Gisèle basked in the golden warmth whilst my partner constructed in the garden the hedgehog house (or toad house, depending on who moves in first). It consists of two"walls" of cut wood and sticks, with planks for a roof and a small entrance (to hopefully deter the cats). The rear wall is the stump of an elder tree, which was sawn down when my partner and I moved in and the gaps have been plugged with moss and earth. Hopefully the hedgehog who benefits will show his gratitude by eating the slugs in my partner's border next spring, in one of those symbiotic relationships that exist 'twixt human and beast. The opening of the little shelter looks out on my holly tree and memorial cross.
We have, however, had some sad news this week. Mr. Pavey, for whom my partner used to walk Benjy (his dog) the Yorkshire Terrier, passed away. He had been (much against his wishes) in a residential home for the past few months, as he had grown too frail to look after himself (Benjy has been adopted by Mr. Pavey's great-niece, who also owns a poodle with whom Benjy is great friends). Although Mr. P. had a long and distinguished life, my partner has still been saddened by his passing. He may have been stubborn and determinedly independent, but he was a TRUE gentleman with a marvellous sense of humour. He lost an uncle and a brother in the devastating London Blitz (1940-1941) as they were running for the shelter of an Underground station and just failed to make it in time. He also did his duty for his King and country in one of the most dangerous jobs of World War Two - that of a Rear-Gunner in a Lancaster Bomber Flight Crew. Statistically, for every two Rear-Gunners who went out, only one ever came back (see Crew of a Lancaster Bomber). It was a privilege, my partner says, to have known him and been able to bring some help and company into his life towards the end. May he rest in peace; he has earned his wings.
Let us move on. I turn now to our very latest "part-work"; sweet 'Sèle's Holiday Diary. Enjoy - and forgive any inadvertent inanity; I played no part in the composition of this...
GISÈLE'S HOLIDAY DIARY - PART I
After the day when we ought to have gone on our holiday (but didn't, because of a little suitcase problem), we got up early in the morning, checked that we had everything (my bowls, food, sleeping bag which used to belong to Ewan, lead, Bunny, ball and chucker), we got into our lovely little Gizmobile (perfect for we two), double-locked our front-door and set off.
I napped happily until Mistress woke me up so that I could look at something we were about to drive past. She said that it was important and was called 'Stonehenge'. Well, I looked - it was surrounded by loads of people staring at it, but I didn't understand.
"But it isn't finished!" I barked "Why does anyone want to look at scaffolding?!" I couldn't understand it at all. It was like the skeleton of a big building without mud and wood walls and roof. It was just big stones, with no pictures on them or anything.
There was no answer. Which proves I was right.
An hour and a half later, I asked Mistress if we could stop so that I could do a wee-wee. She said that we would stop at the next service-station (eh?!?). Soon after I learned that this is a place by a busy road where there are people-toilets and petrol (food for cars) and, often people-food places. I was very happy that Mistress had understood what I was asking for and I leapt gratefully from the Gizmobile so that I could empty myself. Our stop was not long and we were very soon off on the last length of our journey.
It took quite a long time because Mistress drove quite slowly. I like it when we go fast, but Mistress said that we hadn't had the Gizmobile for very long and she loves it very much and is scared in case she crashes it. I can understand that, and I like being in the car so I don't mind (we also had the radio and some carefully-chosen CDs that I like to listen to). We arrived at our little holiday cottage just in time for a late lunch, which Mistress's mother provided after we had unloaded the car. Here is a link to where we stayed:
Primrose Cottage in Hennock - the big upstairs window is the room where me and Mistress slept at night.
After lunch, I wandered out for a little sniff-about with Mistress's father. I was pottering around quietly when one of the VERY biggest dogs I had ever seen (apart from Betty) came bounding out from the next-door holiday cottage (there were about three separate ones on the farm). I stood very still as the hairy giant ran up to me. He smelled friendly and wagged his tail. I was about to greet him properly when he turned back towards the cottage and barked in the shoutiest bark I have EVER heard (including Betty, even when she is especially very angry). "Eis! EIS! Hier kommst! Es gibt ein kleines Hündchen hier! Schnell! EIS!"
A second hairy beast, identical to the first, appeared in the cottage doorway and bounded over. It was difficult to tell under all the long fur, but the second dog was a girl.
"Oh! Sie ist so hübsch!" exclaimed this new lady in a kind voice, sniffing me over. "Hallo Schatz," - she seemed to be addressing me directly - "Wie heißt du?"
I had no idea what sort of gobbledegook they were barking. It wasn't like anything I had ever heard before - they smelled and sounded friendly, and were permitting Mistress's father to pat and stroke them, but I had no idea what they were going on about. They might have been telling me that they were about to kill, cook and eat me for all I knew.
After a pause, the lady said "Er heißt Devon" indicating her hairy twin, and "Ich heiße Eis! Wie heißt du, Schatz? Hmmn?" Then she gave me what could have been either a friendly, encouraging, lick OR a sample 'taste' to see how much seasoning I would need in the oven...
I was (as I always am) afraid of appearing to be rude, so I hazarded a hesitant little bark of "Hello..."
"Hallo!!" replied the two giants in unison. I didn't feel that my effort had helped much.
Happily, a saviour appeared in the form of another dog, a young black spaniel-type lady, who bounded over with an orange-coloured rubber ball in her mouth.
"Hiya!" she barked, dropping the ball and wagging her tail wildly. I liked her immediately - she totally OOZED the scents of welcome and friendship. "My name is Marnie! I live here, this is my mum's farm. Welcome to Greatrock! What is your name?" At last!! Barks I could understand, yayy!!! She gave the two strange barkers an informal greeting; she clearly knew them quite well.
"Hello Marnie, nice to meet you!" I yipped, displaying my friendliness and offering the formal sniff of greeting, which was received and given with mutual respect and delight. "My name is Gisèle-Stephanie, but you can call me Gizmo, Giz or Gizzy, whatever you like. It's lovely here."
"Yes." replied Marnie, "I am very lucky to live here. And so you have been meeting your holiday neighbours, Devon and Ice, have you?"
"Marnie..." I whispered (I smelt she was a dog I could trust). "They don't bark properly. I can't understand them." Marnie grinned.
"They are Belgian Shepherd Dogs, but from Germany. They are barking to you in German."
Before I had time to yap 'What is German...?', my new friend had turned to the large dogs, grinned, and barked "Devon, was hast du sprach zu ihr?!"
"Ahh - sie spricht nicht Deutsch...?" responded the male Belgian Shepherd Dog, but from Germany.
"Nein, aber ich kann übersetzen..." wuffed Marnie. On turning to me, she continued, "I just barked that you can't bark German, but I can translate. Hang on...."
There were good-natured barks back and forth between the three dogs - and Marnie explained that the Belgian Shepherds thought that I was very young and pretty and had been greeting me as a friend, telling me their names and asking what I was called. She told them what I was called and then introduced the dogs to me. The boy was called Devon and the girl was called Eis (which Marnie said was "Ice" in English-bark). They came to the cottage with their owners every year. It was nice to meet them, although they were still a bit scary to me as they were so VERY big, and their voices were a bit shouty, but they were very polite and kind. We said goodbye to them as they set off for a walk with their owners.
I told Marnie that I thought she was very clever to understand foreign barking. She said that it was only because lots of people and their dogs had holidays on the farm. German-barks were her best, probably because of Devon and Ice's frequent visits, but she could do some French-barking too. She asked me if I knew any foreign barks. I laughed and said that I hadn't quite got to grips with proper English-barks yet; which made her laugh. After that she had to go in for her dinner.
After I had had my own dinner, Mistress and her parents and I went out to explore the grounds. There were two fields especially for dog-guests to play in and one of them had a nice wooden seat in it. Mistress and I played in that field while her parents sat on the bench. When it started to get dark, we went back to our cottage and Mistress and I retired for the night.
I had been looking forward to this bit - my first night in my special doggy sleeping bag, which used to have been poor Ewan's. I was tired, but very excited. Mistress carefully took it out of its own special bag and laid it out on the end of the comfy-looking bed. It looked very good, as the colour-scheme of the room was blue, and seaside, and the sleeping bag is good. I like things to look pretty. Before Mistress had even said it was ready for me, I jumped up and got in. It felt LOVELY and different to what I expected - it was smooth and cool but snug and warm at the same time. I wanted to stay awake and have a bedtime story, but I was so tired that I fell asleep straight away, my head all full-up with my new friends and exciting dreams about what sort of adventures I might have in my holiday...
Mistress took a photo of me enjoying my new sleeping bag for the first-ever time. Here it is:-
Bye for now! Giz x