Alezane's Diary Archive November 2006
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The day to day life of an ex-racehorse and her companions in Dartmoor UK and Mayenne France
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Cat FlapWednesday 1st  November 2006
Well, that was a bit of a damp squib, as THEY say. No, I don’t mean it has been raining. I don’t even mean anything to do with us equines. No, I’m talking about THEIR Halloween experience. Let me explain.
For a long time, the local village Carnival used to go past THEIR house. In fact, as it was late in the autumn, I used to watch it as well as I would be in my stable overnight by then. The Carnival consists of a lot of the village humans, dressing up like all kinds of silly things and then they would build a ‘float’ from an old cart chassis or something, everyone would climb aboard and they would pull it along with a tractor or truck, complete with flashing lights and music etc. Apart from the fun of building it and watching it, the idea was to make a collection as they drove around the streets to give to some charitable causes, different each year.
As THEY had to stand outside my stable with me while the Carnival went by, to get me to look after THEM, in case THEY were scared by all the noise and lights, HE decided to give the people on the floats some chocolate bars or soft drinks or some other little gift to let them know that all their hard work was appreciated. Now, the Carnival used to be run, usually in the week before Halloween so, when HE was shopping for the sweets to give away to the Carnival, HE also had to calculate what HE would need for the children on Halloween night.
HE had just got this down to a fine art when the Carnival was re-routed and no longer came past the house. HE had to re-think the amount of sweets that HE would need and decided on a price per item and, based on past years, worked out how many HE would need with a little allowance which THEY would eat, if less children came round.
This year, what with HER not being well, THEM planning to leave for France and the arrival of HER sister the week before, HE didn’t have time to do all the calculations and shopping. So, on the way back from taking Norma back to the airport, HE stopped off at a city supermarket and bought just six large bags of mixed sweets, hoping that it would be enough.
Last night, HE opened the bags to find that they were full of loads of packs of very tiny sweets instead of the bigger bars HE normally bought. So, when the first kids came round, HE was telling them ‘take several, as they are small ones this year’. But the evening was strangely quiet so HE ended up saying to the latter children, ‘take a handful, please!’ But after all HIS efforts, HE was left with a box full of the packs of small sweets and lollipops. Unfortunately there was not one mint sweet among them so HE couldn’t give them to us. In the end they have gone to the local school where HE hopes they will find a use for them.
I told HIM ‘next year, lots of packets of mints’. But, of course, we wont be here next year, will we? I wonder if the French have Halloween?

Wick stealingThursday 2nd November 2006
Winter is here! Or, maybe it is only autumn but it feels like winter. Last night we had the first frost of the year. After an autumn that felt like summer was never going to end with temperatures well above average for the time of he year, the thermometer has fallen to below average. It’s the good weather that is to blame. We have had two glorious sunny days but, because of the lack of cloud, there is nothing to retain the warmth of the sun and with the wind direction turning from the south to the north, we are all shivering now.
That is a lie, actually. Mims and I are still very hot under our rugs. HE feels there every day, twice a day at bucket time and HE always remarks how hot we are. Wicky, however, if you remember has recently been clipped. When HE puts his hand under Wicky’s rug (an act deserving of a medal I might add unless one has no sense of smell) HE has found that Wick is not cold but is only luke warm.
With the forecast the same for a few more nights and HIM having felt real pain in his fingers this morning with the cold, THEY decided to change Wick’s rug from the lightweight summer one to one rather heavier. Now, this might seem obvious to you but don’t forget that Wick is a Dartmoor Hill pony, bred for the very wicked weather (ha, ha) of the moor and b) he is suffering from Cushings syndrome which makes his natural coat very dense, requiring him to be clipped, even in the winter. So, when the rest of us have a rug, Wick normally needs nothing and when we have heavy winter rugs, Wick only needs a light one.
Having said that, THEY do work on a very pragmatic principal of checking his temperature and trying to adjust to the varying conditions.
This evening, when HE came along with our buckets, HE brought the heavier rug and changed wicks lightweight one for it. But then HE wasn’t satisfied when HE looked at the result. The problem is Wicky’s shape. SHE often describes him as a ‘space hopper’ but maybe you have to be of a certain age to know what hat is (or was). It was an inflatable ball with a handle or handles that children would sit on and bounce about on. And Wick with his round tummy and ears does bring such an object to mind. The rug that HE has just put on is not a cheap one and is by one of the more well known manufacturers, it’s just that it didn’t look right, however HE walked round him. So, tonight SHE has been on the internet again and spent quite a large amount on yet another new rug for Wick. If that doesn’t make the weather turn warm again I don’t know what will!

Red sky ay night .....Friday 3rd November 2006
Another very cold night and morning followed by a glorious day. Yesterday, when HE came with our breakfast, the padlock that HE puts on a chain on our gate overnight appeared to be a bit frozen but HE managed to open it by pushing and pulling it. When HE went home, HE took the padlock and decided to prevent it from freezing up again by spraying it with some penetrating oil. After spraying it, HE gave it a thorough twisting and turning to ensure that the oil had spread everywhere. That night, HE took the lock back to the field in a bag to stop it contaminating our food in the buckets where HE normally puts it and then, when HE left HE fitted the chain and lock back on the gate. This morning, when HE came along, HE had to take his can of de-icer and a hammer to get the lock unfrozen. Let that be a lesson to all you humans. Penetrating oil can seriously endanger our breakfasts!
This morning, HE found (when HE eventually got into the field) that Wick was not much warmer, even with the heavier rug on. So, tonight, HE had a cunning plan. The peanuts that he buys to feed the birds with, come in the traditional large Hessian sacks and HE has just finished one sack and is moving on to the new one. So, while Wick was eating his supper, HE went and wrapped the sack over Wicks shoulders, under his rug and then did the rug up a little tighter so that the sack should not drop out in the night. Tomorrow morning will be the test to see if Wick is any warmer that way. Then he will just have to wait a few days until his new rug arrives. It is not that Wick is cold but more that he is not hot as Mims and I are. But then, we are hot bloods, aren’t we?
It hasn’t been too bad yet but we are leading up to fireworks night. I can remember last year when we all feared the worst for Mims who has a record of jumping over things (well, nearly over) when frightened by big bangs. Yet, happily, we had no problems with her last year and then she was new to us. Some of you mau not know that just down the road in Sticklepath there is a famous Fireshow on bonfire night where Guy Fawkes has a different adventure each year and a very large set (a castle or  a boat and so on) is built and huge puppet like models with people and children in them, act out the story. At the end, the whole construction is set alight and there is a wonderful large fireworks display. People come from miles to attend this spectacle and each year the fireworks seem to get bigger and better and louder. We at Ninefields are about a mile away and usually have a lovely view of the fireworks, especially if we go up to the top field. The noise is loud but not frightening as it is not sudden or near to us. The only thing we hate is the silly children who run about the streets or commons throwing fireworks. They cant help being silly I suppose and one feels more sorry for them than angry. Still, I expect that one day they will grow up, HE did!

autumn leavesSaturday 4th November 2006
THEY got another email from Sophie. Did I tell you about Sophie? Yes, of course I did. Towards the end of last month. Anyway, THEY have started a little dialogue (is that the correct word for three people? Trialogue? Who knows?), writing about us. Sophie writes in English because her natural language is French (even though her parents are English, she has to go to French school and write in French and talk to the other French students) and THEY try and write back in French. THEY started off cheating, writing in English and then getting the computer to translate for THEM. Then they moved to writing in French and using the computer to check what THEY have written. Then THEY found out that, for the most part, the computer translations are nearly as silly as THEIR French, so now they are trying to just write in French and hope that Sophie will correct them.
One of the things THEY have been doing is to send photos of us and the cats so that Sophie knows who is coming. She has been looking at my web site but as there are many, many horses on it, Sophie didn’t know which were us and which were the others. The trouble is that Sophie wrote back and said that, for some reason, she has not been receiving the photos. So now, SHE is building a special web site just for her so that she can see the pictures on the internet instead of trying to get them on her email. I think Sophie is in for a bit of a shock because HE sent her that horrible photo of Wicky doing his dribbling guerning look. She had been saying to THEM ‘give the horses a kiss from me’ but when she sees that photos, I think she might change her mind.
Today was the start of the hunting season. That seems a funny thing to say as hunting foxes with dogs was banned in this country last year. However, the better hunts are now moving to laying a trail and following that or just going out to exercise the dogs. Some aren’t. Some are deliberately breaking the law because it doesn’t suit them. While that may seem perfectly right to them, I don’t suppose things would work well if everyone only obeyed the laws that they agreed with. (There again, I suppose that is just what does happen with some folk – speed limits, driving using mobile phones, etc. etc. Humans again. What a peculiar bunch they are. The criterion seems to be what they can get away with and not what it legal. Oh well)
Sorry, I lost track for a minute. Anyway, our hunt which is one of the good ones, had their first meet today and, at some time this afternoon, came riding over our part of the Beacon. We all queued up to watch them over the wall of the top field, or, in Wicky’s case, through the gate into Michael’s field. It was so exciting that Mims didn’t come down to earth again, even when she was having her supper. She would stop eating and just look over the hedge, hoping to see them again. I shall have to spend the night telling her all the stories from when I used to go hunting!

wheelie viewSunday 5th November 2006
SHE came to visit us tonight. It was, of course, very nice, but I had to watch and make sure SHE didn’t ruin all our hard work. We’ve spent weeks and weeks now in training HIM to just look after our culinary needs and not even to think about asking us to do anything, let alone doing anything to us. I have to say, HE was quite trainable, it wasn’t very hard but, we have put in a lot of hours and we didn’t want HER coming along and spoiling it. In the end, what SHE did do was start to re-arrange Wicky’s rug fastenings. Apparently HE had done them up the wrong way, had crossed them where they shouldn’t be crossed and not shortened them where they needed shortening. However, all of this didn’t affect wick in the slightest as it had no effect on his eating. So, that kind of thing is allowable. It didn’t stop him eatiung and it didn’t require any major effort on his part. If SHE keeps her attentions to those minor details, I think Mims and I can tolerate it. The problem is that I can tell by HER looks that SHE is intent on more than that. I don’t think that SHE at all approves of our attempts at beautifying ourselves with mud baths. I can just see those brushes and spiky things coming out soon and us having to bear pulling and tugging with our buckets. HE wouldn’t have dared to do such things, although HE does have a thing about cleaning my eyes. As I said, SHE will need watching very carefully over the next few days.
I was talking yesterday about the funny things humans do. How about getting some stuff from rocks, crushing it into powder and then rolling it up in a cardboard tube and setting light to it. And the result? Can you eat it? Can you rub it all into your coat with mud? No, neither. When you set light to it, it makes a flash and a bang. And? And? No, that’s it. A flash and a bang. Sometimes they go further and put it on a stick so that when it explodes it shoots up high into the air. And then? Guess what. It goes flash and it goes bang. From my experience, humans do this quite a lot. They are not happy with one flash and one bang, they want lots. Something gets into them about this time of year (in this country. When I lived in France it was at other times but still the same old flash/bang). So, tonight is the night when they will be doing it a lot and, apart from a few sillies who need to do it a little bit more for a few days next week, that will be it, by and large, for another year. We do get a few at new year (more in France, if I remember) and then they settle down again for a while. As I never tire of saying, ‘there’s nowt so queer as folk’.

a word AlliMonday 6th November 2006
Slightly better news today for all of those who want to see the back of us. HE took a phone call from THEIR solicitor who, apart from having a question about my stable, said that he had spoken to the agent and that there might be some movement soon. Then, later in the afternoon, the agent phoned, saying that the buyers now had their mortgage arranged and that they were away on holiday in Spain at the moment but, when they got back tomorrow, they would be getting their own survey done regarding the work needed for the damp proofing found by the mortgage lender’s surveyor. Which, in one way means more delay but, in another, at leasy indicates that things are moving in their own particular Devon way.
Then for the less good news. HE thought it was best now to find out from the three various removers (horses, cats and house) how much notice they need so that when the time comes to fix the completion date they will have some idea of the constraints to work under. One of the main constraints for them will be that the ferry only runs every three days at this time of the year. So, SHE got on the phone and spoke to the horse removers and discovered that they have no problems with ferries as they can go on any day. Presumably the freight services are different from the passenger ones. She did however find out that the reason the firm had not been in contact before, after SHE had sent them details of the three of us, is that their computer had been out of action for about ten days. The man, of course, had no idea of what emails they had missed and was having to ask everyone they spoke to to see if they had been in contact. SHE has now re-sent our details and is going to talk to the man again when THEY have a clearer idea of the date.
SHE next spoke to the cat removers and this was quite a different story. This firm’s web site gives the impression of being for a very professional and caring company. However, the man was very negative and doubted whether they would be able to move the cats as previously agreed. It all seemed to depend on his personal circumstances at the time and this part of the year seemed to be quite inconvenient to him. SHE politely thanked him and said that she wouldn’t trouble him in that case and would find someone else. It just goes to show that one cannot tell what kind of service you might get, just from a very well presented web site. It was, at least, a good job that they checked up now and not found out at the last moment. Maybe the best way would be to ask at the vets if anyone has personal good experience of such a service. Whatever, they will sort it out in the near future.
The house movers should not be such a problem. They are based in the village and THEY know them. Also, the house contents are going in store and not travelling across the channel so this wont be anything like such a problem.
One other good thing happened today. I don’t remember if I told you about the handle coming off the rear door of HIS jeep oh, probably a couple of months ago. Since then HE has driven about with the door tied closed with a length of rope from the door to the passenger seat. The garage had a handle on order but when it never showed up, HE found one, from a breakers, on the internet. Anyway, today he had it fitted and the door closes properly again. And, guess what? The garage said ‘no charge’! How’s that for good service? I recommend “Savanna Motors” as being real nice folk!

against the sunTuesday 7th November 2006
My daughter has taken up a new habit. As you now, when HE brings our buckets, HE also has a couple of biscuits for Wicky and a small piece of carrot for Mims and I in his pocket, for us to eat while we go down to our usual eating places. Now, the last two times, Mims has held her mouth tightly shut when she is offered her carrot. Why, I just don’t know. There was a time recently when it was so cold that HE wore mittens and the oil from the gate padlock may have got on them, making the carrot smell a bit. But then, it didn’t put me or Wicky off at all and HE wasn’t wearing mittens when she declined his last two offers, However, Mims has a bit of a reputation for being ‘wilful’. Yes, ‘wilful’, that is the word SHE uses to describe her. So, when Mims held her lips closely tight and nudged the bucket that HE held in HIS hands, HE just ignored her a carried on holding the carrot up to her lips. And, both times, so far, HE has won. Eventually, grudgingly, Mims has taken and eaten the carrot. It doesn’t really matter either way but it has developed into a game between the two of them. HE told me tonight that HE will vary it tomorrow by not offering her anything. I think HE is silly if HE thinks that will prove anything for Mims will just think that, at last, HE has seen sense. Still, it keeps them amused.
A bit more news about the move today. First THEY got a letter from the original woodworm treaters agreeing that they would  spray the new infestation under guarantee. Then, HE got on the phone to a cattery to confirm that they can take the cats for a night while waiting for their removal people (lower case – the cats, not THEIRS). He found out that there is room but only up to the middle of December because the cattery is getting booked up for Xmas. When HE told me that, I wondered why people treat their cats to a Xmas holiday but we horses never have one. HE explained that it was not the cats having a holiday but the humans. That figures, I expect. Anyway, HE has now written to the agent and the solicitor telling them that they must move by mid December or it will have to be after Xmas. Whether it will do any good or not I have no idea. All I do know is that this process is getting so long drawn out that you can see HIM getting older by the day. We can only hope that when we do get there, HE is able to have a decent rest to recover.

behind youWednesday 8th November 2006
“Ere Wick?”
“Oh, hello Treg. I was wondering when we’d see you again.”
“Just checking, Wick. Do I need to bring my bucket and spade?”
“Do you what?”
“You know. My bucket and spade. Do I need to bring it?”
“Look. First Treg. You know and I know that horses don’t have buckets and spades, do they?”
“Well, no. Not actually. Not in fact, as such. It was meant to be a metaphorical, a metaphollica, well you know, a sort of general question meaning should I get ready.”
“Hmmm. Well, and secondly. Get ready for what?”
“Well, we’re moving to France, aren’t we?”
“We are moving to France Treg. Alli, Mimms and me are moving to France. But no one said you were moving to France, did they?”
“Well, of course I am, if you all are.”
“But. Er well, I don’t quite know how to put this Treg. I don’t see how you can move to France with your … er your … well your bits still here, do to speak.”
“My bits? I lost them a long whi… Oh, I see what you mean. My bones. Oh yes, they are buried here, at Ninefields. But I don’t need tyhem any more, do I? I’ve not got them now and I am here with you so I don’t need them in France neiver.”
“Er, well, that’s great Treg. It will be nice if you come with us. No. It will be wonderful if you come with us. Does Alli know?”
“Oh yes, I expect so. We don’t have to talk, Alli and me. We were so much together when, well, when I was in my bones, as it were, that we just know what each other are thinking. Yes, I’m sure that Alli just took it for granted that I was coming with you all.”
“Well, that really is wonderful Treg. I’m so pleased. Now, about you bucket and spade.”
“Well, you see. I heard that where we are going is very near the seaside. Near that St Michael’s mount. I bet he was a good horse, that one.”
“Who’s that Treg? Who are you talking about?”
“That horse what belonged to that saint. He must have been very good to belong to a saint, shouldn’t he? Not like you Mauvais.”
“Mauvais. I’m not sure of your French Treg but I’m grey not mauve. What makes you think that?”
“Don’t be daft Wick. Aint you learnt any of the lingo yet? I bin doing lessons and Mauvais is what you name is in French.”
“Listen mate. My name is Wicked whether I’m here or there and don’t you forget it.”
“Oh, alright. But I’m still going to bring my rubber ring. Just in case.”
cloudsThursday 9th November 2006
HE told me tonight that it has been a day of good news and bad news but, at least, THEY have had some news.
HE started off … no, I must go back a bit first. I don’t remember if I told you that the cat removers had let them down. HE had decided that it was best, now, to check with all the removers to see that everything was OK and to find out just how much notice they needed, as THEY still do not have a date for moving yet. But when SHE checked with the cat removers, SHE found out that they couldn’t do it after all. HE then got on to the internet to find alternative movers and also checked with the cattery that they wanted to put the boys into on the day the house movers came round. This revealed that the cattery required them all to be up to date with their flu and enteritis jabs. Now, although they all have their passports and have been chip and pinned so to speak, PC has not had a flu and enteritis jab for nearly 18 years now. HE had his first one and then never came in enough (he lived outside eating rabbits) to get any boosters. So, yesterday, when HE went into the vets to pay their bill, HE checked it it would be harmful to have the jabs now, bearing in mind his age (90 in human equivalent terms) and his failing kidneys and blood pressure. Anyway, the vet assured HIM that it would do no harm and that THEY still had time as PC needed one jab now and a second three weeks later.
So, this morning, HE took PC for his shots a and also had his weight and blood pressure checked. He had maintained his weight and his blood pressure had come right down to near normal since he started on the course of pills. So, off they went home to tell HER the good news only to find HER in tears. The hospital had phoned saying that as a result of her ultrasound scan, they needed to make an appointment. SHE asked for the results of the scan to be told that they weren’t allowed to tell HER. SHE argued that they were HER results not the hospital’s and eventually got them to agree to send the results to the doctors where SHE could then be told. SHE phoned the doctors to be told her doctor wasn’t there today and she would have to wait till tomorrow. When you have been worried and waiting for two weeks for the results, tomorrow won’t do and she was, as I have said, in tears when HE came home. HE phoned various health care trusts to be told that the person dealing with complaints wasn’t in today and apparently her job is so important that no one covers for her when she is absent. In the end, the hospital doctor came to the phone and explained that they didn’t appear to be anything major wrong, just a small unexplained area of the scan that they would like to explore further. Then the local doctors found someone to phone and give HER the results officially. All of which could have been done in the first place.
On the strength of this small success, HE has been brave and made an appointment to sort his dentures out. And after that – the opticians!

pensive MimsFriday 10th November 2006
“Mu u m?”
“Yes my sweetness, light of my life, how can I help you?”
“Er, mum? Why does HE keep putting those carrot things down my throat when HE brings the buckets?”
“I hadn’t noticed HE forced them down your throat, darling. Just waved them in front of your nose.”
“Yeah, but when I clenched my teeth together and moved my nose away, HE just stood there holding it. Why didn’t HE just give me my bucket like I wanted?”
“Ah, sweetness, I think you have just hit on it. Like YOU wanted, I think you said. You’d probably be quite surprised to hear that you have quite a reputation for being wilful, wouldn’t you?”
“Wilful? What’s that? Just because I don’t want a carrot?”
“I think you mean ‘don’t want a carrot then’ don’t you lovey. I haven’t seen you refuse them after you have emptied your bucket.”
“Well, no, ‘course not. I want them then.”
“HE doesn’t have to give us any treats at all, you know. HE is only trying to be nice.”
“Well, it would be nice if HE didn’t force carrots down my throat, that’s what I say.”
“Yes dear. I suppose so. Now tell me. What have you been doing all day looking up into Mathew’s yard?”
“Me? Looking into Mathew’s yard? No, you must have just caught me as I was turning round … or something.”
“I did happen to watch you for over half an hour, just craning your neck in that direction with your jaw dropped open. You’ve not been looking at that stallion again, have you?”
“No .. er..yes.. er I mean er .. I did happen to see someone up there. I was just looking out for the sheep. Wondered where they had got to and I saw this hun.. shape coming from behind the bush and wondered who er what it was.”
“You have seen him riding past, haven’t you? Not likely to mistake that silhouette, I should think.”
“Oh, who’s that mum? I don’t really take a lot of notice.. “
“Of course not dear. Too busy watching out for the sheep. I know.”
“Hello girls. Having a bit o a chin wag, lassies?”
“Hi uncle Wick. Mum was just talking about going to France, weren’t you mum?”
“Was I dear. Oh yes. I see. Have you been teasing her again, Wick? She’s a little bit sensitive about some things, is my girl.”
“Oh. Been watching that great big stallion laddie again has she? Bit love smitten I fear, eh girlie?”
“Mu –um. Tell him to leave me alone.”
“If you werrn’t so red already girl I would swear you were blushing.”
“Oh, come on Wick. It’s the sun setting making her beautiful coat shine so much. She is a pretty one, isn’t she?”
“Ay, Alli, she’s that all right. And she’s no bad either. Just no good at taking a wee joke. Still, she’s come on very well since she’s been here. It’s over a year now, isn’t it?”
“Yes Wick. Another year gone. Oh, she makes me feel old sometimes. Come on, let’s go up the top field and watch the sunset.”
“Good idea Alli. Come on Mims, you’ll get a better view of him from up there!”

the treeSaturday 11th November 2006
But she didn’t. At least, not good enough. It got too dark. So, this morning, when our buckets arrived, although Wick was there o greet him, Mims and I were up above the field shelter where she could just stand and gape. HE took no notice and just walked up an placed our buckets where they normally go and then went and got on with feeding the birds. I had a word with Mims and then I had another, sharper word with her and eventually she ran down to her bucket with me in close pursuit.
When HE was describing this to HER later, there was a discussion as to what to call our gate. HE said I wasn’t trotting and I wasn’t cantering. It was definitely a run. SHE thought that the Americans probably have a name for it. Anyway, HE came round to cleran us up with the sponges and started with Mims first. HE had a bit of trouble cleaning her eyes as she didn’t want to lose sight of the horse on the hill, as I’ve taken to calling him. After Mims, HE cleaned me up and went on to Wicky. When HE had finished with Wick, HE looked up to see Mims trotting back up the hill. HE walked over and saw that she had just left her breakfast and gone off. And that was it. The rest of the breakfast routine continued without Mims’ presence as she continued to obey her hormones and watch her new found amour.
Eventually, when nothing came of all the watching, she did get bored with it and by early afternoon we were in the Throwleigh Road field grazing when the green car drove up and SHE got out and came into the field. SHE called out to us and the three of us went along to find out what SHE wanted. And, it appears, that what SHE wanted was a game. After we had had a few mint sweets, it became obvious that Mims was up for it and SHE alternated between whsssshing us away and then calling us back. Wick stood aside, aloof but Mims and I had a wonderful time cantering down to the home paddock, across the stream and then cantering back, bucking and kicking as we went only to be whsssshed away again.
Eventually, her breath ran out and we all had to call it a day. But it was the first real fun we’ve had with HER for ages. I do hope she gets better enough soon to came and be with us some more.

skyscapeSunday 12th November 2006
As HE came along tonight, Maxwell’s people came along as well to bring him in for the night. But, not only that, Annette came along with her new five year old, whose name I don’t know yet. He is a lovely bright chestnut colour, like Mims is and like I used to be. So, guess who got all excited then? And when he was led down the bridle path, my darling daughter just couldn’t contain herself. She just ran down the field and up to the bridle path gate to catch a really good look at him while HE just went and placed her food where she always has it. Then she ran back to HIM like a dog, looking up all the time, making sure that HE had seen he new young man too. I suppose I cant blame her. It cant be a whole lot of fun being in a field with your mother and a geriatric Dartmoor Hill Pony.
So what else is new? Nothing, I am afraid. The weather is just dull, grey and a bit misty/rainy. Nothing much to worry about, not cold or anything but not very jolly either. It just seems funny to be getting dark, earlier and earlier while, at the same time, the leaves are still on the trees and in a lot of cases they are still not even changing colour. We are certainly having a late, late autumn this year.
As far as the move is concerned – again nothing. It’s beginning to look as if we might be spending Xmas here after all. No one’s s said anything. In fact, that is the trouble. It is like being suddenly struck deaf, HE says. As if THEY had never put the house on the market at all. As if they hadn’t accepted the offer. As if …. Well, as if, that’s all.
In order to keep THEMSELVES from going mad, THEY have concentrated on doing as much as THEY can in preparation. HE went in and ordered some spectacles the other day. That was a funny thing. When HE left school, a year or two ago now, HE was diagnosed as needing glasses for long distance. When HE was driving, HE always had a pair in the car, which HE also used for going to the cinema and for watching TV. Since THEY have been here in Devon, he had stopped using them as THEY only ever went for short daytime drives and hardly ever went out at night. Also THEY cant remember the last time they went to the cinema and hey now only watch TV for half an hour in the morning over THEIR wake up cups of tea.
However, HE got an application for renewal of HIS driving licence recently and, as HE couldn’t remember what had happened to his driving glasses, HE went along and had HIS eyes tested. And, guess what? The optician told HIM that HE didn’t need glasses for driving anymore! HE did however order a pair with anti glare coating for night driving and another for reading, as it seemed as shame to waste the visit to the optician.

watching meMonday 13th November 2006
Hi guys, its me for a change. I wanted to get a chance to tell you about mum. I’m sure I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it. Maybe nothing. Maybe she is just getting a bit crotchety these days.
When HE brought out breakfast this morning, it was raining a bit. Only a bit, mind you but then, I think we have become used to the weather now, us wild Dartmoor horses (and pony of course. By the way, do you know the French spell it ‘poney’ with an ‘e’. That’ll drive his spell checker mad.) Where was I? Oh yes. So HE brought our breakfast and we went and stood in our usual positions but HE decided it was too wet for HIM so HE took our food up to the field shelter. It took a while, even for Wicky, to realise what was happening but we soon sorted ourselves out. Mum’s food was put right inside the shelter, Wick’s was near the entrance on the right and mine just outside, on the left. I never like to be right inside cos I get a sort of claustrophobia. So we all start off eating and HE feeds his birds like always. Then HE brought round our half apple that we have as a snack when the veggies in our food are all eaten up. Just as HE was giving me mine, mum comes over, leaving her own dinner and tries to barge in. HE was quite firm with her and made her go back to her own food and then gave her the other apple half.
After that, HE got this bright idea. The ground is very muddy these days and SHE has been worried about us getting mud fever so SHE brought along a big tub of cream to put on our feet. But then, the weather went dry and it never got put on. So, today, as we were all grouped around the shelter on he firm ground, HE decided to grease our feet. HE started with mum and gave her four white feet. Then HE came over to me and started going round. When HE came to the other side, HE found mum had left her food again and was busy eating mine. This time she got told off properly and made to go back to her own. Actually, HE was more worried about it than I was. I don’t think HE really understands horses very well. I mean, it was my food and my mum so that was alright. If I hadn’t wanted her to have it, she wouldn’t have taken it.
Still, HE does try, poor love. You know, if he was a horse, I could quite take to him. Well, that is, if he were a horse and quite a lot younger!

november roseTuesday 14th November 2006
Let me tell you about HIS day today. You know I told you that HE went to get HIS eyes tested last week and found that they had improved since HIS last test more than ten years ago. Well, today HE went off to visit the dental technicians. Not the dentists, you understand, HE have up going to them more than ten years ago, as well. It wasn’t that HE didn’t need to go to the dentist. Just that being such a coward, HE preferred to let nature take it’s course and let what few teeth he had left, fall out naturally. In doing so, I have to say, he endured quite a lot of pain as well and I can remember HIM telling me of at least two Xmas’s that were ruined because he had such bad toothache.
Anyway, having read some rather uncomplimentary things about dentists in France and having now come down to the last three of his own natural teeth (makes Wicky seem very well endowed!) he decided that HE must get a full set of new dentures (in fact, two new sets) to take away with HIM to France, when THEY go.
His appointment was at midday which meant that HE needed to set out forty five minutes before as the technicians are in Exeter. HE was lucky with the traffic and so was early and managed to get a couple of boxes to help pack up the tools in HIS shed. Then HE made HIS way to the denture people.
The first problem was that, although HE had phoned and made an appointment last week, they were very surprised to see HIM as no one had let them know of the appointment. Still, they took him in after fifteen minutes and started on the shoving and pushing of moulds into HIS mouth, making it very sore indeed. Then, when HE had his mouth firmly clamped, as ordered, on these two lumps of wax and plastic so that HE couldn’t talk, they told him that they must keep his present upper set of  dentures for a further nearly three hours!
Now, allowing for fast traffic, it would take him about an hour and a quarter to get home and back, so that wasn’t worth it so all HE could do was to go and sit in the car for three hours.
When HE got outside, HE phoned HER and told HER that HE wouldn’t be home until much later than planned. SHE was very understanding and told HIM to go out and have a nice meal. HE then had to explain that it would be difficult to do that as HE was now down to just three teeth. Not only could HE not eat but HE as really not fit to be seen in public. So he just sat in the car and listened to a succession of radio programmes for three hours. Then HE had to go back in, only to find that another session of pushing and waxing etc. etc. was called for. HE was now getting worried how long this would go on for as HE had to get back by four fifteen to feed us before it got too dark. Finally, HE got away and quite upset my suppertime whispering all this into my ear while I was eating.
I mean, I felt sorry for HIM and all that – but there is a time and place ……!

road colourWednesday 15th October 2006
“My sweetest, you called?”
“Mum, how about a story today?”
“A story, lovely one?”
“Well, I’m getting so bored hearing all about what HE’s been doing.”
“Hm? I see what you  mean. I don’t suppose you want to hear about the weather, either? Or what’s not happening about our going to France? No? Right then my darling. Now, let me see? Did I ever tell you about the time after I left you an went to work in that riding school?”
“I didn’t see you after that, until I came here so, no, you didn’t.”
“It was a bit of s shock, you know, moving away from you. I remember …..

I woke up with a bang. Where am I? What am I doing here? It was my first day in the riding school. I had been brought along in a big horse box and made to walk down the ramp into this strange yard. There was an outdoor riding area with rails all round an then across the path from that this big, long single storey building. I was led into the front door and along past a load of boxes until I was taken into the stall that was to become my home for as long as I stayed there. When I was brought in, there ws no-one on either side of me. The stall was average size with straw on the floor and a haynet hanging up in the corner. I had no idea where I was or why I had been brought here. I do remember my human seemed very unhappy when I was led away into the horse box but nothing as said that was to prepare me for what followed.
I just stood in the box, looking all around. From the outside I could hear human voices and I was intent on trying to make out what they were talking about when I got my first shock. Squark! Bank. Down from the ceiling flew a chicken. Right onto the rails of my door. It made me jump, I can tell you. When it had got its balance, with a lot at clucking and fluttering, it put its head on one side and said ‘cuk, cuk, who are you, cuk?’ Just like that. No introduction. No preparatory guestures. Nothing civilised like another horse would do. Just ‘cuk, cuk, who are you?’ I was so taken aback that I just answered and told it my name. ‘quark, why are you, cuk, here?’ it demanded again, as rude as you like. I had to tell it that I had no idea and that I would be very grateful if it could tell me where ‘here’ was.
And so, that was how I first got to know Charlie. Charlie the Cock that is. After a while, I got used to his abrupt manner and at least found out that this was a riding school. ‘I expect, cuk, that you will, squark, be taking humans round the park, like the others cuk.’, he told me. And, although that didn’t seem very terrible, just the fact that humans have the power to uproot you and move you and make you do something without you being involved in the decision, that did seem terrible.
Soon Charlie said he had to go and chase his hens up, as they would be getting very untidy without his guidance and he was off, leaving me to contemplate my new circumstances. I hadn’t been standing there long when I heard the sound of hooves approaching outside. The sound got louder and I was able to distinguish six sets of shoes pulling up outside the stables and I heard the sound of human chatter as the riders dismounted. It wasn’t long before a group of horses were brought into the stables and the stalls either side of me were filled.

“And that’s about it for tonight, darling. I just heard HIS car pull up with our suppers.”
“Oh mum. Wont you carry on. I don’t care about any old supper. I want to hear more of the story.”
“Well, I’m afraid I do want my supper, love. Tell you what. I’ll carry on after supper in the shelter. It looks as if this rain is going on all night. We can have a real good old story telling night. I’ll get uncle Wicky to tell us some too. He used to work in a riding stable too, didn’t he?”
“Great, mum. Thanks. Right, let’s get our suppers, then. OK”

carrotsThursday 16th November 2006
“We was all waiting around in the yard getting really, really bored. There were six of us altogether – Ginger, Merle, Sherie, Carthorse (that wasn’t his proper name, that’s what we called him), Treg and me. Except of course, Treg wasn’t there. It was him we was waiting for. Sherie said we should all go on and leave him but I told the lassie that we couldn’t do that. For a start, our rider’s would have something to say about it and anyway, Treg was my mate and I wasn’t going anywhere without him. Carthorse said he wondered what was keeping him but then, Carthorse was always wondering something. There was very little that he knew. Old Ginge was for going round to Treg’s stable to find out what the hold up was. He started to charge off but the young lady on his back looked alarmed and clutched at his reins.
What it was, we were all supposed to be going out for a hack around Winkleigh airfield. They still called it an airfield although it hadn’t seen a plane since the second world war. It was just a nice big flat area where we could let the riders have a bit of a canter (or in the case of some of mine, a bit of a flying lesson) and we got to have a bit of fun. We had all been tacked up, all six of us, Treg included. We were just getting ready and our riders were mounting up when Treg’s rider, a young lady called Marie, decided that she had forgotten something. So, she dismounted and taking Treg’s reins in her hands, lead him back to his stall in the stable.
‘They’ve been an awful long while’ said Merle, ‘I hope everything’s allright’. There was then a general discussion of all the things that could possibly have gone wrong. Carthorse wondered if they had lost their way ‘cos that was something hat he did all the time. Merle told him not to be silly, it was only just over the yard and into the stable and even he couldn’t get lost going there, well, not most times. Ginger said Treg might have fallen and broke all his legs and Carthorse thought that might well be it. Sherie said it was much more likely that his rider had needed to go to the toilet. She said humans are funny like that, they go and lock themselves away somewhere and find it necessary to read something at the same time.
Just as the conversation was turning silly, not to mention rather childish, the door of the stable started to swing open. Well, you could have knocked us all down with a dandy brush. You’ve never seen such a sight in all your life. Marie was all dressed up like a queen of olden days with a big pointy thing on her head with a veil coming out of the top which covered her face. She had on this very fluffed out long dress which was sort of embroidered all over and she was riding side saddle. But – that was nothing. You should have seen Tregony!
Tregony had a long coat made out of shiny links of metal all joined together and covering him from head to tail and hanging low on his sides. On top of this was laid a great big red and white flag – white with a red cross on it, it was. Then all his mane was twirled into ringlets with little bells at the end of each bunch. On his poll, he had a sort of long silver spike strapped under his neck and his tail was all tasled with red, white and blue ribbons.
He put one foot slowly in front of the other and made his way towards us, being very careful not to catch my eye. Carthorse just roared with laughter and Ginger sniggered to himself. The lassies smiled but, I think I detected a sort of envy in their looks. Marie called out to the other riders ‘All set then?’ and gave Treg a great big nudge in the rib (it was only one rib because she was side saddle)’ Treg shot off to get in front of us where he didn’t have to see our faces. I felt very sorry for the laddie because humans really do get some funny ideas. But in the end it was Treg who came out on top because it turns out there was some sort of fancy dress parade over at the airfield and Treg and Marie won first prize. My old mate came back with a red rosette and was looking as proud as anything so no-one laughed at him any more after that.”

tracksFriday 17th November 2006
Hi, I’m back again. Been having a bit of a rest while the other two had a go at the diary. A few things happened today worth talking about. It started this morning when it was so wet that we decided to make HIM feed us in the shelter. I think HE was secretly pleased because it allowed him to see to us without plonking about in the mud. That bit of land which runs down to the stream has really got wet again, even though they were supposed to have put a drain in to keep it dry. I thought it was a bit strange when HE decided to pick our feet out before HE did our sponges. There HE was pleasantly surprised on two counts. Because of the lack of time doing things on HIS own, HE has not been picking our feet out lately, so when HE approached Mims, I think HE was worried that she would have forgotten how to be good about it. Instead, first Mims then me and finally Wicky, just lifted each leg in turn without even having to be asked. HE was really very pleased with us. The second thing that pleased him was that, because of all the rain, our feet were very clean anyway and He had nothing to do.
The next funny thing HE did was, instead of just putting our treat carrots down, when we had finished our buckets, HE walked away towards the stream, holding one out and calling us. It took me a little while and then I realised that HE wanted us to follow HIM over the stream into the road field. Of course, when I went the other two followed and then HE closed the gate behind us. I fell in then, it was farrier day. Sure enough, HE had only been gone about half an hour when HE came back following Mark’s van. I will say that we had a lovely time then, all cosy and family together, having our feet trimmed. Since we stopped having shoes, it doesn’t take half as long now and HE usually hands out the mint sweets while we are being trimmed. While Mims was being done, I rested my head on his shoulder from behind and that way, we all got cuddles (Wicky was underneath, of course).
This evening was fun. HE came along and couldn’t see us, which HE thought was strange because it wasn’t raining so HE didn’t expect us to be in the shelter. And when HE rounded the corner and could see past the hedge, HE saw that we weren’t! Then, looking up, HE saw Wicky just turning out of the top field. When Wick heard HIM call, he started to canter. That set Mims off, so I had to as well. And that was the finishing line up. Wicky looked at us and sneered ‘call yourselves racehorses?’ but we were too busy eating to take any notice. Then, all of a sudden that old black and white farm cat exploded out of the hay store and ran out of the shelter. Mims was already would up from the chase so she very nearly exploded out herself until HE soothed her. All in all, an interesting day.

mouth openSaturday 18th November 2006
I didn’t  tell you, did I? About my darling daughter that is. While HE was holding her for Mark yesterday, HE happened to look down and, guess what, she has got several holes in her knee now. Not terrible although they have been bleeding but just like a schoolboy with grazed knees only deeper. The blood had dried up and it was too late for wound powder or anything. It was obvious that she had stumbled sometime. HE thought it was just typical of the accident prone girly. They put a rug on her back so that she can’t make holes in her body so she goes and grazes her knees..
And another thing about Mims. She keeps getting mystery white poder marks on her face. Sometime they are quite small ones and HE thinks that they might actually be bird droppings. That is not quite as silly as it sounds because the birds did used to settle on old Treg’s back. However, this would have to be a bird settling on her head which is less likely, I suppose. Then, other days, she has the whole side of her face covered in white as if she has been rubbing up against a blackboard or something. HE has just had to guess that she has found a soft rock somewhere which she likes to scratch on or eat beside. Who knows? It’s Mims.
It was a cold day today, although we horses don’t feel it like you humans. But also it was a gloriously sunny day after a bit of a grey start. No rain for a change, really nice. However, after all the rain we’ve had (we had a thunder and lightening storm the other night) our field is now far too wet to eat in. HE had kept moving us forward more and more each day but I decided enough was enough and just waited in the shelter so that HE would get the message. HE’s quite bright. After only two days, I’ve got HIM trained.
So, what about France? Well might you ask. The latest is that the buyers had someone round last week to evaluate the damp patches. He told THEM that he would get his report to the buyers by Monday so next week is going to be the crunch time. After the buyers have had time to digest the report, THEY want a completion date or the house goes back on the market and we start all over again. Our window for travel before Xmas is narrowing fast so we shall see. In the meantime THEY have now bought French crossword puzzles to hone up THEIR language skills. That may sound grand but I think that the books are not very grown up ones!

rainbowSunday 19th November 2006
“You blew it this morning, mum, didn’t you?”
“I’m afraid so, my dear. I didn’t realise that HE would take it so badly. I was just a bit fed up, that’s all.”
“Well, when you did it, I had to, as well, didn’t I? I don’t suppose that pleased HIM very much either.”
“No, well, it will be interesting what HE does tonight. Humans are funny creatures. They can bear a grudge for ages. Days, even weeks.”
“Oh dear. I hope it isn’t weeks. I do enjoy my treats so.”
“Well, HE didn’t have to storm off like that, did HE?”
“You did!”
“Yes, that was different. He was trying to put that horrible smelly muck on my feet while I was eating. It’s bad enough when I’m not eating but HE knows how I only just tolerate that sort of thing at the best of times.”
“But mum. HE was only doing it for our own good. So we don’t get bad feet in all this wet and muddy ground. You could have let him finish instead of storming off with only two feet finished.”
“The stick got up my nose and made me irritable I guess. I wasn’t nasty or anything. I just went and stood in the middle of the field to get a bit of fresh air.”
“Ah well. I expect HE went home with HIS pockets full of my favourite biscuits as well. Good job we had our apples before you got stroppy.”
“I’ll say again, miss. I was not stroppy. Just a bit nauseated, that’s all. Surely HE could be a little more considerate of our feelings?”
“Whatever. We will just have to see if HE has got over it by suppertime.”
“Anyway, HE has been getting a bit much lately. I get the feeling that giving us treats is more of a routine now than a pleasure. Sometimes I have hardly finished the apple before HE comes round with the mints. As if HE were just trying to get it all done.”
“Yeah. But mum. I think HE has a lot on HIS plate at the moment, what with the move and everything.”
“Move? What move? I bet we will be spending Xmas on Dartmoor yet my girl. As much as HE keeps telling us that we are going to France, nothing happens, does it? I think it is all wishful thing. That’s what I think.”
“Lassies, lassies. Whisht wi all your talking now. You don’t make matters better with all this chatter. HE might be happier if you were a bit more cheerful when HE turns up. You have to allow that HE is very reliable. On time in any kind of weather, all the days of the week and months. At least we know where our next meals are coming from. And that’s me saying that and you ken how I like ma pudding.”
“It’s all right for you, Wick. You don’t have to have that stuff on your feet so you haven’t upset him.”
“Well, you’ve not long now to find out what HE thinks. Here comes the car with our suppers.”
“Keep your heads down and just walk into the shelter in an orderly manner. No larking about Mims. Just walk nicely.”
“Look at that mum. HE’s giving Wick a cuddle. He can’t be that upset.”
“Heads down, eat up. Let’s see what happens after we’ve eaten.”
“OK mum. And mum? Don’t walk away again, will you?”

sharingMonday 20th November 2006
There was once a family of ponies who lived all alone on an island. How they got there, no-one knows. What they were doing there with no human to feed them or look after them, again – no-one knows. Were they happy? A resounding yes! It wasn’t a small family. There were several generations and lots of brothers and sisters. Probably you might call them a herd, rather than a family as there was quite a mix in the gene pool, showing that they had not all sprung from the one set of parents. Nevertheless, they called themselves a family. The Marwickians actually because the island where they lived was called The Isle of Marwick.
The acknowledged head of the family was old McRoy Marwick. No-one knew just how old he was but, it was said, that he would never see 40 years again. There were several Mrs McRoys. There was Hanna and there was Jennie and there was Auld Mother Heather. Heather was virtually blind but it didn’t seem to matter as she could find her way round the island, as she was always telling people with one eye tied behind her back. When people tried to tell her that she may have got her words a wee bittee mixed up, Mother Heather would just wink and laugh at them. Hanna was the youngest, if that is quite the right word. Well, Hanna was the least senior, anyway. It was Hanna who looked after old McRoy and conveyed his words of wisdom to the herd. One couldn’t just walk straight up to McRoy and ask him something. You had to go to Hanna and ask her to transmit your request or whatever. Then you had to wait until it suited Hanna to come back to you with the old sage’s reply. It was often thought that she didn’t go to him at all and that it was really Hanna who ruled the family.
Outside this hierarchy, there were a group of stallions who, in effect, ran the herd. Nobody acknowledged this in the open yet all the herd members knew who to take orders from and it was neither McRoy or Hanna. And then, there were the youngsters, the gaggle of colts and fillies who made the herd such a fun place to be in. As most of the ponies were largely of Shetland stock, the youngsters were not the tallest creatures around. In fact, on a snowy day, it was not so easy to tell a colt from a sheep from any distance, except perhaps hat the colt would be dirtier. But they were fun. And the funniest of the lot was young Flicket Marwick or Flick McWick as he was known to his friends. Whenever there was a prank going, Flick was behind it. If auld Jennie Marwick got teased by a group of fillies, Flick was behind it. And yet everyone liked him. Even those who were teased or tricked or who had suffered any discomfort at Flick’s hooves used to say ‘He’s alright, he didn’t mean it’.
One day Flick was feeling extremely bored and was looking around for something to brighten his day. He wandered over to the hill overlooking the sea and looked down onto the beach. He was just …

“Wick. Sorry, you’ll have to leave it there. Supper’s just turned up.”
“Oh, mum. It was just getting interesting. You will finish it later, won’t you Uncle Wick?”
“Aye, lassie. Later. After supper OK?”

the commonTuesday 21st November 2006
But not this supper, alright? There is only so much of Wicky’s stories that I can take. I think I am surrounded by, shall we say, original people. Take my sweet and lovely daughter, as they say – please! You see she has gone all hormonal on me. Spends most of her day gazing and gazing up at Mathew’s stables or watching out along the Throwleigh Road in case this young man should go riding by. I say young man but he must be at least ten years old, just about her own age. But I am afraid there is no doubt that he is a male and an entire male at that. And, of course, that is Mims’ problem. She can hear her biological clock ticking if not shouting away to her. And, I suppose, she is right. I was much the same age when I had her and if she doesn’t go for it soon then she never will.
Her problem is that she is going about it the wrong way. She can stand and stare up across the fields until the Taw freezes over but it wont get her anywhere. Not that she is unattractive (at least, as long as they are not looking for a brain as well) it’s just that nothing will come of it unless THEY want it. It’s THEM that she needs to work on. The chances of a stallion seeing her over the distance from here to Mathew’s is very, very remote and the chances of him jumping all the Devon hedges between here and there just to be with her are even remoter. I know what she is doing, I suppose. She is aiming for the sympathy ticket. If she stands and longs and longs long and hard enough, maybe HE will notice and do something about it but her chances are pretty remote.
Take tonight. HE had put down our buckets and had needed then to call Mims over to hers before she started to eat. As HE needed some photos for this diary as HE has not taken many this month, HE got out HIS little camera and decided to get a couple of shots of Mims. When HE looked up, she had left her bucket and waltzed off down the field for a prolonged stare. First HE laughed at her. Then, when she showed no signs of coming back to her supper, HE decided to go ahead and take some photos. The trouble was she wouldn’t turn her head and there are only so many pictures of Mims back view that anyone could want. So, HE decided enough was enough and went over to her to persuade her with an apple and some sugar lumps. And this did distract her enough to allow HIM to race her back to her bucket. However, when I had finished and Wicky had finished as well, she was still left with a full bucket so HE tipped that out so that HE could take the bucket home for washing and refilling or tomorrow.
When HE looked back, Mims was standing with her dinner on the floor behind her, just gazing up at Mathew’s yard again. And what was happening behind her? That’s right, Wicky was helping himself to a second supper. Oh well, that’s love!

MimsWednesday 22nd November 2006
“ ……. was struggling for breath and was sure that he was going to die. Another huge wave crashed over his head and he found his short little legs being swept from under him. frantically he kicked and wriggled and tried to get a footing again but it was no use. The raging water was rushing up his neck, over his mouth, over his mouth and then, he could no longer breathe. Memories of his dam and of his playmates flashed before his mind and then all slowly started to go black and fade away.”

“Oh, Wick, did didn’t drown, did he?”
“Quiet lassie. Just wait and see.”

“Rory never felt the firm but gentle grip on his poor, sodden mane or feel himself being carefully lifted from the water and carried slowly but surely up the beach to the dry sand well away from the waters edge. He didn’t even, at first, feel the less than gentle hoof that was being rhythmically thrust into his chest making his whole little body shake from hoof to ear tip. At first just a dribble and then a stream and finally a gush of sea water escaped from his mouth and slowly his brain became aware of movement and then pain as the hoof continued its thrusting. Little Rory’s one eye opened a fraction and saw a sort of blurry monster looming over him. With a start, both eyes opened and his whole body jerked away from the devil who was kicking him. Fear gave an added impetus to his efforts and he hurled himself to his feet where he shakily stood facing his tormentor.
‘With us again, eh, young Rory?’
‘Oh, it’s you, Flick. What were you kicking me for. What have I done?’
‘Done? Done, young laddie. You’ve nearly got yoursen drowned, that’s what you’ve done. It was lucky for you I was walking along yon hill and caught a glimpse of you.’
Rory stood there shivering. Slowly it started to come back to him. How he had stayed behind after the other colts had gone back to the herd because he wanted to play with the water some more. He remembered how he had waded out into the sea trying to find out how the older horses had managed to swim in the water. And then ….
‘Better be getting back now young Rory, your dam will be getting worried.’
Without waiting for a reply, Flick put his head down and nudged the youngster forward and then trotted beside him, urging him on to get some warmth back into his limbs.
And that was how the rest of the herd saw them as they came over the brow of the hill and re-joined their fellows.
‘Hi Flick McWick. Been out on a training run? Rory showing you how it’s done, lad?’
Flick just smiled and ignored the friendly jibes and steered Rory back to his mother.
‘Where’ve you been young lad?’ she demanded, looking more worried that she wanted to show.
‘He’s been helping me, Annie, don’t be cross. He said we had to hurry home to you now, so you wouldn’t worry.’
Annie relaxed and gave Rory a gentle shove. If he’d been out with Flick then he couldn’t have been in any danger, could he?

“And that’s it for tonight, girlie. Next time it’ll be you turn to tell me a story. Right?”
“Yeah. OK uncle Wick. Thanks, I’m glad it had a happy ending.”

raindropsThursday 23rd November 2006
Are we going to have a happy ending as well, one wonders? We had some news today which, although not conclusive, does give some grounds for optimism that we may get to France before Xmas.
The story behind it is a long one but I will cut it down, both to be brief and also to avoid broadcasting THEIR business to all and sundry, all over the world, who might read this diary. And also, at this time, I only know what HE told me when HE brought our supper buckets this evening. By breakfast all might be doom and gloom again. Still, this is the story so far.
When I first came to live here, THEY bought the field for me to live in but also wanted to put up a stable next to THEIR house, so that I could come home in the evenings in the winter or when I was unwell. At first THEY thought that THEY might need planning permission but then THEY read in some housing regulations that, as ong as the stable was less than a certain size and was within the cartilage (boundaries) of the property, then it was treated like a shed and no planning permission was required. So, THEY went ahead and ordered the wooden stable and had the makers come along and erect it on a concrete base that THEY had built. All went smoothly until one day there was a letter from the National Park saying that they had been informed that there was a stable at THEIR address which was illegal because it did not have planning permission. THEY were quite happy that the building was within the law so they engaged a solicitor to write and inform the planners of the situation. To cut the story short, it turned out that, because the property is within the National Park, those rules did not apply and planning permission was required.
So, they went about applying for planning permission in retrospect and this was granted, after a public health inspector had checked on the sanitation requirements, but the permission was granted to THEM personally.
That was eight years ago and had all been forgotten until the lawyers working on the sale came to look at the old papers. Again, cutting the story to the bone, when THEY chased THEIR prospective buyers (as it has been 3 months less a couple of days since the sale was agreed with no progress) THEY were told that the buyers wanted another £5,000 off the asking price in case they had to pull the stable down. As we are all desperate to go to our new home, THEY have offered £2,000 as long as the sale will complete on 12th December. The date was chosen as that is when our equine removal men can take us to France before Xmas.
So now we will all have to wait and see if the sale is on or off. We horses are tired of waiting but THEY are getting very frayed now. And if it is agreed, there will be only three weeks to get everything done. Fingers crossed!

reflectionsFriday 24th November 2006
Well, THEY heard nothing all day today so we will have to wait at least until Monday now to see if anything transpires. France that is!
And now, the weather. Awful! When HE brought our breakfast this morning it was pouring with rain. HE remarked how strange it was that earlier in the year THEY had been worried that our stream might dry up. All the human media were talking of water shortages and some places even put water usage restrictions in place. It had been the driest year since anyone could remember. All due to climate change they were told. And all the wet places, like the west country were going to turn into deserts etc etc. Now, if you look at our stream, you wouldn’t be surprised if you needed a bridge to cross it soon, if we have any more of this weather. Even Mims is very careful how she crosses it now. So, back to this morning. We all had our breakfast in the field shelter and, after HE had fed and ministered to us, HE put out three large piles of new hay for us to eat during the day.
And, HE was right. The day got wetter and wetter and to add to it we had some fairly strong winds. HE tells us that the human forecasters are saying that there will be very high winds overnight tonight, so maybe we will all stay in and just stand around and tell stories again. Either that or just nod off. If my darling daughter is telling the stories we might just do both!
HE says HE tries to keep our spirits up by singing to us but I think it is just to keep HIS spirits up. It just depresses us. Now HE is trying to get a few photos of the rain as HE is fed up with pictures of three very dirty equines with their heads in their buckets. The problem for HIM is that the times that HE comes along with our buckets are either too early for the light to be strong enough or too late so the light is fading fast. And given the rain clouds as well, it is even darker making sharp photos with a little hand held camera pretty hard to get. I suppose HE could bring HIS tripod but then Mims would probably knock it over. HE told HER that he was not surprised that Mims is thought to be accident prone. HE had to put her feed bucket in the centre of the shelter first thing this morning so that he could get in and out of the haystore gate. When HE had finished in there, HE moved her bucket deeper into the shelter on the side away from me. Mims just moved forward to get to her bucket without looking and hit her head on the centre supporting post of the shelter. Still, I suppose it was lucky that it was only her head. Nothing to damage there, is there?

the two of usSaturday 25th November 2006
Mims’ head, now my foot! That will teach me to say nasty things about her.
But, let’s start from the beginning. We had a bit of a funny morning today. When I say ‘we’, I mean Mims and I, but then I suppose it affected HIM as well but maybe not Wicky. I sometimes think that anything we do, Wicky just puts it down to ‘girl behaviour’ and asks no more questions.
It all started off as normal. HE brought the breakfast as normal, Wick met Him at the stream and Mims and I were waiting in the shelter. It was raining and HE told me that the thought did cross HIS mind that maybe we wouldn’t let Wick in the shelter but then HE realised what a silly idea that was as Wick hardly ever bothers about the weather and only goes into the shelter if he has to follow his feed bucket there.
HE brought the buckets up to the shelter and we all started to eat. It had only been a few moments however when a car came along the Throwleigh Road and, for some reason, when it got to Maxwell’s gate, it hooted, even though no one was there. It wasn’t a normal hooter though but a sort of funny sounding one. HE was putting out the birds’ peanuts and just turned to see that Mims had gone storming off into the middle of the field to see what the noise was about. HE is used to her strange behaviour by now so HE took no notice and went about putting the lids back on the bins where HE keeps the bird food. When HE came out of the hay store and shut the gate behind HIM, HE found that I had left my breakfast too and gone out to see what was wrong with Mims. The trouble was that, by this time, she was no longer there but had gone right up into the field above to get a better look.
The first thing HE did was to get my bucket and bring it out to me to keep it out of Wicky’s range. Then HE tried to persuade Mims to come down by carrying her bucket to the foot of the slope. HE felt quite pleased with HIMSELF when she finally came to the top of the slope and HE put her bucket down there. However, on turning, HE found that I was watching what was going on while Wicky was happily eating away at my breakfast. In the end, HE had to take my bucket back to the shelter, with Wicky following Him, throw a handful down to keep Wick busy and then come back and watch while Mims and I ate our breakfasts.
This evening, HE was puzzled that only Wick was waiting at the gate to meet HIM. When HE turned the corner HE saw that Mims was in the shelter and I was up in the field above the shelter. After seeing the others had their supper, HE came to call me down and was not at all happy to see me coming very slowly being lame on my offside fore. He had a look at all my feet and could feel that the offside fore had heat. This evening SHE told HIM to test for mud fever and HE has decided to medicate my breakfast. As I said THEY should know that it is just retribution for laughing at my daughter, yesterday!

leaf carpetSunday 26th November 2006
“Still ‘ere then?”
“Oh, gracious, Treg, you startled me.”
“Sorry Alli. Just thought I’d drop by to find out where you were. Wassa matter? Is it off then?”
“Sorry, Treg, I’m not with you. Is what off?”
“Though you was going home. To Normandy I mean. But you’re still here, aint you?”
“Oh, France. Who knows?”
“What I mean is, no-one seems to know. HE doesn’t. SHE doesn’t. And THEY are getting very tetchy about it.”
“Oh well, celerie monamy.”
“Er, Treg, I think you mean C’est las vie, don’t you?”
“Yer, s’wat I said. Dunno what it means though. Something about eating those long thin vegetable sticks, I think. Never could get on with them myself.”
“Er, well, right Treg. So, how are you?”
“Pretty good, all in all, Al. Looking forward to bonfire night though.”
“Bonfire night? You mean Guy Fawke’s night?”
“That’s the one. Good fun aint it. All them bangs and flashes an’ that. Something to look forward to, right?”
“Have you been away, Treg? I’m afraid you might have missed it, old mate.”
“Oh bug.. er.. fetlocks. Not again! I always seem to be missing things lately. We’ve not had Xmas yet, have we?”
“No, not yet Treg. You’re alright for that.”
“Thank goodness then. Thought I was never going to have any fun. It’s my mind, you see Alli. I’m recovering form Alzheimer’s and it takes a while to adjust, you know.”
“Recovering from it? I didn’t know you could.”
“Oh yes. Up here, you know, where I am now, it just goes into reverse. You remember when I used to lay down and forget to get up again? Well, now, I always remember. Like a blinking yoyo now, I am. Up and down, up and down. Have a nap whenever I feel like it now. O’ course, I don’t feel like half as often either so it don’t matter anyway. Still it’s nice not to have to worry about that.”
“Did you used to worry a lot, Treg?”
“Well, actually, I don’t think I did, Al. You see, my mind had gone so far that I didn’t know I was doing it so it didn’t worry me at all. Still, now I am better, I can worry about all those times I should have worried so it works out even in the end.”
“How interesting Treg. So what will you do at Xmas?”
“Well, I was thinking about coming and joining you lot for a while. Trouble is I don’t know where you’ll be. And neither do you by the sound of it.”
“Oh, that’s lovely Treg. We’d all love to have you with us for Xmas, wherever we will be. One thing, you don’t have to book a ticket like we do, you can just turn up on the day, wherever it is. Being dea.. er, not here any more does seem to have its advantages.”
“Don’t worry Alli. You can say it. I’ve got used to the idea now. Was a time when I used to worry about it a lot but now I can see that it’s just like looking in a mirror, well a puddle anyway. Things still go on as before but you’re just sort of on the other side, so to speak.”
“Yes, that is how they speak, don’t they? ‘On the other side’. I suppose it is a way of looking at it though.”
“Right, that’s settled then. I’ll join you for Xmas, wherever you are. Let’s hope I’ll be able to say ‘Bon Noel’ next time I see you. Anyway, must go now Al. Don’t want to be late for Halloween!”

cloud formationMonday 27th November 2006
It took me a while explaining to my sweetest daughter that Treg doesn’t know anyone called ‘good Noel’ and that it was just a way of saying … oh well, I did my best. Sometimes Mims can be a bit on the, well, simple side and one could waste an awful lot of breath trying to teach her things. But she is so sweet that it doesn’t matter in he slightest. I will be very interested to see, when we do get to that other country, if SHE has a lot of success teaching her the basics of riding. I’m sure she wont mind having a human on her back but the trouble might be if she gets carried away with enthusiasm or fright or something and just runs away forgetting all about her passenger. Tonight she had invented a game for herself, walking along the raised banks by the stream. There was absolutely no need for her to go along these but she thought it would be a fun thing to do. She could have slipped in the wet grass at any moment and knowing how accident prone she is, she could have damaged herself again. Still, it’s great to be young although SHE keeps reminding him that Mims isn’t strictly ‘young’ any more. It is just that she seems it, the silly things that she gets up to.
One incident of minor interest happened tonight as we were having supper. First a very large white lorry went past along the Throwleigh Road with some words Animal or Veterinary Products painted in large letters on the side. In itself it was worth a look but then, after it had passed, it started coming backwards the way it came. I could see that HE was a bit worried that the lorry might reverse into HIS little green car parked up by the gate and then, when it reversed passed it with no mishap, HE was wondering if it was looking for somewhere and had seen us horses and was stopping to ask the way. But no. Next thing and even bigger and very tall lorry filled right up to the tree tops with hay bales, came along in the opposite direction which explained why the white lorry had to back up. Well, I did say only ‘minor’ interest.
And that’s been our day, I’m afraid. The weather has been absolutely foul and my legs which I had thought were getting better have been giving me some pain. I’m not what you might call ‘typically lame’ but rather all over stiff and aching. Old age I guess. HE said that HE cant wait to get us over in France where we can be kept in in the warm and dry overnight. Maybe that will help and maybe not. I think I just need the clock putting back and no amount of moving around the world is going to do that.

mum and ITuesday 28th November 2006
We may be getting some movement, at last, in going to France. At least, that is what HE tells me today. No word this morning. HE seemed neither over the moon or down in the dumps (try saying that in French). It was an ordinary morning where HE always starts out as if HE is tired and slightly depressed and then, after about five minutes or less in our company, he cheers up no end and often, I’m sorry to say, ends up singing to us.
I’m trying to think back to this morning. Oh yes, that’s when Mims did one of her tricks. We were waiting for our breakfast, down at the bridle path gate end of the stream rather than at the ford. Wicky went up to greet HIM as usual and I turned to make my way up to the field shelter. But, instead of following me, Mims turned towards the stream and made her way up to HIM and Wick by means of the narrow raised bank that runs alongside the stream. It is not a straight or level path and to see my accident prone daughter negotiating it like a tight rope walker is enough to put shivers up your spine. Still she made it without mishap and got her carrot as a reward. She would have got it anyway but it looked like a reward.
Another thing Mims has taken to doing lately is greeting HIM with her ears flat back on her head so that she looks really fierce. I am sure HE doesn’t worry for himself but HE does think that she is going to lunge at Wicky at any moment as Wick always walks alongside him to escort the feed buckets up to the shelter. I am not at all sure that Mims isn’t a bit jealous of this as she has a bit of a soft spot for HIM. I don’t know why because HE always irritates her when HE brings the buckets by scratching her neck playfully. She snatches it away from him snorting that there is a time and place for that sort of thing but it doesn’t stop HIM.
Now, where was I? Oh yes. About France. It seems that the estate agent phoned HER yesterday while HE was out shopping and said that the buyers would be happy to exchange contracts this coming Friday the 1st of December and, for themselves, they would be happy to complete on the 12th, which means that we would be transported on the 13th, as THEY have to move the cats and the house contents first. However, there was one possible problem. The buyers could not be sure that their buyers would be happy with completing on the 12th and there might be a possibility of us still moving before the completion date and THEM getting the money for the house sale a little later.
So, nothing is certain yet but HE is now going ahead as if we are going on the 13th and has spend all day today sorting out HIS shed. I should say sorting out half HIS shed, as it turned out to be a bigger job than HE had expected. Two trips to the recycling centre so far and not finished yet – although to look at HIM, when HE came this evening, HE might be!

trees in autumnWednesday 29th November 2006
Like an old man, HE was this evening. OK alright, I know HE is an old man but what I mean is HE was even more like one. Stooping and groaning because HE says HIS back hurts. When I asked why (aren’t I nice?) HE told me that HE has finally finished clearing HIS shed out. It did involve yet another trip to the dump but at least it is all ready now for the removal men. HE tells me the next major physical job is sorting out the tack room at home. Some of our gear is there, some is here in the hay store and a lot has found its way to the spare bedroom. It is a question of what we wear, what comes in the equine removal van with us and hat goes with the house removers into store.
The other job HE started on and left off as HE couldn’t face it, is sorting out HIS clothes. Again a three way split. What goes with THEM in the car to wear for the next few months, what can be packed away to go in store and what, like the white shirts and ties that HE saved after stopping work, needs to be thrown away. The problem is that the little green car is just that – little. There will not be a lot of room to take stuff. And then, what will the weather be like for the next three months? It should be the coldest part of the year and so warm clothes are needed and these are bulky. What a lot of problems being human brings. Give me a decent, water and wind proof rug and I am all set for all but the very coldest weather and then I can always come in.
Sorry it’s all human and not equine news but with all the planning and so on, its all I can get him to think about. And anyway, not a lot has been happening with us at Ninefields. I could talk about the weather but that is boring. How about Wicky eating, there’s a novelty. Oh, one thing about Wicky. Remember that when he was clipped last time, Pauline left his legs all hairy. Well, SHE has arranged for Pauline to come and trim his legs before we go to France so she will be coming on Friday 8th. Another long walk down the road for Wick and HIM. Still, HE has been let off walking me and Mims down the road this year so I expect it will be good for him and it should be the last time that HE ever has to walk that half a mile again.

a meetingThursday 30th November 2006
And that’s the end of another month. Doesn’t it fly by when you are standing in the wind and rain waiting for Mims to do something intelligent?
Oh, alright, you guessed it was me, even without the phoney Scots accent. It was about time for me to have a few words. Those girls do tend to hog the limelight just because they are tall. Well tall and bossy. Well, girls!
So, what have I got to tell you? Well, for a start, no one has been consulting me about going to another country. I am a Dartmoor Hill poney Shetland X (oh dear now I am spelling it the French way with an ‘e’). Alli might have been born there and Mims is her daughter but I have nothing to do with the place and I do feel I should have been consulted. Do I mind? Well, to tell the truth, I don’t know. I’ll only be able to tell when I get there. HE keeps telling us how lovely it will be and HE usually tells us the truth so I am tending to go along with it.
Tell you what, I reckon I will be a better sailor than Mims. HE said that the man who is taking us had better not let Mims up on deck or she would be bound to fall in. She has been having another mad day today. It’s the wind, you see. When the wind gets up as it has today, it makes her feel all frisky and jittery. She likes to try and scare herself so she has an excuse to run about like a mad thing. In a way I can understand it. It can’t be easy being in a field with a couple of ‘olds’ and no one of your own age to romp about with. You should see our road field now. Covered with scrapes and skids where she has run around, usually to make a dive at me. Why she thinks I might find it funny, I just don’t know.
Getting back to the voyage or, at least, to the travelling to our new home. I can’t say I am looking forward to it a great deal. We will be having an overnight stop so it wont be one big long journey but, in some ways, that makes it worse. Spending two days cooped up ina travelling box it not anyone’s idea of heaven, is it? What makes it worse, of course, is that it will not be our final move. When we get there, THEY will be busy looking for a permanent place to buy and then we will have to be boxed up and moved again, although that will not be for such a long journey and no ferry crossing will be involved.
But, won’t it be grand when we do finally get to our permanent final home. By then it will be spring with all that lush Normandy grass to pig out on except I expect SHE will have something to say about that, using laminitis as an excuse to spoil my fun. In a way, I hope it is not all flat pasture as the hills that we have had here have been a godsend when the weather is very wet and the lower fields are all muddy.

Right, that’s about it. I’ll have to get back to saying lassies and ken and stuff like that now or Mims will never know me. Bon soir, as they say, au revoir mes amis!

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