Good morning dear reader and welcome to a sunny Sunday at Comb Towers. It's certainly been a cool week and not very August-y. Let's hope a little indian summer comes our way in September. Spouse and I have been out on a few jaunts - a food fair, a traction engine fair and a mega car boot fair. All good fun, but what possessed me to let Spouse anywhere near a food fair I do not know. All treats on offer were sampled and a large and very spicy West African lunch consumed. It's just as well that Spouse was driving - the lady on the rum stand must have taken a fancy to him, as three times she offered him free samples! I might have been taking him home in a wheelbarrow.
That's enough jaunting for now; there is work to be done at Comb Towers. My new mega-shed is up and needs insulating inside and the guttering putting up outside, to pipe the rain into our new water storage tank. I hope we will be able to keep that water next summer for topping up the pond and I won't have to converse with the water company again about meter readings! I can't wait to move all my horticultural gear and tools in. I know - I'm a saddo, so excited over a shed! But there it is, I am a child of the soil.
Speaking of our jaunts, we were much struck by the variety of dogs being towed around the fairs by their owners - from enormous and very hairy German Shepherds to tiny Yorkshire Terriers with bows in their hair. I am a huge Golden Retriever fan and I can't hep but greet every one I meet. There was a particularly beautiful one at the food fair. He had a lovely white curly coat and without thinking I rushed over and exclaimed, 'Oh, you're so gorgeous.' 'Thank you very much,' said the owner, grinning broadly at me - thankfully he knew I meant the dog!
We were reminded of the dogs that we had in our lives when we went to live in France. We had George, a Border Collie and Harry, a Golden Retriever. We first went to France in a small camper van and stayed on a farm not far from Cognac. In addition to the farm, the owners also owned a brandy distillery. Oh, the lovely smell when distilling was going on, you could just about get drunk on the air! Monsieur and Madame C. were really lovely people and made us feel very welcome at their campsite. We stayed for quite a long time whilst we house hunted and then waited to move into our own property.
Monsieur C. had a dog - I say it was a dog - it was the size of a small horse and was aptly named a 'lion dog' called Splendide. And indeed, Splendide was very splendid. No exaggeration, he was very similiar to my Golden Retriever, only three times his size. We first encountered him on our arrival at the campsite. Splendide was stretched out on the grass in front of the farmhouse. He looked just like a huge lion snoozing in the sunshine. As we passed him by, we stared at him in wonderment. 'What is that?' said Spouse 'I don't know, but I hope they don't have a pet lion roaming about, or this might not be the place for us.' I said.
In the event we discovered that Splendide was indeed a dog. He was very stately and padded about the farm and fields and no-one messed with him. Put it this way, I would not like to have been a burglar and encounter Splendide in the night. The farmhouse had a large reception room at the front. Splendide used to lie in there and fill it!
We had been out walking in the woods with our dogs one afternoon and we were returning home to the campsite and there was Splendide, basking in the afternoon sunshine, stretched across the whole width of the road. There was no possibility of taking the easy route home. Harry Retriever might have fancied an encounter with Splendide, but we didn't - it was the long way round for us.
Every morning Spouse would take the dogs into the next field for a run about. One particular morning I was very grateful that I was not with them, but watched with horror from the camper van as Splendide entered the field. Goege, the Border Collie took one look at Spelendide and legged it home. Sensible dog with a well developed sense of self-preservation. Harry Retriever on the other hand, was always the idiot hot head. He was not pleased to see a strange dog on his patch and made a beeline for Splendide. In attack mode, he went for the back of his neck to bite him - only he had to stand on his hind legs to get there and I don't think Splendide felt anything anyway. That method of attack having failed, Harry went around the back of Splendide and grasped his tail in his mouth. At this stage, Spouse had caught up with Harry. So there they were - Harry swinging around on the end of Splendide's tail and Spouse swinging on the end of Harry's tail. Round in a weird circular dance they went - niether Harry or Spouse letting go and Splendide looking round in puzzlement at what was going on somewhere in the region of his rear end. Eventually Harry came up for air and let go and so Spouse could pull him away altogether - and then ran hell for leather for our camper van and hustled Harry inside. Whilst we were still shaking like jellies, Splendide stalked over to our little camper and really gave it the once over, sniffing all around it and growling. If he'd put his mind to it he probably could have turned us over - and then eaten us all for breakfast. Happily for us he must have decided he'd intimidated us enough and he stalked off. Breathing a huge sigh of relief, Spouse let go of Harry's mouth which he had been keeping firmly muzzled to stop any further fighting talk.
Monsieur and Madame C. came to visit us when we were settled in our new home, bringing the sad news that Splendide had gone to doggy glory. In spite of our encounters with him, we were very sad to hear this. R.I.P. Splendide, such a beautiful and amazing dog. We've never seen anything like him and we'll never forget him.
Well, dear reader, I hope you have a good week and enjoy some September sunshine. I hope to be moving all my gear into my new shed and then wielding secateurs and loppers in our garden and our local library garden. There is a great deal to do, but I am in optimistic mood, as there is the promise of some volunteer help in the library garden. Fingers crossed!! Best wishes to you and I hope to see you here next week.