Since we came back from Norway, the Northern Professor has been instituting a campaign for the Total Moominification of Everything (which has so far involved birch trees, pancakes, and cloudberry jam). I do hope that this has not conjured up some species of Groke. The animals have been as spooked as anything for a couple of days. Miss Best Friend, who is a conscientious old animal but very much a homebody, has been sitting out in the wood for hours and hours at a stretch, apparently on guard. There have been outbreaks of hysterical barking. Mrs Grey Cat is seldom seen, and for the last 48 hours, Miss Kit has refused to go out without a chaperone: I have to accompany her on ablutionary excursions, and she won’t go more than six feet from me. The AG’s Mum says her Jack Russell Honey is just the same, highly spooked and excited, barking a lot, but staying very close to home. So what is it? Badgers and foxes we have anyway. An otter passing through is perfectly possible, ditto mink, but these water-lovers are the less likely to go up the hill to get near enough the cottage to bother Honey. I don’t know how dogs react to these creatures. A possibility which remains is a giant cat; a very good reason for my headbanger of a kitten to be singing quite as small as she is. The Gamekeeper saw one in a tree on the grounds last autumn, so it is perfectly possible. We are often aware in our little valley of how much life is going on around us we don’t see or really know about. The Gamekeeper pointed out that the lake was teeming with fingerling brown trout which have been washed down the burn, snow reveals the number of deer that move around us at night, and there are fox and badger traces deep in the wood. But now there’s something else, registered by sensitive noses and ears, moving about in the darkness on silent, sharp-clawed feet.