Hello donkey!


Matilde has finally stopped running away from me and hiding, following the last of her injections (nine days ago!) She is now being the usual affectionate donkey.  A bit too affectionate maybe…


Being that close up provided an opportunity to examine the wound on her nose. It has healed up quite well, although I think it will leave a permanent mark. The stitches have held and there has not been too much weeping.  They are the sort of stitches that eventually dissolve and do not need removing. (I’m not sure how that works…)


I will have to make sure the nose band is well padded when I put the head collar on her, until the wound is fully healed.   Thanks for all the good wishes – here, on email and Twitter. It seems that Matilde has quite a following!


Finally, here are links to two things that have really blown me away this weekend:

The first is from the excellent Benidorm historian  who has written a wonderful article earlier this week about aquiferous rocks and the water supply to Benidorm (this will feature prominently on my Geography website later).

The second is from the well-known Spanish early music specialist Jordi Savall, with the haunting voice of the beautiful Montserrat Figueras (sadly now passed away), singing a mystical song of St Teresa of Jesus.  Her voice is very similar to the astonishing Sister Marie Kerouz who sings ancient hymns in the Maronite tradition. This is one of the best musical treats I have ever encountered. Enjoy.  And weep.


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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9 Responses to Hello donkey!

  1. JessicaHof says:

    That is so beautiful – thank you for sharing it 🙂 x

  2. Frere Rabit says:

    Hi Jessica. Yes, she’s a funny old donk. Since I wrote the above, earlier today, the donklings have been doing something quite odd: choral braying. Three times this afternoon, Matilde, Aitana and Morris have stood together and made a prolonged braying racket, singing at quite a high pitch. (Rubí – ever the Eeyore – simply stands in the corner under the fig tree with her back to them, ignoring the silliness.) Not sure what set them off. I’m thinking of investing in some three-part sheet music.

  3. JessicaHof says:

    Sounds more euphonious than Bosco’s brayings :). Glad Matilde is responding in a better manner 🙂 x

  4. Frere Rabit says:

    Sorry, Jessica, it suddenly occured to me that, instead of the Matilde story, you might have meant (and probably did mean) Montserrat’s singing… It is extraordinarily beautiful. I think she uses the voicebox in a way once explained by Sister Marie Kerouz as a Middle Eastern technique, not the usual western way of singing.

  5. Jim of Olym says:

    I’m so glad that Matilde wants to be friends again! She sure is beautiful. Only time our donks actually bray (sing?) is when they are separated, or when they are really hungry.

  6. Frere Rabit says:

    Hi Jim,

    Yes, Matilde is a beautiful donk, isn’t she? The clue to her size is in the colour: she has Andaluz blood in her. The pure bred Andaluz donkeys are now down to a dangerous gene pool of around eighty animals, and they are on the way out. Matilde is a mix of different races according to her passport, but her exact pedigree is lost in the time before records were necessary, which is very recent equine legislation in Europe.

    Braying is fascinating. The intriguing instruction in one of my donkey owner manuals says “Donkeys can be trained to bray, or not bray.” I can see how you could train them to not bray (by making disapproving “tut tut” comments etc.) but how could you teach them to bray if they didn’t already? The manual does not explain…

    Sure, mine bray if they are waiting for food, like on Sunday morning when I deserve a lie-in after a busy week and they have to wait an hour. They bray if separated – even momentarily – with a chorus of disapproval when I select two to go for a walk and leave two behind!

    Yesterday’s choral braying was different, and I have not seen this before. The three got together for choir practice. No doubt about it: it was conversation. They were tuning in to each others’ bray.

  7. GC says:

    Dear Brother Lapin, what a shame about Matilde. Any chance of getting the carob beans to fall on the her side of the fence?

    I just want to be a smarty pants and tell you that, as far as I know, Sister Marie is actually in a Melchite order (the Basilians, I think), but she was born into a Maronite family.

    Have you seen this one by her?

    I see what you mean about the similarity with Montserrat.

    I could even tell you what it all means, if you really wanted me to.

  8. Frere Rabit says:

    Thanks, Golden, and yes I do have that in my slim collection of Soeur Marie Keyrouz recordings. It is remarkable how similar her singing is to Montserrat, and it is something to do with the use of the voicebox. Keyrouz is an expert on the use of the voicebox in east and west, and academic musicologist too. What more light can you shed on her, GC?

  9. Frere Rabit says:

    What people discuss elsewhere is for you to find. What is discussed here is prolly not discussed elsewhere. What the donkeys care about message boards is mostly summed up in a pile of droppings.

    Hope this helps.

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