There are times in life when I feel extremely hard done by. I hate to coin the phrase ‘grumpy old man’ but just occasionally it is exactly how I feel, it’s good to have a darn good moan and get it off one’s chest. Yes I know, I am in fact canine rather than human, I have four legs instead of two and I am useless at modern technology. But I’m told my stories are quite funny and every now and then I like to hijack ‘her’ blog and vent my frustration. So my apologies in advance if I offend anyone, but this is me, Bentley, letting off a little steam.
It was always planned; that late in the winter we would find a suitable mate for Evie, our little Jack Russell, with the idea that she should have puppies in the spring.
As you all know our two Jack Russells are very much a part of our family life, so much so that they actually insist on writing their own stories from time to time. Bentley, the elder of the two, is nudging 70 in human years; he’s getting a little grey around the muzzle and he’s not quite as fast as he was, but his mind is still as sharp as any young whipper-snapper and he’s proven himself to be quite an aspiring and somewhat amusing author. So how could I say “No” when he pleaded with me to write another short tale? Read more
We did and we didn’t – eat dog biscuits that is – more on this in a minute as it has in fact been rather a contradictory week. I love the spring and summer but profess to dislike autumn and winter. However, I then actually like winter when it snows because I love the snow, but we don’t get much snow here. As a result I inevitably tell everyone I dislike winter and the autumn. But isn’t it a woman’s prerogative to change her mind? Read more
It’s Spring Break and two weeks of holidays for the children, but we’re not packing our bags and heading off on vacation. We couldn’t even if we wanted to, as life in the spring revolves around tennis tournaments. However, we’re more than happy to stay right where we are because nature at this time of year is putting on a spectacular show, rivalling the glitz and glamour of any theme-park.
I’m afraid to say that I feel utterly compelled to put paw to paper once again; I heard someone saying I was old the other day. Old? Me? It wasn’t Roddy or Susan or any of the children, but a neighbour, and it really ruffled my neck hairs (which are admittedly very long and looking rather shaggy at the moment). I’m not old, I’m in my prime!
I thought I’d give you a little update on Evie versus the chickens! We think we’ve worked out an almost perfect solution, and it’s really thanks to all of you; for I did indeed listen, and I read all your comments, I took everything in and we built a fence. Something simple, yet splendidly fulfilling in its execution, for a variety of reasons. Read more
Oh Gosh, I’m in the dog-house again! I just can’t help chasing chickens. I know I’m not meant to, and I know I get shouted at, and I know it’s wrong, but the problem is, it’s just SO much fun. I had been good recently, too, but then life changed in the chicken world and I was tempted into sin once more.
You see, Falafel – the young rooster – decided perhaps he wasn’t so happy to share all the girls with Fritz after all, and so they fought. I know, I even heard Mum saying they never fight, but I laughed to myself; what did she really know about animals and chickens, of course I knew all along they would fight. I even mentioned it to Bentley the other night and he agreed too, silly humans.
Anyway, the point is now Fritz is all alone; he wanders sadly around the garden and he’s nowhere near as lively as he used to be. I thought I’d pop over and say hello, cheer the old chap up a bit; a little play-date with me would surely put a spring back in his step….alas, the grown ups saw me, and gosh, did they yell. I stopped of course, I’m quite good like that, but when they weren’t looking I ran over and started playing again. So now I have a double game; chasing Fritz and making sure the humans don’t see me; it’s a little bit like hide and seek.
The weather has been gorgeous and everyone’s been busy in the garden so I get to be outside a lot at the moment which gives Rory, my best friend, a bit of a break. I’ve learnt that cats tend to do things the other way round from us; they love to sleep upstairs, curled up on the bed all day long and they don’t care much for playing. But then, just as darkness falls, and just as I’m thinking it’s time for me to curl up in front of the fire when BANG, they come alive and want to play; they’re such confusing creatures, and then, to put me in even more of a quandary, Bentley likes to sleep all day AND all night. I mean where’s the fun in that? and just as I am coming to terms with all of this and thinking I’ll forego my little snooze and play, Rory falls asleep beside me! Talking about cats, the other one, Clara, who I hardly ever see, is also slightly odd. She doesn’t like coming in the house at all, but she does love playing chase, so I guess she must be okay. The only problem is she won’t play chase with me; I chase her till she climbs a tree, but she never chases me back. She’ll chase other things in the garden quite happily, especially those small grey things with very long tails and when she does that everyone says how brilliant she is. No one ever tells me I’m brilliant when I play chase, I just get shouted at. Life is just so unfair.
So I wondered if maybe I should ask Bentley if he wants to play with me, he’s always full of lots of advice and everyone makes such a fuss of him, but maybe he’s a little bored; to be honest I am not really sure I quite understand him at all. Take the other morning for example; Mum and Dad opened the kitchen door and ushered us out into the garden; this is always great for a quick sniff here, a quick sniff there, a quick dart about the bushes elsewhere and then back inside for breakfast. Bentley just sat there, by the door waiting to go back inside; doesn’t he care about the big outdoors? I know he’s the same make as me, we’ve compared notes, we’re even the same colour for goodness sake, though I do admit he’s a little fat whilst I’m a perfectly petite little French girl. He does play for a short while sometimes but then he gets bored and goes off and sunbathes again. Just bizarre behaviour.
Then there’s the question of the car and Bentley, for as soon as anyone opens a car door, I’m in, quick as a flash. Cars are good – sometimes it means we are going somewhere great, and there’s a whole new fabulous adventure to enjoy. Okay, so sometimes it’s a touch boring, and I just stay in the car until I’m home again, but even then I love watching the world go past outside the window; I’ve seen all sorts of sights – cats, dogs, sheep (well I think they are sheep, I asked Bentley about them when I got home and he said my description sounded like sheep, so that’s what I am going to call them) and all sorts of other things. However, I can’t show them to Bentley because he simply hates the car – it’s another weird thing about him; I mean, why would anyone hate the car? He has to be physically manhandled in, and then he just stands there behind the seat on the floor and shakes with fear – I like him a lot and he really has helped me but I do think he is rather odd.
The other place I love to go in the car is to school. This is only a rainy-day event, because often the girls walk home; but when it’s raining Mum or Dad pick them up in the car and I go too. I stand with my paws on the dashboard and look out of the front and lots and lots of little girls come running up to say hello. They all make such a fuss of me, rubbing my tummy and tickling my ears – it’s like I have a little fan club at the school gate, and I really am getting quite used to it.
Another thing I’m learning is all about the ‘lead’. I’m even beginning to understand that I have to walk beside Mum or Dad and not pull a few feet in front of them, with my little paws skidding on the ground. Bentley is brilliant on the lead, no surprises there, and they spend so much time saying what a good chap he is; why can’t they say I’m really good! Why is he so good at everything? Can’t they see he’s weird?
Then yesterday we saw a huge creature with enormous legs; I wanted to chase it. However, Hetty and Gigi wanted to stop and give it an apple; an apple? A whole APPLE? I just couldn’t fathom out why a really nice big red apple was being given to a stranger; anyway, that’s when I asked Bentley what it was and he told me it was a horse. I liked the look of it but it did look as though it needed some fun and I am sure I could beat it in a game of chase, it doesn’t move very much. It wasn’t so much bigger than me well just a bit maybe. I pulled and pulled on the lead but no one would let me go, Bentley even had the audacity to smirk, I asked him about that later, they have big feet he said, hard feet and they kick.
“NEVER chase a horse! And never chase a COW” he muttered. “What’s a cow?” I asked?
My favourite place to walk is when we cross the road behind the house and head out into the country, I know we’ll both be let off the lead, I can run and run, and I try and come back whenever I’m called; this is another thing I’m getting quite good at. I’ve learnt that as soon as they call “Evie!” I must come running and then they’re happy; they make such a fuss, anyone would think I’d just done something really good. Sometimes they even give me treats, yummy edible little nibbles, just because I came when they said my name – I will never ever understand these humans. Then I go off again, I must cover at least five times as much ground as Bentley, but he is quite fun, he does run a bit with me, he even stops and sniffs with me.
Anyway, let me finish by telling you about a new hobby I have. I’ve learnt to dig holes! It’s fantastic! If I work up enough speed earth flies everywhere! I dig and dig, deeper and deeper, and usually I can go unnoticed, for I have to admit I get shouted at for this as well. Though if I choose a quiet spot no one sees me and here Bentley has been quite helpful. He’s explained to me that the big humans won’t tell me off if they don’t actually catch me doing something wrong; so, as long as I have dug the hole and had my fun, by the time they find the mess it’s too late; they’ll continue to sound cross, and they’ll huff and they’ll puff and sigh and they’ll even say “what are we going to do with her” – but I don’t get shouted at.
Then yesterday, I caught something! I actually caught something from all my digging; it’s called a mole, apparently, and it makes an even bigger mess in the garden than I do. It’s the strangest of creatures, and I found out about them quite by chance one day while snoozing in the grass and I woke up to find the earth starting to sprout up into a volcano in front of my very eyes! Ever since then whenever I find one of the mounds of earth they make, I dig down as fast as I can to where they seem to live in an underground tunnel, and we all get very dirty. Golly, they dig almost as fast as I can. Anyway, I actually caught one the other day, and better still, the humans were happy! They didn’t tell me off, they didn’t shout, they didn’t mutter about what on earth they were going to do with me next, they actually said “well done”. Of course, I immediately went off and dug ten new holes and then I got shouted at again. I was so confused.
I lay next to Bentley by the fire that night and told him all about it, and he just rolled over and told me not to worry and went back to sleep, so I thought I’d do the same, maybe I’ll dream about chasing rabbits.
Sometimes, when it’s bucketing down with rain or just horribly cold and damp, it would be much nicer to stay inside; it would be so easy to batten down the hatches and work in the warmth of the kitchen, never straying too far from the wood-burning stove. But that is not an option when you have dogs. I only have to touch a lead hanging from the door and Bentley and Evie are at my feet, looking at me with that expectancy that says they just know they are going for a walk; by the time we’re in the boot room and I’m reaching for my wellies, there’s a keen sound of excitement at floor level; they don’t care if it’s wet or cold, or howling a gale; they just want to get out there! Our 200 year-old flagstones sigh at the scratching of paws and the wind-banging slam of the door as we go out and brave the elements.
I have walked with a certain spring in my step the past couple of days as the dogs and I leapfrogged puddles and dodged showers. I am extremely grateful for the response to my questions about blogging in my last post and I was naturally happy to hear that you like things as they are. Thank you all so much. As a result I have maybe stopped a little more frequently with my camera, spurred on to share all around me, and I’ve been re-arranging words to better describe what I see and hear. This deep in the country we don’t have any opportunity to have an ‘extravagant’ lifestyle, instead we take extreme pleasure in the most simple things; whether that’s our family life, the animals, the scenery, the fresh produce or just being grateful that we do not sit in traffic for a fifth or more of our waking day. Yes, we’re lucky, and we know it, and we appreciate it; and yes, we know how fortunate we are to live in the online age, where small luxuries can be bought with the click of a mouse too. It’s a magical mixture.
I never tire of the views on our routine dog-walk straight from the house. It takes me just one hundred paces to move from the 21st century and a computer-screen to this old landscape, where an ancient fortress surveys a working landscape it once proudly guarded from the ravages of Barbary pirates and the plundering attacks of British yeomen; where centuries of tears, smiles, births and deaths lie buried deep in the cloying inevitable embrace of the marsh that is the Marais de Brouage.
Looking across at little hamlets, that have stood for centuries, I stand on a path that pilgrims have trod for 14 centuries, and still do today, as they go southwards to the great cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain.
We go past dormant vines, not really enough to be called a vineyard, in fact there are just a hundred or so plants for someone’s private use – some of these ‘house’ wines are very unsubtle, some are little treasures.
Bentley is always content to wait and take a breather while I take photos, he being of a slightly senior age, but Evie at only seven months old cannot sit still; she’s off, on the scent of a rabbit or some purely imaginary smell. Nose to the ground, she follows a translucent path of scent, weaving right and left, her nose twitching like the billion-pixel imagery tool it truly is. Bentley watches with knowing amusement as she scampers around wasting so much energy. However, our dog-training efforts are finally starting to pay off and she now comes back when called (most of the time!). She races back to the track ahead from where she’s been lost in some adventure, far out in the field or deep in a hedgerow, and darts around in all directions before shooting off ahead again, covering ten times as much ground as the rest of us.
The weather has thrown everything possible at us this week, we have had freezing temperatures, gale force winds, torrential rain and beautiful sunshine. One morning we woke up to a rare frost and a thin sheet of ice on the puddles and the pool. Gigi and Hetty had a fine five minutes before school playing in our temporarily frozen landscape.
A couple of days ago I arranged to meet someone I wanted to talk to about three houses she has renovated; this is for a future blogpost next month. The weather could scarcely have been worse. I set off straight after the school-run, the thermometer only just above freezing and the rain battering against the windscreen, wipers on full speed. Heading north-east and away from my usual stomping ground I started to go inland through little villages I didn’t know. On the way home I kept making deviations and stopping to take photos; my return journey taking a good hour longer than it should have done. I passed several small chateaux, the type that look ‘lived in’ by families rather than just being museums open to the public, and I made a mental note of many places I had to return to when I had more time and the school pick-up was not approaching rather too quickly.
I stopped briefly in St Savinien, a small Gallo-Roman town, on the banks of the Charente; the rain had eased finally, which is just as well as the umbrella I had grabbed in my haste to leave the house on time was in fact broken, a fact I discovered with sigh of resignation as I arrived at the house I was visiting – alas the girls had used it once too often for some Alice in Wonderland adventure in the garden.
I stood staring at near deserted streets I had once seen in a very different season, for we had been here before last summer; then, flowers adorned every window box, boats with tourists silently glided down the river and locals and tourists alike strolled along the ancient streets. Now it was almost unrecognizable but just as photogenic, with the streets and houses slick with watery reflections.
A little closer to home and after another quick detour I came across this wonderful farmhouse, with a large Vendu sign, clearly marking that it has recently been sold. I thought what a wonderful home it would make, tucked away off the beaten track but not totally isolated, located in a tiny village with a small church and a clutch of similar houses.
and I also realised that I don’t need perfect sunny days all the time to take photos, as sometimes the light can be magical on grey days, when rain magnifies colours even if it’s cold and bleak.
So whatever the weather where you are today, I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.
Day 1: a day fraught with anxiety and wonder. Who were these people ? Who were these small people ? Where was I going? I said goodbye to my parents and siblings and packed a small bag. We then all climbed into a large metal black box which made a lot of noise and moved. Although slightly anxious at developments, I then spent 2 hours being cuddled by small people (nice) as the black box moved about and made a humming noise (not so nice). When it stopped, I thought I would be put into another cage like at home, but instead I was set free on the ground and discovered in short order that there was a huge area of grass with trees and bushes, more people (one medium size and one large), another dog like me but bigger with a strange twangy sort of accent, and LOTS of things to chase. I got told off a lot, peed on a carpet and got told off some more. The sky is blue here and there is a faint smell of salt in the air. Goodness, it’s nice to be free. I spent a fair amount of time being cuddled more, and having my backside sniffed by the big dog. I can’t understand a word he says, you see I’m French and he’s not, nor can I understand the small people. The big people just speak very loudly to me. Food good and these people have some wonderful carpets to poo on!
Day 8: spent last three nights in a plastic cage in the kitchen after being terrified at night. Actually quite comforting, and alone in the dark I felt happier than I have been since I got here. No one shouted at me in the mornings about the awful mess I’d made as I’ve stopped doing that and I’m getting used to using the big outdoors as a bathroom. Just about, anyway. Learnt a few words of English too, such as NO and EVIE. I think the EVIE thing means ‘come for a tickle’ or similar. The No thing I’m not sure about, but if I stop doing whatever it is I’m busy at, everyone seems to be pleased with me. I must admit when I’m busy I don’t bother listening too much. There’s a couple of other words they say a lot that I still don’t understand. The fluffy chickens are great fun to chase though, despite the noise. It’s a great game – I chase the chickens, the people start making noises, and I chase the chickens more until the noise is so loud I have to stop and cover my ears. The big dog is from a country very far away where it is very hot and there are lots of snakes; I’m starting to understand quite a bit of what he has to say. He spends most of his time either asleep, sitting under the kitchen table looking upwards for something, or he’s muttering about rip-lines and waxing surf-boards. He still likes to sniff my behind though – bizarre behaviour, to be honest. There are two other creatures that live here with us – they’re very quick and I haven’t been able to catch up to one yet to ask it what the hell it is. They can’t half climb trees though.
Day 16: finally made friends with one of the fast things that climb trees. He tells me he’s a CAT, and therefore more intelligent than me. I think this is a bit much, but won’t make much ado of it for now. He likes play-fighting and we have great fun rolling around in the garden or under cupboards. He does have this annoying habit of running away and climbing something just when things are getting fun. He’s a lot more friendly than the other CAT, or whatever you call it. That one’s a she, and to call her quick is an understatement. I’ve spent a week trying to catch her and all I have had for my troubles is a scratched ear and a continuous view of her backside as she climbs trees. I’ve finally learnt the name of the DOG, and he is called Bentley. He’s from a country called Australia and he keeps calling me Sheila. He has no idea what I am saying to him though. He might be a bit thick, though to be fair he is very good at catching scraps of food when they fall off the table. He says that it’s part of the Australian heritage, being able to catch things. But then he becomes all maudlin and wanders away muttering something about cricket and ashes, or something. I don’t understand. The chickens are still great fun to chase, especially the little white one who looks like a poodle. I do worry about the noise all the people make when I do this now though – I’m sure they’ll damage their arms or something the way they wave them about really fast when I chase the poodle-chicken. There’s another big chicken with grey and tan markings, and I’m not so sure about him – he was great fun to chase when I first got here but he’s not so quick to run away now. Actually, to be fair, there are a few of the chickens I don’t like chasing – there’s one little dark coloured fellow who has become quite ferocious, to be honest. However, to make up for that I have made some big new discoveries. For example, there are these delicious little snacks in the garden. Like small green smoothie delights. Quite delicious, though the people wave their arms a lot when I eat them. More bizarre behaviour – but then I’m getting used to that.
Day 30: life is fun. I love the sun and the warmth. Bentley keeps telling me I need to grow some more hair but I don’t think so, thank you very much. Why would I need to do that? He’s very hairy himself though – so much so that the the two big people cut it all off the other day with a funny little thing that buzzed a lot. He was not very happy about it at the time, but cheered up considerably afterwards. I told him he was so stupid, but he kept telling me I still needed to grow some more hair. He said it would be getting cold soon. Hah! Stupid dog, anyone can look at the sky and see it won’t ever get cold! It’s so hot the small people keep jumping into something that has a lot of water in it they have in the garden for goodness sakes! I was also introduced to something called the BEACH last week. BOY WAS IT FUN! I wasn’t too sure about the slippery sort of stuff they are made of to start with, but then there’s this great big pond and the slippery stuff gets much firmer there. The big pond is so big I can’t even see the other side, and when you get close there are bits of it that chase me up the beach with a hissing sound. I admit, okay, it was slightly terrifying at first but the people all laughed and I knew it obviously wasn’t really dangerous. However, it is salty! Bleah! The small people call the two big people Mama and Dada, so I’ve taken to calling them that too – and the reason I say that is to simply report that the Dada person has a strange habit of following me around on the beach with small plastic bags – another bizarre human thing. Incidentally, the big pond is nothing like the small pond in the garden where the ducks live. That’s quite smelly and not nice. And the reason I know that is because I fell in it a few days ago. Unfortunately, what was really a small incident was then blown out of all proportion, more arm waving by everyone and then the Dada person put me in a wheelbarrow and pointed a hose at me. I’m still not sure where all the bubbles came from either. I smelt all sort of horrible afterwards – all floral and sweet. Yuck.
Day 46: it’s official, I like barbecues, a strange situation where humans throw food onto some flames and then drop the really burnt bits onto the floor; AT LAST I am getting better at reaching them before Bentley does. Hurrah! However, this little bonus of mine is countered by a slightly disappointing discovery – I can no longer fit under the cupboards when Rory – my male CAT friend, hides from me. He slinks under there and I just can’t reach him anymore. I don’t understand it. But, as my grandmother said, when one door closes, another always opens, and in this case it’s a case of suddenly finding myself able to cross the wall into the other people’s garden next door, where the door to the chicken-shed it always open and I find countless delightful bargains to be had for free. The other night, for example, I brought home across the lawn half a pizza! Man it was good. Well, some of it was. I left it on the doorstep while I had a drink and when I came back it was gone. I suspect Dada threw it in the bin, which is such a waste. Either that or Bentley ate it, but he was asleep on a chair, so it probably wasn’t him. Did I tell you that there’s a barrier across the stairs to stop me going aloft in the house? Well, imagine my delight yesterday when I found it wasn’t in place and I ventured upwards into a whole new world of rooms and lovely things. So many things to chew, so many fluffy toys and lovely little plastic humans and animals and when you chew, they get all hot in your mouth! Great fun! All that came to end though when I couldn’t find the bathroom when needed and there was a lot of shouting a little later and Dada marched me firmly downstairs and sat me outside a very closed door. I can’t see what the fuss is about.
Day 50: although I am fond of the black box that moves, and know that it’s a good thing, last week it took me to a strange place where Dada carried me into a room where a very strange smell lingered; a curious blend of countryside, dog baskets, cleaning stuff and fear. A nice woman in a white coat prodded and poked me, and then stuck something quite sharp into my neck; it didn’t half sting a little. When we got home, Dada then gave me a piece of ham with a crunchy bone in the middle and then looked very pleased with himself when I’d swallowed it; really pleased he was. Proud as punch as though he’d tricked me into doing something. Stupid man, though I’m quite fond of him. But of course, that’s only because he gives me food every morning.
Day 65: getting bigger by the day. It’s great! Bentley and I started having play-fights last week and he seems intent on mastering me. He keeps saying, “You just wait” for some reason, and then I nip his ear, giggle and run away. Who needs later when you can have fun now, I ask? Oh, and it’s official, I LOVE WALKS! We have this little jaunt just out the front gate where we cross the road and go down a little track into the country and there’s a small house on the corner where a really big shaggy dog thing lives. He and I just love to exchange polite conversation, but when Bentley sees him all hell breaks loose and it’s hysterical to see my shaggy Australian friend making such a racket – anyone would think he didn’t like other dogs! There are also a few unfenced fields on this walk, and while the people talk and stroll along I always try and see if I can find something especially pleasant and sweet-smelling to roll in. Oh, the noise this generates always makes me smile, but then for some reason I get the hosepipe treatment when I get home again and that horrid floral smelling stuff.
Day 75: I like the little people best, we have great fun playing tag, stick-a-chase, they never seem to get bored of playing with me. They also throw a ball for me which I run after, pick up and then wait till they reach me before I pick it up and run away again with it. I have no idea why they don’t just throw it again for me – that’s far more fun. They use this word DROP a lot during this game, and I have no idea whatsoever what it means. I thought it meant RUN AWAY WITH THE BALL as that seemed to generate the most amount of noise, but now I’m not so sure…..
Day 90: wonderful discovery last night. The evening is my favourite time of day. Bentley and I lick the kitchen floor clean, Mama gives us a piece of green stuff each called BROKLI or similar, and then the two of us snuggle down on the sofas and chairs in the room where the moving picture is. However, last night Dada did something in the small doorway in the middle of the wall and this delicious flickering sort of orange stuff suddenly appeared and it was all toasty and warm. I wasn’t sure about the smell at first – something told me it could be something bad – but as that warmth flooded through what was a cold room I just HAD to lie down in front of it and let it warm my little hairless tummy. Boy was it good! In fact I got a little too warm and had to move away a bit after a while. Actually by the evening’s end I was as far away as I could be, really; the room was seriously hot. So hot I still have no idea why Bentley keeps telling me I need to grow more hair. This despite the fact he likes to snuggle up to me now and exchange doggy breaths; what on earth is all that about?
Day 103: I am now beginning to understand why I need more hair. The trees have all suddenly lost their leaves, but gosh they are fun to try and catch as they tumble down, and the sky is not blue every day anymore. Indeed, the days seem shorter and Dada has to use a torch when we go and read the chickens their good-night story. Mama spends most of her life riding the small red noisy thing around the garden with a great trailer on the back and the leaves all disappear into it – which Dada then humps into a pile which gets the orange hot thingy treatment later. He is also wearing long trousers all the time (I never knew he had any) and suddenly the hall where Rory and I love to roll around is full of wet boots and other shoes that are great fun to chew. It’s official – I love laces! But sadly, the humans have cottoned on to the fact that Rory and I often dine together in the cat room and his bowl has been elevated onto a small platform with legs. I can’t reach it, how mean is that, I just don’t understand these humans, they are always talking to the small people about sharing.
Day 105: a mix of good and bad news for me. Last night we had a double whammy of new discoveries – I met a small animal in the garden that smelt so nice that I really wanted to taste it but it curled into a ball of prickles and went to sleep while I yapped at it. Dada made a lot of noise too, mostly that strange word STOP which is something I still have to get my head around. AND, we have a small black box of orange heat thingy in the kitchen too which Dada and Mama are very happy about. It makes the kitchen so warm Bentley and I had to retreat to the study to recover. All the humans went red and took half their clothes off. A final demonstration of bizarre behaviour if needed – and there’s Bentley saying I STILL need to grow some more hair. And what is this Christmas word I keep hearing? Bentley just looks smug and says repetitively, “You just wait!”