For Christmas I was given a really beautiful hanging bird table. It’s just lovely – slate roof, oak walls, hangs from a stand by a length of tasteful rope. It makes my other bird feeders, which are of the chrome and glass variety, look boring and utilitarian. The birds thought it was great too, and flocked around it looking picturesque. All was set fair, but the birds and I weren’t the only ones to admire it. Rats (and I keep reading that we’re only ever 10′ away from a rat, which I think is particularly true in rural parts) noticed it too and organised themselves into a raiding party. I imagine it went something like this (anthropomorphism rules OK, imagine Boss Rat shouting through a megaphone): “right, action! Rodney and Richard dig a hole. Now Ralph and Roger, climb up and gnaw through the rope! Nice one, boys! OK we’ve got it on the ground so I want Reginald and Rodney to roll it over and drag it over on top of the new hole and now perhaps Ruby and Renate could make a nice nest inside it. Well done, guys – job well done!” It all happened in one night, and please note that all names have been changed to protect the innocent. So my gorgeous new bird feeder was upside down on top of a rat hole with a rats’ nest inside it. Far from ideal, unless you’re one of the rats involved in whole sordid business, in which case the whole thing went swimmingly. So for the moment it’s back to chrome and glass (rat proof). But it was a very, very nice Christmas present. And I’ll think of some way to use it again that will also baffle rats.