Savannah and Princess were heading in a somewhat determined fashion towards the crossroads first thing this morning...in the dark.
Himself took them home...sounds as though he held onto their head collars and clicked his teeth and said 'walk on' doesn't it, but I have a feeling he probably stood in front of them and shouted Whoa and waved his arms about...anyway...they went home, sort of, as in they wandered straight past and were last seen heading towards Adam's cottage.
I said didn't you call at Wendy's and tell her and he said the place was in darkness...apart from their Christmas tree, which was all lit up like...well, like a Christmas tree.
Now Wendy is in a muddle...she's had to spend the Christmas money on buying another car...Savannah has totally trashed the door to the stable...and Jason has a bad attack of the grumps. Which he would, when you think...
You see living in a little cottage out in the countryside requires a special sort of mindset...you need to be immune to mud. You have to turn a blind eye to strands of hay and straw all over your sitting floor when you've just that minute vacuumed...you honestly mustn't mind when the dog or dogs sit on the cushions you only washed yesterday when they've just been for a walk along a muddy lane and if you don't like small dogs munching happily on the bits of hoof the farrier took off on his last visit, then don't have animals that need hoof trimming.
You'll spend a feckin fortune on fuel...you can line your attic with that itchy stuff...you can line your curtains...you can put kitchen foil behind all the radiators and make everyone wear thick jumpers...and I'd be willing to bet you'll still sit close to your wood-burner or range and shiver.
Wellington boots will lie just inside the back door oozing unmentionables and you'll shriek if anyone dare come in and not take them off immediately and it won't make a blind bit of difference...your floor will still look as though you've not cleaned it for the last three months...
And you look out of your window and see land. It's all yours. It's a big piece of land actually and you have visions dancing in front of your eyes about neat rows of vegetables and pretty flowers...but it's full of reeds and rushes and enormous lumps of rock and when you walk round the perimeter you squelch and hear funny noises and go back indoors and have a nice cup of tea.
You'll put your dog biscuit outside the back door in a bowl and find the entire lot eaten...by foxes and badgers and feral cats and hedgehogs and next doors dog. Your dog will look at you pleadingly...please can I have some more? Those animals ate all mine.
Your dog will pick up ticks and fleas and it's coat will have horrible lumpy bits of fur that you'll have to cut off with scissors...it'll catch ear mites from foxes and fleas from feral cats and it'll chase tractors down the road...
You'll tell yourself you never will, but you'll recognise the sound of the neighbours cars and you'll know which tractor belongs to which farmer and you'll find yourself peering through your front room window at people walking past you don't know...
It pays to find a source of pallets...pallets are the cottagers friend. They make fencing and hen houses and dog kennels and stout gates, you practically have to have a huge saucepan on the simmer with soup and you need to find the cheapest possible source of hay and straw...delivered by a funny sort of bloke with a runny nose who has such a strong accent you can't understand a word...
You need to be immune to the Traveller lads in their Hiace vans, who'll bat their long lashes over dark blue eyes and leer, while trying to sell you a wheelbarrow or a metal fence or a power tool their Da nicked last night from a building site...
Of course I'm only thinking of the cottage life we lead...not a pretty thatched cottage on a village green somewhere in the heart of England where mud is unheard of and donkeys confined to the local sanctuary...our cottage life is fairly rough and ready actually...and I do feel for Wendy and Jason trying hard to lead the life but with the mindset of people living in suburbia...it doesn't matter you see...it doesn't matter if you don't have fitted carpets and proper skirting boards or your hen house is built from scrap wood...no-one will ever pay any heed.
It's different in the summer when front doors stand wide open and our street is a green haven of flowers and there's no mud in sight...when the fields are knee high in grass and it only begins to grow dark after eleven and the cuckoo calls and swallows swoop overhead...
But the winters are the testing time.