Menagerie Memories

I really miss having a pet. I once shared the house with an adorable cat called Puddy. He was big and black and white and had once been ‘feral’. He adapted to domesticity very well, though he was shy of strangers. Once he got to know some of my female pals, however, he enjoyed being adored while in their company. He came over and clearly wanted to be petted while I chatted. And of course this led to comments about what a very fine cat he was. He seemed to bask in our praise.

A pony called Merrylegs was my first great love. I loved him so much I once even brought him into the house to watch a bit of telly (my parents were off shopping in a local town at the time). He seemed to enjoy it. He had often looked longingly at the steps that led up to the front door. It was as if he felt it was partly ‘his’ house too. Merrylegs was given to me for free. He was a pony with a ‘past’ and had been very rebellious at times. Even as a young girl I knew he needed to be loved. That was what he was looking for. I sometimes used to fling my arms around his big strong neck. He was a very understanding pony.

Before him I’d had a pony called Wilhelmina. She was a Welsh Mountain Pony and rather old and plump. She was not that keen on moving quickly and in order to get her to hop over some low poles I had to give her a treat afterwards. She had an excellent pedigree and someone came up with the suggestion that she might produce a fabulous foal. She was sent off ‘somewhere’ (as a kid I didn’t ask for too many details about this). When she returned we fed her and cosseted her. For weeks I raced out early every morning to check on her and the ‘foal’…surely her son or daughter would arrive any day. She was so plump and was getting fatter. As the months passed it became obvious this was because we were feeding her so much. She didn’t have a foal but she did enjoy her food!

Another rectory pet was an exuberant black poodle called Tinkie. She was a very clever dog. For example she used to go to the top of the stairs with a ball in her mouth and release it so that she could run after it. The Rectory feline was called Tibbs. One of my brothers brought him home from Trinity College where he had found him. Tibbs turned into an adventurous Tom. But with me he was still a big softie.

My Mum bred various types of dogs and at one point we had pugs. Toby was the first pug. What a cute little face he had! Pugs can be adorably wriggly. And pug pups have such soft warm pink tummies. For a while we also had two chameleons and some tree frogs. Oh yes and the ground squirrels and an array of finches. There were chickens too. And pheasants. And… It would take too long to list them all. Yes, it was a bit of a menagerie! One of my early prayers included a blessing for a goat. I got Bambi when he was tiny. And I used to walk to the local creamery in the morning to get fresh milk for him. The small country road was relatively busy at that time and horses and carts carrying containers of milk passed me as I walked along with my bucket. It seemed like a very important assignment.

No wonder animals crop up so frequently in my novels!

Lots of love,


P.S. If you like things cosily domestic look up

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