Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's raining sausages (for Kristal)

Kristal was out in the garden this morning when suddenly a string of sausages fell from the sky.

                       Like a shot, she was on to them, and not about to let them go.

Obviously, they'd flown over the fence from next door, and, as new neighbours, we ought to do the right thing and return them. Oh, but not yet, eh Mum?  First she had a great chase around the garden with one end in her mouth and the rest trailing. In and out of bushes and up and down the driveway.

Then she settled down to test the flavour. Mmmm. Slight essence of slobber... a hint of yuck... a bit of muck.

Then they squeaked at her. WHAT? Where did that come from?  Not edible after all? Well, you know us Labradors... we'll give anything a go.

No sooner had I retrieved the sausages before they ended up looking more like mince meat, than a frisbee landed right in front of her nose.

                                                     Oh joy! It's raining toys.

                                                       Finders, keepers!

                 Oh come on... you're not going to make me give it back are you?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kristal Goes Country

Village life suits Kristal. She's learning to chill. She's become a regular at the village pub and even at the local manor house where we indulge in a posh coffee now and then after our walk across the fields.

Now 16 months old, she's looking very mature. However, she's had a troublesome couple of months since our move to a temporary home. First she had a phantom pregnancy which went on and on and meant that she couldn't be spayed at the right time. Then, having just recovered from that and all her bits and pieces looking normal again, she developed a large abscess behind her eye which pushed the eyeball forward making her head look weirdly asymmetrical. It was very very painful. She couldn't open her mouth wide or chew her food. Anyway, after a month of antibiotics and having to endure eye drops five times a day, she's now fully recovered.

Because I gave her a treat each time she had her eye drops she got to the stage where, if I'd forgotten the time, she'd come and nudge me to remind me. She'd then throw herself down on the floor and roll over, presenting her eye to me for treatment. What a little trouper! This could have been a doubly stressful time if she'd decided eye drops were not for her.

She's made herself at home in our temporary accommodation and loves the fact that this cottage not only has two staircases, but has no doors to several of its rooms. It's a veritable indoor adventure playground and great for hide and seek.  The main bedroom is downstairs and it has no door. The kitchen also has no door. First thing in the mornings when I'm making tea, Kristal will stand in the kitchen and gaze through the gap at the prostrate figure that is my husband, still in slumberland. She does this silently. And every time he stirs or snores her tail wags.... but still she makes no sound.  She'll keep this silent vigil until he eventually joins the land of the living.  Then she's all over him.

But her favourite place is at the top of the stairs that lead to the room I'm using as a study. She's not supposed to venture upstairs at all, and she knows it, but now it seems as if she's claimed the territory on the landing as her own.

She's not turned it into a game; it's just as if it's a given that this space is hers.... she's claimed it. From this vantage point she can see who comes and who leaves and assess what's going on in other parts of the cottage. Talk about Big Brother watching you...

I know she listens in to conversations because if we mention the 'W' word or the 'D' word or the 'L' word, she's down those stairs two at a time.

Her favourite walk (the 'W' word) is around the perimeter of this field at the back of the garden.

The hedgerows are home to a variety of wildlife and at harvest time, Kites (the feathered kind), can be seen patrolling the skies.

When the hay was being harvested, Kites, Kestrels and Magpies just sat around waiting for lunch to emerge from the gradually diminishing ground cover.

Kristal and I like to come and sit on this seat in a sunny corner of the churchyard. It will soon be time for harvest festivals and when living surrounded by arable farmlands it's brought home to us much more sharply how village life has evolved and changed. At one time the church would have been the focal unifying point for the community, its doors ever open. Now they're locked against intruders. Cottage doors would have stood open so that neighbours could greet each other... face to face rather than on Facebook. The High Street that once boasted a butchers, a bakers and retail outlets to meet all the needs of this rural community, including several pubs, now only supports a hairdressers (something you can't buy over the internet), two pubs and a general store that's hanging on by a wing and a prayer. Today's residents commute to work in bigger towns and shop en route. For those who no longer commute.... well, there's an hourly bus if you're lucky. Whether you like it or not, in rural communities where personal contact used to be the norm,  house alarms, electric gates, locks and bolts have replaced open doors and windows (even on stifling summer days) and the internet has become a necessary faceless fact of life. You can't help wondering what some of the long departed residents might have to say about life in their village today. No doubt some would turn in their graves.