There’s a young cat that has likes the lavender plants that I grow Image Credit: AFP

I could never sit on the fence. Yes, I am opinionated and I’m lucky enough to have an audience for those views, but I could never sit on the fence. It’s wobbly, rotten in places and needs to be replaced come the spring.

I’ve talked to my neighbour, Postman Pat as I call him — he does work in the Post Office — and he just shrugged when I broached the subject with him. Social distancing? That’s fine to a point, but it’s more a case of antisocial distancing. It’s not like I’m knocking on his door every half-hour wanting to borrow a cup of sugar or a used tea bag. Not at all. Fences do make for good neighbours, after all. But come the spring, we’ll have to do something.

The hardware superstore had an offer on last week for two big buckets of fence stain for the price of one. Given Postman’s Pat’s reaction to doing the work now, I can’t see the fence stain being used anytime soon. Maybe he’ll warm up by then.

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There’s a young cat that has discovered the lavender plants I set by the side of the fence. As bold as you like, it comes by each day — yes, over the rickety fence from Postman Pat’s yard — and checks out the bushes and plants. It has taken to the lavender, lying in it, rolling around, covering itself and I’ve even seen it nibble it. It just ignores me when I stand at the patio doors, wave like a madman and chap my hands and yell at it. I guess Postman Pat must think his new neighbour is nuts and shouts at cats. Yes I do, but no, I’m not nuts.

There’s also a cheeky little robin that lives in a big holly bush at the corner of the garden. It skidaddles when the feline with the lavender fetish comes rolling and sniffing. I guess it doesn’t want to see if the cat has a thing for him and his feather friends either.

An occasional visit from starlings

ordered a new bird feeder online and as soon as it came I put it up and filled it with winter seed suitable for small birds. The robin has been brave enough to try it a couple of times. Mostly, the bird feeder attracts sparrows and an occasional swoping visit from some starlings. They remind me of gangsters, a small mafia, lots of jostling between the silver-dotted black-suited gang members trying to figure out who can muscle in on the action. They all skiddadle when the cat with the lavender fetish comes by for its fix.

Postman Pat isn’t too happy. Ever since I put the bird feeder up, some of the sparrows waiting for the swallows to go hang out on his washing line. That’s fine. Except they do it when Postman Pat has hung out his uniform shirts. Birds and clean washing don’t make for a good mix. I want to suggest that he gets a cat — the lavender-loving one belongs to another neighbour. But that might not be a good idea because that one might take to living in my lavender patch if it’s so inclined. Then he’d think I really am nuts waving at another lavender-loving cat.

The big holly bush at the corner of the garden needs to be pruned back — it’s all going into Postman Pat’s backyard too. I don’t want to do it because it’s the robin’s perch. The trouble is if Postman Pat cuts the branches back that are growing through the rickety fence into his backyard, it’ll make the whole thing look lopsided and could kill off the holly bush itself. Then where would we be. Maybe it’s better to just fix the fence instead … but I’m undecided on that now.

Mick O’Reilly is the Gulf News Foreign Correspondent based in Europe