We try not to do miserable here too often. Once in a while, however, it has to happen. Storms all day, it looked like winter even though the temperature was 27degrees. And we have only one chicken left. The other three did not come back to the stable last night. I searched for hours last night (accompanied by Coba and Tabs, the cats) and this morning, and this afternoon, before I finally gave up. The price you pay for free range. Nera, who was bottom of the pecking order and off on her own, is the only one left and now shut in the stable until I can try to work out what happened. There is not even a feather in evidence, leading me to believe that they may have gone down to the road and been taken by human hand rather than fox or dog. I have spent the entire day expecting them to all march round the corner demanding food only to be disappointed, miserable. “They are only chickens” the Italians would say, “buy some more!” No, they are not only chickens, they were part of my life and I already miss them terribly. There will be more, George is already planning their names, but they will not be the same. It is particularly hard because we have some lovely Dutch people staying at the moment ( are all our guests going to be lovely or are we just lucky?) and the two children were quite taken with the chickens. The boy, George’s age, spent this evening walking around and asking if I had checked here, there, everywhere. They may have been “only chickens” but they touched more hearts than just mine.