This shrew showed itself the first day we arrived, running across the path. Later I saw it trotting sedately down the outside steps towards the door to our room.
It climbed up the wall and pottered along the windowsill, then investigated the groove in the frame where the outside shutter ran,
and began to climb up it - apologies for the out of focus picture, but it was the only one I was able to take before it slipped down again, not being able to get much purchase on the pvc of the frame.
I thought it must be ill to be so slow moving and careless, but I mentioned it to Paul, our host, and he was quite familiar with it, and we saw it several times more, it seemed quite healthy, just tame. Elfie was curious but not especially obsessive or predatory about it. One afternoon, we were sitting with the room door open, and it came wandering down the steps and ran along the terrace. 'Don't go in the bedroom' I said to it, and it went into the bedroom.
Tom followed it in, and I heard various noises and things being moved. I continued to drink my wine, deciding this was a moment when I would abnegate responsibility for a mildly tricky situation, even though I didn't particularly want to find it on my pillow later or have to take its corpse out of Elfie's mouth in the middle of the night. After a few minutes Tom came out with his hand clenched as though holding something.
'Have you got it?'
'I don't know yet.'
In fact he was holding his sleeve end close to his wrist; he carefully peeled off his jacket and turned the sleeve inside out, and the shrew tumbled harmlessly out and pottered off into the grass. It had made the tour of the room then gone into the bathroom, he had tried to catch it in a carrier bag but it had run up his sleeve instead.
When we were kids, we used to take our two cats on family caravan holidays. When we arrived they tended to disappear for a day and then find their way back, even on quite crowded sites, then keep to a very regular schedule of exploring and hunting all day and coming back at night. Once we had to move the 'van because there had been a flood in the site which was some kind of old quarry. Ginger came back at his allotted supper time and sat in the middle of a large puddle mewling pitifully, we were only a few dozen yards away and kept calling him, but he had programmed it into his brain that that was the spot to meet us, and we had to go over and fetch him so he could readjust his settings. They weren't great huntng cats normally, but in holiday mode they would bring back all kinds of small furred game for our inspection; once a vole caught in Herefordshire travelled many miles in the caravan unbeknownst to us and was released in mid-Wales, we wondered if it would encounter linguistic difficulties. Shrews were a favourite to be brought home to us, trembling and traumatised but still alive, since, it seems, they don't taste nice. Which may account for this one being unmolested by Kerbiriou's resident cat.
He's lived there all the time we've been going, six years now. I've photographed him before. Some kind of Russian blue type, friendly enough but always on his terms of course, and very confident and assertive. One night quite late, Elfie was having her last perambulation of the day and we encountered him sauntering very nonchalantly down the middle of the road. Before anyone knew what was happening they were nose to nose, and the cat was totally non-fazed, spending several moments eyeballing her coolly before going on his way without batting an eyelid. Elfie seemed simply astonished and non-plussed, though she did just mutter quick snap-snap with her jaws as he left. Cats are a problem area with her, she tends to freeze and stalk when she sees one, which is the worst reaction a dog can have to a cat, they say. More exposure to the Kerbiriou cat might sort her out a bit. Here he is as Lord of All He Surveys on the barn roof,
which is really very high:
Lastly, another formidable boss creature. The last house in the lane has this fellow as a lawn mower:
He's a Ouessant ram. Ouessant is Ushant in English, as in 'from Ushant to Scillies is thirty-five leagues'. For sheep enthusiasts, this is a most interesting breed, considered probably one of the most direct descendants of the earliest domesticated sheep breeds, kept pure and unmodified over millennia in such a westerly outpost. There are enthusiasts for keeping them and spinning their wool, but those who do so admit their fleeces to be often short, rough and brittle. I seem to remember hearing that some shipwrecked Spanish sheep introduced a better strain for wool, and that one of the clothes labels who make all the cliché stripey Breton sweaters and such like that Parisians and other tourists take home from their holidays had bought up all the viable wool from the island's flock, but I'm not sure if either of these things is true.
When I asked about this one, Paul answered ruefully that he was a very bad character indeed, and we should look out for him. But he was rather handsome, I thought.