The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.


The convergence of laziness

Yes, I am physically lazy.

Always have been.

I hate excercise.

My main focus at school was to avoid sport. It was fortunate that during my very first tennis lesson, the server slammed the ball into my eye so I could feign terror of tennis to the gym teacher, so she let me off tennis. Someone bombed me in a swimming lesson and the teacher rescued me from the bottom of the pool. I feigned pool terror. The teacher let me off swimming.

My motto has been – never run if you can walk, never walk if you can sit, and never sit if you can lie down. It has worked all my life so far.

But now there is a convergence occurring that needs attention.

The neighbour walks the dog, so I don’t anymore. He gets much better walks from her – goes miles, in fact.

The weather is crummy, rain, ice, snow – always something to do with water. They don’t have lakes all over the place here for nothing. So I’m not walking to see my sister twice a week. I drive.

I never go out otherwise.

Gardening is out. Everything is dead. The ground is iced solid.

Swimming on Thursdays has been cancelled because of Covid-19.

And the final situation is that we now have a robot vacumn cleaner. He’s wonderful! I never have to do a thing except empty his tummy when he has finished his duties. If I change his tummy for a water tank, he even mops the kitchen and bathroom floors.

Whats there to do?

I know!


Mr Furlong is a kitchen creature. He produces great food.

Food plus laziness equals fat.

It’s simple Math.


Einstein is back – and, boy, has he grown!

The rat that figured out how to get out of our humane trap, and did so regularly, disappeared when we stopped feeding our birds.

But so many birds are back here after reaping the autumn harvest in the countryside around here, that we have put out food again.

Simultaneously, the council mowed down the thick undergrowth all along the canal path. The inhabitants have had to move house.

One of them, Einstein, I think, had a brilliant idea. He thought to himself ,

“I remember the fine repasts I used to partake of night after night at the house along the road there. Ill just take a gander, and see if the doddery old mugs are still there. (Sniff sniff) They have such a stupid dog, I’ll be quite safe eating in their caged restaurant. (Sniff sniff) Mmmm, that smells familiar! Ah, yes look! Nice grub, I’ll just scramble up this old dead creeper, and I can nosh all those yummy fatballs while the mugs and their stupid dog are sleeping. (Sniff sniff) Ah, YUMMY!”

Well, the mugs have been watching through the window.

They are appalled at how large Einstein has grown. And he’s not welcome here.


there are two options.

We set the trap in the hope that Einstein has become so obese, he’ll never make it out again, or has forgotten the escape code. And then, we take a drive somewhere during lockdown (for a very valid reason, and not just for fun you understand), and release him somewhere in the Lakes. ( Lake District Tourist’s delight, not for drowning rats!)


we phone the Council and ask them to retrieve their lost property!


Hedgehogs, human and animal

It seems to me that social media is infested with hedgehogs. These creatures appear attactive but hiss and attack, violently hunting any prey that might feed their ‘right’ to take offence if they wish.

Years ago, when I was teaching computers, I remember standing outside with other smokers, discussing how dangerous passing a law was that made taking offence legal. If you FELT offended you could legally challenge the person who had been offensive, whether other people thought whatever it was was offensive or not. The then government had just done that. It was a grave error I think. It has led to the infestation of aggressive human hedgehogs in our world. Anyone now, has the right to feel offended. Except certain groups, like white folks, women, men, and all manner of other creatures. They are the fodder of offended human hedgehogs.

I’ve just done a good deal of research into the wild European hedgehog. I was astonished to discover that far from being the cute Beatrix Potter ‘Miss Tiggywinkle’, they are quite a nasty bunch of creatures. They are unfriendly nomads that roam around under cover of night, eating anything edible from corpses to other living things. They have few enemies, except large birds. Most large birds are not active at night, except owls,

They are agressive towards each other, fighting, biting, butting, shaking and charging. They do it loudly, hissing, growling, shrieking, clicking. They bite. Once they were considered vermin, especially because of their egg eating habits. They were a food source for the poor, delicious when packed in clay and roasted over a fire.

Now, they are a protected species, except in New Zealand where they are a pest.

They are not super intelligent.

Human hedgehogs are also a protected species. And they ARE a pest. They too roll into a ball of political correctness if any other person ‘offends’ them. They are confident in their protected status and we can watch them everyday in the media hissing, growling, butting, shrieking, clicking. And biting.

Hedgehogs are voracious animals. Really. Yet us humans feel blessed to find one in our garden.

We have found ourselves blessed!

Here is our hedgehog, seen twice, recently. Isn’t it cute?

The Furlong Hedgehog


The new tenants in the bumblebee house

Mr Furlong and I got into the garden at last. We opened up the section behind our shed, where old pots are stashed.

It’s been fenced off from the dog because it’s not escape proof, and also it’s where our woodmice live.

It’s where, two years ago, I built a bumble bee nest. That has appeared vacant. No bumble bee has even looked at it, I’m sure.

The place behind the shed is where the footballs from next door collect. Where stuff gets dumped. Where there is a bag of tar mix for the pothole that is our responsibility on the private road we call the ‘back passage’. Where there are things that should be dumped stay. It’s the ‘to do place’.

So in the tidying it up, I discovered the upturned pot with its underground tunnel where I’d imagined the bumblebees. On the top was a glass plate to keep it dry, that allowed air in underneath but kept the rain out.

I thought to dismantle it. So I removed the plate. As I bent over to take hold of the pot, I smelled a familiar smell that stopped me in my tracks. I remember that smell. That smell always had me yelling at the kids.

“Go and clean that damn hamster cage!”

But for the first time, I was utterly delighted. It means my bumblebee house is being used.

By the woodmice.

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British understatement in the garden – Busy Lizzies

Twenty years ago, when this Furlong arrived in the UK, I could not quite put my finger on the weirdness of the British. Continue reading


The plants we might have in our garden, in the summer – but didn’t!

I found this post in my drafts file from two years ago! I had forgotten all about it.

It was called “The plants we might have in our garden, in the summer” Continue reading

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The main garden pest

Our last garden was slug and snail central for the whole of the UK. OK, well that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Our house was pompously called “Aysgarth House”. We never used that name. Having such a pompous name makes one think of long drives with huge wrought iron gates, herb and vegetables gardens, mazes and orchards, horses and titles. Our Aysgarth House had none of those things – just slugs and snails.  Continue reading


RIP my beautiful tree

From the lounge window, I look out on a beautiful huge old tree. I love it. It grows along the canal path, but I can see it from our front window. Continue reading


Snow at last

At last we’ve had snow.

Proper snow. Continue reading

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Snowdrops – hot topic – how do they keep warm?

Our snowdrops are out. Continue reading