Saturday 29 September 2018

The Wooferendum

Do you think there's any chance I could persuade Gail to take me on the Wooferendum March on Parliament in London next Sunday?

Oh how I would love to take part.

I fear she might think it expensive to travel down specially from Aberdeen.

But I would only demand a First Class ticket on the train and overnight accommodation at London's most dog-friendly five star hotel.

Cheap at the price if it were to help stop Brexit, don't you think?

PS I'm writing this from prison, Gail having most inconsiderately gone away for a few days with my main alternate carer Yvonne. They sent me these pictures. Can anyone help me find them?
(Apparently this fine fellow is called 'Chispa'.)

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Remembering Madi

It's red and a box.
I followed the rules,
Which Madi would not have done.

Thank you so much Raz for setting up this special 'Remembering Madi' blog hop. She was dear to us all.

Sunday 23 September 2018

Lucky Doyle, and an encounter with Camilla

This is Doyle.

He must be among the world's luckiest dogs.

His owner Fiona is a Ranger on the Queen's Balmoral Estate, and he accompanies her to work every day. As far as I can gather from Gail, this means he spends his days romping around the forests and hills, or being driven along the estate tracks in the front seat of Fiona's Land Rover.

Gail met Doyle last Friday when she and another volunteer spent the day working with Fiona on a conservation project, measuring the extent of patches of a rare plant called Twinflower.

Although it is not obvious to me that there is anything so special about the tiny pinky-white bell shaped twinflowers,  I must say I was pretty miffed at being left behind in Aberdeen - apparently on the basis that I might be a "disruptive presence". Me, disruptive? Can you imagine?

So I had to make do with looking at Gail's photos.

I was most disappointed that Gail did not capture on camera the day's most interesting event, when the plant monitoring party came across Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, walking her Jack Russell terrier along one of the forest tracks.

Apparently Camilla gave them a friendly smile and a wave (I guess she's had plenty of practice at that).

After any encounter with a member of the Royal Family, it is of course obligatory to report on their attire, and so I demanded to know what Camilla, our future Queen, was wearing.

Was Gail kidding me when she described "a muddy pair of leggings, a battered Barbour jacket and one of those plastic rain bonnets that fold away concertina style - the sort I was embarrassed to see my mother wearing in the 1960s..." ??

PS Gail did take me for a nice muddy walk in the hills this morning, so the earlier abandonment is forgiven.

Friday 21 September 2018

Flower Friday in the John Muir Country Park

Happy Flower Friday, friends!
I wonder how many of my North American readers know that we have a 'John Muir Country Park' right here in Scotland?

It's situated on the coast close by the town of Dunbar in East Lothian, where naturalist John Muir (one of Gail's heroes) was born in 1838 and lived until the family emigrated to the USA when he was aged eleven.

So as a child, Muir's first encounters with nature came from wandering around the dunes, woods and fields in this part of lowland Scotland.

Gail took me on a walk in the Country Park after we had lunch with YAM-Aunty just over a week ago. I was all for racing off at top speed along the sandy path between the dunes and the pine trees, but, being an obliging sort of a chap, I stopped now and again to pose beside these pretty blue bell shaped flowers.

A later consultation with the flower book told us that the plant is 'Viper's Bugloss' and it is the county flower of East Lothian. You are unlikely to see viper's bugloss as far north as Aberdeen though.

I'm afraid Gail failed to take any other photos of the John Muir Country Park. It is a pleasant enough place, but, to be frank, hardly up there with Yosemite and other favourite stamping grounds of Mr Muir.

Well then, perhaps you would instead like to see a picture of Gail, flanked by her two American friends Joni and Marse, taken in September 1989 when these three (then) young-ish ladies enjoyed two weeks of hiking and backpacking in Yosemite National Park.

Were Gail's legs ever truly that brown?!!!

Oh and here she is on top of Half Dome.

Maybe I could visit Yosemite one day....

Tuesday 18 September 2018

A nearly perfect village and a sad farewell

Gail's friends Janet, Helen and Sue must have been so relieved I was able to accompany them all for last weekend's wee holiday in Northumberland.

I fear these nice ladies would have been barred from staying in the lovely little village of Warkworth, had I not been there.

How so?

OK, Gail thinks I've got hold of the wrong end of the stick, but to my mind the evidence all points to an unwritten rule that only dog owners are permitted to enter this particular village.

I mean, where else do you go to the pub for an evening meal and under every single table you see a contented dog, or perhaps two?

Was there a shop that did not have a water bowl outside the door?

And walking around the quaint streets, one had the distinct impression that any dog-free humans had been rounded up and taken to the nearest person pound.

But it was only when Gail visited the village church that I gained conclusive proof of my theory.

First, Gail took this photo, then she returned me to the car and entered the church alone to look round.

Inside the church, Gail was immediately accosted by a friendly lady vicar who'd seen me in the churchyard and said "oh but you can bring your dog in here too, we don't mind at all, everyone's got dogs in this village."

I rest my case.

I bet by now you are wondering why I have titled this blog post the 'nearly' perfect village.

Need I explain further?

And yes, the irony of an establishment that advertises itself as 'Bed and Brexit' offering 'en suite' bathrooms has not escaped this sharp wee WFT.

Finally today, we are mourning the loss of one of the brightest stars in the Blogville firmament, our beloved Diva Madi. Thank you so much dear Madi (and Mom) for all the fun you've given us over the years. What a life! Gail and I loved every single one of your blog posts and also appreciated all that you did to make our little corner of cyberspace into such a warm, friendly and supportive community.

We'll think of you every time we see a sun puddle, however small.

Sunday 16 September 2018

Not that I'm boasting...

Gosh, it's been a busy few days!

First off, Gail drove me down to Edinburgh, where I had a most pleasant visit with YAM-Aunty and her father. I know that YAM-Aunty has only one functional arm at the moment, but it wasn't wrong to ask her for treats, was it? I mean I would have been quite happy with the quantity of treats you can fit in one human hand...

After Edinburgh we continued south to just across the Border to meet up with Gail's friends Janet, Helen and Sue, and we have spent the last couple of days exploring the beautiful Northumbrian coastal path.

I walked about ten miles both yesterday and the day before (not that I'm boasting or anything).

I can't wait to go for another long walk today  although between you and me, I shall not be offering to swap places with the spaniel I met waiting for the bus in Craster - he  had just accompanied his owner on a twenty mile run down from Bamburgh Castle...

Thursday 13 September 2018

The answer is NO

Sometimes I wonder about my human's choices of reading material.

For example, there is clearly only one possible answer to the question posed in the title of the book pictured here...

... And it's a one word answer at that.

Quite how Professor de Waal spun it out to 300 pages beats me.

Disappointingly, most of the book concerns the antics of assorted primate species, plus the occasional corvid and cetacean. But us canines do get a look in when it comes to the topic of undertaking functional magnetic resonance imaging studies on animal brains.

Apparently it is not so easy to train a chimp to sit still while conscious inside a noisy MRI scanning machine. Dogs do better, although having read that treats are not forthcoming for the duration of the actual scan (something to do with jaw movements making the picture of the brain too blurry) my interest in volunteering for this particular area of scientific research has lessened somewhat.

Monday 10 September 2018

Bertie is unimpressed by Frida...

Can you see me here in the window anxiously waiting* for Gail to return from a weekend in London?

Foolishly (given bitter past experience), I was expecting a present.

I mean normal people come home from jaunts to the Big Smoke clutching a colourful array of shopping bags, and if they are dog owners they will surely have been tempted into buying some special and exclusive 'not available in Scotland' treats and toys for their Best Beloved. Am I right?

I think you can tell where this is heading...

The sum total of Gail's putative credit card extravaganza was this:

One postcard. Yes, ONE POSTCARD! And it's not even a picture of London. Or a dog.

So it seems Gail had met up with a friend on Saturday and visited the very popular 'Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up' exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, along with a surprisingly large number of Frida fans who were expressing their devotion by dressing up as their heroine.

You know, I myself have done a little research in Ms Kahlo (can I remind you, Boffins don't always have to stick to science) and I have discovered that dogs feature in several of her paintings. No mind that they were those funny little hairless Itxcuintlis - a breed rarely seen in Scotland - I feel rather offended that Gail did not scour the V&A gift shop for a one of these pictures.

My google-based research also turned up a tutorial on how to make your very own Frida Kahlo dog costume. Oh how grateful I am that Gail's needlework skills are limited to sewing on buttons.....

After the exhibition, I gather Gail went to a schoolfriend's 60th birthday party and wore, as requested on the invitation, a sparkly dress. I CANNOT BELIEVE I HAVE NOT BEEN PROVIDED WITH PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF THIS UNHEARD OF EVENT!!!

So, I'm sorry my friends, but no treats and no sparkly frocks today. In fact all Gail had to show me was a nostalgic photo she took of the institution, hard by the Victoria and Albert, where in 1982-3 she spent many hours attempting to digest blackboard after blackboard crammed with differential equations expressing the fundamentals of geophysics. Happy days!

*Gail says: Please rest assured Bertie spent most of the weekend with neighbours Neil and Yvonne, being introduced to new foodstuffs and generally spoilt rotten.

Friday 7 September 2018

Fungi Friday with Fun Guy Bertie!

Is is acceptable to sneak onto a 'Flower Friday' blog hop with a bunch of photos of toadstools?

I'm saying yes, 'cos, biologically speaking, mushrooms are all about reproduction, and so might be considered the fungal world's flower equivalent. And no Gail, that is not "pushing it a bit"!

Anyway, most of our wildflowers are now well past their peak, whereas over the past few weeks the woods and fields in Northern Scotland have been erupting with fungi of all shapes and sizes and levels of palatability. Let me tell you, Gail has been picking and eating so many chanterelles this year, there is a real danger she might turn yellow.

Happy Fungus Friday folks!

Wednesday 5 September 2018


Gail says I am looking "pensive" as I wait patiently in the hall in the photo above.

Hmmm. Let's look up the definition of pensive:

"engaged in, involving or reflecting deep or serious thought"

Well there is much that is serious to consider right now, don't you think?

Could the unimaginable happen, and Boris Johnson become the British Prime Minister?
Is England's hottest summer on record a sign that a climate change tipping point has been reached?
Will the far right AfD party continue to gain influence in Germany?
How has the main opposition party in the UK become embroiled in a toxic row about anti-semitism when they should be focusing on Brexit damage limitation?
How will Gail's Iranian colleague Hamed's aunt get the drugs she needs to treat her multiple sclerosis now that the USA have re-imposed sanctions on her country?
And what about my lovely friend Maria (the one who "melted" when Gail emailed her a photo of me) who must be so worried about her family back in Venezuela?
Why has Aung San Suu Kyi stayed silent on the issue of genocide in her country?

Oh dear. It is all too much. And I haven't even mentioned Presidents P**** and T****.

I do apologise if you came here hoping for jolly anecdote today. Normal service will resume in my next post, I promise.

PS Closer to home, I am sending lots of healing licks to dear YAM-Aunty, to hasten the healing process in her poorly wrist.

Monday 3 September 2018

Bertie bags Ben Wyvis

Have you any idea how hard it is to keep your ears in order and your beard looking neat when on top of a Scottish mountain on a windy day?

Oh the trials of being a wire-haired fox terrier with flappy little ears and a profusion of facial fuzz!

Gail and I ascended a  'Munro'* on Sunday. Ben Wyvis is the massive hill you can see on a clear day if you look northwards from Inverness. It was our first big hill climb for a while. It is all too common at these latitudes that benign conditions at the base give way to something altogether different, and almost always much windier, by the time one reaches the sub-Arctic environment of the summit plateau.

So annoying to be beaten to the top by this wee fellow (although I note he was not suffering from the same beard and ear issues as yours truly).

I should point out that Gail was looking every bit as dishevelled as me, although she seemed neither to notice nor care, perhaps because she is not the one who has to pose for all the photos in this blog! Anyway, she was too busy being enraptured by the panorama that opened up as we processed along the broad ridge, with the iconic outline of Suilven just visible in the far northwest, and nearer to the east a line of drilling rigs marching up the deep waters of the Cromarty Firth.

I'll be honest with you, towards the end of the nearly nine mile walk I was feeling a little weary, and so, I believe, was Gail. All that wind was really quite exhausting.

*In Scotland all the hills over 3000ft high are called 'Munros'. There are 282 of them.