of temporary squire, Arthur was entrusted with his brother’s equipment.  Unfortunately, just the day before, Arthur had been larking about with his brother’s sword and having become a bit over excited with his advance lunges accidently flung the weapon into the Thames.  Arthur pointed to the sword sticking out of the stone next to Tommy’s pack and asked if we might help him retrieve it.  Happy to help a fellow mouse in trouble, the sword was already beginning to loosen with the butter melting from Tommy’s pack so we decided to squeeze out what remaining oil we could and within minutes Arthur had pulled the sword free.

As a thank you, Arthur invited us back to meet his friends at the local tavern.  We had a great evening of chat and medieval entertainment around what Arthur thought was the best table in the house.   Since returning home Arthur has written to tell of some exciting news.  Some days after our departure he and his brother noticed some strange writing on the blade of the sword that we pulled out the stone.  The inscription read, “Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone is the rightful born king of England’s mouse kingdom.”  With his new found status and wealth Arthur has ordered a round table just like the one he took a fancy to at the tavern and is making plans to appoint a cavalry of Knights to protect the Kingdom.  Arthur’s brother was the first to be appointed in recompense of Arthur losing his favourite sword.

Hope this letter finds you well!

Love M.M.

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Have you ever had an accident with something you’ve packed in your bag?  Have you ever had a good night down the local tavern?  Morris would love to hear from you, so please feel free to hit the comments box.

Morris will get back to you mouse style.

© All images and story content copyright of lynncf

44 – Cat Jousting

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Dear Lucy,

I decided to spend new year in the highlands with my friend Tommy who found himself with the weekend free after being most graciously ‘let out’ of his monthly obligation to cook the rats their Sunday dinner, as was the agreement after losing the battle of Tankerton Castle last summer.  When Rastius called Tommy last week he predicted that everyone would probably be too partied-out to even get out their pyjamas on New Years Day, let alone get down to the castle for a full roast.

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After spending a relaxing first evening in front of the fire reading through old journals written by Tommy’s ancestors, we decided to expand our education with a trip to medieval England for a spot of cat jousting.  It seems points were awarded for presentation, so to give ourselves a good advantage we spent the best part of Friday searching out and polishing the finest harnesses of armour from the castle wardrobes.  Not having any steeds to speak of, on Saturday morning we paid a visit to Morag in the Angus Glens to ask if we might, for a few days, borrow her kittens: Angus MacTabby and Archie Fishface.  Morag said she’d be delighted for us to take her sons from under her paws after they’d driven her up the wall over Christmas and that it would give her a chance to pay a visit to her sister in the Cairngorms who didn’t like kittens.  MacTabby and Fishface, being purebred Scottish wildcats, were quite a handful but after being warned by their mother that the eating of domestic mice would cause them to be violently sick, we felt quite safe in their company.

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Considering we’d had no prior experience, Tommy and myself discovered that we were pretty good at jousting and found ourselves ranking quite high until disaster struck on the second day.  We can only blame ourselves for not having briefed the kittens sufficiently in the art of medieval feline combat.  A sneaky hiss from a rather stuck up Persian ended our tournament when MacTabby took offence, bounced over the tilt and smacked the pedigree into submission with a repeated paw thwump to the left ear, and Fishface, who’s not as a rule loyal to his brother, made matters worse by rushing in to defend the family honour.  Within minutes some twenty cats had joined the skirmish, resulting in our disqualification for starting the commotion, although Tommy remains convinced that there was some underlying snobbery afoot on account of MacTabby and Fishface being considered feral.

Disqualification not being entirely without its advantages, we spent the final days of the the tournament enjoying the battles from the safety of the sidelines, feasting on medieval fare and meeting a few of Tommy’s ancestors.

Happy New Year!

Love, M.M.

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The Scottish Wildcat is the only remaining wild cat in Britain.  Once common in forests across the UK it is now confined to just a few remote areas in the Scottish Highlands.  Numbers originally decreased due to deforestation and human persecution, but today their primary threat is that of cross-mating with feral domestic cats, a process known as hybridisation. Today these wildcats, affectionately known as the Highland Tiger, are critically endangered with recent surveys suggesting that there are less than 100 individuals left in the wild.  If you’d like to know more about the current work in progress to save this most precious of felines, please feel free to visit scottishwildcats.co.uk.

Morris would love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to hit the comments box.

Morris will get back to you mouse style.

© All images and story content copyright of lynncf

43 – The #illo_advent Challenge

 

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Dear Lucy,

This year myself, Millie, Gertrude and Clive decided to spend Christmas over at Winston’s in the old oak tree after finding out that he’d been most ungraciously let down by his friend Betty who’d had a better offer of spending Christmas at a spa hotel with the ladies from her sewing circle.  She’s a fickle one that Betty!

Winston has two comfortable spare bedrooms with twin beds, so it all worked out nicely when it came to fitting us all in.  Winston said that it was the best Christmas he’d had in years and after a few drinks over lunch said that he hoped Betty’s fur turned green with the chlorine.  Clive brought with him a lovely new Monopoly board which we decided to set up on a side table as a running game throughout the holiday, so as to save anyone from going mental and kicking the ruddy thing across the room after playing for five hours and getting absolutely bloody nowhere, as is usual with a game of Monopoly.

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The break at Winston’s was a nice end to what had been for me, a busy December of Christmas preparations.  This year I decided to document the month with a series of drawings for the #illo-advent challenge over on my social media channels, which went down well but added to my workload.

On the subject of advent, we had quite a lot of fun down at the depot when on the first of December an unaddressed advent calendar got stuck down the time tunnels.  As a rule, all personal correspondence coming into the depot reduces to mouse size as it travels down the tunnels, but for some reason the calendar kept regular proportions.  Millie rounded up a technical team to get the calendar out, which took a few hours and some ferocious nibbling of the edges to set it free.  Having no address and no way of knowing who the calendar was supposed to be sent to, we decided to set it against the large wall at the end of the sorting room and Winston devised a system of pulleys so that we could get to the windows to open them each day.

Rumours went round the depot that the calendar was a special gift from Santa, but I’m not sure how true that is.

Hope you had a lovely Christmas too!

Love M.M.

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Morris would like to wish all his followers a very happy Christmas, he’d love to hear your thoughts on his advent challenge, so please feel free to hit the comments box.

Morris will get back to you mouse style.

© All images and story content copyright of lynncf

42 – Mitsu Mausu and the Supermoon

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Dear Lucy

As you know, Monday mornings can be a bit of a drag where nothing particularly interesting happens and exhausted weekenders return, settling themselves quietly into their weekly routine. This fact being so, I was thus expecting the distant shuffling of letters and parcels in the main sorting office to be my dawn chorus as I rose from my camp bed in Millie’s office and poured a fresh brewed coffee from the percolator.

Not so …… conversely, I was jolted out of my slumber by Millie accidentally catching her toe on the frame of my bed as she ran past and Gertrude, in an equal haste, covering me with a mountain of invoices as she threw her files skyward in an attempt to catch up with Millie.

Fearing the building was on fire, I snatched a coffee and my backpack and flew through the office doors. But rather than the expected blazing inferno I encountered, instead, a throng of mice jostling for a prime position around the mailbags all eagerly watching as Millie and Gertrude pulled on a pair of pink feet at the end of a pair of black fluffy legs.

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What eventually appeared, attached to those mysterious legs, was a fellow by the name of Mitsu Mausu. It would seem, that by some strange twist of fate, Mitsu, a travelling Kimono salesmouse from Japan, had somehow managed to get himself swept down the time tunnels and end up in our sorting office.  Over tea and biscuits, Winston, who was in the depot for annual maintenance on the time machine, wondered if this strange event may have occurred due to the November supermoon producing an extra bit of gravitational pull whilst on it’s unusually close elliptical orbit around the earth.  I didn’t understand what the hell Winston was banging on about, but the biscuits were rather good and I had heard that the moon was going to be extra big and bright that evening, so carried on listening with feigned interest.

Mitsu taught me the traditional mouse greeting bow.  It’s repectful to hold one’s whiskers with one’s paws to avoid poking your friend in the eye.

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Over more tea Mitsu began to tell us all about the Tsukimi or ‘moon viewing’ celebrations which take place in his village on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Japanese calendar, and Millie, knowing mice to be ardent fans of new cultural experiences, enquired as to whether Mitsu would help the depot organise it’s own Tsukimi celebration.  Mitsu said that he would be delighted but added that we must invite all the rabbits in the surrounding area.  Again, I was somewhat confused, but this request sounded a bit more interesting than Winston’s elliptical whatnots.

41d-2That afternoon Mitsu chose a suitable viewing area on a small hill by the pond whilst Winston and myself went in search of autumn plants to decorate the venue.  Millie thought us terribly rude to return with Chinese lanterns, until Mitsu informed us that the Physalis Alkekengii plant did actually grow in Japan.  In the canteen Maureen and a small team of staff prepared mochi sticky rice dumplings according to Mitsu’s special recipe. Many paws made light work and it wasn’t long before the canteen mice had rolled a plentiful supply of these small white balls to reflect and celebrate the beauty of the moon.

At dusk we began our procession down to the pond, and as the moon reflected brightly in the water, Gertrude set a small offering of dumplings, roasted sweet potatoes, chestnuts and pumpkin on a special tree stump.  Cuthbert, from office supplies, read out a poem thanking the moon for our Autumn harvest and for lighting our way home on dark winter nights, and Mitsu told us a story explaining why it had been so important to invite the local rabbits.

41e-2Many years ago, Mitsu began, the old man in the moon looked down at three friends playing in the forest.  Wondering which of these creatures was the kindest he came down to the forest and pretended to be homeless and hungry.  On asking the fox, monkey and rabbit for help they all went away in search of food.  The monkey collected fruit from the trees, the fox caught a fish from the river, but the rabbit returned with nothing.  The rabbit asked his friend to help him build a fire and as it began to blaze the rabbit told the old man “I couldn’t find any food for you but I will jump in the fire and when I am roasted you can eat me.” At this point in the story there was a horrified gasp from all our rabbit friends, and an engrossed Bunty Flossops fainted, nearly rolling down the hill into the pond.  After we revived Bunty, Mitsu continued ……. The man in the moon jumped up to stop the rabbit “Do not harm yourself to help me, you are the kindest animal in the forest and for this reason I will take you back with me to the moon and look after you.”  And so, when at it’s fullest, Mitsu concluded, the kind rabbit can be seen in the shadows on the surface of the moon, pounding the mochi dough with a huge mortar and mallet.

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All in all we had a jolly good evening and the rabbits were really pleased with their elevated status of being the kindest animals in the forest.   Mitsu stayed with us a few more days until Winston had finished maintenance on the time machine.  Mitsu and I have promised to write regularly and maybe I’ll pop over for a visit in the future, which the depot mice are keen for me to do as they bought up all of Mitsu’s kimonos and said they wouldn’t mind a few more for their friends and relatives.

Hope you got to see the supermoon too!

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As a parting gift, Mitsu gave Millie a Maneki Neko Japanese beckoning cat to keep in the office. Maneki Neko will help to bring good fortune to all who work at the depot.

In keeping with the feline theme Millie and I decided to gift Mitsu our lucky black cat that we’d found in the sand at St. Aubin’s Bay last year.

Love M.M.

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Morris apologises for taking a while to deliver this blog, but as you can see it was rather a long letter. Morris would love to hear about your super moon experiences, so please feel free to hit the comments box.

Morris will get back to you mouse style.

© All images and story content copyright of lynncf

41 – Fish Fingers

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Dear Lucy,

I’m up on the River Avon visiting my friend Tots.  Tots has his eye on a lady otter upstream so he’s been practising his fishing skills in an attempt to woo her.

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Whilst I usually enjoy a good swim, it’s a bit cold this time of year and fearing the local pike might see me as a tasty snack, I decided to set myself safely on the surface in my trusty kayak, with a thermos of tea and some hot buttered crumpets.   Unbeknown to Tots, whilst he was busy below surface, I paddled off with a package of cod fish fingers tied with a ribbon and a note wishing lady otter well.

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Since my return Tots has written to tell me he’s been invited for tea next Wednesday, he thinks the sudden invitation is a sign that lady otter is impressed by his fishing prowess.  He could be right!

Hope this postcard finds you well!

Love M.M.

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Otter numbers dropped dramatically in the UK between the 1950’s and 1970’s due to persecution through hunting and pesticides washing into our river systems.  Fearing the worst, steps were taken to bring this beautiful and much loved aquatic acrobat back to our waterways.  In 1978 otter hunting was banned and along with the withdrawal of organochlorine chemicals, a concerted effort to clean up our waterways and a reduction in the volume of water taken from rivers by industry, the otter again began to thrive.  In 2011 otters were spotted in Kent which signalled their return to every county in Britain.    

Have you ever spotted an otter whilst out on a waterways walk?  Morris would love to hear of any encounters, so please feel free to hit the comments box.

Morris will get back to you mouse style.

© All images and story content copyright of lynncf

40 – The Inktober Challenge

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Dear Lucy,

It’s a very rare event to be able to undertake any endeavour down at the post office depot without all the other mice resisting the temptation to get involved, for mice are, by nature, a species that like to poke their noses into business that isn’t their own.

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This fact being so, it was collectively decided, when I announced my intention to take up the ‘Inktober’ challenge, that everyone should submit a suggestion and deposit it into a large wooden box outside the Postmouster General’s office no later than 29th September.

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Millie instructed everyone to get their duties finished early on the morning of the 30th so that that Friday afternoon could be set aside for tea, cake and the official selection of 11 random submissions.  There was great excitement that morning, not only at the thought of tea and cake but also over the certain knowledge that everyone was getting the afternoon off.

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Millie opened proceedings, by presenting me with a specially prepared calendar and suggesting that each of my daily sketches should be connected either by line or conceptual association, whilst Gertrude shuffled her hand around in the box to select the winners. Gasps and cheers prevailed throughout the announcements, interrupted only momentarily as Millie’s gaze turned to Clive to inform him that his suggestion be vetoed on account of it being too smutty, a retort which prompted a room full of stifled giggles.

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And so, above the collective sipping of tea, the winning suggestions were announced as follows: night and day, a fearless mouse, two ships, a clandestine nod to Christmas, a dragon, the winds of change, a resting place, a guide, a corporate logo, a Shakespeare reference and Alfred the cat who likes to chase birds from the church roof. All in all, a carefully considered mixed bunch of ideas that I was pretty pleased with.

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Millie refused to divulge the contents of the vetoed suggestion, however, Betty who empties the waste paper baskets, later informed me of a piece of crumpled paper she’d found with the words A BIG TURD scrawled upon it in Clive’s handwriting.  He just doesn’t miss a trick that mouse!

Happy Halloween!

Love M.M.

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Did you get involved in the INKTOBER challenge?  Can you find all the connections in Morris’s daily entries?  (For scrutiny purposes, if you click on the illustration it will come up bigger in a new window)  Morris would love to hear from you  …. drop him a line in the comments box below, or share your etchings on his Facebook page.

Morris will get back to you mouse style.

© All images and story content copyright of lynncf

39 – Coughs and Sneezes

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Dear Lucy,

Us mice have a longstanding love hate relationship with the first frosts of the season, for whilst it bites at our noses with the promise of stealing the soft warm soil from under our toes until next Spring, its icy crystals breakdown and sweeten the wild rosehips making them perfect for our winter syrups.

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Whilst the depot mice organised the harvesting amongst the hedgerows, Millie and I took a brisk walk to the hives to let the bees know we were ready for our honey.

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On the way Millie explained to me that some years ago, after a particularly disastrous epidemic of coughs and sneezes brought the depot workforce to a standstill, she set about negotiating a deal with the local bee population.

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In return for the mice creating and tending wild flower beds around the depot gardens, the bees promised to provide some honey come harvest time so that the mice could produce their own supply of vitamin C rich winter syrup. Millie says there’s been a marked drop in staff absences since the scheme began and the bee population has doubled over the past two years as a result of the abundance of flowers in the gardens.

Millie is one smart cookie!

Love M.M.

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Morris writes this blog in support of all his bee friends that are now facing a crisis situation with populations plummeting worldwide, and would ‘politely’ urge everyone to do what they can to help the bees even if it’s just planting a small patch or window box of bee friendly flowers.  Morris would love to hear about any of your bee friendly activities, so please feel free to hit the comments box.

Morris will get back to you mouse style.

© All images and story content copyright of lynncf

 

38 – Monte Carlo

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Dear Lucy,

Sorry I haven’t written in a while.  Myself, Millie and Cyril have spent the best part of the last month in Monaco preparing for the Monte Rodentia Grand Prix.

Despite intensive strategy training, the day of the race turned into a series of ‘flying by the seat of our pants’ manoeuvres due to Team Squirrel surreptitiously cutting Millie’s brake cables the evening prior to the race.

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Noticing she was in trouble I urged Millie to abandon the race, but, not being one to admit defeat, Millie shouted back that she was confident she could control it on the handbrake.

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I’m pleased to write that Team Morris won, whilst Team Squirrel found themselves swimming their furry backsides back to shore after tumbling into the Med due to Cyril’s quick thinking of setting up an impromptu roadblock fashioned from: a picnic hamper, folding chair and a thermos of tea.

Love,

M.M.

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Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had to fly by the seat of your pants like Team Morris? Morris would love to hear from you, so please feel free to hit the comments box. 

Morris will get back to you mouse style.

© All images and story content copyright of lynncf