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 ©