Fàilte gu Alba Pip! Welcome to Scotland. Yes I'm Bertie. Oh I am so thrilled that you and your partner in crime travelling companion, the notorious Puddles, have made it all the way from the USA on your 'Bucket Tour'. I have just about bounced my hind legs off in excited anticipation. OK, let's go out. Which hill do you want to climb this afternoon? Beinn Alligin perhaps? Or Mount Keen? Clachnaben? Liathach? Morvern?
Er, Bertie, it's great to see you my wiry friend, but just hang on a minute. Haven't you noticed the horizontal rain lashing the windows of your solid granite home? Can you not hear the icy wind roaring in from the North Sea. And anyway it is barely light. I think we should at least wait until the sun is up. I have to say I am disappointed by the weather. It usually looks so sunny on your blog. And remember, I am not too well. Perhaps we could stay inside in the warm and dry?
Pip dearest Pip, I'm afraid you need to learn a few home truths about Scotland. Too many of you pups in the US have a rose-tinted view of our country. One that, in my ongoing campaign to win a contract with the Scottish Tourist Board, I am occasionally guilty of playing up to. Oh. So. Are you telling me this weather is quite normal for January?
Er, well, yes, I suppose I am. And frankly it is often not much better in July. At least there is no danger of being eaten alive by midges at this time of year. As for daylight, well I hate to break it to you, I know you will be jet-lagged and doubtless confused about timing, but it is now midday and this is as light as it is going to get.
Look Bertie, tell you what, let's forget about going for a walk anyway. Puddles and I have brought along supplies. We are ready to party.
What on earth is all that?
Food Bertie. Good ole American food.
Are you quite sure? No wonder you have not been feeling tip top lately Pip. I think you need some proper healthy Scottish nutrition. Gail, bring on the Irn Bru (made from steel girders) and the deep fried macaroni pie. With an extra helping of chips. That's french fries in your language of course.
Thank you Bertie, that looks, um, nice... But perhaps you could possibly also serve up a crisp fresh salad?
Oh I have been warned about you Americans. So polite but also so demanding. Why not just wait for the chips to go cold? In Scotland, we call that salad.
Puddles? Who are we visiting next? I think it must be time to be going...
No no Pip, please don't go! Pip, Puddles, I am so sorry. Tact is not always my strong point. I see your glasses are empty. You cannot possibly leave without at least sampling one more Scottish delicacy. Now which is your preferred whisky? Do you like an Islay malt or one from Speyside? In my opinion the island whiskies taste of seaweed, but each to his own. In this house, we're particularly partial to a Highland Park (which was also my predecessor Hamish's favourite tipple).
Pip, let me pour you a wee dram. Now you're talking Bertie. Yes and I see you have quite a selection there.
I think we need to sample them all. Puddles where's your glass? This promises to be a long night.
(Sigh) I'm telling you it's still daytime....
(Jeez, and this woman is supposed to be intelligent...) Well, obviously, so that you could spend more time with me. Going for walks. Cooking me some of those home made treats we keep reading about on other dog blogs. Practising your dog agility handing skills. Oh I could go on.
But Bertie you see, I quite like my job. You've been to the office, it's a pleasant work environment, only a short walk away. I often come home for lunch don't I? And where else would I have the opportunity to engage in deep and earnest debates about how many football teams in the Highland League have grounds that lie North of the Great Glen Fault?* Plus of course there is the need to fund dog treats and vet insurance.
Gail, your reasoning is not at all convincing. I mean just think. Didn't we have a super time at the cottage in Torridon this weekend? The snow-capped mountains were stunning, for once the skies were sunnier and the ground drier than Aberdeen, we had a lovely evening round at Michael and Renate's (although I confess to being a bit disappointed you didn't ask for a doggie bag, that pork smelled divine...) Wouldn't it have been great to stay over there all week? And frankly, how hard can it be to do your job?
Readers, you know I'm right don't you. Look at these pictures from the weekend and tell me if you too think Gail should 'do a Bob'.
*This conversation really did take place last week, and is what you get in a workplace with an excess of Scottish male geologists....
Yesterday morning in the snowy park (around 7:40 am).
Someone forgot to put on my flashing light.
If you can't see me, try biggifying the picture.
I am there.
A sad footnote from Gail. I expect some of you will remember the story about Hamish, the scones and the lace tablecloth. Readers in the UK will be aware that a helicopter crashed in Central London yesterday and the pilot, Peter Barnes, died. It was Peter Barnes' parents, lifelong close friends of Human Granny and Grandad, who gave them the Nottingham lace tablecloth as a wedding gift. So many memories. Such a tragedy.
You'll never guess what I spotted on Gail's calendar this morning.
Yes that's right.
17th January: Duthie Dames Dog Walkers' Dinner
So of course I bounced up to Gail to reassure her that I was available to attend, was looking forward to it, nothing else in my diary that particular night, where were we going etc. and suddenly she started acting all evasive.
It's OK, I said, I'm not a fussy eater, and neither are my pals in the Park, some of us even relish sheep poo, I'm sure we don't mind if it's not somewhere frightfully posh.
It's so easy to tell when your human is uncomfortable isn't it?
Turns out that this Dog Walkers' Dinner is going to be a dog-free occasion.
Well that doesn't make any kind of sense at all, does it?
I mean, for a start, I strongly suspect that few of those who are invited even know each other's names. Will there be little place cards saying "Jake's Mum", "Frankie's Mum" and "Marcelle's Mum', together with a photo of the relevant hound perhaps? How else will the ladies recognise each other when without their distinctive canine companions and divested of their Michelin Man style winter dog walking attire? What can they talk about if us pups are not present to break the ice with our bottom sniffing antics?
Apparently this ill-conceived event will take place at Pizza Express on Belmont Street. Fellow diners that evening will surely recognise the motley crew with the dog hairs on their trousers and the ready supply of pooh bags bulging out of every pocket...
The South Notts Hunt meet on Boxing Day 2012 at Car Colston
Spending an afternoon in the office last week (see previous post) set me to thinking about my breed's ancestral role.
Did you know that us wire haired fox terriers were once an integral part of the English fox hunting tradition?
I don't know if readers outside the UK are aware that hunting foxes with dogs is, controversially, now banned in this country. It's all very confusing 'cos, as you see from the picture above, huntsmen - and women - do still ride out with a pack of hounds. Only these days, they follow an artificially laid trail rather than chase real live foxes. At least that's what is supposed to happen.
Gail tells me that when was a child the whole family used to drive out to watch the South Notts Hunt's Boxing Day meet. It was a thrilling occasion, and the country lanes were jammed with 'townies' in festive mood, trying to follow by car as the riders as the tore over the fields, hedgerows and ditches of the flat Midlands countryside in pursuit of their prey.
But even in those ancient times (the 1960's) there were no terriers involved. You have to go back another hundred years to the days when us WFT's were used to 'bolt' any foxes that went to ground, to flush out the fox, so the horses and hounds could continue the chase.
Have you ever tried pulling one of my breed by the tail? Typically, we don't mind a bit. Gail has always found it odd that, whereas apparently my predecessor Hamish the Westie would go ballistic if you so much as touched his tail, I don't react at all, even if she yanks mine quite hard. Her friend Kirsty the Vet says this is a throwback to when we were bred for being pulled backwards out of foxholes by our docked tails. (Tail docking is now also banned).
Oh how I would have loved to take part in a hunt.
In Nottingham over Christmas, when out for a suburban walk late one evening, I caught sight of a real live fox.
Grrrr. I could have shown those hounds a thing or two. But, can you believe, a certain spoilsport refused point blank to let me off the lead...