Good morning dear reader and welcome to an overcast morning in North Yorkshire. The birds are singing, the seagulls are screeching and the nearby cockerel is squawking and our fish are jumping in the pond, probably in the hope of attracting our attention and thereby getting a fishy breakfast. Dream on, fish, it's too early. Spouse is hopeful too, that he is making the final cut of the lawn and then the mower can be put away for the winter, to be replaced by the electric wood saws, as it is time to light the fires again. No rest for the wicked ... I make no comment on that! One thing I will comment on is that yesterday I received a letter and brochure from a company offering me an alternative to a traditional funeral and instead, opt for a fuss free pre-paid "Pure Cremation". Why they have lighted on me I do not know - I only hope Spouse doesn't know something that I don't know either - if you see what I mean and that he doesn't have any imminent plans for me up his sleeve. Although, come to think about it, he does talk about burying me in the garden, (that could be in an urn, couldn't it?) and putting lights around the spot and then he could talk to me when sitting out with his evening tipple. I may have to pursue this matter further when he comes in from mowing the lawn.
Whenever I see Spouse walking behind the lawnmower, up and down the lawn, I always think of George, our barmy Border Collie dog. I could never work out whether he loved or hated all machinery. He knew where he was with sheep and was in his element when allowed to round them up and us too when he got the chance. But machinery was another matter. If we were anywhere near a railway, he had to be kept on the lead. Even if it was a meandering path along a river bank, if there was a railway nearby, there was no free roaming for George, as at the merest hint of a train passing near, he would take off, barking madly and disappearing into the distance. Lord alone knows what went on in his Collie head.
On our Durham Dales smallholding we had a petrol driven John Deere mower, a noisy fiery beast and boy did that turn up the temperature for George. Our front garden sloped away to a dry stone wall that separated it from the fields beyond. We had created two tiers of lawn and Spouse enjoyed mowing it and creating the stripes. He would have enjoyed it a lot more if George hadn't been chasing him up and down, barking his head off. I think he enjoyed the mayhem (George, not Spouse). Running up and down the newly mown grass, he acquired green legs and looked a very strange sight indeed. After some time of this racket, I would take pity on Spouse and bring George indoors. After all, a man can only take so much of a barking mad dog. Unfortunately for me, I was then very much in the bad books with George. Never tell me, dear reader, that dogs don't have emotions or can't express themselves. Judging by the dark looks of utter contempt and disgust that George threw at me when made to come indoors, I was the lowest of the low. Having given me his best dog scowl he would then curl up in a black and white ball, tuck his head under his tail and that was that. No more communicating with me thank you very much, spoilsport that I was.
Another nice memory of this potty sheepdog was his complete inability to catch rabbits. The fields were full of them and our retriever dog had no problem in chasing and very often catching them - look away now dear reader if you're squeamish - and scoffing them down in two bites before anyone could take his catch away from him. I don't think George ever quite got the end bit about chasing rabbits. He loved to chase them - they were just something fun moving across the landscape that weren't sheep. But once, just once, he caught up with one and threw a complete wobbler when he got up to it! 'Aargh! Now what!' emanated from every bit of his frame, as stood frozen and barking madly at his cornered prey. Not cornered enough. Bunnykins took full advantage of George's hesitation and dived down a convenient hole. That was the best bit. George looked at the hole and then looked across to us in puzzlement. 'Where did he go?' Poor old George looked everywhere and just couldn't accept his playmate wasn't coming out again any time soon.
So, if two oddball dogs weren't enough, throw in a slightly oddball Spouse to go with them. I can say this with some certainty after many years of marriage, but really, dear reader, how oddball is this? We were goig to put up a conservatory on the front of the house, to take advantage of the magnificent views over the dale and so Spouse set to and very carefully, bit by bit, dismantled the existing stone built porch. The lovely old stone was set aside to face the outside of the new low wall of the conservatory and the windows were taken out to be recycled into a new workshop he was going to build. All that was left was the footprint of the old porch - three sides of a low wall, but most importantly, the old outer door was still standing in its frame.
Come Sunday morning and we were ready to go to church. We came out of the front door to the house and locked it and then dear reader, mark this. Spouse opened the old outer door standing only in its frame and ushered me through it. He followed me out, turned round and locked it behind him. Grinning like a Cheshire cat, I stepped back over the low wall and said, 'I can't believe you've just locked that door; don't you think a prospective burglar might do this?' and I stepped back out again. Mmm, my dear reader, not too sure that I was Mrs Popular at that moment, but I still chuckle about it now - a door into nothing - soundly locked!
Well, it's time to go, my dear reader. The lawn is mown and no doubt Spouse thinks a hot cup of coffee will have his name on it soon. Have a good week and if I haven't had a "Pure Cremation" by next week, we shall meet again. (I wonder if there is an "Impure Cremation" and what that would involve?).