Thursday 30 April 2015

A letter to the Big Boss re HOME ALONE

30th April 2015

Dear Head of the Company that Employs Gail,


I hope you don’t mind me writing to you like this. Really, to be honest, I wanted to infiltrate the office during one of your recent meetings about company restructuring, and liven things up by sinking my teeth into your ankles, but Gail felt such action might be prejudicial to my case.

From this you will perceive that I am not a happy bunny right now. Actually I am not a bunny at all, but a wire-haired fox terrier with an international following on social media.

OK, first of all I do want to thank you for letting Gail take time off work to care for her sick mother earlier this year. That was awfully nice of you, and awfully nice for me too, as I got to stay in Nottingham with Gail, and not be left at home for much of the day while she goes to work.

Oh but I got such a nasty shock a couple of weeks ago when Gail finally returned to the office. And I was most puzzled ‘cos she keeps telling me that the low oil price means company has little business, but her working day seems to have lengthened by at least an hour, and she never ever comes home to visit me at lunchtime any more. OK, so my lovely dog walker does take me out, but still it’s not the same.

When I queried this longer day, Gail told me that the company has closed the office near to our house as  a cost cutting measure, and she now has to drive (the horror!) 17 miles to work in Banchory. But Gail, I said, surely the firm still has a base in Aberdeen? And Gail said yes indeed they do, but there is supposedly no space for her in that particular office.

Now, Mr Big Boss, I don’t know if you are personally acquainted with Gail but if not, I would like to point out that she really doesn’t take up much room. The leg muscles may have filled out a bit on the recent cycling holiday, but still, I feel sure she could easily be squeezed into some small corner in the Aberdeen premises, which are only a ten minute bike ride from my our house.

Gail tells me that people who work in the oil industry are often expected to relocate to the opposite side of the globe at the drop of a hard hat, and she feels that complaining about a half hour drive to work, most of which is along a pretty country road with little traffic, is not something that will engender much sympathy.

Well that’s as maybe, but I have a suspicion that even the toughest of oilmen has a softer side, one that may be amenable to manipulation when confronted with an adorable but rather lonely wee dog with a plaintive expression on his face.

Please let Gail work in Aberdeen again. PLEASE!

Yours respectfully,
Bertie (not Bouncing right now).

P.S. In the event that I do not receive a positive response by return of post, you should be aware that I am in discussions with my friend Ernie the Attorney, from top US law firm Von Schnitzel, Ketchum and Dedum, about how to take this matter further...

Monday 27 April 2015

Thank you Sheep

So it was my first visit to the Torridon cottage for, like, ages, and I hastened over to my Shetland sheep neighbours to show them my new jumper and to thank them for providing the wool.

To be honest, they didn’t seem that interested or impressed, although gauging the expression on the face of a sheep is perhaps not the easiest thing.

Then,  I spotted these wee fellows hiding behind their mum, and learned that they were only a few hours old.

Gosh, have you ever felt in danger of being out-cuted? Gail was all ooh and aah and look at the little lambykins.

Being of a more practical bent, I was already planning a colour scheme for next year’s sweater.

PS In case you are thinking, Bertie, now Spring has arrived perhaps you might be a little too warm in that woolly sweater, I would like to point out that on Sunday morning when I woke up there was a sprinkling of SNOW on the grass in our cottage garden...

Friday 24 April 2015

FFHT April: A fairly typical Friday walk

Yes, yippee, it's Murphy and Stanley's FFHT time again! We're short and sweet this month.

Last Friday's walk 

"Sit nicely" Gail said, "while I take an 'arty' photo of you and the daffodils". But it smelled like a rabbit was somewhere in the vicinity so I had other priorities.

"Come, Bertie", shouted Gail, from a distance. But it smelled like someone had dropped a piece of burger just by the path under the bridge, so I ignored her, again.

"Oh Bertie, do hurry up", Gail sighed, "we haven't got all day. But it smelled like my adversary Jake had been round these parts quite recently, so I was loath to rush ahead. 

"Leave it Bertie!" shrieked Gail, too late, as I prepared to roll in some freshly produced fox poo.

To me, it smelled like ambrosia.

Although Gail begged to differ, as she wound down the windows in the car going home. 

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Election special! Gromit or a husky?

It may have escaped the notice of some of my more far flung readers that here in the UK we are in the middle of a general election campaign.

Now I do recognise that the United Kingdom is no longer the power it once was when a large part of the globe was coloured in British Empire pink, but still, I feel our election is worthy of attention. And, of course, I am interested in which political party us pups should be encouraging our humans to support.

I have conducted extensive background research, using the following search terms on Google:

"David Cameron (Conservative) + dog"
"Ed Miliband (Labour) + dog"
"Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat) + dog"
"Nigel Farage (UKIP) + dog"
"Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) + dog"

Sadly, I have to report that none of our main party leaders appears to own, or indeed to be particularly fond of, the canine species.

All, however, is not lost.

Our current Prime Minister, Mr Cameron, was famed early on in his leadership for certain 'hug a husky' photos purportedly indicating his concerns about global warning. The photos are still circulating on the internet ...

… and it will only be trivial minds (such as Gail's) which look at this image and think gosh, was Dave's hair really that brown just a few short years ago?

Huskies have, however, been absent from this year's Conservative election publicity, and I am struggling to find alternative reasons for telling Gail to put her X by the box of the Tory candidate in Aberdeen South.

The rather startling image below is the result of the Miliband/dog search.

To any mystified readers, may I respectfully suggest you head straight to YouTube and acquaint yourself with those wonderful British cartoon creations, Wallace and Gromit. And decide for yourself if the less intelligent of the man/dog comic partnership in any way resembles the UK's current Leader of the Opposition.

Here in Scotland, we are of course most interested in the position of SNP leader/First Minister Ms Sturgeon. Disappointing, then, to learn that she recently confessed to being a wee bit frightened of dogs. A surprising admission indeed, in a pro-Independence politician, so feisty and apparently well able to take care of herself, as these are traits which surely suggest an affinity with the native terrier population?

Followers of British politics are well accustomed to hearing Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader, being described as Cameron's "poodle" in a way that is, frankly, insulting to poodles, and I feel that to illustrate this point with an image would be dragging down standards on this blog to an unacceptable low.

Oh, Gail says it will be OK. All right then:

So dear readers in the UK, I do hope this mini-review has helped you make up your mind about who to vote for come 7th May.

And to those who would complain that I have unfairly ignored the UK Independence Party and its leader Mr Nigel Farage, let me assure you this was entirely intentional, and we here in this household wish the rest of the world would do the same...

PS: On the radio yesterday morning, I kept hearing that everyone in England is worried about "the SNP tail wagging the Labour dog". WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT?

Sunday 19 April 2015

There's nothing better…?

So, now we are settled back in Scotland, I decided it would be a good idea to treat Gail to a day out in the hills, to spend some quality time together.

OK, I admit it (you'll have guessed anyway). Being a canny wee laddie, I did have an ulterior motive.

The time was right to remind my dear human that she lives in an incomparably beautiful country with - let's not be modest here - with an exceptionally adorable dog.

I happen to know that Ballochbuie Forest, at the western end of the Queen's Balmoral Estate, is one of Gail's very favourite places.

And I knew it would be looking particularly stunning this spring Saturday, under sunny blue skies and with the mountains still capped with snow.

I led Gail along the track through the heather.

And allowed her a stop for coffee while I did a little exploring on my own.

At one point I tried my paw at deer stalking, but returned to Gail as soon as I realised she was distressed by my absence.

Oh gosh you can't believe how good I was being.

I even voluntarily cleaned my paws in the river Dee, just before we returned to the car.

I don't think Gail will be wanting to abandon me again for foreign parts any time soon, do you?

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Unfair to Bosnia-Herzegovina?

Oh dear.

Now that Gail is back and her head has recovered from sharing a late evening Frankfurt - Aberdeen flight with a stag party comprising builders from Fraserburgh, she is worrying that I may have unfairly misrepresented the country  of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) in my last post. She has asked that I correct any unfortunate impressions that the country in any way resembles Cumbernauld*.

Bosnia and Cumbernauld - absolutely no similarity?

Given that Gail claimed to have been on a bicycling tour, I imagined that her photographs of BiH would involve lots of energetic folk puffing and panting up the mountains on their bikes.

So I was a bit surprised when she said: “Look Bertie, see how we were treated like royalty in Bosnia. Like at the Hotel Park in Siroki Brijeg, where we were plied with a champagne breakfast on the house before setting off on the day’s ride”.

Gosh, and Gail claims it is mere coincidence that they got lost up a remote mountain track later that particular morning...

Then Gail showed me some of her photos of the town of Mostar…

… but when I examined the pictures more closely, and saw that some of the buildings are still pock marked with bullet holes from the 1992-5 war, I wondered if Gail might have been better off visiting Cumbernauld after all.

Oh but look, here is Gail’s friend Jo, still in Mostar and mighty happy at having tracked down a replacement for her Lufthansa-damaged gear levers. Or had she been at the champagne again…?

More photos and I was beginning to think these so-called ‘cyclists’ spent all their time inside, eating and drinking. In which case, they could have taken me along too, don't you think?

In this cafe, behind the men playing cards, there seems to be a poster of a General on the wall. Gail tells me she asked the friendly cafe owner about him and was proudly told that this man was a big local hero from 1993,  who had been "sent to the Hague but later let off." So, er, that's all right then?

Oh my goodness, at last, a photo in which, on the hairpin bend, you'll see some of Gail's group actually riding their bikes!

But we have to wait until they reach Croatia before the sun comes out it all starts to look a bit more like the sort of holiday normal humans take...

Oh and, since you ask, yes I was OK in 'camp'. 
I suppose.

*See comment from Angus on previous post

Monday 13 April 2015

A new rival?

So Gail sent me a too brief message saying she was having a brilliant time cycling in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, but was disappointed so far not to have seen any Dalmatians. 

She did however make friends with this good looking girl relaxing outside one of the less picturesque Bosnian cafe stops.

Normal blog service will resume in a few days time.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Oh no it's that time of year again...

Yes, you've guessed it. The time of year when I am forced to play second fiddle to, gulp, to a BICYCLE.

Between you and me, I had been hoping, what with Human Granny's illness and so on, that Gail might forgo her annual Easter cycling holiday with her old friends from London, and stay home with me instead.

But no, and it seems they are going even further afield than usual, for an eight day tour round Croatia and Bosnia-Herzogovina  (the latter a place I thought only existed in European history books).

Most years, I've noticed that prior to the Easter Tour, Gail disappears out on her bike for a few hours every Sunday for a training ride. Something she has not had much opportunity to do this year.

So yesterday, when I caught sight of the itinerary, I started to worry...

Let's look in more detail. This is the route profile for the first full day's cycling...

Remember, we have been in Nottingham most of the year, where the hills typically look like this:

From molehills to mountains indeed. To be honest, I am far from convinced that Gail's legs will be up to it.

What will a poor pup do if his human collapses on a steep Croatian ascent, never to return?

Perhaps someone out there would adopt me?

I really am very cute.

P.S. from Gail: this blog will be quiet for the next couple of weeks while Bertie is at 'camp' and I am pedalling  with my friends round a scenic part of former Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, Bertie's assessment of my lack of fitness this year is all too accurate, and the route is tougher than usual, so wish me luck!