Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Wednesday 30 October 2013

A somewhat disturbed night.  Both girls slept well - a little too well, as it happened.  Come the wee small pre-dawn hours, some odd noises could be heard emanating from Betty's bedroom.  As Betty seems to be enduring a return of her recurring ear infection, my partner and Gisèle decided that they'd better investigate...

They tip-toed (and -clawed) to Betty's room (aka the bathroom with Betty's bed in it) and peeped in.  Betty was sound asleep, but growling, wuffing and muttering in her sleep.  She was burbling something incoherent about "the potatoes".  Giz looked instantly amused.  I was just quietly warning her that she ought to consider the fact that she, too, mutters in her sleep before she laughs too heartily at Betty - when Betty herself suddenly sat bolt upright with her eyes open (though clearly still in the deepest of sleeps) and barked clearly and loudly "The potatoes!  There aren't enough potatoes!  Nellie -" [Betty's Springer Spaniel house-mate] "- we HAVE to plant more potatoes or no carrots will grow!  Quick!  The potatoes!!  This is important..." and, with that, she collapsed back onto her blanket and fell into deep muffled snores again.  Giz could barely suppress her giggles as she and my partner crept back to their own bed.

I sternly forbade Gisèle from teasing Betty about this during the following day.  With her usual faux-sincérité, Giz nodded and promised not to mock her friend, all the while her twinkling eyes signalling mischievous plots being created...  I shook my head as, some time later, I spotted Giz grasping 'twixt her tiny fangs the little potato bag from my partner's vegetable-rack.  She crept back to where Betty lay sleeping and dropped the bag, arranging the small spuds around Betty's head and then lay down to wait.  I didn't linger to view the outcome, such japes were only occasionally amusing to me.  I did, however, catch Betty following Giz with a look of rapt wonder on her face pleading "But how did you know, Gizzy, how did you KNOW?" Gisèle merely giggled and replied "I saw it in my crystal bowl..."

I despair of those two, I genuinely do.


I had a very good nights' sleep in my sleeping bag and jumped out of bed. I couldn't WAIT to get out and about and on with the business of being on holiday. I heard Devon and Eis, the big (German) Belgian Shepherd Dogs, and their owners from the next-door cottage going out for the day while I was eating my breakfast, but Marnie came bounding up with her trademark rubber-ball when I put my first paw outdoors for a wee-wee. "Good morning!" she grinned. I liked Marnie, she was really friendly. "Come and meet the chickens!" she wuffed (I hadn't quite worked out how she could wuff clearly, despite holding her ball in her mouth, it was like magic). "Oh... I don't know..." I replied, doubtfully. Mistress had not let me forget what happened with the chicken on my last holiday, nor the level of spanked bottom I would receive if I repeated my wicked deed.

"They're locked in!" persisted Marnie, "Only mum and dad can go in to feed and look after them and collect the eggs. Besides, chickens are boring! I mean, they're useful and everything, and I always remember to say thank you for the fresh egg I get every day - but they're RUBBISH at playing ball! They just scratch and cluck and peck about. Come and see though! Dad built them a nice, proper big chicken house what foxes can't get in! Come on Giz!"

"The thing is," I muttered, in the subdued tones of a guilty confessor, "I've got a bit of history with chickens... I was a bit naughty with one last year. I mean, I didn't kill it or anything!" I added quickly, as Marnie's eyes widened, "I just, erm, 'redesigned' the chicken's outfit..."
"What did you do?!" asked Marnie, with a giggle.

"I pulled out all its bottom-feathers..." I admitted reluctantly. "The owner was all right, the chicken should not have been where it was. And she said the feathers would grow back. But I think the chicken had to walk around with a cold bum for a while...!"

Marnie couldn't reply; she was laughing at me. The ball fell out of her mouth and rolled away. "Hang on," I muttered and then I turned and went back into the cottage. Mistress was eating some toast. "Please may I go with Marnie to visit the chickens?" I asked, putting on my prettiest smile.
"I'm surprised you're even asking that, Giz..." sighed Mistress. "No. You may not."
After her parents had assured her that the chickens were safely guarded apart from the best efforts of the most devious, Mistress said that I could go, but only if I stayed with Marnie and didn't misbehave or wander off by myself. I capered out to rejoin Marnie and we trotted up the hill side-by-side.

The chickens were in a well-fenced hillside enclosure. They were close by, but I had somehow missed them when I had gone out for my stroll the previous evening. These were certainly plump, lucky fowls. Not only did they have a nice hen-house the side of a small garden shed, but a shade stand in their yard, a small drinking-pond, secure fencing all the way around, and a notice on the gate with a picture of each resident chicken alongside their name and breed of chicken. There was a little plastic tub by the gate, where you could buy six eggs for £1 (a bargain, especially as they turned out to be the tastiest, freshest eggs I had ever tasted in the whole of my life). "But I get one every day for free, because I live here." explained Marnie. I have a little one, boiled and chopped up for my breakfast every day."
I thought Marnie was the luckiest dog in the world, and told her so. But then I became distracted.
"Where is that voice coming from?" I asked. "I could hear a voice close by, but couldn't smell a person near to us." Marnie giggled again.
"The chickens have got a radio in their chicken-shed." my friend explained. "Dad puts it on in the morning and turns it down quiet at night. They like listening to Radio 4, and it makes the foxes and weasels think that there is a person there with the chickens, and it stops them trying to get at them."
I thought this was a very clever idea.
"I didn't hear the radio last night though." I said.
"No," replied Marnie, when the chickens have been locked in the shed for the night you can't hear the radio outside. It might be annoying for our guests. Sometimes I go up and sit by the chickens to listen to The Archers."
I didn't have the first clue what 'The Archers' might be, so I kept quiet and nodded in a way that I hoped made me look like I understood.

At that point I was called back to the cottage as my Mistress and her parents were ready to go out for the day. Marnie walked back with me to retrieve her ball and we barked goodbye, with half a promise to meet up for a game in the evening.

Mistress's mother was quite keen to visit the town where she was born and grew up close to, Bovey Tracey, so Mistress and I hopped into The Gizmobile and followed her parents' car along the three miles of tiny winding lanes into the little market town. It was very pretty. We passed an agreeable hour visiting the shops, some old and fondly recalled by Mistress's mother, and some brand new. We also bought some flowers for the little churchyard where my Mistress's great-grandparents and great-aunt had been laid to rest and made a pretty arrangement on the gravestone. It was a very nice place to lie down after life has worn you out.

After that we went up onto Dartmoor proper and Mistress and I had our first REAL walk of the holiday. I remembered my lessons from last holiday (for a few weeks before we left Mistress took me on walks next to fields with animals living in them, so that I could practise behaving myself properly) and behaved myself very nicely with the crowd of ponies near the car park (THEY didn't behave themselves. They leaned against, and tried to fiddle with, The Gizmobile while we were on our walk and Mistress's father had to chase them away. They still left dirty nose-juice all over the car bonnet though. Rude beasties).

Because I had been a good girl, Mistress bought an ice-cream each for her and her parents from the ever-present Molly-Mac's van in Haytor car park (equally welcome hot cups of tea on offer in cold weather)

and I was allowed to share some. Yum-yum!

We were quite saddened though. Mistress and I like to do Dartmoor Letterboxing (Jasper liked it loads. I do too but I'm not yet as good as he was, but this was only my second time) and she owns TWO letterboxes. One was not too far from Haytor, above (well, a couple of miles away, but close enough), overlooking Bovey Tracey in the valley below and the house in which Mistress's late great-aunt lived (and she really WAS, from what I have heard, great in every noble sense of the term), in her memory - called "Auntie Win" (her name was Win Snow) - and another on a different part of the moor commemorating Jasper's late predecessors Jaki (a Jack Russell, but not a Parson one like me) and Tess (Tickle) called "The Gold of Friendship" (the stamp featured the profiles of both girls and the legend "The Gold of Friendship is a Wonderful Thing - The More We Spend it on Each Other, the Richer We Become"). Alas, BOTH have been stolen. A sadness.

Better fun shall follow....

Byeeeee! Love from Gisèle x

Monday, 28 October 2013

Saturday 26 October 2013

A lengthy absence.  Did you think we had all disappeared from the face of the Earth?!  And Gisèle only having done one entry of her holiday diary too...

I cannot explain our silence without being unacceptably indiscreet.  Gisèle is unable to maintain discretion, so she has not been told of the circumstances - and it is hard to explain without revealing too much.  Suffice it to say that my partner recently appeared in a public broadcast under an assumed name.  It had a profound effect on the audience and spiralled outwards (continuing to do so on some forums).  A further statement on the same programme; some attention from a tabloid newspaper and the attention of a UK Government Department.  My partner has stopped reading the online comments and debates - the majority are very touching and supportive.  Some, however, are downright unpleasant (probably courtesy of the online flamers and trolling communities) and are not worthy of a second glance.

This is all I will trust myself to bark.  There is much tiredness in this house, as huge storms afflicted our area last night - 99mph winds and torrential rain; the worst storms seen in this country since 1987.  Betty and Gisèle had to help my partner pull branches off the Gizmobile and out of the road so that they could go to work this morning...  All safe and well though, which is the main thing.

Barking of which, please see the image below from our friends at TheUncommonDog and keep safe this weekend...

...and I apologise for being vague...

Copyright All rights reserved by The Uncommon Dog

I told Gizzles that she should step up and write the second entry of her holiday diary - but she is tired, having been kept awake by the storm last night and woken early by the sound of chainsaws this morning.  Quite apart from that, Betty has rejoined us for the week and the two girls are playing and capering like nutters.  She says she will post it up tomorrow.  Hmmm... my hopes aren't high...

Good evening to you, nonetheless...

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Thursday 10 October 2013

A lovely, sunny, Autumn day this past Sunday - so much so that the French Windows stayed open for most of the day.

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...


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