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The most recent school holiday included a lovely visit to a chum with her own matching band of destroyers. Her boys and mine are a match made in heaven (or its opposite) so they swiftly became a force of nature. Having been sent out with all equipment necessary for a small army we only saw them briefly in the course of our long and delightful lunch. They popped back for some waterproofs for the smallest members (how thoughtful). This turned out not to be as kind an act as it initially appeared.

We were jerked out of our post-lunch glow by the increasingly hard to ignore stench that was getting ever stronger by the moment. Wandering on to the terrace to investigate we were met by a scene of carnage – literally. In their exploration the boys had, to their utter delight, happened upon the decomposing carcass of a small deer.

The older ones had hatched the plan to perform a dissection on the beast and having started on this excellent course in the field quickly established that they needed access to water and better knives – already hampered by much equipment they applied economics to their conundrum and offered the younger boys 50p each to act as porters (hence the waterproofs).

They were outraged to be denied the opportunity to perform the post-mortem due to the ridiculous squeamishness of their mothers and their silly irrelevant health and safety type concerns. The suggestion that they were paid as undertakers and sextons to deal with the earthly remains of Bambi reduced their ire somewhat and the rest was worked off in the job of digging a sufficiently large hole.

It is due to this disappointment that we now have a Squirrel in the freezer.  Sam and Ben found (serendipitously they feel) such a fresh specimen to autopsy that surely I could have no possible grounds for objection. The only tactic left was to delay. The Squirrel – now called Rocky due to his present condition – is awaiting the attentions of Oppressed Husband when he finally returns from work. At least this job is comfortably within his skill set – it is miles away from mine!

Following Armageddon re G’pigs – Harriet won the battle but lost the war: she mounted a war of attrition that OH was not sufficiently battle-hardened to resist. Under the siege of Smallest Princess’s tears, entreaties and blandishments he caved and we were briefly possessed of some guinea pigs (Herbert, and Hector). Joy reigned but briefly. Turns out these creatures can really dig. They quickly eschewed the delightful and expensive encampment we had provided and made their own arrangements. Having eaten their way through the vegetable patch they clearly felt that their work here was done and Left.

Harriet is now the proud owner of a Pet Rock called Julian – it is touchingly pathetic to watch her checking that he too has not run away – but I think she chose wisely this time. Julian is here to stay.