Last night, when the farmer went to shut in the hens at 8pm he surprised a big dog fox, who was just slinking past the hen hut. They were all in, but the pop-hole was still open so they had a lucky escape. He sloped off along the hedge side - all the pheasant were making such a racket and there wasn't a rabbit to be seen. We shall have to be very careful in future - if there are cubs then I can see the vixen making visits during the day time, when my hens roam the fields, so in that case we shall have to keep them in. Sadly, the farmer has told our 'man with a gun' - it seems hard but we really can't afford to let him just roam freely - I just wish he would go somewhere else so that I didn't have to worry about his demise.
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Often, on a Saturday morning, I meet friend, W, and we go for a coffee (or two) into our little market town. Today the farmer has gone off with the Wensleydale Society on their Ramble - this time into Swaledale. They left at nine o'clock this morning as they were meeting in Muker, which is an hour's drive away.
As we were both going to be alone for lunch, friend W and I decided to go further afield for our coffee. Where did we go? We went into Swaledale ourselves and had coffee at a lovely centre where there is a cycle-hire shop with a bunk house above and a cafe next door. All are owned by the same people. They hire out bicycles and provide maps with selected routes to follow; they provide food and accommodation; they run courses - it is a marvellous set-up. The lunch menu looked so good that we decided to have a drive up the Dale and then return at lunch time. Where did we go? We went to Muker! By the time we got there, the walkers had long gone - just their cars by the road-side let us know they were there somewhere. We had a look round a craft shop and also round Swaledale Woollens, a shop which sells beautifully knitted woollies (there is a long tradition of knitting in the Dale). There was a fine drizzle falling but I expect the hardy walkers hardly noticed it. Then it was back home to collect in my washing which was no drier than when I put it out as the drizzle had spread to Wensleydale too. My friend helped me to collect it in (thanks W) and it is up on the drier. The sitting room fire is lit as I have friends S and J coming for a drink and a chat this evening.
Aren't these sudden decisions to go out to lunch the best sort? A lovely surprise, a day well-passed in nice company, what could be better?