Alezane's Diary Archive July 2004
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Treg and Wick in the shelterThursday 1st July 2004
The start of the last half of the year, today. Somehow that seems to have come around very quickly. If it were the end of the year, we’d be looking back on the old year, at all the memorable events that have happened. I don’t know if I am particularly sleepy this morning but I can’t really recall anything in the last six months of any great import. I expect I’m just feeling a bit grumpy this morning as I have got a bit of a swollen eye. It’s those flies again. We’ve not had a particularly bad time with them yet this year but I seem to be a bit prone to getting infection in my right eye. The flies start to irritate and that makes my eye water and that attracts them. And, in no time at all, my eye gets an infection and starts to swell up. It’s not been so bad this time, not bad enough to call in the vets. SHE bathes it with salt water and that seems to do the trick if it’s caught early enough. Oh dear, I do sound as if I’m moaning this morning, don’t I? Let’s try and change the subject. What’s new around Ninefields?
Well, I suppose the answer is, not a lot. We have been having some visits from a particularly stupid baby bunny lately. Of course, at this time of year, there are lots of rabbits around. All out and about and busy with their young families. Usually, they keep their distance when there’s humans around. But this particular bunny just doesn’t seem to have been warned by its parents or, if it has, it takes no notice. The problem is that it has taken a liking to the oats that HE scatters about every day, for the birds. These form a sort of semi circle around the front of the field shelter and are popular with a whole range of birds. First, the robin and now, often, various members of his family arrive. In fact, sometimes they are there waiting before HE turns up. Then, as soon as HE has thrown a couple of handfuls a whole mob of chaffinches swoop down. I will say, with but a few exceptions, these are fairly well mannered. There may be a lot of them but they don’t seem to fight in the way that the robin or worse the blackbirds do. They are very quickly followed by some sparrows and they never seem to mind sharing with one another. And now, they have been joined by this baby rabbit. And, as I say, he shows no fear when HE walks up, in the mornings, with the buckets. In fact although HE talks to him in a loud voice, HE often has to be careful not to trip over him. The bunny does finally seem to notice HIM and then just calmly and slowly hops away through the hedge, as if he has just remembered his mother’s warnings. He must be either very brave or very stupid but, either way, I don’t think we will be seeing much more of him unless he is much more cautious when the fox or buzzard come around.

LaceFriday 2nd July 2004
Well, today I do have some news. Not very good news, I’m afraid, at least not something that I’d want to boast about but still, it is only honest to share it with you. I’m afraid that my humans have been recognised as common! There, to think that me, a French princess should have to admit such a thing. Mon dieu, what a disgrace. It would appear that it happened when they bought Ninefields but they didn’t know about it until now. They had a letter yesterday from the Devon County solicitor informing them of the fact. So you see, it’s true, they are common!
For some strange reason, this fact has something to do with animals and apparently goes way back into history. A lot of the land on Dartmoor is common land which meant that, while everything belonged to the king, everyone had permission to go on these particular bits of land and let their animals graze and so on. Over the years, as things changed and the ownership of land in the country began to fall into private hands, these areas of ‘commons’ had certain rights associated with them, which were allocated to the people local to the lands. Among these were the rights to take wood, peat and stone for fuel and building, to pick fruit for food and to graze their animals on the land. In the days when there were great differences between the rich and the very poor, these rights were very important to being able to eat and survive. But, slowly, with industrialisation and the changes to working for wages, the rights became less important apart from the right to graze for local farmers which allowed them to conserve their own fields in the summer and take hay from them to provide for winter feed when the animals must come back home.
So, what has this got to do with my humans? Well, apparently, although they didn’t know it until today, they gained the right to graze one bullock, pony or sheep on certain local commons, when they purchased Ninefields. It has just taken Devon time for this information to arrive. And, of course, with this right comes the stigma of being known as commoners! I don’t think that they will be rushing out to buy a bullock just yet, do you?

A moist morningSaturday 3rd July 2004
THEY went to visit SWEP again today. SHE needed to get some more information for the web site and HE was needed to try and get their laptop going so it would enable them to deal with e-mails. (HE told me all this, as if I knew what HE was talking about. At first I thought this was some quaint human way of distinguishing the sexes but now HE has explained that it is to do with communicating.) This evening, when THEY came back, THEY told me about some more of the poor horses that were there, this time. In particular, there were Speckles and Russet, two ponies that had suffered very nasty skin conditions through being out on some old mine working land that had arsenic residues. HE said he would put their photos in my diary so you can see the results, although they are getting much better now with the love and care they are receiving at SWEP. HE also got another photo of Sparky and lots of Duke and Guinevere (their mascot now). It certainly makes us at Ninefields realise how lucky we are, although we won’t tell THEM unless they stop spoiling us.
We didn’t have such a good day, however, for there was a lot of very heavy rain and even Wicky stayed in the field shelter a bit. While we were there we were looking over at Harry’s field and we realised that we have not seen him for a while. I expect he has been turned away over to South Tawton , as is usual at this time of year. We often feel a bit sorry for him, all alone in his own field, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Sometimes he will wander over to the side of his field that bounds on the bridle path and we will go over and meet him for a bit of a chat but most of the time he seems quite happy to be on his own. I nearly said ‘play’ on his own because this is quite often what he does. He reminds me of little human boys who run about the streets with their arms in the air pretending to be aeroplanes. Harry can often be observed going for a little canter and buck and then stopping and looking round, all guilty, in case he is being watched. Well now he will have some company for a while. I used to ride past the field where I think he has gone, when I was living at Wood. At least, I used to ride past the lane you go up to get to the fields. Sometimes I miss going out and looking about and maybe having a nibble of some different grasses by the side of the road. But, I don’t miss the tacking up with the girth and the bit and the having to do what I am told. No, I don’t miss that at all. Now, providing the weather isn’t too inclement, I can just do what I like. I can wander up the hill or go round by the two gates or have a munch at some leaves. I can stand up, lay down or roll about and, one thing I do enjoy doing on a hot day, when the flies are being a real nuisance, I can go and stand in the stream and splash water all over my body. I splash and splash and splash and, unlike young Harry, I don’t care who sees me. In fact, I am rather proud especially when Treg comes over and watches. I think he would rather like to do it too but feels that he might get it wrong and fall in the water. Maybe one day I’ll teach him but it’s nice always having that bit of edge. I’ve got to keep my status up somehow.

Just taking a restSunday 4th July 2004
“Ere, d’you know what, Wick. I’m not doing nothing that Alli tells me to, today.”
“Them’s brave words, Treg, my man. What has brought this spark of revolution to stir in your old veins then laddie?”
“Well, it’s the day, aint it?”
“The day, Treg? Sunday? I didn’t know you to get stroppy on a Sunday before.”
“No, not a Sunday, Wick. At least, it is but that’s not the reason. No, it’s July 4th, isn’t it?”
“I believe it is. July certainly. The fourth? Probably. I won’t argue with such certainty as you are displaying. So? July 4th? So what?”
“Haven’t you heard, Wick. July 4th. Independence Day. I can do just what I like for one day in the year. And Alli can’t do a thing about it. What d’you think of that then?”
“I think you might be treading on very dangerous ground there, Treg. Who says it’s Independence Day? Who says that you can do what you like? I’ve not heard anything about that, lad.”
“Well, I overheard it. Up near the Throwleigh Road . There was these couple of humans walking along and they was talking. I couldn’t understand them at first because they didn’t talk proper like what we do, you know what I mean. They were saying something about ‘back home now, they’ll be celebrating’ and stuff like that so I guessed that they didn’t come from here. Probably Sticklepath or somewhere? Anyway they was saying that ‘back home’ it was Independence Day and that everyone should know about it. Then they walked on so I couldn’t hear any more. But that was enough for me. Eh, Wick?”
“Oh dear, Treg. You know you shouldn’t really listen to what they say in Sticklepath. Or worse. Maybe they came from Okehampton? Got some very funny ways to there, Treg. You’re not really going to risk the red rocket’s wrath for the sake of something you overheard over the hedge?”
“Say that again, Wick. I liked that.”
“Say what again, my old man?”
“You know. The red rafets rot. Or something. I know what you mean. You mean Alli, don’t you. You’d be in deep trouble if she heard you call her that.”
“What do I care, Treg. It’s Independence Day, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, Wick. Do what we want. Don’t do what we don’t want. Go on, please. Say it again.”
“For you, Treg. Here we go. Run around the red rocket, run around the rotter. Ring the red mad mare and sing. Rocket rock it rocket!”
“Wicky. You’re a poet! Oh, you are clever, isn’t he All….. Oh. Alli! Didn’t see you there. Did we Wick. Well, doesn’t time fly. OK Alli, what are we going to do today? Wicky was just asking, wasn’t you, Wick?”
“Aye, Treg. We were both just wondering what you’d like us to do today, Alli?”
“Oh, I don’t care, lads. Do what you like. It’s Independence Day today!”

Getting riperMonday 5th July 2004
OK, I know I was silly. But it didn’t seem like it at the time. Well, haven’t you done something that you’ve felt silly about afterwards? Of course you have. Well that was what I did this morning. The day started normally enough. We had spent the night, as usual during the fine weather, grazing up the top fields. Then, as it started to get light, we gradually made our way down, stopping for a blade of grass here and a spot of leaves there. You know how it is. By the time THEY drove up with the morning buckets, we were doing our usual hanging around the stream, enjoying a bit of warm sunshine. I was trying to raise a bit of enthusiasm in Treg to indulge in a bit of mutual grooming but he just kept dropping off, so I was glad to see the buckets arrive. Mind you, I’m always glad to see that, infrequent as it may be. Anyway, we ate our breakfast as usual, with me finishing in about half the time it takes the others and I turned to HIM for my next carrot treat before setting out to follow HER down to the bridle path gates for a bit of a chat and some apple and sugar. It was as I turned towards the way that SHE was walking that the rising morning sun shone full in my eyes and then I saw it! There it was, plain as you like, glistening and menacing in the sunshine – a giant, evil rattlesnake! I stopped dead in my tracks, torn in my mind what to do. My instinct was to run away, fast as I could. And yet, another part of me was worried for HER, as SHE blindly walked towards it, unaware of the great danger SHE was in. And yet a third part of me was curious. How had such a giant, dangerous monster got into our fields? Where had it come from? What was it going to do next? I couldn’t help it, I ran forward to get a better look and then, realising what I was doing, I ran back to HIM, head in the air and snorting to warn HIM and let HIM know that SHE was in danger. And, do you know what HE did? HE laughed! HE not only laughed, HE made snorting and puffing noises to imitate my alarms. Well, you don’t have great expectations from humans, poor creatures that they are, but you do, at least, expect to be taken seriously. Maybe HE doesn’t realise, I thought, so I bravely ran towards it, snorted and ran back again, nearly knocking poor old Treg over in the process. Then it dawned on me. Treg wasn’t at all worried. I know he’s not the shiniest lump in the sugar bag but I do know he can sense danger (and wormers) in a flash. It was then that a cloud passed over the sun and I was able to see across to the bridle path gates. And there SHE stood, waving the plastic sugar bag to encourage me to follow her. As I stood and stared, seeing no sign of the monster, the cloud slowly passed from the sun and I caught a glimpse of the rays catching the plastic bag and realised  that the snake’s rattle was, in fact, the sound of shaking plastic.
As I said. Have you never done something silly that you regretted later?

ReedsTuesday 6th July 2004
“Ere, Wick. Did you see Alli, yesterday?”
“I see Alli every day, old lad. Don’t you? She’s not gone missing, has she?”
“No, I mean did you see her prancing about and snorting at that plastic bag, yesterday morning?”
“I’m sorry, Treg. No, I didn’t see anything. I did hear a bit of commotion but you can’t see an awful lot with your nose down inside a feed bucket, can ye?”
“Not if one is as small and greedy as you, they can’t, I’ll agree with you there, Wick.”
“Oh, we are sarcastic, this morning, aren’t we? So, tell me, you’re going to anyway. What was all the fuss over, then?”
“I don’t really know, Wick. One minute she was going out to pig herself full of treats from HER and the next she was running about all over the place as if she was being chased by an enormous snake.”
“Hormones, I shouldn’t wonder, Treg. Females, you know. They’re full of them. And they make them do the most irrational things. Probably a great rush of hormonal activity came upon her and that was that.”
“Cor, Wick, I didn’t know that. That explains a lot of things. In fact, with Alli, it probably explains everything. The times she wants to be up and doing, grooming or walking up the hill or walking down the hill or even, sometimes, just walking when there’s no rational reason for it that I can see. So that’s it, is it? Orbones. I’ll have to remember that. Just wait till she wants me to do something else silly. I’ll tell her to take her orbones to the vet and not bother me. That’s what I’ll do!”
“Er, maybe not, Treg. You see, the other thing that hormones does is to make ‘em get really angry. Flattened ears, flared nostrils and everything. And if you go about saying things like that to her. Well, it’ll be like a red rag to a bull. Your life wouldn’t be worth an apple biscuit. Come to think of it …”
“Oh, right, I get you, Wick. At least I do all except that bit about red rags and bulls. Why do they like them? Do they taste good or something. Personally, I’ve eaten a good many things in my time but I’ve never found any pleasure in rags. You eat most things, Wick. Do you find them up to much?”
“It’s just a saying, Treg. Something humans say. I’ll admit I don’t understand it either but it seemed a clever thing to say. Anyway, we’re getting off the point. Did you find out from Alli, what she was making all the fuss for?”
“Funny that. She didn’t want to talk about it. Every time I mentioned it, she changed the subject. Just mumbled something about the sun and forget it and that was that. In the end, I decided that it might be some sort of racemare thing and left it at that. But I’m glad I mentioned it to you. At least now I know about the orbones thing. Funny my mum never told me about it. Maybe she never suffered from it?”
“Treg, they all do, sonny. Every single one of them. And it gets worse the older they get. You show me an old mare and I’ll show you a whole bucket load of hormones!”
“That’s what I like about you, Wick. You’re so experienced. So clever. I’m really lucky to have such a friend as you. I’ve just had an idea.”
“Wow, Treg. I should put that in your log, old man.”
“There you go again, Wick. So clever. How did you know?”
“How did I know what, Treg?”
“My idea. I only just thought of it, and you knew it straight away. I just thought to myself that I ought to put all that about orbones into my log and you said it before I’d had time to tell you. You really are a genius, Wick.”
“Aye, laddie, you’re right there. But then, compared to you …….?”



ReflectionsWednesday 7th July 2004
THEY must know something that we don’t. Here it is, early July, the middle of summer, and THEY came and put our rugs on, tonight! We spend the whole of the late autumn and winter wearing them and it’s often not until May that we get to take the hot and itchy things off and here THEY go, putting them back on again. I thought SHE had a thing about not taking them off until the lowest temperature was above about five degrees. Now I know it has got a little cooler these last couple of days but nothing lower than eleven or twelve degrees overnight. I wonder if those humans have realised that they’ve got it all wrong about global warming and its going to be global cooling instead? And that’s another thing. They are not consistent. Humans, I mean. One minute they talk about our ‘coats’ as the things they put on us to make us uncomfortable and then, the next minute it’s ‘rugs’. Not only that but they also talk about grooming our ‘coats’ but then they take them off to do it. I think humans are just sloppy talkers. I’ve even heard them talk about rugs as being things that they throw on the ground to walk on. I’m sure if we walked all over our rugs, they’d get very upset! Another thing, tack. Sometimes ‘tack’ is what they eat and other times it’s all that stuff they use to make us do what they want by tying it around our tummies, putting it on our backs or, even worse, in our mouths. Even then that’s not the end of it because the farrier often tacks our shoes back on. Maybe I’m just in a grumpy mood today because HE told me that the real reason for putting the wretched things on again is that they are expecting a sudden change in the weather to very heavy rain and high winds. HE said that THEY always remember that time when I first came to them and was staying with the cows at Wood Home Farm. I was kept in a very nice old stable overnight but in the day I was out in a field with the cows. They were real nice and friendly girls and always invited me to lay down with them and share their grass. Their only problem was that they had no idea of a game. I used to try to stir them up by giving a bit of a buck and a run but they would just regard me with their great big gooey eyes and carry on chewing and looking. As I said, very nice girls but I could never get over their chewing habit. Well, one day, like now in the middle of summer, we were all out in the field, enjoying a bit of a natter, when the sky turned black and there was a torrential downpour. I don’t like rain much, at the best of times, because, as I must have mentioned before, I have such a thin covering of hair (alright, ‘coat’ if you want to put it like that!). This rain, though, was more like loads of small hard pebbles. They hurt where they hit and they drenched me right down to my insides. There was nothing I could do. There were a couple of trees in the field but they were not the sort to give much cover, just useful for scratching up against. No, all I could do was to stand there and get thoroughly soaked. And, worse, that rain was icy cold. Soon, I started to shiver and, by the time THEY came with my evening meal, I was shaking uncontrollably. It gave THEM a real fright, I can tell you. They got me back to my stable, dried me off as best as they could and covered me with straw packed under my stable rug. By this time the rain had stopped so they also made me exercise to get a bit warmer. Eventually, I stopped shivering and, with the help of a good bucketful of food, I was finally back to normal again. I think it is the memory of this that makes THEM now come and put our rugs on in the middle of summer. Maybe what THEY forget is that I was not much more than a bag of bones at that time. I’ve had a few years of proper feeding to give me a warming layer of, well, condition to keep out the elements. Another factor is that, although by my breeding, my coat will never be like Treg’s or Wick’s it has got a lot thicker by being out such a lot more. I am now much more of a Dartmoor seasoned horse than an indoor hothouse flower. We will have to see if the weather is really going to be so bad as to warrant this ‘death by itching’ approach. By the way, I notice they didn’t make Wicky wear his. I think that old guy could get a job pulling Santa’s sleigh without needing a coat!

Treggy's treeThursday 8th July 2004
I’m not sure if I mentioned about that rabbit that has got so friendly recently. He’s now so brave (or stupid) that he comes out to eat the oats that HE throws out for the birds and takes very little notice if THEY are standing there or even walking about. The only time I saw him pay much attention to the humans was when HE misguidedly threw the rabbit a bit of our carrot. Not only was it a crime to give our treats away like that but also the rabbit mistook it for a badly aimed missile and retreated back into the hedge for a while. Another couple of visitors who have reappeared after a fairly long absence are Phrankie and Phelicity. They explained that they have been very busy raising their chicks and that they just popped out for a bit of peace and quiet. All this family raising seems to be very good for the appetite and they didn’t have time to talk very much as they always had their mouths full.
Apart from these visitors, its been pretty quiet here, for the weather did take a nasty turn, just like THEY thought it would. It wasn’t as bad as expected. This side of Devon had it much quieter than the rest, according to HIM. The high winds in other places brought trees down onto cars and buildings and the rain caused some local flooding. We had nothing near as bad as that. Treg, Wicky and myself just stood in the field shelter overnight and sort of watched the trees blowing and listened to the rain which was pleasant enough to be able to doze to. HE had put out three very full hay nets but firstly it was that old tough stuff that he bought at the end of the season and secondly you don’t have a lot of appetite for hay when you have a nice full belly of sweet green grass. We pulled a few pieces out of the nets and threw on the floor just so HE wouldn’t think us ungrateful and then we just went back to dozing and watching. By the end of the morning, they weather had improved back to a normal ‘soft’ Dartmoor day and we were back out working in the fields again.

SeedsFriday 9th July 2004
“I was glad to get that old itchy coat off this morning, Wick. You were lucky, you didn’t have to have yours on.”
“Luck has very little to do with it, my laddie. You know, like Alli is always telling us, it’s down to breeding. I was born to be tough. Rugged. Now, that’s a good description. A rugged Dartmoor Hill Pony. That’s me.”
“I suppose you could call me ‘rugged’ too, Wick. At least you could these last couple of days.”
“And how do you make that out, son. You’ve been all cuddled up in that red rug of your….. Oh. I see! Very bright, Treg. Did you think that up all by yourself. My goodness those powders are working wonders. You’ve just made a joke.”
“I did? Oh, that’s good, isn’t it Wick.? But tell me, you didn’t wear a rug, so why do you call yourself rugged?”
“It’s because .. OH, don’t bother, Treg. You wouldn’t understand. Tell me, how’s the Human Watch work going. Put anything else in your log, lately?”
“Well, Wick, that’s just it. I can’t find it.”
”You canna find your log, Treg. Why it’s behind the field shelter, isn’t it?”
“That’s where it was last. But it’s not there anymore. I went round there only this morning and – nothing! It’s gone. Vanished! No log and no hole where it used to be either.”
“Now, wait a wee while laddie. I can understand, just, someone might take you log. But take the hole as well? No, that’s stretching credibility too far.”
“You don’t have to stretch, Wick. Just walk round there. They’ve gone. Vanished. I just can’t think what can have happened to them.”
“Well, I’m very sorry to hear that, Treg. All your years of work. Well, weeks, days, well – a lot. The time you waste… er … spent looking after that log when you could have been eating. It’s a crying shame.”
“It’s certainly a puzzle, Wick. The problem is, I don’t know what to do now if there is something I aught to record. What do I do if there’s no log?”
“Couldn’t you get another one, Treg?”
“Oh, Wicked. You are a genius. Why didn’t I think of that?”
“Do you want me to answer that, Treg.?”
“What’s that, Wick. Sorry, I wasn’t listening. You just gave me a good idea. I’ll just get another log, there’s plenty about, isn’t there?”
“Is there, Treg. I’ve not seen any. Where have you seen them?”
“Oh, here and there. You know. Usually under trees and stuff. There’s always a load of logs under trees. Under our trees, anyway.”
“But they are just wooden logs, Treg. Just old broken branches and stuff that have been brought down by the winds.”
“Yes.”
“What do you mean, yes?”
“Yes, they’re logs. What I use for recording all the human watch information on.”
Tregony Bay . Are you telling me that all this time you have been going round the back of the field shelter to put information on a bit of broken tree?”
“Yes, that’s right, Wick. A log. Just like they told me to do at Headquarters.”
“And this log, Treg. It wouldn’t be about three feet long with a jagged edge at one end and a bit sticking up at the other?”
“You’ve found it, Wick. Tell me. Where is it? Please. Oh you’ve made me so happy. All that work not wasted after all. Where is it to?”
“I think if you go back round behind the field shelter you’ll find just such a ‘log’ that has now grown some green shoots and leaves, Treg. It’s been there all the time. I don’t know if all the leaves that ‘hid’ it will stop you using it?”
“Oh no, Wick, I’ll just eat them!”

Nearly the whole herdSaturday 10th July 2004
Do you know what HE told me today? It’s the day of the South Tawton ‘revels’! So what’s so special about that, you might ask. Well, the weather for one. Now, forgive me if I seem ignorant, but I thought the word ‘revels’ conjures up all sorts of jollifications and merriment. People cavorting and carousing in the streets and all that. In the cloudburst? Oh well. Humans, I’ll never understand them. When HE came along this evening, HE told me that he had some nice shots of the vicar playing some sort of hoop la or something covered in a sort of groundsheet to keep dry. Other photos were of people trying to sell ice cream to visitors in wellies and carrying umbrellas. They certainly know how to have fun these humans. Apparently it is a revival of an ancient mediaeval custom when the church at South Tawton used to hold annual celebrations for the villagers. Then the Church House was used for the brewing of ‘church ales’ and the jollifications went on in a much more rowdy fashion than today. Today’s affair offered tea and a great variety of cream and chocolate cakes and, for the younger (in heart) of the visitors, even hot dogs and hamburgers. But, where was the ale? If it was good enough for the 12th century then it should be good enough for today. At least, that’s what HE said. When I asked him what was the highlight of the event, HE said HE could only answer for himself. Fair enough I said. for you, then. What was the best bit? And then HE told me that there is usually one thing that makes the day for a photographer. It’s usually nothing to do with the big event at all but something incidental to it. Today it was a little girl. She just appeared by the church door. She didn’t  appear to be with anyone although she must have been because she was so young. However, she was full of confidence and just wandered into a crowd of other kids and made her presence felt. Anyway, it was both the way she acted and the way that she was dressed that caught HIS attention. She was definitely dressed for the weather in hat, coat and wellies. What made her particularly cute was the way one trouser leg was tucked into her boot and the other just flapped over it.
I have to admit that, after a while, I found myself losing interest. When HE tells me about things HE does that I am not involved in there is a limit in how much I can take an interest. I find myself, after a while, wondering about how I can wheedle another treat out of him. After another while, I find that I have quite forgotten that HE is telling me something. To my mind there is still quite a gap between the interests of humans and those of equines. they might mean well, but one has to wonder about their sense of priorities.

Soon to be blackberriesSunday 11th July 2004
After all I told you yesterday – another ‘revels’. This time it was Belstone. Much the same except the vicar was buying things not selling them today. Apparently he was enormously pleased because the old mug that he bought came with a free gift of a spider inside it. He should have asked us. We’ve hundreds of them in the field shelter. So many that often you get the impression that if you removed all the webs, the structure would fall down. There were a couple of differences in the revels from those at South Tawton . First, there was the ‘Cosdon run’, a race up the Beacon and back. For humans, this is pretty impressive stuff. It would probably take HIM about two and a half hours to get to the top and only a bit less to descend again. The leaders in this annual race usually take around thirty to forty minutes to get to the top and back again. As I said, for a human, very impressive. that’s only just under three times what it would take me (or even Wicky, if there was a bucket at the end of it.). More like Treg’s speed maybe but he wouldn’t see the sense of doing it for any reason. The other better thing about these revels was that there were pony rides. Not that I necessarily think that making us walk up and down with an infant human perched precariously on our backs is a good thing but it does help to put things into a proper perspective to have a few equines around.
Another difference, probably down to the different temperaments of the Belstoners and the Tawtoners was that, while yesterday’s events included skittles bowling, the Belstone event featured crockery smashing. A much fiercer breed to Belstone, I suspect probably due to living halfway up on the moor. Much wilder than the South Tawton valley dwellers. And there you have it. No more fun and games for the humans until the 17th when the school has it’s barbeque. Do you know what? I suspect that there is only a certain amount of bric-a-brac in the vicinity which the villagers shift around from one place to another. You buy it at South Tawton and sell it at Belstone. This gets fed back at the South Zeal school event and then it is passed over to the Sticklepath flower show. Etcetera, etc. All the pieces start off new, you understand. They just get to look so old and battered because they get passed around so many times. And, it’s a bit like musical chairs. When the season stops the one left with the rubbish has to look after it until the fair season is upon us once again. Oh well, it keeps them out of mischief I suppose. as long as they don’t forget the carrots and mint sweets it cant do them a lot of harm.

little wild flowerMonday 12th July 2004
“Ere, Wick?”
“Yes, Treg, my old mate, what can I do for you this time?”
“Gyppos!”
“I beg your pardon, Tregony. You didn’t sat what I thought you said, did you?”
“What did you think I said Wick?”
“I think you know, Mr Tregony Bay . And it’s very naughty.”
“What’s naughty about ‘Gyppos’ Wick?”
“It’s just not nice, Tregony. Not politically correct. How would you like it if we went about calling you and your family ‘Cornies’?”
“Oh, I never thought of that. Where did you hear that? I’ve been called a ‘Pastie’ before but never a Cornie.”
“Well, I’ve never heard of it either. I just made it up. I just wanted you to understand why it’s not nice to call people by nicknames like that. You should call them by their proper name.”
“You man ‘Gypsies’, Wick.?”
“That’s right. Gypsies. There’s no need to say ‘Gyppos’ is there?”
“But it’s only a shortened version of Gypsy, isn’t it?”
“That doesn’t give you the right to shorten it, unless they let you.”
“But isn’t Gypsy short for Egyptian, Wick? Why don’t we have to call them Egyptians?”
“Don’t be silly, Tregony. They don’t come from Egypt . Anyway, their proper name is Romanies.”
“Oh, they’re Eyetie… er.. Italians then, are they?”
“Not Romans, Treg, Romanies.”
“Oh, I expect that’s because they roam a lot, eh Wick?”
“Tell me, Tregony. Why did you start this conversation in the first place?”
“Well, it’s just that HE told me that THEY had to go to Exeter today to get their car mended and He said that they saw a lot of Gyppo horses on the way.”
“Tregony! You better tell him that he’s in big trouble. They’re not Gyppo horses, they are ‘coloured’ horses (or ponies). So don’t let me hear you use that term again.”
“Oh no, Wick. I’ll stick to ‘coloured’. At least you can’t go wrong with a term like that!”

Down to the bridle path gatesTuesday 13th July 2004
THEY’ve been got. THEY thought THEY were before. But now THEY really have been suckered in. And THEY know it. Oh, sorry, you don’t know what I’m talking about, do you. I’ll start from the beginning. Once upon a time (as all good stories start) THEY had very little to do with equines. SHE had gone through the phase that many young girls go through and had been pony mad. Then SHE grew up and took on other responsibilities and ponies took a back seat. Later, SHE took her daughter to riding lessons and got involved with horsey activities, as a good mother should. HE had only very occasional involvement with the beautiful species. HE had sat on one a couple of times and found it quite interesting where the horse had taken him. But, to be honest, HE was quite blind to the attraction of the equine. As we say, more to be pitied than blamed! Then THEY married and bought a little cottage that backed on to a farm, which also had stables and some fields. Quite coincidentally, one of the mares at the riding school where SHE was involved with a group called the Horse Rangers (a bit like Treggy’s thing, I think) became mysteriously pregnant. At least, it wasn’t a mystery to her but it was to the humans who looked after her. This was THEIR first big involvement. Well, someone had to take the foal, Korka, didn’t they?
Sadly, their work came between them and their true vocation and, after a few years of loving and training, Korka moved on leaving them equine free.
THEY eventually moved to Devon and it was not long before THEY realised what THEY had been missing and I came into their lives. It had taken a long while but, at last, they realised what they had been missing. Not long after, THEY became proper equine people with the arrival of Tregony and Wicked (and, of course, the small matter of the expense of buying Ninefields). Now THEY had a proper life, with three equines to feed, shoe and pay the vets bills for. And so, that was that? No. SHE had to go and get involved with the South West Equine protection charity. It was not enough to produce my web site, she got ‘roped in’ (as we horses say) into reviving and running the SWEP website as well. And now? Well, somehow, THEY are still not sure how it happened, THEY find themselves now looking after SWEP’s fund raising efforts. All other aspects of life have receded into the background, THEY now are employed (in the loosest, non-remunerative meaning of the word) in caring for the welfare of the equine species. And humans think that they are the cleverest things on earth?

Wednesday 14th July 2004
“Wicky, come over here a minute. Can you see what I see?”
“I usually can, Treg, as long as it’s not too high. I am a little short in the leg you know, or hadn’t you noticed.”
“Never mind all that, Wick. Look. Up there. Right in the middle of our top field. Is that what I think it is?”
“You know, Treg, I’m terribly tempted to just say ‘yes’ and then walk away. But, of course, that’s not why you called me over, is it? You are about to make another of your really clever announcements, aren’t you? OK, I’ll fall for it. What do you think you can see up there, Treg? Is it something really exciting?”
Whats this all about“I think I would have preferred your ‘yes’ after all. You’re just laughing at me now.”
“Aw, come on laddie. A wee bit o’ a joke. That’s all. Now, come on. What is it up there? I really can’t see from here because those nettles are getting in my line of sight.”
“It’s a sheep!”
“Wow. No? Not really. Who would have thought it. Right out here on Dartmoor . A sheep?”
“Well, I know that there are hundreds of sheep around here but look, there’s only one. That is a bit strange, don’t you think. They usually go around in herds, don’t they?”
“Flocks!”
“No don’t be like that, Wick. There’s no need for that kind of language.”
“Don’t be silly, Treg. Flocks is what you call herds, when they’re herds of sheep, if you know what I mean. You can get a herd of horses, a herd of cows even a herd of elephants but with sheep, it’s like birds, they go around in flocks.”
“But they can’t fly, can they Wick?”
“No, Treg. Now you are getting the idea. Nor can elephants.”
“You keep saying that word. What’s an elli fant? I don’t think I’ve seen one on Dartmoor . Are they a rare sort of sheep or something?”
“Yes, Treg. Very rare. Now, let’s get back to this flockless one up in our top field. What do you think it is doing there?”
“If I squint my eyes and look ever so hard, Wick, I think it’s having a sleep.”
“I don’t mean right at this minute, I mean in general. Why do you think a single sheep is having a sleep in the middle of our top field?”
“Cos its tired, Wick?”
“Trying to talk to you is like trying to drink water from a hay net. Did you know that, Treg. Now listen carefully. Why did that sheep come all alone into our field?”
“Now don’t rush me, Wick. Let me think. Er …er…um…did it get lost, do you think?”
“Well done, Treg, that could just be an answer. But I would think it would be a bit more worried, if it were lost. I wouldn’t expect it to go to sleep. Tell me. Look at its markings. Is it one of farmer Mike’s or is it one of those Dartmoor strays that often find their way into our fields?”
“Let me see. Yes, you’re right. It’s not one of Mike’s. Do you think it could be an advance scout for them strays?”
“Aye, laddie. You could be right there. But not from our usual ones. They know their way here.”
“Tell you what, Wick. Let’s ask Alli. She’ll know what its all about.”
“Right, Treg. It’s worth a try. She usually does!”


Cosdon viewThursday 15th July 2004
“Alli, come over here a minute. Can you see what I see?”
“Not if you’re hallucinating again, Treg. You really must be more careful about what leaves you eat.”
“No, really, Alli. There’s a sheep up there, in the middle of our top field.”
“Wow. No? Not really. Who would have thought it. Right out here on Dartmoor . A sheep?”
“Too late, lassie, I’ve already said that. Anyway, sarcasm’s lost on Treg, you ought to know that.”
“Intelligence is lost on Treg, Wicky, in fact, even most ideas get lost when they try to find their way around his brain and, it’s not as if it were that big.”
“Excuse me, you two. Talking about me as if I wasn’t here. It was my idea to call you over, Alli. So you see, I do have ideas that don’t get lost, don’t I?”
“Let’s get back to this sheep, Treg. No, what is so unusual that you have stopped me eating grass for?”
“Well, we was trying to work out why a single sheep, not a flocks mind you, just one. Why it had come here all alone?”
“Oh, I see what you mean, although I think that you will find that it is a flock not a flocks. There’s only one of them.”
“There’s only one of the sheep but when there is lots and lots of them they go about in flocks. That’s what Wicky said. Are you saying he is wrong?”
“Oh, alright, Treg. I don’t really want to get into the ins and outs of language just right now. Let’s concentrate on this sheep. You want me to guess what it is doing here all alone? Is that the problem?”
“That’s right, Alli. I knew you’d get there if you concentrated. You see, I think it could be an advance scout, sent out by a bunch of Dartmoor strays, to find some really good eating grass and it found our field and had  taste and then another and then ate itself so full that it fell asleep and forgot what it was doing here.”
That’s a very big sentence for you Treg. Top marks for a long joined up thought.”
“That was good, wasn’t it. See, Wick. Alli says I’m clever.”
“And so you are, Tregony. And so you are. Can we all go back to eating now?”
“Hey, lads. I’ve just had another idea. You know what THEY have been going on about lately. You know, that SWEP thing.”
“Couldn’t miss it, lassie. You’re not suggesting that this sheep is anything to do with that?”
“I know, Alli. They heard about it and thought that the ‘S’ meant Sheep and they sent that one out to find out about it?”
“Well nearly, Treg. I was thinking of something very similar. You know what the word is when they talk about sheep?”
“Silly? Flocks? Woollies?”
“I was thinking of the more technical name, Treg. You know, like cows are bovine creatures, well sheep are ovines.”
“It doesn’t surprise me, Alli. You’ve only got to look at ‘em. Like a cow without a ‘b’. Yeah, that suits them.”
“Possibly, Wick. Anyway, if SWEP means South West Equine Protection, what if they heard someone talk about a swop shop and thought that was South West Ovine Protection and they sent someone over here to find out if we knew anything?”
“You know, Alli. Sometimes talking to you makes Treggy seem very clever. The stupid thing is just lost and that’s that. Now, how about we all go back to our grass before the hordes of sheep asylum seekers descend upon us and eat it all from under our muzzles?”

Just tighten your girthFriday 16th July 2004
Our little bunny is getting ever so tame now. There was a time when THEY used to walk ever so slow and give him a wide berth when THEY were walking up to the field shelter. And THEY would stand way back in the shadows when he would come along to eat, and speak very quietly. Now, THEY just stamp on up the hill and yell out to him, things like ‘good morning, rabbit’ and ‘where are you old funny bun’ and, instead of being either frightened or more likely offended by these silly attempts at joviality, he often goes to meet THEM, as THEY cross the stream, and then hops along beside THEM up to the field shelter and almost demands his breakfast or supper. I don’t know what his real name is but I am tempted to call him Wicky.
However, if he has lost his fear of humans, he still has respect for other creatures. In particular, I’ve noticed that, if a rook or large bird flies overhead, he will make a dart for cover in the hedgerow and not re-emerge for quite a time. I was beginning to think that he was an orphan and had no mother to warn him of the dangers. Either this isn’t so, and she has warned him, particularly about the buzzards which scour our fields for tasty morsels such as him, either that or it is a built in instinct. I’m not sure which other birds are dangerous to him. I would imagine magpies are but whether crows and rooks are also a danger or if it is just the large bird shape that he reacts to, I just don’t know. Anyway ‘better safe than sorry’ is a pretty good motto to follow. I can’t count the number of times I have avoided a savage mauling myself from some pretty savage plastic bags. And here I am to tell the tale.
Talking of buzzards, the young are, at last, making themselves well and truly heard. The noise had started fairly faintly with some distant sounding ‘mews’, presumably from their nest. But now, it is obvious, they have learned to fly and their cries are heard loudly bouncing off the hills and trees as they sail all around the fields, practising their skills. Another thing I don’t know is if it is just one or more than one. I know most birds have a clutch of eggs, most of whom become chicks. Whether this is the case with the buzzard, I really have no idea. I’ll have to ask HIM. It’s not that HE’ll know any more than me but HE will look it up in those book things that humans have. They must have very limited brains, humans. They can’t remember much at all unless they put it in a book. Goodness knows what would happen to their family histories and tribal legends if they didn’t have books. I expect they would just wake up every day and have to start all over again as if everything was new. Maybe that’s what it’s like being human. You just cant help feeling sorry for them, can you?

Saturday 17th July 2004
I told you. I just mentioned to HIM, last night, about the size of buzzard families and HE said that HE just couldn’t remember for the moment but HE would have a think about it and get back to me in the morning. Didn’t even have the guts to tell me that HE was going to look it up in a book. Anyway, along HE comes this morning, all cocky like, and tells me that the information has come to HIM. Huh! Time for a little somethingApparently buzzards build a nest of twigs and line it with bracken and other soft stuff and then lay a clutch of two or thee eggs from April to early May. There is usually a few days between each egg so the hatching of the young is similarly spaced out. This takes about 36 days – early to mid June and then the young hang about and don’t leave home for another 45 – 50 days. Which means from about now, at the earliest to the end of August at the latest. Aren’t books wonderful? The funny thing is that I will remember this always whilst, knowing HIM, if I were to ask HIM about it again say next Xmas, HE’d say it had just slipped HIS memory and HE would let me know in the morning.
HE did tell me that it was lucky that HE remembered at all as HIS mind is on other things today. Apparently it is another of those village things today, the local school barbecue and it starts just before HE has to bring us our evening buckets. I told HIM not to let that bother HIM – just don’t go, I said, because I knew that HE would never dream of upsetting our routine, particularly where food is concerned. The fact that there are nine fields full of quite edible grass is a fact that, thank goodness, seems to elude HIM. Anyway, HE said that HE would just have to go along late. As it happens, the weather is a bit on the damp and miserable side today so I don’t expect HE will miss a lot. As usual, HE is going along to take photographs. I wonder when the last time was that HE went to something purely for the pleasure of going? It’s not as if HE hadn’t got any photos. HE took some more of us the other day. At least, when I say us, I mean Treggy and myself. It is next to impossible to get a shot of Wicky without his nose in a bucket. There are only so many pictures of that scene that anyone could want! When I mentioned the fact that HE must have photos coming out of HIS ears, HE said that HE has to have at least one a day to put with my diary, as if HE was always so busy with that. I am coming to think that typing that for me is just another of HIS jobs, rather than a joy and inspiration to HIM. I’d give the job to someone else but you just can’t get the staff these days. Now, when I was back in the racing stables … Oh, well, mustn’t live in the past, must we?

Sunday 18th July 2004
Entering St Andrew's“Ere, Wick. d’you know what humans do on a Sunday?”
“Have a proper breakfast, Treg. The full English with eggs, bacon, tomato, mushroom, black pudding, kidney, fried bread, toast marma ……”
“Stop it, Wick. All you can think about is food. No, I was getting to something much more spiritual than that.”
“There’s nothing more heavenly than a good meal, Treg, and don’t you forget it.”
“Oh, Wicky, you know that it’s all an act. You are as sensitive as the next horse, or pony in your case, you just don’t like to let on.”
“OK laddie, I’ll admit it. I do know what you are talking about. On Sunday some humans go to church. Is that what you wanted me to say?”
“You see, Wick, you are a lot more than a stomach on four legs, four very short legs, I should say.”
“OK lofty. what’s your point. Are you saying that we should go to church, as well. I’m sure the vicar would love you making a mess in the middle of the aisle.”
“Well. And what about you. All that wind you have. The people would all be holding their noses, or their ears or both.”
“That would be rather a good joke,             Treg, wouldn’t it. If you and I could wait, say, until the sermon part and then forget ourselves, just act natural so to speak. That would brighten up their morning wouldn’t it?”
“I wonder why humans are quite so squeamish about normal bodily functions, Wick? I mean, they all seam to fall in love with nature and the environment and all that. And then, when it comes to a little bit of poo, they go all funny. I even know that if HE takes a photo of the bunny sitting next to a pile of poo, HE uses HIS computer to cover it over with a bit of grass. I don ‘t know why HE should worry, the bunny doesn’t care. Neither do the birds. They hop about all over the poo pile looking for worms and they find it’s height very useful for looking out for things. Can you imagine a human running up to the top of a poo pile to get a better look at something?”
“Are you finished now laddie? I never heard you give such a long speech ever. It’s obviously something you feel very strongly about?”
“Well, it’s like what I was going to say about them going to church. I mean, if it’s so good why only Sundays? Why not go other days as well. And why, if they say their god is everywhere do they need to go to a church to find him?”
“I can’t really answer for only Sundays, Treg, but they go to church to meet other like minded people and to listen to the wisdom of someone who specialises in these things. A bit like going to the farrier or the vet. You wouldn’t think of doing those things yourself, would you? No, you go to someone who has studies and trained to become expert at it. Well, it’s my guess that it’s the same with the church and the vicar. Your ordinary human doesn’t have time to study the stuff himself. Like you’ve noticed, he only can afford to go one day a week, as it is. So, he has someone to do the study for him and to explain what it all means on a Sunday. The other good thing is that the vicar don’t have that much time to tell them what they’ve been doing wrong so they don’t feel too bad for the rest of the week.”
“And you said that I went on for a long while. Mind, I understand what you are saying. So why don’t we have to do that? Why don’t we need someone to tell us what we should and shouldn’t do?”
“Are you mad, Treg? We’ve got Alli!”

this little piggy ...Monday 19th July 2004
Do you know what HE told me today? Pigs! Yes, that’s right, pigs! No, HE wasn’t being rude or offensive. HE was explaining HIS latest photographic venture. I don’t know if you know but HE does something with another web site besides mine. I don’t get offended. It probably keeps HIM out of mischief. Anyway, on this other site, HE has a monthly photo album where HE publishes 49 pictures each month and keeps a running archive. I know. Why 49 you ask? Well, when HE started out HE thought it would be a good idea to have various categories to sort the photos into so that they wouldn’t all be the same old stuff. At least that was the theory although after running for nine months HE’s finding it hard to prevent the pictures in each category from becoming repeats, if you know what I mean? How he ended up with 49 photos is that he chose seven categories – animals, events, flora, people, places. scenery and various (what a cop out!). So you see, this meant that HE would need to have 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49 or 56, etc. photos each month and as 50 is a nice round number, HE chose 49 as being nearest to it. Right, where was I?
Oh yes, pigs. Each month, he tries to vary the content and introduce something new. Guess how many horse photos HE has? Or cats? Then there are dogs about everywhere. Sheep? Not short of the odd one or two on Dartmoor . Cows, likewise. In the last few months HE has got more and more desperate  and has introduced frogs, squirrels, bees, damsel flies, and even, as a final act of desperation, a spiders web. So HE was racking HIS brains about the August album when HE remembered that HE had passed a place called Happy Hogs (although why they should be happy, as it sold pork and bacon, one can’t venture to say) and over the road was a field with, you’ve guessed it, pigs. So off HE went, this morning with his camera, to see if HE would be allowed to photograph them. HE asked in the shop who HE needed to see to get permission and was told to go to the man in the bungalow behind the shop. HE went to the door and rang the bell to be greeted by an enormous Irish Wolfhound. Now, in the days long ago before I knew HIM, HE used to live with a very big wolfhound called Colonel. Colonel was so big that he would stand on his hind legs and put his paws on HER shoulders and look down to HER. Anyway, because of this, HE know a bit of wolfhound language so HE and this one got talking. After a while, at a ‘paws’ in the conversation, HE realised that there was no human in the house so HE made HIS apologies and left to look for the pig man. To dock a long story, HE found the man mending his neighbours water filed water supply that had been kicked to death by some cows. HE was taken across the road and introduced to the pigs (and many piglets) who were about to have their breakfast. So there HE was, with his camera, snapping away, as happy as a pig in spit (as we say). Then the man came along again with the wolfhound on a lead and explained that he had some woods down at the bottom of the field and that the dog could have a good run and play there. And, do you know what, HE was so tied up with his photography that HE even forgot to get the dog’s name. One day I’m going to pull that thing right out of HIS eye!

Hanging basket warsTuesday 20th July 2004
You know that, during the winter, I spend my nights in the stable, where THEY live in Ramsley Lane . And, I’ve told you many times of how, when SHE is not able to ride me, HE walks me up Ramsley Lane and then along the Throwleigh Road to Ninefields in the morning and back in the evening. Well, apparently, HE told me, there is a sort of ‘hanging basket wars’ going on, along our route. HE used to put out some hanging baskets, but since HE has been doing all this web site stuff, HIS garden has been allowed to go back to nature, much to the delight of the birds, bees and butterflies and the disgust of the neighbours. HE did find HIS last year’s hanging baskets in the lean-to, where HE had hung them last year and forgotten them until HE noticed that they had started sprouting again. HE has hung them up but so far only leaves, no flowers. Quite in contrast to the rest of Ramsley Lane apparently. The place is simply bursting with flower and colour. I’m sure that HIS description ‘basket wars’ is not true, although there may be some sort of friendly rivalry between the houses. If not rivalry then, at least, some neighbourly encouragement. It really looks colourful, HE tells me and makes HIM quite ashamed of HIS miserable effort. Whether HE was hinting that, if HE didn’t have to type up my diary for me, HE would have time to do his garden, or whether he was a genuinely ashamed I neither know or care. He started the idea in the first place. It’s hard enough for me to come up with something for HIM to type each day, I really can’t be bothered with HIS problems. I wouldn’t mind taking a little stroll down Ramsley Lane , however, at this time. It might be rather fun to look at all the pretty flowers and admire them – and they eat them!

Wednesday 21st July 2004
“Ere, Wick, we shouldn’t have gone on about those sheep the other day. Now look what’s happened. Farmer Michael’s put his sheep back in our field to eat up all our lovely grass.”
“What? You’re joking, Treg! It’s not so far off the autumn flush for the grass. I was looking forward to that, all to myself. No, I don’t mean that, Treg. To share with you and Alli of course. I meant not to share with no ovines.”
“No, or with the sheep, eh, Wick?”
“Right on, laddie. Not with the sheep. What are we going to do about it?”
“Do you want me to come up with one of my cunning plans, Wick? Or shall I go and ask them at HE about it?”
tara eats Belstone“You mean ask HIM about it, Treg?”
“No, Wick, not HIM. HE, you know, Human Watch central office.”
“You mean HQ, you silly old duffer, Treg.”
“No, Wick. We’re a bit stretched on the ground, they told me. We can’t afford Headquarters, we can only have Headeighths.”
“Are you sure they weren’t pulling you leg, Treggy?”
“Silly, I would have felt it. And anyway, why would they do that?”
“Indeed, Treg, why would they try to pull your leg?”
“I don’t know, Wick, it was your idea.”
“Let’s get back to the sheep, Treg. I do think we are straying from the plot, here.”
“You’re right, Wick. That’s what they told me at HE. They said, Hossifer Tregony, you’ve lost the plot. But I hadn’t, wick, honest. I never had it in the first place, it must have been someone else.”
“I tell you what, Treg. We’ll do without the ‘cunning plan’, if you don’t mind. Maybe I’ll ask Alli to have a word with HIM, see if HE can’t do something about it.”
“It was HER that wanted them in our field in the first place, Wick. SHE said something to HIM about getting the sheep to keep the grass down so that we all didn’t get too fat and so that you wouldn’t get lamb itus. Seems silly to me, to get sheep in our fields to stop that .You’d think you would be more likely to catch it from them, wouldn’t you?”
“You old duffer. It’s laminitis, not lamb itus. It’s a condition of the foot when the lamina gets all painful.”
“You’ve not got a lamb in there, Wick. What do you take me for. I’m not that silly, you know.”
“You, silly. Whoever would think that, Treg. No I was just explaining what SHE thought SHE was protecting me from. God save me from well meaning females. It’s bad enough the evil minded, red ones but at least I can run away from them.”
“You’d never beat her in a race though, wick. Admit it. You have to take six strides for every one of hers.”
“Yeah, but I’m smart, Treg. I can run under that old one bar gate of his, if I need to. She’d have to stop at it.”
“Didn’t she tell us she used to race over the jumps, Wick. I wouldn’t think that the low old gate would worry her.”
“It’s psychological, Treg. Physically she can jump it but her respect for HIM and all humans would stop her. Me, I respect no one. Look out for number one. That’s the rule of the Dartmoor Hill Pony.”
“So, how’s the Dartmoor Hill Pony going to stop all Michael’s sheep from eating all our grass, Wick?”
“Give me time, Treg. Give me time!”

Dartmoor Hill ponies (with hills)Thursday 22nd July 2004
I keep telling HER when we go for our walks down to the bridle path gates. I keep telling HER but I’m not at all sure that SHE understands. I’ve found that the only way to try and tell HER some things is to stand in the middle of the field and point. I’m not like HER, I haven’t got fingers to point with but I can stand tall and look, very intently, until SHE is forced to follow my gaze. In this way I have been able to tell her about rabbits or about a deer in our fields and even about a handsome young horse that standing a few fields away up the hill. Anyway, now I have seen the most glorious bull. Not that I’d be interested myself, you understand, even though I used to share a field with a load of cows. But one can still appreciate the fineness in another species and this handsome fellow is a really good example. I think SHE got the message for I heard her telling HIM about it. It’s funny how one communicates with other species in general. I often get HIM to type about how this bird told me that or that rabbit said this and so on. Now, you have to understand that this is a form of shorthand. I don’t think I could explain in a thousand words how, exactly, I knew what the bird or rabbit was telling me, I just did. And they could understand me, just the same. It’s all part of the natural world’s way of going about things. Very difficult for a human to comprehend because they have got so used to spoken (and written) language. They like to think it has freed them, allowed them to become far superior to us animals. If they only knew how it has hampered them in being able to understand all the natural species. Because they rely on language, they even have problems communicating with one another. They don’t even have just one language as, for example, all horses have. They have many and each group thinks that its language is better than the others and so makes communication even more difficult. There is a further problem though. Even if they speak the same language, the words they say often have a different meaning to their listener, leading to mistakes and disagreements. Now, when I tell Wicky, for example, to mind out of my way, he knows what I mean. There is no ambiguity, no misunderstanding. He may not chose to understand (or pretend not to) in the same way that I pretend to be sorry when I nip his bum, but we both really know what is what. The rest is just playing about.
I never had any problems understanding the cows that I used to live with and they had no problem understanding me, although some of them were dear sweet simple souls, god help me. We existed in each other’s territory quite easily and never a word was spoken. Well, that’s not strictly true, they did have a tendency to say lots of words that sounded like moo, when it was near food time. But, you know what I mean. Well, here I go again, feeling sorry for humans. I really must learn to let them get on with it. As long as the carrots, apples and mints keep flowing, I can learn to live with their spoken words. I think I am even getting used to what HE means when HE hangs over the gate before leaving me and strokes my muzzle. I think it is something like ‘I wish I could stay with you and roam about all night with you and have you look after me’. Something like that. I shall have to work at getting HIM to understand that it just can’t be. It’s not HIS fault that HE is human but HE will just have to face up to it. Really, I quite like HIM. If only HE wouldn’t whinge so much!

My little sisterFriday 23rd July 2004
Well, HE tells me that the grandchildren are coming up for a bit of a holiday, tomorrow. I wonder why they are called grand children. No doubt they are, at least, I like them. But all kids like that are called grand children, even if they are little horrors. Treg and Wicky have told me some frightful tales of the kids at their riding school. Not all of them by any means but just a few. If what they tell me is true, then these are far from grand. I wonder what the opposite of grand is? If it means large, as it sometimes does, then it could be something like minor children or miniscule kids or whatever. But sometimes grand can mean flamboyant or important so you might talk about the drab or unimportant children. I rather like that. How are your drabchildren? What a nice phrase. It’s what I was saying yesterday. Language is a strange thing, it can be liberating or constricting. I suppose you could say how are your drab grandchildren or even how are your grand drabchildren. No, I still think that horse is a much better language but without maybe so many oddities that make human speech so i nteresting.
To get back to our grandchildren. I say that in the loosest possible way. I mean, they are THEIR grandchildren because THEY are the grandparents. Now I’m not their grandparent but they are still my ‘grandchildren’ because what’s THEIRs is mine, so to speak. Anyway, I am the one who gives them rides on my back. I’m the one who takes them, turn and turn about, up and down the road from my stable in Ramsley Lane to Ninefields and back. There was a time when Treg and Wick used to give them rides too. But Wicky disgraced himself. Always throwing Rachel off, not out of spite but just pure thoughtlessness. When he sensed that there was something to eat in the offing, he would completely forget that he was in charge of a little passenger and go hurtling down the field to get to his bucket, usually throwing her off in the process. Old Treg would never do that. He was often the one who gave rides to Ben. No, Treg’s problem is his gait. Always stumbling, even when he was younger. Now that he is a old man, THEY don’t think it fair that he should have to carry passengers (or should I say riders?). Apart from the fact that Treg is getting older, so are the grandchildren. That wouldn’t be a problem in itself, but it means that they are getting bigger and heavier as well. So, it’s left to me to provide the rides. I will have to admit that I have dumped both of them at one time or another. But that was not my fault. With Rachel, it was not so much that I threw her as the fact that she panicked and slithered off me as fast as she could. The result was much the same but I can say with my hoof on my heart that it was her and not me, however it looked to others. We were walking along the Throwleigh Road to Ninefields, when a big noisy ratteley-bang went past, I froze and Rachel threw herself off. Now, with Ben, I must own up that it was me that ditched him although again I would swear that it was not my fault. We were walking up Ramsley Lane and were just outside Harry’s place when there were strange noises coming from under Dry Bridge . I stopped with my ears pricked and stared and suddenly an evil monster appeared from out of the blackness of the tunnel. Well, I did what any self respecting horse would do, I twisted and bolted to a safe distance and then turned, bravely to face it. Strangely, when I stopped to look back, it had vanished and had been replaced by a lady on a very nice gelding, standing and staring at me. You see, unfortunately, Ben had not been prepared for my sudden movements and he found himself on the floor. Unharmed I might add but a little shook up for all that. Still, I don’t suppose there will be any riding this holiday, as I am out all the time. It will be nice to see them though!

Was waspsSaturday 24th July 2004
“Ere, Wick, do you like wasps?”
“Dunno Treg, I’ve never tasted them, have you?”
“No, Wick, I don’t mean to eat. Just in general, you know, as a species.”
“Bit too small for me to bother with, one way or another, Treg. I know they wear stripy jerseys and that but at that size they are just too small to play with.”
“Must seem funny, you calling something too small, Wick. Not a very frequent occurrence, eh?”
“Now, laddie, there’s many a wee beastie that’s much smaller than me. look at that yon rabbit. Teeny as you like. Or even they sheeps. I’m much bigger than them.”
“Really, then why do those baby lambs keep trying to get a drink of milk from you, Wick. They cant tell the difference between you and their mothers.”
“That’s not true and you know it Tregony. That’s an unkind story made up by Alezane just because I wouldn’t do as she told me to.”
“Let’s get back to wasps, Wick.”
“I was never there, Treg. What is it that’s buzzing around (joke) in your tiny mind now?”
“HE told me about wasps, today. HE said that HIS neighbour had come along and told HIM that she had a wasp’s nest in her garden that had been wrecked by a badger. He went along to look at it (with his camera, of course) and then told me about it, this evening.”
“Was it a long story, Treg? I’ve got a lot of grass blades that have been calling out for my attention and I’m loathe to keep them waiting.”
“Was what a long story/”
“Duffer. About the wasp’s nest.”
“Oh that, oh no. It’s just that the lady had been stung badly by them the day before when her dog had yelped and she had gone to see what was the matter. And yet, now that the nest was wrecked and the queen was missing, she was feeling sorry for those wasps that remained, wandering about aimlessly,  all over the nest.”
“how did she know that it was aimless. They may have had a definite purpose for doing what they were doing. That’s the trouble with humans, they will make assumptions based on what they would do in the same circumstances.”
“You man if a badger came and wrecked their house, Wick? I don’t think that is very likely, do you?”
“Maybe not Treg, but its still anthropomorphism. They do it all the time.”
“No Wick, wasps. I’d swear HE said wasps. Not those ant things you said.”
“Och, take no notice Treg. Just me showing off. Anyway, remind me next time the old badger comes around, to ask him what they taste like. He must like to eat them else he wouldn’t bother, would he?”
“That’s true, Wick. I imagine they would be a bit peppery, wouldn’t you?”
“I don’t think that you eat the stingy bit, Treg. Just spit that out. No, I would expect that they might be a bit sweet. You know, like bees. All that honey and that.”
“HE did say that their home looked a bit like honeycomb inside but HE said HE didn’t see any honey.”
“Of course not. Badger had that, of course. Do you ever wish you were a badger, Treg?”
“Hadn’t thought about it until now, Wick. Don’t think I would like to go round demolishing angry wasps’ nests. All I can do to endure all these flies. If I nod my head much more it’ll drop of my neck. Roll on winter, that’s what I say.”
“Wait a mo, laddie. We’ve not had autumn yet.”
“Ere, Wick. Where do all the wasps go in the autumn?”
“Just leave wasps, Treg. Noses down, don’t waste my time any more.”

Okehampton CastleSunday 25th July 2004
Well the kids came again last night. It was nice to see them again as they have not been down for a very long while. I think last time was around Easter, when I was still in my stable down Ramsley Lane . I know I was still there because I was giving them rides up and down the Throwleigh Road . You know, I can still remember when I was first here and they came along. Ben became attached to Treggy and Rachel to Wicky. They didn’t get a look in with me because that was HER territory. It used to be then a big grooming session in the morning with all three of us receiving attention from our respective grooms. Treg used to laugh when they had gone because Ben just tickled him with the brush and was always being told by HER to put more effort into it. Slowly, over the years, the grooming got less and less while the vying for who rode me up and down the road and when became more intense. Now both the kids are older and they do tend to automatically pick up a brush now, in the mornings but nothing too serious however, just a few flicks here and there and then watch the rabbit or whatever. I did hear that they plan to go out riding while they are here but they will go to a riding school, not sit on us. I think that THEY reckon that Treg is too old now and Wicked is, well, too wicked! He just loves to watch little girls bounce on the ground.
This morning they told me that they were going to visit Okehampton Castle . When I asked how it went, this evening, Rachel told me that she had been bitten. Apparently there are a couple of ponies in a field just across from the Castle entrance. Of course, everyone stopped to talk to them and one little pony came over to the gate. Rachel just happened to have some of our mint sweets in her pocket (that she must have forgotten to give to me) so she gave the pony a couple. Then, when she went, empty handed, to stroke it she got her arm bitten. Really, some ponies give us all a bad name. That kind of behaviour is quite indefensible. Not because a human gets bitten, usually they deserve it, but the danger is that it may stop humans from offering treats to the rest of us. They really ought to have equine training courses to teach how to make an aggressive act look like an accident. In fact, they probably do have because Wicky must have learnt it somewhere.

Monday 26th July 2004
“Ere, Wick, d’you know where those kids are off to today?”
“Back to London ? I’ve not got enough extra treats out of them yet, they can’t do that already.”
“No, silly, they’ve only just got here. No, they are going to go for a trip across Dartmoor from Moreton to Princetown. I wondered if you wanted them to give any of your friends or relatives a message, while they are there?”
“I doubt whether that’s possible, laddie. It’s been a long time now. I don’t know if I’d remember any of them now and there is no way the kids would be able to recognise them from my description. You Going to Princetownknow what humans say – we all look the same.”
“All the same, Wick, it must bring back memories.”
“True, Treg. Wandering about with your herd, anywhere you wish, all over the vast moorland. We had some good times then, I will admit. Not that it was all good. There were many days, in the winter when, try as we might, we could find little or nothing to eat. You riding school horses don’t know when you are well off with regular meals morning and night and plenty of hay in between.”
“That’s right, in a way, Wick. But the romance of being able to just roam where you wanted.”
“We could roam into the road, as well Treg, and that isn’t funny when there’s motorists who just don’t give a damn, speeding along the roads and not looking out for wandering animals. I lost a few friends that way, I can tell you.”
“But if you know that the roads are dangerous, why do you go on them?”
“Try asking a few weeks old foal that question. Or a lamb. The older ones do know how to keep themselves safe, normally. But, of course, a mother will go out into the road to save her foal and anyway, humans are very inconsistent. Apparently they love to see us wandering about on the moors, as they drive about. They love us so much that they stop by the side of the road and offer us treats. When you are a hungry wandering animal and someone offers you something to eat, you tend to forget looking left and right before you cross the road. Normally it’s a bit more push and shove and who can get there first. So the humans attract us to the roads and then get ion their cars and mow us down.”
“That’s a bit harsh, Wick. Most of the humans I’ve ever met have been very nice and kind. A few are a bit grumpy or a bit harsh but mostly they are nice creatures.”
“You’re quite right, Treg. Mostly, they are. But it only takes one thoughtless one to kill you.”
“What about all those sheep that you tell me deliberately walk about in the road or sleep in holes at the side of it. Why don’t they get knocked down?”
“Some do, laddie. Some do. But mostly it’s the foal or lamb that gets separated from its mother, on the other side of the road. When she hears a car coming, the mother often calls them to her side and the poor, silly things run across the road, right in front of the car or van.”
“So, really, it’s the mother’s fault?”
“Not if the motorist is travelling at a reasonable speed, Treg. In some respects, its no ones fault. At least no one person or creature but a combination of factors. The problem is that the moor serves more than one function. It’s recreation to the tourist or country lover, a workplace for the farmer and a through route for local work people. And the problem lies in its multiple roles.”
“Yeah, I heard HIM saying the other day that the reason people made roads across the moor was because the other Devon roads were almost impassable. Of course, that was a long while ago, before the motor car or tarmac surfaces. Apparently the coach wheels and horse hooves used to churn the dirt roads up into deep muddy surfaces and folk chose to follow the drier paths across the moor made by the wandering animals.”
“That’s right, Treg. We knew the driest ways. You could say my ancestors built the roads that the motorist uses today. Still, we’re not going to solve the problem standing around here chatting. And, we are wasting time when we could be …”
“…eating. You’re right, Wick. Anyway, I hope the kids have a real good day on the moors today.”
“So do I, Treg. It will put them in a more generous mood when they come along with our supper tonight, won’t it?”

Maa and sonTuesday 27th July 2004
“Ere, Wick. You was in a very serious mood, yesterday, weren’t you?”
“Sometimes, Treg, sometimes life just gets on top of you. Don’t you find that?”
“Find what, Wick? You lost something?”
“You know, Treg, I’d forgotten. I thought I was talking to a rational being there, for a moment.”
“I used to have one of them once, Wick. When I was a little colt. Oh no! No it wasn’t, Sorry,  was thinking of something else.”
“I think we both better think of something else, Treg. This conversation is in danger of going the way of others we’ve had and I just don’t want to go there today.”
“No, best not, eh, Wick. We’ll go there another day when you are feeling better. By the way, do you notice Maa is back?”
“Maa is back every year, Treg. She must be the longest living sheep in the whole of Dartmoor .”
“Funny how she always goes and stays on her own. Well, with her own lamb, of course, but away from the rest of the flock. Do you think that they don’t like her and push her out?”
“No, it’s much more that she doesn’t want to get involved with them. I heard her talking to Alli a few days ago. She was saying what a load of sillies the others were. She said they are getting worse every year. All the young mothers who don’t know how to bring up their children, you know, and all that.”
“She’s one to talk. That lamb of hers is bigger than her and yet, as soon as someone comes along, down he goes under his mother for a reassuring suckle. Why she doesn’t just give him a good kick and tell him to grow up, I’ll never know.”
“You know, Treg, you’d make a great parent. Full of love and caring.”
“You noticed, Wick. Yeah, I’ve always thought that as well. Really, there’s only one thing stopping me .”
“You’ve noticed, Treg. Although I would have thought that is was not only one thing. Still, give me the benefit of your wisdom. What’s stopping you?”
“Well, er, Wick. I don’t like to say… er  it’s sort of ..er  embarrassing.”
“You’re among friends here, Treg, you can tell your old mate Wick, can’t you?”
“Well, Wick. you see, well its sort of silly but I can’t… er … can’t ..”
“Can’t what, my old friend, come on, don’t be shy. What is it that you cant?”
“I really am ashamed to say, Wick, but its  it's, well, here goes – I cant remember!”
“You cant remember? Cant remember what, Treg?”
“Well, I know there is a way to become a parent but, well, I seem to have forgotten it. That’s it, Wick. Now, laugh if you like.”
“I wouldn’t laugh at an old friend, Treg. In fact, I think it is probably the best thing that you could do, forget. Just think if you remembered. We might have lots and lots of little Treggies cantering about, all acting as silly as Maa’s  daft lamb.”
“Ooh, Wick. I don’t like to think about it. You’re right, all that stuff’s best forgotten at our age, eh?”
 
BudeWednesday 28th July 2004
The kids have gone swimming at Bude, today. Reminds me of when I was in training. We had this great big pond, sort of thing and they used to put us in some sort of harness and make us go down in the water and swim round and round in it. I think it was supposed to strengthen our muscles or something. To give us more stamina to cope with the longer races. At first I hated it. I was scared, I don’t mind admitting it now. Well, wouldn’t you be? Suddenly you are taken out of your nice warm, dry stable and then you are taken to a great big lake and strapped up with a lot of leather and made to walk into the water? I will admit that I thought it was my end. I was sure that I was going to drown. And then, then. I found that I was swimming. I had never swum before. Had no idea that I could. But when I was faced with water up to my ears and it was that or drown, suddenly all my natural instincts kicked in and I was swimming. At first, all I could do was feel grateful that I hadn’t drowned but, after a while, I found the action and motion quite relaxing and soothing. The weather was warm and the air full of flies and, this way, I was cool and fly free. I started enjoying myself then. I even found time to look around me and take an interest in the scenery as it changed as I went round and round. Then, of course, I started to feel tired and wanted to stop and have a rest. But, there was no way to stop. As I realised that I could only go on, I started to panic again. What if I just couldn’t go on any further? If I stopped paddling I would sink under the water, I had to go on. I was just working myself up for a major terror attack when they came along and took over to lead me out. It was not for a long time that I came to realise that, each time, they were taking me a little further than I thought I could go, and that way, I was increasing my stamina. Eventually, going for a swim just became part of my training. But I have to admit that when we were taken down to the beach for a gallop through the waves, I much preferred that to swimming in ‘the tank’ as we called it.
I wonder what the kids will do at Bude? I hope, for their sake, that it is much more like our seaside trips than our training swims.

Skaigh StablesThursday 29th July 2004
Those kids are going off to their riding school today. Well, good luck to them. They are going to Skaigh for a change. Previously they went to Eastlake and, they tell me, they have nothing against that school, it’s just that they thought they would try a change so that they know what they are both like. We are lucky to have two good riding schools near us. When I say ‘we’, of course, I mean them. Although, on second thoughts, if they weren’t going to ride there then Treg, Wick and I might have to do some work. So, I’ll change that and say ‘we’ are lucky etc.
To be honest, we wouldn’t mind the work, just for a change. top break the monotony, so to speak. The trouble is that if it went very well it might just become the norm and we would find ourselves being ridden all of the time rather than just wandering about and eating and sleeping as we will. No, this way is much better. If they find nice horses and ponies there it will only make them think that all equines are nice and we will get more treats. And if they find the horses there are not nice then it will only make them pleased to come back to us and they will give us more treats. It’s what you call a win win situation, I think. But then, just being a horse is all about that, isn’t it? It’s funny to think that humans have to learn to ride. I suppose what they really mean is that they have to learn which prods and pokes and kicks get us to do certain things. In that respect, we horses have to learn it too. When a human kicks you in the ribs, what is the poor creature trying to tell you. The problem is that they don’t know how to talk to use properly so they make up a system that they try to make us learn. What they don’t realise is that we do know exactly what they are trying to do, well, 99% of the time, anyway. Our trick is to let them think that they have made the decision, that they are in control. There’s nothing a human hates as much as not ‘being in control’. If they only knew! Still, we know who feeds us and it is best not to upset them. They have a saying about ‘biting the hand that feeds you’. Or, as I have to keep telling Wicky, it’s really about NOT biting the hand etc. ‘Oh, fetlocks’, he says but he takes the point. Anyway, with teeth like Wicks, he doesn’t have an option. The only way Wick will bite you is if you or he falls asleep while he is getting a treat. Not a common occurrence, at least for Wick!

A saxon on guardFriday 30th July 2004
”Ere, Wick?”
“Hmm, funny that, I thought I heard something.”
“Wicky, Wick. It was me, Treg.”
“Nah, must be my hearing going. There’s no-one there.”
“Oh come on Wicky, stop messing about. It’s me, your mate Tregony.”
“There it goes again. How strange. I must get the vet to … Oh, look who’s here. Hello Treg. Ere Treg, have you been hearing things. I’m sure I have?”
“Silly. It was me.”
“What was you Treg? That’s you, that great big lump of bayness in front of me. Is that what you mean?”
“Er, I’m not sure now, Wick. I thought I was but I’ve kind of lost the thread. I’ve even forgotten what it was that I wanted you for.”
“Common sense, brains, warm hearted sympathy? It’s usually one of those.”
“Not as special as that Wick. It was something to do with the kids, I think.”
“You’ve not gone and forgotten their names again, have you, you old silly?”
“I never forgot their names. I never would, er, um, oh yeah, Wick. Only joking! No, I’ve gottit. ‘Oos Robin Ood?”
“Robbing Ood? I don’t even know who Ood is, let alone who’s robbing him. Are you sure you’ve got all your facts straight, Treg?”
“No, I don’t think anyone’s robbing him, Wick. I think that that is his name. You know, Robin, like the bird. Or anyway, like the bird’s name.”
“Oh, I see. It’s a joke. Someone’s robbing Robin. A bit like who killed cock Robin, that sort of thing?”
“He’s not dead, Wick, is he. Don’t tell me that. Oh no! I liked that little chap. Do they know who did it. I hope they catch him. I’ll bet it was that dirty old magpie what’s been hanging around here. if I ca….”
“Whoa, Treg. Hold on. No-ones dead. No-one killed anybody. It’s a story, sort of folklore. You know?”
“Really. He’s alright. You’re sure?”
“Treg, since you started this, let’s get back to your question. Who is Robin Ood? The answer is – I don’t know. We’re going to have to ask Alli, again. Is it important?”
“It was just that Ben said that they were going to Castle Drogo today to see Robin Ood and I just wondered who he was. Maybe he’s one of Ben’s friends. Tell you what. Don’t let’s ask Alli. You know how stuck up she gets. She’ll only say what an ignorant lot we are. It’s not our fault that HE tells her all the interesting things and we get left out.”
“Aye, you’re right there, old man. I agree, don’t let’s ask her. We could just sort of let it out when she’s around. You know, as if we really knew what we were talking about. We might be able to pick up the truth from what she says. how about that?”
“Great. That’s a real smart idea, Wick. Get her to tell us without knowing that she is. We’ll see who is smartest, Eh?”
“But not yet, Treg. Wait until later when she’s feeling sleepy. You never know what she might let slip then.”
“Right Wick. OK Let’s just have a little snack now. See you later.”
“Ere Treg?”
“What’s that Wick?”
“Just testing, Treg. Just testing.”

Castle DrogoSaturday 31st July 2004
Well, the children go home today. They were her this morning when our breakfast came and they said their goodbyes. It’s sort of sad in a way but, in another way, not for it is very interesting to see them every so often and see how they have grown and changed. I must say, this time they do appear to have grown up both mentally and physically. Ben has started to shoot up and lose his puppy fat (as THEY call it) and Rachel has got more grown up in her attitude to things. They told me what they had been doing the last couple of days. Apparently, as well as going riding at Skaigh stables they went to the Museum of Dartmoor Life at Okehampton where everyone kidded Ben that he had broken an exhibit, when really it was what they call an interactive one and he was only ‘interacting’ with it. At least, I hope so. Then, yesterday, they went to Castle Drogo (what a fierce name) and got involved with a character call Robin Hood. It seems it was all about a guy called Norman and someone called Sacks On, who didn’t get on very well together and they used to fire arrows at each other and stick spears and swords in very hurtful places. I’m not really sure of all the details because you know what it’s like when Ben starts telling you a story. He does tend to go into an awful lot of detail and it is not unusual for ones mind to take a bit of a rest now and again. I ended up telling him that if this Norman and the other guy continued to behave so badly, I would give Castle Drogo a miss. He looked at me a bit queerly when I said that and I was afraid that he’d found out that I hadn’t listened with my full attention. Rachel started to say something at that point but I saw him give her hand a squeeze and she shut up so I expect he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Anyway, it gives me one up an old Treg and Wick. I’ll be able to go up to them and ask them if they know who Norman is and watch them squirm as they pretend that they know. I won’t push it too far however in case they want me to go into details.

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