Monday 30 November 2020

Frosty morning bonus walk

Do you ever take a peek at your human's phone to find out what's going on? I did on Saturday morning and saw this on the WhatsApp. 

It was all looking rather promising. Especially when Gail joined in the conversation.

So a group of six - one dog and five humans - met in socially-distanced fashion in the Banchory Tesco car park and, gosh, we had such a lovely walk along the River Dee and up Scolty Hill. Thanks Muriel for leading the way! I'll admit that Gail and I are both slightly relieved you shortened your usual 14 mile route ... And I hope I didn't hold things up too much with all my sniffing.

Later on the phone.

I'm sure my readers would like to see the full size photo of my handsome self pausing to enjoy the winter sunshine by the river. This was early afternoon, by which time the ice had all melted.

Between you and me, I'm looking forward to lots more frosty mornings!

Friday 27 November 2020

An almost entirely satisfactory Birthday Walk

It was my owner Gail's birthday earlier this week. You might not be aware that Gail is always moaning about how, for someone who lives in Scotland and likes outdoor activities, it is a rubbish time of year to have a birthday, 

Well I am delighted to report that on Wednesday the weather gods were, for once, in cooperative mood, and Gail and I celebrated the occasion with a lovely short hike to Tom's Cairn with her friends Kirsty and Yvonne. 

In the still and crystal clear air we could see half of Aberdeenshire from the path along the broad ridge, and when we reached our destination (the 6913th highest peak in Scotland), it was even warm enough for the "girls" to sit down on the stones for a relaxed chinwag while I gnawed away on my chicken-wrapped chew.

It is only a small complaint that, after the walk, the humans opted for a birthday lunch at the Finzean (pronounced "Fing-in") Farm Shop restaurant, which happens not to be dog friendly. To be honest, I did quite enjoy my wee snooze in the car.

Happy Nature Friday friends! Do go and visit the other posts in the LLB Gang's blog hop. Perhaps some other pups have been on a nice winter walk too.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Wardrobe dilemma


Have you been invited to lots of seasonal festivities this year?

No, me neither, so far. But ever the optimist, I'm sure it's only a matter of time, and thus today I am requesting your help in resolving what Gail insists on calling my "First World Problem".

In fact it is a VERY SERIOUS dilemma.

Surely, my readers will agree it is important for me to make good choices when it comes to deciding which of my four hand-knitted jumpers I should select to wear at any (as yet hypothetical) Christmas parties or other events this winter.

I'm hoping you can assist by making suggestions as to which sweater might be best suited to different occasions.

Perhaps it would help if I modelled each one, and told you a bit about it?

Here is Gail's first effort, incorporating a Fair Isle yoke and knitted back in 2015 when Gail was on unpaid leave from work looking after Human Granny. The undyed yarn is spun from Shetland sheep owned by our lovely Torridon neighbour Julia. The jumper is, just possibly, a teeny weeny bit too close fitting these days. Or you might think it shows off my slim but well muscled torso to good effect...

Next is my roughty-toughty Aran sweater. To knit this, Gail used up yarn which had been sitting in the back of her wardrobe for about three decades, left over from her abortive attempt to knit a similar jumper for herself. To my mind, this is the most masculine of the four available garments.

Thirdly we have a an intricate 'Bohus' design from Sweden. This little number uses finer Shetland yarn, and many different colours and Gail says was a total pain the **** to complete. It is has a lower neckline than my other sweaters, and is rather short in the body - a style that my Human Grandad would have referred to as a 'bum-freezer'...

Finally, the most recent is my Nordic Snowflake sweater, which some of you will have seen in my post a few weeks ago. The jolly red colour might be suitable for a festive shindig, although I would note it would not be good camouflage should I, just let's say for example, be invited to join the Royal Family for a spot of deer stalking on the Balmoral Estate.

Please dear readers, I know that you, unlike Gail, will take my wardrobe dilemma seriously. With your advice, I will surely be suitably attired for all potential forthcoming events...

Monday 23 November 2020

Wagging and waiting

Every morning for the past couple of months, Gail has been giving me a new pre-walk treat, a little brown tablet wrapped in grated cheese. I wait patiently while she prepares the treat, tail wagging in anticipation.

It tastes delicious and, gosh, ever since I've been getting these special goodies, I've been feeling quite the frisky young pup again. And Gail seems happier too. She claims she treasures every hour she spends with me, and this might be true up to a point, although I would note it did not stop her going out for a long bike ride with her friends on Saturday and leaving me home alone, all forlorn, for several hours...

However I am pleased to report that, after what I imagine was a sleepless night wracked with guilt* Gail took me out on Sunday to join her friends M and J, and we all enjoyed some quality time together, rambling around the sheltered lower reaches of Glen Tanar.

*Gail says: I think Bertie is referring here to what I experienced as eight solid hours of untroubled slumber.

Friday 20 November 2020

Searching for November greenery at Dunecht Estate

By this time of year, the 'green' aspect of our 'green and pleasant land'* is looking a little faded, as was evident when Gail took me around the grounds of the Dunecht Estate on Wednesday afternoon this week.

The broadleaved trees have lost their foliage, and the untended roadside grasses are dull and tired. 

The grand estate house is grey and austere in the dimming afternoon light.
The newly sown winter crops provide splashes of green,

as does the Estate's well-groomed nine hole golf course. 

But best of all, check out the mosses and ferns, still putting on a fine show despite the avalanche of newly fallen beech leaves.

*Gail says: lest any Scottish Nationalist pedants object to Bertie's 'Jerusalem' reference, yes he does know that Blake's poem actually refers to 'England's green and pleasant land'! 

I hope you enjoyed today's Nature Friday walk. Do go and visit the other posts in the LLB Gang's weekly blog hop - maybe nature will be more colourful just now in other parts of the world! 

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Beach bums?

It's always good to make new friends.

Monday 16 November 2020

Dilyn versus DOTUS?

Yes, we are talking canine politics today.
I have been admiring the soon to be resident White House dogs, Champ and Major. 

But Gail is worried that, with post-Brexit US/UK trade negotiations coming up, our own 10 Downing Street pup Dilyn might lose out in any tussle regarding who gets the biggest bone.

I've told her not to worry, little Dilyn exudes 'soft power' with his pretty looks, and as a terrier can be trusted hold his ground when it come to defending sovereignty over dog treats.

For some reason, Gail is still not convinced...

Friday 13 November 2020

Patiently posing, up to a point...

When yellow birch leaves dapple paths,
and bracken turns to rust (its final stand),
and dreich autumnal chill preserves the post-rain mud, 
then Nature Friday posing starts to pall, 
and soon you'll see a damp still handsome butt, 
disappearing down the hill. 

Happy Nature Friday, friends. Once again huge thanks to Rosy and The Gang for hosting this our very favourite blog hop. Do join in! 

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Confusion and dismay in Torridon

So we went across to the Torridon cottage earlier this week, for what Gail said would be a "flying visit" to "see how things were going".

I can't remember if I've mentioned this before but, after eighteen years of dithering, Gail has finally initiated a major renovation/remodelling of the cottage. The builder started work on schedule in October and I was warned to expect a few changes...

A few changes? Talk about British Understatement! 

Where is the kitchen?

Where is the bathroom?

Most importantly, where is my sofa? Gail, please make it reappear!

Oh and why does our lovely cottage garden look like some Appalachian hillbillies have just moved in....

Well at least we still had a bed  - albeit a rather dusty one - for our overnight stay.

If you think I am looking upset in the picture above, that's because I am.

However, I am pleased to say that Gail, recognising the extent of my trauma, took me out for a nice walk before we returned to Aberdeen. It might be all mayhem in the cottage but, thank heavens, the landscape around us is unchanged and as lovely as ever, resplendent in its late autumn clothing.

Sunday 8 November 2020

Comfortable for now, but...

Gail here: 

I know that some of Bertie's friends will be wondering how he is really doing, given his late September diagnosis of cancer of the bladder.

Well the recent blog posts do not lie. The dear little fellow has been relishing his autumnal walks, lively as ever, and at home he is calm and content as in the picture above. His appetite is good, the 'accidents' in the house have, for the moment, ceased and he is not obviously straining to pee. The anti-inflammatory tablets, 'Previcox', appear to be doing their job of easing his symptoms.  

And yet.... sadly that is not the whole story. Yesterday, for the first time, I clearly observed blood in Bertie's urine, something I had been warned to look out for, and a sure sign that the cancer has progressed. 

So we continue to live in the moment. In a week when in the wider world, to quote Heaney via Biden, "hope and history rhyme", I'm made aware again of the dark cloud on the local horizon (though thankfully Bertie is not) and I try to savour each day that my beloved pup remains comfortable, with his zest for life undimmed.

Friday 6 November 2020

In praise of community woodland

Amid the world's turmoil and strife, it's a fine thing, isn't it, to know that people out there are working hard to manage our environment for the benefit of humans, plant and wildlife (and maybe even dogs!)

On Tuesday this week, Gail and I joined our friends M and J for a walk around Slewdrum Forest, an area of woodland managed by the Birse Community Trust.

To quote from their website, the aim of the trust is:

" manage and develop the Forest as a native forest that has varied habitats and high amenity, while also producing a sustainable supply of timber that contributes financially to other activities carried out by BCT on behalf of the local community" 

'Amenity' includes a network of accessible footpaths and tracks, so come on, what are we waiting for, let's go and explore!

We soon arrive at a viewpoint over the valley of the Dee, and I am of course required to 'pose nicely' for a minute or two.

Onwards then down the track...

... until we join the Deeside Way, a long distance footpath/cycle route from Aberdeen to Ballater. At which point Gail makes me wait for our friends to catch up.

Although soon I'm racing on again - the light is fading and I'm anxious to get back to the carpark.

I do love going for walks to new places with M and J. And thank you so much to the good folk of Birse Community Trust for looking after this piece of our land for all to enjoy. 

Oh but I do have one small request. I hope this doesn't sound ungrateful. I noticed that when we all paused for refreshment en route (Gail, M and J had a flask of coffee and some rock cakes, I was given a rawhide and chicken chew to "keep me quiet") there were no picnic benches available for the humans, so they were compelled to perch, rather uncomfortably I thought, on a damp and mossy log. So perhaps the Community Trust might add the odd seat or two to enhance the 'amenity' aspect of their lovely woodland? Just a thought...

Happy Nature Friday friends! I hope that you too have nice places to explore and nice friends to accompany you.