Sunday 31 December 2017

No dogs on the trail? It's an outrage! Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

While Gail and I have been down in Nottingham our dear neighbours Yvonne and Neil have been touring New Zealand's South Island in a camper van.

I do believe that Gail has been a little envious. Me, not so much, at least not since I read the latest Antipodean dispatch from Yvonne's iPhone.
Yvonne hiking up to Fox Glacier, NZ.

I shall spare you the typo strewn text (no doubt it's hard to use a smartphone keyboard upside down). The gist of the message was that that Yvonne and Neil had hiked up to Fox Glacier but NO DOGS WERE ALLOWED ON THE TRAIL.

I'll be straight with you, Gail has related similarly shocking stories about trails in National Parks in the USA but I'd always assumed she was fibbing in order to make me feel better about having been left behind when she goes gallivanting off on vacation.

Now I am beginning to wonder if she has not in fact been telling the truth?

Back in the UK the weather was dull and wet yesterday when Gail took me for a walk around the Nottingham University campus (alma mater to both Yvonne and my late beloved Human Grandad).

The Southern Alps it is not. But at least I could roam free as I circumnavigated the University boating lake (while being regaled with alarming tales of Gail's misspent teenage years in her home city...)

PS We have now said goodbye to Nottingham and to Human Granny for a few weeks and are heading back to Scotland for Hogmanay.

PPS Wishing all readers of this blog, old and new, all the best for the New Year. Bertie will of course be celebrating at the Blogville New Year's Eve Bash...

Thursday 28 December 2017

Cold weather tips and toys

It's turned frosty here on the streets of Nottingham and I am pleased today to bring you a top tip from Welsh terrier Thomas, demonstrating how to keep the paws warm whenever your human stops for a long and tedious chat.

Meanwhile, back at Janet's house, a most exciting Christmas present has newly materialised.

It is a matter of disagreement between Janet and me, as to whether this furry gift is a pair of faux Siberian lynx slippers intended for human paw warming or an, er, 'adult toy' for the pleasure of intact male terriers...

Tuesday 26 December 2017

"Oh I think Bertie needs a walk...."

Believe it or not, I, Bouncing Bertie, have at times in the past come under criticism from my owner Gail, for acting too supine.

Humans are strange creatures aren't they? They insist on crowding together at Christmas, eating and drinking too much, all in the name of seasonal good cheer, and then instead of lapping it all up, certain of them start looking for excuses to escape for a while.

It seems that there have been occasions during Christmases past when Gail has uttered the words  "I think Bertie needs a walk" to general incredulity as I lie snoring quietly in front of the fire.

Well I'm pleased to report that this year I delivered on my side of the bargain in full.

Christmas dinner at Gail's brother's Peak District house had been a drawn out affair, with me, along with my poodle cousins Percy (he' s huge you know) and Coco excluded from the dining room.

Just as Gail was scraping the bottom of her bowl of Christmas pudding and rum sauce, and wondering if there was a slow eating contest she could enter Human Granny for (to assured success) I decided to vocalise my dissatisfaction at the general state of affairs.

Some people tell me my bark is surprisingly high pitched and piercing. And insistent.

But I am sure I was not mistaken in detecting a note of relief in Gail's voice when she was able to say, without eliciting raised eyebrows and knowing glances around the table:

"Oh look it'll be dark soon and Bertie is getting restless. I really do need to take him for a good walk before driving HGY back to Nottingham..."

Gail tells me you will want to see a picture of me somewhat reluctantly posing with Coco, HGY and the two grandchildren before we left on Christmas Day. So here it is.

PS in case you are wondering, Gail did buy me a wee Christmas present, and I now know that goose tendon treats are utterly delicious.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Bertie's Christmas good deed

Gosh I was really quite shocked when I went to visit Human Granny a couple of days ago and found that she was still writing her Christmas cards.

Although Gail had bought her a wide selection of nice cards back in October, it seems that HGY had only completed five out of her list of forty some.

Well you will be pleased to know that once I, Bertie, took charge, and told HGY that Santa only brings Thornton's Special Vanilla Fudge to old ladies who have written and sent all their cards before Christmas Day, things speeded up considerably (OK, so Gail did help too. She really can be quite bossy 'assertive' at times, you know..)

Happy Christmas to all our lovely blogging friends, and may you have a Simply Splendid 2018.

Thursday 21 December 2017

Greetings from Nottingham (er, burp...!)

Well I want you to know that Gail and I arrived safely in Nottingham. As usual we're staying with lovely, kind Janet, and I am having a fine old time so far.

Yesterday, while Gail was visiting HGY at the care home and helping her to write some Christmas cards, I accompanied Janet and her friend Steve for a drink at the Victoria.

Gosh it's a splendid place, the 'Vic', a proper 'local' with great beer (so I'm told) and a warm, friendly atmosphere.

I was so happy to be taken there. Everyone made a big fuss of me and it was all very jolly.

I really did not want to leave.

And later I begged Janet not to tell Gail that Steve had to carry me home.

It had absolutely nothing to do with the beer. Honest!

And no, this is not a picture of me 'sleeping it off'.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Different ideas of fun...

When the streets and parks are icy, and the hills inland are still covered in snow, a visit to the beach is often a good bet.

Bearing in mind that the air temperature was around zero Centigrade and the sea only a few degrees warmer, I offer you the following two photos taken on Saturday afternoon as evidence in support of my contention that dogs are more intelligent than humans, and have superior survival instincts.
Gail and I are now heading down (by car) to Nottingham for an extended Christmas visit, to check up on Human Granny, who has developed an increasing tendency to topple over, I'm sad to report.

Saturday 16 December 2017

Ice skates for Christmas?

Gosh you know it's only a quarter of a mile to the park but it took FOR EVER to walk there this morning.

We have here a worst case scenario, paw grip-wise.

It all started over a week ago with two to three inches of snow.

Of course the Aberdeen City Council road gritter considers our quiet road the lowest of low priority.

Over the next few days the traffic compressed the snow and it packed down hard and turned to ice.

Then it rained in the night and the very top layer of ice melted to create a surface maximum hazard.

Our road is now like a skating rink but more slippery.

And we discover that Gail is no Torvill and I am no Dean.

I would like to mention that humans have it relatively easy; they are not faced with the problem of maintaining their balance while cocking their leg (a slightly tricky manoeuvre on the best of surfaces, for a WFT with a high centre of gravity and compact paws).

Ok, so Gail has pointed out that I don't absolutely have to cock my leg.

But really, what self respecting male wants to be seen IN PUBLIC peeing like a girl?

Thursday 14 December 2017

Small but perfectly formed?

It's been quite a week...

We made it safely back home from the West Coast on Monday, with the help of a shovel and our kind Torridon neighbour Dominic.

We survived Gail taking photos out of the car window en route.

We even survived finding out that the boiler in Aberdeen had a broken motherboard, now thankfully fixed (cross paws). So we are now ready - and not before time, I hear you saying - to think about Christmas.

Our tree this year is small but perfectly formed. Just like me in fact. 

Monday 11 December 2017

Christmas deliveries on hold in NW Highlands

Greetings from the Winter Wonderland of Torridon.

We're still here and the local roads are still impassable. The Royal Mail van has apparently been stuck since Friday.

The mountain snowscape is stunning, but the ice is making my paws a wee bit sore. Maybe I should ask Santa for some boots?

Saturday 9 December 2017


No-one likes to think they are getting old and unadventurous do they?

When Gail and I woke up to a snowy street scene in Aberdeen on Friday morning, I could tell she was having second thoughts about our plan to drive across the Highlands to Torridon this weekend.

Well we went for the usual walk in the park ...

... then checked the weather forecast about 87 zillion times, and I bounced around the house reminding Gail of the importance of staying young at heart, and to my great relief she flipped into girl scout 'be prepared' mode and announced: "Ok Bertie let's put the shovel in the car, and a thermos of coffee, and charge the phone, pack loads of warm clothes (including your hot-off-the-knitting-needles new jumper) and head out west".

Five hours and only one minor skid later, just before dark, we arrived in Torridon.

I regard it as totally unimportant that come this morning the steep road leading down to the cottage is now too icy for Gail's car, even with its winter tyres, to ascend.

We have food and fuel for several days, books to read, a so-called broadband internet connection and a blog to write, and the world will not end if Gail fails to make it to that work meeting in Aberdeen on Tuesday...

Oh yes and later today we shall be calling round to visit our nice neighbour and expert knitter Julia. Do you think she'll approve of my sweater?

Thursday 7 December 2017

Winter grooming challenges...

Did I mention that it's rather muddy here now the snow is gone?

And to think Gail sometimes complains that I look a mess after my winter walks ...

Last Sunday I was on best behaviour and (mostly) stuck to the footpath during our walk from  Doonie's Rare Breeds Farm to Cove Harbour and back.

But I still had to have my paws washed in the kitchen sink when we got home.

Monday 4 December 2017

Such fun while it lasted.

Sadly last week's snow melted away too soon into a mess of muddy sludge, so the focus chez Bertie has turned to domestic matters. 

Did I mention already that Gail is knitting me a new jumper for Christmas? I am pleased to report that, unlike the sweater worn by one of Gail's colleagues to the work Xmas lunch, mine will not feature mating reindeer, nor indeed any other symbols of dubiously tasteful seasonal 'fun'. I offer you a sneak preview of the work in progress.

Oh and talking of fun, I have to say I did enjoy seeing Gail's friends Margaret and Jeffrey, who came round to our place on Saturday night. Not only did Margaret bring me some delicious biscuits, but she left her handbag open so I was able to excavate a treasure trove of tissues while everyone else was distracted by the pork fillet with homemade stuffing which Gail served up for dinner.

Although I was not offered any of the pork at the time, I have high hopes that some of the leftovers pictured below might make their way into my food bowl very soon. 

Toodle pip!
Bertie (ever the optimist).

Thursday 30 November 2017

Rescued by Meghan?

Amidst all the hullaballoo following certain unhelpful* tweets emanating from the President of the USA last night, I want to make it quite clear how much Gail and I admire and respect our many friends across the Pond.

And let's not forget about the happier news concerning UK/US relations announced earlier this week. Although I, Bertie, am not yet personally acquainted with the fiancée of our very own Prince Harry, I would also like it to be known that this is one American whom I am very pleased to welcome to our shores.

Not only has Ms Markle already received the rare accolade of a positive vetting by the Queen's notoriously snooty corgis, but, even better, we learn that she is the adoring owner of two rescue dogs, Bogart and Guy.

Sadly, it seems that Bogart is too old to fly and so cannot come to live with Meghan and Harry in the UK.

I hope you will not think me heartless if I confess my first thought on hearing this news was: "Gosh, I guess that creates a vacancy then"...

Who would not want to be adopted by a lovely Princess and join Team Royal Family?

What fun one could have with all those splendid palaces to explore, and corgis to chase. (Although it might be wise, I understand, to steer clear of Princess Anne's Staffies...)

So anyway, I asked Gail, just out of interest you understand, totally theoretically etc, how one might go about putting oneself forward for the position of Bogart replacement?

I had better not publish Gail's response in full. It did contain phrases like 'world's most ungrateful dog', 'hurt feelings', 'no supper tonight', along with many other less nice words.

Well I'll be honest with you I backtracked faster than you could say empty food bowl. Peace was restored, and we agreed there are many other dogs in the UK whose circumstances are much less favourable than my own. And anyway, as part of her forthcoming UK citizenship classes, Meghan will surely be made aware of the canine adoption opportunities offered by Battersea Dogs Home and suchlike?

*That's an example of  British understatement, BTW.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Snowy Donside

Just want to show you a few pictures from my walk in Glenbuchat last Sunday, in case anyone out there doubts that I am a properly tough NE Scotland male who is quite happy to venture out in freezing temperatures without a coat...

Rest assured, my paws were given a nice warm soak when we got home.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Better than a husband??

Bouncing Bertie Boffin here!

A couple of weeks ago I came across such an interesting article in the newspaper. Researchers in Sweden have found that owning a dog reduces the risk of death from heart disease. For single humans like Gail, it's a whopping effect. My presence in the house makes it at least a third less likely she will suffer a heart attack.

Oh yes and it turns out that of all the breed types, it is terriers, retrievers and scent hounds who have the most positive impact.

Now you might think that Gail would be pleased to read about this, wouldn't you? Perhaps a more empathetic owner might even believe their dog deserved a treat or two for conferring such spectacular health benefits.

But no.

Gail scanned the article with eyebrows raised and said she didn't think it applied to owners of wire-haired fox terriers. And then pointed out that I was directly responsible for her very nearly having a heart attack that time I jumped off the train at Newcastle Station... She also referenced (irrelevantly, I thought) the evening at puppy class when I tried to savage 'make friends with' Daisy the miniature dachshund and she came close to nervous collapse.

There's no pleasing some folk, is there...
Early morning walks on frosty mornings are particularly beneficial, I feel...

Friday 24 November 2017

FFF: An autobiographical tale

Today I am entering YAM-Aunty's Final Friday Fiction challenge.

My source text is 'The Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame, and the phrases (from p87) to be used in my story are:

Line 8:  As a matter of fact I did none of it

Line 12: Well very long ago

Line 16: Here where we are standing

[Regular blog readers will recognise that my piece is, as is traditional for first fiction, strongly autobiographical. I do hope this is allowed.]

Pees and Prejudice 

Our tale today is one of injustice, reconciliation and forgiveness. It is a true story, which starts off, well, very long ago. The main character is a wee terrier puppy called Bernie, and we begin when Bernie went with his owner Gill to stay with his Human Grandma and Grandpa for the first time.

Now it is important to  to understand that although Bernie was a wee puppy, he was already very advanced in his house-training and he absolutely knew the difference between indoors and outdoors and which was the right place to take a ‘comfort break’. In fact the thought of soiling his indoor territory was quite repulsive to him (as it is to most dogs).

Unfortunately, Bernie's Human Grandma held fast to the prejudice that all puppies pee on the carpet, as he realised when he overheard the following interchange between her and Gill:

“Gill, there are some dark marks here on the rug, I think it must be Bernie. Look, right here, where we are standing…”

In response, Gill sounded a bit irritated. “Oh Mother, that’s just a trick of the light, see it’s not even wet, really you are imagining things again.”

If Bernie had been able to speak, he would have added, quite firmly, "As a matter of fact I did none of it".

But repeatedly throughout this and subsequent visits, poor Bernie was falsely accused of peeing on the carpet. He felt quite hurt, and was not sure he even liked his Human Grandma that much.

Now Bernie is an older and wiser pup, and his Human Grandpa is sadly no longer with us, he thinks he has worked out what was going on. At the time of those early visits, his dear Human Grandma was so worn to a frazzle caring for her beloved but by then very sick husband that she could barely think straight. She just knew that as a good wife it was her role to keep everything in the house clean and tidy, and was anxious lest she be found wanting in this respect. So her brain started conjuring up problems that weren’t real.

These days, Bernie's Human Grandma lives in a very nice care home and is no longer responsible for the housework, and she is much more relaxed and loves having Bernie to visit and never ever accuses him of peeing on the carpet. And so Bernie has forgiven his Human Grandma for all the earlier misunderstandings, as he  can appreciate that it was neither his fault nor hers that the issues between them ever arose in the first place.

Click here to see the link up to the other FFF stories.

And a big THANK YOU to YAM Aunty for organising this fun challenge!

Tuesday 21 November 2017

A gravy bone from Postman Pat!

Bertie in Glen Muick, midday on 18 November 2017
You might be looking at the picture above and thinking, gosh you are a lucky chap Bertie, living in such a beautiful part of the world with a human who loves to go exploring.

I guess you would be right, but sometimes the best part of an outing is not captured on camera.

So there I was last weekend, trotting along the tranquil farm track on the western side of Glen Muick, when a Royal Mail van - the first vehicle we'd seen - came bowling along.

I don't know about you, but generally I like to walk in the middle of a road if given the chance, and believe it is the responsibility of others to avoid running me down. 

So I ignored Gail's shouts and forced the postman to stop. He wound down his window as Gail, having put me on a lead and dragged me to the side, was babbling apologetically: 

"I'm so sorry, thank you for stopping, my dog has absolutely no road sense...."

The postman had a nice round ruddy face and a wide smile. He ignored Gail, looked down at me and said fondly "ach, you're an affa bonny pup, maybe you'd like a treat?"

And lo an behold he dug into his pocket and produced a gravy bone and offered it to me whole! (Gail normally breaks them in two, or on a bad day three).

This agreeable episode has confirmed my belief that is is always best to stick to the middle of a track, although Gail disputes this conclusion...

After the walk we stopped in the nearby town of Ballater, where a rustic nativity scene was being erected on the green by the church. 

Gail was amused to see that the workman setting up the floodlighting had used the praying hands of one of the Three Kings as a coat hook.