The very last thing I do every night is put Pav out for a final pee*. When this happens EVEN LATER THAN USUAL because, say, I’ve been reading something and HAD TO KNOW HOW IT ENDED**, it may no longer be awfully dark outdoors by the time we get out there for this ritual moment. Hey, it’s barely a month to the longest day, it gets light really really REALLY early, okay? So it was like twilight out there this morning, and I was standing there in my nightgown ready to fend the little varmint*** off the rose bushes and my peripheral vision was caught by movement where no movement should be. . . .
There was a big fat mouse lowering the bird-seed level in the feeder by a rate of knots. ARRRRRRRGH.†
This is my fabulous squirrel proof bird feeder, you know? The one with the integral cage that only little birds can get through. Little birds and the occasional frelling mouse—who was soon going to be too frelling bulgy to get out again. I picked up a stake that didn’t happen to be propping anything important and gave the feeder a move-or-die whack. Mouse leaped out into the shadows—Geronimoooooooooo!—and disappeared.††
The real ratbag about this is that I’ve pretty much decided that the birds don’t like this feeder. I have lots of birds in the garden, and the suet block in the other feeder is eaten down pretty reliably. Er. By birds: I see them doing it. This one—nope. I assume they don’t like the cage.
So today, which was a lovely day†††, I spent a good bit of in the garden. ‡ And one of the things I did was tie the clematis and the rose-bush that are the likeliest mouse-access-providing culprits away from the seed feeder.
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* Hellhounds scorn such wimpery. Pav is extremely continent^ but she’s also always delighted to be allowed to burst out of her crate and attack something. If the price for this indulgence is that she stop attacking things^^ long enough to have a pee, she will do that with reasonable grace.
^ Barring the standard canine disasters. My latest trial is that she’s decided that sheep crap is a delicacy. ARRRRRRRRGH. Even if I hold her upside down and shake, the stuff is kind of friable, you know? It doesn’t all hold together neatly and pop out in a nice cohesive lump.
^^ Dirty laundry, nightgown hems+, feet, towels hanging on the Aga rail, etc. If she’s desperate, dog toys.
+ She has, relatively recently, discovered the joys of rocket-launching her solid little furry self upward inside the circle of hem of the nightgown you’re wearing YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.
** I’ll tell you all about it. Some day.
*** With the little glistening varminty eyes
† Speaking of ARRRRRRRRGH. ARRRRRRRRRGH.
†† Pav was sure she’d missed something. I’m glad to say the mouse leaped into the shadows on the far side of the little courtyard fence. I don’t like mice, but I didn’t in the least want my hellterror catching one.^ Or diving through a rose-bush to try.
^ Either she’d eat it—and its unknown but guaranteed undesirable parasites—or she’d just mangle it a little. They scream, you know. Like bunnies. Bunnies scream. Dog owners need to know how to kill things. Whimper.
††† After we got down to a NEAR FROST last night. One of my pathetic and ridiculous excuses for staying up reading was so that I could keep an eye on the frelling thermometer. The temperature had turned around and was going up again by the time I turned the light off. I get to do this again tonight. Or not, of course.
‡ Have I told you I have two lots of American visitors coming next week? I have maybe half a dozen overnight-staying, pond-crossing visitors in an average year . . . and I have THREE of them NEXT WEEK? WHAT? One of them is an old friend, and if the house(s) is a tip and the garden(s) is a jungle, eh, she’s seen it all before. The other one—and her husband—I’m a little afraid of. Sigh. But nothing is going to turn me into a magnificent housekeeper, a sublime gardener and a superlative hostess in the next ten days, so we’ll just have to muddle along somehow.
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WE INTERRUPT THIS WAS-WORKING-JUST-FINE-THANK-YOU-MICROSOFT-YOU-PIECE-OF-**** BLOG POST TO ANNOUNCE THAT I’VE JUST SPENT ABOUT HALF AN HOUR TRYING TO FIND OUT WHY MY IDIOT COMPUTER WENT PING ON ME AND NOW EVERYTHING IS RED AND UNDERLINED AND IN SOME KIND OF EDITING (?) MODE THAT I CAN NEITHER FIND NOR TURN OFF. AND IT’S THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT OF COURSE SO IT’S NOT LIKE I CAN RING UP AN ARCHANGEL AND SCREAM. I EVENTUALLY COPIED AND PASTED ‘TEXT ONLY’ INTO A NEW DOCUMENT WHICH APPEARS TO HAVE SOLVED THE IMMEDIATE ISSUE . . . BUT I HAVE TO PUT ALL THE BOLD AND ITALIC BACK IN, DON’T I? AS WELL AS REVIVE THE LINKS. I ALSO HAVE TO GO TO BED. SO THE FOLLOWING MAY END A LITTLE ABRUPTLY.
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Why are the cutest, the very CUTEST, the DIES FROM CUTE/GORGEOUS* knitting needle cases/rolls/organizers ALL FOR SHORT NEEDLES? CRUMMY LITTLE DPNs AND FRELLING CIRCULARS?** AND CROCHET HOOKS. CROCHET HOOKS!
Ahem. I’ve been wasting time on Etsy.*** Generally speaking I avoid Etsy† but . . . one of the frelling knitting frelling sites I’m on the (frelling) email list of had a TWENTY PERCENT OFF EVERYTHING sale for the bank holiday. Twenty percent. Off EVERYTHING. Now I pay attention to twenty percent. I will look at fifteen percent . . . but twenty percent, I’m doomed. And so . . . I was doomed.
I’ve been eyeing up Rowan Big Wool for a while because everybody seems to love it and I’m a bit of a wannabe Rowan junkie although their magazines make me crazy, all those undernourished tragic Pre-Raphaelite-haired women†† wearing clothes that I don’t even understand how to look at let alone be able to read the blasted pattern and make the things. But then there was this: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/heartbeat-3 †††
I want to make this. Well, I want to try to make this. I wasted an INSANE amount of time this weekend, The Weekend of Twenty Percent Off, trying to decide what colours to (try to) do it in. The other thing is . . . needles. GIGANTIC frelling needles. 12 mm and 15 mm needles.‡ They look like police truncheons. The little needle case I bought long, long ago ‡‡ is, ahem, full, and the addition of police truncheons is not a viable storage option. Hence Etsy. . . .
To be continued.
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* Of course I want a dies-from-cute/gorgeous knitting needle case. I could keep them in a plastic bag if I were a plastic bag sort of girl. I’m not. I’m amazed you’d even ask.
** Which all look like garrottes to me, okay? Cooperate, you yarn, or I’ll garrotte you. And DPNs just scare the grrzmph out of me. I subscribe to way too many knitting magazines, and the bottom end of these give you FREE GIFTS!!! every issue.^ Cheezy plastic DPNs and ditto crochet hooks that weren’t broken out of their mould properly so they have little catchy rough places that I’m sure will contribute to the crocheting experience significantly, are popular. They are not improving my attitude toward these outliers of knitting at all.
^ Just by the way the modern coinage ‘free gift’ makes me NUTS. Here, have a gift with strings and caveats. Have an unfree gift. WHAT? Of course ‘free gifts’ that come as part of the PURCHASE of a magazine or a box of cereal or whatever the flapdoodle aren’t free by definition. So what ‘free gift’ is, is the double negative that makes the positive, or in this case the double positive that makes the negative . . . all right, all right, it’s late and I’m mushy-brained. Still. I think there may be a principle here.
Enter at your own risk. It’s the biggest indie-stall craft market in the universe. It will eat your days, your brain, and your credit card. You will also, slightly depending on what category you’re browsing, be caught up short by . . . amazing things that people have (apparently) made and are (apparently) expecting other people to buy. You know, as in spend money on. Amazing. There are a few of these even in the relatively harmless knitting supplies area.
Which brings me to Regretsy, a site honouring—if you want to call it ‘honouring’ which you probably don’t—all that people should not have hung out there in public with a price tag. However I am not going to give you a link to Regretsy—you can look it up—in the first place because the general tenor is RUDE and the opening page is . . . well, it’s not family friendly, and in the second place because she seems to have shut it down? The archive is still there—and jaw-droppingly fabulous reading it is too if you’re into that sort of thing. I find I start feeling as if I’ve eaten too much cheap chocolate too quickly but still . . . wow. You can look her up too—April Winchell—who has a web site that is a sort of very large Regretsy-style collection of the bad, the awful, and the seriously squicky, whose boundaries know no, uh, bounds. You want people being jerkfaces? Go there. She’s very funny. But . . . rude. You were warned.
However, on the subject of the successful deployment of rude, one of the shops on Etsy is http://www.etsy.com/shop/beanforest
which I discovered because FOR SOME REASON people kept sending me a link to this button:
Which I still haven’t ordered because every time I try I find myself running up a tab of about thirty quids’ worth of kitchen magnets (of course I want them as kitchen magnets) and . . . no.^ For example, upon further investigation of the deep luxuriant richness on offer, this one makes me fall off my chair laughing:
. . . Okay. I’ll behave now. Probably. But speaking of FOOTNOTES which I OFTEN AM like NOW^^, several people have sent me a link to a recent xkcd post: http://xkcd.com/1208/ Be sure to do the mouseover thing.
^ My refrigerator isn’t large enough.
^^ I’m sure it’s all very meta-whatsit to be talking about footnotes in footnotes.
† For all the reasons detailed in footnote *** above.
†† Most of the Brotherhood however would be appalled at the starved-teenager look.
††† Is anyone else getting a little cranky about the months’-old THIS JUST IN!!! opening page on Ravelry trumpteting three million users? Fine. They have three million users. I’m impressed. But I was impressed a long time ago and I think they might take the ‘just’ out.
‡ Heartbeat only requires 10 mm, but http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/may-2
is 15 mm. I thought I might finally try a hat. Especially a hat with none of this circular nonsense.
‡‡ Two years, I think? It was two years ago this past winter that Fiona tied me to my chair and showed me how to knit and purl and cast on and off while I begged for mercy, wasn’t it?
So yesterday evening hellhounds spent crashed out as usual in the mews dog bed. The system is that I then scrabble everything back into my knapsack and canvas briefcase-shaped object, let hellhounds out for a pee in the mews courtyard—they’ll have their final hurtle from the cottage—schlep knapsack, canvas object, and anything else that may have silted up over the course of the day into Wolfgang’s front seat; encourage hellhounds to leap into the hellhound box in the back, having first removed Pav’s abominable falling-apart plastic carrying crate; encourage hellhounds to get all eight feet into the box so I can get the crate back in, replace crate, fetch hellterror, encourage her to relieve herself, bribe her into nasty plastic crate with small handful of kibble, pick up anything hellterror may have produced, lock up, drive to cottage. Reverse process. . . . **
We have one of our organic-grocery deliveries on Thursdays. I let hellhounds out, had a fast look around for cats or rabbits or any other untoward distractions, and went back indoors to load my week’s fresh fruit into a carrier. This took . . . maybe a minute.
When I went back out to put the fruit bag in the front seat with the rest of the stuff . . . there was only one hellhound waiting for me.
I looked around. It took me a good five seconds to panic. I trotted down toward the archway and called Darkness’ name. Nothing. I trotted—rather faster—back to Wolfgang and Chaos, still standing there looking rather bewildered.*** I put Chaos on lead, picked up Darkness’, and pelted down the driveway toward the main road.
Last few times Darkness has been double-ended geyseringly ill, he has lit out for strange parts as soon as I put him out—but hitherto I’ve already been keeping an eye on him, and have managed to get a lead on him and go along when he sets off. I’ve always had WARNING. With one—appallingly notable—exception, he’s always been able to give me warning, ie to get him outdoors NOW. Last night . . . he had eaten only two thirds of an already minimal dinner but, so? He hasn’t been eating enough to keep a chipmunk alive for weeks†. There was nothing about last night to make me take notice.
Till he disappeared.
I’ve never lost a hellhound before: I’m paranoid, and I know how fast they are—and generally speaking their recall is pretty good, and I’m careful not to strain it. I hadn’t allowed for Darkness having a geysering fit come on without giving me any SIGN.
Chaos and I were wandering around helplessly only a few minutes. Probably less than five. Well, maybe five. I was by this time crying and screaming. It was after midnight, it was dark, at least there was no one else around—no other dog walkers, no juggernauts on the roads—and that stretch of the main road is mostly parkland on either side, so my screaming was probably not heard by anyone but owls. I had just turned to go back to the mews courtyard. This is one of the basic emergency drills of a sighthound owner—your runaway will come back to where he last saw you to find you again. So long as you keep your nerve and stay there. Chaos and I had turned to creep back to the mews courtyard . . . when a bit of darkness detached itself from the rest, slunk through the gate ahead of us, and turned around to throw up at my feet. At least that meant he stood still long enough for me to get his lead on.
Adrenaline spike? If any of you saw a strange bright burning light in the sky last night emanating from a southern-Englandish direction, that would have been me, having an adrenaline spike.
Today has not been a very lively, awake day. The hellterror’s more dramatic difficulties seem to have lessened, although she’s not entirely enjoying coming on heat. She’s still showing no signs of flirting, but she’s licking those Weird Swollen Parts a lot in a kind of LIE DOWN AND LEAVE ME ALONE manner, and while she still wants her tummy rubbed I keep stopping to check that all those tiny but stiff little nubbles are only her nipples, and there are no ticks involved. Hellhounds are . . . hellhounds, although there has been no further geysering.
I’m about to have to attempt to feed hellcritters for the third time today. Whimper. Score so far: Chaos, one third lunch, one third dinner. Darkness, no lunch whatsoever, all of dinner. Pavlova, I’M FINE, CAN’T YOU SEE I’M FINE. I’M ALSO STARVING TO DEATH. YOU CALL THIS A MEAL?
* * *
* We have in fact had a try with the clip-your-dog-harness-with-dog-in-it to the seatbelt apparatus. It works fine. Except for the part about the hellterror setting to with a will to chew the seatbelt apart. Those hellterror jaws, crikey. I’m surprised miners and engineers and things bother with rock drilling tools. Put a bowl of dog food on one side of the mountain and a hungry bull terrier^ on the other and . . . stand back. Gnar gnar gnar gnar crunch crunch crunch crunch.
^ Bull terriers are of course always hungry. It’s part of the breed standard: little beady eyes, prick ears, roman nose, hungry.
** Yes. I hate my commute. It’s always been way too complicated^ but a manic hellterror and a hellhound who is still hoping he’s going to wake up one morning and she’ll be gone complicate matters. The sheer logistics are a big fat pain—in both arms, shoulders and back, chiefly. It would HELP A LOT if hellhounds could jump in from the other side, but that means making the extra height over the side of the box, and Darkness doesn’t always want to leap to seat level.^^
^ It’s a daily version of—you know how that last t shirt/woolly jumper you threw in your suitcase on a whim and that last book you threw in your carry-on before you got on the plane are the only things that prevent your journey from being an utter misery? Yes. Now imagine making those same final forty-six decisions every day.
^^ And thank you, Judith and Diane in MN and anyone else I’ve missed, for those links to Dog Travelling Strategies. I’m looking very thoughtfully indeed at the folding stair.
*** Although ‘bewildered’ is one of his standard expressions.
† Although I believe all those small rodenty creatures have very high metabolisms.
It’s been another fabulously gorgeous SHIRTSLEEVE day and . . .
. . . I’m not in a very good mood. In the first place . . . yurk, where do I start ‘in the first place’? Okay, top contenders for ‘in the first place’:
1. Speaking of fabulously gorgeous shirtsleeve weather WE’RE GOING TO HAVE FROST AGAIN OVER THE WEEKEND. And I have several brand-new trays of snapdragons and diascias sitting around waiting hopefully to be planted. As well as a few dahlia tubers that have been planted in pots* and will therefore join the frelling kitchen queue this weekend . . . Not to mention the petunias, begonias, geraniums, hippeastrums, sweet peas etc that have been out there a while already, when they aren’t cluttering up the Winter Table and the kitchen floor. And if I don’t get my glads in soon they won’t bloom till . . . after the first frosts this autumn.
2. Hellhounds are eating about one meal in three. Sort of. It’s hard to tell because I’ve cut back to about half rations . . . and they’re still playing a sort of hopscotch game the rules of which are opaque to me, where one of them may eat one meal/day while the other one doesn’t eat at all, or one of them will eat one third of this meal and two thirds of the next while the other one finishes the first meal and has two and a half mouthfuls of the next. Their ribs look more like toast racks every day. And as I have just been telling Darkness, who ate none of his lunch and has deigned to eat about two-thirds of his (half-size) supper, if I weren’t worrying about their making themselves ill, I’d just frelling let them starve themselves into a citation from the RSPCA. Fine. Let the RSPCA try and get the little ratbags to eat. How am I supposed to know:
(a) When they’re just being total little scum-sucking ticks and
(b) When they’re going to go over the line into making themselves ill?
I want to know BEFORE we reach (b), okay? Meanwhile the recycled kibble levels are getting extreme and eventually you have to throw it out. £££££££. Not amused. Not amused at all.
3. The hellterror has the runs. No, she has the fountains.
3b. The hellterror is also coming into her first heat. JOY. I don’t know if these two items of interest are in any way connected. I have known bitches who suffer bowel irregularities while they’re on heat but this is a little . . . ultimate. Hellhounds are not, fortunately, the slightest bit interested in local hormonal mayhem—at least not so far, but she’s not in full, you should forgive the term, torrent yet either—and maybe the first puppy heat causes maximum internal uproar and minimum exterior captivatingness? Dunno. But if she’s planning on having excretory melodrama every heat, she’s not going to keep her ovaries long enough to have a litter. Stay tuned.
The good news, such as it is, is that none of this is bothering her in the slightest. She’s the same manic little furball as usual.
4. The ME is biting me. Hard. Still. All this sunny shirtsleeve weather in the garden has been lovely, and the whole sudden change of season thing stuns normal healthy people too, and it may take them a few days to find their summer rhythm**. And the plants don’t care if you’re moving kind of slowly.*** But. . . .
4b. I’ve officially quit the Muddles . . . again. Damn. But I haven’t got the stamina for those two and a half hour rehearsals and I feel a little less than enthusiastic about exposing my never-a-strong-point lungs to that air in that church when I’m coming off flu; furthermore there isn’t time for me to learn the music, now, before the next concert. I don’t know what I’m going to do about singing; I am NOT giving up my voice lessons, but it feels dumb and silly not to be doing something with what I’m (theoretically) learning, and at my level of ability that’s some kind of undemanding group. And undemanding-group choices in this area are limited.
4c. Having cut back significantly on the amount of time I spend on the blog† . . . I probably haven’t cut back enough. I don’t like the feel of this go of the ME: I don’t like the glint in its steely little eyes. I think that look it’s giving me is telling me that the Muddles is only the beginning. I think I am going to have to do more hacking and hewing. This is sure to hit bell ringing . . . especially because of all the driving to this and that tower, and driving is always my most obvious weak point. At least the blog I can do on the sofa/kitchen table/bed.
Maybe I can knit more.
Maybe I can READ more.
But . . . sigh.††
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* Large pots. Dahlia tubers tend to be large.
** Especially if it keeps going away and dropping everyone back in their fleeces and flannels again.
*** Yoo-hoo! Over here! Don’t forget us! We’re hungry/thirsty/an impenetrable jungle too!
† And GREAT GROVELLING REPEATED THANKS to all you guest-post providers who help with this.
†† And I am NEVER going to try to write an outline on Microsoft Word again. ARRRRRRRRGH. I can hardly wait to see what WordPress does to my attempts to outflank bloody Word’s idea of how to write an outline. . . .
It’s the fourth of frelling April in southern frelling England and IT’S SNOWING. It’s been snowing off and on all freaking day, and all three of my hellcritters have been unusually possessed by demons* as, I want to believe, the result of the cold, and not because their essential anarchic nature is emerging at last.** I took the hellhounds out to Warm Upford because Wolfgang’s tank needed filling again*** and while we weren’t going to waste a country walk, we weren’t exactly ambling along enjoying the beauties of nature and tender green burgeoning spring either.† The snow isn’t lying, exactly: it’s a twinkly suspended fog, and sometimes it’ll be icing-sugar on the ground for a while, and then it sort of goes away, since melting doesn’t seem the really pertinent verb in the circumstances. There will be black ice on the roads tonight.††
And to make it perfect, this fourth of April in southern England when it’s SNOWING? I received a big box of baby plants today. My lurgy is a lot better—although I was barking like a hellcritter after only a half hour’s conversation with Hannah tonight—but I’m still a little slower even than usual getting out of bed in the morning with all this crud in my sinuses weighing me down. I heard the courier van backing up the cul de sac BEEP BEEP BEEP and heard when he stopped outside my cottage, but he didn’t come to the door so I thought, excellent, since the only thing he could have been bringing me was baby plants—and turned over and went back to sleep.††† So the baby plants he’d brought me had also been sitting in the FROZEN COLD FOR SEVERAL HOURS before the Wall Man, who comes and scowls at the irremediable Wall Situation occasionally, to prove, I suppose, that he still cares, said, when I was out chasing the hellterror round the little kitchen-door courtyard, Did you get your package? WHAT PACKAGE? WHY DIDN’T THE DRIVER PUT A CARD THROUGH THE MAIL SLOT? WHY DIDN’T HE DELIVER THEM TO JAMAICA, WHERE IT’S WARM? Whiiiiiiiine.
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* Since some level of demon-possession is to be expected in hellcritters
** Note that it is harder to trap a roly-poly hellterror between your legs than it is one with a waist and hipbones. I was trying to have a, you know, conversation with another obsessed dog person^ and Pav was all, Me! Me! Me! I’M here! Dorcas was saying that the chief function of pet dogs was to make you laugh and Pav has certainly got that cornered.
If Southdowner is reading this I know she’ll take me to task, but I’m not sure there’s a practical difference between your dog ‘knows it’s been bad’, which human-style thinking dog trainers come down on you like a ton of anvils for, and ‘knows what it’s been doing is going to piss you off’—which is real life, however you want to frame it. Darkness, who’s the one with the what-I-would-call a conscience will sometimes flag having misbehaved when I wouldn’t have noticed, by creeping grovelling up to me.^^
Just like I’m not sure it matters if your dog thinks in the human terms of winding you up when it does things that wind you up. It, or in this case she, is looking over her shoulder as she does them and displaying that fabulous hellterror sproingy bounding thing which I suppose is common to all dogs and particularly all puppies, but it looks more like nanny-nanny-boo-boo on a hellterror than it does on a hellhound. I’m pretty sure Pav has figured out that I (mostly) won’t mess with her if she just picks things up and carries them around, it’s not till the jaws start grinding that—out on a hurtle—I crank her in and attempt to remove the undesirable item. And I swear she looks over her shoulder at me when she starts chewing not because she ‘knows’ this will ‘wind me up’ but because life isn’t sufficiently exciting at this moment in time and this is a way to make me ENGAGE. Arrrrgh. Slightly adapting something Southdowner has told me I’ve started carrying a pocketful of loose treats on our hurtles and if she ‘drops’ the item without fuss—which means among other things that I have a hand free to pluck the blasted treat out of my pocket—she gets a treat. I swear professional dog trainers have at least four arms, not to mention lightning reflexes. One way or another however it means that Pav and I share high quality relationship-enhancing time on our hurtles.
^ Although her obsession runs to spaniels
^^ Chaos will come and grovel randomly just because I’m the hellgoddess. This has its practical applications, however, as today, when I let them off lead for the first time in a while because first Chaos’ leg and then Darkness’ back has been an issue and unless the footing is good I’m just not going to risk it. So we had several weeks of frustration exploding into motion. They usually make a gigantic circle around me, which is preferable but unenforceable; today they just frelling lit out. YIIIIIIIIIIIIII. I went pelting after them, trying to pretend that’s what I wanted to be doing and I was still totally in control . . . and they were still just about visible on the horizon when they finally stopped to check back with me. HEY GUYS, I said, somewhat breathlessly, slowing instantly to a nonchalant walk. HOW’S IT GOING? And Chaos, bless his crazy little neurons, came lolloping back to me at half speed, which is still somewhat faster than mortal, and then took off again after Darkness, but now they shifted into giant circle mode, and my blood pressure and intimations-of-disaster levels dropped accordingly. Note, however, that no one had better be lame tomorrow. Including me.
*** Life was simpler when my home tower was a short pedestrian sprint away and I hadn’t discovered monks yet.
† Fortunately I saw the brown hare before the hellhounds did, drat the creature. Brown hares are confident in their belief that they are the fastest land mammal in Britain^ and behave accordingly, which is to say they’re cavalier little beggars and they may be the fastest wild land mammal in Britain but a careering sighthound can catch one—and before it was made illegal, not infrequently did—and I don’t want to see this historic feat re-enacted, including the ‘yanking Robin’s arms out of their shoulder sockets’ part. And if one of them ever decided to mosey carelessly into a field I’ve just let the hellhounds off-lead in . . .
†† I’d been planning to go to the monks’ tonight but they’ve probably got snowdrifts. You probably need an ice axe to get into their car park.