Oh it's been ages since I met up with my Westie friends Florrie and Lucy. Yes, I know, yet more girl friends, well what's a handsome wee chappie to do?
Last weekend Gail and her friend the Oil Man (the Westies' owner) finally got themselves organised so we all went out for a leisurely walk around Loch Kinnord, the pace dictated by Florrie's twelve year old hips, and we had a chance for a good chat.
Florrie and Lucy spent much of the last year or so on Guernsey* with the Oil Man's son and daughter-in-law. Florrie confided to me that she really was happy to be back in her homeland, she admitted she felt a bit depressed away from Scotland and had lost her enthusiasm for walks, despite all the Channel Island sunshine and pretty beaches. Happily, now she's back, she's regained some of her former zest for life, even to the extent of voluntarily wading into the Loch despite the thin films of ice evident on the more sheltered stretches of water.
Lucy, it seems, adapted better to life amongst the rich Guernsey tax exiles. Gail tells me that this is because Lucy is five years Florrie's junior, and one is more flexible when younger, in all sorts of ways. Well anyway, Lucy loyally claims also to be content to be home, as she knows the Oil Man is very fond of her, and if he's happy, she's happy.
Florrie and Lucy's absence was, as some readers might remember, prompted by the Oil Man being away working in the Middle East. He's been dividing his time between Dubai and Sana'a, Yemen, and I was of course curious to learn if these would be interesting and dog-friendly places to visit.
Well I don't think I'll manage to convince Gail to take me to Dubai any time soon. It seems the main attractions there are hot weather and shopping and she's not a big fan of either, and come to think of it, neither am I.
Sana'a sounds altogether more appealing. Did you know the old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Look at this picture I just found in the internet.
Lots of fascinating places to sniff there, for sure. And at an altitude of 7500 ft, it has pleasantly cool climate too. OK so the terrorist threat means you have to go everywhere with heavily armed guards - on arrival at the airport they even escort you across the tarmac from the plane to the terminal it's so dangerous - but I don't see that should be a problem given my tank driving experiences...
Once again, Gail is not convinced. "Bertie, look at the beautiful, clean and safe environment we enjoy here in Scotland, especially attractive when bathed in soft winter sunlight isn't it? Why would you want to be anywhere else?" she says.
You know, on reflection, I'm inclined to agree with her.
Oh and if you're wondering why the 'Oil Man'...
*For readers from abroad, Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands, a small and wealthy archipelago belonging to the UK (albeit with a lower tax regime) but located closer to NW France.