Rather incredibly, particularly if you read my previous blog Mystery House, it appears we have Mystery House 2, like a follow up horror movie. Except there's no movie. And no horror.
We live by the sea as well as the city, and have a nice little house in a lovely little coastal town. It's in a nice street, with nice neighbours, and is a nice home. It's not a weekend cottage, we split our time fairly evenly as the two properties are only an hour or so apart.
The seaside house is in mid terrace and the rear yard is completely enclosed by solid, high walls - we live on a hill and back onto the rear gardens of the street above. There's no way in or out at the back, except through the door. You'd need a twelve foot / four metre ladder to escape. Or be a seagull on the scrounge.
A few weeks ago, we arrived and my partner said she thought someone had been in the house. I asked why she thought this and she said she didn't know. Sixth sense.We didn't really think very much about it, but a fortnight ago, she said it again. There were small things slightly moved she said. We looked around and couldn't see much, but she was convinced.
Without actually donning a Sherlock Holmes deerstalker, we considered this carefully. It's not a street for breakins, nothing had been stolen anyway, and the neighbours are always here, even if we're not.
We have two cats. Occasionally we have to take them with us, on a kind of seaside holiday, if we can't get them looked after for a few days. They travel well and arrive, saunter about, and then generally just go to sleep. (They sleep a lot). To accommodate the little mites, there is a cat flap on the back door. Their litter tray is outside and there has to be a little step because the flap is too high for them.
I noticed a few weeks ago that the step was on its side. Nothing unusual there, it's plastic and could easily blow over in the wind. A strong wind. Then I noticed another time it had blown over. Strong winds again, I thought.
Then we arrived with the cats and they went berserk, running hither and thither, sniffing the cat flap, clearly excited. "It's a cat" she said.
"Yeah, but how does it get in and out?" I asked.
"Dunno" she said, staring up the smooth wall.
Cats can climb, but they don't have ropes and crampons to take them up sheer walls to a height of about three or four metres.
Then we arrived last night and the cats went mental again. This time not only was the step outside blown over, but the step inside was tipped over too. The litter tray had been used, the water had been drunk. And enough dry cat food to feed Battersea's feline inmates had been consumed. It was a cat alright.
But we'd already checked with the neighbours. They didn't have a cat, and there was no way into their back garden that a high jumping cat could enter. Their neighbours didn't have a cat either. So we were stumped. A fox maybe?
Then I noticed a sign in the corner shop about Missing Moggy Monty, a gentle old soul who liked nothing better than a nap, a constitutional around the garden, before another nap. He'd been missing for three days.
I called and explained that in our absence a cat was making himself at home. Could be Monty. Next thing you know, Monty turns up, after three days AWOL. It certainly looked like Monty had been staying at our gaff.
Alls well that ends well, Monty's now asleep in his favourite spot, and we think we know who was in our house.
But then we looked again at the height of the wall ............