Smoak RIP

I was not expecting to have to write this yet. Smoak had seemed fine, it was her sister Nyssa who had a lump. But then there were little hints, slight changes in behaviour, that suggested something wasn’t right. She became a bit clumsy and then started having difficulty holding snacks and soon it was obvious that she had some sort of neurological problem. I took her to see the vet a couple of weeks ago and he agreed: she most likely had a brain tumour of some type.

She had been fluffing up a bit, which can be a sign of being in pain, so I brought her home with some painkiller. She went downhill gradually, losing weight and finding it harder to eat and to keep her balance. Even her beloved banana became difficult for her. And I knew that it was time to say goodbye to my beautiful grey Smoak, the rattiest of rats.


In November 2018, we said goodbye to Ivy. She lived to the very respectable age of two years and seven months. She slowed down, lost a bit of her mobility and gradually turned into an old rat. She did have a slow-growing lump, but that never really caused her any problems. Eventually, life was just getting too hard and we let her go before it became painful.

Meet the Rats: Smoak & Nyssa


MtR Nyssa & Smoak
Snack time!


Saying goodbye to Molly in November 2017 left us with just one ratty: Ivy. We weren’t going to rush to get more, but it was obvious that Ivy wasn’t going to be happy on her own, so friends had to be found.

I fell in love with Smoak the moment I saw her; such a beautiful grey-brown girl, a bit skittish, but utterly gorgeous. She proved herself to be the rattiest of rats: when we brought her home, she escaped onto the floor as I tried to get her from the carrier to the cage and the sight of her bounding along the skirting board under the sofa… just so incredibly ratty.

Nyssa was more forthcoming and curious; she didn’t want to be held, but she was more than happy to be around people, especially if they had snacks. She quickly discovered that the inside of a t-shirt was a fun place to explore (I’ve used tucking ratties inside my t-shirt as a socialising technique before but Nyssa did it all on her own). She has to be the focus of attention, if anyone else is getting any fuss — or worse, food — then she will quickly place herself front and centre.

Smoak was beautiful and a little aloof, with the softest fur. Nyssa was and still is, energetic and sleek, with a beautifully silky coat.

Smoak quickly learned her name and would acknowledge you, even if she then chose to stay exactly where she was. It took a lot longer for Nyssa to even understand what a name was, she recognises it now and does respond, but I’m convinced she just thinks it means “snack time”.

Molly RIP

At the end of November 2017 — at the unfairly young age of one year and seven months — we said goodbye to our beautiful Berkshire ratty Molly. In the summer, after she’d only been with us for just over a year, we found a small lump. We tried keeping it under control with Galastop but it didn’t respond, so we just worked at keeping her happy and comfortable until the lump became an insurmountable problem.

She coped with it astonishingly well for four months and never had any other health problems. In the end, it was only when the risk of the lump ulcerating became too high that we had to make the sad decision to let her go.

Catching up


This is hard to write. I have utterly failed to keep this blog up-to-date — it was just too hard to keep writing ratty obituaries and going through photos and I felt I had to do everything in the proper order — so now we have lost our gorgeous ratty Smoak before I even introduced her to you. And both Molly and Ivy have passed on, one from a lump and the other from old age.

Over the next few days, I am going to catch up. That will mean one “Meet the Rats” and three obituaries, which is so sad, but at least there will be cute ratty pictures to help make up for it.

Right now we are left with just one ratty — Nyssa — she has a lump and is quite feisty, so I am wary of introducing new rats. We will have to find a new source anyway; the place we got our girls from no longer has ratties and the local(ish) rescue that I was thinking of going to has just relocated to Ireland. I’d rather not go on GumTree and while I feel sorry for the rats in Pets At Home, I can’t bring myself to buy from there, but I have no relationship with any breeders, so I’m not sure what we’ll do in the future.

For now, we’ll just look after Nyssa (whose photo is at the top of this post), the ratty who always insists on being the centre of attention.

Films Watched: 2018













Less than 100 days

It hardly needs saying, but I have abandoned graciously withdrawn from the 100 day project.

As with many decisions made on the spur of the moment, it was not a well thought out one. The intention was sound: I do need something to motivate me to get out of the house more often, but this project isn’t it.

“Don’t break the chain”

I know a lot of people swear by the chain as a motivational productivity tracking tool and, in theory, it’s a great idea: the more consistently you do something, the more you’re likely to keep doing it. But.

The problems start when, for whatever reason, you break the chain. Now, some people give themselves sick days and vacation days from the chain, so that they can not do the thing but still count it as not breaking the chain. And again, in theory, that is a great idea. But.

My brain.

Unless I am laid up in bed, physically incapable of movement, according to my brain I am not sick enough to justify not doing the thing, so any failure to do the thing breaks the chain. (That would be three days in the last ten years: once when I had a nasty stomach bug, once when the flu jab knocked me off my feet and once when a bad cold wiped me out.)

And as for “vacation days”, well, that’s just cheating (according to my brain).

So, not doing the thing always breaks the chain.

And breaking the chain, no matter how long it was, is failure. And any previous achievement is as dust. I am starting again from scratch, only now I know that I am incapable of not breaking the chain and will almost certainly do it again.

Which is, quite frankly, just a smidge demoralising.

And this is why I should never do any challenge that requires me to not break the chain*.

*I do take part in the 30 day colouring challenges because, although it sounds like it is a chain challenge, it very clearly states that you do not have to colour every day.

#The100DayProject: day 16

day 16 solar bulb

I nearly took a break today. I’ve done something to strain my right arm — no idea what — and carrying the camera for too long is enough to exacerbate it. Also the return of the sun, along with unaccustomed warmth, was enough to remind me that I haven’t bought a fresh supply of sunscreen this year (I only ever complained about the lack of sun, not heat). But it’s quite pleasant outside right now, so I grabbed a quick snap of this lonely solar bulb hanging on our fence. We used to have a pink one to go with it; I know it got blown off its hook during a particularly windy episode, but as for what happened to it after that…

day 16/100 — #100daysofleavingthehousewithacamera – #the100dayproject

#The100DayProject: day 15

day 15 pink flower

I am determined to get a good photo of these flowers; this one is a definite improvement over previous attempts. Not sure what it is — my brain says “pink magnolia”, though not with any level of confidence — but it’s a welcome splash of colour on yet another grey (and windy) day.

day 15/100 — #100daysofleavingthehousewithacamera – #the100dayproject

#The100DayProject: day 14


Feeling uninspired today, but I still persuaded myself to go out for a walk around the local rec. It’s surprising just how many padlocks there are when you look… you seen one, then another, and another… Though it’s the rusty metal textures that appeal to me here.

day 14/100 — #100daysofleavingthehousewithacamera – #the100dayproject