Gosh, Autumn is such a lovely time of year, don't you think? Gail took me for a walk in Blackhall Forest yesterday afternoon, and the colours were so pretty, despite the heavy rain and biting northerly wind.
As you can see, I'm not one to let a bit of bad weather crush my natural bounciness.
I'm in extra good spirits just now as Gail just told me that my poodle cousins, Percy and Coco, are coming to stay with us in Aberdeen for a few days next week. They are bringing Gail's brother and sister-in-law too. Won't that be fun!
I believe that Percy and Coco have never before been to the seaside, so I am thinking of organising a special beach walk experience for them. I mean, it wouldn't be right for a dog to go through life never ever having had the chance to roll in decomposing fish, or dead seal blubber, now would it.....?
You might remember that Percy and Coco are HUGE poodles - Percy especially. But don't worry, I've been practising fraternising with the Big Boys in Duthie Park recently.
Do you like my new friends?
At the other end of the spectrum, size-wise, I have a brand new next-door neighbour, a cocker spaniel puppy, Stroma (named after a little island just off Scotland's northern coast). She's only ten weeks old and we don't have a picture of her yet. She's a pretty pale brown colour and what I like about her most at the moment is that she's making me look like a model of perfect manners. Yes really! Apparently wee Stroma is driving her humans to distraction, keeping them up all night, whimpering loudly if they ever leave her sight and pee-ing and poo-ing everywhere except the back yard where she's supposed to go.
This Friday we are once again taking part in YAM-Aunty'sFinal Friday Fiction challenge. Our prompts this month come from Nan Shepherd's 'The Quarry Wood', and the lines from page 87 are:
Line 8: But the full certainty of understanding
Line 12: Not little, for only thus could he endure
Line 16: So he grew, oft surrendering complete
Following the pattern set by our earlier efforts this year, this story is once again only part fictional...
A Narrow Escape?
Once upon a time a smart, handsome and utterly adorable fox terrier got wind of the fact that his human was planning to desert him in order to go jetting off overseas for the Christmas period.
At first he refused to believe that this could possibly true. But then he overheard a phone conversation in which the owner gave details of her credit card to 'Dothedogs Kennels', a notorious canine internment camp located deep in the forests of Aberdeenshire where the plaintive cries of temporarily abandoned pups could not be heard, and the full certainty of his predicament became clear.
Fortunately, this wily wiry fellow was, true to the terrier type, resourceful and determined. He formulated a plan to wheedle an invitation for Christmas in a warm house with friendly folk who understood the importance of a regular supply of tasty treats, a soft bed, frequent games of tickle and tug-of-war, and long walks in the hills at least every other day, for only thus could he endure the absence of his beloved human.
He immediately set about endearing himself to a soft-hearted neighbour, worming his way into her affections and onto her comfiest sofa with his cheerful and gently bouncy ways. He always made sure he looked his best and never ever rolled in deer poo or decomposing fish when in her company. Of course she could not resist his fuzzy little face, and when she heard of his imminent imprisonment, she cried:
"Oh please tell me this is not true! I cannot imagine how your human can think of surrendering you to such a vile place. No indeed, I absolutely insist you must come and spend the Festive Season at my house, where the treat jar is always full and your every wish will be my command."
And so it came to pass, and the wire fox terrier lived happily ever after. At least in his dreams...
One only meets the nicest of dogs in my local park.
This fine wee pug chappie is called Stilton. He is eight months old and already a big cheese on Instagram apparently.
I wonder what he thinks about being named after one of Gail's favourite foodables?
Given Gail's fondness for cheeses - the smellier the better - it occurred to me that I could have met with a similar fate, name-wise.
Can you imagine me as 'Camem-Bert'?
Is Gail teasing me when she says perhaps 'Stinking Bishop' would have been appropriate? Tomme (de SavoieScotland) is, I think, suitably plain, manly and distinguished.
Or Rick-cotta? Rocky-fort?
Maybe Gordon Zola...
Er, I wonder if my friends ever speculate on this topic?
Bored with Brexit?
Troubled by Trump?
Petrified of Putin?
I have just the thing for you today! Let's turn to the pages of the West Highland Free Press, and read about the controversy currently raging in the village of Plockton*, where local crofters have applied to reinstate the right for their cattle roam freely around this popular tourist destination.
It seems things got heated at a public meeting held to debate the issue last week, and some folk were worried about potential for disease, and gardens being trampled on, and roads blocked.
If I were a Heilan' Coo I would like to live in Plockton and roam up and down the main street, never mind any disruption to traffic and nuisance caused to nervous visitors.
But I guess the local bovine population did not get a say in the matter.
*As the crow flies, the pretty village of Plockton lies 15 miles south of our Torridon cottage; by the twisty West Highland roads, it is a good 45 miles.
Last weekend Gail and I visited our cottage in Torridon. On the basis of a weather forecast on Thursday, promising heavy rain and gale force winds for the next few days, we nearly stayed in Aberdeen, but I'm pleased to report that Gail decided to ignore the best advice of the Met Office and head west anyway.
You can however understand why I decided not to go for a paddle in the normally calm waters of Loch Torridon on Friday afternoon.
On Saturday the wind had died down and I was most alarmed to overhear Gail and her neighbour Julia discussing whether they might go sea kayaking the next day, rather than taking me for a walk.
Thankfully sense prevailed and they decided on a Sunday morning ramble around the Shieldaig peninsula. At the spot where the pathway divides, we opted to take the right hand trail, thus an anti-clockwise circuit.
It wasn't a fast walk, and there were many 'posing for treats' stops.
Some of the posing locations required careful negotiation of the rocky shoreline. I just point this out so you are aware of the considerable effort that sometimes lies behind the production of my blog.
After a while, it occurred to me to add variety to the photo opportunities by changing the colour of my lower limbs. In areas of peat bog, the colour change thing is not the exclusive preserve of the chameleon. (OK, so we don't have chameleons in NW Scotland, but you get my drift I'm sure...)
Most unreasonably, before we returned to the village of Shieldaig and a bar lunch in the Tigh an Eilean Hotel, Gail decided my paws needed a thorough wash in a clear but very chilly stream.
I would like here to point out to Julia (who is nice, on the whole) that one does NOT appreciate being photographed at moments so disadvantageous to one's dignity!
The cold bath was the first of two poor decisions on Gail's part, the second being that she refused to give me a single morsel of her fish and chip lunch, and I was made to lie quietly beside the table while Gail and Julia munched away, and pretend to be happy with the occasional pat on the head from other passing customers.
PS Some readers may not already know that Julia has a beautiful blog called Hand Knitted Things. Fans of knitting, or Torridon scenery, or sheep, will love her latest post (click here).
Isn't it strange how some subjects are considered suitable ones on which to flex one's poetic muscles, and others are not?
Take last Saturday's walk for example. OK so I was happy enough to wax all lyrical about the glorious freedom to roam the Aberdeenshire hills (see previous post) but what I really wanted to commemorate was another aspect of the walk entirely.
I was getting some way towards describing in verse by far the most thrilling aspect of the day's outing when Gail stopped me firmly and said, "Bertie this is absolutely not all suitable."
I hope you'll agree she was being unfair....
How fine it is to sniff A decomposing hare, Oh what a pungent whiff, Just nothing can compare. I raced across the heath, And there I found, its rank And fetid guts hid right beneath A gorse bush on a bank.
They lay before me in a state Of sumptious putrefaction. When Gail caught up it was too late, I'd gorged to my full satisfaction.
When further on the walk I tried To kiss Gail with my slime smeared nose, She backed away in horror, cried, "UGH BERTIE, DO NOT COME SO CLOSE!"
When Gail returned home from work yesterday evening, picked me up and gave me a long, affectionate hug, I assumed she was still full of remorse about swanning off with Yvonne for a long weekend in Valencia, Spain, and abandoning me to the austere rigours of a NE Scotland boarding kennel.
Of course, I was happy to milk her guilty conscience for as long it took for the treat jar to empty, but it turns out that the show of emotion was prompted by something else entirely - a very sad story Gail brought home from the office.
"Oh Bertie, you are so precious, how relieved I am to see you safe and well. You have no idea what an awful thing I heard at work this morning. You know, I could see the minute I went to talk to my boss that something was badly wrong with her. I couldn't believe such a cheerful, confident woman could look so blank, so distraught. We went for a coffee and it all came out. I've told you before how my boss and her gamekeeper husband live out in the sticks with their seven dogs. Well it seems she was driving into their yard on Monday night and the dogs ran out to greet her. She thought the way was clear, but somehow spaniel Kayley, her husband's favourite companion these last twelve years, got under one of the 4WD's wheels and was crushed. When my boss's husband tried to staunch the flow of blood, poor frantic Kayley savaged both of his hands and then died of her injuries before the vet could be reached. Oh Bertie, my boss is a strong, caring person who adores all animals, what a terrible thing to happen. She lost her mother earlier this year too. And her husband is so upset about his dog that he just sits there in silence and won't even go to the doctor to get his wounds seen to. Oh dear, life can be hard sometimes. Come closer Bertie and let me give you another hug."