Harry went to collect his 6th birthday present from a pet shop in Carlisle yesterday. Weenie (to rhyme with 'Irene') is a corn snake about 30cm long and has warm light and dry accommodation rivaling any in Moffat, plus a bark effect log to hide under and matching water bowl.. I am sorry to say that he/she (too young to tell) eats baby mice. But there you go. That's nature. Get over it. Meanwhile, across the other side of the Atlantic, for once the expected anti-climax - that Hurricane Irene had changed course and petered out over the ocean - looks as though it hasn't happened. The trajectory is straight over New York city and then Boston. The friend who had booked himself into a motel a safer distance from his house on the Hudson river just across from NYC arrived to discover that contrary to the promise made when he booked, there is no emergency generator. Whenever I read about people moving to a safe(r) place, I am reminded of the hapless couple who emigrated to the Falkland islands for fear of a nuclear war in Europe - just before the Argentines invaded. Also, the English doctor on my sailing holiday this summer who had moved to Christchurch, New Zealand to get away from it all, just before the earthquake which destroyed the city, including his flat. A propos watery things: I am really, really relishing To The River by Olivia Laing, subtitled A Journey Beneath the Surface which has drawn me in with its mixture of nature description and her moods, and literary references. Very well done indeed. The bad news is that my boiler has broken down, so I have no hot water. The good news is that Andrea Reive has identified a speaker for our April 2012 Moffat Book Event: Michael Wickenden - the gardener at Cally Gardens, Gatehouse of Fleet. An approach is to be made at a planned visit there en route to or back from the Wigtown Book Festival on Wed Sept 28. Anyone interested?