Pinot Pepper sat on the kitchen window ledge staring miserably at the rain soaked back garden. For the last hour he had been watching the rain drops race each other down the window pane and gather in a large puddle on the ledge below. Another few minutes passed before he began to tire of watching the rain drops and decided to see if the weather was as bad at the front of the house as it was at the back. He jumped off the ledge and made his way into the dining room where he knew he would have a perfect view of the front garden and the street beyond. Much to Pinot’s disappointment he discovered the rain was falling just as hard in the front garden as it was in the back! He hated it when it rained, as it meant he couldn’t go out and play with his friends.
Pinot decided to visit every room in the house, in the hope of finding something interesting to do. He wanted to ease the boredom he was beginning to feel because he couldn’t go out and play. He roamed from room to room but sadly, did not find anything at all that he wanted to do. He did however, find Grigio, who was fast asleep on their human’s bed, she had been very grumpy with him when he’d woken her to ask if she wanted to play. After searching the entire house, including the dark corners where he knew his friend Sidney the house spider usually hung out, he’d still found nothing and no one, to play with. Pinot made his way to the little window by the front door, he thought he would just sit for awhile and watch the coming and goings of the close outside. Maybe the neighbours were up to something that he would find interesting to watch.
Two minutes later, as Pinot sat with his little black nose pressed hard against the cold, wet, window pane, he was disappointed to discover there was still no one around. No humans out mowing their lawns, or washing their cars, no smaller humans riding their bikes while their parents chatted over the garden fence, it was just to0 wet for anybody to be outside.
Hang on a minute, he thought, wasn’t that William and Wendy Smithers with their 22 children? Where on earth could they be going in this awful weather, Pinot wondered as he watched them make their way past his front door. And wait! Wasn’t that Gail the snail with her two friends, Lightening and Flash, and Mungo, Moira and Maisie Marfont, the little field mouse family who lived next door. Right, thought Pinot, it was time to brave the weather, he needed to find out what was going on. What was so important that it was managing to drag his friends from their warm little nests, out into the pouring rain.
Pinot jumped up excitedly. At last, something interesting to do, he thought to himself, as he dashed for the cat flap. He decided that rather than ask one of his friends where they were all off to, he would follow them from a distance instead. This way he could pretend he was some sort of secret spy on a dangerous mission that only he was brave enough to carry out.
Pinot kept himself well hidden beneath the bushes, as he watched the various garden folk make their way down the driveway and across the close towards the garden of number six. Where on earth were all his friends off too, he really couldn’t think. He had just seen Barry and Beryl Battersby, the two little ground beetles, hitching a ride on the back of Cyril Nuttersly the squirrel. He now watched, as Margaret and Matthew Featherstone, the two magpies, and Patrick Potter the pigeon, flew in and joined the others as they continued on their journey.
Pinot stayed well hidden until his friends were almost out of sight. When he was sure he wouldn’t be spotted, he crept out from under the hedge and dashed through the rain, following his friends onto the driveway of number six. Once there, he tucked himself out of sight behind a large flower pot and waited to see where his friends would go next. The little group had gathered by the gate that led from the driveway into the back garden. Pinot watched as the smaller creatures, the beetles, woodlice, mice and snails, all squeezed under the gate, while the larger members of the group either flew, or climbed, over the gate. Waiting, once again, until he was sure the coast was clear and there was no one left to spot him, Pinot emerged from behind the pot. He leapt silently up onto the top of the gate and peered over into the garden below. He was just beginning to think he had left it too long and had lost sight of the little group, when he spotted Gails distinctive patched shell, squeezing through a gap in number six’s garage door. Aha! He thought, so that was where they were all going, what, Pinot wondered, were all his friends doing in there?
As Pinot approached the garage, he realised he had a bit of a problem. He was too big to squeeze through the little gap he had seen Gail using, and he hadn’t seen where the larger animals like Cyril the Squirrel and Patrick Potter had gone in. He decided to sit and wait awhile longer, to see if anyone else arrived, that way he could of course follow the late arrivals inside. As Pinot settled himself under a nearby hedge he heard a lot of whispering and scampering of little feet. He managed to duck out of sight just in time, as from round the corner came the three Henor’s. Henry, Hector, and Harry, the three hedgehog brothers were making their way towards the garage, but instead of heading for the gap by the door as the smaller creatures had done, they had made their way to three upturned paving stones leaning against the garage wall. Pinot watched as one by one they disappeared through the gap between the stones and the wall. That’s it! Pinot thought, there must be a hole in the garage wall that the human that lived at number six had tried to block with the paving stones but hadn’t quite managed it.
Pinot glanced around to check the coast was clear and then followed the same path the three Henor’s had taken. He squeezed himself between the stones and the wall, and peered carefully through the hole into the garage beyond. Pinot’s eyes grew wide at the sight that greeted him. There were all his friends, having what looked like, a wonderful time. Some were sitting in little groups playing board games, others were nestling cozily in lovely soft, snuggly, balls of fluff they had dragged into a giant bag of peanuts. The younger members of the group dashed about playing tag and hide-and-seek, whilst the older members of the group, like old Professor Wiggins the earwig, and Rupert Hunter-Pease the old Toad, sat contently in a warm corner watching the little ones play.
As Pinot crouched behind the paving stones watching his friends in the garage, he felt someone tap him on the shoulder. Pinot swung round and found himself face to face with his cousin Tiny Tots, the little cat from up the road, and his sister Grigio, who, he was pleased to see, looked a lot happier now, than she had done earlier when Pinot had woken her up.
“There you are Pinot” said Tiny, “we have been looking everywhere for you, haven’t we Grigio?” Grigio nodded in agreement and Tiny continued ..
“I came to tell you that we were having a garage party because the weather outside is so bad, but I couldn’t find you, only Grigio.”
“Well I am here now,” said Pinot, “what are we waiting for, lets go in and join the party!”
All three cats squeezed their way through the little gap and rushed over to join their friends. The first thing they noticed was how warm and fresh smelling it was inside. This, explained Moira Marfont, was because the big white machine in the far corner of the garage was a fluff making, warming machine. Pinot looked over at the machine in the corner and then back at Moira quizzically. Moira saw the confusion on Pinot’s face and began to explain how it worked. She told Pinot that every so often, the human that lived in number six, came into the garage with armfuls of cold, wet, towels. These towels would then be stuffed inside the machine, the door on the front would be closed, and then finally, the whole thing would be switched on. Moira pointed a little paw towards the dial on the front of the warming machine to indicate exactly where it was switched on. As soon as the machine was running, it began filling the garage with lovely, warm, fresh smelling air. Not only that, Moira continued, but it also produced lovely soft, fluff balls, that they were all using as soft, warm, easy chairs. Pinot agreed with Moira, that the warming machine was indeed, very clever. He actually hoped that his humans may one day decide to get a warming machine for their own garage.
It wasn’t long before Pinot had forgotten all about being bored, and about the awful weather outside. He was currently listening to Cyril Nuttersly the large grey squirrel, explaining how he and Mungo had spent a whole afternoon last week nibbling their way through the side of the giant sack of peanuts. They had done this so they would all have instant access to the peanuts whenever they felt hungry and the weather was too bad to go outside. Cyril went on to explain how they had decided it wasn’t wrong to break into the peanuts, as the nice human at number six bought the nuts for the bird table and squirrel feeder anyway. Pinot and Cyril agreed, that they were actually being quite helpful by saving the human the job of going out into the cold, wet, garden to put them out.
After Pinot had finished speaking with Cyril, he decided to go and join the little ones for a game of tag. He wanted to run off some of his excess energy and work up an appetite before going home for his dinner at the end of the day. Pinot said goodbye to Cyril and trotted over to join his friends.
What had started out as a pretty boring day had actually turned out better than Pinot could ever have imagined. Despite the awful weather, he and his friends were warm and dry, and having a lovely time, playing safely inside the garage of number six.
1/ Do you know what the machine was that the animals called the ‘warming machine’?
2/ What relation to Pinot is Tiny Tots the little cat who lives up the road?
3/ Can you draw a picture of what you think the inside of the garage looks like?
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If you would like to purchase a copy of The Day Pinot Pepper Turned Blue, by Julia Roberts, it is available to order from Waterstones and all good bookshops, as well as Amazon and the publisher at pegasuspublishers.com