Thursday, 20 November 2014

Still waiting for my Shetland wool jumper

Of course you'll remember that Gail was given some lovely yarn spun from the fleece of the Shetland sheep who live next door to the Torridon cottage and belong to our neighbour, knitting enthusiast Julia.

Many of my talented and creative readers came up with grrrreat ideas for how this yarn could be converted into a manly sweater for yours truly.

You can image how disappointed I was when I saw the pattern Gail had chosen.

Yes, that's right. How could anyone be so selfish? She decided to knit a 'Nordic snowflake beanie' for herself.


Then when I objected (by giving the knitting needles a little chew) Gail tried to soften the blow by saying that this beanie is just a practice run, and claiming she will adapt the pattern to fashion a matching Nordic snowflake sweater pour moi, "in due course"....

You can see how impressed I was with that answer.

I supposed I'd better show you the picture of Gail wearing the finished product. I had never before thought of my human as vain, but having now seen how many 'selfies' were rejected before this one was finally deemed acceptable, I have revised my view.

I must say the texture of the wool when knitted up is particularly lovely. But personally, I think the hat would look better with a white pom pom on the top.

Do you agree?

Monday, 17 November 2014

Into Thick Air

I could have told Gail before we set off that there would be no good views from the top of Millstone Hill on Sunday morning.

As we ascended into the mist, the only thing to become clearer was the accuracy of my prediction.

Of course, you might think my presence at the summit counts as a 'good view'.

Which would be entirely reasonable.

Friday, 14 November 2014

The truth about Hamish on Stac Pollaidh

Bertie on Stac Pollaidh

Stac Pollaidh from Achnahaird beach 
The geographically astute amongst you might have already realised that, in passing by Gruinard Bay last Sunday, we were some distance from our usual Torridon patch.

Yes indeed, after a chilly Saturday night at the cottage (the ancient wood burning stove has been decommissioned and the new and hopefully much more efficient one not yet installed) we headed north along the breathtaking coastline for a wee November mini-break, staying two nights at Gail's favourite hotel, The Ceilidh Place in Ullapool.

Oh I could go on and on about what a smashing and dog-friendly hotel this is, but today, as the title suggests, I want instead to tell you something about my predecessor Hamish the Westie. Something I only learned when Gail and I climbed a renowned Assynt landmark, Stac Pollaidh, on Monday morning. Information that had hitherto been suppressed.
Red arrow points to Stac Pollaidh
Hamish accompanied Gail on her first ever visit to this eerily spectacular part of Scotland. He was still quite young (about my age now in fact). I'm always being told about what a capable hill climber the wee fellow was, despite his short legs and solid body. In fact Gail can be quite boring on the topic of his apparently first rate scrambling skills. Skills which I lack due to my higher centre of gravity.

Fellow pups, have you ever struggled to live up to your human's memories of an earlier pet?

Path up Stac Pollaidh
Well, as you can see from the pictures, Stac Pollaidh, although not high compared with many Scottish peaks, is steep and rocky towards the summit. Just the sort of scramble at which Hamish reputedly excelled.
Near the summit - Gail in camouflage
So it was only when we descended that Gail let slip, as if it were a minor detail, how she was quite relieved at not having to carry me down. And how it had always been hard to keep her balance while holding Hamish's ten plus kilograms against her hip on a precipitous descent.

Yes you read that right. Hamish the world famous mountaineering Westie had to be carried down from the summit of Stac Pollaidh. And from many other summits apparently. He was only ever any good at going uphill. He would just get to the top, sit down and refuse to budge, in his stubborn Westie way.

Oh you have no idea how much better I feel, having learned this.

Not that I'm competitive or anything….

View north towards Suilven (worth biggifying!)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Pet grooming versus nuclear fusion

Bouncing Bertie Boffin here!

Gosh you learn can some interesting things watching the telly can't you?

Now you might think from this wee video clip that I was not paying attention last week while Gail was entranced by her hero Brian Cox pontificating about science, energy resources and the future of mankind.


But can bet your bottom dollar that my flappy little ears pricked up when I heard Professor Cox assert the following:

"Americans spend ten times more money a year on pet grooming than they do on nuclear fusion."

I think some criticism was implied.

Well my friends, what to make of this?

As we know, an explosive release of energy can sometimes result if a muddy dog is confronted with a tub of warm water and a bottle of shampoo.

However is a settled fact in the Bertie and Gail household that very little money is spent on pet grooming. It costs nothing to rinse a pup in the River Dee after all.

But before Gail starts to look any sort of smug, I ask her just how much of her hard earned cash went on nuclear fusion over the past twelve months.

This elicits a rambling response about paying taxes and government funded scientific research, blah blah, blah, all of which amounts to an admission that the hairbrush she purchased from Pets at Home back in February might have cost more than any indirect contribution she's made to solving the world energy crisis.

Fellow pups, I am wondering if we might start a campaign. Next time your owner threatens you with a 'spa day', why not suggest instead they put their pennies in an envelope and send them off to their nearest nuclear fusion laboratory…?

How else will we secure a carbon-free energy future?