Jonathan. I spent much of yesterday afternoon fetching a load of seaweed from Smercleit Taobh a Deas, and by the time I was tidying up after barrowing it to the compost heap, it was already so dark that I could scarcely see what I was doing. It was a fine evening, though, and I lingered over the task enjoying the fresh air and the tiredness from hard physical work and a job well worth doing. And then a strange noise from outside – like the tail-pipe of a car exhaust trailing and bouncing along the road. But why no sound of a car engine? And isn’t that a clip-clop sound along with it. Dark it may have been, but truth dawned all the more brightly – with sparks! – when I ran up to the gate and saw Midnight galloping along the road to the east, trailing his tethering spike! I ran back to the house, dumped my work gear, unhitched the trailer, turned the car, and headed off after him. I met Paul Rae and Alasdair on the road, walking their dog: they’d seen Midnight galloping past a-frighted, trailing a rope and sparks, which no doubt frightened and spurred him on faster. I drove on to Ludaig but no sight of him, so I returned back slowly scanning the surroundings though it was too dark to see much. When I got back, Paul suggested Alasdair go with me, as he knew Midnight from having rode him often when he was younger. Alasdair suggested Midnight might be heading for territory he would be familiar with at South Glendale, and sure enough we found him at the cattle grid there, sweating and fretting. Paul was coming along in his own vehicle, so I took Midnight through the side gate and on to South Glendale, with the others following in Paul’s car. After securing Midnight in the old sheep fank, we headed home. I phoned Eòghann later and we agreed to pick up Midnight this morning at 9am, but when we got there he’d escaped, and was out on the open hills, watching us warily from a vantage point. Eòghann, armed only with a bucket of grass nuts and a halter, secured him nonetheless, and soon he was in the trailer and on his way back to the others at Trossaraidh. All’s well that ends well, they say, but I’m not sure what constitutes a good ending in this case. I’ve learnt that Eòghann’s ponies are essentially wild animals, with some degree of familiarization with humans – and Midnight is possibly the best in this respect. But they are not used to being confined and the only way to make that work is to give them daily employment. I’m not sure that even when I’m fully equipped for collecting seaweed and other tasks I can do that. I’ve seen also that tethering the horses is not reliable, and to do so on unfenced ground by a relatively busy road is too risky, both in terms of safety and in terms of my reputation. Sadly, then, I’ve got to accept that – for the forseeable future at least – this experiment is at and end. There will be no seaweed collecting with ponies this year.