Durham Castle.

Bowes Museum.

At the campsite early in the morning and the Motorhomers were having breakfast, Josie was grilling sausages. Francie had been missing all night, after a night in the pub. A sorry-looking figure with a petted-lip, arrived. It was Francie;

‘Och, Francie, my wee pet, there you are. Look at the state o’ ye, Francie, where have ye been a’ night? I’ve been worried sick,’ said Phemie.

‘Aye, we’ve a’ been demented, Francie. Where have ye been?’ asked Jessie.

‘Francie, where the heck have ye been?’ asked Josie. ‘Ye look like ye’ve been dragged through a blinkin’ bramble bush backwards,’ said Josie. ‘We’ve a’ been worried aboot ye. Ye’ve been oot a’ night, where have ye been?’ asked Josie, again.

Sheep on Bowes Moor.

‘Beens, beens, beens, if yin o’ ye mentions beens again, I’ll dae my nut,’ said Francie. ‘Och, Josie, I met an auld shepherd in the pub in Bowes last night an’ we had a few drinks an’ a right good natter. He was going oot ower the moor in his quad bike tae coont a’ his sheep an’ he asked me tae gie him a help,’ said Francie. ‘Well, Josie, when we arrived on the moor we had anither few drinks and then we started coontin’ his flock. Well, Josie, when I got tae a hundred, I fell asleep. When I woke up this mornin’ there was nae sign o’ the auld shepherd. I’m cauld an’ jiggered an’ I’m hungry. I had tae walk a’ the way back here a’ by myself,’ said Francie, with his bottom lip trembling.

‘Och, Francie, ye should know better. Ye shouldnae let an auld Bowes shepherd pull the wool ower yer eyes,’ said Josie. ‘Have ye never heard the sayin’, Francie, ‘If ye cannae sleep then coont sheep?’ Josie asked.

‘Sure, Josie, sure, Josie, said Francie, but I thought it was just an auld wives tale. he said.

Naw, Francie, it’s nae auld wives tale, it’s true,’ said Josie. ‘Let me explain tae ye Francie, so that even the maist dim-witted amongst us understauns,’ said Josie.

‘Would that be Jessie, Josie?’ asked Francie, sniggering.

‘Hey, ye, wee man, ye watch yer mooth, or else ye’ll get this pot o’ beans ower yer napper,’ said Jessie.

Durham Castle.

‘Anyway, tae continue wi’ what I was sayin’, said Josie. ‘This is yin o’ the auldest tricks these auld shepherds play,’ he said. ‘They know that the sheep possess these hypnotic powers and they never look intae their eyes when they’re coontin’ them,’ said Josie. ‘That’s how they never fall asleep,’ he said.

‘So, how dae ye coont the sheep, Josie, withoot lookin’ intae their eyes, an’ fallin’ asleep?’ asked Francie.

‘Well, Francie, I’m aboot tae tell ye the secret. Dae ye promise no’ tae disclose this secret tae anybody ootside o’ oor fraternity?’ asked Josie.

‘Sure, Josie, sure, Josie,’ said Francie.

‘The shepherds coont a’ the legs o’ the sheep, Francie,’ said Josie.

‘They coont a’ their legs, Josie,’ said Francie. ‘But how dae they know how many sheep they’ve got?’ asked Francie.

‘They divide the sum o’ the legs by four, ye wee eejit,’ said Josie. ‘Dae ye want beans wi’ yer sausage, Francie?’ asked Josie.

‘Sure, Josie, sure, Josie,’ said Francie.

Joe Sharp.

For the adventures of Francie and Josie, click here.

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