Sunday 31 July 2016

The truth about Scottish Wildlife: Part 1 Aberdeen

Greetings nature lovers!

This is the first of a two part series in which my aim is to expose the truth about wildlife in Scotland.

Too often, would-be visitors are presented with an appealing vision of a land teeming with red squirrels, sea eagles, osprey, otters, pine martens, bottle-nosed dolphins, capercaillie etc.

Yes, appealing, most certainly. But whilst all the above mentioned creatures can indeed, with patience and planning, be seen in specific corners of the country, it is undeniable that for most unsuspecting tourists, a different reality awaits.

As they say, forewarned is forearmed.

Let me introduce to you the Aberdeen Seagull (strictly speaking the herring gull, Larus argentatus).

Found in large numbers all over the city, but particularly prevalent on roof tops around the harbour, he (or she) has an enthusiasm for marking motor vehicles unmatched even by the most territorial of intact male pups.

These vocal local residents are up bright and early and will do their best to ensure that you are too.

Although in general they are unfussy eaters, one renowned member of the species is on record as having a particular fondness for Tangy Cheese Doritos…

But wait! Why am I telling you all this when we have a local avian star who can give it you direct?

Meet Steven Seagull...

(Gail says she hopes that readers will be able to decipher Steven's distinctly Aberdonian accent and vocabulary, but surely that could never be a problem…?)

For Part 2 of the series we shall focus on the wildlife of the Western Highlands.

Watch this space.

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Happy days!

Oh I am so glad that Gail is now working fewer hours.

More time for exploring...

for kisses and cuddles…

and for quiet contemplation...

Life is good!

Sunday 24 July 2016

Safe and sound. And a reminder...

So Gail flew to Amsterdam for work last week. She was gone A WHOLE DAY AND A NIGHT!

I stayed again with neighbours Yvonne and Neil. These days, what with all the terrorism stuff on the news, I do tend to fret about Gail’s safety when she travels outside of Scotland. But I think I managed to hide my worries. I even sent her a reassuring text message and picture. It read:

“Well Gail, I decided since I’m guest of honour here I would sneak into Yvonne’s lounge & sleep on my favourite chair! Bertie, 3 am this morning …..”

Oh but I was blithe as a midge on a damp still day in the Highlands when Gail returned home all safe and sound. I even forgave her buying a big chunk of Gouda cheese for Yvonne and failing, once again, to bring home a gift for me.

PS There is still time to enter my Blogville Pawlympics event. I've already received loads of splendid entries, but for sure there are yet more of you who would secretly love to climb a Scottish mountain, and this is your golden opportunity! For full details, click here. The deadline is 31st July.

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Seize the day (or at least the sausage roll)

Friends, I know that many, perhaps all, of you live in places where the summers are warmer than ours here in Aberdeen.

And maybe you will think I am taking the 'cup half full' thing a bit far when I say that there are advantages to living in a city where hot days are rarer than icebergs at the Equator. But please bear with me.

The thing is, if we do, by some fluke of the jet stream or whatever, actually experience properly warm weather, all normal rules of behaviour are suspended for the duration, and this can be to a pup's advantage.

Take last night. Most unusually, it was still over 20ÂșC when Gail and I went for a late evening walk around the harbour mouth area.

We were not alone.

Other dog walkers, golfers, frisbee throwers, photographers hoping for sight of a dolphin, kids bravely venturing into the always frigid North Sea, cyclists, joggers, Polish workers from the fish processing factory relaxing with a beer, students tending a barbecue…. you name it, they were out there enjoying the (relatively) balmy conditions.

And I am pleased to report that one group of giggly girls were not paying attention to their half eaten picnic on the wee beach by the harbour wall. So I decided to help them out (don't you just hate food going to waste?) And I must say those sausage rolls were most delicious.

The giggly girls just giggled some more at the sight of this happy wire-haired fox terrier licking flaky pasty from his beard, as Gail tried unconvincingly to reprimand me, while herself failing to suppress a smile.

Although Gail did not see fit to record this particular episode on camera, she did take some other photos on our walk, and I hope these will give you a flavour of our one day of Aberdeen summer.

(You will just have to imagine the flavour of the sausage roll.)

Sunday 17 July 2016

A Night at the Opera (Bertie re-imagines 'Il Trovatore')

Gosh I just knew something exciting was going to happen when I saw the big truck in Duthie Park on Thursday morning. 

But even so, later that day I still couldn't believe my flappy little ears when Gail asked me if I wanted to join her and the neighbours at a performance of 'Il Trovatore' in the park, screened live from Covent Garden Opera House in London.


Now I will confess here that I am somewhat indifferent to music. And as for the opera's plot - are you familiar with 'Il Trovatore'?  If not, perhaps all you need to know is that it doesn't end well. So sad, 'cos had Leonora opted to settle down on her own (maybe with a dog for companionship) and everyone else had been sensible and avoided bonfires, there could have been the possibility of a happy outcome...

Those of you who do enjoy a good tune might like the wee video. My favourite bit is around 20 seconds, where the couple in front of us start nodding their heads in time to the music. Does your human ever do that?

Friday 15 July 2016

Pawlympics Munro Bagging event reminder

Gosh I am thrilled to have received so many tip top entries to my Blogville Pawlympics 'Munro Bagging' event. The following adventurous friends have already Bagged their Munros:

Madi; Casey; Arty; Dougie Dog; Easy; Frankie and Ernie; Jessie; Hailey and Zaphod; Macdui, Roxy and Bella; Princess Leah; Sarge; Murphy and Stanley; Wyatt and Tegan; Millie and Walter; Charlie.

But there are still plenty of Munros (Scottish mountains) to be bagged (climbed).

Remember, all you have to do is chose a mountain from the list:

Then send an email to me at bouncing(dot)bertie(at)outlook(dot)com, saying which Munro you want to climb, and attaching a photo of yourself to the email.

For full details, see my previous post: PAWLYMPICS: Munro Bagging explained


Tuesday 12 July 2016

Mis-selling scandal and home comforts

So Gail and I are still down in Nottingham, staying with our friend Janet.

As I've mentioned before, dogs in Nottingham are charged 50p on the buses, and we even get our very own ticket.

Did you look closely at the picture?

Now correct me if I am wrong, but surely this ticket implies that bones will be freely available to all dogs who travel on Trent-Barton buses?

Well I searched the bus high and low and located nothing more exciting than a discarded sweet wrapper.

To whom should I complain?

Oh and another thing.

I am pleased to report that in Janet's house, I've found a very comfortable chair.

And I think it was most generous of me, having gone to some effort to optimise my position in the seat, to shift myself again when Janet came in and indicated that she wanted to occupy what she apparently thinks of as 'her' chair...

(Gail says my concept of generosity is 'interesting'.)

Saturday 9 July 2016

Bertie's tutorial for Andy Murray

Gail and I are in Nottingham for a few days and I must first of all apologise for ignoring my blog friends. But you'll be pleased, I know, to hear that we visited Human Granny yesterday and today and both times found her in fine fettle.

I am mindful also that my fellow countryman Andy Murray has a big tennis match this weekend and, in order to spur him on, I have (with the help of Gail's friend Janet) made a wee video demonstrating the arts of being aggressive and tenacious - traits all truly successful competitive sportsmen and women require and in which us terriers of course excel.
PS This blog post  has all been done from Gail's 'smart' phone, so you know what to blame if the video doesn't work. You can also access it (cross paws) if you click here .

Wednesday 6 July 2016

In praise of Robert Fitzroy

Do you recognise this fine fellow? And no, I am not talking about myself (for once). I refer to the picture below.

OK, so certain clever clogs will have read the title to this post and correctly deduced that it is the very estimable Vice-Admiral Robert Fitzroy, captain of the survey ship HMS Beagle (of Darwin fame) and early pioneer and advocate of the science of weather forecasting.

We take weather forecasts for granted these days, don't we? I was thinking about this when I visited the attractive seaside town of Stonehaven last Saturday. 

It was sunny at the start of the walk,

But then it started to rain quite hard, and Gail and I sought shelter. 

Nearby to where we sheltered, on the old clock tower just along from the harbour, you can see a barometer. It was originally installed in the 1850s, around the time when Fitzroy was putting all his efforts into organising the systematic collection of weather data from ports all over the UK. He used these data to make scientific predictions about forthcoming storms - a novel and controversial concept at the time.

You'll notice that on Saturday the barometer was correctly predicting 'change'.

Fitzroy's life ended tragically. A lifelong sufferer from what we would these days describe as depression, he spent his considerable personal fortune in pursuit of his scientific endeavours, which were not always supported by his masters at the Admiralty. In the end, bankrupt and under-appreciated (except by the seamen who knew that his weather forecasts saved lives) he committed suicide. 

In 2002 that the Meteorological Office renamed one of the sea areas around the UK 'Fitzroy', in belated recognition of his very considerable achievements.

Gail still likes to listen to the Shipping forecast on BBC Radio 4. Don't tell her, but I think it's a bit boring...

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Thank You and some Good News

This is Bertie here.

It has come to my notice that Gail hijacked my blog on Sunday and spilled the beans about some health issues I've been having lately.

Really, that was very naughty of her as I don't like to keep boring all my readers with my medical problems.

But it seems that several of you are, like Gail, concerned I might have Lyme disease, and I must say a big Thank You for your kind comments and advice. Well it's clear Lyme disease is rather tricky to diagnose, so Gail and I did some further research, and one thing we learned is that it is far more prevalent in certain parts of the USA than here in the UK. So the jury is still out.

Most definitely I have an interdigital cyst on my front left paw (see below), and I don't like Gail touching it at all, but she will insist on bathing it in antibacterial cleansing stuff.

I do though have some super duper Good News too!

Yesterday, Monday, we went for our usual early walk round the park and afterwards something quite remarkable happened. Gail did not leave to go to work! She stayed at home with me! All day! I was delighted but also puzzled until she reminded me that as of 1st July she is working fewer hours and will no longer be going to the office on Mondays. "Never ever again?" I asked, but received a noncommittal reply.

Well who knows what will happen in the future, but for now I'm quite a Happy Chappie!

Sunday 3 July 2016

Bertie is mystified...

You know, out and about in Aberdeen this week, I have been seeing this flag a lot.

Does anyone have any idea why?

PS from Gail: some of you have been wondering about Bertie's health, and if has recovered from his gastroenteritis. Well the short answer is yes his tummy troubles are better thank goodness, but the longer answer is that he has in general been very up and down these last few weeks, with low energy levels and also intermittent lameness. This is not the Bouncing Bertie I know. On Monday night this week he was very uncomfortable and developed a tremor, so on Tuesday I took him back to the vet. She examined his legs and feet, and did some blood tests but she couldn't detect anything amiss other than slightly elevated white blood cell levels which she attributed to residual infection or inflammation. She prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication and he seemed a bit better next day. Then on Friday I spotted an interdigital cyst on his front left foot (something he has had before) which would explain the lameness, except that it was a different leg, the rear left one, that was lame towards the end of last weekend's Balmoral walk, and I still can't spot a cyst or any other problem there, and neither did the vet. At least the tremor has not returned. For the moment he is getting short walks, frequent gentle paw washing in Hibiscrub antimicrobial skin cleanser, and wearing a sock to try to stop him licking the paw when I'm not around. His energy levels are still well below normal.  (After an unwise 3 a.m. symptom googling session on Monday night I began to wonder about Lyme disease as, despite Frontline treatment, Bertie does occasionally pick up ticks over in Torridon and they are hard to spot through his fuzzy furs. However, the vet thought it "not the first thing we would investigate" which I took as a polite reprimand for my attempt at diagnosis via early hours internet search!)  Anyway, he still has a week's worth of medication and we'll see how things go. 

Bertie enjoying a gentle late evening (9:30pm) stroll and sniff