Monday 30 September 2019

A misadventure on Scolty

I want to tell you about a wee adventure I had on Scolty Hill on Friday afternoon, when Gail went missing for about an hour.

The outing started well and we stayed close together as we set off through the woods then ascended the hill and arrived at the landmark tower.

Gail even carried me up to the top of the tower, where I was happy enough to 'pose nicely' by the scary spiral staircase, but drew the line at a selfie of the two of us looking out from the open viewing platform.

We took a different route down from the summit (there is quite a network of paths in this popular hiking and biking area). 

All was going well until I stopped for a minute or two to check out an interesting patch of peemail and Gail walked past, unaccountably oblivious to the important message left on the bracken.

And you know what? When I continued down the path, Gail had gone missing - she was nowhere to be seen! 

Well I am not a dog to panic, and when I came to a fork in the path, I decided to head back up the hill, presuming that Gail had returned to the summit to admire the view once again. 

There was no sign of my owner at the top of the hill, but I ran into a friendly couple, and when they gave me a piece of biscuit  I decided to attach myself to them, and wondered if they might like to adopt me. One of them petted me, looked at the tag on my collar and tried to make a phone call, but didn't seem to be getting an answer.

Shortly after this, we met a mountain biker, who said something about having spoken to a distressed lady at the bottom of the hill, adding "I think this must be her missing dog Bertie". He then sped off at a dangerous pace back down the hill.

Fifteen minutes later, a slightly breathless Gail suddenly reappeared, all hot and bothered. She put me on the lead and we walked back to the car park with the friendly couple, although I'm sorry to report that no more biscuits were forthcoming. Gail kept saying how thankful she was, and how kind the mountain biker had been to offer to ride back up the hill in search of me, and - at some length - how lithe and muscular he looked. (Between you and me, I began to think she would have been quite happy to go home with this biker and leave me on the hill with my new friends.)


Today we are off to the pet shop to buy a replacement for my old and apparently now illegible dog tag.

Friday 27 September 2019

Sir David Attenborough for Prime Minister, President and King!

In a week of constitutional outrage in the UK, when the ugliest elements of our country's public life has been on display, Gail and I are devoting this Nature Friday post to celebrating one man who long ago surpassed 'National Treasure' status, and continues in his 10th decade to provide an outstanding example of the very best of humanity.

Gosh, even a dog might aspire to be more like Sir David Attenborough!

Gail and I heard Sir David on the radio yesterday, talking about the magnificent new Polar Research vessel which is named after him. The RRS Sir David Attenborough was launched this week by the Prince William and Kate, with the great man himself also present. The ship is a world class scientific research facility, designed for work to further understanding of Arctic and Antarctic environments, thus helping protect those precious and vulnerable regions of our planet that Sir David has done so much to bring to our attention.

You can listen to Sir David, beginning at 6 mins 44 seconds on this podcast: RSS Sir David Attenborough. He talks more sense in a few minutes than we've heard from our so-called 'leading' politicians the whole year. (Gail and I apologise to any readers in parts of the world where this BBC podcast is not accessible - you are missing a treat.)

As climate change threatens our polar regions and beyond, oh how I, Bouncing Bertie Boffin, would love to join the crew of this research ship and contribute to knowledge of our natural world. But Gail tells me she suspects that dogs, especially ones known to be water averse, are unlikely to be welcome on board. Surely that is wrong!  Maybe I should drop a private word to Mr Attenborough - I mean, how could so smart a man fail to recognise my impeccable scientific credentials...

Meanwhile, Happy Nature Friday to all my friends, and thank you so much for everything Sir David!

Wednesday 25 September 2019

A topical word

Sometimes, like when I scent a deer and suffer sudden selective deafness, Gail tells my I am a "wee rogue".

But she loves me nonetheless.

Does that mean she is Pro-Rogue?

It's a word we've been hearing a lot about in the UK this week, and one that prompts in some of us an urge to head for the hills...

Monday 23 September 2019

High hopes dashed....

Things augured well for the weekend.

The sun was shining brightly in the northwest of Scotland on Friday afternoon.

On Saturday still not a cloud on the horizon.

We had the pleasure of first class company too*.

As dawn broke over the Torridon hills on Sunday morning our thoughts were turning to the Rugby World Cup across the other side of the world in Japan.

At 8:45 am I remembered to stand for the "Flower of Scotland'...

Oh where oh where did it all go so wrong...?

PS You'll notice my Saltire flag neckerchief in picture #5. Your comments on my previous post put this as the clear winner from my bandana collection and so I must thank you all most sincerely for responding to my plea for help and resolving my holiday wardrobe dilemma so decisively! 

*Regular readers will of course recognise YAM-Aunty.

Thursday 19 September 2019

Please help with my wardrobe dilemma!

Friends, I have a favour to ask of you today.

As you know, next month I am chaperoning Gail on a big trip to visit Renate and Michael, our friends in Germany.

We shall be travelling by train and ferry, and so, although not subject to airline luggage weight restrictions, Gail says we'll have to pack light as everything we need for the two week holiday must fit in her backpack.

As a result, my holiday wardrobe is to be restricted to two bandanas.

Obviously, I shall be wearing my personalised European Union flag neckerchief most of the time. But even the most pro-EU pup needs a change of attire every once in a while, and gosh I am having a dilemma trying to decide which one of my half dozen other bandanas to take along.

Please help me choose! I know you are thinking that these wee cotton squares weigh almost nothing and surely Gail could fit all six in her rucksack, but believe me, she can be very firm when it comes to such issues, and so I really do need to settle on just the one.

Oh and perhaps you could also tell me why you think a particular colour or design would be most suitable. I really would appreciate your input...

PS Gail says fretting over what to pack weeks in advance of departure is a sure sign I am now a 'senior' dog. I am not sure this is meant nicely! 

Monday 16 September 2019

At least somebody cares

It seems Gail had some explaining to do on Saturday morning!

A nosy concerned neighbour spotted her walking back up the street from the direction of the park, without me! The neighbour rushed to her front gate and in a panic cried:

"Where's Bertie? Where's Bertie?"

I have to tell you that my owner is pathologically honest, not tremendously imaginative, and in situations where a simple fib might make life easier all round she usually ends up giving a tediously truthful explanation.

It went like this:

"Don't worry, Bertie is safe at home. We went to the park earlier and on the way back I stopped off to buy a newspaper."

Gail pauses for a microsecond and the panicky neighbour, who clearly hadn't heard Gail's first sentence, interjects.

"Oh no! Don't tell me! Someone stole Bertie from outside the paper shop! There's a lot of it going on at the moment. A friend of a friend of mine in Cults who has a garden separated from a field by a low dry stane dyke had her dog taken just the other week, and then I heard this other story..."

Gail manages to interrupt the flow.

"No no, it's all OK. BERTIE IS SAFE AT HOME. It's just when I went to pay for my Guardian I realised I'd left my purse at home and so the cashier said don't worry, take the paper and come back later with the money. So I went back right away to settle up before I forgot all about it, but didn't take Bertie, which is why you now see me walking up the street without the dog."

The neighbour may or may not have taken this in, and resumes her lecture on the dangers of dog theft in the area. Gail keeps to herself the thought that the neighbour might be exaggerating based on limited data, and eventually escapes and arrives home a second time.

It would all have been so much simpler if Gail had just told the neighbour I'd decided to have a lie in ...

PS Gail is well aware that the whole concept of going to a paper shop and actually buying a weekend newspaper with real pound coins is making her these days sound like a prehistoric relic, but some lifetime habits are hard to break!

Friday 13 September 2019

Butterflies on Nature Friday

Which Painted Lady do you prefer?

(1) The butterfly type seen in the front garden of a house on the Northumberland coast last weekend, or

(2) The 'holiday property decoration in dubious taste' type, seen in our AirBnB accommodation in Berwick-upon-Tweed that same weekend?

Wishing all our dear readers a Happy Nature Friday! And once again thank you to our lovely friends Arty, Jakey and Rosy for hosting the blog hop.

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Beaches and cliffs, then ruined priory or cake?

Gosh, where to begin?

Gail and I have just returned from a truly splendiferous few days spent exploring the Northumberland coast with our Nottingham-based friends Janet and Sue.

(Geography note: Northumberland, in the northeast corner of England, is conveniently situated about half way between Nottingham and Aberdeen.)

Shall I first show you some of the beaches? There aren't many places in crowded little England that offer such open and expansive vistas.

If you like your seaside with a touch more human activity, then Coldingham Bay, just across the border in Scotland, might be the place for you.

I'll admit that, while Janet was striding ahead, Sue and I slowed down a little to consider which of the pretty painted beach huts we'd like to adopt.

Of course, when with Gail, you always end up visiting places of geological interest too.

I'm sure you've already spotted the St Abbs Head fault line, separating volcanic rocks of eastern headland from the Devonian and Silurian sediments to the landward side (!)

It's not so often that Gail and I head for religious sites, but one has to say that the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne, an important centre of early Christianity in England and only reachable via a tidal causeway, has a very, very special atmosphere all of its own.

I have promised not to let on that, after spending much of the afternoon wandering around the nature reserve in the north of Holy Isle, Gail and her philistine friends prioritised tea and cake (generous slices of Victoria sponge served with strawberries and cream). So our little group failed to make it to the ruins of the 12th century priory and adjacent museum until after the gates were closed for the day, and had to settle for taking photos from behind the fence.

Still, we did all have a fabulous time overall, and massive thanks to Janet for organising our accommodation in Berwick-upon-Tweed and planning such splendid outings. I want you to know that I walked at least twenty-five miles over the course of the weekend. I might be slowing down a bit but there is life in the old dog yet!

Friday 6 September 2019

A panic on Speyside...

Well done to those of you who correctly deduced that I was in the Highland village of Carrbridge on Monday. And congratulations to YAM-Aunty for providing the best porridge recipe and anecdote!

While up in that part of the world we went for a walk beside the River Spey. I had wandered on ahead when suddenly I noticed Gail reaching for her camera! For a moment I panicked that she was not going to include me in her photo of the Devil's Bit Scabious flowers beside the track, and I had to rush back to her at maximum velocity.

Fortunately I was able to get into position to pose for this week's Nature Friday picture of these delicately pretty blue blooms which brighten up our late summer meadows.

Phew, what's a relief to once again be able to join Arty, Jakey and Rosy for their ever wonderful Nature Friday! 

Wednesday 4 September 2019

Scottish haute cuisine...

So which Highland village did I visit on Monday?

And in case more than one of my readers gets the right answer, here's a tie-break question concerning a perennially controversial issue.....

(Winter is on its way and we need to know!)

Monday 2 September 2019

Politically incorrect

I am totally not going to start cracking jokes involving negative stereotypes about Aberdonians and their reputation for being, er, 'careful' with the pennies.

Apparently such comments might be considered politically incorrect, even if true.

No indeed, the topic of my blog post today is the Summer Flower and Vegetable Show in Duthie Park.
Well at least this would have been the topic if the show had been open when I went for my customary Sunday morning walk.

Can you believe  they refused to make an exception and open specially for me, despite the promise of worldwide social media coverage (and my  generous offer to water the plants.... )?

Well then,  I might just point out how several of their banners appeared to have been 'repurposed' from an earlier event at nearby Hazlehead Park.

And that's all I have to say on the subject.