Last night a cat burglar got into our house in the early hours. At first I thought I was dreaming and I turned to go back to sleep, glancing at the bedside clock. It was three thirty three. Palindromic numbers on the clock usually make me smile, I’m odd like that but, as I settled back down I heard it again. Maybe it was outside, but it seemed to be coming from the back of the house which was strange. Then I thought It might be Mini Commando, still downstairs, even at that hour it’s not unheard of. When the noise became more insistent I thought I’d better get up to investigate.
So I got out of bed as quietly as I could. If someone was out there I didn’t want them to know I was on to them. When I opened the bedroom door the cat burglar was right there in the hallway outside the bedroom door. It was Fluffy the Cat, meowing plaintively to be let out. Maybe Mini Commando had let her in earlier and she’d somehow got out of the gym and into the hallway without him noticing. His bedroom door was shut and the downstairs lights were off, telling me he was fast asleep in his room.
Fluffy followed me downstairs, still meowing. The gym door was shut, all the downstairs doors were shut. There was a considerable amount of fumbling in my bag for my keys while Fluffy paced up and down in front of the door. When I finally opened it she shot out in a flash and disappeared into the night.
How had she got in? I was pretty certain Mini Commando wouldn’t have gone to bed and left her inside and he’d have been bound to notice her in the hallway, there really is nowhere to hide there. Then I remembered a previous Fluffy invasion back in May when we deduced she must be getting in through the bathroom window. Since then we’ve kept the bathroom window almost closed with just a thinly sliver of a gap to let the cool air in. On my way back to bed I checked the window and sure enough it was wide open. This is not a huge window, even when it is open, just a long slim gap at the top of the frosted glass. Obviously Commando had opened it when he was cleaning and forgotten to close it again. I had to step into the bath to reach but I pulled it almost shut again. Grrr.
Today was all about packing. Commando has been nagging me to do it since the holiday was booked, over a month ago, and I’ve been not doing it ever since. Today I thought I’d better actually get on with it because we fly out to Lanzarote on Wednesday and it would be quite handy to have some clothes with me when we do. What I’d rather be doing is going off to Marwell for the big farewell party for all the rhinos but, with a holiday on the horizon there really isn’t enough time.
While I was sorting out summer dresses and counting out pairs of pants I couldn’t help thinking about the rhinos and the last weekend they were in the city. That weekend Mini Commando and I had a little mother, son day out to visit the last of the baby rhinos and take in a couple of the city’s cultural venues while we were at it. I was too busy posting about the last of the out of town rhino back then to mention it but it seems quite fitting I tell you about it now.
There was some kind of music event going on as we walked past the Guildhall so there was no chance to have a last look at Glint, probably my favourite of all the rhinos, although I did stop to take a couple of photos of her hiding amongst the crowd. Inside my head I was saying goodbye and wishing her a safe journey back to Marwell. I hope someone nice wins her in the auction.
Outside the Art Gallery I was amazed to see the beautiful display of Livingstone daisies were still going strong in the big stone trough just as they were when I visited Planet Rhino back in July. Even Mini Commando stopped to take some photos of them. He’s his mother’s son for sure. The display might not have been as big but the flowers were still a lovely splash of colour on a dull day.
Then Mini Commando got all excited about taking photos of the fountain so, of course, I took a few of my own and told him how the fountain used to stand in the middle of the road outside the Civic Centre before the Marlands Mall was built and the road altered to accommodate it. There was even a little story about my sixteenth birthday when I stood there, with crowds blocking the whole road, to watch the Saints team standing on the Civic Centre balcony with the FA Cup. Commando was there that day too but I didn’t know him back then.
Finally we went inside the building and, looking around all the while for baby rhinos, climbed the stairs to the Art Gallery. The first painting we saw was the famous Lowry picture of Woolston floating bridge. It always strikes me as strange that the matchstick man artist so famous for his pictures of the industrial North West of England should have painted our own little floating bridge. He actually came here to visit Margery Thompson, a friend and student and that was when he painted the floating bridge.
We spent a pleasant hour wandering around the gallery looking at paintings, some old and some modern. There were a few sculptures too but we didn’t see any baby rhinos and I began to wonder if they’d already been shipped off back to Marwell. It wasn’t until we’d seen the very last painting and emerged, slightly bleary eyed, from the last exhibit room into the foyer that we spotted the rhino babies. By then I’d almost forgotten they were there.
There were three of them, standing in front of the big arched window at the front of the building. They’d been hidden behind the parapet of the staircase when we came in. Bursledon Infant School’s rhino Rita, is all blue sky and leaves with each leaf bearing a child’s name. Bursledon Junior School’s rhino, Rio, is along the same lines but with a sunset scene replacing the blue sky. Apparently both incorporate a windmill but try as I might I couldn’t spot it.
The third rhino has no name, it was due to be named during the trail but I’m not sure what it ended up being called. Southampton Art Gallery and Library ran a completion to design this baby and ended up picking two winners, Carys Newman aged eight based on The Secret Garden and Sarah-Joy Williams aged fourteen inspired by Monet’s Waterlillies. Suitably literary and artistic, they actually go together surprisingly well.
So that was the Art Gallery but we weren’t quite finished yet. Our next mission was to visit Sea City Museum and find the baby rhinos there. Neither of us had ever been before and this was the main reason I’d taken Mini Commando with me because I knew he’d never forgive me if I went without him. It’s getting late now though so I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.