Sunday 31 May 2015

Wet Sunday and an archaeological excavation ...

What happens in your household on a Sunday when it is so miserable and wet that you only get a short walk to the park and the paper shop?

When the weather is so horrid not even Gail wants to venture out on her new(ish) bicycle?

Well, in my dreams, Gail might just spend the day giving me belly rubs and feeding me treats. But of course the reality was otherwise.

She decided to have a tidy up, and this included her overfilled sewing box.

Gosh. Digging into this prehistoric and rarely opened item was like conducting an archaeological excavation into Gail's family history. See what was found:

Exhibit #1: The darning mushroom.
Chewed end, what chewed end? Hamish's work, surely?

Exhibit #2: The button tin
Not sure if this originally belonged to Human Grandad or Human Great Grandad (we think the latter).

Exhibit #3: The press-stud tin
This one definitely came from Gail's Granny, whose family owned a liquorice factory in Pontefract, Yorkshire. And yes, they did make 'Pomfret Cakes' too.

Exhibit #4: The needle case
Gail's first ever attempt at needlework, a school project from when she was five or six years old.  A shame the sewing skills did not progress much thereafter. It turned out she was more interested in science…

Exhibit #5: Duffel coat toggle
From one of the many duffel coats Gail owned between 1975 and 1990.

Exhibit #6: Tartan ribbons

You know where this is heading...

Hope your Sunday was more exciting!

Friday 29 May 2015

FFHT: Bertie gets Cross with St George

It's Murphy and Stanley's FFHT time again, and as usual the set phrase is highlighted in red …

In a Flap about a Flag

As my regular readers will already know, mine is a mixed race household. Although I live in Scotland, Gail (my human carer) was born south of the border to English parents, and brought up in the fine city of Nottingham, and she still identifies herself as English. Whereas I am, of course, a proudly Scottish pup.

Tensions first arose in the summer of 2010 when I was just a few months old.  The football (that's ‘soccer’ to my US friends) World Cup was taking place in South Africa. England had qualified for the competition but Scotland sadly had not.

“So Bertie my young pup”, said Gail, “in the absence of your national team, I assume you will be cheering for England along with me. After all, they will be needing all the support they can get*. Look here, I have a flag for you to wear for the first game. I’m afraid this was the only one I could find in Aberdeen. It is rather large but I’m sure we can tastefully arrange it over your wiry wee frame.”


I reacted as any self-respecting Scot would to being draped in the flag of the Auld Enemy.

Unfortunately, the harder I tried to get it off me, the more ensnared in this dreadful piece of fabric I became.

I had all but strangled myself before Gail managed to dissociate me from the Cross of St George and was able to snatch a photo.

I am pleased to report that a certain England fan learned her lesson and has never again committed such an atrocity upon my person.

*This prediction proved to be accurate

Wednesday 27 May 2015

I hope you didn't 'spandle' today?

Do you remember my friend the author Robert Macfarlane? I wrote to him a couple of years ago and he replied with the most splendid letter.

Well he has a new book, 'Landmarks', and of course Gail and I have been reading it.

It is all about "the power of language to shape our sense of place". At the end of each chapter is a glossary of lost or nearly lost words from around the UK.

Some of them relate to walking and Gail points out they are useful for dogs too. Which of these, I wonder, best describes how you or your human approaches your daily perambulation?

Scrimander (Yorkshire): to wander about, to take a devious or winding course

Spangin' (Scots): walking vigorously

Striddle (N. Ireland): to walk uncomfortably, with an unusual gait

Crabbsganach (Gaelic): awkward on one's feet, owing to their being sore

Flinks (Shetland): to ramble in a rompish manner, as a frolicsome girl might

Stravaig (Scots):to wander aimlessly, unguided by outcome or destination

Nuddle (Suffolk): to walk in a dreamy manner, with head down as if preoccupied.

Whichever fits you, please, pups and humans alike, when you return to the house, please do always remember not to spandle!*.

*Spandle (Kent): to leave marks of wet feet or shoes on a floor, as a dog does with its paw prints.

Sunday 24 May 2015

Duthie Park comings and goings

So we were late to the park on Saturday morning. I had allowed Gail a wee lie in and it was past eight o'clock when we reached the rather fine North entrance.

"Oh my goodness it's like Piccadilly Circus here today", Gail exclaimed as I checked the visitors' register and signed in.

Indeed, several of my pals were already racing around and I hastened off to join them.

On workday mornings Gail can be quite the bossy boots with the "come on Bertie hurry up don't dawdle we haven't got all day I need to go to the office" business , but, thank heavens, a more relaxed regime operates at the weekend and I had plenty of time for socialising.

Eventually I reached the far corner of the park, and saw that Gail was still chatting with another park goer, about, one assumes, something rather boring (most human conversations are like that).

On Saturdays we usually extend the outing with a stroll along the River Dee. This entails leaving the park by these southern gates and crossing a busy road.

So I sat patiently waiting for Gail so she could attach my lead and we could safely proceed.

Yes, you are right, I can be very well-behaved when I choose.

I was set free again when we reached the riverside path, although I decided not to run over and say hello to the two Westies near the park bench, as one them was off-puttingly yappy. (Sorry, Whitley and Finley, but it's true!)

And sometimes one prefers just sniffing around by oneself anyway.

I do enjoy my Saturday mornings.

Thursday 21 May 2015


Historic handshake between Prince Charles and Gerry Adams 19 May 2015 

Do you remember that incident last September when my neighbour, flat-coated retriever Jake, took a chunk out of my left side?

It was so scary, but you know what? Almost before Gail had time to say thank goodness he's insured, my shoulder had healed up and I was back to my usual bouncy self.

I see Jake quite often (he lives nearly opposite after all, and we both take morning constitutionals in Duthie Park) and he has been friendly enough, although I am of course a little wary around him still.

But just lately I have noticed that Jake, who is only two years older than me, has been limping and seems rather listless.

This morning Gail and I learned that he has a tumour on his leg. His humans don't know much more at the moment but it is such a worrying time for them.

Oh poor Jake, I do hope he will be OK. If Prince Charles and Gerry Adams can forgive and move on, then surely Jake and I can settle our differences too?

I would like to bounce across to Jake's house right now and give him some soothing licks, but Gail says bless your dear little terrier heart Bertie only perhaps it's best if you hold back for the moment and let me take charge of administering the hugs and cuddles.

PS Gail wonders if Prince Charles ever heard about Gerry Adams' favourite dog-related hobby? In serious times, our humans can be so trivial...

Monday 18 May 2015

Hello I'm on the train

And heading home to Aberdeen
And the Wi-fi is actually working.
And Gail has just discovered Photo Booth on her MacBook…
And if you are wondering why I am, somewhat unusually, wearing my red harness, well, let's just say one word.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Good news from Human Granny

Can you believe that we came all the way down to Nottingham and a certain person failed to bring with her any sort of a device for taking photographs?

And when I complained about having no pictures to illustrate this post I just got a lecture about how I was supposed to be focussing today on Human Granny, who doesn't like having her photo taken anyway. And how nobody's world would come to an end for having to wait a few more days to see new images of my handsome phizog (or should that be phuzzog?)

So. We went to visit HGY in her nice new 'care home'. Gosh I thought Gail was skating on thin ice when she greeted her mother by saying, "Hi, you're looking well, I think you've put on weight".

Now we all know that etiquette is a sensitive and complicated issue, where humans are concerned. Being a dog, I can't pretend to have mastered more than the basics, but until today I was pretty sure you were ABSOLUTELY NOT supposed to tell a lady she has got fatter (even if she has). Only now I learn it's probably OK, if and only if, said lady has recently been very ill and had shrunk to almost nothing.

Well it's certainly true that HGY seemed jolly pleased to see both me and Gail, although apparently she had been a bit alarmed earlier in the day when Gail's brother and sister-in-law pitched up at the home with my two standard poodle cousins, Coco and Percy (he's HUGE). 

I need hardly tell you I was a big hit with all the care home staff and residents. As, I'm told, were Percy and Coco.

Well, OK, one old lady did look a bit grumpy when I trotted past, but Human Granny later told us "she's a right old misery, never happy about anything".

Oh how lucky we are that there is nothing of the 'right old misery' about HGY. She seems quite bright and cheerful, enjoying having time to read books and write letters to her many friends and not having to worry about cooking and housework. Really she is doing so well making the best of her new and more constricted life. I feel very proud to have such a brave Human Granny.

Gail, I hope we going to see her again soon?

Wednesday 13 May 2015

An exciting few days ahead...

I know that many of you have been worrying about my Human Granny, and wanting to know how she is doing.

Fret no longer, dearest friends. Gail and I are travelling down to Nottingham in a couple of days time and, oh I am just bouncing with excitement at the thought of seeing her again. I promise faithfully give her lots of loving licks, and you a prompt and accurate report of our visit.

Meanwhile, in the parallel universe that is Blogville…

My case against Gail's Big Boss (click here if you missed the post explaining my grievance) is coming to Judge Hizzonor Frankie Furter's Court of Common Fleas very shortly. Do keep an eye on his blog. I believe that Ernie the Attorney and his fond but feisty assistant Roxy are already working on their, er, briefs …

Monday 11 May 2015

Bored of this spot? Reflections on repetition

So we were over at the Torridon cottage this weekend and once again Gail made me stand on the stone in the front garden so she could take yet another picture of me, framed between the Scots pines, the sea loch just beyond.

Gail, I said, I’m thinking my loyal readers might be getting a wee bit bored of this view by now. Do I really have to post the shot you took today? Nice though it is [one has to be diplomatic] I don’t want my blog to become repetitive.

A look of incredulity and hurt flickers across Gail’s lightly freckled face.

Bertie, she says, how could anyone possibly tire of this magnificent view? Which incidentally is never, ever the same; it changes by the season, by the day and even by the hour.  Look, yesterday’s snow on the mountain tops has melted in the warm May sunshine and the surface of the loch is now rippled by the breeze whereas in the still of the early morning we were treated to an upside down version of our little corner of paradise. If it rains as heavily as forecast, then amidst the fifty shades of grey landscape we will see a white ribbon of water cascading down distant hillside. Should the skies stay clear, the Torridonian sandstone will glow red in the setting sun. And of course Bertie, you, who provide the perfect foreground interest for the composition, also have a hundred different ways of looking cute as cute can be.

Am I alone in thinking that being considered cute ‘foreground interest’ is just a wee bit patronising if not downright insulting?

The good news is that, once I had done posing, we headed out on a coastal ramble and Gail remembered to bring along the camera along, so I can show you some fresh views of the landscape (and, of course, me).

Friends, I am wondering if any of you are similarly afflicted with a human who simply cannot resist photographing you over and over again in some favourite spot, and who gets upset if you complain, or demand a change of scene?

Thursday 7 May 2015

Bertie's Election Forecast


*Scottish National Party

Tuesday 5 May 2015

I should have been invited to the book launch...

You would imagine, wouldn't you, that if one member of a household is quoted* in a new book, and he appears prominently in one of the photos in that book, then it would be that household member who would be invited to the book launch party?

Whether he is a human or a dog should be immaterial, yes?

It would not seem fair, I'm sure you would agree, for the dog to be left at home while his human, who does not appear once in said book, goes swanning off to enjoy sweetish white wine and a modest offering of sandwiches at Waterstones book shop on Friday night and to listen to her friend, the author Diane Morgan, discourse in engaging fashion on the history of Union Terrace Gardens, the topic of her latest book.

I suppose it is some small compensation that Gail's copy of the book does contain a signed message from author to yours truly.

On Saturday afternoon, Gail and I went for another sniff around Aberdeen's Union Terrace Gardens, pleased that this unique and historic feature of Aberdeen's city centre has been saved from the developers.

*The quote is from my blog post 'A visit to Union Terrace Gardens', 16 February, 2012, written at the height of the local controversy about the Gardens' future.

Saturday 2 May 2015

A work in progress...

 What do you mean only half done?

OK so I know we're meeting my WFT pal Horatio near Ballater on Sunday but do you really think he's the type to be impressed by a smart furdo? 

And by the way, haven't you seen the weather forecast?

PS: Gail's Big Boss has not responded to my letter. Hmmm. Time to phone Ernie….