Alezane's Diary Archive November 2004
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Monday 1st November 2004
dark daysThat was one of the best Halloweens so far, since I've been at Ramsley. I cant tell you the number of children, sorry ghouls, that came an paid me a visit last night.. All, I might add, bearing gifts. Some had carrot and others polo mints. A few had chocolate thingies wrapped up in paper but they wouldn't let me have those, even when I offered to take them from them. they were a nice but a funny lot. They all had plastic masks on which were, in most cases, an improvement on their natural looks but they thought the masks made them look scary. If they had asked me, I would have told them just to keep the natural look that they wear when they go down the hill, past my stable, in the morning on the way to school. Some were carrying sort of broomsticks but if they had tried to clean a stable out with them they would have realised what rubbish they were. Others had glowing earrings or things that made a strange noise, rather like Wicked's tummy at times. The amount of black bin liners in evidence had to be seen to be believed. It is possible , of course, that their parents had finally got tired of them and had decided to put them out for the dust men. It was obvious from the lack of green plastic bags that none of them were considered worth re-cycling. But, whatever, I liked them. It made a really interesting evening just to talk to so many children whether they had treats with them or no. I will admit that I was not ravenously hungry by the time late stables came around but I did take my treats then, just so I didn't offend THEM.
So, today, we come to the start of a new month. It's funny but I noticed the other evening, when we were coming down Ramsley Lane , that I don't really mind now that it is Autumn and heading into Winter. I think it was a reluctance to giver up waiting for some summer to come this year that made the coming of Autumn so painful. We had some good weather early on in the year and then we seemed to be always waiting for Summer and it never came. Now that we have finally given up all hope and just accepted the change, Autumn is becoming enjoyable for what it is. The beautiful red leaves, the chimney smoke rising into the darkening evening sky and the lovely smell of the log fires in the air and, with it, that sort of Autumnal nostalgia that comes with this time of year with the hint of Christmas just hiding behind the corner. My life has just adjusted into the routine of up to Ninefields in the morning and back down to my stable in the late afternoon. I can relax all night, without the responsibility of looking after the two old guys overnight and look forward to rejoining them in the morning. Yes, so far, life is good. Just got to get past Guy Fawkes firework night now and then just the worry of frost on the road, which could stop me going out for the day.

Tuesday 2nd November 2004
along the stream”Remember, remember the second of November,
The month when it rained such a lot.
I'll always remember that day in November.
Oh fetlocks, I've gone and forgot!”

”You're getting to be quite a poet, Treg. What made you make that one up?”
”Something about the time of the year, Wick. For some reason, it just popped into my head.”
”And then rattled around in there I suppose?”
”No. It sat there for a bit and then asked to be let out, so I reckoned it must be about time now.”
”Sort of your bardic inspiration, I suppose. Is there anything else in there asking to come out?”
”Not at the moment, Wick. I've got a few tiny christmassy things but, as yet, they are only tiny flickers of an idea. There is something else much stronger in the back of my mind but I can't quite make it out yet.”
”It's not anything to do with Rachel and birthdays and stuff like that, is it?”
”Funny you should say that, Wick. No! But, now you mention it, there is a tiny little bell starting to tinkle about that.”
”Well, when it becomes a great big clanging sound, Treg, you better let that out because it's getting close now.”
”Right, Wick. I'll watch out for that. No, the other thing seems to be about burning and bright lights in the sky and big bangs. Stuff like that.”
”Thunderstorms? We've not had any of those for a long while now. Don't tell me you make up poems about thunderstorms?”
”Somehow, I don't think it is that, Wick. It has something to do with what humans do.”
”Oh, it's probably those loud big metal lumps that zoom about in the sky. Jelly Copters I think I heard HIM call them. Maybe they are going to catch fire or something and you are going to make a some really memorable poem to commemorate the event.”
”Yeah. I could try, couldn't I. Maybe that's where the ‘Remember, remember' come from. Let's see …

'Remember, remember, the Jelly Copter,
It burst into flames and ….

Oh fetlocks, nothing rhymes with Copter.”
”Can't you call it something else? How about the ‘Jelly Cop Plane'?”
”That's a good one, Wick. Let me try that …

‘Remember, remember, the Jelly Cop Plane,
It burst into flames and was not seen again
I'll always remember that terrible night
Cos my knees went all twitchy and my tail set alight!'

There! How about that, Wick?”
”I think I've heard worse, Treg. It's just I can't remember when.”
”There's only one thing, though, Wick. I don't feel that it's the right thing for just now. I think what I've got inside me is nothing to do with Jelly Copters. More to do with .. hey, I've got it. I think it is to do with fireworks.”
”Fireworks? Are you sure. They're not due ‘til November the fi…. Hey, Treg. What's the date?”
”Dunno Wick. Tuesday, I think.”
”Late as that, eh? I think this is a question for Alli. Leave it for now, Treg and we'll have to ask her when she comes along tomorrow morning.”
”O.K. Wick. It was getting a bit like hard work, anyway. Let's eat.”

Wednesday 3rd November 2004
fungiI don't know whether it has anything to do with ‘putting the clocks back' but it's getting very dim in the evenings, when we walk home. I had to stop a couple of times
to check things out before I was sure it was safe to walk on. First, as we were just getting up to Amber's place, on the way down to Dry Bridge . There are a few overhanging trees there and, at first, all I could see was some very unusual and therefore suspicious movement on the side of the road, coming towards me. Then, after I had stood quite still to try and make it out, it moved to the other side of the road. To make matters worse, a couple of cars passed me and then it and, after they had gone, another car came up the hill. By the time all this activity settled down, I could see that all it was, was a lady with two children and a big dog (a ridgeback, I think), who were going up onto Ramsley Common for a walk. Of course, HE laughed at me but you can never be too careful.
Then, as we walked down Ramsley Lane , just past Dave the garage man's house, I saw loads and loads of sparks flying in the dark at the bottom of the hill. Again I had to stand for a long time, enduring HIS taunts, until I could see for myself that it was just Dave the blacksmith grinding some metal. Just to rub salt into the wound, HE led me right up to the door to watch Dave working and, while we were doing it, I caught a glimpse of yet another Dave, who lives next door to the blacksmith, who was working in his dark garage with a torch on his head. However, as I saw him first (while HE was talking to Dave's (the last) dog, I totally ignored him and just carried on home.
Margaret, who lives next door to me, was just coming away from talking to HER and she slunk past me whispering that she had no apples in her pocket today. I just ignored her too. There is not much point in neighbours who make sparks, shine torches or who have no treats. I just carried on to my stable, where my supper was waiting.

Thursday 4th November 2004
It's a funny thing about rugs. They will keep you dry if you are dry. But, if you are Wicky, they just keep you wet. What I mean is, Wick has such a thick coat that it takes forever to get dry. So, when we have to have our rugs on, you are very lucky if Wicky's coat is dry to start with. If it is not, all the rug does is cause ones natural coat to get warm and to evaporate the wet within it. This, of course, gets trapped inside the rug and then gets returned to the natural coat, making it wet again. And so on. I know, I've told you all this before. Well, today, the forecasters said ‘sunshine all day' so THEY decided to morningtake Wick's rug off to try and dry him out a bit in the sun. And then SHE said, ‘let's take them all off. They can do with getting some air to their skin.' So that's what happened. HE took Wick and Treg's rugs off when HE went up to feed them this morning and I, who doesn't wear a rug at night, until the weather gets really cold, didn't have to have mine on. And the forecaster was right, for once. The sun was really nice and bright all day. By the end of the day, Wick's coat was almost dry HE was able to ruffle it up, when HE brought the evening buckets. I do have to admit though, it may have been a bit counter productive in my case as I just couldn't resist having a nice comfortable roll in the mud, as I didn't have my rug on. It is so relaxing and gets to all those itchy parts that Tregony fails to scratch for me. I may have looked nice and red and smart as HE walked me up the hill this morning but I am not sure HE was keen to bump into many people as he walked me home, all nice and muddy. The old boys are having their rugs put back on tonight as, at this time of year, the morning dew is quite heavy and Treg particularly does enjoy a good long lie in, in the morning. Hopefully, if the next few days are the same, we will get Wick's coat properly dry and we can get back to giving him, at least, a perfunctory groom in the morning. It may not show under his rug but it will help keep him a bit healthier.
I asked them, this morning, what they get up to in the night time, now that I am not there to guide them. Wicky said that they play a lot of games, not running about ones but ones that you have to think about. For example, things like ‘I spy, with my little eye' or ‘a is for apple, b is for bucket, c is for ..' I bet you cant guess that one. Treggy claims to be ever so good at these games, at least as far as ‘c' but Wick says that the trouble with ‘I spy' is that Treggy always picks the same thing, over and over and it does tend to get a bit monotonous. When I asked Treg about it, he said it's all part of a very cunning plan. First of all people don't expect you to always pick the same thing and then, when they do, you can always come up with something else and surprise them. That is, if they don't start biting your knees first. But still, they both agree, it passes the long autumn nights for them.

Friday 5th November 2004
berriesI had heard, a few days ago, that THEY were going to let me stay out, tonight, Guy Fawkes night, so that I would not be frightened by the sound of fireworks going off. The idea was that first, I would be further away from the noise; second, I would be with friends; and third, I would be able to run away, if I wanted to. Now, these all sound like very good and sensible reasons to me, especially as I would like to stay out anyway, the weather being dry and mild. I think what went wrong was that there were some very loud bangs last night, as some kids let some fireworks off, over the recreation ground just behind my stable, and I took no notice. THEY decided that if I acted like that with close up bangs, I would not be bother by bangs further away tonight. We are lucky in one way that there is a very big community fireshow put on at Sticklepath every November 5 th . This means that there is no need for each individual family to make a firework party of their own. For one thing, The entrance fee, even for a whole family, is a lot cheaper than the cost of buying your own fireworks. Apart from that, the fireworks at the show are so spectacular that an individual family display looks very tame by comparison. Some families still go ahead on their own but not very many. Our only problems are with the few silly children who think it is fun to go around letting them off in the park. The other good thing about the fireshow is that it is just that – a show. It is not just a bonfire and firework display, it is a play with giant puppets (like the ones common on the continent) which is performed on an elaborately built set with music and sound effects. At the end, the set, which has taken many man hours to build, is set alight and the firework spectacular occurs with this as a background. Now, it's not my kind of pleasure but humans, who like dressing up and making a noise, simply adore it.
So, tonight, like all other nights now, THEY came to fetch me. While HE was feeding the old boys and putting their coats on, Annabelle, Meadowsweet's human came by in her red car and stopped to talk to us. It makes me blush to talk about it but she was saying how her (Jacob's) sheep were ‘having their hair done' in preparation for the ram. No doubt you realise that this refers to trimming their rear end and not their heads! On the way home, their were some excited children at the vet's house which lays back under the approaches to Cosdon, two along from Amber's place. I expect they were having their own bonfire because they have the space and are so isolated there. While I was watching them, I heard a whinny and noticed Amber in next door's field. They have no horses there now so she often helps out there with a bit of grass tidying. There is an assortment of electric fence tape in that field, so she didn't come up to us. Maybe she could have and just didn't feel like it. It doesn't matter, we had said ‘hello'. And then, finally, I met the new boy Punch, as I walked down Ramsley Lane . He didn't stop however, because Roy, who was riding him, said he was a bit excitable as he had been riding in the field. He certainly looks like a worthy successor to Harry. Both very red (my favourite colour) and very tall. I expect we will get to know each other better as time goes by. So, now for my supper and a night of firework noises. no doubt THEY will come out and try to sooth me with carrots if I can manage to look upset enough.

Saturday 6th November 2004
pink clouds”Ere, Wick”.
”Yes, Tregony Bay , lifelong friend and admirer. What can I do for you now?”
”S'em Horses, Wick. An' all them dogs. What do you think they're doing?”
”You mean that crowd that rode past a while ago, with all those dressed up riders on them?”
”Yeah, they were smart, weren't they Wick? D'you think they was going to a dance or something?”
”No, Treg, not a dance. That was the hunt.”
”Oh, that's what they were. And what are they now?”
”No, Treg. I mean that is the hunt that was passing our field.”
”Ah, yes, I see Wick. That is the hunt. What is?”
”Now, Tregony. I am going to explain this. So listen very carefully. The ‘hunt' is a term for a group of people, horses and dogs who all get together and ride over the countryside looking for foxes to chase. They do this on a sort of regular basis on what they call ‘meets'. It's part of the fabric of the countryside and it keeps lots of people employed.”
”Oh, I see. It's a good thing we've got foxes then, isn't it, Wick?”
”Alli used to do it when she was young. It's sort of an apprenticeship for the kind of racing where they have to jump over fences.”
”Cor. Do you mean we've got to thank the foxes for racing as well. They are useful, aren't they.”
”Well, not all racing, Treg, only the sort where they have to jump.”
”Couldn't they make their race tracks in places where there weren't any fences. Then they wouldn't need to jump at all.”
”I don't think you understand, Treg. They build the fences on purpose. The tracks are on flat courses and they employ people to dig the ditches and build the fences as high and wide as they want them.”
”You know, if I was a fox, I'd want some sort of thank you for keeping all these people employed. What do they get when the hunt catch up with them?”
”Well, Treg. The hunt doesn't always catch up with them because foxes are what people call ‘sly' and ‘wily'.”
”Does that mean cleverer than people, Wick.”
”Now, Treg, you ought to know that there is nothing cleverer than people.”
”How do you know that, Wick?”
”They told me, Treg. No, I am afraid if the hunt does catch up with the fox then they kill it.”
”Ow! What do they do that for, Wick. That's no way to thank it for all the pleasure and employment it gives them, not to mention preserving the countryside way of life.”
”Well, you see, Treg. They say that the fox is a pest. It is horrible and evil and savage.”
”Who says that, Wick? People? Why do they say that?”
”Well, Treg. For a start, they claim that the fox kills and eats the lambs and chickens, before …”
”Before what, Wick?”
”Before they can kill and eat them.”
”Oh, I see. But I thought they were cleverer than foxes?”
”Ah, but they also say that foxes sometimes kill the animals and don't eat them.”
”Do the people eat the foxes they kill, Wick?”
”I knew I shouldn't have stated this, Treg. Tell you what. You ask Alli, when she comes. As she was in the hunt once, she can explain it better than I can.”
”I expect she can, Wick. Alli is nearly as clever as people, isn't she?”
”Yes, Treg. And she's bigger than us, as well. That helps!”

Sunday 7th November 2004
leaves”Excuse me, Alli?”
”Yes, Tregony, what can I do for you?”
”Well, I've been thinking, Alli.”
”Oh, I wouldn't advise that, Treg, you know how it makes you feel all funny.”
”Yes, it does. It has. It's just that I was talking with Wicky and …”
”Hmm. That's another dangerous thing, Treg. You've not been asking his advice again, have you?”
”Er, well, I did ask him about something, Alli.”
”There, you see. Now you've gone and got all confused again, haven't you?”
”Well, Wicky did say that I should get you to explain it.”
”Oh, he did? That's nice of him. I will have to remember that. Well, Tregony. Let's see if we can un-confuse you. What is it you want to know?”
”Just, er, all about fox hunting.”
”ALL about fox hunting? ALL?”
”Or even a little bit, if that's asking too much, Alli.”
”It's not asking too much, Treg. But it could well put us way past the understanding barrier, if you know what I mean. Let's just take it in easy stages. What's your first question?”
”Ah, I see Alli. The hardest ones first, eh? Well, em, let me see. I think what I don't understand most is why people kill the foxes instead of thanking them?”
”But that is the whole point, Treg. The fox has got to be killed.”
”But, if they kill them all, there wont be any more hunting, will there?”
”But they don't kill them all, do they. They always leave some, so they can hunt again.”
”But, how do they decide which ones to kill and which ones to save?”
”Well, you see, Treg. They are really only helping natural selection on its way. They kill the old and the sick foxes, so that they wont die of illness or starvation.”
”But, I thought they killed the foxes because they ate their lambs and chickens?”
”That's right, Treg. The fox is just vermin and has to be destroyed.”
”But if they only kill the sick and old ones, wont the young, fit ones kill more of their lambs and chickens?”
”You're not getting this, are you Treg? I can see that we are going to have to start right at the very beginning.”
”Oh. please, Alli. That would help enormously.”
”Right. Well, there are people and there are the animals that people like to rear and look after to…”
”… to kill. That's right, isn't it, Alli?”
”That's right, Treg. And then there are other animals that people don't keep and kill. Now these animals are bad, Treg. There's foxes and badgers and bird raptors and …”
”You didn't say anything about badges and rattors before, Alli. I think you are making it more complicated not easier.”
”It's all part of the countryside, Treg. You see, the badgers are bad as well because they give the cows bovine TB. And the hawks tend to kill the birds that people want to kill. Do you understand now?”
”Isn't bovine TB another word for cow's TB?”
”That's right, Treg. My word, you are getting clever.”
”But, if it's the cow's TB, aren't they the ones who are giving to the badges?”
”Badgers, Treg. Badgers. Think of bad. That'll help you remember.”
”I would have thought that the people should be very angry with the cows for making the bad badgers ill. And they ought to be very pleased with the forks for killing the birds for them. You know, Alli. You've been very kind and helpful, you know, but I don't think that I will ever understand people.”
”Few of us can, Treg. I think you should stop worrying about it and just let them get on with it, eh?”
”I think that's probably the most helpful thing that you've said, Alli. Thank you. I'll tell Wicky that he was right to tell me to come to you. I won't forget.”
”No, Treg. And tell Wicky, neither will I!”

Monday 8th November 2004
poniesI don't know where to start, today. This morning I thought I would have some terrible news which turned out not so bad, after all. And then, just as I walked into our place in Ramsley Lane , I heard some different terrible news. I think that is where I will start while it is still fresh in my mind. You remember that I told you about poor Harry being put down and then his humans getting another horse, Punch ‘on trial'. Each time we saw them THEY would ask if Punch was going to stay and we would get the same answer that they were not sure yet. We all put it down to the difficulty of giving your heart to another, so soon after Harry's death. The last we heard was that Punch was doing well and didn't seem to have the faults that they were expecting about being on his own and so on. They said they were expecting the vet to come and check out his breathing, as it seemed to give him some trouble now and then. Tonight, while HE walked me down the hill, SHE drove home and stopped for a chat outside what we still call Harry's house. And when we got home, SHE told us that Punch had had to be put down as well! Apparently an old operation he had had for his breathing had gone wrong or something. I only saw him the once, close up, when we passed the other day. If you remember I told you how tall, red and handsome he was. You would never have guessed such a tragic end would come his way. Roy is most upset because he got most attached to him, as he did the riding to check Punch out and train him round our roads. I just don't know what to say. I just feel very, very sad.
The other thing today was to do with Harriet the cat. She has been unwell now for quite a long time and is taking I don't know how many pills a day. This morning THEY were both walking about with tears in their eyes. HE told me about it as we walked up the hill to Ninefields. Harriet became bad yesterday, having great difficulty breathing and choking as if she was drowning. HE didn't say anything last night but Harriet wasn't eating and HE decided that she should go to the vets today. SHE was thinking the same thing and they both determined this morning that if she wasn't any better, she would have to be put down. I don't know how HE walked me up the road as HIS eyes were full of tears and Treg and Wick told me that HE was the same when HE fed them this morning. Anyway, this evening – good news. Or, at least, not terrible news. The vet just increased Harriet's pills and sent her home. She is still very ill but at least she is still with us.
Isn't life a sad thing, sometimes?

Tuesday 9th November 2004
Harriet died todayThe leaves are going fast now. I won't say falling, although they must be, but they are not noticeable in the sky, just on the ground. Particularly down by our stream where the fallen leaves are a very bright red and they appear quite thick on the grass and then thin out up to the water's edge with a few actually in the water and some just floating along. It was a bit brighter this afternoon and I didn't need my reflective yellow leggings on to walk HIM home. I've noticed before how HE says that HE walks me home. Nonsense! It's me walking him home. And, what a mess HE makes of it. HE has no idea of the etiquette of not walking and eating at the same time. It's funny because HE gets it right on the way up the hill to Ninefields. Then, HE always makes two eating stops and we don't start walking on again until we have finished. At least, I should say, until I have finished. But, on the way home. HE seems to have the idea that I can just snatch a mouthful of carrot and just keep on walking. Of course, I don't. And then, when I stop, HE gets quite upset and says that we should keep walking and tries to pull my lead rein. That's really no problem as I just have to raise my head very high and it pulls it back again. No, it's more the principle of the thing. In the end, we come to some sort of compromise with him pulling less and me stopping for a shorter time. It means that I have to eat quicker but I sort of rise to the occasion.
No better news about Harriet, I'm afraid. I gather the whole day has been spent in bouts of indecision mixed with vain hope and utter sadness. She doesn't seem to be eating anything and only has a few sips of water. I wish there was something better to report. HE took some photos of her today as she lay with her uncle PC and her brother Tom. HE felt it somehow ghoulish as she doesn't look like being with us much longer but, at the same time, it was nice to see her cuddled up with her family.


That last was written at about 4.50 pm. Harriet died at about 5.30 pm . She ran out of breath and THEY decided to call the vets. The vets said that they would send someone at once, and Roger came about 5.25. He was really kind. Harriet fought until the end. Roger decided that an injection straight into the kidneys, was the quickest and kindest. Harriet jumped once and then her tongue came out but she still had a reflex action on her eyes and Roger found she still had a heart beat. But the Harriet that THEY knew had gone, long before. The Harriet who would sit and watch and learn how to open doors and cupboards, the Harriet who would insist on a cupboard door being open even when THEY shut it, that Harriet had gone. It was just her fit heart that insisted on staying, way after the real Harriet had gone. But finally, it was left to Roger to curl her up in his arms and say that he would look after her and that he and Deborah would open a bottle of wine and toast Harriet's life. And that was the end of her. Tom and PC came downstairs about 7.30pm and sniffed the chair where she died. PC is asleep there now. I think that both cats knew, before HE and SHE knew, that it was the end for Harriet. Now Tom has gone and cuddled up to PC.

Good night Harriet, you were such a lovely creature. We will all miss you so much.

Wednesday 10th November 2004
leaves in water”Here, Treg.”
”Yes Wicky?”
”Say something funny, Treg. Cheer us up a little.”
”I can't even raise a smile, Wick. Nothing is even a little amusing today, is it?”
”Harriet was a very bright person, Treg. She wouldn't expect us to be miserable.”
”How do you know, Wick. Did you ever meet her?”
”Yes, I did once. Do you remember when I was taken down to Alli's stable for a bath? It was then. She came out of the house to meet me.”
”Oh yes, I remember. We both had to go and have a bath, didn't we?”
”Yes. It was a very good one. We haven't needed one since, have we?”
”Well, if you ask HER, I think SHE'd tell you that we haven't had one since, not that we haven't needed one.”
”Do you think she would make such a fine distinction? I'm sure if we had needed one SHE would have made us go down to the house again. I know for myself, I haven't felt the need. Have you?”
”No Wick. For myself no. But you? Well? I don't like to mention personal hygiene and that but …”
”Oh, shut up laddie. That's not what we were talking about. No, I remember Harriet, sitting on that blue car of THEIR's and chatting very friendly like. She didn't seem the type to be miserable.”
”I don't really remember her. All I can remember is all that soap getting in my eyes and that nasty smell when they washed it all off.”
”I think that nasty smell was you, Treg. That's what we do smell like when we haven't got a nice layer of mud and stuff to cover it.”
”Really? Ughh! I'm glad we don't have to bathe to often then.” Their are some nice clean natural smells which aren't at all bad but that soap stuff. Dead whales, isn't it?”
”Something like that, Treg. Well, that's humans for you.”
”You know, Wick. I'm glad we had this little bit of a chat. I'm feeling a bit better now. I'm still sad for Harriet but somehow, it's like life has to go on. I wonder how those other cats are taking it?”
”A bit lost, I expect. They would have known that she wasn't well for a long time so maybe they accept that she has gone. But that still doesn't fill the gap, does it?”
”No. I heard HIM say this morning that she was only a little cat but somehow the house seems very empty without her. Some personalities are like that, aren't they? They seem to fill your life. Not obtrusively. In fact, you don't even notice it until they are not there any more. HE told me this morning that Harriet was one of those. Bright, loving, intelligent and full of fun – until the end. In a way, that is a lovely way to remember her.”
You're right there, Treg. I expect they will say the same about you, when you go.”
”Oh, I'm not going anywhere, Wick. I quite like it here, you know. It's taken me all these years to realise what I can be. I don't have to hide in the shadows any more. I can just come right out and stand up for myself.”
”That's quite right, Treg. Pity though.”
”What's a pity, Wick?”
”All those bitten knees that you're going to get, if you do.”
”Ah, yes, those. Well, maybe I'll just sort of do it quietly. To myself. On my own. In a corner. Away from everyone. How would that be, Wick?”
”Very good, Tregony. All those assertiveness classes are paying off, at last!”

Thursday 11th November 2004
Throwlieh Road lightsI stood watching the buzzard today. They are so graceful, as they soar on the wind currents, hardly ever moving their wings and going round and round and up and down. I know that they are probably searching for food but they always make it look as if it is pure pleasure. And today, as quite often, this one was being mobbed by rooks or crows and, again, making it appear as if it were all a wonderful game. And maybe it is? The buzzard is perfectly capable of getting away from the smaller birds, either going faster or higher. But it never seems to bother. Having other birds hurtling all round and just edging slightly one way or another to avoid them, looks the most tremendous fun and a display of aerobatic skill. Because they fly so high, it is hard to tell one from another but I am sure it is the same family that we have over Ninefields. Ever since the spring there have been three of them and, even now, the youngster seems quite content to hang around. They do, obviously, fly low, when they fly down to catch their prey. Then we often stop from our grazing for a while to admire them. At first you see nothing and then they catch your eye, dropping like a stone. Sometimes they will pull out of their dive, at the last minute and just zoom, low over the fields and hedges. Other times they will come right down and pounce, snatching their prey and then up again and away to a safe place to eat. We have never found out where they nest in the spring or which particular roost they use for the rest of the year. Possibly it is high up on Cosdon, that is where HE has seen the ravens, although not for a while now for he hasn't been up the bridle path to the moor for quite some time.

I am now waiting for some sight of our other visitors. It seems ages since I saw a rabbit or deer or even a fox. And the rats that used to nest in our field shelter have yet to make an appearance. The weather, now, is still very mild. It has got a bit colder, particularly some nights when the clouds stay away and the moonlight illuminates the sky. But, on the whole, although the days are grey, rather like living inside a cloud, the temperature is still high enough to keep the grass growing. HE tells me that there is a house quite near the Throwleigh Road with a very big garden that has had some landscaping work done with a tractor, moving the earth all over the place. And, in the space of a week from having levelled it, the bare earth greened all over and now, after a couple of weeks, you wouldn't know from a distance that the work had been done at all. Mind you, I could have told HIM that or he should have known from the way the full hay nets in the field shelter are not being emptied. Hay is all right, if there is nothing else. I have to eat it every night in my stable in Ramsley Lane . But if you are out in the fields, why eat hay when the grass is still growing?

Friday 12th November 2004
colourful leavesTalking of colours, what a wonderful colour red is. Particularly chestnut red. The French have a word for it, I believe? Oh, alright, we weren't talking of colours but we should be. With the skies so terribly grey lately, you'd expect the world to be looking very sombre and sad for itself. But, when I walked home from Ninefields tonight, I couldn't help noticing how wonderful the reds were. Of course, this time of year, the leaves have turned red. Our walk along the Throwleigh Road is particularly colourful because there are lots and lots of beech hedges as well as some wonderful trees. Then there are the fallen leaves. I mentioned these the other day, the ones that have fallen by our stream. Well, along the road there are lots and lots more. And then, the gutters. It looks like mud but in fact it is pulverised leaves that have been mixed with the water that normally flows in the gutters and then crushed and mashed all together to make this wonderful rich red soggy stuff which lines the road edges. If you lift your eyes up from the roadside and past the hedges, up to the moorland on one side and Ramsley Common on the other, you get to enjoy the bright red acres of dead bracken, carpeting the earth instead of grass. And, by the time you have enjoyed all this colour, you have walked the half a mile with no thought of grey skies at all and you are home to a nice welcoming stable with a full bucket of supper.
THEY were out shopping at our local Country Store Mole Avon this morning. They go there on a fairly regular basis as it is the source of our feed and grooming stuff etc. Anyway, inside the store there is a large notice board with post cards and other notices of item for sale by the public. It is where, a few years ago, HE saw the advert for his old blue Suzuki jeep that he uses to carry stuff up to Ninefields and to feed the old guys in the mornings. Today THEY noticed a sheet of paper with details of a 18.1hh Hanoverian x TB, 11 year old gentleman looking for a new home. There was a photograph too, apparently, which, HE told me, would have got me quite excited as he was also red with a proper white blaze. Now, 18.1hh is a big, big boy and I would certainly be interested in him coming to stay with us. However, that, I'm afraid, was not what HE had in mind. HE took down the details and posted them through the door of Faith & Roy, who have recently lost Harry. SHE doesn't think it will come to anything because, although they like big horses, SHE thinks that 11 years old is too old for them. It is a shame because it would be lovely to have a big handsome boy in the field next to us. He may be too old for Faith but he would make me a nice toy boy! Oh well, dream on girl.

Saturday 13th November 2004
frosty leavesThe first frost of the winter. When HE came out, first thing, to see me and give me a carrot, HE fist noticed that it was a bit chilly and then saw that the little green car that sits in front of my stable, was cover in frost. What? I didn't tell you about this extra little treat I get? It's something HE started last winter, when I was brought in at night. I think HE just likes to come out and say hello, while the kettle is boiling for his first cup of coffee of the day and, of course, there's not much point coming to talk to me empty handed (or, at least, that's what I told HIM) so HE just grabs a carrot from the fridge when HE goes to get the milk for his drink. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the frost. I did notice it was a bit cooler last night but, of course, it didn't worry me. I may have a thinner coat than Treggy or Wicky but I am still much warmer blooded than a human. In fact, the weather these days is much more comfortable for us than when it's hot and the flies bite us to bits. A funny thing though, HIS old blue jeep which is parked on the other side of the front path, in front of the kitchen window, was not touched by the frost at all. HE thinks it might be due to the heat from the house keeping it warm but I know it is due to the direction of the cold north wind.
We had a lovely sunny day today and spent most of it up in the high fields. We went up there early in the day because that's where the sun catches first and so the frost was gone off the grass by the time I got to Ninefields. The Throwleigh Road field and the home paddock are low lying and so don't get the sun this time of year until much later in the morning. And that's just the days that we do see the sun. By this afternoon, Treggy and I started to wander down to meet THEM when THEY came to bring the old boys' buckets and bring me home. Wicky, I think, was so engrossed in his grazing (one of his favourite pastimes) that he didn't notice us going. When THEY did arrive, THEY were very surprised not to see Wicky standing at his usual place at the gate. I think THEY were a bit worried because Wicky does so love his food that he always makes a point of waiting right at the gate, even when Treg and I are grazing some way off. After looking around for a bit, SHE noticed a white blob high up in the fields and called out to Wicky. He must have heard and finally noticed that he was all alone and that the buckets had arrived. Wick gave one very loud shout and came galloping down the field. And, I do mean gallop. I think that THEY have never seen Wicky move so fast. In fact, he got to the field shelter before Treggy and HIM walked up with the food buckets and he gave HIM a look which seemed to say ‘where were you?'. As HE walked back up to the road, HE said to HER, ‘well, Wicks certainly not lame any more, is he?'

Sunday 14th November 2004
leading Alli and riderWell, that was interesting, wasn't it? Instead of the boring old walk down the hill with HIM leading me tonight we had me giving this nice young chap a ride down the road. I must admit that I think that I recognised him fro last summer. He came for a visit then with some friends and I know he like s to drink the nice fresh water from our stream. It was quite a surprise when he turned up as I wasn't expecting him. HE never tells me anything of interest or importance. I heard THEM say his name, James. I remember that from the summer. James likes to come and see me but has never ridden me until today. He was with another person who, I later learned, was his father, Dean. When THEY turned up this evening to get me and bring the old fellows buckets, James followed HIM down to the field shelter when HE took the buckets and then came back up to where SHE was telling Dean all about the way that we live here. Then, the next thing that I know , is that I am being led up to the mounting block and James is clambering onto my back. Well, I have given rides to all the grandchildren but this is the first time to one of them that is so big. No problem though. He must weigh almost two thirds of HIS weight and I can carry HIM with no problem at all. So, off we go and to be quite honest I was more concerned that I got my usual carrot treats than the fact that I was carrying this six foot (18 hands) male person. To his credit he didn't do anything silly and we all ended up at my stable with no problems. I then went in to eat my supper and they went in to eat theirs. I am not sure if they didn't get enough, however, because later in the evening, James and Dean went off down the road, presumably to the pub, that being the only place open at that time of night. Maybe they have better hay there or something. Anyway, I decided to keep my ears open for them to come home singing. I will let you know what happened in my next report.

Monday 15th November 2004
”Alli, can I ask you something?”
”You just have, Treg.”
”When was that, Alli? Oh, …ha ha, very funny, I see what you mean.”
”Do you, Treg? That's a first, isn't it?”
”No, come on, Alli. It was me that wanted to ask the question.”
”When was that, Treg?”
”You're doing it again, Alli. Don't confuse me, please.”
”Alright Treg, let's start again, shall we?”
”Right. Now, what was it? Oh yes. Alli, can I ask you a question?”
Treg in a mist”Yes? Just like that? Just Yes?”
”That's two questions, Treg.”
”No. No, no, no! What I wanted to ask you was …”
”Was what, Treg?”
”Where is fairyland?”
”Where is fairyland? That's an odd question, Treg. Especially for a grown up and they don't come a lot more grown up than you.”
”But I need to know, Alli.”
”Why's that then?”
”Well, this morning, I was feeling a little bit sleepy, so I took a long while going up into the field shelter after HIM to get my breakfast.”
”I can understand that, Treg. We all get a bit sleepy from time to time.”
”Yes, well, then, after breakfast, HE came up to me with a carrot and I didn't really fancy it.”
”Now that is a bit odd, Treg, I would say. Wouldn't you?”
”Yeah, but I was feeling a little sleepy still.”
”What, even after you ate your breakfast?”
”I don't know what it was. I just walked off down to the stream, had a drink and then went wandering along the bank of the stream.”
”Why did you do that?”
”To tell you the truth, I don't know. I usually stay with HIM eating treats until HE says ‘I've got to go and get your Alli, now' and then I walk in front of HIM and wait the other side of the stream while HE washes the buckets out, so I can get another treat, as HE walks up to the gate.”
”And, instead of that you just ambled along the bank of the stream? Very odd, I'd say, Treg. Very odd.”
”Yeah. Well that's just what Wicky said. He said I was off in fairyland and all the time I thought I was in the Throwleigh Road field along the stream. Now, I couldn't be in the two places at the same time, could I?”
”Ah, Treg. Well there, I'm afraid you're wrong. It is perfectly possible to be somewhere that you know and in fairyland at the same time. Sometimes people call it ‘being away with the fairies', it's the same thing, you see.”
”But, other times when I've told Wicky about the fairies, he just laughs at me and tells me to grow up. How come he says that and then say's that I am in fairyland? It's all a bit confusing for a chap.”
”Ah, there you have it, Treg. Confusing, the very word. Fairyland is right next door to confusing. It seems you do understand, after all.”
”Er, do I Alli? Well that's comforting. I'll have to tell Wicky that. He'll be ever so proud of me.”
”I'm sure he will Treg. And don't forget to tell him you understand about why it's childish to talk about the fairies, as well.”
”No, I won't Alli. Er, do I? I'm not really sure … I don't think.”
”Don't worry, Treg. It will come to you. Just go down and graze along the banks of the stream again. I think you will find it is magic.”

Tuesday 16th November 2004
James and Alli”Wicky?”
”Aye, Treggy, my old ‘dances with fairies' friend?”
”Wicky, Alli said …. “
”Never you mind what Alli said, my friend. You can't help it. It's just the way your dam nipped your knees.”
”No, Wick. Alli said …”
”You don't want to go listening to women, Treg. They have their own agenda for everything. If she told you …”
”… no, Wick. She didn't say anything about genders or anything. She was telling me all about …”
”… about the fairies. I know, Treg. She have you believe that you're going senile, wouldn't she?”
”Don't you think I'm going senile, Wick?”
”Oh no laddie, of course not. How could you? You went there years ago.” “Well, Alli said I should walk along the bank of the stream and I'd find magic.”
”And have you?”
”I, I'm not sure, Wick. You see, I don't know what I am looking for. Not really. I've heard some people say that the fairies are like those damsel flies we get on the stream. You know, with those pretty shimmery wings and everything. But it seems to be the wrong season for them. I only ever see them in the summer. But then others say that they look like those bright red leaves that we see twisting and twirling down from the trees. Now, I've seen a lot of those but although they are pretty, they don't seem like magic. At least, they look like magic but once they hit the ground or the stream, they don't do anything. I suppose the ones that land in the stream do carry on twirling in the water but they don't say anything. At least, not to me.”
”Maybe you're trying too hard, Treg. Instead of searching and worrying about finding fairies and magic, you should just wander about in your usual fashion and they might come to you.”
”Do you think that will work, Wick? I mean, I have been wandering about in my usual fashion for well over 30 something years now and I have never been spoken to by a real live fairy yet.”
“Ah, but how do you know you haven't, Treg? There must have been days when everything in the world seemed just perfect. Maybe the sun was shining but there were no flies or there was the sweet smell of hay on the wind. Or maybe you just felt great after having been out for an exhilarating ride?”
”Er, I was never allowed any of those ex rated things, Wick. It was only for the big bays, I was told.”
”Well, you know what I mean. Those times when life was just perfect.”
”Like biting into a bucket of short feed, you mean?”
”Well, no or maybe, in your case, yes. That's it. Maybe the fairies are there when you have your buckets. It's them that are making it so good for you.”
”Oh dear. And I never knew. If I had known I could have offered them some, couldn't I?”
”That's very kind, Treg, but I don't think you need bother. I don't think fairies eat the same things that we do.”
”So, that's it, is it? Only Alli said … “
”There you go again. Alli said this, Alli said that. When will you grow up Treg. Be a man and do your own thinking. And if you cant do that, let me think for you.”
”But how about those time when you tell me to go and ask Alli?”
”Yes, Wicky?”
”Just shut up, will you. Go and talk to the fairies!”

Wednesday 17th November 2004
Alli goes indoorsThings are looking up a bit now. When I came home, last night, I could tell as soon as I walked into our front yard. From somewhere there was a lovely sweet yeasty smell that brought memories of summer, flooding into my head. I looked around and it definitely seemed to be coming from my stable. As soon as THEY finished cleaning my feet and undoing my rug and all that, I marched smartly indoors to find that, as well as my bucket, my hay rack was full of the most wonderful smelling stuff. I didn't touch it straightaway because my bucket was there and, as they say, a nozzle in a bucket is worth two on the ground, so I tucked into my supper with double enjoyment, smelling my hay rack while I was doing it. When I was finished, I moved over to the rack and took a tentative nibble. It was luxury. Not only sweet and tasty but also young and soft, not like that nasty, hard hay THEY appear to have bought me this year. Well, as you can imagine, I had quite a comfortable night, last night. In fact, I was forced to leave a little, whether because it was so filling or because SHE hasn't got the quantities right yet, I'm not really sure. When I asked HER this morning, it appears that THEY had been worried about my coughing in the stable. THEY also were aware of the amount of dust in this year's hay and had been trying to do something about it by shaking it out, while I was away out at Ninefields and then wetting it down, just before I came home. Although THEY had been doing this ever since I came in at night, I still was coughing quite a bit when they came to me in the morning. So, THEY have decided to give me a try on what is called ‘haylage', which is a form of hay which is specially grown and cut young and packed into sealed plastic bags. It is supposed to be completely dust free and full of goodness. SHE also found that SHE had bought the more tender of the two varieties which is, apparently more full of fattening energy stuff than the other kind. It wont surprise me if SHE changes it for the other, tougher sort next time so I better enjoy this while I can. My only complaint is that SHE is doing what they say to do on the package, which is to mix it with ordinary hay for the first couple of weeks so that I will gradually get used to it. The trouble I have sorting it out to get at the good stuff is quite a nuisance. That's typical of humans, isn't it. Never can just do something good and leave it at that. They have to go and try and spoil it somehow.
Just one more piece of news. I told you on Sunday about Dean and James coming to visit us. Well, apparently Dean got to see the photo of me going into the kitchen in the mornings to get my sugar cubes off the table. As HE took the photograph from outside, all you can see of me is my rear view. So Dean has been posting this picture to his friends in e-mails with a caption which says (only in less polite terms) ‘a nice lady's rear view'. He has e-mailed to say that these e-mails have all been opened very quickly although he failed to how pleased the recipients were with my picture. Anyway, can't stop now, I've got a date with my new haylage.

Alli coming into her stableThursday 18th November 2004
Wet and windy. That's it. I really should stop there because that's all that can be said about today. And particularly about tonight. Walking home along the Throwleigh Road was just a long wet slog. The only thing of note was Amber who seemed to be in very good voice today. She shouted out to us not once but three times. She was so insistent that I felt obliged to try to reply but, I don't know if I have told you before, I have very little voice. If you stood a long way away, you would think I was shouting my head off but as you got closer you would realise that although I look as if I am shouting, very little if any sound comes out. It was quite embarrassing tonight because I had to let HIM do his horse imitations to respond for me. Goodness knows what Amber thinks. Probably just feels sorry for me having to put up with HIM.So, what else can I tell you about today? Oh yes, I remember. It wasn't today it was yesterday but I forgot to tell you about it what with all the excitement about my new haylage. Do you remember I was saying a few day7s ago how we hadn't see many of our old friends lately. You know, the deer, the rats and so on. Well, first of all as we got to Ninefields yesterday there was one of the pheasant phamily running across the home paddock. I couldn't tell which one it was because they were a way away and moving so fast. It may not have been anyone that we know, just another one of that lot. I expect we will see in due course. And then there was the even more interesting bit of news. As I came out of my stable yesterday there was quite a commotion going on in the sky. We are quite used to swarms of crows or rooks mobbing the buzzards as they fly over but this wasn't a buzzard, you could tell. At first it seemed that they were chasing one of their own and then it became obvious that the one being chased was much bigger. It obviously wasn't worried by the birds who were chasing it and it out flew them with ease. Once it was on it's own, it didn't look particularly big but as soon as it's tail was visible I could see that it was a raven. It's funny but when they are on their own they could be a smaller bird flying lower. It is only the diamond shaped tail that gives them away. Later on, when we got down the road, I could see that it was accompanied by its mate – two ravens out for a bit of fun annoying the lowland birds. No doubt when they were finished they made their way back up to the high moor. It was very nice seeing them again. It was my first sighting for a long while.

kids in cartFriday 19th November 2004
I've been getting in a bit of trouble lately, when THEY come up to bring me home. What it is concerns the pecking order around the gate. Because I am such a well mannered lady, I always stand well back, sometimes right in the middle of the field. Similarly, because he is the little pig that he is, Wicky always stands drooling at the gate. And, until lately, Tregony has known his place and stands somewhere well away. It is not so much us greeting THEM as the fact that THEY always come with a little treat for each of us, a couple of apple biscuits for Wick (because of his poor teeth) and an end of carrot for Treg and myself. The system was that HE would give Wicky his biscuits and SHE would give me my carrot and put my head collar on at the same time, the idea being to stop me following HIM when HE carries their buckets down to the field shelter, before walking me home. Now, this arrangement worked fine until lately when Treg has started to get rather assertive. Instead of standing back he has been standing right up at the gate to get his carrot first. It got so bad that I was ending up as last one to get a treat and those two were well on their way to getting their supper before I had even got my first bite. I stood this for a while but then it really started to irritate me and for the last few nights I have been stirred into doing something about it. First I warned Wicky in a threatening but harmless sort of way. The next night I was really incensed with Tregony who blatantly stood right in front of me. I bit his bum hard and he soon got out of my way. The trouble is, Treg (as you may well have noticed for yourselves) is really not too bright and he tends to forget. And Wicky cant stand Treg going first either so he has got rather pushy lately as well. It has ended up with me just charging and nipping whoever is in range and then waving my back leg about in a threatening manner. The problem with this is that all I get is a mouthful of rug and the bad ones get away scot free while I get called Mrs Grumpbum and scolded all the way down the road. I'm not sure what the answer is yet but I will work on someway of making things return to their rightful order. In the meantime those two old boys had better watch themselves. I may not want to be dominant mare but I am sure as oats not going to be subservient to a pair of old has beens. Not a lady of my breeding.

Treg is amazedSaturday 20th November 2004
”Ere, Treg?”
“One moment, Wick.”
“What do you mean ‘one moment'? I called you, you should come, right away.”
“In a minute, Wick. I'm not ready yet.”
“ Tregony Bay . Come here this instant!”
“In a minute.”
“This is downright defiance. You'll be sorry, Tregony.”
“Na, I don't think so. I'd be more sorry if I did.”
“Just you wait until I tell Alli. Then you'll be for it.”
“Don't care. Do what you like. I'm not bothered.”
“What on earth has got into you, Treg?”
“Just a min … Oh, all right. But only because you asked nicely. I've been taking assertiveness lessons from that bull in the next field. He's been telling me that I've got to stick up for myself more.”
“But … I mean … does that mean you ….”
“… wont just do what I'm told. Yes, that's right. Got it in one, Wick. No more Mr Nice Treg. I'm going to stand up for myself from now on.”
“But why? Who's been upsetting you. Surely not me, your best mate, eh Treg?”
“It's not to do with any one particular, Wick. Brian (that's the bull) says it's a state of mind. Who is always last to his bucket? Me! Who can't stand up at the gate when THEY come along? Me! Who has to stand outside the field shelter when it's tipping down with rain? Me! And it's all my fault. I see it now. Brian says that it's just my own attitude that's stopping me from putting myself first.”
“This Brian seems to be a bit of a trouble maker if you ask me. What else has he been saying?”
“He says that I've got to start a campaign of civil disobedience.”
“Does he? And are you going to?”
“I'm thinking about it.”
“And have you made up your mind yet?”
“Oh yes. I've decided that I'm going to think about it. And I'm going to go on thinking about it until I understand it.”
“Oh. Some things don't change then.”
“Well, you see Wick. It's alright if I decide to think about it. What's wrong is if someone else tells me to think about it.”
“Then what do you do?”
“I'm not sure yet, Wick, I have to think about it.”
“Er, but you said … Oh well, never mind. Tell me, will this civil disobedience conflict with your duties in the Human Watch?”
“Er, no. Or yes. Well maybe. I wont do it at the same time. When I'm off duty I will be disobedient but when I am on duty I will do as I'm told.”
“That's not very assertive, is it Treg?”
“Oh fetlocks! Why is life so complicated? What if I assert that I will do as I am told? Will that count?”
“Treg, you can't count so there's no reason why that should, is there?”
“Look Wick, I'm getting a bit confused. Will it be alright if I just go over there in the corner and try and work it out?”
“Sorry Treg. You must make up your own mind. Mustn't let me tell you what to do.”
“Oh right, Wick. Yes, that's right, isn't it. Thanks Wick.”
“Oh, and Treg.”
“Yes Wick?”
“Be back in five minutes or I'll bite your knees.”
“Righto Wick! Won't be long.”

Thowleigh RoadSunday 21st November 2004
Do you remember all that business about Wicky and all his rugs. I think the last thing I told you was that, as he got just as wet with his third, heavier rug, it was assumed that it was not the rug at fault but that Wick was just wet himself, inside his very heavy own natural coat and that it was him making the rugs wet inside not the rain getting in from the outside. Now, ever since then HE has lifted Wicks rug every morning while they are eating their breakfast and brushing his coat up backwards to let the air in and the damp out. A couple of days ago, HE said to HER that HE thought this practice was paying off and that Wick was very nearly dry now. THEY both expressed satisfaction that from now, Wicky would be dry inside his nice new lightweight rug whilst at the same time he would not get over hot as he did last year. This morning HE lifted Wicks rug expecting everything to be bone dry now and found instead that he was wetter than he had been in a long while. Putting that fact together with yesterday being one of the wettest for ages and Wicky's habit of eating his way through any kind of weather as if it were a perfectly fine day, I think THEY have had to admit that maybe the rain does get in through the rug somehow. But why that should happen to three different rugs, one even a different kind, is something of a mystery. There is one good thing about having spares though. THEY were able to take the soaking rug off and exchange it for a dry one today. If I were perfectly honest, I don't think it bothers Wick one way or the other. As I say, he is out in every kind of weather – wind, rain or snow doesn't seem to make any difference to him. It must be his background as a moorland pony for they are out in much worse terrain on the moor in all weathers without rugs on. And while they make look a sorry sight, it doesn't seem to worry them either. Like Wick, the only thing that does worry them is if the food runs out. You don't see farmers rescuing ponies and bringing them in off the moors when there is very heavy snow. All they need do is to airlift them bales of hay to eat and they will just carry on saying to each other ‘what a nice bracing day it is today, munch, munch, munch' and so on. Wicky has much better grass (a lot of them don't have grass, only gorse to eat), two buckets of feed a day, treats and afield shelter with three hay nets hanging up in it. In fact, if you ask Wick how he is, he is just sorry that there isn't enough time in the day to eat it all and is eternally grateful that he is not shut in at night so that he can just have ‘a wee bite' until the sun comes up again.Just before I finish, I should tell you that Tregony came up to me today and asked me what ‘civil disobedience' was. I explained it to him that it was doing everything I told him to do but ignoring Wicky's requests. He stood for a long while in his corner thinking about that and then he came back and asked me if I was sure. I told him that I would just check up for his peace of mind and have made a note to find out what rubbish Wicky has been feeding him now. He may be a ‘good doer' in terms of food but he can be a right little shi … trouble maker when he wants to be. If I find out he's been winding my old friend up he is not going to be able to lay down for a week. I'll let you know what I find out.

Alli has tummy acheMonday 22nd November 2004
Well, what can I say? It's been a very funny day today. Starting from the end, I was queuing up to come home this evening and along THEY come with three buckets not just two. And instead of just giving me a carrot treat and putting my head collar on and taking me out on the road, SHE said ‘go and have your supper' and made me follow HIM down to the field shelter. And while I was eating, SHE said that I must have lots of wet grass to eat tonight and she would see me in the morning. I was staying out all night! Just like it was summer! Maybe I should begin at the beginning.First thing, HE came out and gave me my carrot, as usual, while HE was making THEIR tea and coffee to help them wake up. A little later, like usual, THEY came out, HE to clean my stable out and SHE to bring my breakfast bucket. I had had quite a night of eating up my new haylage and was feeling quite full but, as THEY had gone to such trouble, I felt obliged to eat up mall my breakfast. However, pretty soon after this, I started to feel a bit funny. My tummy felt quite full and started to make me feel a bit bloated. It wasn't long before the discomfort started to turn a bit nastier into tummy pains and I wasn't feeling at all well. When THEY came out to get me ready to go up to Ninefields, all I wanted to do was to lay down and roll over to stop my tummy hurting so much. When HE came back from giving the old boys their breakfast, SHE said that I was not ready to go up to Ninefields yet as I was laying down to have a sleep. THEY spoke about the time THEY had thought Treg was not well, when all he wanted was a nap and also about the time I was feeling so sleepy that HE had worried that HE would not get me home before I just lay down for a sleep. THEY decided to go back indoors and wait until I had had my nap and THEY disappeared while I was still laying down to try and relieve the pain in my tummy. After a while I tried getting up to see if that helped and THEY came out and thought that I was now ready to go out. Then the pain caught me again and I had to lay back down and then THEY realised that I was not well and not just sleepy. A little while later, a strange fellow that I had not met before, came into my stable with HER and started to put a tube that he had plugged into his ears, onto my tummy. He then asked HER to make me stand up and listened to my tummy again. So far so good. Nothing hurt or was scary. However, then he got nasty. He got some stuff (which I later learned was castor oil) and then tried to put a tube down my nose. This got stuck and made my nose bleed and then he put it down the other nostril. All the time I was sneezing and coughing but he carried on. Oh, I forgot to tell you the worse bit that he did from behind with a rubber glove, but perhaps that is best left unsaid! Once he had the plastic tube down my nose he started to pour this oil down it into my tummy. Finally, he gave me an injection which was the best thing because it made the pain go away. He said that I was allowed wet grass, which was why I was allowed to stay out all night tonight, and he warned everyone not to stand behind me in about an hours time. Then he went away. HE spent most of the time I was being tortured just taking photos while SHE at least did try to comfort me. However, I got my own back when HE had to walk me up to Ninefields. I'm not an ex racehorse for nothing. HE was so knocked out that by half way SHE drove up in the car and offered to lead me by the little green car. HE got there in the end and I had a happy day with my friends, telling them how brave I have been while Jonathan (that's the vets name) did his worst.Sorry it took a long time to tell but I feel a lot better now, thank you and am going to enjoy my night out under the stars (or clouds) as a reward for being such a brave girl.

Alli is tubedTuesday 23rd November 2004
”And then he did what, Alli? My goodness. These humans have no principles, do they?”
“I think he was trying to help, Wick.”
“If it were me, I tell him that I didn't need that kind of help. Anyway, it cant have been very pleasant because you've been standing funny all night.”
“Yes, Wick. It is still a bit uncomfortable. I don't think that bit of me is meant to stretch quite that much. Still, the tummy pain has gone away. That's a relief.”
“Did you have tummy ache, Alli?”
“Er, yes, Treg. That is what I have been talking about all this time.”
“Oh? I thought you were saying that you watched while he put all that oil in his car.”
“It wasn't in his car, Treg. It was in me.”
“Is that why you went off on your own in the corner and …”
“Yes, Treg. We won't talk about that, will we? It was not ladylike to say the least but it was natures way of helping me get better.”
“Nature was very, very helpful, wasn't it?”
“I said Treg. We shall change the subject. What the vet did say was that I had to have lots of wet grass.”
“Oh dear, lassie. Wherever shall we find wet grass in Dartmoor ?”
“Very funny, Wick. I don't think I should have much trouble getting better if that is what's needed. Anyway, what shall we do today? I've had a whole extra night out here on Ninefields and now I feel ready for anything. What do you say, Treg? How about we have a quiz?”
“Yeah, alright Alli. If you say so. Er, …, what's a quiz?”
“Is that your first question, laddie?”
“Wicky, you tell me then. What's a quiz?”
“A quiz, sonny, is where we all take turns to answer questions and then keep score to see who answers the most correctly. And that's one for me. Your go Alli.”
“Come on Wick. You know we've not started yet. Don't cheat.”
“That's right, Wick. Don't cheat. I want to.”
“Now, men. We all take turns in alphabetical order by name. Alright?”
“Alright, Alli. Who goes first?”
“Ya great big loon, Treg. Alli goes first, o' course.”
“Yes, that's right. Now, one of you ask me a question.”
“I've got one, Alli.”
“Right Treg, go on then.”
“What is the .. er .. what is .. why does a vet carry liquid paraffin?”
“That's a very medical question, Treg. Now, let me see. It's because he may need to give it to horses with tummy ache.”
“Wrong Alli, sorry.”
“Wrong. No it isn't. That's what I had. Tell me then. Why does a vet carry liquid paraffin?”
“Because if he didn't it would splash all over the floor. HA. HA. HA”
“Tregony. Have you ever done a quiz before?”
“That's an easy one, Alli. No. One for me. Right. Now your turn, Wick.”
“I'll ask Wicky one then, Treg. Wick. What is it that horses and ponies do to silly old bay geldings when they get annoyed?”
“I think we both know the answer to that, lassie. Ready, one, two, three, ….”

flowerWednesday 24th November 2004
HE told me the date, today. Just one month to Xmas eve. I've already started to think about what I can do for the old boy's Xmas presents. You see, we horses are not like you humans. All you have to do is to go out to the shops and buy something. Now that would be very easy. A big bag of carrots for Treggy and a packet of apple biscuits for Wick and they would be as happy as anything. For about the five minutes it might take them to eat them. Then Xmas would be over for them. But we don't have money, we don't go into shops and so, we don't buy things to give as presents. No, instead, we usually do things for each other instead. Occasionally, we might come across a particularly good piece of grass or some very tasty leaves and we could then tell someone where they could find it. But mostly its not about things it's about deeds. For instance, Treg might have been worrying for days about how to spell the word ‘yuletide'. Now, instead of just laughing at him or teasing him and confusing him further, as we might do normally, we may, as a present, just make things easy for him and spell it out. Wicky might have been trying for ages to look over a particular hedge to see what the cows are making such a fuss about. Well, for Xmas, Treg and I might pull some large bits of tree over to beside the hedge so that he can climb up and look over. Last year, I was trying to get to know the names of all the sheep that were staying in our fields and I just couldn't get round all of them before they moved about and I lost track of where I had got to. So, for a present, Wick and Treg made it their business to go round all the flock at night, while I was back in my stable and they took advantage of the fact that the sheep were lying down having a rest. They spent most of the night but in the morning they were able to tell me all the names.So that's the kind of Xmas presents we can give each other. It is good because it does mean that you have to pay much more attention to your friend, so that you can find out without asking (that would spoil the surprise and, anyway, that's cheating) what it is that would make them really happy. Just paying them more attention has its rewards on its own. Now, Tregony is not as easy as you would expect. I know he is a simple soul in some ways but deep down in his inner self, he is as complex as the best of us. You would be surprised at the kind of things that might help him. I found him the other day trying to remember in which order he had to pick up his feet to trot. He said it was when he thought about it he got confused. Got it mixed up with the order he had to lift his feet to have his hooves picked out. Or, another time, he was worried that he might have been doing his Human Watch duties all wrong. He needed someone to remind him when to make an entry in his log and when to just step over it.Now Wicky is a different bucket of pony nuts. He spends a lot of his time on cunning schemes to try and get more treats out of humans, either our tame ones or the ones that pass by our gate along the Throwleigh Road . Any little bit of assistance in that direction, pleases him for days, particularly if he tries it out and it works.So, I've got one month now to observe them and come up with my present ideas. Of course, at the same time, I've got to try very hard to make it obvious to them what it is that I would like for myself. With a couple of old duffers like them, that is by far the hardest bit!

up to the gateThursday 25th November 2004
”Ere, Wick”
“”Aye, laddie. Don't tell me you've started to worry about Alli's Xmas present already.”
“No, it's not that, Wick. No, I was thinking.”
“Oh good, Treg. And then what happened. Smoke come out of your ears, eh?”
“I don't think so Wick. But, you see, I wasn't looking.”
“Come on then, man, tell me what you were thinking, I haven't got all day.”
“I was thinking how it is that humans are funny. They have some very funny ideas, sometimes.”
“You mean what make you laugh, Treg. Funny like that. Or funny strange?”
“Well, really, both. They are very funny, strange and that makes me laugh.”
“This is a bit like trying to get praise out of Alli. Come on man. You're going to tell me sooner or later. Let's make it sooner for a change, shall we?”
“Well, you know that song that we sing at Xmas. You know ‘The … er… Many Days of Xmas”
“You sure you don't mean The Lots of Days of Xmas?”
“No, more than that, Wick. Many! Anyway, do you know what the humans sing?”
“Jingle Bells? “
“No, to the same tune. They sing ‘On the first day of Xmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.”
“That's right, Treg. That is exactly what they sing. Some of them. When they are sober. A bit nearer Xmas. What's your point?”
“Well, it's rubbish, aint it?”
“I'll admit that it is culturally a little different from what we sing but I think you're going a bit far calling it rubbish, Treg.”
“But, listen to it Wick. A partridge in a pear tree? I ask you. What kind of a true love would do that?”
“A human one? What's your point? What should they sing?”
“Well, a bit more like what we does. On the first day of Xmas, my true love gave to me, a biscuit all apple and carroty. Now, that's what I call a sensible Xmas song.”
“You could have a point there, laddie. Is that what we really sing or did you just make that up?”
“Don't tell me you don't know, Wick. Weren't you ever in the choir at the riding stables?”
“I was for a day but then they asked me to leave.”
“That's not very nice, Wick. Why did they ask you to leave?”
“Well, you see laddie. There was this filly. Pretty little thing. Quite caught my eye, she did. Anyway, I think that they thought that I was less interested in the singing than in her so they told me I could wait outside until the choir practice was over.”
“That's a shame, Wick. You've got such a good voice too. I hear you in the mornings, calling out to HIM when HE brings our buckets. Does that mean that you don't know all the verses to that Xmas song. You know. On the second day of Xmas, and so on?”
“I'm sorry to say, Treg, that I don't. Will you teach me?”
“How about if we only go up to fou .. three days? Don't want to bore you or anything.”
“OK Treg. Here we go. I'll do the first bit and then you finish it. On the second day of Xmas, my true love gave to me …”
“ … two turnip tops and a biscuit all apple and carroty”
“That's really good, Treg. Shall we go for the next one? On the third day of Xmas my true love gave to me …”
“ … three packs of Polos, two turnip tops and a biscuit all apple …”
“ … and carroty. Oh, that's great, Treg. I must go away and practice now. Why don't you get Alli to teach you the other verses and then you can teach me.”
“Yeah, alright, Wick. It's lovely to be able to do something for a friend, isn't it?”
“You know, Treg. You're not as silly as you pretend, are you.”
“It's nice you think so, Wick. It really is.”

Alli starts to feel betterFriday 26th November 2004
One thing that worries me. You know, in the mornings, I often go for a walk down to the recreation ground, while I'm waiting for HIM to come back from feeding the old guys, so that HE can walk me up to Ninefields. Well, quite often, when we are walking down Ramsley Lane , we meet Annabel, you know – Meadowsweet's human, coming along pushing her bicycle. In fact, now that I think about it, it's two things that worry me, the first being why she is pushing it not riding it. Anyway, letting that go for the moment. This bicycle has a basket on the front and I am sure it is full of something very edible. SHE tells me it is used to carry ewe nuts for those sheep that I watch, over the road, from my stable. If it is that, there can't be a whole lot of difference between them and horse or pony nuts. The smell is really inviting and I usually try to get my nose into the basket. The trouble is, SHE is afraid that I will push too hard and knock the bicycle over but I am sure that I would never do that. Or, at least, almost sure. I do forget my strength sometimes like when HE comes in to clean out my stable in the morning. I know HE always carries a carrot to keep me amused while he gets on with the sweeping but what HE forgets is that I KNOW that carrots always have two halves. So, when I have finished the first half, I walk over to HIM where HE is working and give HIM a gentle nudge with the front of my head. Now, I will admit it had the whole weight6 of my neck and body behind it but I am usually surprised when HE gets thrown against the wall. Mind you, it works. When HE gets HIS balance back, I get my second half of carrot.It just occurred to me that some of you may be wondering when I say he SWEEPS my stable out. That is because, instead of straw or wood chip for bedding, I have rubber matting on the floor of my stable. There are several reasons for this. The main one is to do with the convenience of keeping the stable clean as it is situated in a road of houses whereas the field where HE tips the stable soil is half a mile away. It is therefore convenient to just carry my mess and not a lot of dirty straw or wood chip up to the field. Done on a daily basis (when HE goes to feed the old guys their breakfast) it is not very hard work and the stable doesn't get smelly. To assist this, as well, the rubber flooring is on sort of plastic legs and HE has arranged a water system working on a timer to flush under the floor twice a day. Apart from being cleaner, easier and less smelly (although I like the smell myself) it works out cheaper in the long run so THEY have more money to spend on feed and treats for me. It may not suit all horses but, as I was in a racing stable yard, I was used to it and find it really quite comfortable. Except on Sundays when he washes it all out with detergent and disinfectant and it takes me ages to get it smelling like home again. But, HE means well!

trees on skylineSaturday 27th November 2004
”Ere, Wicky?”
“I've been talking to those cows next door.”
“That must have been very satisfying for you, Treg. I can never get much sense out of them myself. Probably because they always talk with their mouths full.”
“They're real nice when you get to know them. A lot of them are mothers, you know, still with their carves about them.”
“I think you'll find that is calves, Treg. Not a good idea to talk about carving in from of those ladies. I think you ought to know where the children of the rest of them have gone.”
“Oh, I know. They told me. They've gone off to have Xmas somewhere. Probably in Santa's land or somewhere.”
“Oh, I see, Treg. Well, you know best, I'm sure. What do you know about Santa's land anyway?”
“A lot, Wick. When we were in the riding school and it was coming up to Xmas they used to strap antlers on me and dress me up to pretend I was one of Santa's reindeer and then the children would tell me all about it.”
“So you've never really been there then?”
“Well, not as such. Not on the hoof, so to speak. But I've been there in my imagination lots of times. It's really lovely. One of my favourite places.”
“You're just a big baby at heart, aren't you Treg? I bet you believe in fairies and gnomes and trolls and everything?”
“I've seen them, Wick. Right behind the field shelter. Sometimes when I go to put things in my log, there will come a bright light and I'll look up and ….”
“ …. the moon is shining and you realise that you fell asleep for a while!”
“No, Wick. It's true. I look into the light and there, right in the middle, is this little person with wings.”
“Oh, really? And what does this little person with wings have to say to this big person without a brain?”
“I won't tell you now. You're horrid. You don't believe, do you? I bet you'll be sorry when Santa doesn't come to you this year.”
“He doesn't come to me any year. It's not t5hat I'll be sorry if he doesn't come, I'll be amazed if he does.”
“Really? He doesn't come to you at all? I knew you were a bit nasty but I didn't realise you were that bad. Why don't you try to be good? Just for a few weeks before Xmas. You can always go back to your old knee biting self afterwards.”
“ Tregony Bay ! I am not nasty. I am your best friend and don't you forget it or you needn't look forward to the ghost of Christmas yet to come.”
“Ere, have you heard that story too? It's one of my favourites. That and the one that goes ‘'T was the night before Xmas and all through the stable, not a creature was stirring, not even a table'. They arte my two favourite Xmas stories.”
“That's it. That's it! Lovely, aint it? And then when he changes and takes that great big bag of carrots round to Bob Scratchit's field shelter and Tiny Jim doesn't have to be put down after all! I just cry and cry every time I hear it.”
“Aye, laddie. I'll grant you it's a powerful good tale as long as you realise that it is just that. A story. Ghosts are not real, my son. Take my word for it.”
“Well, that's a lot you know, Slicky Wicky. They are too. The fairy told me. So there!”

WickedSunday 28th November 2004
I've had a sociable evening tonight, on my way home. We were walking along, as usual, HIM babbling away about all and sundry (mostly sundry) and me thinking about my tea, when HE said, as HE often does, ‘I wonder if we will see Amber, tonight?'. You probably know that Amber lives on the Throwleigh Road of Dry Bridge with a couple of very friendly dogs and some equally nice humans. He stable is in a paddock in front of the house and she can have the run of some small fields (garden really) at the sides of the house. However, most usually she is in another field a bit further along the road that belongs to her next door neighbours. The previous people who lived there had horses but the new people don't so Amber is given the run of that field in exchange for some light lawn mowing duties. She is often hard at work gardening when we walk up to Ninefields in the morning and HE just cant resist HIS awful horse neigh impersonations when HE calls out hello to her. Sometimes she ignores HIM but at other times she will call back. I've told her before that it only encourages HIM but I think she forgets. I expect it gives her a bit of a break from her grass cutting duties. Anyway, we always look out for her on the way home and she has been known, when she is feeling particularly playful, to run across the field and up the quite steep slope to the hedge along the road to greet us. Tonight, we looked out for her but she wasn't there. HE told me that HE had seen her out riding, earlier in the day, so she may be home in her stable having her tea. But when we walked past her stable paddock she wasn't there and it was a nice surprise to see her standing at the gate to the field just past her house. We stood and rubbed faces for quite some time and then HE gave us both some mint treats for being kind to each other. Actually we were saying to each other, ‘I wonder how long we have got to keep this up before HE gives us some treats', but of course, HE didn't know that.We walked on then down the hill and I had just got past Dave, the blacksmiths forge, when I saw HER, standing outside our house, talking to this big girl, Lily. with Sue, the wife of the farmer who used to own Ninefields on her back. I have seen them ride past Ninefields before, in fact I've seen Michael riding her as well, although I have to agree with Sue who thinks he is more at home in his tractor. However, I've not had the chance to get to know lily before and I walked up to her and had another long face rub. We exchanged a lot of information, far more than I could put into human words for you. I learned a lot more about the farm where she lives and I told her about Ninefields and also about my stable. Of course, we both finished up with asking each other ho much longer we had to do this before HE gave us a treat, which eventually HE did. So, a nice muddy field, topped off by a nice social walk and then my teatime feed bucked. One of those perfect days, I suppose!

cloudsMonday 29th November 2004
”Ere Wick, do you think we're scruffy?”
“Who's been saying that, laddie? I'll nip his knees for you.”
“Er, I have Wick.”
“What, laddie. You think we're scruffy?”
“Well, HE showed me some photos HE took of us the other morning. HE hadn't even brushed our manes or anything and we really did look unkempt.”
“Ho, Treg. You're getting very literate. Unkempt eh? And would you prefer that we looked kempt?”
“Dunno, Wick. What's kemp? Sounds like that new haylage stuff Alli's been showing off about.”
“I think you'll find it means ‘combed', laddie. You know – taking the mud and thistles out of your mane and tail and stuff like that.”
“Oh, no, I wouldn't like that. It takes me quite a long time to get just the right kind of leaves to decorate my mane. And the mud, well that just decides to come and live with me for a time before dropping off in another part of the field. I act as a kind of mud transportation system, you might say.”
“Then why are you asking about if we look scruffy or not?”
“Just making conversation, Wick. Don't want to keep talking about Xmas so soon or I'll get tired of it before it comes and it'll lose its magic.”
“Quite right, old man. Too much of a good thing and all that. There's only one good thing that you cant get too much of and that's …”
“ … food. I knew what you were going to say, just by looking at that gleam in your eye. That reminds me. How did you do on that test, today?”
“Test? What test?”
“The tape test. The one THEY did this morning. You know. First HE put that tape thing round our tummies when we were having breakfast and then obviously SHE didn't believe HIM because SHE brought the tape up to the field when SHE came and did it all again.”
“Oh yes, I did notice that. What's it all about? I didn't know it was a test. I thought THEY were measuring me up for a fourth rug, to try and keep the rain out.”
“Oh no. It's to do with how thin or fat we are. Alli told me. That tape has got marks on it and the more marks you get, the fatter you are. It seems that they can works out your weight from those marks and it's that that decides how much feed SHE gives us.”
“Oh fetlocks! And I've been blowing out every time THEY put that tape round me. That would mean that I am heavier than I am and SHE will cut my rations. Forelocks! I'll have to get Alli to tell them that I demand a recount.”
“Oh dear. I've been blowing out too. I thought that the more marks you got the more food they would give us. And I did really well this morning. Made myself ever so big. I think HE must be on my side because HE pulls the tape ever so tight. I wish I hadn't fought HIM this morning, now.”
“It'll be alright. Treg. SHE didn't think HE had got it right. That's why SHE came and did it again.”
“They're cunning devils, humans, aren't they Wick?”
“But nice, most of the time. Did I tell you? SHE has decided to do me the honour of using my full name from now on.”
“What, you mean call you Wicked instead of Wicky or Wick?”
“No Mr Tregony Bay , sir. To use my full name, first name and surname.”
“You, you've got a surname? Oh, Wick! And I never knew. All these years we've been together and you never told me you were a sir.”
“Well, I'm telling you now. It's McTor. Mr Wicked McTor. And not that horrible name the vet calls me. Come to that, not what Michelle used to call me, either.”
“Well, you are a squirt, Wick. And come to that, you are a little shi ….”
“Tregony. Do you want your knees well and truly bitten?”
“Ow, no thank you, Mr McTor, sir!”

Alezane comes homeTuesday 30th November 2004
Nothing much happened in Ninefields today so I'll tell you some of the things that HE has been telling me over the last few days, as we walk up and down the Throwleigh Road . HE has been getting very excited about something called ‘broadband' which HE is due to get tomorrow, December 1 st . At first I thought it was something that HE would wear on his head instead of that rotten old cap that HE will insist on wearing. Goodness knows how long HE has had it, long before He came to live in Devon , that's for sure. Anyway, HE tells me it is nothing that you wear, it is to do with networks. I told Wicky this because he is very interested in hay nets and I thought that maybe THEY were going to be giving us new ones soon. Wicky said THEY needn't bother because his net works fine, it's only the contents that keep disappearing. When I managed to get a word in, I told HIM this but HE said that I had got it all wrong. It was nothing to do with hay nets but instead was concerned with joining all THEIR computers together and linking them to the web. Now, call me old fashioned by binder twine always used to be good enough for joining all kinds of things together. I sometimes think that if you took away all the binder twine, Devon would fall apart. And as to joining them all up to the web, I find that if you just leave them there, the spiders come and do it for you. However, did HE listen to me? No. He just went on about me ‘not understanding' as I was ‘only a horse'.If I am ‘only a horse', I would like to know what accounts for my saving his life the other morning? We were walking up towards Dry Bridge when Dave and his son who run Owlsfoot Garage, came out of their house all dressed up in very shining new, matching overalls. Dave started to walk up the hill alongside us and HE started to chat to Dave, who told him how they had got the overalls by doing a deal with an oil company. HE was so busy chatting away that HE got a bit annoyed when I started to push HIM over to the side of the road. HE tried to use HIS puny weight to push me back but I just insisted that HE go over and when we reached the entrance to a house at the top of the hill, I pushed HIM in there. It was only then that HE realised that Dave's son had got into his car and driven up the road behind us and I was getting HIM out of the way before HE got us both run over. And was HE grateful? No! He just was amused although HE did tell me how clever I was. The trouble is, when a silly like HIM tells you how clever you are, it doesn't amount to much, does it?

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