Tuesday 26 February 2019


Long time readers of this blog will be aware that by and large us pups are treated pretty handsomely when we travel by train in the UK.

Many a time has a train attendant, in the course of ticket checking duties, slipped me a morsel or two of shortbread along with a fond pat on the head.

So when travelling back to Aberdeen yesterday, I read the sign above the thoughtfully provided water bowl at Newark North Gate station, and I said to myself yes, that seems fair enough (although Gail did raise her eyebrows at the 'all our customers" bit).

Well I have to tell you that the standard of service on the 10:46 am LNER train to Edinburgh on Monday morning actually exceeded my already high expectations.

Yes really!

No soon as Gail and I had  settled comfortably into carriage L than a fairy dogmother steward appeared bearing what looked (but did not smell) like a cup of coffee and said to Gail "Here's something for the dog".

And this is what we found inside.

Warm slices of sausage, glistening with fat, which Gail says were probably left overs from the First Class breakfast service, but I like to think had been specially prepared in anticipation of my distinguished presence on the train.

Oh those sausages smelled divine and tasted even better.

I was a most contented chappie for the rest of the long journey home.

Sunday 24 February 2019

A visit to Nottingham

Gosh it's been quite a while since I went on a long railway journey. Gail was worried even that I might have forgotten my "train manners" but of course that was not the case.

On finally arriving at Janet's house in Nottingham, I was pleased to discover a colourful new cushion and set about making myself at home right away.

Yesterday we went to see Human Granny and Grandad. I must say, they have a lovely spot for their final resting place. The parish burial ground is green and tranquil, and the warm (for February) fresh air was alive with birdsong as the sun fell gently on HGY's newly minted headstone.

We paused a while beside the graves, then after a romp across the heavy clays of the arable Nottinghamshire fields, our outing was concluded with a most satisfactory visit to the Old Ship Inn in Lowdham.

The day before, we had visited my poodle and human cousins. Gosh I think I could take some lessons from young Jonathan in the matter of rolling in the dirt...

Gail says she is sure Jonathan "scrubs up nicely" for his day job at Barclays Bank in Canary Wharf, and that however dressed, Human Granny would still think him the most handsome and wonderful young man in the world. However, we are both grateful to be travelling home to Scotland on a comfy train, and not in Jonathan's BMW 'track car' with its stripped out interior and, at the moment, no functioning shock absorbers...

Friday 22 February 2019

No snow just snowdrops at Fyvie Castle

Welcome friends! Once again I am delighted to be joining the LLB gang for Nature Friday

This week's expedition is to Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire. I am pleased to report that in winter the castle is closed - which means that dogs get taken for walks round the grounds rather than being locked in cars while the humans disappear inside the building for hours and hours looking at old furniture and paintings (yawn). 

Hmm. I think I can smell spring in the air.

And oh look a carpet of snowdrops! Isn't it pretty?

After last week's 'squashed daffodils incident' I hope you can see I am being careful where I sit. 

Happy Nature Friday folks!

Monday 18 February 2019

Can you believe I'm nine years old today?

I'll be honest with you. Given my human's woeful record on gift giving I have learned to moderate my expectations when it comes to my birthdays. So when I woke first thing this morning I saw little point in bouncing out of bed in a frenzy of anniversary excitement.

It was a pleasant surprise then, when I came down into the kitchen and was presented with a 'special package'.

Look look, a new friend! She is a snow leopard called Sophia, and she has a very satisfactory squeaker.

Snow leopards do like having their tales tugged, don't they?

Ooooh but wait, I can smell something else too in the bottom of the bag.

OMG OMG OMG Gail has baked me some special super tasty ox liver cookies!

I think I am going to enjoy my 9th birthday.

How I would love to share these delicious liver treats with all my precious readers (except the vegetarian ones, of course). Sadly, cyberspace has not yet evolved to permit the direct distribution of offal based snacks on line, but Gail has kindly agreed to provide the recipe, which was loosely based on something she found when googling liver-dog-cookies-recipe.

 1 1/2  cups pureed cooked ox liver, 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 cups wholewheat flour, 1 cup rolled oats, 2 carrots (grated), 1/2 cup beef stock, 1 egg (beaten).

Mix together all the ingredients, knead until smooth, roll out and cut into required shapes. Gail did stars because she says I am a star, and bones because, well DUH, I'm a dog!

Bake at 180ºC for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool, and present to your beloved pup on his 9th birthday.

PS Gail says the process of puree-ing cooked ox liver is not for the faint-hearted, but she persisted, "just this once, because you're worth it Bertie".

Friday 15 February 2019

Oops I sat on the daffodils...

Last weekend at the Torridon cottage. I was checking out new growth in the garden when Gail called out, "Hey Bertie that would make a nice picture for the LLB gang's Nature Friday, you and the daffodil shoots. Your readers will be pleased to see that Spring is on the way here in NW Scotland."

So of course I obliged. Or so I thought. Only to hear an anguished cry.

"NO BERTIE! You're supposed to sit BESIDE not ON the daffodils...."

Ho hum. And I thought that after nearly nine years of blogging I had this posing business cracked...


(Belated) congratulations to King! The fifteenth wire fox terrier to be crowned Top Dog in the USA.

At least there's one Westminster where good decisions are made...

Wednesday 13 February 2019

The Ocean GreatWhite at Kishorn

I wonder what thoughts strike you when you look at this picture of Loch Kishorn, taken last Sunday?

If you're a meteorologist you're probably marvelling at the unusual sight of clear blue skies and sunshine on the West Coast of Scotland in February... 

A climber or hill walker would be eyeing up the backdrop of snow capped Applecross mountains, and wishing she were at the summit enjoying the stupendous vista across to Skye and the Cuillin Ridge.

Maybe you can just make out the Bealach na Bà, the notoriously steep single track road winding through the cleft between the mountains, and if you are a cyclist, you might even be remembering sore thighs and calf muscles after attempting the ascent.

The eagle-eyed oil man will have spotted on the left the Ocean GreatWhite semi-submersible drilling rig (the biggest in the world) currently being overhauled at Kishorn Port, and he will be hoping things will go safely and smoothly for the rig's summer drilling programme in the harsh ocean environment West of Shetland.

Or maybe, just maybe, you have realised that there is something missing from the picture. You are seeing a fox terrier shaped gap in the foreground, and are waiting for it to be filled by an exceptionally handsome wiry chap named Bertie...?

Sunday 10 February 2019

Scottie talk

So here I am on the beach at Nairn (our favourite stop-off en route to Torridon), enjoying a break in the wintery weather, checking out some driftwood and minding my own business, when along come two Scotties and their owner.

Has it ever struck you that the conversations your human engages in with other dog owners are not of the highest intellectual  calibre? 

It seems a bit rich to be criticised as uncouth for sniffing each other's rear ends by way of introduction by a species that rarely ventures beyond "Oooh, SO cute. Boy or girl? What's his name? How old is he? Weather's not so bad today is it?"

(This final question is purely rhetorical. Unless it is freezing cold AND rain is bucketing down AND a gale is blowing AND visibility is at the 'can't see beyond the tip of your nose' range, the typical Scottish dogwalker will classify conditions as "nae bad".)
For the record, these Scottie guys are called Archie and Phoebe and they are, respectively, five and seven years old. It is agreed that we are all three exceptionally handsome terriers and that the weather is indeed "nae bad".

Later at the Torridon cottage I am pleased to see that Gail had packed some suitably brain stimulating reading material for the weekend, and live in hope of hearing her discussing the relevance of quantum decoherence to the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment, or the role of non-locality in avoiding violations of Special Relativity, with the next dog owner we run into....
Beats Brexit anyway.

Thursday 7 February 2019

Caught on camera...

This week, there's been a new and unwelcome development in our neighbourhood.

A motion sensitive security camera has been installed near the gate of one of the big houses we walk past on our early morning trip to the park. If you pass by when the gate is open - and it often is - you trigger a very bossy sounding recorded message.  Gail finds this irritating and says anyone would think we were living in ______ (insert your favourite notorious high crime area). As for me, I just leave my response on the gate post and proceed onwards as per usual.

NB You might need to turn the sound up for this one.

Monday 4 February 2019

Safety moment with Bertie in Ballochbuie

As lots of my friends in the Northern Hemisphere have been dealing, to various degrees, with snow and ice this week, I feel a 'Cold Weather Safety Moment' is appropriate today.

Yesterday Gail and I ventured inland to Ballochbuie Forest (part of the Queen's Balmoral estate) where the snow was deep and powdery.

Too deep in fact for us to be able to complete our planned route, but we did manage a short walk along the River Dee.

You see in the picture below that the river looks much narrower than usual, as ice has formed along the banks. It's hard to make out exactly where the solid earth stops and the ice starts, as it's all covered in snow. 

Since I am (mostly) a Good Boy these days, I do not have wear a lead on country walks, unless we are near farm livestock or roads. However, you will notice that here beside the river I am attached to Gail by my 'walking string'. 

This is because, in addition to being a 'Good Boy' I am also, at the age of nearly nine, a 'Sensible Chap', and am comforted by the thought that Gail will will keep me safely away from venturing on to any treacherously thin ice and falling into the fast flowing water.   

It later occurred to me that I would have been even safer had I been wearing my harness (the one normally reserved for train journeys through Newcastle).

Away from the river bank, the main hazard is a chilly bum!