Honestly, it’s been rather a fraught few days. The turmoil began last Monday evening, when a tiny little mouse was discovered in the playroom. To a normal person, this may represent a minor shock and inconvenience, but due to a trauma suffered in France at the impressionable age of 20, I was practically in need of a fainting couch and smelling salts.
The wretched cat, having lost interest immediately upon depositing the miniature rodent was now nowhere to be seen. My husband was my hero on this occasion. After two hours of intense activity, he caught the little blighter and released it far from home.
PHEW! Thank heavens our mouse ordeal was over!
On Friday, at 2:00am, I was awoken by a rather insistent, slightly manic meowing. Luna – strutting, immensely pleased with herself, was keen for my approval. Looking through bleary eyes, in darkness, it took me a moment to appreciate the cause of her self-satisfaction, until a small movement on the rug, mere inches from the bed caught my eye. Calmly and patiently, I awoke my husband with the news that her crimes were escalating and now there was A MOUSE IN OUR BEDROOM.
That same innate ability that has allowed him to sleep through nine years of child-centred night-time disturbances meant it took him some time to respond, during which time my blood pressure reached levels previously only seen when I had life-threatening pre-eclampsia. The mouse stayed frozen on the rug as Luna purred proudly and looked on benevolently. I can truthfully say that this is the only time in my whole life I have hoped to find a dead mouse next to me.
Alas, even this modest desire was to be unfulfilled. Turning on the light shocked the little critter into action and it scampered off to the right, seeking refuge under the radiator. The idiot cat, meanwhile, hunted furiously under the chest of drawers to the left, unearthing a roll of wrapping paper and about 15 hair bobbles, which entertained her greatly. With gentle encouragement and tender handling, I moved her to a centimetre away from where her victim was cowering, but those hair bobbles couldn’t be left and, ignoring the mouse, she sped across the room to catch more. The mouse, seizing its chance, fled behind the wardrobes that line the end wall of the room.
At this point, my dear spouse suggested returning to bed, as evidently nothing further could be done, but with my musophobia ramping up to unprecedented levels, I wasn’t sure I was quite relaxed enough for restful slumber.
After a few minutes of frantic Googling, I came up with a foolproof design for catching the mouse. My husband, to his credit, humoured me to the extent of finding me gaffer tape and cheese, as I flew round the house cutting up boxes and unrolling Andrex like a mischievous pup. The trap was set and we waited for the inevitable victory promised…
At 3:30am, victory not yet achieved, it was insisted that, with work tomorrow, we really must go back to sleep. Just as he turned out the light, my sweetheart said, conversationally, “Yes, actually, I think I felt something scurry over my face before I woke up. Luna must have jumped onto the bed with it first. Night, night!”
He rolled over and was asleep in 15 seconds, I lay, rigid with horror, until the shrill alarm disturbed me from this state of suspended animation. I have had colourful nightmares ever since. The mouse has not been seen again. I am in talks with local estate agencies.
That afternoon, the children were somewhat on pins and I was like a woman who had had 2 hours sleep and then toiled all day in a sweltering classroom, so the arrival of a Project Mc Ultimate Spy Bag was a very welcome distraction. Quite possibly the most exciting thing to ever arrive by post.
I had tried to buy one of these at Christmas, but like the Fingerling monkeys, it seemed you needed to start your shopping rather earlier than I managed, to get hold of one, so when I was asked to write a review, I was delighted. My girls are big fans of Project Mc² on Netflix – I can’t truthfully say I’m a committed viewer myself, but anything that makes being a clever girl cool, has got to be onto a good thing. As a teacher, anything that encourages a bit of science also wins brownie points.
This set is aimed at those aged 6 and up, and with a 9-year-old and a 6-later-this-month-year-old (“Let’s just pretend I’m 6, Mummy, please.”) we fell neatly into the target demographic and were well placed to put it through its paces.
The whole set is housed in a plastic case, that with a generous eye, looks a little like a Chanel bag. I’ve long been a fan of a toy that packs away inside itself, so this was a positive for me straight away. Inside, disguised with fiendish brilliance as handbag paraphernalia is a plethora of spy equipment, including a tiny torch, a magnifying glass, a selection of test tubes and flasks and the apparatus for taking fingerprints.
I always imagine that in other families, siblings revel in each other’s company and that life is like one long episode of Topsy and Tim, whilst my own little beasts squabble almost constantly. I have to say that they have played together very pleasantly with this (so long as the little one remembers her place and doesn’t commence work without close supervision) and after the initial exploration of it they have enjoyed carrying out the experiments suggested and have built it into other games of spy masters and Sherlock Holmes (no prizes for guessing who had to be Watson.)
I’m not a big fan of PINK – I have a feminist heart and feel it unnecessary – but none of the girls (nor the one boy) who have been here and played with it (only about 6, so not a comprehensive survey) have shared my feelings and have all completely loved it. The app which complements it is good, and will extend the interest for older children. My two have probably enjoyed the fingerprinting the most – it’s good to know we have a selection on file, should we need to refer to them in the future…
The RRP of this is £40 (update: now £29 on Amazon). When it first arrived, I thought the price tag was a bit steep, but it’s sturdy and well made, and, seeing the enjoyment they have from it and the potential in it for other play, I wouldn’t have felt hard done by spending this.
Of course, no finger printing has been necessary to identify the criminal in our own household, but since Friday mouse-gate, Luna has disgraced herself only the once. We arrived home from school on Monday to find her toying with a little bird – possibly a thrush, I am disgracefully ill-informed about native birdlife – in my littlest badger’s bedroom.
For once there is a happy ending. After much muttering under my breath of words that primary teachers probably shouldn’t even know, I managed to transfer it to a basket (ironically enough, from the dissembled mouse trap) to await further advice from Dr Google. The bird was very still, but there was no blood. The first article I read instructed breaking its neck; fortunately for the bird I read on and the second, rather less knee-jerk, suggestion was to put it in a covered box and see if it recovered from the shock. After half an hour it did, and our hearts were gladdened by the sight of it flying away, hopefully having learned a (hard) lesson about visiting our garden.
Luna is now living the life of a dissolute rock star; going wild all night and sleeping all day. Is there anything I can do? Anything??!
I was provided this toy free of charge, in return for my honest and unbiased review. All the observations and opinions expressed are mine or those of my little badgers.