Saturday, 6 August 2011

Saving Private Fifi

Often people staying in our gîtes or campers ask us what these two huge barrels are for, the ones that stand next to the staircase leading up to our front door. The answer is simple: these two containers catch the rain water running off two small canopies above them. The water is used to water the plants.
The next question is normally, what these two wooden concoctions are, which stand in the water and have a little platform protruding outside the wall of the barrels.
To explain the purpose of these “ladders”, we have to go back in time. One morning I went out onto the balcony in front of our front door, when I heard a big racket going on. The noise came from downstairs, and when I came down I saw what had happened. Our cat Fifi had climbed into the bin, and because it had a peculiar lid she could not get out. I liberated her straight away, and since then the lid is unopenable for cats because it is held closed by a heavy brick. But we certainly started to think then, what would happen if Fifi ever ended up in one of the barrels, which might be filled up to a quarter with water.
The most logical and simple solution would be to build a little ladder, starting at the bottom of the barrel, and ending in a little platform. If the cat ever ended up in the water, at least then she could climb out. Making the ladders was a piece of cake, testing them turned out to be a bit tricky.
The barrels were empty, the ladder was inserted, the cat was deposited at the bottom; all we had to do was wait. With one big leap she sat on the edge of the barrel, with a second she stood on all fours on the ground.
But the second test did the trick: Fifi got onto the ladder, slowly walked up, and parked herself in the sun on the little platform. Mission accomplished! At least now we can leave the house, with the barrels wide open, and we do not have to worry that we might find a drowned cat by the time we get home!

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