Monday, 11 October 2010

Scotch on the Rocks: Geology as never before....


The scene: It is late in the evening in the bar of an old Highland Hotel. About thirty dogs, mostly rather bedraggled, are variously slumped over the furniture, surreptitiously chewing the tartan rugs, or comforting themselves by licking their private parts....A few still have the energy to chase up and down the corridor or jump up at the antlers hung just out of reach on the old stone wall. Empty whisky glasses are strewn about the room.

Bertie speaks:

OK guys, listen up!

Well I know I said no alcohol on this trip but I certainly needed that wee dram, and I expect you all did too. What a day! The combination of Uncle Eric's unique driving style and our Highland roads has been, I must say, a little trying on the nerves. Even the Road Dogs, I noticed, found the ride tough going. The fact that the rear axle buckled after we loaded George's mysteriously heavy suitcase on to the minibus did not help, indeed. And it really was the last straw when Eric attempted that short cut across the bog. Auntie Martha, what were you thinking of? Why ever did you not stop him? After all, you are supposed to be familiar with this terrain. Surely you could have foreseen that our vehicle would get stuck. How fortunate that it was only a five mile walk on to the hotel, and the torrential rain stopped after the first four and three quarter miles. And I think that a valuable lesson has been learned, about the importance of wearing clothing that is weatherproof rather than stylish on a trip like this. I bet you felt all cosy in those fishermens' sweaters, didn't you, Jake and Just Harry. Yes, do feel free to have a little gloat at Lacie. That see-through and skimpy so-called 'rainwear' was not really suitable at all, was it my dear?  Perhaps you will warm up, and dry out your purple kiltie, if you sit closer to the fire. 

But let's looks on the bright side, we all arrived here in one piece didn't we? Oh, apart from Mango, who apparently missed his plane due to his idle Mom. And OK, yes, I did insist that we leave Stella behind at Inverness Airport. I really don't think I had any choice. Perhaps, when she hears about what a fantastic day we had, she will begin to regret throwing such a tantrum, simply because I refused to supply her with her very own special woolly blanket for the journey...

Just a shame that we did not have time for the boat trip out to the Isle of Muck. Don't worry Kira, I am sure your sailing skills will come in handy at some future date. 

Now before we all turn in for the night, I want us to review what happened out in the field today, to consolidate our knowledge of the local geology and to try and avoid future mishaps.

Archie!  Please be quiet on that d**d instrument. One might think that an elephant is being tortured. Yes we did appreciate the Beatles medley on the accordion while driving up here. Although the Rolling Stones might have been more apt. Who knew that the Fab Four wrote so many songs relevant to dogs?  But anyway, after 'I Want to Chew Your Hand', 'She's Leaving Bones', 'A Hard Dog's Night', 'We Can Walk It out', 'Yelp', 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Bark Club Hound' and 'Let it Pee'*, I think we have all had quite enough music for today. There is a time and a place for bagpipe playing, the time being NOT NOW and the place being up a remote glen at least ten miles from the nearest human or canine habitation. 

Now where were we? Ah yes, who can remember what we saw at the first stop?

Yes, Jake and Fergi, very good, it was Lewisian gneiss, of Precambrian age. Tell, you just stay here and listen! You too Auntie Bailey! No running off please. And do sit still and pay attention Maisie

Now perhaps Jazzi, when she has finished chomping on that last taco, can tell us some facts about about the gneiss. 

That's right Jazzi! It's the oldest rock round here and sometimes it is indeed a pretty pink swirly pattern, toning just nicely with your backpack.

Now class, it can be difficult to imagine quite how old these rocks really are. If you have been reading Jazzi's blog lately, you will have learned that many of us have Mums (or Moms) that are older than dirt. Well. If you add up all their ages, in human years, and then multiply the total by about ten million, then that is about the age of the Lewisian. 

Ludo? You are saying your Mum is not old at all? I do apologize. Think of her then as the Quaternary of the blogging Mums. (Gail by comparison, is Archaean). 

What else did we learn today about gneiss? Yes little Toby, it is an acid rock, excellent, what a smart wee chappie you are! OK, OK, OK, don't get all het up, not so wee, you're quite right, bigger than me now in fact? Haven't you grown fast.

The soil on top of acidic rocks tends to be peaty and boggy, as you would all have been aware, had you done your pre-class reading. What a pity that Uncle Eric is not a more diligent student.

OK. Moving on. Can anyone tell me what lies on top of the Lewisian gneiss?

What's that, Carrleigh, Lilly? Oh that is so not funny. The answer I am looking for is 'the Torridonian Sandstone' not 'our minibus'.

After the Torridonian comes the Cambrian Quartzite.  This is easily recognised by dogs as it breaks up to form sharp shards, which are very painful on the paws.

Dozer, please stop yawning over there. I am not being boring. Riley, what do you mean 'I came all this way for this?'

Ludo, please stop sulking. I am most certainly not going to pay for a taxi so that your friend Stella can rejoin us. 

Well alright, I admit it has been rather a long day. I think perhaps we are ready to turn in.

So good night all. Goodnight!

The dogs start to drift upstairs. 

Now George, please can I help you carry that suitcase up to your room? Oh, wait a minute, Katie, perhaps you would like to join George and I upstairs for an, er, extra tutorial? With refreshments! And we can teach you some structural geology. About how 'after the thrust comes the nappe' and so on.....Oh yes, and that's a very good idea George, let's ask Fergi too. (Yes, I have seen those cute photos of her in her jammies......)

Oh, and one final thing before you all disappear. It's an early start tomorrow morning. I want all the big dogs (Monty, Molly, Baby Rocket Dog, Kira, that means you, oh and OK, you too Toby) to be ready to show me you really are as good at digging as you claimed on your application forms. And please, if Mango turns up, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is to laugh at his purple 'manbag' until after he has helped us. After all, unless we can haul our bus from out of that bog, we may never be going home.....

*Thanks to Marie-Therese and her family for the new song titles. And apologies to the Beatles.


  1. Wuf! Wuf! Wuf!
    Bertie Boff!...You are's the most brilliant guide!!!...Yup! you are!
    I loves'd da trip...I learnt so much, but the big doggies won't let me into da Guinness!...wassup?
    Please can I ask...P-L-E-A-S-E can you tell dem not to play the "Pee" song. It's hard as it is to keep it in...and then on top of it...all dat rain!
    You also didn't tell dem students dat I had a lot to do with dem 'Acid Rock'!... Our omnibus was parked on top remembe?....I musK appologise. I thoughts that was the pee area...So sorry!...Can I ask Mango to perhaps n?utralise that rock for me next time.
    ...sorry, but Scotland is never gonna be da same!!!
    YOu are a most excellent guide! You truly are! Thanks for the fabulous field trip! Next time show us sumthing we can chase.

  2. Wuf! Wuf! Wuf!
    "Toby...COME HERE!"
    "Yes, Maxmom! Sorry Gail!"
    ps My word verification is "efood"...aint that fabulous!BOL!

  3. Brilliant post! Had me howling with laughter and feeling a wee bit chugged that I wasn't there until I looked around at the beach and the still-warm ocean and the sun on the sand and any regrets just disappeared like ice cream down my throat! Have fun!!!

    Your pal,


  4. Not chugged, Mr. Spell check, "chuffed."

  5. What a great day - we were all so glad that Angus reminded us to bring our raincoats. And we think we should go with the 'diggers' - we can dig with the 'best of them'.

    Lilly, Piper, Carrleigh and Ruairi

  6. This is most exciting! I must know what is in George's extra heavy suitcase!!!!! Whisky??? Rocks? Scotch on the rocks??

    Your pal, Pip

  7. This was a fabulous field trip! We had no idea the Beatles had so many dog-themed songs. We learned so much on this trip - like next time we need to bring our own food. There were not nearly enough tacos to go around. It was a great honor to meet George in the fur, although we never found out what was in that massively heavy suitcase he brought. And did anybody see our bag of Cambrian Quartzite that we collected? We have a buyer here in the States that's gettin' antsy.
    Hey, when's the next trip?
    The Road Dogs

  8. Lol I’m not saying a word of what’s in me case, just sorry the minibus couldn’t take the weight, but cut me some slack, I had to bring it all the way from Shropshire, anyways is nice to meet you all, I’m sure this is going to be a great team bonding exercise!!!

  9. Hiya Bertie (and Gail)
    Please pass a message onto George for me.

    "Just wait till you get home. Your "treat" allowance has been cut until you pay me back - and you'd better bring the bottle opener back - or else."
    Oh, nearly forgot - "Have fun"
    Love, Dad

    And don't let George bore you with his South Shropshire story of how Murchison systematically collated fossil shells annotated with the strata that hosted them that enabled him to deduce an order for his Silurian System, thereby defining one of the most important time periods within the Lower Palaeozoic. It goes on furevvveeerrrr.

  10. Dear Bertie, our human read this post this morning and laughed out loud as she imagined all us doggies in the Highland Hotel!
    Unfortunately blogger was being uncooperative and we couldn't comment.
    We are having so much fun on this field trip - seeing the pretty rock with the different colours.
    Yes our own humans are as old as dirt but not it seems rock!
    Well we did enjoy our wee dram we must say but confess we are missing our pal Stella.
    We do not think she should have been left at Inverness Airport - we insist you go back and collect her Bertie!
    In the meantime we will just wait in the bar............having a wee dram and sharing a wee tale or two .....or should that be tail?
    love you lots
    The Aunties xxx

  11. BOL Bertie – that was such a fun class, but if the truth be known my main reason for travelling over 12,000 miles to the Highlands was to experience one of those smelly round brown boulders that you Scots call haggis. I’ve heard they are legendary, and I was hoping you would be able to show me one. You see I will do anything (and I do mean anything) for food!

    Sending woofs and big thanks to you Bertie for trying to educate us all,

  12. Holy cow, what a trip. I'm so glad you filled all of us in who dind't get to go on the trip.

    Nubbin wiggles,

  13. Sure hope that you boys had lots of fun!

    woo woos, Tessa

  14. Oh No! We thought we were late to class! We've been running trying to catch up to our tails ... in circles, round and round. Don't give up on us. We're gonna go get the reading glasses and get busy. NOW!

    (Do we get demerits? Please, no!)

    Pant Pant Pant (we HATE to get behind .... )
    Jake and Fergi (wanting to blame it all on Moma)

  15. Well. Now that we've had a chance to catch our breath (or should I say "I" ?) we can safely say, we're glad you qualified the state of the thirty dogs in the bar of the Highland Hotel as being mostly bedraggled. Certainly we were in the minority. We don't want to disappoint you, Bertie. You are our inspiration for all things objective and measurable, quantifiable and undeniably factual. That said, we are sure you will confirm that Fergi was only momentarily and perfectly appropriately in the company of George upstairs in your room. It is important to her to keep her fine reputation.

    (How's that for bulls*****ng a quick defense?)


  16. What fun we have had already!! CAnt wait for later and I can dig as good as Rocky creek scotties!! I PROMISE not to make fun of Mangos purple bag!!! BOL


  17. Ready to report for duty Bertie! I've been practicing my digging and promise not to tease Mango!!

  18. My head is about to explode! So many rocks and stuff! Oh man! I hope there isn't a test.


  19. Wooowzers!!! That was a pretty hefty party er... I mean... science expedition! Your tale of telling the events of the trip were sooooo detailed that it felt like I was there! Glad everyone learned a lot! teeee-heeee!!!!

    Hugs & smoochies! XOXo

  20. Wooos Bertie! Do not worry, I can dig, and dig, and dig, except is there anything besides sand in the dirt in Scotland, because at home that is all we have, makes it easy to dig. I agree with Mango, NO tests! Truly enjoying the Highland Hotel and all of our adventures!
    ~husky kisses~
    -Kira The BeaWootiful

  21. Harhardeharrr Bertie seems the over the hill and down again can't stop laughing.

    See no reason myself to laugh. YAWWWWWWNNNNNNN yes, what were you on about Bertie with all that rock stuff what not when there was "Saturday Steps *wink* to learn about? Didn't much mind Archie's accordion playing, everydoggie put an awful of of $$$ into his flat hat when he passed it round, just to shut him up. Me and Archie are splitting it and setting up how much shortbread can you eat without licking your lips competition. You in Bertie?

    Crickey when Mango finally arrived and did a highland fling in his kiltie, could believe my pies. The delicate Miss Fergie may never recover. Think she'll stay in bed in her Jim Jams forever? Cooooooorrrr. Do you think she'll ever recover? Or Toby who was knocked clean off the edge of the rocks by his purple manbag which seemed to have a life of it's own...

    Boy oh boy. Smashing time nephew, you make a fine mine hoste. Thank Gail too. Now get the big doggies to dig my bus out of the bog eh?

    Wiry love Uncle E xxxx

  22. From what I hear, Stella got the best of the deal! George Clooney, and Jo gets to go to Italy for Christmas. LOL!

  23. Bewtie
    I am absolutely desolate that my stoopid pootew kept me fwom this incwedibly infowmative field twip(and Ewic's showtbwead eating competition...although I must admit Awchie's bagpipes ..well, nuff said as Lacie would say..
    You awe a bwilliant host and cleawly a child pwodigy in geological ciwcles..I'm so vewy pwoud of you
    smoochie isses and hopes that the west of the twip is eventful
    smoochie kisse

  24. Rrruff! It so much fun to be away from Mum for a bit! I dunno what everyone be complaining about, it great to be muddy. I wish the short haired doggies wasn't eyeing up my furs quite like that...

    Bring back Stella, bring back Stella!

    oh yes, furry interesting rocks, when does we get to climb them!
    ~lickies, Ludo

  25. Ummm excuse me, Agatha and I seem to be a bit stranded up here on this cliff........ a search party would be most appreciated please.
    If you could pawsibly send a large hound with a keg of sumfing around it's neck that would be super!


  26. Wowser -- living where we do in Flatland with dumb old limestone as the primary rock formation -- we were stoopified to see such beautiful tall multi-color rocks. And that trudge to the hotel -- well that was something else. Good thing we did get to tipple a bit of that fine soothing liquid!!!

    I guess we do owe a bit of thanks to our older-than-dirt mom for insisting that we bring our sweaters and raincoats -- next time though we may have to invest in some hot PJs for the apres-pawty!!!

    Thank you Bertie for trying so hard to make us rock stars --- can't wait for the next lesson!!!

    Wirey love (hiccup),

    Jake and Just Harry

  27. Oh man my head is about to explode.....I can't take any more of his accordion and bag pipes.... (although he did get a good stash and he and Eric are off somewhere doing something...) I have taken the liberty to stuff his bag pipes with the rocks I have dug away from the bus( well i am a Junior earthdog you know) but I am going to have to take a bit of a rest and have a little glass of something before we go on.... ARCHIE SHUT UP.. sorry..Love Ags and Arch Ps Yep Pl2 is older than the dirt and rocks you are talking about(shhhh don't let her read this..)