Tale 1 - Kitty Goes for a Walk
Son 1 and I met this young cat named Minou coming up a steep cliff path from a rocky Mediterranean beach last week. The little cat was running through the maquis scrubland much as our dog had done, with occasional calls from his owners to check he was on the right track. Arriving at the rough carpark at the top of the cliff, Minou was greeted by some girls from a vine-painted Camper Van - all very baba-cool, which means hippy in French... We do wonder how much he enjoyed the beach - perhaps more than Raja did!
Tale 2 - The Hounds from Hell
I took Raja for a walk one evening this week, an unusual event, as her owner Son 1 normally takes her out. Shortly after leaving our gate, we discovered we were being followed by not one, but two, of the animals pictured below. Actually, our two were a bit more handsome, but the large size, black coats, red eyes and wet muzzles were spot on for this picture. They were not agressive, but carried on following us, sometimes splitting up to come in on either side of us, reminding me either of sheep dogs or a pack of hunting wolves. I decided to head for the supermarket, which was just closing, but which has a good-sized carpark with a number of people in it - the safety in numbers thing. The Hellhounds followed, perfectly nicely, but relentlessly...
The patron of the supermarket was standing in his doorway, in the process of lowering the shutter to indicate the closing time was coming. 'Are you being persued?' he asked, politely. He offered us refuge in the entrance area, and gave Raja a bucket of water, which she was too unnerved to drink. He was obviously a dog-lover, and made a big fuss of Raja as she calmed down, and told me that the two Hellhounds, whilst probably not mechants, were hunting dogs, and it would be best to stay inside until they had long gone... We did.
Ben thinks he saw the hounds near his work yesterday evening, meaning that they are still at loose, and have travelled on to the next village. We wonder if their owner has gone on holiday, but we cannot really work out how these two very fine dogs, with collars, are still wandering round the area.
Tale 3 - The Puppy at the Monument
The heros of this story have asked to remain annonymous, so sorry for the lack of detail...
One day on our camping trip, Son 1 and I laboured up a steep, blazing hillside, to reach a minor historical monument we'd seen on top (not the one pictured, for reasons of annonymity). We reached the top, ready to collapse, and found that the fitter members of the party had already made some friends - Son 2 and Raja with a huge, bouncing puppy, and Ben with a craftsman who was in the process of renovating the monument.
Puppy, dog and boy were chasing round and rolling on the grass, and Ben was being offered a tour of the monument! After a few desparate gulps of water, we felt ready to join them. The man explained that he had been allowed, through friends at the local town hall, to renovate the monument, live in it, and use it to develop his very specialised craft business. Oh, I wish I could give you more detail...
He lived in a vaulted series of rooms furnished in wonderfully quirky, simple, vintage style. I presume it was the puppy who slept in the antique iron cot...
We looked round the monument (he had a table and chair poised in a windy spot which gave him an incredible 360 degree view from the hilltop) and had a quick look in his workshop, where he made very exclusive, expensive and well-crafted items from extraordinary materials.
Sadly, as we were leaving, he asked us not to give details of his location, as his friendship with the local Mairie was the only reason he was allowed there, and there might be complaints... It seems a shame, as he'd done such a good job of renovating the monument, and I am sure that no one else in the area would ever consider living there!
Tale 4 - Half a Tail!
This seems the right time to tell you the long-promised story of our cat, Chanel. We first met him when he was a youngster, not fully grown. We even snapped a photo of him when we were given a tour around prospective rental houses in November 2004, before we moved out here - can you spot him?
We loved the house anyway, but the fact that it came with an over-friendly young cat sealed the deal! When we moved in the following January we discovered that he was an outdoor cat, adopted by our French neighbours who took pity on him as a kitten, but not allowed indoors as their older cat refused to have him in the house. At some point in his kittenhood he had jumped into a car engine at the hamlet where we lived, and the first that the driver knew of it was when he reached the next town, parked and heard the miaows! It's a miracle that he survived, but his tail was badly damaged.
As you can see from the photo, his crumpled tail is now about half-length, and rather sensitive. You can also see that he adopted us, and then was given to us by the neighbours, who felt he would be happier as an indoor/outdoor cat chez nous.
I am not sure he agrees now that Son 1 has a dog, but he is still a much-loved member of our household, and held in high regard next door, too! Some things never change - have you read the book Six Dinner Sid?...
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