Monday, 10 August 2020

Decision making 101

 Do you ever have one of those days...

...when you really can't decide whether you want to be in or out?

OK, time to commit!

Turns out it was a good decision 'cos I scored treats by posing handsomely in the front of the orange potentilla.  

And then enjoyed a lengthy session of barking at my next door neighbours Stroma the cocker spaniel on one side and Ruby the Briard on the other.  

Have you made any good decisions lately? 

Friday, 7 August 2020

Oh no, not again...

Just hours after my post on Wednesday came the most unwelcome news that my home city Aberdeen has gone into a local coronavirus lockdown. All bars and restaurants are closed again (so no cheeseburger for me any time soon), no visits to other households, and travel is limited to a five mile radius of one's place of residence. 

Gosh there were a lot of glum faces today among the normally cheerful early morning Duthie Park dog walkers. 

What to do? Perhaps if I posed nicely in front of the park's flower borders, which are looking their most colourful just now, that would help brighten things up? After all, it is Nature Friday, and my friends will want to see something other than the grey granite of our plague-struck city. 

On Thursdays Gail normally abandons me to go cycling after our early walk. This week, I noticed a rather curious WhatsApp message on her phone which seemed to indicate that her cycling friends were struggling with the concept of the five mile limit. 
But it seems they met up anyway, and I leave you to guess how far out of town these ladies actually rode before settling down to a socially distanced and sunny picnic.
Happy Nature Friday friends! I hope you are enjoying more freedom in your part of the world than we are here right now...

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Rishi's dishes - dogs invited?

On passing by the 'Inn at the Park' on my morning walk, I couldn't help but notice that the board which usually says "dogs welcome in the bar and garden" now has new wording. 

It announces that the restaurant is taking part in 'Eat Out to Help Out', a novel scheme announced last month by UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, aiming to get people back in the habit of dining out again now that lockdown restrictions are being eased*. The government will subsidise meals by up to £10 per head on any Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday in August. 

So I carefully scanned the menu and decided a cheeseburger would suit me nicely (you can forget the salad), and if Gail ordered fish and chips I would be prepared to help her out with the batter.

I am confident that Mr Sunak, who as you can see in the picture below seems comfortable in the company of canines, will allow the meal discount to be claimed by pets as well as humans. Of course he will! I mean, us pups are always ready to make sacrifices for the sake of our country's economy, aren't we.....?

*Gail says: whether 'Eat Out to Help Out' is a good idea or not at this moment, especially with a cluster of new Covid cases in Aberdeen linked to a pub less than a mile up the road, is whole different subject, and not one for this blog.  

Monday, 3 August 2020

Hot day, cool place

With much of Europe sizzling in the summer heat, and sun seekers on beaches in the south of England packed together like sardines, can Gail and I be forgiven for feeling a touch of Schadenfreude as we enjoy a refreshing ramble along the empty coastline in the northeast corner of Aberdeenshire? 

It matters not to me that there are no palm trees here, that our camera angles are carefully selected to exclude the St Fergus gas terminal complex to the south, and that the 25 mph wind makes the claim of 21ÂșC seem optimistic...

After exploring the dunes, I look across to the seashore and ascertain that social distancing will not be an issue hereabouts.

So I boldly venture onto the beach, where I soon discover that it is best to stand on the wet sand below the high tide mark, to avoid the grains of sand blowing in one's eyes. (Gail is tall enough not to have this problem), 

Who needs a holiday in the Caribbean?

Friday, 31 July 2020

A tornado?

It was nice and sunny when Gail and I set off to ascend Morven, our favourite Aberdeenshire hill, last Sunday.

Needless to say, conditions were not so favourable when we reached the 872 m high summit.

After a few minutes braving the full force of the westerly gale, I opted to direct photography from the relative comfort of the stone wind shelter, where I also had high hopes of finding morsels of food carelessly dropped by previous hikers.

Gail says you have to biggify the next three photos for full dramatic effect.

Before descending, I posed in front of some little yellow flowers. These are Alpine lady's mantle and they grow in the wild at high altitudes in Scotland. The harsh conditions dictate they are much tinier than their lowland cousins. That the photograph below is focussed on my beard rather than the plant is not, to my mind, a shortcoming, but Gail insisted on taking a close-up of the flowers, which also turned out to be imperfectly focussed - well it was rather windy up there...

On the way down we spotted what almost looked like mini-tornado in the distance.

By the time we reached the lower slopes, the sun was shining brightly on the blooming heather and, miraculously, we somehow dodged the showers and made it back to the car without once getting wet! 

Happy Nature Friday friends! Once again we are delighted to join in with Rosy, Jakey, Arty and Sunny for their weekly blog hop. 

Monday, 27 July 2020

The Freedom of Union Street

I guess even the darkest cloud has at least the faintest glimmer of a silver lining. 

Although it's only a kilometre from our front door, Gail doesn't very often walk me into the Aberdeen city centre. The main thoroughfare, Union Street, tends to be full of noisy traffic, and with pedestrians crammed on to too narrow pavements.

So imagine my delight when a few days ago, when Gail had a few messages* to do in town and I accompanied her, I came upon a scene transformed. 

Yes, this is post-coronavirus Union Street, where cars, buses and lorries have, in the cause of social distancing, been displaced in favour of two and four legged transport, and bicycles, and flower boxes. 

If I was to let Gail write my blog, I have no doubt you'd be in for a lengthy rant about how it's been obvious for decades that this should be done, that Aberdeen City Council is run by short-sighted dinosaurs, blah, blah, blah. 

Well I'll spare you all that, but I will side with my owner in hoping that these supposedly temporary measures will end up a permanent and positive legacy of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, a place where I can do zoomies unhindered all the way from St Nicholas Kirk to Marks and Spencer and back...

I'm wondering if my friends have seen any similar street alterations in their home territory? 

*'Messages' is Scots for 'errands', a usage which causes some confusion for English immigrants when they first arrive in this part of the world. 

Friday, 24 July 2020

There is a willow grows aslant a brook

Sometimes I have to question the thinking behind my human's urge to explore new places. 

I mean, would you really want to visit the place where Ophelia drowned? Or to be strictly accurate, the location where the drowning scene in Franco Zeffirelli's film of 'Hamlet' (that's the Mel Gibson one) was shot? 

Well here we are, in a steep gully beneath some cliffs, near the coastal village of Muchalls, about ten miles south of Aberdeen. 

This is 'Ophelia's Pool', a local, well-hidden beauty spot.

So how did Shakespeare have Gertrude describe the scene? 

There is a willow grows aslant a brook, 
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream. 
There with fantastic garlands did she come 
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples, 
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name, 
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them. 
There on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds 
Clamb'ring to hang, an envious sliver broke, 
When down her weedy trophies and herself 
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide 
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up; 
Which time she chaunted snatches of old tunes, 
As one incapable of her own distress, 
Or like a creature native and indued 
Unto that element; but long it could not be 
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, 
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay 
To muddy death.

Well I have to say I had no plans to fall in the 'weeping brook' and risk dying a 'muddy death', no matter how good a photo opportunity it might have made.

I took care to steer well clear of those weeds and keep my paws firmly planted.

I'll concede that 'Ophelia's Pool' is a pretty spot...

...but if you want the full picture of garlands of cornflowers, coronets of weeds, and aesthetically pleasing drowning, I refer you to the painting by John Everett Millais, as found a long way from here, in the Tate Gallery, London. 

Happy Nature Friday friends! And once again thank you to the ever wonderful LLB Gang for hosting this blog hop.