Monday, April 26, 2021

Lovejoy Meets Line of Duty and Other Stories

Last week was a tale of two halves.  

It was a fairly run-of-the-mill start to the week.  On Tuesday, I took Lotte the cat for her annual health check (I promise it gets better).  We have recently agreed to officially take her on as our cat. 

A brief history of Lotte (pronounced "Lottie").  Her mother lives a few doors down from us and Lotte and her two siblings belong to another family just a two minute walk from our house.  For whatever reason, Lotte was never keen on sharing her space with other non-humans and turned up unannounced at our back door around three years ago, in an apparently ravenous state.  She quickly mounted a charm offensive.  She was hugely affectionate, consumed three sachets of cat food straight off and made herself at home.  We assumed she was lost.

Once her belly was full, she tottered off again into the garden in the direction of the woods, but never seemed very far away.  Being a domestic long haired cat, she looked just a little bedraggled.  We've since discovered that it doesn't take long for that fur to start forming dreadlocks.  

This uncertain situation continued for a week or so until one day, Lotte arrived looking groomed to perfection and sporting a new collar.  The penny dropped.  We realised that this cat had a loving home.  I went on a more determined mission to locate her owner and tracked her down to a property in a neighbouring cul-de-sac.  

I kept in touch with her owner and we would compare notes on Lotte's whereabouts (usually our garden or sunbathing on the roof of the Rover P6).  Between us we tried just about everything to ensure that Lotte went home from time to time. We tried not feeding her or letting her into the house, but as we work from home, we were sitting ducks.  She could see us through the patio doors and would not stop calling until we let her in.

Her owner attempted to keep her in at night but this went down like a lead balloon.  Lotte would howl and scratch until, for the sake of sleep and sanity, the family let her out again.  During the summer months, with the bedroom windows open, it was not unusual for Lotte to suddenly appear in our bedroom in the middle of the night.  To this day, the bedroom window remains her go-to place to attempt to gain access when she fancies a change of scene at 2 am.  If it's closed, she will make herself known by mewing to be allowed entry.  She is a force of nature.

So she has effectively been our cat for the last three years (as much as anyone can "own" a cat), but last summer, she completely severed all ties with her previous owner, when they bought a dog.  Since then, we have fed and groomed her (with her owner's consent) and she now never ventures much further than our garden gate.  

We left the vet's £60.00 lighter and with a scraped car bumper.  I'm not having much luck with the car lately, but this time, I can't blame anyone else.  I reversed into the handrail support on the wheelchair ramp.  Just as well I was also working for part of the week! 

Despite our ever present feline, we do see a lot of birds in the garden.  Fortunately for them, Lotte spends much of her time sleeping in bushes.  She doesn't realise that the bird bath is where it's at.  The blackbirds love to bathe in it and the robins, sparrows and other small birds love drinking from it.  I may be a nature lover, but I do tend to charge up the garden when I see a pigeon anywhere in the vicinity, as they empty the thing whenever they attempt to take a bath (they barely fit!), which then necessitates long trips up the garden with the watering can.  They also love to emulate Jackson Pollock's style of art and decorate everything below their flight path.

The blackbirds continue to titivate their nest and our patio is continually strewn with bits of moss and twigs that they drop en route to their increasingly swanky pad.

Here's the lone pond skater I mentioned in my last post.  You can just about make him out in the centre of this photo.  

The action was confined to the latter part of the week.  Gareth found himself at the centre of an unfolding drama on Thursday.  After carrying out some minor work on the car, he decided to take it for a spin, heading to the very rural and very small Halfpenny Green Airport (now better known as Wolverhampton Business Airport).  

These photographs were taken recently in the surrounding fields where you can see remnants of the RAF's original aerodrome buildings.

The Airport Time Forgot - old portakabin

As he approached the airport car park, he was surprised to see a number of police riot vans and several unmarked cars parked in nearby lanes.  The closer he got, the more vehicular activity there was.  He decided to call into the Antiques Centre on site, but Claire, the business owner, was at this point oblivious to the police activity. 

 As they chatted, yet more police cars and vans arrived, bringing armed police officers and an air of clear and present danger to this tranquil scene.  Gareth counted around a dozen police vehicles and at least 50 armed officers.  Within minutes, two had approached the Antiques Centre and advised Claire to lock herself and the other three occupants (including Gareth) inside as there was a dangerous criminal at large.  It was Lovejoy meets Line of Duty!  

Not Inspector Morse, but close

After 40 minutes in a building without a mobile phone signal, Gareth, somewhat rashly, decided to make a break for it and headed home.  As he left the airport, another police vehicle sped past him and the occupants of the numerous parked were rubber necking - staring at him intently as he drove past.  Mercifully, there was no hot pursuit; they clearly knew who they were looking for.

Bizarrely, there has been no reference to any of this on the local news or in the press.  Should we be worried?  With the airport only being a few short miles away, we've been double checking that our doors are locked and sorry Lotte, but the bedroom window's staying closed for now.

I called Claire on Friday morning and she confirmed that the airport had indeed been put into lockdown on Thursday afternoon (she and her customers being the last to know) and in the absence of any other instructions, technically, Gareth should still be there now!  The police are continuing to look for their "perp." It seems that so far, it remains mission impossible.

It's taken AC-12 10 years and they are still struggling to identify "H".  Halfpenny Green airport was originally called Bobbington Airport, but the name was changed to avoid confusion with RAF Bovingdon in Hertfordshire.  "H" for "Halfpenny Green."  Am I onto something?

I'll leave you with some bright and cheerful weekend images of local rapeseed, including one featuring an incongruous red chair.  Why it's there is yet another mystery.

Have a good week!


  1. What high drama!!! A criminal at large :0 And how funny that the police never returned to say they could leave. The local bank where I grew up in Manchester was always being turned over by armed robbers. They used our avenue as the escape route. I let on to their driver once (pre-heist). Lovely rape seed fields. I can see some in the distance when I drive back from Falmouth but I haven't worked out how to get to them yet. Lulu xXx

  2. It was all very odd. Bet that was exciting/terrifying for you as a child! xxx


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