Two Boot Scrapers, Three Mice

Well, we came out of lockdown, and then pretty much immediately had to participate in “surge testing” for the South African variant of the virus, which had popped up in our local area.

It was like, Happy reopening! …now go get tested. (Ours were negative.)

But fortunately, school has resumed following the Easter holidays, and pretty much all the kids’ activities have resumed as well. So we’ve been trying to get back into a routine after a very disjointed start to this year.

The weather has still been cool, but it’s been sunny, so we’ve been able to do a few things we used to take for granted, like:

Dining out at a restaurant on Northcote Road…

Spending a day in the gardens of Hampton Court Palace…

Enjoying a beer at a pub…

And going shopping on the King’s Road in Chelsea.

All these things feel so familiar, but it’s the first time in 2021 that we’ve been able to do them.

And now for the latest Wakehurst Mouse Hole news:

I did two at once for the first (and last!) time. I spent quite a long time making this fortune teller mouse and her tent, which I’m pretty proud of, especially since I made it entirely out of materials I already had in the house, except for the tiny crystal ball and the satiny purple ribbon, which I had to order.

But when I got up there to do the install, it didn’t fit in the boot scraper! (I swear I measured. I just didn’t measure well.)

But it did fit in the boot scraper around the corner, the one where someone (never did discover their identity!) had made the Wakehurst Beach Resort. And I didn’t feel bad about removing the beach resort items, because no one had been keeping it up, and it was looking like the mice had stayed too long in Ibiza. The umbrella was broken, the booze was gone, and I found a tiny mouse-sized packet of Doritos between them. It was time for their beach holiday to end and for the mice to head to a detox retreat.

Fortunately, I’d worked ahead and had another mouse scene pretty much ready to go, so that one went into the original Wakehurst Mouse Hole. It was a camping scene, with a mouse sporting her tie-dye and roasting a mini marshmallow.

But not long–maybe a week?–after, I passed by on my way to E’s swimming lesson, and discovered this:

All of it gone, save one little felt tree.

It was just so strange. Who would do that, and why? It doesn’t have any monetary value; it’s just felt and cardboard and some sticks. I can understand when a mouse goes missing occasionally–it’s easy to imagine a small child pocketing it, or maybe a cat–but this was everything, including the background. The home owners had no idea who had done it, either. My internet fan base was appropriately outraged.

I didn’t want any children walking past the next day and getting upset by the empty hole in the wall, so I quickly added some of the beach resort items in, glued down this time, which was the best I could do on short notice.

Then I set to work on the next scene, a fairy garden, which I installed last night.

Please welcome Oberodent, King of the Fairy Mice, to the Wakehurst Mouse Hole.

I sewed the little toadstools, and the mouse of course, but the sweet little fairy house was made by someone else, who is a much better seamstress than me. (I ordered it online.)

I sewed everything except the fairy mouse into the turf-grass base, both to prevent things from falling over and from going missing. I hope it works.

And one final mouse hole update: a local artist, Erin Rose, popped this gorgeous picture of the original mouse through my letterbox last night, which just made my week/month/life.

And she left another, smaller portrait in the mouse hole, as well.

I’m kind of obsessed with it. If I can get my act together and actually write the children’s book I need to write about the boot scraper mice, I’ve got my illustrator! Thank you, Erin!

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