Friday 31 August 2018

FFF: Davy Learns a Lesson

Today we are again delighted to be taking part in YAM-Aunty's Final Friday Fiction blog hop. Inspiration(??) comes this time from lines on P87 of 'Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks: The Essential Alan Coren'.

Line 8: unable to apologise to her, since reconciliation was also
Line 12: Piu-Fong bowed, and began singing a song about the shortage
Line 16: time for bed; the main target of their abuse was the fact that

I, Bertie, am pleased to report that this month's story is, for once, entirely fictional (Gail has never owned a canary, nor any other caged bird). However the description of the habits of Aberdeen seagulls is most definitely grounded in reality...

Davy Learns a Lesson

Davy the Canary lived a pretty good life in a second floor tenement flat near Aberdeen harbour. His owner Fergus fed him a tasty and nutritious range of seeds and grains, and let him out of his cage on a regular basis, allowing him to fly around the high ceilinged living room and sit on a perch beside the window from where he could watch cranes loading the supply vessels bound for distant North Sea oil platforms.

Davy was grateful to have escaped the miserable fate of his forbears, who were so often and sometimes fatally employed as noxious gas detectors in coal mines. But one thing was missing in Davy's life - the companionship of some feathered friends.

The only other birds Davy saw from day to day were the herring gulls who flew past his window in great numbers and perched noisily on the warehouse roof opposite the tenement block. How he longed to be part of the gull gang.

It has to be said that those who live a somewhat solitary existence, separated from their own kind, often tend to develop unrealistic ideas about their station in life....

Well it so happened that the summer of 2018 was unusually warm and sunny in Northeast Scotland. So much so that one balmy evening Fergus threw caution to the wind and actually opened his living room window to let in some fresh sea air. How could he have forgotten that Davy was flitting around the room enjoying his daily exercise?

In the few moments it took Fergus to realise his error, Davy flew straight out and across the street to join the flock of gulls.

Fergus looked on distraught. But what could he do?

For so long, Davy had dreamed of the exciting times he might spend with Aberdeen's dominant bird population; of flying out to sea, cavorting with bottlenose dolphins and executing daring maneouvers in pursuit of - as he imagined it -  abundant shoals of fish swimming near the surface of the salty waters.

Reality strikes hard sometimes.

This gentle wee songbird strived tirelessly to ingratiate himself with his coarser new companions. He chirped his little heart out, only to be met with rude and aggressive squawks. He soon learned that these so-called 'sea' gulls had long since abandoned the, to his mind, noble pursuit of hunting for food out on the ocean wave, in favour of raiding the bins outside the local fish processing unit and stealing packets of crisps from the city's convenience stores. Before long Davy found himself craving those tasty and nutritious meals provided by Fergus.

Worse, for 'fun' the gulls would hold competitions to see who could leave the biggest splat of guano on the cars parked by the quayside, with extra points awarded if that car was a brand new Audi, BMW or Porsche. Poor Davy tried his best, but became the target of their abuse and earned "null points" after he could only manage a dropping the size of a flattened pea, deposited on the bonnet of a rusty Skoda.

Weeks passed, and the final straw came when Davy overheard the female gulls laughing among themselves at his pathetic attempts to fit in.

Meanwhile, in the increasingly forlorn hope that his much loved canary might one day return, poor Fergus had been leaving his window open every night, despite the falling temperatures as autumn approached.

Fergus was beginning to fear he might never again see his dear little feathered pal, when all of a sudden one night when it was about time for bed, a flutter of yellow landed on his shoulder. Delighted, he exclaimed, "Oh Davy, is that really you? How I have missed you!" Davy began singing a song and, unable to apologise in words, he rubbed his head fondly against Fergus's ear.

A few days later, Fergus returned home late from work, carrying a small cage. "Look Davy, I've bought you a wee canary to keep you company. His name is Humphry".


Click here to find links to the other FFF tales.

Monday 27 August 2018

If you thought my grooming routine was onerous...

Once a year in late August, my Park is invaded by Clydesdale Horses.

We saw them a couple of days ago on our early morning walk (actually not so very early as it was a Saturday), being prepared for show. 

Gail thinks they are magnificent creatures, and I know for a fact that they are very big. 

Can you believe it takes three humans to wash their hooves?

And unlike a wire-haired fox terrier, a Clydesdale does not fit conveniently in a kitchen sink.

Thursday 23 August 2018

How high do you pee?

Greetings from Bouncing Bertie Boffin, advisor to Blogville on all matters scientific!

Today, we return to the perennially fascinating topic of the bladder emptying habits of the male dog.

I expect some of my readers already saw reports of important recent research which concluded that small dogs pee higher up lampposts in order to appear bigger than they really are.

As so often with science, a new finding, while in itself interesting, prompts a whole host of further questions, all just begging to be addressed by some would-be Nobel Prize winning researcher.

For example, one wonders if exceptionally high pee-ers have an increased tendency to groin strain, and if so, might regular practice of doga mitigate the danger of such an injury?

Also, does the height of the pee decrease towards the end of a long walk, when a chap is tiring and the effort of elevating his rear limb might not seem so much worth the bother? 

Has anyone ever investigated whether the urge to impress through pee height is particularly prevalent in adolescent dogs? (I believe that not dissimilar behaviour is sometimes observed in young males of sp. Homo sapiens....)

And how, I ask, do female dogs use urination as a means of asserting status?

Oh yes, and getting rather personal here, am I alone in occasionally getting confused about bodily functions and cocking my leg when doing a poop?

As can be seen in the pictures below, although I count in the 'small to medium' size category (being a somewhat oversized WFT, 43cm at the shoulder) I am fully capable of competing with the little guy illustrated in the research paper, in terms of angle of leg lift.

However, I have been known to topple over while peeing, especially on icy ground, an accident which I regret to inform you is generally met with laughter not sympathy from my unfeeling human.

I am still hoping to persuade Gail to collect data on the exact height of my carefully placed marks. But she seems strangely resistant to the idea, protesting that the thought of our neighbours spotting her taking photos of me peeing in the first place was quite embarrassing enough, and she really isn't prepared to have to explain to some curious passer-by why she is fumbling around the base of a tree with a tape measure while trying to locate the damp patch.

Sometimes one is forced to question Gail's commitment to the whole scientific endeavour.

Monday 20 August 2018

Edinburgh or Kiltarlity?

Gosh I've been having a fun time this weekend with Neil and Yvonne in their woodland retreat at Kiltarlity (near Inverness), while Gail has been with her book club pals enjoying the cerebral delights of the Edinburgh Book Festival.

I did receive a late evening message from Gail, but couldn't make much sense of it. (You know how these book group ladies are after a few glasses of wine....)

It seems they'd seen talks by, variously, yanisvaroufakisgregwisetomdevineshamichakrabatidonaldmurrayedithhallrorybremner or some such person or people.

Apparently it was not a dry weekend in "Auld Reekie" in any sense of the word.

Friday 17 August 2018

Not a nice name?

I'm sorry to report that last weekend my botanical assistant was too busy yak-yakking away with her blogging buddies to pay careful attention to the wildflowers we came across on our excursions in the Argyll area. 

As a result, this week I have no close up flower photos for Rosy and the Gang's Flower Friday, and I am unsure whether the mauve-coloured blooms pictured above are field scabious or devil's-bit scabious. I think, judging by the damp meadow habitat, that the latter is more likely. Either way, surely 'scabious' is not a nice name for such pretty little plant?

I do know that the yellow flowers on the left of the picture are ragwort, and this 'weed' seems to have done particularly well in the unusually warm weather we've had here in Scotland this summer. 

I would like to be able to promise that I'll do better next week, but with Gail imminently swanning off to the Edinburgh Festival for a few days and me being dispatched to neighbours Neil and Yvonne, I don't want to build unrealistic expectations, flower-wise.

Tuesday 14 August 2018

A letter to my friends in Canada

Gosh it's been a very full few days and I really am too tired to say much this evening. But I would just like to send a brief letter to my friends in Canada.

Dear Hailey and Zaphod,

I hope you are OK in 'camp'. You know, it's a real shame you can't be in Scotland with the Lady and Man, who are here with Gail and me, staying in YAM-Aunty's very lovely flat in Dunoon, where I have been given the run of the place (including both of YAM-Aunty's large and most comfortable sofas). I mean there would have been plenty of room on the sofas for you too. I'm not making you feel bad, am I?

You won't be at all jealous if I tell you how the Man and I had a most satisfying game of tug of war last night, will you? He really didn't seem to mind how much I growled and came close to nipping his fingers off. Does he play like that with you? Then at lunchtime today, I am totally sure he would have shared his packet of crisps with me too, had spoilsport Gail not told him not to.

Oh and we all had such a fun time exploring Auchindrain Township in the morning, and learning how life was lived in rural Scotland in times past. I have to say that the very basic furniture in the old cottages did not look a patch on YAM-Aunty's sofas. Did I mention the comfy sofas here? Oh, I did already, apparently! The Lady and Man told us how in Canada you guys would not have been allowed to roam around a museum like this. Well that's really too bad! Although of course I don't mean to make you feel envious, especially since you are cooped up in prison at the moment. (What? You didn't need reminding?)

Well I think I've written enough for now. I do believe that the Lady and Man, who are such nice humans, are missing you very much, despite hiding it well.

Send fond and manly kisses,
Toodle pip!

Saturday 11 August 2018

Bertie needs a break...

Look, just because your human is friends with someone, it doesn't necessarily follow that you have to get on with that someone's dog, does it?

I'll be frank with you. I like my set-up, living in a nice house, just Gail and me.

When Gail said, "Oh Bertie, won't it be fun, we're having wee Rosie the Westie to stay for a couple of days, you'll like that won't you?" I wasn't given any choice in the matter.

Because I'm a polite chappie, I refrained from any overt actions displaying my displeasure at having to share my living space. There wan't any snarling, baring of teeth or outright aggression.

I hope my body language conveyed my feelings.

(Gail says: "Don't worry Bertie, it did!")

Well you too might object if your customary quiet evening, relaxing on the sofa with your nose on your human's lap, was disturbed by a very insistent little Westie snout poking across from the other side of the sofa and constantly demanding attention.

I think I successfully made my point by playing with my Westie stuffie and trying my best to ignore Rosie altogether.

And if Rosie was at all perturbed at the sight of her stuffed toy counterpart missing part of its face, well that's no skin off my nose...

Friday 10 August 2018

What a difference a month makes...

Back in mid July, we thought that Duthie Park was turning into the Sahara Desert...

You will be relieved to hear that situation normal has now resumed in Aberdeen and our grass is looking a healthy summer green again.

Gail and I extend our sympathies to pups and their owners who have been suffering in the heat and drought in other parts of the world. In truth, it never ever gets too hot round here.

PS We are looking forward to meeting some very special blogging friends on Sunday. Watch this space!

Thursday 9 August 2018

Unaccustomed to sharing sofas

Rosie the Westie (whom you once met as a puppy in a post from way back when) has come to stay for a few days.

I am not sure how I feel about her sharing my sofa.

I guess I can put up with it until Sunday...

PS On Sunday Rosie is returning home and Gail and I are heading southwest for a meeting with some very special blogging friends. Watch this space....

Tuesday 7 August 2018

A lighthouse on a castle

Today we are delighted to be taking part in a blog hop celebrating National Lighthouse Day - yet another brilliant idea from our friends Madi and Mom.

Now it's not that Gail and I are being competitive or anything, but we're betting that no-one else in this hop will be visiting a lighthouse built on top of a castle!

Yes really. This is Kinnaird Head lighthouse in Fraserburgh, in the NE corner of Scotland. A light tower was installed way back in 1787 on top of a wee castle built in the 1500s by the Fraser family. In 1824 the esteemed lighthouse engineer Robert Stevenson (grandfather of the 'Treasure Island' and 'Kidnapped' author Robert Louis Stevenson) made major structural alterations to the building and installed a new lantern, but retained the original castle tower, which still stands today.

We like this old painting of the lighthouse, and are grateful that, although windy too when we visited, weather conditions were slightly less dramatic!

After checking out the fog horn beside the lighthouse Gail and I went exploring the town.

It has to be said that Fraserburgh  (locally known as The Broch) is an austere place with what Gail says is an 'end of the world' feel to it.

The colourful fishing boats in the harbour came as a welcome relief,

And even better, at the southern end of the town is a simply awesome two mile long beach.


Rain was threatened so we turned around when half way along the beach and made it back for one last look at the lighthouse before the skies opened.

There is a museum adjacent to the lighthouse. Gail has been there before and tells me it's well worth a visit, although I guess I'll never know as dogs are not allowed inside...

You can read more about the lighthouse history here.

P.S. Shall I let you into a wee secret? When Gail was a little girl, in an era when 'normal' little girls were supposed to aspire to be nurses or, if good at their lessons, perhaps teachers, my human was fantasising about being a lighthouse keeper when she grew up...

Sunday 5 August 2018

Dial before you dig!

Our afternoon walk yesterday took us across the buried Forties (oil) Pipeline System which, judging by this sign, is not terrier friendly.

So I asked Gail if she could possibly call 0800 281 279 and explain that her dog had been suddenly overcome by an urge to excavate some earth close to this notice, and check with Ineos FPS that this was OK with them?

I suggested she insist on speaking directly to the Ineos CEO Jim Ratcliffe (incidentally Britain's richest man) as I understand he likes to keep a tight rein on all major decisions in his company.

I was most hurt when all Gail said was: "Bertie, stop being ridiculous".

Friday 3 August 2018

Oops-a-Daisy it's Flower Friday!

So the other day Gail and I made the two mile walk from our house down to the mouth of Aberdeen harbour, and she decided this big patch of daisies would make a nice feature for Rosy and the LLB gang's Flower Friday.

Gosh if you had any idea how patiently I stood on the steep slope while Gail awkwardly manoeuvered herself into a crouching position to take the pictures showing the North Sea in the background.

And you know I even refrained from laughing when Gail stood up again and realised she'd been sitting in a bog...

Gail and I did have a little dispute about what type of daisies we were looking at. Of course, when Gail consulted the flower book after we got home, she decided that I was probably right, and they were shasta daisies (a garden escape) and not oxeye daisies.

PS Is it wrong to find it funny that the latin name for the shasta daisy is leucanthemum x superbum?