One final word on panda food: I saw in the Guiness Book of Records, in the "World's Sleepiest Mammal" section, that pandas snooze for 18 hours a day. They only eat bamboo, which doesn't provide much nourishment, so they sleep to conserve energy. Right. So why not nibble on a bit of fruit then? And stay awake longer? Or some nuts? Our two-tone friends' stubborn refusal to mix up their diet seems a bit daft to me. Clearly they don't have much to do. And while I think about it, how do large beasts like horses and cows live on only grass and a few buttercups? And they don't even sleep that much.
The children and I are quite excited about horses at the moment. Our neighbour has taken us, two Sundays in a row, in her rusty volvo to the stables to the countryside where she volunteers. Apparently there are umpteen therapeutic reasons to care for and ride horses, physical and mental, and this place is for disabled riders only. We go in the tack room to read the diary and admire the saddles, the children try on the hats. It smells of leather and damp.
Out in the fields, the eight well-behaved horses live in pairs in fenced-off areas. The white boss one (with different coloured eyes) has a bad back and needs a soft saddle. One needs medicine for a sore shin, and one will only let my neighbour feed him. There's a cute little black one, and one that swaps horsey-lip kisses for carrots. The new black one gets pushed around by the feisty one, and there's one with honey-coloured hair. Each day the horses get a few pieces of carrot, a handful of "Happy Hoof" feed, and garlic. And they sure do eat an awful lot of grass.