Friday 31 May 2019

Inspired by late spring flowers...

Dancing through the Daisies

A backdrop of May blossom, bright and delightful,  
And lush spring-soft grasses caress tender paws,
I daintily dance through the daisies, while mindful
Of the scent of sweet cicely tickling my nose.

Happy Nature Friday friends!

Tuesday 28 May 2019

It wasn't our finest hour...

On Sunday after lunch, once the rain clouds finally cleared, Gail decided we'd go and explore new territory - footpaths across the farmland north of Glen Tanar.

I will say one thing for my owner. She has a pretty good sense of direction and excellent map reading skills. Possibly, she says, because when she was little, no-one ever suggested to her that these were things girls could not do well.

However, on occasion, the route finding can still go pear-shaped.

Sunday was just such an occasion.

We were not far into the walk when the intended track disappeared and I was being carried across a stone wall capped with a barbed wire fence and into a field of sheep.

We met a lady and an exuberant Labrador with a stick clamped between his jaws. The stick (actually half a small tree) became entangled in my lead while the Lab's owner was pointing across the field and telling Gail that the route over the hill to Glen Tanar was straightforward to find and the going was easy.

Neither of these statements proved true.

Confronted with a bog and then a slope covered in gorse (a coconut-scented but notoriously prickly shrub common in these parts) Gail decided to press on regardless.

If I am looking reproachful in the next photo it is because Gail has just forced her way through particularly dense thicket of gorse, carrying me under one arm (and dropping me more than once) while fending off the thorns with the free hand.

Eventually we made it to a proper track and from thereon in it was plain sailing. 

The sun came out and Gail switched the phone camera to video mode. Please be aware that the wee film below gives a wholly misleading impression of our afternoon's exertions. But why not come for a good brisk walk with me anyway?

And do try to keep up!

Sunday 26 May 2019

Bias against some dogs but not others

So Gail, let's get this straight, you leave me at home earlier this evening to go with your friends Yvonne and Kirsty to a talk at the University by feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez. You say sorry Bertie you aren't invited, dogs will not be allowed in the lecture hall.

That's correct Bertie.

And then you come home and tell me that Ms Criado-Perez walked on stage with a wee Jack Russell-ish type dog who sat quietly on her lap throughout her talk.

That's correct Bertie.

Well leaving aside the basic unfairness of the situation, I have to say I quite like the sound of this lady. I assume she gave an excellent talk about her new book 'Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men' (which I believe you have not read, by the way).

Well Bertie, up to a point. Although Kirsty, Yvonne and myself did come away thinking the talk was probably targeted at women (and men) at least thirty years younger than ourselves, and we found it rather lacking in substance at times. 

So I assume that none of you bought her book, even though had you done so you would then have enjoyed the opportunity to get it signed by the author and to give the wee dog an ear scratch and ask its name.

That's correct Bertie. But Google has informed me the pup's name is Poppy.

Hmm, I wonder if Poppy has been allowed to 'christen' the fine statue of suffragist Millicent Fawcett, which her owner successfully campaigned to have erected in Parliament Square in London? I guess you are going to tell me you don't know.

That's correct Bertie.

Now Gail, my sensitive nose detects that you might have had a glass of wine or three with Yvonne and Kirsty after the talk? No need to answer that one...

Good night.

Thursday 23 May 2019

An interesting story.....

...about today's European Union elections.

Hold on readers, bear with me!

You might say it's really about the surprising and sometimes delightful connections we can make through blogging.

It all started with a post on one of our very favourite blogs. Scotsman Angus lives in deepest France and blogs in a consistently engaging fashion about life with his Polish Lowland Sheepdogs Bob and Sophie and much else besides.

Now you may already be aware that across Europe today (Thursday), elections to the European Parliament are taking place. On Tuesday Angus posted some photos of French election posters, and Gail responded by commenting that here in Scotland she had received lots of election leaflets through the door, but regrettably none from the solidly pro-EU Liberal Democrat Party.

You'll never guess what happened later that day.

Early evening Gail and I answered a knock on the door. (I did not bark, I am not that kind of terrier.)

We were greeted by a lady with a smiling face and a fistful of Lib Dem leaflets.

So much, so unremarkable, I hear you thinking.

But then...

She announced herself not only as the lead candidate for the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the current EU election, but also as an avid fan of both my blog and Angus's. She had seen Gail's comment on Angus's blog, done a spot of detective work and identified our address, and hastened round in person to rectify the shortfall in Lib Dem election material.

What a star!

Oh she said such nice things about my blog too, I think Gail would be voting for her party even if she hadn't already been intending to.

We do hope she is elected and has the opportunity to remain an MEP for a very long time to come....

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Who's not bouncing now?

Well no soon as I was sprung from prison than Gail was insisting on showing me all the photos from her bicycle tour across Wales.

I'm guessing it would be considered disloyal were I to admit that before long I was thinking I might be better off playing with my new friends in 'camp' after all. You know how it can be with someone else's holiday pictures, no matter how fond you are of that person, one can have too much of a good thing...

(And what's more, quelle surprise, there was the usual disappointing lack of 'welcome back' gifts.)

I am hoping that, having agreed to show you a small selection from Gail's photo gallery, avoiding too many distressing shots of lycra clad middle-aged backsides, then this will be end of it...

So it seems the trip started in Bristol (actually in England) where Gail was a student back in the Dark Ages. Before the ride began, Gail spent a nostalgic day revisiting old haunts, including the house in Montpelier where she lived for three years. Did you know that Montpelier, an inner city area of Bristol, was voted the UK's hippest neighbourhood in 2018?

To reach Wales from Bristol, Gail and her London cycling friends crossed two iconic bridges, Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge and the 'old' Severn Bridge.

Once in Wales, the group cycled along mile after mile of pretty lanes bordered by hedgerows laced with bluebells, stitchwort, red campion, buttercups and more...

And up and over hills, including the Gospel Pass and Bwlch y Groes, which Gail insists were a lot steeper than they look in the pictures...

Wales is famous for its castles large and small - those pictured below are in Caernarfon and Criccieth.

Wales is also famous for rain, but Gail tells me that, incredibly, apart from a few light showers one morning the weather was dry throughout.

She also says it was quite warm, although the evidence on this point is not entirely convincing...

And yes that is Gail, back right, taking a wee break with some of her companions on the approach to the seaside town of Portmadog, near the end of the trip.

Apparently Wales is great if you like: quiet roads, pretty scenery, castles, sheep, people speaking Welsh, cycling up hills, clean air...

And not so great if you like: breakfast options which include fresh fruit and a decent cup of coffee...

I should also report that since her return Gail has been rubbing her knees quite often and seems a bit less bouncy than usual after the effort of cycling up all those hills!

Oh and by the way, here is a reminder of what I look like, in case you had forgotten.

Thursday 9 May 2019

A long walk can be a bad sign

I always get a bit suspicious at this time of year when Gail takes me out for a longer than usual walk and at home starts getting all cuddly and soppy around me. 

My suspicions increase when I see her fussing over her red bicycle, pumping up the tyres, oiling the chain and so forth. 

So last night she came clean and informed me (one never gets asked) that on Saturday she is heading off to Wales for ten days with her cycling friends, and I am, of course, going to "camp". 

Well it was, at least, a beautiful walk on Bank Holiday Monday, a whole nine miles alongside the green banks of the River Ythan, through the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Gight Wood, and past the romantic ruins of Gight Castle, a former home of poet Lord Byron.

Think of me next week, lonely and bereft of affection in 'Fairways Pet Haven', not even able to contact my blogging friends....

Lord Byron, who described his beloved Newfoundland, Boatswain* as: ", who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the virtues of Man without his Vices", would surely never have abandoned any dog to boarding kennels.

Normal blog service will resume after 21 May. 

*Epitaph to a Dog, see also this previous post

Monday 6 May 2019

A meaningless concept?

So I woke all bright and bouncy, ready for my Sunday morning walk in the park. Come on Gail, I woofed, enough of reading that physics book*, let's be moving, there's no time like the present!

You won't believe Gail's response.

"But Bertie, there is no such thing as 'the present' in relation to time in the universe. According Carlo Rovelli, it is a meaningless concept."


And when I suggested she get up, get dressed and go and find my lead, Gail replied thus:

"Also Bertie, our world is best understood not as a collection of things (such as your lead, or the park) but as a network of events. Furthermore, to quote the esteemed Professor Rovelli, the events of the world do not form an orderly queue, like the English. They crowd around chaotically, like Italians."

Well. I pointed out to Gail that this Sunday morning that I was not in search of a theory explaining either the universe or Italians, and that the event which most interested me was a good leg stretch with some time for pee-mail sniffing, and that things like leads and the park are definitely meaningful in this context, and that, oh by the way, there was no possibility of this event/outing occurring before she roused herself from bed and put away her book...

Eventually she conceded the point and out we went.

*'The Order of Time, by Carlo Rovelli.

Friday 3 May 2019

A nearly perfect woodland walk...

May is a lovely month for a woodland ramble, don't you agree? 

Trees newly in leaf, so fresh and green, the undergrowth delicately dotted with violets, wood sorrel and anemones. 

Yesterday Gail and I went exploring the woods in the grounds of Crathes Castle. It's been a while since we were last there but I distinctly recall there used to be some excellent muddy sections, soft on the paws and beautifully squelchy.

How disappointing then, to find that nowadays the path follows boring boardwalks over all the boggy bits. 

Gail seems to think it a "good thing" that my paws were still relatively clean at the end of the walk.

But I cannot agree. 

Happy Nature Friday friends! And once again thank you so much to the Rosy and the LLB gang for hosting the blog hop.

Wednesday 1 May 2019

Bouncing Bertie brings you...

...Spring in the Park

And spring in his step.

I want you to know that I might be well into middle age, and slowing down a bit, but I have not yet totally lost my bounce! 

(Likewise my owner, who is about the same age in dog years...)