Sunday 29 December 2019


I'll admit I don't often feel sorry for my border collie 'friend' Hemp (who is not always friendly towards me). After all, Hemp is the main reason I was left home alone on Christmas Day with only my new toy 'Crinkly Rudolf' for company, while Gail went round to Hemp's family for dinner. But afterwards Gail showed me this photo, and told me how Hemp had suddenly materialised out of nowhere, or more likely the kitchen, a nanosecond after his owner Jamie had lifted cute little niece Ina onto his lap, and how Hemp then stared resentfully at Ina for a good ten minutes. And I felt for him, I really did. No-one likes a usurper...

Meanwhile, away from the Christmas festivities, we have been enjoying lots of muddy country walks. 

But you know, it's odd how inconsistent our humans, the supposedly intelligent species, can be. 

Gail is always banging on about how she loves the smell of the fresh country air. 

But when I apply myself to the serious business attaching some of those 'country' smells to my shoulder furs, so we can enjoy them at home too, for some reason Gail gets all cross...
And I get put in the shower.

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Bertie's Christmas Message

If “bumpy” best describes your year,
Like the Queen's, and you wish things were merrier,
Here’s a message of hope and good cheer
From your favourite wire-haired fox terrier…

What do I do when I see a bump?
Do I halt in my tracks? No, no, no! 
I bounce and I skip and I jump,
And joyfully onwards I go! 

If your road this year has been smooth,
Then pause and give thanks, you are blessed.
To ALL friends, Happy Christmas to you,
And I wish you peace, love, and the rest.

Sunday 22 December 2019

Christmas trees and kale...

Some new experiences are better than others, I find.

On Friday night, en route to Torridon, Gail and I stayed in Carrbridge with our lovely friends, 'S' and 'G'. An hour or two after dark I was surprised to find myself trotting along a track across the golf course under torchlight with the three of them, 'S' carrying a small saw, and 'G' with a hip flask of whisky and some snacks in her pocket, all the humans looking slightly furtive. We stopped under a power line, where I was fascinated to watch 'S' carefully fell a small Scots pine and skilfully wrap it up to be carried back to the house. But before returning we continued up to a view point and sat under the starlight, enjoying perfect peace for a few minutes, the humans warmed by a wee dram of Talisker and a slice of gingerbread, and me content with a venison chew.

That was a good experience.

Friends, have you ever tasted a vegetable called kale? I have now, and it was not a good experience.

Yes, yes, I know, it's supposed to be a 'superfood', and despite historically being used as cattle fodder in the UK, apparently many humans have now convinced themselves that it is also quite delicious.

So, back in the kitchen after the Christmas tree adventure, 'G' dropped a couple of dark green, rather coarse curly leaves onto my mat when she was preparing supper. I approached them with caution. The smell was not appealing, but I tentatively put one of the leaves in my mouth and, gently turning it over with my tongue, I tried, I really tried, to figure out how this was supposed to taste good in any way.  But after a couple of minutes I admitted defeat (something us terriers hate to do) and spat the still intact leaf back onto the mat.

Do you like kale?

We are now in Torridon, where Gail attended the Community Christmas Party. Dogs were not invited, although I think I might have done a better job of hitting the high notes of 'Ding Dong Merrily on High' and figuring out which direction to process in the 'Dashing White Sergeant' than some of the humans apparently managed...

I do hope the wee lassie pictured below was enjoying her first experience of ceilidh dancing more than I liked my kale leaf...

Thursday 19 December 2019

Back to the 1980s...?

As if last week's election results weren't bad enough...

Gail only went and bought me some 'festive' legwarmers!

Maybe antlers aren't so bad after all...

Monday 16 December 2019

Sharing is caring...

Maybe I'm just too suspicious.

Has it ever occurred to you that your human might deliberately purchase snacks containing chocolate, or other dog-unfriendly ingredients, just to avoid sharing?

This thought crossed my mind when out for a walk with Gail on Sunday morning.

We were happily strolling through the woods at Cambus o' May when Gail decided to stop for an 'elevenses' break, and took a flask of coffee and a bar of flapjack from her bag.

I put on my best starving dog look, but Gail pointed out that the snack was labelled 'chocolate-flavoured' and said firmly: "Not for you Bertie".

So I barked a response, which Gail correctly interpreted as suggesting she might like to nibble the chocolate off the top of the bar and offer me a portion of the remainder.

After all, with Christmas imminent, it's important to make sure our humans don't start piling on the pounds, isn't it?

I'm pleased to report that, following my prompt, Gail did finally release a few crumbs for me to hoover up before we set off again through the forest...

Friday 13 December 2019

Please help me cheer up my owner....

I am sorry to report that Gail is not looking happy this morning.

Something to do with yesterday's UK General Election result, I understand.

I tried to cheer her up with a link to the now traditional pictures of Dogs at Polling Stations, but that isn't working.

I tried taking her out for a walk but she complained that it is cold, grey, windy and wet. (Actually, she's right about that.)

I tried 'posing nicely' for her in my best Christmas bandana.

I reminded her that we have a pretty little tree in the window.

But all to no avail.

And now I am feeling bad too, failing in my role as official cheerer-upper.

Do you have any ideas that might help?

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Ghosts of WW2 airmen

At first I thought Gail just wanted to see the wind turbines close up, on the old WW2 aerodrome at Boyndie, on Sunday afternoon after we'd taken leave of our friends in nearby Macduff.

But then she led me down an overgrown track, following signs which took us to a derelict building.

It was only when we entered the building (me with some trepidation) that Gail explained.

"See Bertie, this is the old operations block, from where the RAF pilots of the Banff Strike Wing set out on their missions to attack German shipping in the fjords of Norway, during the closing stages of the war."

And Gail reminded me that her late father, my Human Grandad, had been one of those pilots, flying his balsa and plywood Mosquito across the North Sea and into the range of the German ships' anti-aircraft weaponry all those years ago.

We both paused for a moment, and quietly pondered what might have been going through mind of a young airman as he checked out from the operation block, walked across the runway and climbed into the cockpit.

It's not something HGD ever really talked about, but if you click and enlarge the picture below you can read more about the Banff Strike Wing operations.

Monday 9 December 2019

A one-way street...

We went to visit our friends Molly and Neil in Macduff this weekend.

I am always being told by Gail that good manners are very important when staying with friends.

I asked Gail if this is the case, even when your friends' lurcher, Maisie, is licking clean your own food bowl.

Apparently it is. And if you're thinking I'm standing there sulking in the next photo, you would be correct.

Later, I waited quietly beside Molly, thinking she might be polite and make amends for Maisie's bad behaviour by offering me some cake.

But I waited in vain.

It seems to me this good manners thing is a one-way street.

Thursday 5 December 2019

Quiz Night in Ferryhill!

Gosh I am so excited to tell you about how I took part in my first ever Quiz Night at our local pub, the Inn at the Park, on Tuesday evening.

You won't be surprised to learn that I contributed massively to our team's winning score - mostly by means of my 'interactions' with team-mate Scruffy the Malteser and other dogs present - these distracted the humans and prevented them having time to 'over-think' the answers.

I'll admit it was a bit disappointing that, despite having two dogs on our team, we failed to answer correctly a question involving Ronnie Barker. And surely, the humans (Kirsty, Lupin, Iain and Gail) should have realised that the last UK Prime Minister to be born and raised in Scotland, prior to Gordon Brown, was Tony Blair, shouldn't they? I mean, Gail even met him once*. And who ever has heard of Sir Alec Douglas Home anyway?

Gail shocked me (and perhaps herself) by knowing that the always obnoxious Katie Hopkins first came to public notice on 'The Apprentice', but I'm relieved to tell you she signally failed on all the other questions in the Reality TV round.

All in all it was a super evening, even though little Scruffy was apparently a bit intimidated by my presence (see him there hiding under the table).

The Schnauzer attached to the adjacent team seemed a nice enough chap, and in the end I felt a bit sorry for him, having to put up with humans who weren't aware that Algeria is the African country with the biggest land area, and who didn't score a perfect ten in the spelling round...

*At a party in Hackney c.1985.

Monday 2 December 2019

A visit to a secret beach

Experience has taught me, when Gail announces we're going for a walk to some "favourite beach", not to expect a palm fringed tropical paradise populated with bronzed, rip-muscled surfer dudes and blonde bikini clad beauties...

But I admit I was surprised on Saturday morning when we started at Kenmore, by the shores of Loch Torridon (a sea inlet, you'll remember) and headed inland and uphill.

Even more of a surprise was the fact that, following a rain sodden few weeks, we were finally enjoying a day of crystal clear blue skies and zero mph wind.

After a couple of miles of walking directly south into the low winter sun, our eyes were feeling somewhat dazzled and we were both pleased to descend to our destination, a small loch nestling in the hummocky hills.

Gail then located a little bay, almost hidden by the heather, where the water was edged by a few meters of sand.

"Is this all?" I wanted to bark, but Gail seemed well content with her secret beach. She sat down and took the cheese sandwiches (a big one for her and a small and somewhat dry one for me) and a flask of coffee out of her daypack and exclaimed: "What a lovely and peaceful place, don't you think Bertie?"

I didn't disagree. After all, it would have been churlish to point out the shortage of space for zoomies and the disappointing absence of decomposing marine life...

We stayed there for about half an hour, disturbed only by a solitary hill runner loping past, then walked back to the car, enjoying the views across to Loch Torridon with the sun thankfully now shining on our backs.

Friday 29 November 2019

I do try to keep my paws dry...

If only I were allowed in the Winter Gardens in Duthie Park...

...then I would not have to worry about getting my paws muddy and wet.

Although I can see one would need to be careful where to cock one's leg in the Arid House...

Happy Nature Friday!

PS After a frankly depressing week of near continuous rainfall (and yes, believe it or not, that is unusual here in NE Scotland, even in November) we are promised colder but brighter weather over the next few days. So Gail and I hope to bring you pictures of winter walkies under blue skies with sun sparkling on snow capped mountains for our next Nature Friday. Cross paws...