Actually I am quite grateful our animals cant talk, I do sometimes wonder what they might say about me and my antics. No doubt the Berners would have been delivering rubbish jokes today like "Are you sure we are Bernese Mountain Dogs?" prompting the response "Of course" and then " Why do you ask?" to which they would have replied in chorus "Because we're cold!" as today it has been bone chillingly cold.
So cold in fact that Pritch, our intrepid builder, turned up to finish the block work to the annex (the one we hoped to finish in summer) but had to stop at lunchtime as ice was forming in the concrete mixer as it mixed. Personally I think he was just scared of Snowy our very large cockerel who has decided he hates builders and attempts to remove their calf muscles, often with hilarious consequences particularly when the builder is bent over in his van. The sudden application of beak and claw to the calf leads to the most exquisite sounding bang on the head as contact is made with the roof of the van as builder jumps up in agony. How we laughed.
The Technohermit called to liven up the day as he was having a crisis, this was rectified with some turkey soup (the last of the Christmas turkey was eaten today) and me turning up at his abode with my impressively big chopper.
As I approached his cave I could see four walkers braving the ice fields of the bonsai mountain, fully kitted out with Arctic gear setting off along the track ahead. Soon our paths crossed, the Berners got to them first giving them the enthusiastic "What are you doing in my garden!" barks and wags of the tail. I cheerfully wished the walkers an equally enthusiastic "Happy New Year!" to which the man at the back of the group screamed and grabbed hold of his colleague, the one at the front, obviously the leader turned and stammered "Look mate we don't want any trouble" and backed away as I continued past. In all honesty they probably haven't encountered a man walking the hills carrying a big axe before. Especially as the axe bearer had blood down the front of his trousers and all across his boots from dealing with a mortally wounded chicken that had had an accident with a Bernese Mountain Dog only minutes beforehand. The silver foil carrier bag laden with fresh turkey soup might have looked like it contained the severed head of my latest victim, so rather than get involved in complicated explanations that would have inevitably led to me pointing with the axe I left them to their panic and continued up the hill. I chanced a quick glance behind and could see them in a heated debate as whether or not to follow my bloody footprints into the trees.
Much chopping of wood later my canine entourage and I returned to Rock HQ and cooked a pot roast and dealt with the sudden acquisition of the prime ingredient of a cock a leekie soup.
Round two. Taking the pot roast to the hermit involved walking with extreme care across the ever thickening ice with our progress in the darkness vaguely illuminated by a novelty pig shaped torch that cast a poor excuse for a beam of light from its nostrils. This went well, right up to the point on the return trip when I invented a new sport, Ice Windmilling.
The interesting point to note here was that in the time it took to cook a pot roast, three hours maximum, Murphy had arrived and had accidentally burst his water pipe from the well that serves his holiday cottage. This nugget of information, given by the hermit as he gratefully received his portion of hot dinner, leaped from my hind brain a millisecond too late as the poor plastic pig failed to illuminate the safe descent. At the point where the ice covered track was steepest I gratefully placed my booted left foot into a patch of fresh green grass which crunched rather pleasingly under my bulk. As my conscious brain asked "Why was the grass so green, so clean even?" The answer screamed by the hind brain arrived just after the application of my right foot to a fantastic new ultra smooth sheet of ice that came courtesy of a burst pipe. In homage to all comedic falls I did the frantic two foot shuffle, faster than any dancer on ice, simultaneously windmilling both arms around which provided an albeit it weak but none the less recognisable strobe effect from the whirring plastic pig. Whilst the Berners sat and watched the very interesting stop motion effect passing of their master I uttered the universal cry of those suddenly finding physics controlling their destiny of "Ohshiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!"
As dictated in moments like this where sudden death is a possibility time stood still, and whilst in reality the whole process took less than three seconds it felt like a lifetime. In my light/dark torment I considered the best way to fall, I even asked questions like will breaking my right arm hurt as much as my left arm did, how did I miss this ice on the way up and most importantly why were the Berners now humming the Ski Sunday theme tune. In the timestoodstillness of it all I decided falling was not an option and I should try and prevent injury by riding it out. Just as I adopted the classic snowboarding stance, plastic pig valiantly showing the way, just as I was starting to enjoy the sensation of speed I came to an abrupt stop. Even in the dim light cast by the pig and the lights from the holiday cottage I could see the cause of my misfortune, Murphy's back. He was surprised to see me slalom past his left ear chased by an out of control Golden Retriever who thinks every sudden movement is a race and watched me cushion my fall nearby in a snowy gorse bush. Things could not get any worse I thought as the Berners ably assisted my embarrassed extrication. It did. The dread laden phrase rang out and froze in the icy air. "I can see your busy but....."