Sunday, 29 September 2013

FAO Bouncing Bertie (from Robert Macfarlane)

Oh I cannot tell you how utterly delighted I am. Bouncing with joy in fact. And so is Gail.

I don't know if you remember the letter I sent earlier this summer to the distinguished writer Robert Macfarlane, complaining that I had been unwalked in Torridon all weekend because Gail was so engrossed in his book 'The Old Ways'.

Well yesterday I received, via Gail's email account, this wonderful, beautiful reply.

Dear Bertie

You were benevolent enough to write a brilliantly bouncy letter to me back on Bloomsday, the beginning of the summer. You must have thought me quite the curmudgeon, though, or at least a sniffy snob (an Afghan Hound?) when no reply came. Well, I'm afraid that I lack the energy of a three-year-old wire-haired terrier. In fact, I lack the energy of an AA-battery that's been on torch-duty for a decade. The reason, you see, is that I became a father again for the third time late last year, and our lovely little boy Will came into the world, and turned it upside-down. He remains convinced that sleeping at night is for ninnies, and prefers to keep vampire hours. I have become an explorer-in-residence, rarely getting further than the corner-shop (which sells, incidentally, so I'm told, dog biscuits of an unusually high grade). Though, in fact, things are easing just a touch now, such that last week I left home for a few days for the first time since last November, and travelled up to the Cairngorms, and spent some time up there on the plateau. The mountains obliged with a parade of miracles: golden eagles above Lurcher's Crag, wild geese flying south through the Lairig Ghru, a parhelion or sundog (yes, I thought you'd like that nickname for this phenomenon) at dusk, a moonbow in mist at night, and temperatures on the tops so warm that I could sleep out without even a tent at 4000 feet, just below the summit of Braeriarch, where the springs rise from the granite that are the true source of the Dee, the river near whose banks, many miles to the east, you and Gail live. And so, at last, I also have a chance to reply to you, to thank you for your letter, to convince you that I am no high-and-mighty-hound, and to apologise for the fact that Gail took such pleasure in my book The Old Ways that she spent the weekend inside, reading about the outside, and so you went unwalked (unbounced)! Naturally, I was thrilled to learn of Gail's reaction to my book, but the thrill carried, well, a dark and powerful undertow of guilt at the knowledge of your supine two days. I trust there has been bings of bouncing since then. It is mighty kind of you to invite me to your cottage on Loch Torridon. I could see the Torridonian hills over a sea of cloud from the summit of Braeriarch near sunset; I haven't been there for more than a decade now. So - if I come north-west, I will delightedly take you up on your very kind offer, and learn a little more about what it means to walk in canine company. Bless you, Bertie! All the very best from the flatlands of Cambridgeshire,


Dr Macfarlane, you are so totally forgiven. It is clear that you have a good understanding of us dogs, bouncy ones in particular, and an excellent sense of humour!  Now I am going to insist, as soon as my paws have vacated the keyboard, that Gail immediately orders your very latest book, 'Holloway', no matter that it is still not available in paperback!

You know, we are down in the relative flatlands of Nottingham this weekend, and the situation with the human grandparents is difficult, and this message from one of the writers Gail admires most has lifted spirits no end.

Wouldn't it be just brilliant to meet and walk with Dr Macfarlane in Torridon one of these days....


  1. Wow Bertie that is pawsome. What a nice guy. Good luck to Gail in Nottingham. Have a serene Sunday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. Hari Om
    Oh Bertie and Gail, what can be said after that? Nothing from me except the sending of Blessings and Love with the capital 'ell'. Plus, of course, Hugs and Wags. YAM-aunty xxx

  3. What a wonderful letter! Bertie, you've given Gail such a lift with your complaints.....

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  4. Fantastic! And thanks for letting us know about the book, which goes straight to our reading lists for the humans and the furkid in the household.

  5. Dear Bertie and Gail,

    What a wonderful letter. Hope all is going well in Nottingham and we are thinking of you. Lady Vicki and Hilary

  6. Gosh Bertie we are very impressed you received such a Pawsome letter.
    Hope it is nice and sunny in Nottinghamshire it's glorious in Derbyshire today. Hope your human grandad and grand mum are keeping well.

    Molly, Taffy, Monty and Winnie

  7. Wow! Or should I say bow-wow! It must have been such a thrill to receive this wonderfully witty letter from the great RM.

  8. Bertie that is a BRILLIANT letter. It Lit up Gail's life and OURS also.

  9. What a great note you and Gail received. We hope some day you get to take a walk with the author.

    Millie & Walter

  10. Well done Bertie your bouncing personality gave Dr. McFarlane a fun encounter with our one and only Bertie Scientific director and made Gail grin from ear to ear...
    Hugs Madi your bfff

  11. Perfect timing for the Dr.'s reply. Sending POTP to HGD and strength to Gail. Oh and play bounces to you, Bertie!

    -Otto, Bart and Ruby

  12. Very nice, Bertie, very nice letter indeed! I hope he does visit Torridon and won't that be fun!

    All best wishes to the Grandparents from

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  13. MOWZERS Bertie! You know famous peeps like authors and such! What a stellar letter!

  14. Unfortunately, Bertie, after reading Dr. Macfarlane's letter, I can understand why Gail spent that weekend with her nose in his book. That is one of the most beautiful emails I have ever read -- his use of language is truly inspired! I could picture the scenes he was describing so clearly. I do hope he takes you up on your invitation to visit your cottage; I suspect you would find that walks with him would be as educational in a literary way as your walks with Gail are in a scientific and geologic way!

  15. Bertie, how lucky are you?! You got an email from the genuine author? That's so lovely that he found time to reply to you. His email was so descriptive, it was nearly like a novel in itself. Are HGD and HGY behaving themselves for you?
    Pippa :)

  16. Bertie - That is wonderful. You can listen to the new hardback if its read to you in Nottingham. Lifting spirits is a very good thing.

  17. Bertie,

    We are glad you heard back from Robert Mcfarlane, as the right words can make a huge difference.


  18. Glad your letter lead to such a great outcome for you! Lee and Phod

  19. Howdy Bertie, wowza that was a fabulous letter. What a lovely man. We hope Gail enjoys his new book and you can endure another weekend without walking. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

  20. Bertie,

    There's a surprise for you on my bloggie today!


  21. Wow Bertie, that is such a fun and exciting surprise to get the letter! How nice that he spent that time!

  22. Well, gosh, how exciting to hear from a famous writer! My assistant was chuckling the whole way through ...especially the part about the little one keeping vampire hours.

    Your pal, Pip

  23. What a lovely note!!!! Now mom will have go and read that book.
    Also she wanted to tell you she was very sad there were no wire fix terriers at meet the breeds. A huge oversight in moms opinion maybe no breeders could go that weekend
    Urban hounds

  24. Hello dear Bertie,
    I read on Tootsie's blog about you beeing a very interesting fellow and I soon came over to have a look! So you have now a new follower, because I like your post very much and want to visit you again and again!
    Surely I would be very pleased if you come over to have a look at mine too! So I hope to see you soon!
    Arno (swiss shepherd with Italian human mom and German human dad!)

  25. Goodness, a book so coveted as to be ordered in the hardcover edition. That is high praise indeed. At the risk of being walkie deprived, I am directing momma to put the first novel into her reading queue.

    And yes indeed, blogs are so superior when it comes to sharing adventures via the written word.


  26. Oh Bertie a true letter from the author of the book, sharing with you what is going on in his life. I truly hope one day you can walk with him
    near your cottage on Loch Torridon.
    Thanks for being a friend
    Sweet William The Scot

  27. Bertie, you must have been tickled pink to have received such a thoughtful reply from Dr MacFarlane....I can just imagine the bemused expression on his face as he contemplated how to write back to a furry-fan. I think we could welcome into blogland as an honorary dog-blogger. Wonderful stuff! I really enjoyed this post!