Evidence that I too can write about Nature.

Living the wild life in Tenby

Wild life in Tenby

Wildlife in Tenby

Many of you fellow bloggers compose beautiful posts about trees or your cats or your horses or the plants in your garden, all of which enrich the souls of your readers.  You include photos, vibrant-coloured and demonstrating the startling beauty of the natural world.  You are true nature-lovers, and plebs like me, who think a long walk is going to the corner shop for a can of Pepsi, and who prefer libraries to lilacs and fish and chips to floral gardens, cannot hope to compete.

But I can at least try.  I'd hate you to think I had no appreciation of nature at all.

So here is an account of an encounter with the fascinating and uplifting world of nature which I had in Tenby.


The dead mice in the picture above are not actually the ones we saw in Tenby, but are a special type of mice called 'Miceus Googlus Imagus'.  They are, I have to be frank, very untidily arranged.

Unlike them, the dead mice we saw in Tenby were lined up, first one head up, second one tail up, third one head up, etc, economically, like boots in a shoebox, or like sardines in a tin only not in tomato sauce.

Regular readers will be relieved to know that we did not see these dead mice in the Tenby icecream shop, Tenby Library, or on a Tenby bus, but in a Tenby Reptile House we visited (oh yes, oh yes, we know how to party).

Here is a picture of some sardines in a tin, just to illustrate what I mean about the tidiness of the dead mice we saw.  Look at the picture, and try your hardest to think mice.

Yes, I know it's difficult, but you're just not trying hard enough.

Look again.

That's better.  (Honestly.  Some people.)

Now, it's one thing to KNOW that reptiles are fed with dead mice.  It's another thing to see them arranged in rows on the top of the reptile's cage, conveniently at hand, as though they were just nice little pink cupcakes or peanut butter sandwiches cut into triangles.  It gave me a big shock, and took a hell of a lot of rum and raisin icecream to get over.

Dead mice as food, even tidied up, is one of those things you are aware of, but would prefer were kept quiet.

Other things I would prefer were kept quiet ....... (in case you don't recognise it, this is called a digression)

1. The 'basil between your teeth' thing when someone says at a social function, 'Do you realise that, for three hours now, you have had a bit of basil stuck in between your front teeth?'  It's not that I don't WANT to be told about the basil, but three hours after the meal, when I've been cracking (what I think are) my best jokes all evening, is not the time to find out.

2. The 'dessert on your shirt' thing  I once taught an after-lunch English lesson for an hour and ten minutes and it was only at the end of the lesson that the kids pointed out that, just below the first button of my white shirt, there was a giant blob of blackberry crumble and custard, stuck to my chest.  When I say 'was' I mean 'was' in the 'had been for the whole lesson' kind of 'was'.  No wonder they'd found my explanation of iambic pentameter so amusing.

3. Opera singers.  

4. Snoring train passengers.  

5. Babies who gulp loudly like this - 'n-guh n-guh n-guh' - while breastfeeding in quiet Italian restaurants.  (Sorry, sorry, sorry, breastfeeding mums, but ravioli in cream sauce just doesn't seem the same in such circumstances.)

Anyway, back to the mice.  I did wonder whether there was a seamless link I could make between the n-guh babies and the dead mice, but I'd better not.

Here is the picture of the mice again, just to get you back on track.

Hah!  That was a test!  If you saw mice, give yourself a round of applause.  If you saw sardines, give yourself a slap.  If you saw flying saucers/pink elephants/your dead auntie, give yourself another pill.

I've been to Reptile Houses many times before ('My name is Fran and I'm an iguanaholic ...') but I've never seen their mousey dinners laid out quite so explicitly before without so much as a warning sign.

And I think it just goes to show how much our world is changing.  I suppose, just as it's now acceptable for Britney Spears to appear on prime-time TV dressed in a belt, two earrings and some eyeliner, and just as it's now acceptable to sell a computer game to a child with more blood in it than a donor bank, dead mice in a neat row on the top of a boa constrictor's cage which give a middle-aged Englishwoman palpitations is fine.

Maybe it's just that modern reptiles are really demanding.  Just as the modern teenager wants microwave French Fries within minus 0.3 seconds, the modern iguana wants his McMice or KFM as soon as he's hungry.

Here's that picture again, just in case you haven't quite got the hang of it yet.

Ha ha!  Got you!


  1. The prostrate mice (not the sardines) do have a Disney/Cinderella charm to them. My guess is that the sardine-mice were frozen and defrosting when you saw them. I have heard of this. I do, however, believe that snakes prefer their mice as live victims. Maybe micicle is a Tenby specialty frosty flavor that you could request on your next trip to their ice cream shop?

  2. If libraries and fish 'n chips help you write posts like this, then have at it. I actually kind of like dead mice.

    I mean sardines.

  3. From your photo, Tenby looks like a pretty spot.
    I think if I were to visit there, the reptile house would be the last place I'd care to see. Give me a nice beach over a boa constrictor any day. On the other hand, an opera singer might make a tasty snack for a big hungry snake. Oh and I'm never eating sardines again after seeing your pics! (Not that I ever did anyway.) Clever post!

  4. Er, if there's any mice left, chuck them my way will ya? Actually, I'd settle for the sardines too. Funny, funny, post.

    Milt xx

  5. This post reminded me of a friend who kept snakes as pets. He used to breed mice, kill the mice, put the mice in the freezer (yes, with the peas and chicken portions) so that his cuddly snakes wouldn't starve. You've got to be a certain sort of person, I think.

  6. Tee-hee!

    I might have to write about my experience with mice now.

    Also, have you brainwashed me with all those images? And how will I know?

    (When I get arrested for throwing pineapple - still in the tins - at the gammon-pink politician I will blame this post and you for being a Bad Influence.)

  7. This post is, as they say in the States (some places at least) "a hoot." My wife and I spent an impulsive off-season night in Tenby in 1997 and it has remained our icon of pleasant surprises. Food was fantastic and the monsoon let up while we were there. (By the way your bus driver was right about Haverford, which we drove through en route to St. David's. Never again.)

  8. Anonymous1/5/10 22:37

    If only a could remember the name of the town you are talking about and then i could go and see for myself....

    I think I will be seeing dead mice and sardines packed nicely together in a tin for the rest of my day. Thanks!

    No more fish for me.... ;0)

  9. I'd love a job as a noise abatement officer for Italian restuarants so I could wander around with my little decibel metre, searching out instances of 'n-guh n-guh n-guh' to make sure they were not too loud.

  10. Very funny post, MOM. I read it again this morning because I was grumpy last night and couldn't enjoy the full effect. Much better the second time around, but that's nothing to do with you. Or the dead mice.

  11. I forgive you all of it, the sardines, the mice, particularly the n guh guh babies (shouldn't they have been laid out on top of the reptile cage?) but I cannot forgive you for wanting to gag and muzzle opera singers!

    Where would the world be without can belto?

  12. English Rider - I just just see that on the list .... strawberry flavour, chocolate flavour, rum and raisin flavour, mint choc flavour, micicle flavour ... ('Oh, I'll have the micicle, please. What's in it?' - 'Er ... well ...'

    Mark - libraries and fish and chips make all the difference to everything in my life.

    Boomer Pie - I think most of the opera singers I've seen would keep the reptile house in provender for a good year or so.

    Milton - Sorry, none left. It will just have to be your old tuna in gravy or whatever you normally have.

    Martin H - Let's hope the labelling was efficient ...

    Moptop - Please do write about your mice experiences. This is something I want to hear.

    Everyone look at SEAN who backs me up all the way about Tenby. See? Not making it up! Thanks, Sean. You're a godsend. They all think I'm kidding them.

    Eternally Distracted - Let's hope you only see them all day and not all night. Doesn't sound like a very pleasant dream, does it?!

    Steve - if I ever start an Italian restaurant, you have a job. In fact, someone should make sure Gordon Brown doesn't put 'n-guh noise abatement officer' on his list of skills people can't come into the country with. We need as many as we can get.

    Deborah - You? Grumpy? Whose fault? I'll send them some dead mice.

    Friko - I knew, I just KNEW you were going to stay that. In fact, I have to admit to just a little frisson of Friko-anticipation as I wrote the words 'opera singers'. Anyway, what's 'can belto'? Is it like 'can sardino', only louder?

  13. EVERYONE! Re-reading these replies to you all, I have counted at least three typos. I hang my head in shame. Put it down to cold hands - I've just come in from the shops and it's FREEZING out there. Where did Spring go?

  14. Hee hee - great post.


    PS think spring was just a figment of our imagination.

  15. Oops, maybe going to Tenby would help my spelling. I meant: you will never leave.

  16. Fran, you're scaring me. I think too much Tenby has done your head in. Fran, I'm not sure you should go back to Tenby again. Your may never leave.

  17. You don't like opera? Why, Fran, I'm dissappointed!

  18. Suzanne - Yes, I think perhaps I left the spring in Tenby.

    Talli - Okay, I won't go back to Tenby. Not for at least ... a month.

    Alexandra - Don't like opera or musicals. It really annoys me when a good story gets going and then they have to go and SING. I like singing, but not in the middle of stories. The play's the thing. For me, anyway.

  19. I think I've just gone off sardines - and mice!

    I'm with you on opera singers, I just don't get them.

  20. Anonymous3/5/10 10:42

    The fourth sardine from top left is actually a gerbil.

    I saw a lizard in a pet shop a few years ago that had its dinner (a big fat locust) walking on it. That was a worry.


  21. Deborah - let's start a campaign.

    Karen - I never found sardines and mice a tasty combination anyway. It's like the peanut butter and jam thing.

    Val - if you're going to leave hilarious comments like that, you can come and visit any time you like.

  22. You just made me laugh out loud, even though I am on my own (just imagine how demented I seem to people passing on the street)

    The funny bit was your poignant intro about your friends' ability to take amazing wildlife pictures, which you then countered with some dead mice in Tenby. V. Funny!

  23. Anonymous3/5/10 15:38

    Will do. And thanks for comment in mine... will reply in a bit. Revisit, please!

    Oh - I forgot to tell you. The gerbil's got a glass eye.


  24. Sublime stuff - crazy but sublime.

  25. Annie - Thank you. 'Poignant' is not a word people often use to describe my blog posts ...

    Absurdoldbird - You've been busy today on my blog! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on so many posts. Appreciated.

    Chris - Crazy? Crazy? This is some of my most serious, profound writing.

  26. I can't STAND rats. Lined up, in disarray, as long as they're dead. I live in a city and I've two incidents of rats almost running over my children's feet. Now they each have a story to tell.

  27. Theresa - is that the rats, or the children, who each have a story to tell?! Thanks for visiting the blog. We are united in our rat-hate.

  28. Let me ask you a question...

    Do you think it would be easier to eat a tin of sardines or three dead mice while riding on a bus?

    Headed to Tenby.

  29. Amanda - I will let you know. I'm always looking for new bus activities. At least the dead mice wouldn't need a can opener.

  30. Eek! Yikes! Stop with the pictures! I was enjoying a lovely dinner of sardines, frogs legs and boneless chicken breasts, when I completely lost my appetite. Fortunately I had some parmesan-extra-salt-potato-chips in the pantry, so I won't starve. Close call, though.


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