One of the many things we like about our house is the cellar. It is dry and roomy and a great utility room where we keep the washer, the ironing board, two freezers and extra food storage space. Oh, and it’s where we feed the dog.
But although it is under the house, it does have some natural light. Over the sink there is a window, the top bit of which is above the level of the yard it looks out on, while the bottom two-thirds is in a small, bricked area, the top of which is covered by an old cast-iron grate.
Being where it is means it doesn’t get cleaned as often as it should and as I looked out of it on a bright, sunny day I realised just how grubby it had got outside and I decided to clean it.
Armed with a bucket of soapy water and a cloth, I lifted the heavy grate and leaned into the space to give the window and its frame a good dousing.
The point of this detail of my domestic life is that at the bottom of the space was a carelessly discarded Doritos packet and I leaned down to take it out and got a bit of a shock when underneath it I found two large frogs and a newt sort of huddled together.
How they got there I’ve no idea and I can only assume that they were using the Doritos packet to keep warm. They looked very lethargic and I began to wonder whether they had hibernated there. (Do frogs hibernate?)
Anyway, they obviously needed a helping hand. I had no problem handling frogs when I was a lad, but I must have become more squeamish in my old age and left that task to young Master P. He had no trouble getting them out and we got them through the fence towards our neighbour’s pond.
One of them was a very dark green while the other was paler. Whether this indicates their sex or not, I don’t know (I hadn’t realised how ignorant I am about frogs) but I like to think we’ve saved Mr and Mrs Frog and that there will be the patter of little frogs before too long.
We used to have a pond ourselves that the previous owner used to keep carp in. There were three of them but one would disappear from time to time, presumably having fallen prey to the herons that arrive every spring to fish on the nearby canal and river.
When we hadn’t spotted any of the carp for some months, we assumed they had all gone and decided to take out the pond and rockery only to discover one remaining carp when we’d nearly finished draining the water.
There was no going back so we popped it in a bucket and hawked it round the neighbourhood in search of a new home, but had no takers, not even Mr Fish who has breeding tanks for carp in his back garden.
In the end, we had to take it to the canal and release it into the wild. I’d love to see the face of the angler who pulls it out.