A lot of yelling around here? Well, let’s start with the ongoing battle between the other adult in the house, the dog and the garden.

It would be remiss not miss a miss

16:08:PM 31/07/2012
Katrina Hall


A lot of yelling around here? Well, let’s start with the ongoing battle between the other adult in the house, the dog and the garden.

It’s a battle of wills, strategic manoeuvres and sheer cunning. A battle between a grown man obsessed with growing things and the dog he brought home one day without consultation, only to find later that it may well have a pedigree and be very cute, but it also belongs to a breed that was, back in the day, trained to work its way through hedges and trees to catch vermin.

Yes, that’s our dog, Wolfie, he who loves to grab freshly planted things, yank them out of the ground and murder them. He has systematically done this to six newly planted grapevines that cost a bomb and were meant to grow up and around the outside pergola.

He also likes to pull up succulents and daisies and almost anything that is green. So his highness put wire-mesh fences around all the trees and all the garden beds, and Wolfie started digging under those fences, and when that didn’t work, he started chewing on them. Last week we came home to find him walking around with a fence stuck to his fur.

So his highness did some research and found you can sprinkle chilli around your garden to deter the dogs from digging. He used a whole jar of ground chilli powder from the kitchen, so our flowers now smell like Taco Bill. But at least they’re not dead.

Never a dull moment with a new dog that knows old tricks and an old man to whom you can’t teach new ones. However, amidst all the garden chaos, this week we had a rare moment of peace, and a taste of what it might be like to live in an empty nest.

Our 10-year-old went away for two nights on her first school camp. So for two nights we were able to get the young one to sleep at 7.30 and watch back-to-back episodes of Downton Abbey (while we patted Wolfie, who we all really, truly love, despite it all).

And there we were, able to start and finish our sentences in one go and eat grown-up food, not spaghetti bolognaise and pumpkin soup, and it all would have been total bliss had the house not been so weirdly quiet, and I not so worried about whether she would be cold, or hungry, or know how to make up her own bunk bed.

On the first morning, we made hysterical jokes for the amusement of the younger one, about how amazing it was that her big sister had already made her bed and gotten herself off to school without us knowing (as if that would ever happen). We also noted how easy it is to get just one off to school when she has no one else to tease or pick a fight with.

On the second morning we were all just dying to see her. We missed her grumpy little half-asleep face at breakfast. For two days, no one stuck their head in the fridge and said they were hungry, or blocked the corridor with ridiculous hip-hop dances and, worst of all, no one to told us about how her day went. How strange it was to not be able to check in to see who she got to share a cabin with and what the teachers were

up to.

Anyway, at about 3pm that day, she fell off the bus, full of funny stories about bad food and snorers, eyes falling out of her head. Once home, bathed, fed and dosed up on TV, there was a fight with her little sister about her leftover camp lolly stash and things were back to normal. Yay!

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