Alezane's Diary Archive May 2007
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The day to day life of an ex-racehorse and her companions in Dartmoor UK and Mayenne France
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Farmers' marketTuesday 1st May 2007
Last night, when HE was putting last month’s diary on the internet, we had a quite violent thunderstorm move all the way around us. We had hardly any rain then, just brilliant lightening flashes. After about three quarters of an hour it moved off but then later, during the night, we did have some real rain downpours, the first since we have been here, just a month now. The morning started overcast but very soon the sun came blazing out  and it was another beautiful day. Better than before in a way because there was a slight breeze which kept the temperatures down to a comfortable spring day.
THEY went out and left us again to go to a local farmer’s market. THEY had hard about it from the lady who runs the dairy stall on he village Wednesday market. It was being held at her farm but had stalls from fourteen other local farms giving everyone a chance to taste their produce before buying. Wicky said that was his kind of market and he would go along any day. Funnily enough, the first animals that THEY saw on the farm were two real Shetlands. They came running up as soon as they saw THEM and HE was sorry that HE did not have any treats to give them. However, they were standing by several empty, upturned water buckets so HE went and filled one and it became obvious that they were very thirsty indeed. He filled two more buckets and felt pleased that HE had done some good. Don’t tell Wicky but HE asked HER if the farm owners might let HIM take one back as a friend or Wick.
THEY next met some very friendly cats and a great big Bernese dog which reminded THEM of a dog that THEY had looked after in Dartmoor called Hattie. Unfortunately Hattie died and the owner got another Bernese but it could never take the place of the original in THEIR hearts.
THEY bought quite a bit of foodstuffs and also four tomato plants which HE has put into the newly planted kitchen garden. HE had no idea of French varieties so HE chose some called St Pierre in honour of our new village.
When THEY got home, the neighbour’s son Morgan came and finished cutting the grass. Then after tea, HE had a go at re-aligning the satellite TV dish but got nowhere as the mounting pole is too short to allow it to turn far enough. HE gave it up, deciding to call in some professionals and I think HE looked quite relived when HE came along to take off our masks.

Girl with Bernese Mountain DogWednesday 2nd May 2007
I hove been wondering why this diary has become so solemn and, dare I say, a bit boring of late. There are not many things that are about us horses and more and more about how THEY went shopping, THEY did this and THEY did that which can’t be of any interest at all to anyone but THEM.
I think the problem is that HE hasn’t had much time to come and talk to me and let me tell him about the important things for us. An awful lot has happened since December when we left Dartmoor. Particularly this last month, since we moved into our new home, every day has brought many things to be done. HE tends to regard the day a success or not by how many things HE has achieved rather than by how nice the day was. When we were in Devon, HE spent much more time on HIS photos and on the computer but as a hobby, for enjoyment, not because it is something that must be done. I am afraid that lately, my diary has had to take second place to getting the house, field and barn organised and, by the time HE sits down for a while in the evening, HE is too exhausted to do more than just record THEIR day.
What HE has said is that, at worst, this year will be devoted to getting organised and settled in, Not just THEM but us horses as well. Then HE is sure that THEY will be able to just relax and enjoy life for the next few years. Not that THEY are not enjoying things now. HE has recently written to two old friends in Dartmoor and HE has said, quite sincerely that THEY have no regrets. But, it would be nice to just wake up in the morning and know that THEY could waste the whole day if THEY wanted to.
To other, more important matters. I cant remember if I told you bout the neighbour’s three children coming along and having rides on us. Yes, even Wicky gave a little girl a ride. By the way, I may have mentioned before that the youngest girl is called Grace. If I did, forget it. Her name is Coralie (not sure of the spelling yet). How SHE could have mistaken that name for Grace I don’t know. Still, SHE has it correct now. SHE makes other mistakes as well. When they came along for a ride, SHE intended to put the two girls up on me and get the brother to lead them round the field. But, instead, without thinking, SHE mistook Mims for me and so it was Mims who gave them a ride. My turn came when the brother wanted to ride.
As the kids were interested in us, SHE wrote out our histories and got the computer to translate them into French. Then SHE took them round to their house to give to them and there was another little girl there. It appears that this little girl or her brother (or both – they speak French too quickly for HER) are taking their first communion next week and they have asked if they can come round and have their photograph taken with us as they love horses. Our fan club just grows and grows.
I suppose for the record I should tell you what THEY did. He got some wood to build his workbench, Gladys came round to clean the house, Veronica came to be here when the man from EDF (electric company) came to set their tariff and fix a new meter. Then HE got some old stuff down from the top storey of the barn and went on a trip to the dump. Oh, and, after the electricity man had been, the electricity went off right in the middle of cooking diner in their all electric house!

Two Shetlands at the farmThursday 3rd May 2007 (Alli’s birthday)
After yesterday’s explanation of why here is not much bout us horses, I would like to tell you just two things. First it is my birthday today. I am mumble, mumble years old. Oh, alright HIM, I am twenty four, a mere youngster really. The second thing is that this diary page is hardly about me or horses at all, it is about Tom the cat.
I wrote a few days ago that Tom, the only cat THEY have now, is allowed to sleep right inside THEIR bed with either HIS or HER arms around him. What happens is that when THEY go to bed, Tom is usually asleep on a cushion in the living room. After maybe a half to an hour after THEY have gone, Tom wakes up and shouts out and then comes to find THEM in bed. He then climbs into one set of arms or another and regularly changes places throughout the night, often going out for a spell and then coming in with wet, sandy paws to cuddle up again. By the morning, however, he will have got fed up with THEIR fidgeting and will have moved down to sleep outside the covers between THEIR feet.
This morning, after falling asleep with Tom in HIS arms. HE awoke to find Tom nowhere to be seen. The normal routine is that Tom gets up when HE does and HE gives him his breakfast. This morning, no Tom, no breakfast. HE started to get a funny feeling that something was amiss. When SHE got up, SHE confirmed that SHE hadn’t seen Tom since last night. THEY came to feed us and then went back to have a rather sober breakfast. SHE walked along the road to see if Tom had had an accident with a car. HE walked and called by the drain that Tom had hidden in once when we first arrived here. If breakfast was sober, lunch was funereal. When THEY had one to the local shops this morning for bread, the neighbour, that THEY had met on the day we ran away and THEY were trying to find the stallion’s owner, waved to them and THEY drove up to her in case she had any news of Tom. She invited them for a coffee and THEY (rather reluctantly, I’m afraid) agreed to go this afternoon.
After lunch and before going to the neighbour’s, THEY both had a long hard cry and spoke of getting a tree as a memorial to Tom. THEY pulled THEMSELVES together and went visiting and it was really nice with the neighbour, a lady of ninety, having a couple of other friends there too.
On arriving home, SHE called out to Tom and HE said don’t, it is too painful. Then SHE went in the bedroom and there, on the bed, was Tom. There were nearly as many tears then as there had been earlier in the day. Tom was just first hungry and then sleepy. Who knows where he had been. Who cares. He was home.
And that was my birthday. HE did give HER a carrot just for me as a sort of birthday treat but SHE with HER great sense of fairness shared it among us three. Oh well, what are birthdays after all? I must remember to tell Mims that when hers comes in two days time!

Flower stallFriday 4th May 2007
Today was freezing. What a change from all the days before. It certainly wasn’t expected, HE tells me on the weather forecast HE looks at. In fact, this morning it said “much sun, 22 degrees”. Well they were wrong, very wrong. The day was overcast and a strong northerly breeze brought temperatures plummeting. When THEY brought our breakfasts, SHE noticed that I was shivering and all my hair was standing on end to try and trap some warmth. Mims was alright but, I am afraid to say, she has a very large layer of fat to keep her warm. And, of course, Wicky wondered what all the fuss was about. HE may be shedding his coat now but his natural coat is very dense. Anyway, SHE went and got my travel rug. It’s quite light and flimsy but it does keep the breeze out. At least then I was able to graze OK. The other good thing was that we didn’t need fly masks, at least until midday when the sun broke out briefly. She was taking no chances tonight at supper. We all got our travel rugs put on for overnight. Just in case.
The highlight of THEIR day was having a man (and his wife) come along to fix the TV. As THEY said to him when THEY asked him to come, THEY only ever used to watch TV for half an hour over the early morning tea (HER) and coffee (HIM), It was a way of waking up gently, looking at the news. However, THEY did bring THEIR TV with them from England and there was a satellite dish already installed at the house so it seemed that it might as well be working, just in case.
Just to mention that after yesterday’s adventure, Tom the cat slept with THEM all night, only going out briefly for five minutes to collect some sand on his paws to make he bed more comfortable. Then, after his nocturnal exertions, Tom slept all day as well, except for the time when the dish installers (they changed the original one for a new much smaller one) were here when he went and hid in the cornfield. Later, he came back again shouting his protests loudly and, after a little something to eat, settled down for a session of what cats do best.

St Pierre Des NidsSaturday 5th May 2007 (Mims’ birthday)
Horses birthdays are not made much of, not like human birthdays, at least, not in our herd. OK, HE gave her an extra carrot when HE came out to see us first thing and THEY did sing Happy Birthday Mims to the poor unfortunate girl. But, apart from that, it was a pretty normal day.
For them it was a morning for going to the supermarket. Strangely this was something of a rarity these days. There was a time when we first moved to France when THEY seemed to go there nearly every day. I suppose when you are not living in your own house you don’t have the facilities to build up stocks of things. Also, as THEY moved over here with just what would fit into the little green car, THEY soon found out that there were lots of things missing. Now, however, THEY are getting settled and don’t need to visit the supermarket more than once a week at most. THEY do go down the village virtually every day, if only to buy fresh bread. THEY can buy most things in the village – bread, meat, vegetables and fruit, groceries and, on Wednesday Market Day, fresh fish and dairy products. Most places sell wine, even the garden centre so it is only for hardware and electrical goods that the supermarket is a must.
Oh, I forgot. Before going out, THEY had some trouble. SHE was cooking the breakfast and had the kettle, the toaster and one electric hob on when the electricity cut out. He went over to the barn and turned the trip switch on again when it then happened two more times. The likely cause was the fact that a few days earlier, someone from the electricity board came along, supposedly to check the tariff that THEY needed to be on to suit their needs. He changed a box on the electric supply and went away and, that night, when SHE was cooking dinner, the electricity tripped. When it happened again three times this morning, THEY phoned Veronica who got an electrician to come and see what was wrong. When he came, he said that THEY were on too low a tariff and said to contact the electricity company or change to gas.
In the evening, THEY went out to visit Jo, James, Holly, Sophie and Cameron at the farm where we stayed with Arnie. They had first decided to go to take a fly mask for Arnie that HE had bought for Wicky but which was too small. Then THEY got invited to supper so it was strange for us horses to see them come home in the dark at well past THEIR bedtime. I expect THEY will be all tired and grumpy in the morning now!

Corallie at the carrot fridgeSunday 6th May 2007
We had an interesting time today. First we watched as first HE and then SHE drove the quad bike down to the entrance HE has made into the poplars filed. The second time, HE followed on foot and then THEY both went into the overgrown field. Mims, who had first spent some time licking the quad bike when it was up near the barn, led the way down to where the quad was parked and we all waited for THEM to come back out again. The trouble was, it is so overgrown with brambles and weeds in there that THEY took far to long to re-emerge. First Wicky lost interest and then we decided to join him back up the hill, leaving them to get on with it. Later, when THEY finally did emerge, Wicky showed them just how much notice he takes of the tape that HE put in front of the gate to let THEM take the quad in and out by just ducking under it and nearly walking through the gate. HE just had enough time to run up and turn him back.
Just before tea time, HE kept us amused by keeping going into the barn and coming out with bits of old furniture and other rubbish which HE has piled up by the entry to the sous sol ready to take to the dump. The other thing that caught our eye was the sight of both of THEM putting some flower plants into pots. HE took HIS and placed them each side of the front gates. SHE made up two baskets which are meant to hang somewhere but, for some reason, SHE has stood them on the terrace net to her ducks.
Finally, after supper, the kids from next door plus one little friend came along. Morgan came long first as he had noticed an old wine barrel that HE had taken from the cave (wine cellar) and emptied of its evil smelling contents in preparation to taking it down the dump with a lot of other stuff the previous owner left. Then little Coralie came along and wanted to give us some carrots. When THEY took her to the sous sol where the carrots are kept, her big sister Orphelie came along with another girl of about the same age who was also called Orphelie. After they had all come down the field to find us, we followed them up to the fence again. I say we. Actually Wicky stayed behind and soon we found out why. It was time to give the kids rides again. And this time, it was just me. Coralie went first and was a delight as she kept bursting into squeals of delight as we went round. Then it was Morgan’s turn. He really is a big boy and I am sure he would love to ride properly as he came down into the field yesterday just to be with us. After Morgan I had the two Orphelies on my back at once as the friend was scared to ride for the first time. However, when we got back, HE got big sister Orphelie to get down and took the other one round on her own. I am sure she had lost her fear by the time she got back.

Do they like carrots?Monday 7th May 2007
To start with the end first. When we had supper tonight, SHE noticed that I had cut my leg somewhere (well, it was obviously on my leg but what SHE meant was SHE didn’t know where I did it in the field). After we had finished eating, SHE went and got my head collar and SHE got HIM to lead me out into the barn. It was alright going out of the gate but, as we started to go into the barn, I heard my daughter cry out behind me and so I just froze where I was. HE did manage to persuade me to walk on into the barn but Mims cried out even louder this time and this so upset me that I shouted back and tried to storm out of the barn. There followed some very tense moments while SHE was trying to treat my leg with wound powder and I was pulling to get out back to Mims and then my fear overcame my politeness and I forced my way out of the door. I hung my head over the gate and Mims came cantering up and we rubbed faces to reassure each other. SHE finished powdering my wound and then I was let back into the field and then I couldn’t help thinking how Mims was quite happy to leave me when she went off chasing after that stallion.
Working backwards now. During supper HER had to go off down the field to the entrance to the poplars’ field. You see, in the afternoon, a couple of men came along to have a look at all the brambles and give THEM an estimate for clearing them. HE had thought at one time that HE would do it with HIS strimmer but when HE tried just a little bit HE realised that the job was too much for him. Anyway, these two men and HIM went down to look at the extent of the work involved and then they had come out and gone along the road to look at the place from another angle. When HE brought supper HE saw that one of the men had not shut the opening up properly and so had needed to walk all the way down there again to close it up. He was shattered by the time HE returned.
The first thing this morning HE had taken two loads of unwanted items that the previous owner had left, down to the rubbish tip. The problem is that the little green car is not very big inside and even using the passenger space as well doesn’t allow him to pack everything in. HE is hoping that when THEY get the road licence for the quad, THEY will also get some practice in towing the remorque (trailer) and then HE will be able to get rid of a lot more stuff particularly old furniture that is cluttering up the place. What HE is trying to do is to make room in the sous sol for all our horsey stuff while the men come to convert the barn into stables.

Apart from that, THEY went out and picked up five light fittings that SHE had ordered on the internet so that should keep him quiet for most of tomorrow!

The two OrphelliesTuesday 8th May 2007 (French National Holiday – Liberation Day)
Wicky wanted to know when he is going to be liberated from Mims. I wanted to know when I would be liberated from this awful weather. And Mims wants to be liberated from spinsterhood. If you read the French papers you would think that these were the only references to liberation today. Ok there was a tiny bit about Chirac taking the ceremony but even that was mainly angled to the fact that the new president elect, Sarkozy, was not present. I suppose after sixty three years it all dims into history except for the octogenarians who are still in their senses.
Talking of which, I do wish SHE would stop referring to me as ‘an old girl now’. I don’t mind the cosseting so much (she thought I was shivering this morning after a night of rain and wind, so SHE went and got my rug and put on me.) However, I can still beat that fat daughter of mine in any race uphill or down in this field, well maybe unless she is stallion chasing of course. It’s funny but we have always thought of Wick as being the old timer but, as SHE says, different breeds have different life expectancies. It wouldn’t surprise me if Wick were to outlive us all. HE has said that, if (when) I go, HE will stop writing this diary. And why not, it is Alezane’s Diary after all, not Wicky’s Diary or Mims’ foals’ Diary or whatever.
THEY are talking seriously about getting a companion for Wicky. The poor old guy just does seem at a loose end since we moved away from Arnie. The problem is that the horse rescue service does not seem to be as organised here as it is in the UK. There, it would be easy to go along o one of the many charities that are looking out for people to adopt a midget, sorry pony and that would be that. Just a question of arranging transport. Here there may be many pony rescue places but they don’t seem to have web sites and they are not listed in the various local papers. The only adverts for horses and ponies are for those for sale at rather high prices. Now I’m not saying that Wick isn’t worth it but it does seem a pity to buy a pony when there must be many who would like  or need to be rescued and to live out their lives in comfort and safety with the only price being having to put up with talking to Wicky.
There will be problems if he does get a friend in that SHE is planning to make the barn into three stables not four. SHE says that if the new pony is as hardy as Wick then they can both live out and only come in for medication, farrier or grooming. The alternative would be to both share the same box as they are only small after all. We shall just have to await developments.
Just to close HE put up two of the five lights today. He was going to put up all five but the problems that arose with those two quite disheartened him. First the method of hanging the big one ion the living room caused multiple adaptations and then, when he started to try to install the small one in THEIR bedroom, HE found that the ceiling could not be screwed or drilled, appearing to be solid concrete. HE got round it but decided that HE would leave the other three (the two upstairs bedrooms and the hall) until HE was feeling happier. Instead HE got on the internet and ordered a sat/nav system instead!

Sunrise at Le CerisierWednesday 9th May 2007
The day Wicky lost half of his foot or, as the vet said “C’est spectacular mais il n’nest pas grave”.
This morning, HE happened to have a hoof pick in HIS pocket so, as we were all just getting on with our breakfasts, HE decided to pick out our feet. For those of you who don’t know, our hooves have a sort of V shape hollow underneath and this gets full up wit all sorts of rubbish, depending of what we have been walking on. There are two theories about this. The danger you see is that we could get a stone wedged in there and this would damage our feet as we walked. The first theory is that if our feet are ‘picked out; that is scraped out of all the mud and stuff, every day then this will find the stones and save our feet getting damaged. The second theory is that if the hoof gets filled up with mud then stones cant get in so it is better, and more natural, to leave them alone.
THEY tend to practice both theories, usually being too lazy to pick our feet out every day and so THEY agree with theory two. Then, like today, THEY think it is good for us to go through the motions of lifting one foot after the other as THEY move around. So, today, HE picked out first my feet, then Mims’ and then moved on to Wicky. When HE showed Wick the hoof pick, Wick lifted his nearside fore foot for it to be picked out. HE was horrified to see that almost half of the hoof was breaking away from the rest at the point where wick had had those abscesses over the winter. When HE pointed it out top HER, there was a conversation where THEY agreed to get the vet in to look at it to see if maybe the hoof could be glued back onto the foot, so to speak.
SHE phoned the vet and was told that he could come in the afternoon so THEY went out shopping so that THEY would be free when he came. When THEY got home and SHE went out to put our fly masks on, SHE fond that the cracked half of Wick’s hoof had come away and he was walking directly on his sole. THEY got some padding and bandages and covered the hoof until the vet came. The funny thing (and best thing) was that Wick was walking normally and not limping and was in no apparent pain. SHE was terribly worried that this might be the end for Wick if hr became unable to walk. But then the vet came and uttered the words quoted above.
He tested Wick’s foot for pain and other damage and then trimmed the other side of the hoof to balance him. He sad that the new hoof was already growing and it should be replaced in about three of four months. The treatment is to trim or rasp Wicks hoof on the other side to keep him even and free from damage while the damaged side re-grows.
HE was so delighted that HE went back indoors and fitted up the remaining three light fittings that THEY bought the other day. Some people know how to have fun!

Like a donkey on the beachThursday 10th May 2007
THEY went out this morning and bought the rest of the indoor light fitting that were needed. That doesn’t include the outside ones or the lighting in the sous sol which needs improving and supplementing, but is does finish the ones that were bare bulbs on wire in the house. HE first fitted a new doorbell and then fitted one of the lights before lunch and then, after eating (and drinking) settled down for a snooze but, whether the others were preying on his conscience or what, HE couldn’t sleep and so got up and fitted another two. There are just three more to fit up which HE plans for tomorrow.
We have been having another windy day but there were two blessings with it. First it was a south westerly direction and so was not cold and secondly it does tend to blow the flies away. Not all but enough to be bearable.
Wicky’s foot seems to be getting all the attention of late. In the morning it was cleaned and inspected and this evening, it was cleaned and sprayed with an antiseptic spray to ward off any infection. I gather that this is going to be a daily event until he has grown back sufficient hoof. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all. He walks just as well, can run when he is being chased by Mims (and me, on occasions) and, while he is having it cleaned and sprayed, just stands there on three legs munching away as if nothing were happening. He may be an irritating little devil at times but he is a very stoical little soul too.
THEY don’t seem to be having much luck finding Wick a companion. THEY asked the vet yesterday but he could only come up with the name of a web site that SHE had looked at already. THEY have even considered bringing one over from the UK but the cost of transport would be dearer than just buying a poney here. (I find myself more and more using the French spelling ‘poney’). In the end, maybe that is what THEY will do – buy a companion for him. Who knows?

SHE took her quad out for an extended ride today both around our field (and I do mean ‘around’. In fact, around and around, up and down and down and up.) and also out on the roads around our hameau (hamlet). HE took some photos of HER and you could tell that SHE was now just enjoying herself instead of being all uptight and serious. Mims had better behave now or SHE will just ride out looking for her and round her up!

SHE drives byFriday 11th May 2007
Well, THEY wont be getting the new car now until June, and the man didn’t say which end of June either. All he claimed was that it was the automatic gearbox hat was causing the delay. When THEY went and ordered it, THEY were told that it would be ready at the end of April. Everyone knew then that THEY wanted an automatic gearbox so why should it only now appear to be a problem? Waiting for things certainly seems to be part of life here so the sooner THEY just get used to it, the better. THEY are now waiting for delivery of wardrobes, bookcases, alterations to the kitchen, an estimate for clearing the poplar field, a first visit from a plumber, getting the electricity supply sorted out, the alterations to the barn, an estimate from the joiner for indoor alterations, the car and, until today, the carte grise for the quad bike. This latter he picked up today, only two weeks after it was due.
Anyway, that’s all THEIR problems. How about us? Well, last night was awful. It wasn’t quite a gale but leaves were ripped from the poplar trees by very strong gusts of wind for most of the night. Fortunately the wind was again from the south or south west so it wasn’t really cold but it was very uncomfortable. One thing though. Our field at present ends at the back of the barn so we can stand on the north side and be sheltered from the worst of the southern gusts. Also, our field is not just a rectangular piece of land but it goes in and out all ways as it goes round so there will always be some sort of shelter from the hedges if you know where to go. In fact, I think THEY had a worse night than we did as THEY could hear the wind buffeting the house shutters and THEY were worried for us as we didn’t have our rugs on. But, when HE came out in the morning first thing, as HE always does now just to say good morning, HE was very relieved to see that we were dry and warm apart from our noses which were wet with dew from grazing.
Treggy keeps telling me that I never say anything about him anymore. He wonders why he bothered to come back sometimes if he gets treated as if he isn’t there. But, it’s not that. When we move about, grazing or just investigating, he is always with us and we just take him for granted. If he had just come back for a swift visit, I would probably think to mention it but being here all the time is just like the wind or the grass or the trees. He is part of the herd and part of us all the time.
“What was that, Treg?” Oh yes, he says but I talk about Mims and Wicky and they are there all the time too. Fair point, I suppose but then Treg is not likely to lose half of his hoof or to go around jumping fences and so on. He is with us but you couldn’t give him a wormer now, it would just fall through the air onto the ground. There would be no point Mims trying to herd him or Wick nipping his knees. He is past all that now. But, what I’ll do is try to give him more regular spots in future. It will save me having to bore you with what THEY are doing all the time.
But, just to finish (and because I have no choice as HE types this stuff up for me) I will just put on record that HE finished putting up all the house light fittings now and also the shower and shower curtain in the guest bedroom. And, just to prove that it works, HE took a shower in it. HE will now concentrate on clearing out the barn so that it is ready for when the builders finally arrive. It mans putting all our stuff in the sous sol for the time being but HE has made some room now by getting some of his workspace sorted. What HE hasn’t done lately is to take many photos so I expect HE will have to catch up there as he needs at least thirty one for the end of the  month’s diary publication.

Wicky gets madly excited as the quad drives pastSaturday 12th May 2007
“Well, OK then. Yes, it’s me, Treg. You see, I don’t always have to start by saying ‘ere Wick’. In fact, Wick knows I am here all the time now an we are constantly talking to each other, especially when he manages to get away from those girls for a while. THEY look at him, standing by the gate or the fence and THEY think ‘Poor old Wick. Look at him. He’s lonely’. Actually, he is deep in a conversation with me. We talk about all kinds of things. Philosophy mainly. Well, that and carrots. Wick does end to verge towards the physical rather than the spiritual, if you see what I mean. You can ask him the meaning of life and he will answer in a flash ‘Eating’.
You may have noticed that I am not talki8ng in that pseudo cockney, Cornish accent that HE always delighted in giving me. I can still do it, of course, but when you live up there rather than down here, you tend to take on a sort of neutral accent, a blend of all the other spirits around you. You know, it’s quite possible that I would have a French accent by now if I were still wholly in the flesh and running (well staggering) up and down the hills of Le Cerisier. We have quite a lot of visits from the children next door and all their horse mad friends. They can’t see me which is quite a shame as I love kids. Still, I can get pleasure from just being near them and seeing them enjoy my old mate Wicky.
I have considered joining the gendarmerie here but I have yet to find the equivalent of Human Watch here, let alone the spirit division. Still, I am retired now so maybe it is better if I just start relaxing a bit and enjoying things instead. Tell you what, eternity can b a bit daunting, you know, sort of long. It’s hard to think of enjoying yourself for so long. Ok, a year or two, maybe ten, even twenty at a pinch but forever? They may be something to be said for dying after all. I mean real dying and not having to try and find things to do for on and on and on etc.
Still, while my old mates are having some fun, I am quite happy to enjoy it with them. Sorry I moaned at Alli the other day for not letting me have my say. I’m pretty sure this little moan hasn’t been much fun either. But, it lets you know I am still here and gives me this opportunity to say I will try to be less serious and more silly next time I write to you. Which reminds me. HE wants you all to know that HE cleaned out the barn today so that it is ready for the men who will do the conversion into stables. There, isn’t that good to know? No? Don’t blame me, I’m only the messenger!”

Lunch timeSunday 13th May 2007
It started out grey then it got darker and finally it poured with rain. We should have known it would as HE made one of HIS usual silly decisions. THEY had a rather poor night last night, not sleeping very well so, this morning after breakfast, THEY just tended to sit around and doze. When HE finally pulled himself together, HE wondered what to do today towards getting the place in order. While HE was sitting, looking out of the window, HE noticed that the gravel outside the terrace was getting slowly covered in weeds. This was a case for the weed killer spray which seemed to be a fairly easy job to do. But, it was very dark outside. Would it rain?
Outside the front garden and across the little lane is a farm with a lovely herd of Normand cows. There is also an unusual tree which, in addition to the fairly rounded top to the tree has also a sort of second ‘skirt’ just below it. When the weather is bad, the herd of cows all sit under this large skirt. They had done so first thing this morning while THEY were having breakfast but now that HE had this idea of spraying the weeds, HE noticed that the cows ha left their shelter and were quietly grazing in the field. Cows know all about weather, he thought, and went downstairs to the sous sol to mix up the spray. HE then went outside and was surprised that there were a few light spots of rain in the air. He decided that if it might rain, he didn’t want to waste the spray so he would just use it on the drive into the sous sol until the rain went away. Then the heavens opened. What little HE had put down must have been washed away in minutes. Disappointed, HE went into the sous sol and wondered what to do now.
It wasn’t long before SHE came down to laugh at HIM (the usual ‘told you so’ thing) and SHE said that if HE was at a loose end, HE could put up our saddle racks in the sous sol so that SHE could get the saddles out of the packing cases where they have been since we left Dartmoor. So, that was what HE did. That and the bridle hangars as well. At least, HE thought, HE had achieved something today.
And then, after a very late lunch it was time to come and give us our supper. And, do you know what? It poured with rain even harder together with thunder and lightening as well. HE wanted to give us our food in the lee of the barn for a bit of shelter but Mims was so jumpy and nervous that HE had to stand with her and hold her bucket to get her to eat. And, although HE had on his hat and thick winter coat, HE got soaked through and had to go indoors to change when we had finished. At least we have our rugs still on from a couple of days ago. It really is a strange year this year. First we have the hottest and driest April on record and now all cold, rain and wind.
One last thing. THEY buy a monthly paper called French News which is just that but in English for ex pats. HE was reading it this morning before his spraying debacle when HE found an advert for people who want to adopt a horse or pony. SHE has phoned the number and left a message so we must see what develops. Wick may well be getting his companion after all. Watch this space!

Listening to TreggyMonday 14th May 2007
“Ere Wick?”
“Oui monsieur? Qu’est que ce?”
“Blimey Wick, not you an’ all. You turning froggy old mate?”
“I was merely demonstrating my fluency in the local jingo, old son. Can’t have that Mims getting one up on me, can I?”
“Oh? Fluency? Right, I see. Is it catching?”
“In you case Treg, probably not. Now, what was it you were going to ask me?”
“Nids? What d’you mean ‘Nids’?”
“Well, I looked it up an’ it means nests, don’t it?”
“Yeah. Probably. Well, if you say so Treg. Looked it up, eh? Well, there’s progress. So, what about it?”
“Well, I’ve heard lots of birds round here crows, cuckoos, woodpeckers, herons, buzzards, goldfinches, kestr……”
“Whoa, Treg. No need to catalogue the whole bird population. OK so what?”
“Well, I dunno where they live. I aint seen no nests, have you?”
“Nests, of cours… er… well, nests eh? Now, there’s a thought. Cant say as I have Treg. How observant of you (or should that he ‘hobservant’?)
“So. How come a place wot aint got no nests is called ‘of the nests’ eh? Cheating, that’s what I calls it.”
“Cheating Treg? That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think. This is France after all. How about ‘poetic licence’?”
“And that’s another thing. What’s all this about Poote? Have you tried looking ‘pooete’ up in the dictionary? No? I have. It aint there. Yet half the town has got shops and streets named with Poote in it. What’s that all about? Sort of secret society I reckons.”
“ I heard Alli asking HIM about that Treg. It’s something to do with history. History and language. Or something. I wouldn’t have thought that all these earthly things would worry you any more. Or, if they did, you would be able to get the answers pretty quick from up there. Isn’t that the place with all the answers?”
“Yeah, so they say, Wick. The trouble is you’ve got to know the questions first and that’s where I get a bit stumped, so to speak.”
“Changing the subject Treg, I thought I heard you say hat you didn’t do that accent bit any more. Bit beneath you so to speak.”
“Just thought it would make you more comfortable Wick. I mean, if I started talking to you in a posh accent, wouldn’t that make you a bit uncomfortable? A bit inferior like?”
“Treg, the day I feel inferior to you, or to any other horse or pony (are you listening big fat red haired creature?) will be the day I come up and join you Treg. Dartmoor Shetland crosses are the top of the tree as far as I’m concerned. Have you noticed? Even with three and a half feet I am faster than that hormone ridden, fat female bully who tries to boss me about. Even her mother is getting fed up with her now.”
“Easy on Wick. Mims is one of the herd you know. we all have our place. You should be grateful that I came back and now you’re not bottom any more. Me, I like being bottom. No hexpectations, you know?”
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right Treg. What I do know is that it’s great having you back again. Someone to have a good old chinwag with again. Quite like old times.”
“To tell you the truth Wick, I was getting a bit bored up here being good all the time. Tell you what. Lets go and kick up some daisies – literally I mean!”

Mims says bon voyageTuesday 15th May 2007
I don’t know about you but I find that old Treg is not as funny as he used to be. Whether it is something that happens to you after you have turned spirit or whether Wicky is just not up to prompting him like he used to, I’m not sure. Of course, it could be that HE is too tired to hear all that goes on and is only superficially reporting it. Who knows? What I do know is that this weather is getting on everybody’s nerves. It is made worse by the fact that we had such a glorious April. Now the skies are dull and heavy and even if it is not actually raining it still feels cold and miserable. I mean, Mims and I are wearing rugs – in May. I can’t believe it. There were times when we didn’t wear then in January. But then it was cold but bright and without this incessant wind.  I know I sound as if I am always moaning. When it’s hot, it’s the flies, when it’s not, it’s the wind. What I am looking forward to is some nice warm weather but with our stables built so we can shelter from the flies in the day. I have also heard THEM talking about the possibility of a field shelter when we get the new field in the autumn. I always remember how I used to run to it for cover in Ninefields and how Wick, Treg and I would just nod the day away in it in the hot weather. Yes, I’d like another field shelter very much.
Yesterday, when it was pouring with rain, Mims and I were standing with our backs to the worst of it, up against the post and rail fence and I  caught a glimpse of HIM watching us from inside THEIR stable. It was all bright and dry and I tried to get HIM to read in my face that we wouldn’t mind coming in there with THEM. Again, I remember when I used to go into THEIR kitchen for my sugar lumps when I was stabled in Ramsley. I’m sure THEY could find a lump or two now and just let me pop my head (well and fore feet) in to the table here as well.
Enough of nostalgia. What’s been happening today? Well, HE went out to get the post and couldn’t help noticing that the post box was waist deep in grass and weeds. So HE went back to the sous sol for his strimmer and started cutting a path for the post person to get through. And then HE thought HE would just trim the bit up to the gates and after that HE tackled the ditch and finally ended up walking halfway down he road, trimming the verge. I think HE is so pleased with the result that HE will go right along our field boundary and tidy it all up when HE has a moment.
I didn’t tell you, THEY went and got THEMSELVES a sat-nav system and THEY went for a drive to the next village yesterday, just to try it out. Today, HE changed the voice to a French one as HE thinks it may help HIM to learn more language. HE was very pleased when, this morning, SHE had to go into Alencon for a blood test and the French lady in the machine went exactly the same way that HE always goes. With HIS record of getting lost since we have been here, it was a nice little bit of encouragement!

Darkening skyWednesday 16th May 2007
A dark grey miserable but dry day today. We took it in turns to have a bit of a nap in front of the fence, Mims first this morning and then me later on in the afternoon when SHE came and lay down with me. I am afraid I drifted off then and SHE tells me that I was dreaming, probably about racing, because my face was twitching and my legs were moving rhythmically at the same time. I honestly don’t remember. I just remember waking up with a start and leaping up, wondering where I was.
THEY stayed in this morning for the long awaited appointment with the electricity company councillor to discuss their power needs so that the stuff doesn’t keep cutting out on them. The person was due between 8 am and 12.30 but they waited in, in vain. Tina phoned from the agency while THEY were having lunch to ask how the meeting went. SHE asked her to get back to the electric company and find out what went wrong. Later Veronica phoned, quite upset as she hadn’t been able to make any headway with the company who insisted no appointment was made and could only offer another on 29th, two weeks time! No one is very happy with the electric company at the moment.
On a happier note, Gladys, who does a couple of hours housework for them and who had failed to turn up yesterday, arrived in the middle of lunch. The reason that she couldn’t come was that her grandmother was taken to hospital. Everyone including us horses who she came to visit, were very pleased to see her. That is with the exception of Tom the cat who hid out in the long grass. When HE went and got him and took him to meet her, Tom wriggled and squirmed and then ran off into the wheat field to hide. He didn’t come back until way after supper.
And, saving the best news to last. Over supper, Wally the builder phoned. He is coming to start on the barn conversion of Monday morning. He will be delivering a digger and probably some building blocks and ordering the ready mix concrete for the stable apron. So, it looks as if it wont be too long before we finally get our stables. Let’s hope it coincides with the return of the good weather and the flies!

Is it supper time yet?Thursday 17th May 2007 (Ascension Day – National Holiday)
This is the third national holiday this month and we are only halfway through. It doesn’t affect us horses though. If you ask HIM, HE will tell you our lives are just one long holiday. That’s not true, of course. You humans get up and have breakfast and then an do what you like until lunch and then again until dinner. We have to eat all the time. OK, we have the odd bucket in the morning and in the evening but that is not enough to keep us going. It is just a luxury. But we need to keep our stomachs working on fibre all day long so we have to graze or, in the winter, munch on hay to stay healthy.
Anyway, HE has been telling me how THEY were surprised that, on the national holidays, it appears quite different to the UK. There, the shops are generally shut, apart from the big stores and supermarkets and, if you need simple things like bread and milk or fruit (carrots of course), you need to plan to buy these before the shops close. Here, in France, it appears that, because people are on holiday, the small shops open to cater for their needs. Often it seems that there are more shops open on those days. The only ones that are closed are the banks and post offices and the banks have machines outside and who is that desperate to post a letter?
Yesterday when the builder, who is going to convert our barn into stables, phoned he phoned HIS mobile. He said that he had been trying the land line all day with no success. As THEY have also not had some other calls that THEY were inspecting, HE decided to investigate. HE found that THEY could phone out with no problem but when HE phoned the land line from HIS mobile, HE could get no reply. SHE remembered that Veronica had mentioned that she had seen a strange number on her phone when THEY had phoned her so HE phoned HER mobile from the landline and got HER to see what number had called. And it was a completely different number from the one that the phone company had given THEM. After a lot of further investigation, HE found that, because THEY were signed up to a internet plus telephone deal, the company, Orange, had changed the number without informing them. Of course, one rarely has need to phone oneself so THEY were completely unaware until Wally the builder phoned. That’s two things he’s to be thanked for.
Oh, and lastly, THEY went to have lunch at the local café but it was closed for a private party so THEY went to a new Thai Vietnamese restaurant in Alencon. When THEY got home, HE decided to send emails to the family to let them know of the proper phone number. However, full of dinner and wine, HE fell asleep as HE was going through the email phone book. When HE woke up, HE found HE had sent the email to most of the names in the book. There will be a lot of puzzled folk wondering why they should need THEIR phone number now.

Handsome ladFriday 18th May 2007
I cant remember now if I was writing my diary back in Dartmoor, when THEY had chickens. Not a lot, three in fact, but they were such consistent layers that neighbours would rush past the house in case they got offered eggs again. THEY gave them names – Grace, Beauty and Charm and, for a while they lived the good life. At that time, HE had a raised bed vegetable garden and had a fine crop of cabbages. Then the hens decided that under the greens was a good place to forage. It had everything, worms, caterpillars and lastly, nice green leaves. Now hens are very industrious workers and it didn’t take them very long to persuade HIM to give up the idea of a vegetable garden altogether.
They then turned their attentions to the rest of the back garden. It wasn’t very big and only consisted of a pool and a rockery (made from the rocks and earth that were dislodged to make the pool), some espalier apples and pears, a few border flowers and some lawn. The hens left the pool alone, they didn’t need it, they had the rest of the garden. The apples and pears were alright too but the rest of the garden soon turned into a bare, muddy wasteland. It wasn’t deliberate but one by one the hens went from illness or, in the case of the surviving Charm, from fright at being chased and caught by a neighbour’s dog. Before that, there was the time when Beauty appeared to have stopped laying and then she disappeared altogether. Finally THEY found her, in the hedge, with a clutch of thirteen eggs that she was determined to rear!
Why am I telling you all this? Well, today HE bought ‘un poulailler’, that is a hen house. THEY had gone out to Celine’s Bar, as usual, for lunch and when THEY got back, HE showed HER an advert in the local free paper with an advert for the sale of hens and cockerels in the neighbouring village. THEY set of and found the place but it appeared to be shut up and anyway gave all the appearance of a battery hen farm. THEY drove home stopping on the way to search for a place that THEY had seen some weeks ago that had a large number of chickens running about the lawn. But, today THEY couldn’t find it. So, when THEY got home HE got on the internet and has now ordered a luxury hen house, unfortunately in kit form, but then HE has nothing much to do anyway.
Two other events today. This afternoon, Andre the nice neighbour brought round someone to look at our field with a view to topping it. That is, cutting it to kill the weeds and allow the grass to grow stronger. He will be coming to do it the week after next and will probably be taking on the permanent care of our fields, if all works out OK.
The other event was a bit of fun for HIM. HE went into the bank to open a savings account and, at the same time said that THEY would prefer to make the village bank THEIR branch rather than the English speaking branch at Caen, some hundred kilometres away. HE said that if THEY stayed with the English speaking branch, THEY would miss the chance to improve THEIR French. The lady in the bank phoned the other branch who spoke to HIM and told HIM he must close his account, cut up his cards and cheque book and send them back. By this time, several other customers had come in the bank and were waiting to be served. HE told the lady what had happened and said HE would come back next week because of all the people waiting. She wouldn’t hear of it, and instead, phoned back the person at the other branch and gave her a real good earful, saying it was the same bank and all that was needed was a transfer of branch. But the best thing was that all the other customers were cheering and urging her on and really having a great time. They didn’t mind in the least that they were waiting, this was much more fun!

Another dawnSaturday 19th May 2007
The good weather is back, and so are the flies. It started last night, when it was so mild that THEY had the bedroom window wide open to listen to the crickets and frogs. SHE said it sounds like being in Africa but, to be honest, none of us would know. THEY have watched movies of Africa with those sounds in them but, of course, they could have been recorded here.
Although it was mild last night, there was a decent breeze to keep the midges away. I don’t know where the flies go at night but they seem to move over for all sorts of other flying creatures. HE told me that, when HE couldn’t sleep the other night, HE watched fireflies up against the side of the barn. Anyway, this morning the sun came out and there was no breeze so it wasn’t long before we had our fly masks on again.
I don’t think I have told you of our routine in the day. We three come up and stand at the back of the barn in the shadow and I dip my face in our drinking tub. Mims has tried it too a little but Wick is content just to have a drink now and again and then just stand and doze. I find that the fly mask protects the top half of my face and if I can keep dipping the lower part in the water, I can keep relatively fly free. And, it’s nice and cool. I would recommend it to anyone. When I was back in Devon and in my stable, I would always get my hay from the hay rack and dip it in my drinker. It used to make the floor a bit wet and messy but it was HIS job to clear it up, not mine.
THEY went to the police station today. SHE had read on the internet that you can get a photocopy of your papers verified and stamped by the police so that you needn’t keep the original with you in case it gets lost or stolen. As the quad only has storage under the seat and it is not lockable, SHE thought this was a good idea. The nearest police station is in the next town, Pre en Pail, and when THRY got to the police station the gates were locked and you had to ring a bell to talk to someone. THEY were let in by a very nice policeman who spoke some English but he explained that it wasn’t something that the police do, at least, the police here. So, THEY drove home without getting what THEY wanted but did, finally, manage to find the place where THEY can buy some chickens so when the hen house is delivered THEY will be off to get some girls to fill it.
HE managed to move the pile of wood out of our barn into the sous sol today so that the builder will have an empty barn to work on next week. Apart from that, the only progress is that HE has started selecting the photos to put up on his dartmoor_photos website. Yes, alright, HE knows THEY are not in Dartmoor any longer but it is such a nice name, HE has decided to keep it. Anyway, it does contain nearly all the photos from his old beacon-villages website and they were all Dartmoor.

Alezane in pensive moodSunday 20th May 2007
I am a horse. And, I am very happy at being a horse. However, there are times when I wish I could do things without the limitations of being a horse. To be precise, I wish that, just sometimes, my hooves were hands with fingers like you humans have. And, why is that? Well, for a start, I would get on HIS computer and search the Internet for some organisation to complain to.
Really! As SHE keeps telling me. I am an old lady now and I am entitled to some sort of respect and consideration. So what does HE do? HE treats me like some donkey on a beach, giving rides to all and sundry. OK, I like kids and the kids next door (and their friends) are very nice. But, why me? I know Wick is small and he has a bad foot (quite apart from being so covered in flies that SHE calls him a dechetterie (rubbish dump). But what about Mims. Mims, my fat, lazy daughter. It would do her good to get a bit of exercise and I know she has had kids on her back before, even if she hasn’t learned to be ridden properly. Of course, that’s HIS excuse. I am the only one to be trusted. I am a good girl and know what I am doing. So, if I am that good, why do I have to be punished? There was just one good thing about it. It meant that when HE had finished walking (and running) me around the field with first one then another and then a third passenger, then it was time for an early supper.
And, the rest of the day? It rained. Not all day but enough to keep the flies down to a bearable level. We are having a real mixture of weather these days. Yesterday was glorious, today, grey and wet. HE did a little gardening in the morning, spraying the weeds (which probably got washed off before it had time to work) and then making a little flower border and sowing some seeds. Apart from that and a trip down to the village for some bread and groceries (sugar and mints for us) THEY spent the day indoors, tapping away on those keyboards that my hooves are too big for. As I said yesterday, HE is trying to get HIS Dartmoor-photos site updated and SHE has been doing some work on the Devon Horse and Pony Sanctuary site.
Just to finish, it is interesting that the lady who started that charity is now retiring to France and the work is being taken over by her son and his wife. They are planning to bring some of the horses with them to France while maintaining the charity in Devon. She is a lovely lady and THEY are hoping that THEY will meet up with them in France although she and her husband are moving more to the south of France in the Bergerac region.. If they don’t meet up on the journey through France then they might only communicate by email or letter as it would be too far for THEM to travel and leave us all alone.

WindyMonday 21st May 2007
Wally came today. Wally not only came today, he knocked down most of the dividing wall in the barn that has to go before they can build our stables. It is probable he would have knocked it all down but he broke his sledge hammer. HE came out and talked with Wally and agreed all sorts of things like the slope that the floor needs to drain liquids into the drain. Also where the drains would be, how the water would get to our outside drinker and also making provision for our automatic drinkers in each stall. All in all, a very promising start – at least, except for one thing.
Wally did not come alone. Mo, he didn’t have any other workmen with him although Brian, who helped to put our post and rail fence up, will be coming on Wednesday. No, wall brought his dog with him. We never did get his name but he is apparently a rescue from some kennels and is a sort of woolly German Shepherd. At first Wally just left him in the van but SHE, being all soft and that, said ‘oh no, let him out, he will be alright’. In the end, Wally got him out of the car and chained him to our post and rail fence by the barn.
We three came up to see what was going on and, as soon as the dog saw us, he started barking. HE came into the field and said it was alright and Wicky, who is the bravest of all of us and my champion, whatever Mims might think, went up to the dog and went nose to nose with him. At this the dog started barking and Wick did a swift turn around and a flying kick to let the dog know who was boss. Seeing this, Wally took his dog and chained him to the washing line post, I think to avoid him getting kicked. After that all three of us moved up to the fence and watched while Wally knocked the wall down.
Unfortunately, the linkage on the dog’s chain was not the best. And he got free and went for a walk. But, I think he had seen enough of Wicky to know to leave us alone. He was recaptured and put on the chain again. The next thing, THEY were indoors getting lunch ready when THEY saw poor Tom the cat, running for his life, being chased by the dog. He did a complete circuit round the house before diving into the cat door and disappearing indoors. And, I do mean disappearing. HE went from room to room to try and find him with no success. Eventually, when lunch was ready, SHE yelled Toms name and a feeble little cry came back from upstairs. HE went upstairs and found Tom and brought him back down as, by this time, Wally had broken his hammer and gone off for the day, with the dog.
The other (minor) event of the day was that the shop phoned to say that the light THEY had been waiting for, for the dining doom, had arrived, much earlier that the June date THEY had been given. Now, the only way that THEY have ever found this shop is by accident. Usually THEY set off for another shop THEY know and then turn round and follow some signs, back the way THEY have come. This time, THEY set the sat-nav gadget and off THEY went. The problem was that THEY didn’t believe it when the lady said turn here etc., so they got in another muddle which the sat-nav finally got then out of. Coming home, THEY saw how easy it really is. Maybe next time THEY will get there OK, except that there may not be a next time as the other stuff from there, bookcases and wardrobe stuff, is being delivered!

And it rained and it poured!Tuesday 22nd May 2007
HE put the last light fitting in the house up this morning. It was surprisingly easy, HE told me, after the experience of doing the other twelve. By the time HE had finished, Wally turned up and started to wok with his miniature digger. So, leaving him to get on with it, THEY set out to buy the three drinkers for the stables so that they would be here when Wally was ready to put them in.
THEY had gone to a shop that THEY had never been to before on the other side of Alencon. It proved to be a lot smaller than THEY had thought it would be and had only small drinkers in stock. Now SHE knows how I like to get a mouthful of hay and soak it in my water so THEY went through the man’s catalogue and ordered three of the larger size. Then, as it was lunch time, THEY went out to eat. I don’t know if I have told you this before but French car parking is very civilised in that you don’t pay during the lunch period. I nearly said lunch hour but actually it is two hours from 12.00 to 14.00. They parked at 12.15 and so did not have to pay anything. How it works is that if you buy 2 hours parking at 11.00 it actually runs to 15.00. Neat eh?
THEY went to what was called an oriental restaurant which was actually some sort of Arabian or Algerian with cous cous and kebab being the main meals They had a neat way of serving the cous cous, in a bowl sitting on top of the steaming hot vegetable stew. After a very filling meal, THEY came home to an afternoon of noisy deliveries of sand, cement, building blocks, gravel , wood and other materials, punctuated in between times with Wally chuntering up and down on his digger.
He tried to get a little nap in but was awoken by a phone call, informing THEM that THEIR new car will be delivered on Saturday morning.
When THEY came along to feed us, THEY had been looking over the building site and discussing what compromises Wally was going to have to make as he had discovered the mains electric cable and didn’t want to dig too far down in case he broke into it. This might mean rounding off the concrete apron round the front of the barn which will then require a small ramp for us top get up to the new (wheat at present) field, when we get it and this in turn has consequences for the site of our new post and rail fence round the barn.
While THEY were waiting for us to finish our buckets, HE noticed that Wally had disconnected the hose from our drinker to do his digging and had forgotten to reconnect it. SHE said SHE was worried because our big drinker was getting full of algae and it was probably because it was too big to get fully refilled regularly. This had come up before and HE hadn’t wanted to empty it because of the mud it would cause where we walked. Now, however, HE volunteered to empty it with a bucket and so now, we have bright shiny clean water again for me to dip my head in. Some things are really good in the hot weather!

Can we come in your stable until ours is ready?Wednesday 23rd May 2007
Isn’t it boring talking about the weather? And yet, there has been such a change today that it can’t go without a mention. It has been very hot and sunny today. It didn’t start out that way, in fact it was quite cool with a north east breeze. But, after mid morning right up to this evening, it was so hot as to be uncomfortable.
It has been a day of noise today as not only Wally and Brian have been clearing the soil moved from the front of the barn to make way for the concrete apron but also Morgan, the lad from next door, came along to finish the lawn mowing that he started several weeks ago. He hadn’t been able to finish it until now, because of the rain. This meant that it had grown considerably again and although he started with the bag on the ride on mower to collect the cuttings, in the end, he had to take the bag off and just scatter the cuttings over the grass.
Because it took much longer that it should have done, SHE let him have a ride of HER quad bike after he had finished. He got on and drove, very competently, round the field and then he made his big mistake. SHE told him, he could drive the bike home to show his parents so he drove out of the field and then waited while SHE have him some more instructions. What he didn’t do though was to shut the field gate after him and Mims, being a very curious girl, went out of the field and went for a walk in the front garden. HE rushed to close the front gates and, by the time HE got back, I had followed Mims. Morgan tried to catch Mims and HE went after me so Wicky, seeing his opportunity, came after us. In the end, HE applied some strategy and put a rope round Mims’ neck and lead her out of the garden and back to the field. Of course, I followed and Wick came running after as we cant near to be separated. It was then just a question of shutting the gate smartly and order was restored.
THEY went along to see the ferroniere (blacksmith) today to arrange for him to come and see the walls that his grills will be fitted to. HE arranged to come a week tomorrow so we hope Wally and Brian have built them by then.

No carrot too big for WickyThursday 24th May 2007
The barn I progressing fine. Mims has found a new game, playing with Brian. You see, as Wally has been digging out the soil to make room for the concrete apron, he has been loading it onto Brian’s lorry and Brian then drives into our field and dumps the dirt round the corner to be flattened out later by Wally’s digger. To do this Brian has to rive up to the gate, open it, get backing his lorry, drive into the field and then get out and close the gate. You can see where this is heading, cant you? Mims hasn’t forgotten that there is a very nice big black stallion at the end of the road, just out of the gate, down the path and turn right. Mims may be a div but she is not silly. She has watched and observed the times when the gate is left open before Brian can get there to shut it again. The game is to try and reach the open gate before Brian. She has a secondary game which is to lick the dirt but this, as you might guess, is just a diversionary tactic.
So, how is our stable getting on? The apron has now been dug out and filled with hard core ready for the ready mix concrete when it comes. The hard core is actually the dividing wall which was in the barn and has now been knocked down. THEY had a session with Wally and Brian discussing the dimensions and drainage and now the brickwork making three individual boxes will start tomorrow. Wicky was pleased to learn that his box will be equal in size to Mims’ and mine. It has meant that we will have a slightly narrower box than we would have had if he had a smaller one more suited to his size. Wick so like the equality that we don’t have the heart to tell him that one day maybe the stables will have to house three normal size horses. Anyway, if THEY manage to find him a companion of his own size, the two of them can share his box.
THEY went out today just o buy our apples and carrots but nothing more as HE has had a bit of a bad tummy today. When HE wasn’t dozing, HE spent HIS time on the internet trying to find some rubber matting for our boxes. I am afraid that THEY are having very little success with the French internet sites and THEY may be forced to import the mats from the UK.

The daisy fieldFriday 25th May 2007
Still looking for the rubber mats and, it is becoming a matter of some urgency. I mean, it’s not that we are desperate to lay down or anything, it’s just that Wally and Brian seem to have got on very well today with our boxes. The walls have yet to be finished but you can now see the outline of them and, in some parts, the height as well. I say ‘you can’, in fact you may be able to, we cant as yet. I am having to take all this information from HIM. All we horses can do is stand behind the barn wall and listen to what is going on. Today, all we could hear was the cutting of the building blocks and the rotating of the cement mixer.
Actually, we spent a lot of time at the barn wall today. First it was very hot and we all crowded round the big drinking tub and then, this afternoon, the skies turned black and the wind got up and there was thunder and lightening to the south. There would be spots of rain and we would be sure that it was going top fall down so we huddled against the barn wall. But, it was not until this evening, when we were waiting for supper, that the rain started. And it was heavy. Heavy but not cold. We ate supper in the rain and then just ignored it and got on with our lives.
THEY went food shopping this morning and then were off to Celine’s Bar for lunch. As HE had starved HIMSELF all day yesterday and only had a very light breakfast today, HE tucked in to HIS lunch with great enjoyment. SHE found HERSELF two lovely little girls to talk to. They were there with their parents and, it turns out, that they have also just moved here and they live not very far from us. Of course, they have been invited to come and meet ‘the horses’ so no doubt we will end up giving them rides sooner or later. Their mother speaks English but she says she is a bit rusty so she said that SHE must speak English to her and she will speak French to HER (if you see what I mean) and that way both will improve their language skills.
The flower basket brackets that HE ordered turned up today so, as soon as Wally and Brian left, HE got HIS tools and ladder and went to put them up. HE just got as far as drilling one hole when the heavens opened so we will now be able to look at his wet ladder propped up against the wall all night long. Maybe HE will finish putting them up tomorrow.

Looking under the fenceSaturday 26th May 2007
What do you know about trotting? Come on, you’re supposed to be interested in horses otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. Trotting, right? Now, I expect you are thinking about me. About how, when I came to live with THEM, I hadn’t a clue about trotting. You see, in the race game you only need to be able to walk round the betting ring and up to the start and then gallop from start to finish. So, when SHE took me out for a hack, I had to try and learn how to trot. Even now, it doesn’t come naturally to me. When HE used to walk me back and forth to Ninefields on Dartmoor, there was a little hill just before we got home to my stable. HE quite often used to get me to trot down that hill but, if SHE was watching by the gate , SHE would laugh at me saying I just swung my legs out and ran and didn’t trot properly at all.
But, that’s not all there is to trotting. In America and here in France, as well, trotting is a race form all of its own, quite apart from the kind of racing that I did. The French ‘Trotteur’ is a breed in its own right which appears to derive from five English stallions and Normand mares back in the 1700’s. There is also a bit of Russian in there somewhere. I will be able to tell you more when SHE has finished researching it.
So why am I telling you this? Why is SHE busy researching trotters anyway. Well, it is all Wicky’s fault really. Lately Wicky has stopped coming with Mims and me when we go round the field. Either he finds his own place to graze all alone or he wanders back to the barn and hangs his head all despondently over the railings. THEY have seen him do this quite a lot and that, together with the fact that Mims does tend to chase him quite a lot (he takes no real notice, just runs around the other side) has made THEM worry that Wick is feeling lonely.
It’s true that he did make a friend of Arnie at the farm and he does miss him quite a bit. Arnie sort of filled a hole that Treg left and having Treg back with us in the spirit, so to speak, is not the same as a real live mate to hang out with. So, SHE decided today to go the Xavier, the guy who moved us from the farm to here, and ask him if he knew of any ponies that were looking for a home so that Wick would have a companion again. And, guess what? That’s it, Xavier had a trotter looking for a home. And where is that home? Le Cerisier, that’s where. THEY left Xavier knowing that my herd is going o increase by 33% sometime next week. We’ve not told Wicky yet. We are saving that until the day as we are sure things will follow he pattern. On day one, Wick will chase the new boy to the far corner of the field. Then, he will let him back and Mims will start to chase him. Then, finally, the new lad and Wicky will form a friendship and he wont be lonely anymore.

Good, isn’t it?

Tom in the kitchenSunday 27th May 2007 (Whit Sunday)
I used to think that it was only in England that the weather turned horrid on national holidays. Well, not so. Today was terrible. It started off cold and overcast and very soon it turned to heavy rain. It’s a real shame as the village has a three day ‘Fete de Pentecost’ event for the Whitsun holiday with the town square taken over by various fairground rides and stalls. Yesterday the weather was not quite so bad at first and at least some folk managed to get some enjoyment. THEY didn’t go as THEY were waiting for the new car to be delivered. Of course, it wasn’t. HE must have got the phone message wrong. The man must have said that the car was being delivered to them, the dealers, on Saturday morning and not to Le Cerisier. Strangely there was very little disappointment when the new car didn’t turn up, just a bit of irritation at having waited in for it. Maybe it has to do with THEIR age that a new car is not such an exciting event? Or maybe it is because having to keep buying new things for the new house, a new car is just another new item? Whatever, THEY will have to find some time now to go to Le Mans to pick it up, a drive of over an hour on a toll road.
Anyway, as I was saying, the day started out miserable but THEY had decided not to put our coats on. Then the heavens opened and I went and huddled against the barn wall to try and get some shelter under the eaves. When SHE saw this, SHE came out straight away, without a coat on herself and fetched my rug. Mims played up a bit when SHE got her rug as well. The trouble with Mims was that Solide the stallion had been calling out all morning and so Mims was in a bit of a frolicsome mood. However, when SHE told HIM to get the lead rein to hold Mims with, she gave in at once and got her rug on. Wick has such a thick coat that he doesn’t have to have a coat on so he just watched the proceedings.
And that’s really all that happened today. The sun came out for a while and HE thought that maybe we should have our rugs off but, in five minutes, down came the rain again. Apart from a brief trip out for some bread and some groceries (well, booze really), THEY just stayed indoors today. There was one phone call from Wally who had just been reminded by his girl friend that tomorrow is a national holiday and that he has to take her out so he wont be back to work on our stables until Tuesday. SHE is now worried with the imminent arrival of our new herd member that they are only building three boxes. Everyone has fingers crossed that he won’t be too big to share with Wicky!

pollen and beeMonday 28th May 2007 (Another French National Holiday)
May seems to be a good time to live in France, it certainly has its share of national holidays. On the other hand, there has been something very cruel about this one. Our village has had a three day event a ‘Fete de Pentecost’ when the village square has been taken over by fairground rides and stalls. So what happens? We have the worst weather since winter. It has been rainy and cold with a North wind blowing fiercely. THEY didn’t go to the event on Saturday or Sunday as they either had things to do or the weather was so miserable. But, this morning, HE had to go into the village for bread and, finding all the entrances blocked to traffic, HE had to park and walk into the village centre. There HE saw that the fair rides and stalls had been supplemented by what, in England, would be called a ‘car boot sale’ and in France a ‘flea market’. HE took photos of the people huddled, freezing in their coats and covering their goods up with plastic to keep out the rain. For the very first time since THEY have been here, HE found the lady in the bread shop with no smile on her face. ‘It’s the weather’ she said and they both agreed it was a pity. At least she was smiling when HE left, maybe it was HIS accent?
This evening, the sun came out at last and THEY decided to go back down to the village for a crepe and maybe a drink. THEY could at least give some support to the event. When THEY got there, all the barriers were down and, driving through the village, the rides and stalls were dismantled. It did seem ironic that the moment that the Fete was over, the sun decides to come out. What THEY don’t know is if the organisers decided to call it a day because of the bad weather or if they planned to close before the end of the day anyway. Whatever the reason, THEY didn’t get THEIR crepes but THEY did manage to go home for a drink.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, as they say. Not a lot to report, I’m afraid. Mims is still picking on Wicky but whether it is spite or for fun it is hard to tell. Yes, she does actually open her mouth and wrap it around his neck but she doesn’t close her jaws and Wick only just runs away and then goes back to where he was. Mims does turn and kick and buck but she never once  actually makes contact. If you don’t know, it does look a bit bad. HE shouted at Mims to leave Wick alone today and this made me mad at her as well. I put may ears back and waved my leg around until she decided that it was best not to come near me. But, none of it lasts very long and my guess is that it is just plain high spirits and, I could be wrong, but there might even be a bit of flirting involved as well. Goodness knows, Wick is a bit old and evil looking to encourage flirting but then, needs must … as they say.
We’ve still not said anything to Wick about the new poney (as he’s French, I use the French spelling). SHE has written a long email to Xavier asking for more details such as what he feeds him on, his age, when he had his last injections, wormers and the like. SHE translated the email into French using an on line computer translator so goodness knows what he will read and what replies SHE will get. I’m starting to look forward to Monsieur now. Let us hope we all suit each other but most of all, that he does become a good mate for Wicky!

SHE tells them what to doTuesday 29th May 2007
Guess what? Today was a beautiful day. Warm and sunny with only a light breeze. I do feel sorry for the villagers and, in fact, for he whole of France. HE tells me that the news today carried stories of people being killed by high wind and seas in the west and south of the country. Maybe we had it not so bad after all. Anyway, today was a day to enjoy – or , at least it was, until this evening.
We started off having supper in the normal way. The only thing that was different was that our head collars were hung along the fence. Then, while we were eating, SHE came along and put our head collars on. Still nothing bad though. I thought maybe SHE was going to make us do a bit of work after supper. Oh well, we have had it easy up to now so that’s not so bad. Then, however, SHE came along and put the lead rein on Mims. I came over to see what was happening and that was my mistake as HE looped the other end of the rope around my head collar. Then SHE brought her arm up and there it was, for all to see, the dreaded wormer syringe!
Once SHE had discharged its contents into Mims; mouth, SHE held her for quite a while so Mims could not spit it out. I could see what was coming and got quite resigned. HE offered me a mint but my lips were firmly closed. It didn’t help as SHE puts the tip of the syringe intp the corner of ones mouth where you cant hold it shut tight. I was surprised that, after a few nasty minutes, Mims recovered enough to eat some sugar lumps and then some mints. Maybe I could have as well but I wouldn’t just ion principle. I wanted THEM to see how betrayed and hurt I was. In the end, however, HE went and got an apple and that, I couldn’t resist. Anyway, it helped to cleanse my mouth of the taste, even though the wormer itself was supposed to taste of apple. Taking wormers always reminds me of old Treg, who used to rush away to the furthest corner of the field after THEY had given him one and wouldn’t forgive THEM for days. Now, he just stands there and smiles as we suffer. He knows that THEY cant get him anymore.
Wally and Brian worked relly hard today and our three boxes are now built. OK, they still have to be furnished. THEY have the drinkers and hay racks on order and have found some rubber flooring tiles which look good. THEY are just waiting for a sample in the post before they are ordered. Wally is going to get some wood to put up the kickboards on the inside and the feronniere is coming on Thursday to check out the fixing for the grills he will make.
Wally’s next thing is to organise some ventilation louvers and finish bricking up the two redundant doors in Wicky’s box. Then the outside apron can be laid, a fence and gate put around and some stairs put in to the upstairs floor. Finally the water supplies and the outside doors must be fixed. Then we should be able to go in and dine in style.

work starts on our boxesWednesday 30th May 2007
The news, not ten minutes ago, is that our trotter friend will be coming to join us on Friday afternoon. We still don’t know anything about him. Xavier said on the phone that he had got HER email, asking all those questions, but he had been too busy to reply as yet. He also said that our new friend has to see the farrier before he comes to us, .so at least Wicky won’t be able to laugh at his feet.
THEY went today to pick up the new car. And guess what? HE drove it home and while going through Alencon town, HE managed to get a big scratch down the side of it. This has put HIM in a very miserable mood all afternoon. As SHE said to HIM, it is only a bit of metal, it doesn’t matter. And it’s true but, having driven it all the way from Le Mans to Alencon with no problems it is a bit silly to get a scratch when THEY were nearly home. HE has his excuses of course. First, the new car is (or appears to be) much bigger than the old green one. Secondly it was, of course, a new and therefore unfamiliar car. And thirdly, and this is probably the main reason, it is THEIR first French car and therefore a left hand drive. For the last nearly six months, HE has been driving the old UK right hand drive car and so is used to judging the distance from the kerb. Now, all of a sudden, HE was on the wrong side of the car and hadn’t learnt to judge the distance from the kerb and so managed to scrape the car along something parked on that side. HE tells me something because HE never even saw it and, at the time, HE thought he had only just clipped the wing mirror. It wa only when HE got home that HE saw the long scratch.
He had one last excuse. In order to pick up the car from Le Mans, THEY decided to drive to Alencon station and then go to Le Mans by train. So, on the way back, THEY needed to find the station again. As THEY were not familiar with the route, THEY set the GPS system to guide THEM to the station. Now, this system is very good but it is not aware of local road ups and changes and this time, it guided HIM up a series of dead end streets. On top of this, HE was looking for a petrol station as the indicator said the tank was empty. It was at this point that \he had the scrape. Oh, and there was one other thing. When HE finally found somewhere to get petrol, HE was in a queue and then found that HE couldn’t open the flap to the petrol filler! HE had to drive away to another service station and then park and read the manual before HE found out how to open it.
I know it I all about THEM today but I have to tell you one other thing. When THEY got to Le Mans station, THEY needed a taxi to take them to the place where the car was coming from. The garage is called Auto Parc and I think the cab driver mistook this for something else because he took them to the start of the Le Mans 24 hour race which is in five days time. HE said maybe the cab driver mistook THEM for some sort of race officials. SHE said more likely he thought that THEY were the grandparents of one of the ticket sellers or something!

fruitThursday 31st May 2007
And what for the last day in the month? Actually, for us horses it was quite an event. Promptly, at nine am a man with a tractor and a cutting machine drove up to the field. It wasn’t the man that THEY had arranged to cut the field but, THEY found out later, a man who worked for him. HE was a man of little words and, having ascertained that it was no problem having us horses loose in the field while he cut it, he promptly set to work. Wally the builder who was watching had said that it was surprising how big the field would look once it was cut. And he was right. The man drove up and down going first right round the perimeter of the field and then working inward in circles.
We watched for a while and then lost interest. Then Mims decided that we should go down into the field and have a bit of a look. We got down into the middle, just as the man was coming up. Suddenly, it was a game and Mims and I cantered and then galloped up the him back to the barn. It was so much fun that Mims couldn’t help running up to Wicky, who had stayed behind eating grass, and giving him a little nudge to let him join in the game as well.
While this was going on, Andre, the neighbour who owns Solide the stallion, came along for a word with HER. He was worried what we were going to eat now that the field had been cut. SHE took him into the sous sol and showed him the  short feed (floconné) that we get but he still thought that we should have some hay. Her has arranged to have two big rounds of hay delivered into our field. That started HER worrying about what we would eat until then and so THEY drove off to Ferté Macé to the agricultural shop there to get a couple of small hay bales to tide us over until the big rounds are delivered.
Aftwer this THEY went off to Céline’s Bar for lunch and then down to Alonçon for some shopping, particularly for mints for us. SHE also wanted to buy some snacks as Wally and Sondrine were coming along in the evening to meet the ferroniere and discuss the fixing of the grills in our stable. While THEY were waiting for the guests, Andre and Eleane turned up to talk about the hay. They were invited in and everyone was a few drinks in before Wally and Sondrine joined them. They all had a lovely evening and the time passed so quickly that THEY failed to notice at first that the ferroniere had failed to turn up. HE did phone him but only got an answering machine.
And that was the end of the month. Sondrine went away determined to find a kitten friend fro Tom the cat and THEY decided that, if the ferroniere does need to fix his grills they can be to the wood that Wally has planned for the wall tops. I think HE is a little bit worried that we might bite the wood but that is a problem HE will have to face it it arises!

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