“MORNING campers” came the start of the email from my friend Mike who is house sitting for us while we are away fishing in Scotland.

The couple of friends who normally house/farm sit for us are too ill to come. Joyce was so upset they had let us down and had left it till late to tell us just in case there was an improvement in John’s health. Unfortunately not. Panic. Three weeks away planned fishing. My John would have to go on his own.

Then John had a brainwave. One of my friends from Malta (where I lived when younger) had told him that if we ever were stuck for cover when away, he would be more than happy to come. And he has been. A life saver. Well, holiday saver.

Mike is an ex-RAF pilot and then commercial pilot. I remember sitting in an airport, waiting to catch a flight a few years ago and seeing in the distance a distinguished figure in immaculate flight captain’s uniform, striding across the concourse towards the departures area. What I also saw fluttering around him were some equally smartly dressed and flawlessly groomed air hostesses. It was just like the scene in the film “Catch Me If You Can”.

How things change. Now retired he certainly does not require a uniform to give him any authority with our dogs. Although I did once see him filmed in a Santa Claus outfit flying to Lapland for a group of holidaymakers to visit Santa’s elves, reindeer and huskies. Only dress requirement on the farm is to wear something that can immediately go in the wash if an enthusiastic dog has slavered all over you.

And they certainly will. The dogs love him, but are already giving him the run round. “I’m sharing a doormat area of the yard with two dogs,” he wrote. No doubt Millie, our terrier and dog number three, although she thinks she is number one, would have seen a gap in the defences and shot off into his cottage and up onto the bed by then.

Mike has written out a list so that he knows what to feed the geese, chickens, ducks, sheep, dogs and guinea fowl. No time to do much else. His sons are coming over next week for a few days and, I hope, Mike is seeing the whole time as an extended holiday. There is the distinct possibility that unless friends call to take some eggs off him, he may well be egg bound as the hens are laying well. And I daren’t mention yet that we have another three weeks away planned for August, he might flee in fright.