I was a bit surprised on Saturday morning, when Gail announced we were driving down to Birnam, near Dunkeld. I never knew there was such a place, outside of Shakespeare's Macbeth, did you?
Well yes apparently it does exist, and although later in the day we went with Gail's friends John and Françoise for a walk through a remnant of the ancient Birnam Wood, this was not the main reason for the trip.
It turned out that we had been invited to the launch party for Lonely Mountain Skis, a new venture, started up by Jamie, son of the aforementioned John and Françoise. This is what the business is about:
"Lonely Mountain Skis is a Scottish ski company specialising in hand made skis built from Scottish timber and natural fibre composites. With an emphasis on quality and sustainable materials LMS will keep snow falling on the mountains."
Now I'm going to be honest with you and admit that I am not a fan of these so-called "winter sports". One time when I was still barely more than a puppy, Gail attempted to make me run alongside her as she went swooshing around Hazlehead golf course on her cross-country skis. It was not a success, from my perspective, and thankfully that particular experiment has never been repeated.
But anyway I listened politely enough as Jamie explained all about how he designs and constructs these beautifully crafted wooden skis.
And I must say there were some fine looking products on display.
Gail seemed worryingly interested, asking all about the materials used (flax, carbon fibre, resin, maple, beech, poplar and other timber) and when would Jamie be making some cross-country skis? I'm sorry to report that she signally failed to ask certain important and dog-relevant questions, like if he was thinking about making a nice comfy wooden Bertie-sized sled, so Gail could tow me along with her.
(You weren't imagining I might pull the sled were you? What do you think I am? A husky?)
Afterwards, it was fun to explore Jamie's workshop and environs, and I was given lots of friendly ear scritchies.
When we got home, I did some research, and I have a message for young James.
Jamie, with your superb design skills, I don't doubt you could come up with a bespoke conveyance so that I could accompany Gail on her cross country skiing outings in comfort and style. Here are a couple of ideas for prototypes. (Please note that I would consider the quality of the cushions important).
I shall look forward to receiving the blueprints for inspection.
It is grey November in Northeast Scotland. Aberdeen is the centre of my world, but my owner Gail has lived many years in London and two years in the USA, and she occasionally complains that we are a bit boring up here, lacking in cultural diversity.
Can this be right, I ponder this morning, as I walk down the street in the drizzle.
True, our nice French neighbour Jacques, who arrived in Aberdeen in a 1970s to work as a diver in the nascent North Sea oil industry and married local girl Lucy, has recently moved to a bungalow in Brechin. The house has been sold to a couple returning from Dubai, although they have not yet moved in as the house is being remodelled by Polish builder Waldemar and his 'boys'.
Neighbour 'other Gail', three doors along, will miss her good friend Lucy, although she keeps busy between looking after her half-Russian granddaughter Fedosia, and flying off to visit a daughter who lives in Australia.
Next to 'other Gail' and also relatively new to the street, is an African family (Nigerian?) whom we don't know much about yet, except that they all greet us with big friendly smiles whenever we walk by.
Across the road, you'll see Neil and Yvonne's house. Yvonne, like Gail, is an 'economic migrant' from England, although Yvonne's Jewish family originally came to London early last century, fleeing pogroms in Lithuania.
Now I'm standing next to Mike and Kirsty's house. Mike might be an avid supporter of the Scottish Nationalist cause, but he was born half a world away in Pakistan.
We have't seen so much of Jim at No. 2 lately, ever since his labrador Mackay died of old age. Jim is a private man, who a few years ago became the centre of unwanted attention when one of his sons was reported in the papers as having been kidnapped in Afghanistan.
So this is just one quiet street in one not very cosmopolitan part of the UK.
We are all connected, and had better try to live together in peace, don't you think?
Hi, I'm Bertie, a wire-haired fox terrier pup. I live with Gail in Aberdeen, Scotland. An old Westie called Hamish used to live here but he died on 18th February 2010 (exactly the same day I was born). People tell me that he used to have a blog and that I have big pawprints to fill. That's a bit too much responsibility for a very young puppy - and anyway, I intend to make my own mark!
(Gail says that Hamish could certainly have taught me a thing or two about marking stuff....)