Tag Archives: fantasy

Gazing at the Constellations…

A portrait of my favourite dragon, Stargazer. 😎

I did it in Photoshop Elements today. I cheated by having the photograph on a bottom layer as a guide, but the actual painting (by mouse) is mine. It’s a bit rough, but it all takes practice.

Stargazer says his dad was as big as the container lorry in The Transporter. I’m not sure what I’ll do with him if he grows that big. 😉

Stories of Moonshine

StargazerMum’s had a horrible cold for the past week. Yesterday I said “why do you keep clutching your face?”
“My nose is very sore,” she said. She was streaming; constantly blowing her nose and mopping her eyes. I considered myself lucky to have held out without falling prey to it myself. If this was how she reacted to a plain ordinary cold, goodness knows what would happen if she caught something worse.

Last night I was telling another mortal, tangled up herself in the coil of life, that teddy bears are good to have around — they can be counted on not to die of anything, and if you wake them up in the middle of the night to talk to them, they don’t yell at you. Well, not usually.

Only the night before, I had been talking to Stargazer the dragon. I said we could pretend we were on a beautiful ship of our very own. “Moonshine!” he said. Yes, piloted by Captain Stargazer with his cutthroat crew; First Mate Diddums (bucket’s over there) and Second Mate Magical Bear. With a motley crew of cook etc, but no doctors. Not needed.

Of course it would be night, with lots of stars visible overhead. The ship would be rocking gently, and all the crew would go to bed in the same hammock. No one would be on watch because the good ship Moonshine could be trusted to deal with whatever arose. Meanwhile, our great adventure was just to drift together on the waves, far away from the cares of civilization.

Nothing like it for sending one to sleep.

The next night I crawled back into bed, saying “what will we do this time? We could have something a little more exciting, like a hurricane?”
Captain Stargazer said “I dunno… it’s a bit too soon. Would a choppy night do instead?”
“OK, let’s get cracking, then. It was a dark night. Moonshine tossed restlessly and a cold breeze blew…”

First Mate Diddums couldn’t breathe. All she did was lie prone in the hammock, and her nose filled up. She had been perfectly fine right up till then. Cooked supper, washed dishes, made tea, did a jigsaw. And now this.

She couldn’t sleep. She mumbled, turned over, sneezed violently a multitude of times, and used lots of tissues. She even held her nose… it felt full of acid. All dreams of Moonshine and adventures flew out the porthole.

I got up at 5.30 in the morning. Mum said she could wake me early to do photographic mists and things, but outside it looked like noon already. We’re supposed to leave the photographic mists till later in the year. Instead I went and answered someone on the subject of Apophysis.

My stomach keeps being gripped by cramps, but when I asked Mum if she had that, she said ‘nope’. In fact today she’s quite chirpy and is beetling about washing clothes, making tea, and doing the next jigsaw on our list. So it’s just me, then. I expect I’ll be kicked out of the Moonshine’s hammock tonight.

The Letter F

Following in the footsteps of Elizabeth (from 1sojournal) and others, I have been given the letter F to do with what I will!

Beforehand I was curious to know what letter I would receive… certain letters would be easier than others; such as ‘C’ (cats, chocolate, coffee, cake).

F has some less obvious words, so it’s more of a challenge. I didn’t want to rush into it and miss some crackers, so took my time writing it up. I was typing an electronic copy of an old journal from 2005, so I kept my sore eyes open and gleaned a few ‘F’ ideas from there.

Friends
One of the most obvious but also the most important. Good friends are a boon. I found quite a lot written in my 2005 journal on the subject. It’s oddly reassuring to look back and find I’ve been wrestling with the same concerns… though you would think I would wish I had it all sorted out by now! It’s just as though I’m reading someone’s blog and thought “oh yes, thank goodness; someone else knows what I’m thinking.” Even if it’s only me. Perhaps we can be our own best friends, just as we’re told we are our own worst enemies.

Felines
It took me a worryingly long time to figure out that I could still have cats in my list!

Fantasy
Oh… fantasy is vital. We just finished watching our DVD of The Hogfather. We are told in it that although the sun would continue to come up, things wouldn’t be the same if human beings weren’t allowed to have their little fantasies, whether about Santa Claus or the Oh God of Hangovers. Just so long as fantasies don’t become real. They need to remain fantasies, and we still need to believe in them. Like … no, I won’t say it. They’re real for me, wheels and all. 🙂

Fairies
A part of fantasy, flowers, midnight at the bottom of the garden. I grew up with a copy of The Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker. I used to look carefully at each one and decide which one was me. Often it was the Rose, sometimes the Sweet Pea, occasionally the Pansy. I feel turned off, though, once we get onto the subject of little girls’ sepia photographs, evil vampiric goblins, or changed definitions of the word. Perhaps I have the artist’s interest in fairies… in the colours, lights, magic, delicacy, mystery and beauty of Tinkerbell. I don’t want that to change.

Forgetting (as opposed to forgetfulness)
I’m not talking about those times we forget our watches or glasses; to turn off the iron; to attend appointments; relevant information about someone else’s plans. Those episodes are frustrating. I’m referring to the boon of forgetting our injuries and upsets. In that sense, forgetting is healing. Some days my agoraphobia seems to get worse (like a sore that’s being rubbed raw). A few days spent at home is just the ticket. The next time I go out after that, the edge has worn off it all, and I feel a lot stronger, thinking only about the good things. The more I forget, the more relaxed I am. It would be terrible if we remembered everything that happened or was said to us with unfading clarity. Oblivion is the blessing of the River Lethe (but not of drink! I drink mocha and guava juice, me).

Flow
There are two types of ‘flow’ that I love… the easy, graceful flow of a good pen (one that isn’t all bobbly and inky), and ‘getting in the flow’ of something. There’s nothing like putting your head down and losing yourself in your work or project. It’s an amazing feeling, and sometimes I completely forget where I am or what time it is. It’s not so pleasant when someone comes into the room and speaks to you, and you have to bring yourself back to earth, often with great confusion.

Filters
Like the ones in Photoshop or Paintshop Pro. They can be great fun to play with… just open a photo, save as a new copy with a different title, then try all the effects! Crayon, brush, blur, distort… and add different layers in different modes and opacity. Don’t take it so seriously… just have fun.

Focus
The best pictures are soft in the right places and sharp in the right places. Like life. It’s nice to be surrounded by a blur when we don’t want to see everything in heartbreaking clarity, but we need some things to be in focus, or we would never get anywhere or appreciate anything.

Feel / Feeling
I’m always talking about what I feel or am feeling about something. Wouldn’t it be difficult if there was no such word in the English language? Sometimes it’s an emotion, sometimes it’s gut instinct: a suspicion.

Floods
OK… I don’t like floods! But I’m always dreaming about them. I don’t know if it should therefore make it into my list of favourite things, but it’s significant to me one way or another. Maybe if I wrote a novel, there would be a flood in it. I read once that if you dream a lot about floods and the sea, you’re being smothered by your mother. (Laughs).

If you would like a letter, drop me a comment and let me know… on your own blog you can write up your list of ten favourite things beginning with that letter.

Vale of Tears

Dreamed there was a kind of flood disaster; people were standing around looking for help to get their loved ones to safety. When I looked round and said to the nearest person, “please help me get Zipadee out,” he fixed on me and said “help me get my brother out!”, causing me to feel frustration and irritation… how dare other people put their loved ones before mine?

All round me, that was happening… people asking for aid from people asking for aid.

I was too late to save my friend and she turned into a clear raindrop, being borne away in a huge river called The Ocean of Crystal Tears. It looked just like its name; there was no blue, mud or weeds in it, but it roiled and foamed so much you couldn’t see through it to its depths. It was icy cold.

I was telling my sad story to two important elves from The Lord of the Rings… Galadriel and Elrond. As I talked, I held myself firmly in check because I feared I might break down, and they looked as though they would like to weep themselves. But they turned to me and said “your friend is not alone; the River Mississippi saw her plight, and has dived into the Ocean of Crystal Tears to bear her company. It snakes through the centre, warm and brown, sparkling and laughing, enclosing your friend and keeping her safe till the journey’s end, when you will see her again.”

Alas for the Mailed Warrior!

We watched three movies on Saturday night, one after the other: Merlin (part I); The Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers); The Fifth Element. We didn’t plan to watch The Fifth Element, and Mum would probably have avoided it normally, not having seen it before, but she hesitated during her channel surfing, and I said “this is funny.”

I asked afterwards “which did you like the best?” and Mum said “The Fifth Element.”
I enjoyed all three (we both did) but I liked it the best too. It’s always been one of my favourites.
“It reminded me of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, said Mum – I never thought of that.
“It’s less boring than The Hitchhiker’s” I said. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the book, just as I loved all Douglas Adams’s books, but the old TV series was duller than a Vogon’s poem.

Have you noticed all the deep voices in The Lord of the Rings? When they have something sonorous to say, it’s always by someone with a booming voice. Theoden, King of Rohan, when Helm’s Deep was about to fall, turned aside and thundered gloomily, “Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? They have passed like rain on the mountains; like wind in the meadow…” and I clutched all my stuffed toys to my chest and whimpered.

There’s a YouTube clip of it. Also a bit of trivia courtesy of Wikipedia… it’s probably based on an Old English Poem, The Wanderer.

That’s one of the hard things about moving in with Mum… you can’t weep at the sad bits! Teddies are useful for packing all round your face so nobody can see. Unfortunately ‘hearies’ have this annoying ability to hear you breathe. I never realized this till my early 20s, having a furious row with a friend; she said I was breathing rather quickly.

Ever since then I’ve been so sensitive about people hearing me blowing like a grampus at moments of stress that I develop tight bands round my chest in an effort to breathe normally. Thus, when Gandalf is gasping “Fly, you fools!” or Sam (with a crazy Frodo holding a sword to his throat) is pleading “it’s me… your Sam!” or when a mother grieves as her young son is taken away to fight a losing battle, the only thing to do is put teddies all round your head and stop breathing altogether.

Have you tricks for surviving miserable movies?

In Good Fellowship

I saw The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring last night – not for the first time. I enjoyed it more than last time, somehow – it felt more as though I was reading the book and ‘seeing’ what was happening, and I wanted to repeat all the sonorous phrases that came rolling off their tongues. I was acting a bit silly for some reason, and when Gandalf paused, sniffed around suspiciously, and frowned, I said “it’s the Balrog!” and waited with bated breath… “blah blah blah blah the Balrog,” he said, and I cheered…

Proof that people over 40 aren’t any less giddy than kids of 14.

Fusspot the Siamese was watching when Gollum turned up. Gollum peered through a gap with his great golden eyes glowing in the night, and Fusspot sat up and stared. He didn’t relax till things started moving again.

I found myself thinking that if we fell through a wormhole in the middle of the night and woke up as characters in The Lord of the Rings, I would probably be Boromir. Nobody wants to be Boromir, though there are a lot of Sean Bean fans about (like me!) I didn’t realize it until, dying on a tree root, he uttered the following words:

“The world of men is failing. All things will turn to darkness.”

Aragorn tells him no – there is hope for us yet. Trouble is, I think many imagine that we live largely in a world of light, perhaps with war beating at the door, but I think there are a lot of orcs right in here with us, along with wizards like Saruman. The Shire is the achievable ideal, and we’re moving further away from that all the time.

It’s not a world of light yet. Nowhere near.

Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was on Blogigo:

Iain wrote at Nov 9, 2006 at 00:26:
re if LOTR had been written by someone else, here’s an enormous thread you might find entertaining – it’s patchy, but some bits are very good.

Diddums wrote at Nov 9, 2006 at 20:11:
Boy, they really went to town. I was only able to read 3 or 4 pages before my brain seized up, but one of my favourites was the Mary Poppins version.

It Spoke to Me

DinkyThe other day I noticed a little figure sitting on a rock, gazing at me, so I picked him up and took him home. I couldn’t leave him in the charity shop, could I? Especially as he was only 50p.

On the back of his rock is etched the legend ‘C.L. Penny Designs’. He’s delighted to have his picture put up on a blog – nobody’s ever blogged about him before. He will probably sit and stare at it all night when I’ve gone through to watch Battlestar Galactica. He’s probably looking at it even as you are.

I wonder what is the last little thing you couldn’t resist taking home with you? Anything like this?

Escape from One Brave New World to Another

Escapism, for me, is reading books. A good book makes everything whole again. I find fantasy is the most evocative genre, the one that takes me furthest away from the things I hope to escape. Good triumphs, magic exists and loose ends are rare. People enjoy their work, value their way of life and possess depth of character, understanding, and a low tolerance of injustice.

I miss the characters and their worlds when the last pages have been reached. I feel as though they still exist somewhere out there, and it won’t matter what happens to me here because I’ll always be able to go home to them. Maybe I will stay for a while in Bag End with the Bagginses and Gandalf, or with Badger, Mole or Ratty in their comfortable burrows. I won’t go anywhere near Toad – he makes me tired. I would rather hobnob with the weasels, especially those friendly with Badger. I could go wombling on Wimbledon Common with Tomsk and Wellington, looking in particular for sweetie papers to wallpaper their home. Better still, I could hibernate for the winter in Moominvalley – I always fancied the idea of a nourishing bowl of pine needles just before curling up to dream away the ice and the snow.

Do I prefer the sleepy stories to the adventures? It’s possible. Maybe I like the contrast; the sense of giving respite to characters who have been out in the cold for weeks on end. Or maybe it’s something deeper.

I’ve always been a sleepy kind of person, and have never been able to understand where people get the energy to do the things that they do. Where did Napoleon get his energy, for instance – or Alexander the Great? Too often I’ve lain in bed in the morning (instead of beginning the day’s chores) wondering about such people. Is there something wrong with me that I have never desired to leap up at cock’s crow to add to my little empire? Why do I never feel the impulse to go travelling, exploring, or to conquer Mount Everest? Why would I rather read about volcanoes than stare down into their smoking craters? Why are my favourite passages about people having rabbit stew for supper before turning in for a nice long snooze?

I’m sure there are various reasons. For instance, I sometimes wonder how The Lord of the Rings and other fantasy classics would have turned out if Frodo (or other fantasy figures) had been deaf? How about Gollum? “Sssorry, master, you’ll have to repeat that as poor old Smeagol don’t hear so good these daysss, gollum.” The thought of all the communication difficulties with innkeepers, magicians, trolls and the like, met while hiking along the road to defeat evil, makes me want to curl up in a ball and close my eyes.

Even more depressingly, I still wonder if Mum is right when she suggests I have an underactive thyroid. Maybe that’s always been part of the problem. That’s also why I don’t entirely believe in the concept of laziness – if you dig deep down, deeper than you expect, you may well find all kinds of unavoidable reasons why someone drags along and refuses to get involved with whatever’s going on.

Or perhaps my sleepiness kicks in because ‘modern civilization’ is so intensely regimented and boring that all the fun has gone out of it. Strange things happen but they make me more tired rather than less – people are criticized if they so much as put the words “Oh, shut up!” into the mouth of an Angry Beaver. It doesn’t matter what you do in this climate – either it’s something you’ve been kindly allowed to do (repeatedly) for limited amounts of money or it’s something someone somewhere will hate and despise you for, such as wearing white ankle socks or keeping cats.

There are so many parts of the world (even locally) that we never get to see in our lifetimes because they are the grounds of some reclusive ogre in his castle. Every so often they throw everything together into museums, trusts, collections, gardens or national parks and let everyone in (for a fee) to sigh ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’. They tell us with satisfaction it all belongs to us now and we can come and stare at trees, canyons, animals, old ships, musty houses or junk in glass cases for as long as we like, just so long as we get out before closing time, and provided we don’t get too close, feed the exhibits or touch things with our grubby fingers.

Doesn’t that seem a mite sanitized? You can’t say “hey, I visited the Grand Canyon” or “we went on safari and bothered a group of elephants” or “I found a marvellous whale skeleton that’s bigger than my house”… everybody else has visited/done/seen everything too, and will just look at you as though you’ve presented them with a hot and sticky bunch of daisies.

I don’t even like ‘discovering’ a wonderful blog post only to find the writer has already drawn an admiring crowd of other readers. They got there before me – how dare they! And if I can’t run shouting to everybody “look what I found”, then what’s the use? I can discard that unworthy feeling after a while, but it still leaps on me unawares every so often.

Have you ever noticed that the world has shrunk, and nothing and nobody is beyond your reach? We can dredge the Titanic off the sea bed without killing ourselves in the attempt, and nobody falls off the edge of the world any more. It used to be that you would send someone a carefully worded letter and if you haven’t heard from them after a couple of years, you start to wonder if maybe they died and nobody told you. Now, if you dash off an impulsive email and the recipient has not responded in the next five minutes, you get very angry and think “what did I do to offend the old blackguard? I sent a friendly ‘howdy doody’ across hundreds of miles of land and sea and this is all the thanks I get!” It doesn’t do much to lower your blood pressure.

Finally you discover that everything you do, whether it’s leaving your TV on standby, allowing your tap to drip, or cooking Scottish cod on your gas hob, is a threat to the entire planet. It gets so that they ask you to vote for a cast iron cooking pot on the grounds that it marked the start of the Industrial Revolution, which is a good thing, isn’t it? But then you think “that’s when people lost their jobs and their skills, and that’s also when we began to destroy the world”… and that squat black cauldron suddenly becomes the linchpin of evil. Not so suddenly, perhaps – there could be an underlying psychological reason why it was associated with witches and black magic.

Having embarked on all this industry and technology (how I love my emails and my blog) it becomes very difficult to quit without making enormous sacrifices, including (probably) our own lives. As slaves to the machines, computers and other systems that have been put in place for us and which only seem to fully benefit a select few, what is there to live for? Oh, right – books! Books that make everything fresh, whole, and exciting again. Especially books that allow you to put your head under the blanket and hide for a little while – not just from Sauron, the Weasels of the Wild Wood, the Groke’s frozen loneliness and the rising dark, but also from factories and other places of brain-deadening occupations, politicians, committees, intolerance, inequality, injustice – and pollution.

Where do people get the energy to maintain this way of life? I’m not just talking nuclear, solar or wind power here, I’m talking people power. I have always wondered.

Edit Feb 2008: Some comments I received to this post on Blogigo:

1. drifting wrote at May 18, 2006 at 10:38:
What a wonderful post. I love the way you wrote it coming around in a circle. I share your love of books as escapes from reality. I much prefer to live in the world of fantasy where there is justice and true love and honour, etc, etc. And you (or your mother) may be right about an underactive thyroid. I’ve never had the energy that everyone else seems to have – just watching them or thinking about what they do exhausts me. I did have an underactive thyroid (may still do) and with treatment it apparently ‘returned’ to normal levels but that was some time ago before I got fed up with doctors and checkups, and now continue my slow life. I believe in relaxation and activity in small doses.

2. Diddums wrote at May 18, 2006 at 20:52:

I don’t like the sound of checkups and pills forever more either. I can imagine myself making the same choice you did. I suppose I should go in for some tests, though, and see if the suspicion is correct… sigh.

3. Pacian wrote at May 18, 2006 at 22:28:
I can sympathise with preferring the nice scenes in a fantasy sanctuary to the brash adventuring, albeit perhaps for different reasons. It’s always scenes like that that make it feel real to me. If I was in some weird alternate world, I imagine I could take great pleasure in little things like having a home and a window to look out of.

I read something, on a blog not too long ago, that stuck with me. Someone wrote that when you find out more and more about people, you discover that everyone feels that they’re hanging on by their fingertips to a life that moves too fast and is too hard. All our media and stories tell us that happiness is doing loads of stuff and exerting yourself in certain ways, but I don’t actually think that this is true for everybody, or even most people.

4. Diddums wrote at May 19, 2006 at 00:53:
That’s a good point – they do add depth to the book; a little perspective and a chance to study the surroundings. People can sit around and talk to each other a bit more, too – and usually they meet somebody new, or hear something in the way of stray gossip…

I go off some characters if they turn out to be somebody really important – royal personage or such. They get trapped in their new roles and responsibilities at the end of the book, and that never feels quite right to me. Maybe it’s that lack of energy getting in the way again!

5. kateblogs wrote at May 20, 2006 at 16:03:
What a wonderful post, you sum up the modern world so well. There are a lot of great things about the 21st century, ease of communication for example. Oh, and of course electicity and medical treatment. However, sometimes I do envy people in the past. They did have new places to discover and explore, new theories to prove or disprove, and their lives don’t seem to have been as regimented as ours. Certainty is good, but I think we all need a little adventure too.

My Very Own Lost World

An experience from June 2004:

I walked Thundercloud and managed to get lost in a wood. Setting off between the cool trees, I felt uneasy. Lots of people walk this way, but what if one of those big black ‘Beasts of Bodmin Moor’ (or whatever) is around somewhere, perhaps lurking just behind the next bush?

There was a sharp dip in the ground where we had to cross a muddy runlet – Thundercloud stopped and looked round anxiously. She seemed to sense something, and didn’t know if she should go on. I clapped her rump and said “move”. If there was a big black beast around, crouching behind a tree stump, the best thing was to keep on our way – confidently and noisily. Cats, I can handle. I’ve got three of my own at home.

I thought I knew that route but it didn’t turn out how I expected. The track went on and on – and on. I thought it would continue to the edge of the world, the forest never-ending and the burn meandering forever through its tangled groove.

The track disappeared, and we passed through a dark mossy ‘basin’ – dank, depressing, and filled with crisp packets and empty beer cans. My sandals sank into the moss and very little light filtered through the overhanging trees. Eventually we scrambled up a steep bank and emerged into a field I didn’t recognize. I looked around disbelievingly. I couldn’t remember any of my previous walks ending up here. It was like reaching out to touch the back of the wardrobe and ending up in Narnia.

I took a step or two along the edge of the field, then turned to see where I had come up, and it wasn’t visible. It was all grass, shrubs and trees. I had visions of myself hunting desperately for the way back, so memorized the landmarks – those houses just visible over there – that gorse bush over there – best of all, the blasted oak. Yes, that’s the guy. Better still, let’s just go straight back down.

It was like crawling down a hole into the dark underworld. Thundercloud kept shoving her nose into the long grass all around as though she was convinced something had died in there. “No,” I thought, “I can’t go back down there! Not where the dead beer cans are!” I hesitated, then remembered the band of gritty adventurers in The Lord of the Rings. A brown blackbird suddenly whirred down into the hole and was gone. “If birds are about, there can’t be anything nasty lurking…” It was like a sign.

Going back down, we pushed our way through a large patch of nettles – my legs were bare but I didn’t particularly care, just got on with it. Thundercloud decided she wasn’t so keen on the nettles and let me go ahead while she sheltered her sensitive nose behind me.

We slunk back along the dark path, trees crowding in close and twigs snapping underfoot. Sometimes, just as I was walking along a precarious bit with a sudden drop beside me, Thundercloud would slither rapidly down the hill and barge into my legs.

I thought to myself “if this was the Lost World I wouldn’t last more than two minutes. I would scuffle straight along this path till a T-Rex or a litter of raptor babies appeared, and then I’d just scream and run along the path some more till they got their act together and brought me down. Thundercloud would be no help – she would yank the leash out of my hand and run a bit faster than me. Maybe she would get home to N. while the baby raptors were still chewing on my bones. If I managed to hold onto her she’d help me fight them but that seems a bit mean as they’d just eat her too. Would I make her stay or let her run? She’s quite strong and pulls me along with her, so I think I’d hang on!”

Having settled that to my satisfaction, I jumped when something popped up behind a fallen log – but it was just a large golden retriever, bending a motherly eye on Thundercloud. Behind her came a human mother with her children and a second retriever. I was quite relieved to find there was other raptor fodder about.

By the time Thundercloud and I got all the way back to where we started, I’d had enough and thought “let’s just go straight back to N.’s”. It was only 10 minutes from where we stood but our hour was already up.

The nettle stings tingled all night.

I remember a story told by Mum – or was it Gran? Boys chased her home from school and she ran straight through a patch of nettles, knowing they wouldn’t dare follow her – and they didn’t! I didn’t remember the story till I had already tramped stolidly through the nettle patch and gone home. Getting back to civilization was more important than any little dangers and inconveniences such as hostile vegetation, tree roots, steep precipices and rusting beer cans.

Things in the Pools

I was reading back over stuff I wrote before, and found this old dream I had in February 2004.

The three of us went on holiday to a UK nature reserve, and we took all our cats with us. We didn’t bother to pen them up – they came everywhere with us, both in the car and on their own paws.

In a forest, Mum and my sister stopped to pick wild mushrooms, putting them in a straw basket. On my way to join them I saw Mum’s accident-prone cat Cheeky, right in the corner of the forest. She had wandered away by herself and got tangled up in two trees at the same time. I told Mum and we went back to disentangle her, but she had disappeared by that time.

Off we set to an indoors area where there were artificial pools. They were supposed to be full of trout, salmon, water snakes, otters, beavers and anything else that swam… but everywhere I looked, I only saw our cats. For instance, Sharky and J. were swimming together in a particularly rocky pool, past a small waterfall.

I thought it was hilarious, but my sister didn’t look at any of the cats, just walked straight past them. I didn’t want her to miss their antics, so I kept grabbing her shoulder and pointing here, there, and everywhere, and she would turn with a look of anticipation on her face. But when she found it was just grumpy old Grumble, boring old Sharky, or Cheeky splashing around in her usual manner, she would pointedly ignore me and walk away. She didn’t understand why I would go to the trouble of pointing out our own cats when we could be looking at pale-eyed otters or hump-backed salmon.

Not that we could see any…

A possible trigger of the dream: I was reading The Lord of the Rings at the time. Only the day before, the hobbits finally caught up with Gollum, and they were discussing the terrain. He hissed “There are snakeses, wormses, things in the pools.” I liked it so much I went around hissing it to myself – the cats purred at me, their eyes gleaming through slits.