Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Jasper's partner here. SUCH an awful hiatus between posts, I know. Even this I am typing via iPhone... Gisele refuses to listen to Jasper's reasoning with respect to keeping his blog going - though he has yet to deploy his "ultimate weapon" which I know will not go unheeded when it IS ultimately unleashed... For now, however, these are my last moments of youth... I turn 40 in some ten minutes. Scared and alone. No Jasper to comfort me. Naught but a vain and selfish terrier. Sometimes I don't know why I bother... For the sake of what used to be, perhaps. But - dear GOD - I miss Jasper...

Good night

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Tuesday 19 August 2014


The newly-arrived Betty merely stared.


Gisèle was shaking and biting down, hard, on a corner of a cushion as she perched on the sofa.  "Mmmmrrrffthhh!"

"Oh, for heaven's sake, just get ON with it!" snapped Betty.
"BWWWAAAAHAAAHAAAAHAAAAAAAAA!"  The little Parson Jack Russell Terrier gave herself over to the hysterical laughter which she had been trying to conceal.  She rolled over, cackling madly, falling backwards off the sofa and landing on the floor hard on her back.  Giz merely laughed on, lying on her back, all four legs and paws paddling in the air.  Betty just stared at her with pursed lips, trying to maintain her dignity.

I should explain.  Betty, as we generally know her, has tousled, attractively unkempt fur, as shown in this picture:

THIS is how she looked upon her recent return:

Giz laughed and laughed until she developed a slight cough and had to desist.  Betty simply shook her head and darkly muttered "Oh, *** off, you poisonous ginger dwarf..."

Apart from this - and the fact that it took another three days before Giz could look at Betty without grinning - their reunion was happy and joyful; the two friends delighting in each others' company.

Less jolly was Gisèle attempt to account for one of our recent unexplained phenomena.  In recent weeks, a "crop circle" has appeared in a field not far from here.  This is what it looks like (and, for the record, I don't believe that aliens are even tacitly responsible for these examples of cereal-killing):

(c) Crop Circle Connector

"IS it aliens, d'you reckon, Gizzle?" asked Betty one afternoon.
"No, of course not!" yipped Giz, "It's obvious, you can tell just from looking at it!"
"Yes!  It must have happened when you decided to have a sit down on your fatty bum in that field!"  and before her last yip had died away, she fled.  After only a moment's hesitation, Betty tore upstairs after her, yelling.  Giz neatly diverted into the airing-cupboard and hopped up onto one of the high shelves, where her pursuer could not follow.
"Come here!" roared Betty
"No!" piped Giz cheekily.
"You come down here right now!"
"Why not?!"
"Because you will bite on me until I am all sore!"
"You'll have to come out of there some time, if you ever want to eat, drink or go to the toilet again, and I will be waiting here, right outside the door when you do."  And, with that, she settled herself on the landing outside the airing-cupboard to wait for her tiny tormentor.

After some twenty minutes, Betty's regular slow, heavy breathing made it clear that she had fallen asleep.  A few seconds later, the airing-cupboard door opened a crack and a tiny bright brown eye peeped out.  Seeing the sleeping Betty, Giz carefully clambered down from her shelf and quietly tip-clawed out and past Betty.  She crept downstairs, had a drink, and put herself to bed.  By the morning, Betty (though somewhat mystified as to why she had been sleeping on the landing and not in her bed) had forgotten that she was pretending to be cross with her little friend - for I have no doubt that she was never truly angry; the girls are now such firm friends as to render this impossible.

Good night.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Betty returned home shortly after the events described in the previous entry - but not before she had exhorted a solemn promise from Gisèle that she would not seek out the company of the buzzard and her chicks again.  Little 'Sèle was more than happy to accede and faithfully swore that she would not venture even close to the raptors' nest.

It goes without barking that, the instant she had returned to the location, she immediately bent her steps to the buzzards' nest and greeted her feathered "friend" heartily.  The third egg had hatched, which was the cue for more squeals of delight from Giz.  I won't insult you with a repetition of the "conversations" that ensued.

Back on safer ground, at home, Gisèle was enjoying the sun in the garden when the sound of earnest voices drew her out into the street and up to the hedge at the side of the pavement, where a group of her friends were congregated and chattering animatedly about something unseen.
"Stick your paw in it, Thunder!" miaowed Kittenjasper to his feline brother, "Go on! It'll be fun!"
"Yeah, go on Thunder!" echoed Archie, the little Jack Russell from the end house. "I dare you!"
"Honey, do YOU dare me?" mewed the hesitant Kittenjasper to the ginger cat who made up the feline trio in his house.
"I wouldn't do it," replied Honey coolly, "But you should do it, Jas!"

Her interest piqued, Gisèle took a closer glance at the focus of their attention.  This is what she saw:

Intrigued, she joined the group.
"Gizzle!" yapped Archie excitedly, "Here are brains and beauty in one lovely package!"  Archie was smitten with Gisèle the moment he'd first set eyes on her and had never given up hope of being successful in tempting her to his basket, despite her lack of encouragement.  Sweet 'Sèle almost never considered any dog smaller than a spaniel to be worthy of her attention.  "Come and get Thunder to stick his paw in this!"

She padded over.  As well as Archie, Oliver (the three-legged cat who lived with Archie) Kittenjasper, Thunder and Honey at the hedge, Peaches and his tabby friend were watching from a short distance away, grinning.  (Yes - you may well be surprised on learning this if you are a regular reader of this blog - Peaches does indeed have a friend.  The unfortunate fallout from Gisèle's ill-starred "I Love Peaches Party", described here and concluded here, seemed to have ultimately benefited everyone in the street and taught Peaches himself the value of behaving nicely.  Very cheering.  More of this development to follow...).

"Come on, Thunder!" goaded Archie again, "Stick your paw in it, just for a minute, it'll be really funny!"  The members of the little group giggled and continued to encourage Thunder.

"Don't TOUCH it Thunder!" yipped Gisèle,  "You idiots!  That is a wasps' nest!"
"No!" mewed Kittenjasper to his brother, "Honestly, stick your paw in, it'll be fun!"
"Yeah!" agreed Archie.
"You stick YOUR paw in, Arch!" miaowed Thunder.
"I'm not putting my paw in that!" barked Archie with a grin, "It's a bl**dy wasps' nest!  I'm not stupid..."

They all laughed, including Thunder, and began to disperse.  Though of quite how hearty their laughter would have been had one of the buffoons ACTUALLY shoved a paw into the wasps' nest I remain unconvinced (I do not forget the occasion when my pea-brained friend Ewan challenged the occupants of such a nest to a game of football - see here).

Shaking her little furry head, Gizzy ignored Archie's clumsy attempts to flirt further with her and returned to the house.  She had some work to do - for Betty returns on the morrow!

Good night...

P.S.  Betty, Gisèle and I (along with my partner) are supporting Pupaid - you might want to head on over and add your voice of support: Pupaid website.  Thank you.  JHS

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Thursday 3 July 2014

Hello again.  Did you think I had abandoned the blog forever?  I have felt deeply ashamed of my neglect.  It was not entirely within the scope of my fault, however.  My partner has been busy and occasionally unwell over the past couple of months.  Gisèle has been out and about in the lighter evenings of late and, most significantly, our computer was infected with a behemoth of an evil virus.  Specialist software had to be purchased - that's a mark of how serious the problem was...  Thankfully, it was money well spent, and we are back to our regular capacity.  I regard it as highly fortunate that the mighty blog itself (now, after all, in it's EIGHTH year!) was not affected by the virus.  Wretched thing.  But away with all this.  A further regret is that we last parted on something of a cliff-hanger; the sighting by Betty of a young buzzard following little 'Sèle at the very scene of my own past entanglements with such a scourge.  Let us join them once more, as they venture forth once again for an early evening stroll...

"...and that one is a woodpecker, a green woodpecker." explained Betty, as a green bird flew, chirruping, up from the ground into a nearby tree.
"Why is it called a woodpecker?" asked Gisèle curiously, "Is it made of wood?"
"No, it just pecks wood on trees to get out the insects."
"Oh... OK."
"And, over there, you can see a nuthatch - see? That little one with the orange belly in the tree?"
"Do those ones hatch out of nuts?" queried Giz.
"No, of course not, you muppet!"
"Why are they called that then?!"
"Don't know.  Maybe because they like to eat nuts."
"Wow, Bettz, you know EVERYTHING! Are there any owls?"
"It's a bit early in the evening but, yes, there are owls around here."

Gisèle's little face lit up at once.  "Oh WOW!" she squeaked excitedly, "I want to see a big white pretty snowy owl, like Hedwig out of Harry Potter!"
"I think those ones are a bit rare," muttered Betty, "They're mostly brown owls and tawny owls around here..."
"I like Hedwig best, as well as Ginny and Dobby and Hermione. [Harry Potter characters]  And I like Sirius too."
"Is Sirius that one who was a big dog sometimes?" queried Betty, with a sideways glance at her diminutive friend.
"Hihi, yes." giggled Giz.
"I liked him too, hur hur-"
"But Hedwig is my very favourite.  I wish I could be her."

Betty was about to reply with a considered response on the ultimate fate of the brave and faithful Hedwig, when a series of unsettling sounds came from within the canopy of a tree overhead.  She gave a sharp intake of breath and pushed Gisèle hastily in another direction, causing the little Parson Jack Russell to stumble.
"Ow!" protested Giz, "What did you do that for?!"
"That's a buzzard's nest, up there!" hissed Betty, "Didn't you recognise the sounds?"
"I have never heard them before." replied Giz.
"Well, trust me, that's the sound of a buzzard with some chicks.  Stay AWAY little Giz, stay away."  But I could see that Giz had ceased paying attention at the mention of chicks...
"Ooh - babies?" she yipped, turning and trying to crane her head to look up at the nest, "I love little babies!"
"Not these ones, you won't." grunted Betty, as she firmly steered Giz away from the tree.  Fortunately, Betty's vast reserves of strength and determination were too powerful for the reluctant Giz to resist.

Relief at Betty's ability to put herself between little Giz and mortal peril unhappily began to evaporate some 40 minutes later, however, when Gisèle was to be spotted slinking back towards the tree containing the nest with Betty nowhere to be seen.  Unease was further heightened when, after a quick glance about her to check that all coasts were clear, the tiny terrier jumped up and began to clamber awkwardly up the tree...
"Oooff..." she puffed, as she tenaciously scaled branch after branch, sliding back on some, but determined not to be thwarted, "Errgh!  Oops - hngyehh! Hup! Errrkkkk! That's it - errfff!"

The female buzzard perching on the side of the nest looked down at the small dog, with an inscrutable expression in her beady eyes.  She didn't seem to comprehend what she was seeing.  I can't bark that I blame her.  Giz glanced up at the raptor. "Oh!  Hello!" she puffed, still trying to haul herself up into the higher branches, "My name is Gisèle, but my friends call me Giz!  What's your name?"
The buzzard made an uncertain noise that sounded like "Beakrip."
"That's nice!  Please can I look at your babies?"  The buzzard continued to gaze down at the tree-climbing dog, but made no further sound.  Eventually, Giz attained a level from which she could peek at the nest.  There were two fluffy chicks and one cream and brown mottled egg. "Oh, aren't they beautiful?!" she simpered.  This was not what I would have called them personally, but Giz's enthusiasm wasn't to be dampened by the sight of some of the ugliest spawn known to either man or beast. "And will that egg hatch soon?  What do you feed them?  I expect they eat a lot and leave you very tired out, don't they?!"

The buzzard continued to watch Gisèle in silence, although it didn't escape me that she had inched closer to her around the side of her nest.

"I haven't had any babies yet, but I would like to one day. But, to be honest with you, Bea, I've got my paws pretty full at the moment with Betty.  She's my best friend and is a Giant Schnauzer.  She's older than me, but sometimes she does take a lot of looking after.  She's nice to me now, but it wasn't always like that, I can tell you, oh dear me no.  She tore into my face with her teeth once, that wasn't very nice.  It's all healed up now of course - well, I say all healed, there are still some little scars although you can't see those now that the fur has grown back. But you see this mark here?" Giz inclined her head in the buzzard's direction, to show her a scar on her eyebrow, but didn't wait to see if the buzzard looked. "That was Betty as well.  Oh, I mean ages ago now, but the fur didn't grow back properly.  I don't mind that, though, because it's only really small.  I don't know where Betty is at the moment.  She went off into the woods to do some toilet, I think, but she won't be too long, I don't expect.  Then I can introduce you.  You'll like Betty.  She can be a bit grumpy and rude sometimes but actually she's really very nice, and quite funny when she gets going.  She's not very good at climbing trees though, not like me, but I've done lots of practice-"

Beakrip the buzzard simply sat there and blinked at the chattering terrier.  It didn't seem as though she could even begin to imagine what a little dog was doing, half-way up a tree, prattling utter nonsense at her.  Gisèle continued happily gossiping away until her flow was interrupted by an almighty and thunderous roar.

"GISÈLE! What are you DOING?!?  Get DOWN from there right NOW, you ludicrous tool!"
"Betty!  I'm just talking to my new friend! Come and say hello!"
"Oh dear; she sounds a bit cross.  I'd better go."  Gisèle turned and looked down, pondering her descent strategy (never a strong point). "But, before I do, I should tell you - you see that clump of little trees over there?"  The buzzard blinked and glanced briefly in the direction Giz indicated. "Well, there is a very fresh dead rabbit behind there.  It must have just died, it doesn't even have - you know - the smell yet and there weren't any flies on it.  Me and Betty wanted to eat it, but Mistress wouldn't let us.  But YOU might like it, for your babies.  It would save you a hunting trip, wouldn't it, and I bet your babies would love all that fresh tasty meat."  Open astonishment registered in the buzzard's eyes for the first time, though she remained silent. "Bye for now then. I'll come and see you again another time.  Make sure you get that rabbit before someone else does!  Bye-bye!"  And, with that, Giz slithered clumsily down part of the tree and fell the rest of the way to the ground.  Once she was back on her feet, Betty gave her a sharp cuff around the shoulder and commenced a stern lecture on the follies of presenting one's self to carnivores who might quite like to eat one.

The buzzard silently watched the two bickering dogs as they ambled back to the car park, rejoining my partner by the gate.  Then, with a soft swish of her wings, she rose into the air and glided smoothly over to the clump of little trees...

Mark my barks, dear reader.  No good will come of this...

Good evening to you.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Thursday 8 May 2014

Since last writing, poor Gisèle has been laid low with an ear infection much like Betty's.  Exactly like Betty's, in fact, for she caught it from her Giant Schnauzer friend on her previous visit.  Betty is back with us once more (unexpectedly, but we are pleased to have her nonetheless) and we have all been hanging around the house.  A plumber was scheduled to visit on Tuesday morning to attend to a leaking pipe in my partner's bathroom ceiling, but decided not to come (grrrowl).

At lunchtime, my partner got to her feet and both girls jumped up, anticipating a walk.  Betty was not impressed to find that a lead was only affixed to Giz's collar and she was told that "we'll be back soon".  Gisèle cackled in high glee - she shouted a cheeky farewell to Betty on the other side of the door and capered down the street at my partner's heels, yapping a rude song at the unfortunate Betty.  Giz's joy was cut brutally short, however, when she crossed the road and all-too-quickly found herself in the vets' waiting room.  There was further displeasure and humiliation to be had when the tiny but powerful terrier was wrestled into a muzzle and had an auroscope introduced to her ear.  To bark that she was not amused would be an incredibly gross understatement.

The vet and my partner were happy, however, as Gisèle's infection is healing nicely (a week ago, she was in such pain that she wouldn't allow the auroscope to even touch her ear) but she still needs to continue with her drops for another week.  Happy days...  Now, one might think that Gisèle would be a little annoyed that she had contracted an unpleasant and excessively painful infection from her best friend.  Not so our Gisèle-Stephanie.  She exclaimed that she was glad she now knew how very painful it was for herself, so that she would better be able to comfort Betty in the future.  Bless her - only one so rare as to be as beautiful on the inside as she is to the eye could look at things in that kind and unselfish way.  No wonder she was able to tame the wild and aggressive Betty where seemingly-greater others had failed.

Less happily, my partner was taken extremely unwell yesterday and had to keep to her bed.  So poorly was she that her parents came and removed Gisèle and Elizabeth from her care so that she could rest in complete quiet.  Fortunately, the malady (an incredibly powerful migraine) has almost entirely gone, but it was not pleasant.  The most concerning point for my partner came during the later part of the afternoon - weakened and in pain and hardly able to move upon her bed, my partner suffered a most alarming phenomenon never before experienced: an hallucination.  That is to bark, not a visual one, but a corporeal one.  She felt me jump onto the bed and snuggle up to sleep beside her, as I ever did during my lifetime, she says she even felt me beside her and heard my breathing (and - yes - deep snoring).  Most alarming for, if I am certain of anything, then it is that that is completely impossible.  I think my partner was thoroughly creeped-out by the experience (well, wouldn't you be?) and much relieved when Betty and Giz were brought back later that evening.  Most odd.

But away with these miseries and tales of non-existent phantoms.  Betty's stay has been extended, which has set both tails (well, one tail and one little blunt stump) a-wagging.  They have been enjoying sitting on the patio over the recent bank holiday weekend, "helping" with the gardening tasks.  My partner was showing them how some of the seeds they had planted a couple of months ago were now growing into healthy little plants (specifically, for the most part, the radishes; the tomatoes died a swift and brutal death and our hopes for the courgettes aren't high...).  Both dogs were very impressed at this example of nature's magic, Giz in particular, and I could tell from her slightly misty expression that she was formulating some sort of plan.

This plan manifested itself later in the afternoon.  Betty lazily got up and stretched after a nap in the sunshine, and was greeted with the sight of Gisèle carefully carrying something in her mouth which she then placed in a small freshly-dug hole in one of the borders.  The large dog padded over to her friend, as she began to scrape soil over her trophy.

It was an egg.  Gisèle was burying an egg in the garden.
"What, in the name of sanity, are you doing?!" demanded Betty, as Giz gently patted the top of the earth down on the buried egg.
"Gardening." replied Giz simply, as if this ought to be enough to satisfy Betty's curiosity.
"But... what - why...?"
Gisèle sighed heavily and turned to face her friend.  "Lillibizzles-" Betty grimaced and clenched her teeth at this detested new pet-name Gizzy had allocated to her. "I think you and me are both very much agreed that there are few things nicer than some tasty roasted chicken.  Yes?"  Betty nodded, mutely, looking doubtful as to what might be coming next. "Right.  So I'm going to grow a chicken-tree!  Then we can have them whenever we want!"

At this point, had I not been certain that chronological and biological evidence precluded the possibility, I might have wondered if the late, lamented, lunatic Ewan's father might once have had a dalliance with little Gisèle's mother.  This was precisely the sort of nonsense he used to come out with (recall, if you will, the episode during which Ewan grew concerned for cows whose milk was used to make cottage cheese; he feared for the cows who had to pass pineapples through their udders for the 'cottage cheese with pineapple' variety.  Or the time he believed that he could relieve Fizzy's menstrual sufferings with the topical application of a potato...  these are but two examples amongst a myriad of delusional nonsense).

"So, to be clear, Giz," frowned Betty, "You have planted an egg in the hope that it will grow into a chicken-producing tree...?"
"Yep!" Gisèle was extremely pleased with herself.
"And you think that's going to work, do you?"
"How else?!  I hope it starts to grow as quickly as the radishes!  Should we put some water on it?"
"Erm... I'm not sure it works like that..." offered Betty, dubiously.
"Well, not if it was a boiled egg, obviously, but this is a fresh one. I got it from the shelf in the kitchen pantry.  How do you think it works then?!"
"Er, I haven't got much experience with chickens, but the gamekeepers on our estate raise the pheasants from - well - other pheasants..."
Gizzy laughed.  "That's just stupid!"  Betty remained unconvinced.  "Look!" persisted Giz, indicating some pigeons sitting in the tree nearest to our fence, "That must be a pigeon tree!"
"Well," replied Betty, looking around, "What about those three sitting on Rosie's back fence?!"
"They're just having a rest, you duffer!" giggled Giz.
"Right." wuffed Betty sceptically, as the pigeons in the tree flew off, "So those three are having a rest, and those ones flying away have just grown and hatched out of the tree, have they?"
"Yep!" declared Giz, a rather self-satisfied look on her face.
"You are a very strange little dog, Giz, you know that?" sighed Betty, shaking her head.
"Hihihihiiiii - oh yes!" squeaked Giz happily, content with the world around her, however ignorant of it she might be.

Next time - A spotter's guide to dubious birds of prey, courtesy of Betty; from which Gisèle is not minded to profit...

Monday, 21 April 2014

Monday 21 April 2014

She arrived.

Gisèle was all of a dither, concerned that Betty would mock her recent fur-cut, but she need not have feared.  After less than a couple of minutes' awkward silence, the well-bred Betty made a polite remark upon the weather and they were off!  Giggling, chatting and gossiping, the two girls were delighted to be back together again.  If Betty DID notice Giz's fur she certainly did not mention it.  They had been apart for a long time and had much to catch up on.  They chattered long into the night, still jabbering away as they went out to download their last wee-mails of the day prior to bed-time, but it was nice to see them happy to be together again.

They weren't so happy the following day, however, when they were out in the garden and discovered that one of the large pots on the border adjoining Rosie's (the Westie next-door) had been all-but-emptied out by paws unknown.
"Who's done this?!" exclaimed my partner crossly.  As the usual principal suspects for such an act, Betty and Giz, were both examining the pot warily, they clearly weren't responsible for this one.  Rosie appeared from around the corner of her house and saw them.
"Not you as well?!" she yipped.
"Hullo Rose," said Betty, "What do you mean?"
"Oh yes, hello Betty, nice to see you again.  I can smell that your garden has been tampered with.  Mine has too."
"Who's done it?" asked Giz.
"Don't know," shrugged Rosie, "But there is a new Tomcat somewhere around here, he's been territory-marking all around my garden and it looks like he's done yours too."
"It does stink of cat." agreed Giz, wrinkling up her nose at the scent.
"Well, I'd better not catch him at it, or he won't be marking anything until the vet takes the wires out of his willie." growled Betty.  Rosie giggled and, with her owner, departed off for the day.

"Why do cats do that?" asked Giz, looking at the messy patio with a puzzled expression. "I can understand the marking and stuff, but why do they dig out all the soil?"
"I don't know." replied Betty, as my partner cleaned up the area and re-potted the plant. "I mean, who knows why cats do anything?"
The two girls sat down and began getting themselves comfortable for a morning's sunbathing.  "I don't suppose they would choose to be cats in the first place, if they could help it."
"I wouldn't.  Who'd want to be a cat when you could just as easily be a dog!?"
Betty nodded.  After a while she asked "If you did turn out to be a cat, would you chase yourself, do you think?  Or would you pay someone to chase you?"
Gisèle considered this carefully.
"Chase myself, probably." she decided, "Then I would know not to bite myself too hard when I caught me."
Betty nodded sagely.  And, with that, both girls settled into a comfortable doze.

Later that afternoon my partner took the two girls out to Abbotstone, one of their favourite haunts, as a special treat.  It was, indeed, a place that I liked to visit myself during my lifetime - it is even mentioned in the very first entry into this blog.  Betty and Gisèle were delighted to find themselves there once more.  They capered around, happily exploring.  In the woods, they encountered a small young toad and watched it curiously as it made its hopping way across the path.
"Betty, what is the difference between a frog and a toad?" asked Giz.  Betty thought for a moment.
"Well, erm, a fro-"
"Only ONE of them every gets 'towed' away!  Hiihiihihihihiiiiiiii!" yipped Giz, before dissolving into hysterical giggles at her own joke.  Betty rolled her eyes and turned away, shaking her head, but I caught a trace of a smile playing about the corners of her mouth.

As the girls exited the shade of the woods and trotted out onto the open common land, a small shadow from far above crossed over them.  Betty glanced sky-wards and frowned, muttering something profane under her breath.  She quickened her pace so that she could keep up with Gisèle.  After about five minutes the shadow passed overhead again.  Betty had been watching out for this and called to Giz.
"'Sèle!" she barked, "Why don't you come and walk a bit closer to me?  Come on, come and walk right up here beside me, eh?"
"Why?" asked little innocent Giz, trotting up to her large, bear-like, friend.
"No real reason," replied Betty, clearly bluffing (though unnoticed by Giz), "I'm just getting a bit tired, that's all."
"Aww, poor Betty." smiled Gisèle, and she dutifully kept to her friend's flank.  At the third passing of the shadow, the little Parson Jack Russell noticed something.  "WOW!!" she exclaimed, craning her neck to look up at the sky, "Betty, look at that odd little plane!"
"It's not a plane." replied Betty grimly, without looking up.  "Gizzy, don't you go wandering off by yourself.  You stay here with me now."
"But if it's not a plane, what is it?"
Giz started to laugh.  "Hiihiihihihihi... Betty, you silly!  It's not a bird!  No birds are THAT big!  If a bird that big sat on Mistress's bird-food-table it would snap it in little pieces, hiihiihihihi!"
"It IS a bird Giz, I promise." barked Betty, watching it circle overhead.
"What sort of bird then?" demanded Gisèle impatiently.
A plaintive cry from the skies above the girls suddenly struck me with sickening horror.

Betty pursed her lips and answered the tiny terrier's question.

"A buzzard."

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Sunday 6 April 2014

A wet day today, though reasonable enough yesterday to enable Gisèle and my partner to do some gardening.  This far, they have onions, sweet peppers, courgettes and tomatoes on the go, with carrots awaiting planting.  My partner is most encouraged by the progress of the tomatoes in particular - she has never grown them from seed before and they seem to be thriving.  Indeed, until a couple of years ago, she had no luck whatsoever with growing vegetables in the garden; someone used to eat the seedlings or wait until the fruits and vegetables appeared and then plucked and ate them himself, hehe...  Fortunately, neither Gisèle nor Betty have the same passion for fresh fruits and vegetables as I enjoyed.

Betty's return to the house is imminent and Gizzy has been busy getting things ready for her friend's visit.  In order to stop her fretting herself into a state, I suggested that she might like to write a little more about her last holiday on Dartmoor.  After all, she had only managed two instalments thus far and I knew that she had more pictures that she wanted to share with you.  I did, however, point out that it couldn't really be titled Gisèle's Holiday Diary any more - it was almost six months ago now.  So little Giz agreed to rename it Gisèle's Holiday Memories.

Without further ado, then:-


Oh dear, hihihi! I have been very bad and forgot to write about my holiday for ages. Naughty me. But I have been very busy, yes indeed. But I still have nice dreams about my holiday and the fun I had. Here is a link to the last writing I did about it:- here it is.

The next day when I woke up it was raining a bit - only a bit though, so I didn't worry too much. My friend Marnie had gone out somewhere, but some fresh new-laid eggs had been left by our door and I was allowed to have one boiled for my breakfast. It was the nicest egg I had ever tasted; so fresh and delicious, not at all like ones you might buy in a shop. Everything is nicer when it comes from home and is fresh (I think that is why Mistress is growing vegetables in our garden this year, but we haven't got any room to plant and grow any chickens).

After breakfast, we headed out for the South of the moor, to a nice walk which Mistress said Jasper had used to enjoy. We drove to Shipley Bridge car park and walked alongside the river towards the open moor.

Jazz used to love playing in the river exactly here.  But I am too little and frightened of water -
although I did paddle in the pools at the edge.

After we had turned the corner and crossed the bridge, the road became rougher until it was just a footpath track. We headed up the slopes towards the mighty Avon Dam. Mistress had been there before with Jasper and his predecessor, pretty Tess, but I had never been. Up we climbed, stopping to chat with some walkers coming the other way (that is one of the things I like about walking on Dartmoor, you meet such lovely people along the way). Parting company with these new friends, we soon came into view of the impressive Avon Dam and reservoir...

  the blue arrow below indicates where we were when the next picture was taken...
The vast edifice of the Avon Dam looms into view
As we passed the Dam and walked alongside the reservoir, the rain began to fall more steadily. Undaunted, we persisted towards our destination where, sheltering ourselves as best we could, Mistress and I ate our packed lunches. But not for long...

Giz wet. Giz cold.  Giz going home.  With or without Mistress.

I was very cold indeed - and it took us a good couple of hours at least to walk all the way back to the car.

Later in the evening, back at our holiday cottage, once I had been dried, warmed and fed, I heard Marnie's claws clicking on the path to our front door. After obtaining the necessary permissions I bounded out to play ball with her in the dogs' playing field. After twenty minutes or so, my attention drifted to the steeply-wooded hills on either side of the farm buildings and fields. The woods were teeming with owls, as we clearly heard at night, but it began to occur to me that there might also be squirrels lurking within. I suggested a little foray into the woods to Marnie, but she didn't seem too keen.
"Well, you CAN walk in the woods - " she barked, "But it isn't safe, unless you are very careful about where you are going. There are loads of old mine shafts in the hills and they are dangerous. If you fell down one you would die for sure. That's what those signs say there." She indicated the big notices at the entrances to both sides of the woodlands, but the words on them were too long for me to read. "You have to stay right on the path all the time, because mine shafts are everywhere."
"Why don't you do something about them?" I puzzled.
"Well, they don't belong to me, or my people." replied Marnie, "Even though they haven't been used for ages longer than 100 years ago, they still belong to the old extraction company."
"Eh? But you just said they WERE yours!" I couldn't understand my new friend at all.

"What? No I didn't!" yipped Marnie, "I said they were mines."
"Yes, exactly! So they ARE yours!"
"No!! They're not mine!"
"You DID too say that they were yours!"
"No - they are mines."
"Yes! YOUR mines!"
"No, no! They ARE mines - but they are not mine!"
"They are not MY mines. But they ARE mines."
"So if they are not your mines, whose mines are they?"
"I told you! The mine company!"
"Yes!! YOUR company! They are yours! So fix them!"
"But it's not MY mine company."

I began to think that Marnie might be a little bit mad. I knew I was right, and so left it there and we went back to playing ball.

'The mines aren't mine' indeed. Hiihihihihihiiiiii...!

Betty is coming to visit tomorrow. Yayyy!

Bye-bye love from Gisèle. x

 First and third photographs on this page © http://www.richkni.co.uk/dartmoor/index.html