Monday 30 January 2012

Addy's ride - YOU choose

It is so difficult, this dating lark.

I've told you about Addy haven't I...? The very wonderful lady bulldog from Illinois who will be accompanying me to the Blogville Valentine Dance next month. Oh I so want to impress her, and what better way than to arrange for some truly special transport to the party? Problem is, between you and me, I do not know Addy that well, and I'm a bit unsure what she would like best.

Well I have been out and about in Aberdeen, and I have come up with a range of options. Please, readers, please, do help me here, and vote using the readers' poll (right hand column, below the header photo) to tell me which you think I should choose. Bear in mind that Addy is not a 'girlie girl' dog and we do know that she will not be wanting something all pink and sparkly....

Option 1: The Smart Car (the obvious choice for a Smart dog, no?)

Option 2: The Bicycle (although I am not sure if Addy would favour the green alternative. Somehow I suspect not...)

Option 3: The Oil Man's Audi (I must say I have checked this out carefully and it is most comfortable. Vorsprung durch Technik and all that.)

Option 4: The Hearse (for some reason Gail tried to deter me from including this, but I thought it looked distinguished, whilst also roomy and practical. And remember that Addy is a BIG girl.)

Option 5: The Tank (we would make a memorable entrance - and it would also come in handy should I need to fight off any competition)

Option 6: The Ambulance (wouldn't it be fun to set the siren off and zoom past all the traffic on the way to the party? We'd be first to all the treats!)

Option 7: The Cargo Vessel (plenty of space here too, and guaranteed stability should the going get rough....)

Option 8: The Magic Carpet (assuming we can conjure up enough lift to hold both my weight AND Addy's...)

Please do help me out by voting. The poll closes on Sunday 5th February.

And don't whisper a word to Addy. I want it to be a surprise.

Friday 27 January 2012

It's all very taxing...

So hard to get comfy, when a certain person is (finally) filling in her tax return, and one's favourite chair is being used as a temporary filing cabinet...

Another taxing matter this week has involved listening to this same certain person wandering round the house spouting some poem about a mouse. Apparently she rashly committed to learn this off by heart, to recite at a Burns Supper at our neighbours' house on Saturday evening. (I expect I'll be able to hear them laughing at her pronunciation all the way from across the street...)

But how would you like it if you kept being addressed, most inappropriately I might say, as 'Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim'rous beastie' ?

I asked Gail why she didn't instead select another excellent Rabbie Burns poem 'The Twa Dogs, A Tale', which clearly has far better subject matter. She replied that remembering the forty-eight lines of 'To a Mouse' were proving hard enough, and 'Twa Dogs' is five times the length. Well for shame Gail, that's just no' trying is it?  And I'm told that Kirsty, another neighbour who'll be at the Supper, can do the whole of 'Tam O'Shanter' (225 lines).

Oh and going back to the subject of taxes, did you know that Scotland's bard worked as an exciseman for the last eight years of his short life? He even wrote a poem in defence of his profession, sort of. (Kirk and State Excisemen)

Just one more thing.

The observant amongst my readers might have noticed the funny coloured stains around my eyes in the photos above. I've had a wee eye infection this week, hence a rare trip to the vet and a prescription for some drops. You would hope Gail might be all sympathetic, but no, she just looks up from the computer, frowns, and says  "I do wish I could claim you as an allowable expense Bertie".

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Addy: my date for the Valentine Party!

Yes, it really is true.

It took some nerve (sometimes us Adventure Animals are not so bold in affairs of the heart), but finally I plucked up the courage to ask a certain feisty lady bulldog to the Blogville Valentine's Day Party.

And guess what?

She accepted!

Oh I am quite overwhelmed. I have been secretly admiring Jazzi's sister Addy (a.k.a. Addison) ever since she first arrived on the blog scene last year.

She is just such a splendid, strapping lass isn't she? And what a bonnie smile! Plus, it seems we have much in common, despite living on different continents. Like, me, she is a sporty-dog with little time for dressing up and so forth. She is quite capable of creating all sorts of mayhem in the home too. As far as I'm aware, Addy does not yet share my scientific interests, so I am going to resist the temptation to suggest my 'Higgs Boson Diet Plan' to her, despite the evident disparity in our sizes..

(Gail is telling me this last sentence might be construed as a tad ungallant? Bear with me, friends, I am new to this dating game.)

On to safer territory then..

I am currently on the look out for a suitable vehicle, to transport Addy to the Valentine's Dance in the style she surely deserves. I shall be reporting back on my findings and asking readers for advice on this matter sometime next week. Watch this space...

Meanwhile, reminded that it's Burns Night, I'm sending "ae fond kiss" all the way across the Pond to the incomparably gorgeous Addy in Illinois.

Monday 23 January 2012

Bad movies/good movies

You'd think it would be safe to allow your human a night out once in a while, to go to the movies, for example. I'm cool with that idea. I'm a big pup now and don't mind being 'home alone' for a couple of hours. I understand that sometimes Gail thinks she needs mental stimulation other than that which I provide.

Well, I'm telling you. Do NOT let your humans anywhere near this new silent film 'The Artist'. They could come back with all sorts of worrying notions.

"Hey Bertie", Gail called out when she arrived home at 11pm last night, "can you do that crouching down, head tucked back between the front legs pose? Like the Jack Russell in the film I just saw? It's a sort of 'I can't bear to watch this' gesture. SO cute."

No Gail I can't do that.

But I can growl.


And no, I am not going to be mollified by being told the dog was totally the star of the show. Why ever might you imagine it could be otherwise?

I'm thinking my readers might now want to watch a wee movie filmed on my walk yesterday afternoon, in which I am the main attraction.

Well OK, me and the sounds of the wind and the tinkling of ice fragments on the loch.

Friday 20 January 2012

The Torridon Olympics: false claims exposed

By Loch an Eion, after an unplanned dip in the burn

I can't tell you how often I've heard Gail going on about how she was some sort of a sprinter, back in the day.

Well last weekend I decided it was time to put these claims to the test. After all, the London Olympics will soon be upon us, and I fear that white-skinned fiftysomething females are currently under-represented in the Team GB 100 meters squad.

Let me describe the two trials, conducted in the vicinity of Loch Torridon:

1. On the stalkers path from Annat to Loch an Eion. I wanted to check if Gail could run as fast as me when I was attempting to chase a red deer stag up a steep incline through the heather. Result:

Gold Medal: the Stag
Silver Medal: Bertie
Bronze Medal: Gail

2. On the gently sloping road up from the side gate of the Wester Alligin cottage to a small enclosure 200m away, where some sheep were grazing peacefully. If I slipped out though the gate (when carelessly left ajar), could Gail reach me before I reached the sheep? Result:

Gold Medal: Donnie the crofter who erected the sheep enclosure's terrier-proof fence
Silver Medal: Bertie
Bronze Medal: Gail

Oh dear Gail. Those legs of yours aren't quite as fast as you like to think, are are they?

Never mind. We're still pals, eh?
At rest in front of our cottage, besides Hamish's memorial stone

Tuesday 17 January 2012


♫ ♩♫ ♩ 
Happiness, happiness,

♩♫ ♩♫♩♩ 
The greatest gift that I possess,

♫ ♩♫ ♩♩ 
I thank the Lord that I've been blessed,

 ♬  ♬♩ ♫  ♩♩  
With more than my share of happiness.

And if you don't know the Ken Dodd song, click here

Update: apologies to readers outside the UK if the YouTube link is blocked. And of course UK readers will know the song anyway...

Sunday 15 January 2012

So what's the problem?

It still works.

Note from Gail: this memory stick survived being dropped in a cup of steaming hot cappuccino last year, and then a few days ago it survived an encounter with Bertie's ever active gnashers....

We can heartily recommend Hewlett-Packard memory sticks. Coffee proof and terrier proof.

(And no we have not been paid for this product endorsement. Although it would be nice.)

Wednesday 11 January 2012

The Higgs Boson Diet Plan

I know you will all have been thinking "I wonder when Bertie is going to get back to blogging about challenging scientific subjects. He really has been slacking lately".

Fear not, dear readers. I promised before Christmas that I would turn my attention to the Higgs boson, and I am not one to renege on my promises.

Now I suspect that many of my friends, both canine and human, will have made some sort of a New Year resolution which involves trying to lose weight, am I right?

(Please bear with me, I am not going off track).

The thing is, with the thrilling recent announcement from CERN that, following painstaking analysis of high energy proton collisions in the Large Hadron Collider, this elusive missing elementary particle has possibly been spotted, I am increasingly confident that I shall soon be in a position to patent my new invention, the Higgs Boson Diet.

I hope you won't think I'm insulting your intelligence by reminding you that the Higgs boson is the particle that imparts mass to all other particles.

So, the way I see it, if you can rid your body of a few stray Higgs bosons, then you have a pain free way of losing weight which involves absolutely no cutting back on treats, cookies, bones, or whatever.

Up until now, the stumbling block has always been that it is hard to get rid of something that no-one has ever been able to detect.

I expect you are now beginning to understand why the imminent discovery of this boson, the existence of which was predicted by Prof. Peter Higgs of Edinburgh University, Scotland in 1964, is causing such a wave of excitement in the physics community.

My own ingenious idea is that if you just hang around inside the Large Hadron Collider whilst all those protons are whizzing by at 99.9999991% of the speed of light (remembering to wear a jacket 'cos it's -271.3ÂșC in there) then there's every chance that a passing proton will bash into and annihilate a few of your very own personal Higgs bosons and, as if by magic, the pounds or kilograms will dissolve away in the time it takes to say "particle accelerator".

Beautiful, isn't it?

Oh what now?  Gail is saying that she's thinks I might need to check my calculations as she's worried you might be losing mass but not volume.....

Really, geniuses don't want to be bothered by such petty details.

And those equations do look awfully difficult.

Sunday 8 January 2012

Mango Minster Entry 2012: Bertie the Great Adventurer

This year I am entering the 'Adventure Animals' category in the awesome cyber dog show extravaganza that is Mango Minster 2012. (I am so totally over the whole Cracker Dog phase. Really.)

Now it feels ever so slightly demeaning to have to explain why I should be considered the top Adventure Animal. But Gail has persuaded me to set out the reasons, despite the fact that, to even the most casual reader of this blog, they will already be clear beyond dispute.

Let's see now.....

I have Sir Edmund Hillary's head for heights:

It cuts no ice with me that I am not a husky. My skills in polar conditions rival those of Amundsen, Shackleton and Peary:

When it comes to deserts, I could kick sand in the eyes of Lawrence of Arabia:

I would presume to teach Livingstone and Stanley a thing or two about exploring rivers:

The Sheriff of Nottingham would be all a quiver, had he to contend with me as well as Robin Hood:

I feel a sublime affinity with John Muir after passing by train through his birthplace, Dunbar, last July. (No Gail that is not tenuous, there's no need to be all superior, just because you once spent two weeks in Yosemite):

My deep and abiding interest in science and geology would have made me a natural selection to accompany Darwin on his Beagle adventure:

In the matter of giant leaps, I am second only to Neil Armstrong:

Living in a port city, I could go the whole nine yards with Captain Cook, Christopher Columbus, Magellan, John Cabot, Sir Walter Raleigh...


I think you will agree that I can stand tall alongside the world's great adventurers.

Not to mention the inevitable motley crew of also-ran canine co-contestants....

Thursday 5 January 2012

A walk in Sherwood Forest and a Robin Hood fantasy

As you know, I spent the Christmas and New Year holiday in Nottingham.

Now I’ve already told you about my role in trying to lift Human Grandad's spirits. Well between you and me, by the end of the trip Gail needed a bit of cheering up too, and not only on account of losing heavily to Daniel on the Wii.

So anyway, I decided to take her for a reviving walk in Sherwood Forest before we returned to Aberdeen.
We went to see this huge and ancient tree, ‘The Major Oak’, where Robin Hood is supposed to have hidden from the Sheriff of Nottingham all those centuries ago. 
Oh I just loved it there in the forest, sniffing gnarled old oak trees, romping around grassy glades, admiring the novel waymarking posts, and milking the attentions of other visitors.  

This famous 'greenwood' was wearing its winter suit of brown, but Gail looked all rosy cheeked and happy again after our splendid outing.

Now that I’m back in Scotland I’ve been reading up all about Robin Hood and his Merry Men and my imagination has been running riot.

Oh how wonderful it would be if Gail and I could decamp together back to Sherwood and lead a new band of outlaws. I could be 'Little Bertie' to Gail's 'Robina Hood', and I'd roam all day in the forest while Gail honed her archery skills (last practiced on a bow and arrow won by her brother at Goose Fair circa 1967...) We would sleep on a soft bed of moss under the broadleaf canopy, launch daring raids on wealthy bankers travelling up the Great North Road with their bags of gold, and use the money to help the poor and vulnerable. I am sure that a latter day Friar Tuck (Giles Fraser?) would bring us some ale to keep us merry, and I would even be prepared to wear a coat of Lincoln green should circumstances require it...

Well blow me down with a feather.

Gail is staring out of the front window, onto our grey and chilly Aberdeen street, and she's muttering: "You know what Bertie, for once that isn't such a stupid idea of yours".