Monday 29 July 2019

Only the second wettest...?

I have an apology to make to my dear friend YAM-Aunty.

When Gail and I arrived on Friday morning at Yam's lovely home in Dunoon, and she told us she lived in the second wettest part of the UK, I have to confess, I doubted her. I even suspected she was pulling one of my four long and fuzzy legs.

Wearing my metaphorical Bertie Boffin hat (in retrospect a real sou'wester would have been more useful), I demanded supporting data.

Three days later, having gathered evidence a-plenty, I am pleased to report that YAM-Aunty was telling the truth, my only outstanding question being, is there really somewhere wetter?

Thank goodness even Gail eventually conceded that indoor (in)activities were the best option.

And so of course we all had a wonderful weekend together.

Aren't friends great?

Friday 26 July 2019

A historical misunderstanding

En route yesterday to visit a very special friend in Dunoon, Gail and I stopped for a break in the wee town of Aberfeldy. We went for a stroll down to the handsome old bridge, where Gail asked me to "pose nicely please Bertie" (in exchange for a venison nibble) and said something about a wade.

It was a horribly hot day. At least I think 26°C is hot, even if my more southerly located friends would disagree. So I needed no second invitation to wade into the clean and cooling waters of the River Tay.

Can you believe that when I clambered back onto the bank I was berated for being a "historical ignoramus"?

Apparently Gail had been trying to tell me that the bridge was built by General Wade, and had not at all intended that I go for a paddle.

If any of my readers want to know a bit more about this Wade chappie and his bridge and road building exploits  in the 1700's, you can click here.

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to a few days of being spoiled by my favourite Aunty.

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Just a pretext for avoiding stuff...?

We've been here, there and everywhere these last few days, despite the sometimes inclement weather.

Gosh it's a busy life being a four legged avoidance accessory.

So on Friday I was taken for a damp walk in Warren Wood, 'cos according to Gail I absolutely needed the exercise, and it was nothing whatsoever to do with her putting off cleaning the house.

On Saturday it rained heavily, but I was still made to go out, at least until it was time to slump in front of the telly and watch some men with big leg muscles cycling up the Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees. And so it turned out, purely by chance I'm sure, that there was no time at all left for Gail to clear that large pile of paperwork on her desk.

Sunday, in lieu of washing the car, we apparently needed to accompany Yvonne and Neil, else they would have been lonely on their walk around Loch Kinord.

Then on Monday, despite our lawn needing mowing and me giving every indication I would have been happy to rest up on the sofa,  Gail saw fit to take me along with Henry (her friend from Australia) for a walk up Clachnaben. No soon as we reached the summit for a picnic lunch than Gail and Henry were reaching for their waterproof jackets as the clouds and rain descended once more. So of course it was too wet to cut the grass when we got back home.

Finally, come Tuesday, with Gail at work, I had the opportunity to relax. Well at least until she arrived home, turned on the radio, heard confirmation of the identity of our new Prime Minister, and cried "Bertie, I can't bear to listen to this, we need to go out for a long walk...."

Imagine what it would be like if we actually lived somewhere with a half decent climate!

Sunday 21 July 2019

Beard envy?

Until this week, I had always taken my beard for granted.

I'm sure you have noticed that I am blessed with a luxuriant abundance of facial hair. Gail does trim it quite often - who knows how long the furs would grow without interference.

So anyway, I was walking in the park on Saturday morning when a Welsh terrier called Taffy and his owner stopped for a chat. The lady commented admiringly on my fine fuzzy fizzog and, no doubt to the embarrassment of poor Taffy, noted how thin and feeble his beard seemed in comparison.

At least Gail spared Taffy's blushes and did not take a photo of him. But I have to say, I do believe I detected a touch of envy in his eyes as he glanced at my bushy schnozzle and then contemplated his own wispy affair.

Do you have a beard and is it a source of pride too?

PS Gail tells me that this is not a polite question to ask a human lady of a certain age. Or in fact any age. Can that be true...?

Thursday 18 July 2019

Holiday wardrobe

OK, so I know there's still more than two months to go until October and my trip to Germany, but it's never too early to plan one's holiday wardrobe, don't you agree?

Next week I am going to the vet to have my rabies vaccination booster, needed to revalidate my pet passport.

The vet checked with Gail that we'll be returning to the UK before the 31st October, because, as he put it, and sounding exasperated, "post-Brexit we can only guess what the rules for pet travel will be".

Monday 15 July 2019

Going Walkabout in Upper Deeside

There are certain utterances you don't want hear when it is getting late in the afternoon and you have already walked more than eight miles across the hills of Upper Deeside, much of it on rough, stony, hard-on-the-paws Land Rover tracks.
"Hmmm, according to the map there should be a footpath here."

"I really think we are heading in the wrong direction."

"This trail seems to be petering out, it must be just an animal track".

"Well my map is over thirty years old, maybe things have changed".

"If you look closely at the contours, I think we should be keeping that gully to the right."

"This is roughly where I saw an adder last time I was up around here".

"It's getting late, I hope we'll get to Ballater before the tea shops have closed".

And you know what? I had tried to show Gail and her friend Henry (over on holiday from Australia) the correct route, but they called me back shouting "this way Bertie!" And twenty minutes later we were back at the same spot and they realised I'd been right all along. 

Eventually we made it down into the valley and reached the wee town of Ballater, where Gail and Henry were relieved to find Victoria's Cafe still open.

(Admit it! You just 'biggified' the photo above to get a closer look at the cake...)

And I would like to point out that, despite Gail telling Henry I might struggle with the final mile and a half back to the car after tea, it was she who was showing signs of aching paws, not me. 

At Tullich, where the car was parked, Henry's 'smart' watch (which incidentally seems to tell you everything except the time) showed us that we had walked 19 km. It sounds so much more impressive than "nearly 12 miles".

Friday 12 July 2019

Thyme for Nature Friday

Summer in the Scottish Highlands and I often find my paws padding over a soft carpet of wild thyme. A pretty plant, I'm sure you'll agree. Only problem is, the sight of the little purple blooms triggers in Gail an urge to sing massacre a favourite and lovely traditional song. 

You will be most relieved not to have to hear Gail's tuneless warbling, and instead I commend to you this version of 'Wild Mountain Thyme', sensitively performed by Dick Gaughan and friends. 

We're delighted to be joining Arty, Jakey and Rosy's Nature Friday bloghop once again. Do visit the other posts and enjoy!

Tuesday 9 July 2019

Knit night with Julia

I was a bit confused when Gail told me she'd volunteered to help her friend Julia by being a "guinea pig". 

Turns out it's nothing to do with pet rodents. Julia, who you will remember designs knitting patterns (among her many talents), is preparing a workshop showing folk how to knit and sew a cute 'wee house' key ring, and Gail had volunteered to take part in dry run on Saturday evening.

Gosh it's an intense business this knitting lark. I kindly made my tummy available so the humans could take a break from 'knit one purl one' and give me a comforting tickle every now and then. I am thinking Julia might do well to find a pup who could offer this service when she runs her workshops for real. 

After an hour and a half, Gail had finally mastered something called 'duplicate stitch' (don't ask), the wee house had gained doors and windows, and I was developing a close relationship with Julia's furry slippers.

Another half hour and Gail's 'wee house' was complete (we won't worry ourselves here about the slightly wonky chimney), the knitters were celebrating with a glass of red wine, and as I dozed fitfully under the table my mind wandered back to earlier in the day when I had summited the modest Torridon peak Sgurr na Bana Mhoraire.

I expect some of you would like to know where you can buy the pattern for the 'wee house'.  You are probably encouraged by the fact that, under Julia's patient guidance, Gail did not make a complete hash of it and you are rightly thinking "how hard can it be?"

Well I'm pleased to report that you can find the 'wee house' key ring and many other lovely knitting patterns designed by Julia if you click here.

Sunday 7 July 2019

On the way to Torridon

Is it right that I should be tied up outside the baker's shop in Nairn...

...when I could be in there helping Gail with her cake selection...?

Thursday 4 July 2019

A Night mostly Not at the Opera

Really,  I sometimes have to question my owner Gail's commitment to high culture...

And that of her neighbourhood friends.

So Gail rushed back from her Pilates class on Tuesday evening, pulled on a second pair of thick leggings over the keep fit kit, then added a woolly sweater and a padded jacket. She popped a hat, scarf and gloves into her bag (but not her phone/camera), clipped on my lead and together we walked briskly down to Duthie Park.

Where we found a big crowd of humans, plus a few dogs, all sat on the grass staring at the screen and nodding along in unison (the humans not the dogs) to the Toreador Song.

Gail located her friends Kirsty and Cathy, each clutching with some determination their mug of hot coffee and looking slightly blue. We joined them and I sat in my best 'good boy' pose, with my back to the screen, facing into the stiff northerly wind roaring down from the Arctic. From the loud speakers came much operatic emoting in French.

By the interval, the cold had begun to penetrate Gail's precautionary outfit, and Kirsty and Cathy were fighting over who would get to pick me up and use me as a hot water bottle substitute.

When Cathy suggested we all decamp to the nearby dog-friendly bar at the Inn at the Park, I have to report that neither Gail nor Kirsty protested at the suggestion nor betrayed any distress at the thought of missing the end of the Covent Garden performance.

Two glasses of wine (the humans) and an altercation with a noisy and impertinent pug (me) later, Gail walked me unsteadily home. While I was checking the pee-mail on the tree outside our house, another neighbour, the always stylishly attired Catherine, walked past smiling broadly, clad in a Russian style fur hat, ski suit and well-insulated mitts, with a folding chair slung over her shoulder.

And thus ended an evening of outdoor high culture in Aberdeen on an early July evening.

At least it didn't rain.

As I mentioned above, Gail forgot to take her camera to Carmen, so here's a shot of me at St Cyrus National Nature Reserve enjoying a fine day out last weekend.

Monday 1 July 2019

Where Bertie leads, Greta Thunberg follows?

I guess I'm not the only pup who's been thinking about climate change this week.

OK, so, unlike most of the rest of Europe, it has not actually been that hot in Aberdeen - though the thermometer did register 24ºC briefly on Saturday afternoon before the thunderstorms arrived. But oh my heart goes out to all my fellow canines in France and Spain, who've been sweltering in temperatures of over 40ºC, some while wearing furry coats designed for the Arctic.

Anyway, I noted with interest that our weekend paper published an hour by hour guide to doing one's bit for the planet in terms of living a greener lifestyle.

It all looked quite reasonable until I came to this...

Gail, insensitive as ever, asked "what's the problem Bertie" and added "surely insect food is no more revolting than some of the stuff you pick up on walks when my back is turned".

I countered that if she's laying out good money for my dinner then I expect meals based on only the finest quality lamb or beef, irrespective of carbon impact...

We are on safer ground, environmentally, when it comes to transport.

As you know, both Gail and I love to travel by rail. Do you remember how, a couple of years ago, we went all the way to Switzerland by train and ferry? Yes indeed, and I would like to point out to young Miss Greta Thunberg, renowned climate activist, that when it comes to roaming around Europe in an eco-friendly fashion, Gail and Bertie got there first!

The grrreat news is that Gail is planning to do something similar this year, and take me, again by train, to visit our friends Renate and Michael at their home near Munich in Germany. We're not going until October (cross paws it will be cooler by then), but I'm SO excited, especially since I spotted in an email that Renate has already been asking about my dietary preferences, so she can better prepare for my arrival.

Gosh, but I've just remembered, our German friends are lifelong supporters of the Green Party. Oh I do hope they haven't heard about this insect food stuff...

I wonder what Greta's dogs are fed for their dinner?