Please forgive our lengthy absence - we have been away! Sweet Gisèle's first-ever holiday came courtesy of my partner's parents. It has been a long and deeply unpleasant year for my partner thus far; a week on Dartmoor was offered as a gift to alleviate the general despair.
The weather was exceptionally kind and we were equally fortunate in our choice of accommodation. We stayed here: http://www.bookcottages.com/cottages/100-CM80-the-watering-hole-the-smithy.htm. "Our" cottage was the one in the foreground, with the terracotta pot in front of it, and the room in which we slept has the window above the door. The owners were lovely, delightful people with two fine spaniels, Max and Milly. Milly was not unlike my late wife Isolde, but with intricate feather-like markings upon her back, and sweet Gisèle was very taken with the dashing Max. The cottage was small but beautiful, with original exposed beams and an inglenook fireplace, and well-situated both for the charming town of Tavistock and lovely Dartmoor. We even passed the pub that my partner and I had frequented during our final Dartmoor trip during my lifetime, back in 2007 - she and I had assisted there with the redecoration of the gents' lavatories there (it's a long story). Memories for us both - vastly happy, yet bitter-sweet, with a sense of continuation with Gisèle.
Barking of fair Gisèle, our erstwhile hosts were most tolerant of an altercation she had with one of their chickens... Suffice it to bark that the chicken lived, though denuded of its tail-feathers - leaving its poor bottom bare and exposed to the elements.
"But I only wanted to play football with the chicken!" protested Gis, when confronted with the evidence of her mischief. Her claims and apologies were accepted and the incident thus passed without further comment or remonstration and the hapless innocent fowl made a full recovery.
There was one other notable event to disturb the general peace. Denied the guidance of my physical presence, my partner and Gisèle got lost in the middle of a mire on the South Moor, whilst trying to complete a journey that my partner and I had once started but abandoned. They achieved their destination: Ducks Pool. See the evidence here:-
Alas! Waterlogged boggy ground forced an unanticipated detour. That which had appeared a simple back-and-forth journey was first delayed by talking to a fellow-walker who had recently been bereaved of his canine companion and then by Gisèle's obsessive pursuit of a rabbit. Night was falling as we struggled back to our familiar route. We kept having to stop to answer increasingly panicked calls on our mobile 'phone from my partner's mother as to our whereabouts.
By way of a convoluted set of circumstances, we ended up being transported off the moor by Ray, a noble farmer from Sheepstor, on the very quad-bike used by Steven Spielberg in the filming of "War Horse". I hopped, unseen, into the rear rack of the quad to perch alongside Chap, the farmer's sheepdog, and my partner's rucksack. My partner climbed onto the quad to ride pillion behind Roy, clutching Gisèle to her for dear life. We were saved! And, let me assure you, never - NEVER - again.
On a happier note, it took Gisèle only three days to grasp the nettle of cognisance as to the utter no-no of harassing livestock on the moor. I witnessed the struggle within her, as she overcame the inbuilt impulse to chase all manner of beasties, in order to recognise the difference between that which was off-limits and illegal and the situations in which she could run and caper unimpeded. I was minded to laugh - until I recalled that it had taken me far and away longer than Gisèle's three days to learn the same lesson. I kept quiet.
In general, then. Much fun was had by all. Here are a few more pictures to enjoy:-
As I was bringing this entry to a close, I heard an odd hissing sound. It rapidly became clearer:
It was Gisèle.
"Shh!" she whispered, confidentially, into my ear, "Don't tell anyone... I said I just wanted to play with the chicken. But actually, secretly, I wanted to EAT it! Don't tell, will you?!"
"Of course not!" I assured her, with a smile.
Apart from posting it here on this blog, for all to read, obviously...
Until the next time, then. Good-night.