You wouldn't think you could lose one of your five senses without noticing it, but that's what happened to me this winter.
One Saturday recently I emerged from the bathroom after a refreshing shower and noticed something was different. I took a deep breath and the air was full of unfamiliar scents -- not that there was anything unusual about them, it was just that I hadn't smelled them for some time.
It was quite distracting in fact. I walked around the house and the garden, constantly surprised by the aromas that surrounded me. I knew that I had been sneezing and snuffling all through the winter, but I hadn't been aware of the extent to which my olfactory senses had been dulled.
I suppose it must have happened so gradually that I just hadn't noticed it.
But now suddenly my sense of smell had been restored. Perhaps the steam from the shower had been the catalyst.
In any event, I was back to normal. Now all I had to do was get used to the barrage of scents and smells again. I felt like a colour-blind man who has suddenly been given the gift of normal vision -- it's nice, but it takes a while to absorb.
It's not often you get a message from someone saying they're being held prisoner, but there's always a first time.
I'll let my sister explain...
An acquaintance, Jenny, had been discussing with me what to do with a broody chicken she had at her place. I said she could always pass her on to me. So the other day I got a message from her on my mobile phone to say she was ready to bring her over.
I sent back a text message to say that was fine -- I was at my brother's house in New Town whenever she wanted to come over. She sent back a message to say she was on her way.
So far so good, but Jenny forgot I'd said I was at my brother's house and drove straight to my place in Lenah Valley.
She got out of the car and walked out into the paddock, carrying the hen in a box with some straw. I wasn't in sight, so she kept walking.
Now my horse has a lot of admirers and he's used to visitors coming round with little treats for him. When he scented the straw in the box, he assumed Jenny had brought him a snack and started following her across the field.
She was a bit startled by this, and kept trying to move away, but he followed her till she reached the middle of the paddock, near the creek.
Unfortunately this was where the geese had made their nests. September is the season for laying eggs and they are very protective, goose and gander alike. Jenny got this far and couldn't go any further without a full-scale confrontation with the geese.
So she was trapped, not between "the devil and the dark blue sea", but between an inquisitive horse and the aggressive geese. She sent me a frantic text message; I realised what had happened and drove straight over there.
I arrived in minutes and looked out across the fields. "Jenny?" I called out, and a distant answer came back from the other side of the trees.
"Help ... !"
When I hurried down to rescue her, I saw she couldn't have ended up in a worse location. She had five laying geese around her in a semi-circle with her only exit blocked by a hungry horse. She really was trapped.
In the middle of all this my brother sent me a message asking where I was. I phoned him back, but it was difficult to keep a straight face while I described the situation.
I told Jenny I'd just let the dog out while I was there. "How are you with dogs?" I asked cautiously.
"Is he a big dog?" she said warily.
"Yessss, fairly big" I said (he's a Mastiff with maybe a bit of Great Dane).
"I'll stay here," she replied.
But it worked out all right. I took her over to my brother's house and made her a hot drink while we watched the chickens wandering about on his back lawn.
She seemed much calmer by the time she left.