Dogs, Cats and Ferrets…

English: One of my Ferrets, his name is Cincin

English: One of my Ferrets, his name is Cincin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This will be a very short post but I felt I couldn’t keep this little gem all to myself.  This Sunday has been designated as Admin Sunday – all the Christmas decorations are down, bills are paid, washing is done etc etc.  All very dull until that is I came to book Eurotunnel tickets online…

You know when you read something online that you cannot believe is real and you have to check mentally whether it is the 1st April just in case…well, if you would like one of those moments can I suggest you check out the Eurotunnel website.  The booking process is much as you would expect (very efficient I might add) until you come to the section dedicated to extra costs that are applied if you are bringing your pets.  Now, it is a truth universally acknowledged that we, Brits, are very fond of our dogs – no surprises there and indeed cats come a pretty close second.  What about the French – as far as I know they are not adverse to “les chiens” or “les chats” either?  So one would be quite unsurprised to find a premium for bringing our little furry friends back and forth across the Channel.  However, Eurotunnel do not just charge a premium for dogs and cats – oh no, no, no.  What else you might well ask? Well, I can only speak for the Brits but I suppose at a stretch you might wish to take your hamster or your rabbit with you (I’m not really sure why to be honest but there is no accounting for taste) but I bet your pet ferret would not spring to mind…

Yes, for some wholly unknown reason the Eurotunnel website asks you whether you will be bringing any pets with you and specifically dogs, cats or ferrets.  Yes, I repeat, ferrets.  Now, admittedly I do not profess to be a pet expert (and indeed I am allergic to almost every animal known to man (including some humans)) but I have wracked my brains and have been utterly unable to name one person I know who keeps a ferret as a pet.  I suspect that even if I did know someone who kept a ferret as pet, I would be fairly surprised if they wished to take it with them to continental Europe.  I feel like I must be missing the point here and I would be very grateful if anyone could enlighten me as to why Eurotunnel are so specific in their pet premiums – dogs, cats and ferrets.

In the meantime I shall continue to try and ‘ferret’ out what information I can to solve this rather peculiar mystery…

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Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice…

Male and female gender symbols based upon work...

Male and female gender symbols based upon work by User:Edbrown05 on the English Wikinews project. Original file was/is here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s get one thing straight, I adore my boys – I really adore them but I don’t get them. if I’m perfectly honest, as one of three girls myself, they are like little aliens to me most days. Occasionally I get one of those breakthrough moments when I think I’ve finally understood them and then out of nowhere, one will cross the room and nonchalantly kick his brother for no other reason – that I can fathom – than he can.  I know what you’re thinking – there really isn’t very much to understand: boys are not complex.  There is a lot of truth in this and I have lived the last 9 years of my life according to the maxim that boys are very much like dogs: feed them, water them and exercise them and all will be well with the world.

My two boys are very different in character but they also share common characteristics: the ability to wind the other up incessantly and the ability to wrestle any time, any place (preferably in a supermarket aisle in front of a tutting crowd of people without children and smug MOGs (Mothers of Girls).  For a while I put this insatiable desire to be in physical contact with each other in some way 24/7 (usually in some painful-looking, totally unnatural wrestling hold) down to watching too much TV and particularly the ghastly WWE wrestling to which my elder son appears addicted (no, before you ask, I don’t let him watch it, but he’s clever, he’s cunning and he seems to find a way to outwit me…), but I don’t think this is the case.  This is just the nature of boys.  For the first five years of motherhood, I watched my boys with a growing sense of horror – what had I created?  Rough and Tumble, they call it, no **** – that’s putting it mildly.  Sometimes I can barely bear to watch and I am constantly amazed that they never seem to really hurt each other (well, not too badly). I don’t really intervene much these days, I let them work it out.  I am resigned to the fact that this is how boys operate – it’s King of the Jungle stuff and I am not going to pretend to understand it. The fighting aside, I love my boys totally and I can only hope that the fisticuffs they indulge in now with each other will recede as they mature otherwise I shall be spending an increasing amount of time visiting the local nick.

I have to admit that due to the unruly behaviour of my boys on occasion (NB understatement), I did at times really question my mothering skills.  I had deliberately ignored the Gina Ford route with mine – I realised very early on that I had already failed by her standards by 7am as I had not pulled up the black-out blinds, changed baby, had a shower myself and eaten my toast and marmalade. I didn’t think that feeling a failure so early on every morning would be particularly good for my confidence levels (which we all know are not exactly rocketing in the early days of motherhood). I found myself naturally gravitating to other “MOBs” (Mothers of Boys) because they understood that there was no way my children were going to sit at a table for half an hour, colouring, gluing and sticking (not unless they were able to do all those things to each other or one of my more prized possessions).

Then suddenly three years ago, I found myself with one foot in each camp – I had a little girl. Over the last 3 years, it has become obvious – it’s not about nurture (well at least not largely) but it is nature.  I have done nothing to encourage her in any direction different to the boys but she naturally loves pink, plays with dolls, dresses up, watches me put on make-up in a rather disconcertingly fascinated manner and basically behaves in the stereotypical “girl” way. I have to add that at the moment she is proving an awful lot easier than the boys at that age.  Yesterday, she had a playdate and I did absolutely nothing for 2 hours whilst these two adorable little girls dressed up, tottered around in little heels and played “Mummies and Babies” (where’s the Daddy you may well ask?! Is this a sign of the times?).

The biggest relief to me with a foot in each camp is that it is not my mothering skills that are at fault – they are as good or as bad as the next person. No, the simple fact is that boys and girls are fundamentally very different from birth and I would wager that boys are harder work in the first ten years of life (although enormously rewarding too) but I am under no illusions that come the teenage years, all those hours of my little girl watching me put on make-up and tottering around in my shoes is going towards creating the horror of “teenage girl”.  I know at that point I shall probably be  saying to my boys that they were hard work when they were younger but that their sister’s behaviour now is a whole new ball game and I shall be looking back fondly at the days of my “rough and tumble”, uncomplicated boys.  However, for now, there is truth in the old ditty that girls are “Sugar and spice and all things nice” and boys are, well, fabulous, physical and sometimes just a little frustrating!