Thursday 31 December 2020

Up there with Amundsen and Peary....?

The latitude might only have been 57ºN but surely Tuesday's expedition from the car park at Dyce will rank alongside the exploits of Amundsen, Scott, Shackleton, Nansen and Peary in the annals of polar exploration. 

In treacherously icy conditions, two cars, one containing myself and Gail, the other her intrepid friends M and J, reached the parking area beside the River Don at the appointed time - and only once en route did M and J's vehicle require the intervention of human muscle power in order to propel it forwards across a particularly slippery patch of tarmac...

Suitably equipped - parkas, woolly hats, boots, double layers of gloves, poles, provisions, dog treats etc. - the party then carefully inched away from the cars and successfully negotiated several feet of black ice to reach the safety of some railings beside the river path.

After a detailed evaluation of the conditions, it was decided to attempt to venture east, sticking where possible to the grass at the edge of the path as this offered superior footholds.

But after about fifty yards the valiant explorers were running out of options. J went to recce a possible route away from the river, saying as he left "I may be gone some time".  He returned with tales of a perilous half frozen bog, and the exhausted party chose to return to the picnic table beside the cars.

There, fortified by hot coffee from their flasks, and a packet of Lebkuchen, the party congratulated themselves on their safe return from such a daring feat of exploration, and decided to call it a day. Home fires beckoned.

Whereupon the sun came out and a robin appeared in the hope of finding that the fearless adventurers had left behind some Lebkuchen crumbs...


Tuesday 29 December 2020

It's been an eventful week...

Really, I don't know why the humans are moaning about the latest 'lockdown' here in Scotland.

No-one can claim that "nothing ever happens" and "every day is the same" when they live with a wire-haired fox terrier...

After my exciting Christmas adventure on Sunday, Gail and I met up for a walk with her friend Ian - aka the 'Oil Man' - and his wee Westie Rosie. Do you remember five years ago when I first met Rosie?

Well she's now an adorable five year old, and her little legs kept pace with mine, no problem, as we ascended Scolty Hill.

Then yesterday, another walk was planned, this time with Gail's friends J and F, their son Jamie and his border collie Hemp.

OK, so there is, er, 'history' between myself and Hemp, but we've tended to rub along fine together when we've met outdoors.

Not so yesterday I'm afraid.

The ground was crunchy with frost in the Warren Wood car park, where I was waiting patiently for Hemp and his family to arrive.

But no soon as they'd all climbed out of the car than there was an altercation involving Hemp and me. 

Suddenly, Hemp had me by the scruff of my neck and both of us were snarling angrily.  Jamie, a strong and brave young man, pulled Hemp away, at the price of a deep puncture wound in his right finger*. I was shaking badly, so Gail picked me up and gave me a close cuddle, while checking me for injuries. Soon I calmed down - it was only my pride that had been hurt. Hemp too appeared unscathed, but for poor Jamie it was a trip to A&E to get the wound checked over. 

So Jamie's dad took Jamie to the hospital and Hemp back home, while Jamie's mum accompanied Gail and I for the planned walk around the woods. That's her in the background, texting Jamie to see if they'd reached the hospital yet...

Half way round we met a group of four more border collies and that encounter passed off without incident.

At least it all distracted Gail from fretting about whether my Christmas sweater was getting muddy...

Do you think Hemp might have been jealous of my jumper?

*Gail says: The incident with Hemp all happened so quickly that we cannot be sure whether Hemp or Bertie was responsible for Jamie's hand injury, although the depth of wound perhaps implicates the larger dog. The good news is that Jamie was seen quickly at the hospital, and received thorough and exemplary treatment. His injured finger was x-rayed, cleaned, disinfected and dressed. No broken bones were detected, nor stitches needed. Jamie was given a tetanus jab and antibiotics, and will go back in a couple of days for a check-up. I'm afraid his hand will be sore for a while. Rest assured, we will keep the dogs apart in future. 

Saturday 26 December 2020

Do dogs have a conscience?

Do you like to start the day with a good stretch?

I do. I think it sets one up just perfectly for whatever the next 24 hours might have in store.

Now on Christmas Day, as I'm sure you'll agree, the biggest excitement is all about the turkey.

I expect that yesterday many of my canine pals scored at least a morsel or two from the traditional Christmas roast. Perhaps you did it the conventional, and dare I say rather boring way, by hanging around in the kitchen waiting for a moment's clumsiness on the part of the humans. Or maybe you worked hard at your "me is starving" look as you sat beside the dinner table. 

Or did your piece of turkey, like mine, come courtesy of a wee adventure?

So there I was trotting along the River Dee, enjoying a Christmas Day leg stretch with Gail and her friend Kirsty. As the humans were nattering away and ignoring me, my attention was caught by an interesting smell, and to pursue it I turned off the main path, up a narrow passage away from the river and into a garden.

It seems that when Gail and Kirsty realised I was not directly in front of them, they were unsure which direction I'd gone, so while Gail ran on ahead, Kirsty ventured up the passageway and spotted me.

Just at that moment, I pinpointed the source of the alluring aroma - an open doorway to a big kitchen where Christmas dinner was being prepared.  So of course I went in through the door.

Kirsty tried to follow but was immediately shooed away by a panicky lady shouting "NO NO, you can't come in, this is a care home, we have to shield the residents!" 

Did I ever mention before that I am a little bit deaf these days? It is my story, and I am sticking to it, that I did not hear Kirsty when she called me. The care home lady seemed anxious to have me leave her kitchen, and so she picked up a slice of turkey from one of the dinner plates and waved it in my face, and naturally I followed her as she walked out of the building. Whereupon the lady handed the turkey slice to Kirsty who relayed me back to the river path and Gail. 

Kirsty explained what had happened and asked Gail if she should now give me the piece of meat. My long suffering owner sighed and said yes, I suppose you might as well. Then she clamped on my lead.

Do I feel guilty that one of the care home residents might been deprived of their full dinner portion?

Does a dog have a conscience?

Thursday 24 December 2020

Snow bonus walk on Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve in Aberdeen we wake up to the first snowfall of the season. 

What's not to like about snow?

Suddenly the world seems magical and new, all sparking clean and white. And even better, Gail's cycling 'girls' for once see sense and abandon their usual Thursday morning ride in favour of a walk across Hazlehead Park and golf course.

And yours truly is invited along, despite being neither female nor a fan of the bicycle.

Oh we had a fine morning hike through the snow - and slush and mud. The destination was the restaurant at Dobbie's garden centre, where I was allowed into the special 'dog-friendly' seating area and stood patiently while the ladies took advantage of the last opportunity for indoor coffee and scones before the cafés are all locked down again until heaven only knows when. (Gail predicts 23 March 2021).

It would have been the perfect outing were it not for the payback on returning home...

Happy Christmas!

Wednesday 23 December 2020

A Christmas card for all our lovely friends!

Gail says: Christmas is extra-precious this year. When Bertie was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder in September I seriously doubted he'd still be around in December, based on what the vet said. It was an article of faith in early November to knit the festive sweater he's wearing in the picture above. So I have the best (in fact the only) Christmas present I need - my dear little dog who, thanks to his medication, is full of beans, enjoying life, eating well, and at the moment free of any distressing symptoms. I want to thank all our friends in the blogging world for their support, as I treasure every day Bertie continues to confound expectations.

We are delighted today to join the LLB Gang's Christmas Card blog hop. 

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Neighbourhood Christmas news in 2020...

So on Sunday afternoon I accompanied Gail on her annual short walk around the neighbourhood to deliver local Christmas cards. I donned my Nordic pullover in an endeavour to inject some (Gail said much needed) festive cheer into the proceedings.

It worked! A few paces up the road we ran into our friend Yvonne's daughter Leah. She stopped and admired my attire. I take this as a high compliment 'cos Leah is these days a very chic young lady,  home for Christmas from her Paris-based job. Leah looked puzzled when Gail expressed hope that she would get back to France OK in the New Year. We think she'll by now have heard the news about the new Covid variant and the borders closing.

Just around the corner, we handed a card to our elderly friend Martin, who was twiddling with the fairy lights in his front garden. Martin's wife has a lung condition and has been shielding all year, and this sociable pair will not be hosting their usual Hogmanay party. Neither will anyone else it seems, at least not legally. 

A little further on, we felt a bit sad to pass the entrance to the house which used to belong to Max and Ros, a lovely couple who moved away to Ilkley in Yorkshire earlier in the year. By now it was 3:30 pm and getting dark. The new residents have done a fine job with their decorations (that's the house pictured above) but we miss Max and Ros. Gail had hoped we could visit them back in the summer. Maybe 2021...

Finally we saw a neighbour whom we won't name. He was loading up presents to deliver to his two beloved grandchildren who live about 150 miles away in Peebles. He shouldn't really be doing this according to our latest restrictions, but he assured Gail he was handing over the presents in his daughter's front garden, and would not enter their house. 

It took well over an hour to complete this newsy half mile walk, and on returning home we reflected on the odd times in which we now live.    

Sunday 20 December 2020

A quick trip west

So last week at short notice* Gail and I made an overnight trip to the Torridon cottage to check on the how the renovation work is going. 

Let's see how things are looking inside.

In what Gail says is the year's least surprising news, progress is, well it is progressing, but somewhat slower than she'd hoped...

What can I say? My sofa is still stacked against the wall in the downstairs bedroom, and there is dust and rubble everywhere...

I'm pleased to report that at least the view from the front garden is unchanged.

On the way back to Aberdeen we stopped off at the grand but also dog-friendly Coul House Hotel for a bite to eat.

The nice man on reception saw Gail taking my photo...

... and decided she too needed to practice her 'pose nicely please' stance.

*Gail says: A new set of Covid-related restrictions for Aberdeen, banning non-essential travel outside of our local area, was announced on Tuesday and came into effect on Friday. So I made haste over to the Torridon cottage for a quick visit, not knowing when our ever changing rules will allow me (and Bertie) across to the west coast again. So hard to plan anything at the moment. Sigh...

Friday 18 December 2020

Moss and lichen special

Earlier this week, Gail and I went for a walk along the banks of the River Feugh near Finzean, about thirty miles inland from Aberdeen.

Did I ever mention that we have a damp climate here in Scotland...?

Happy Nature Friday friends. Once again thank you to our friends Jakey, Arty, Rosy and Sunny for hosting this blog hop. We love it!

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Rudolph the Red Nosed Tesla

Gail and I are thinking you might like to see how the Festive Season is shaping up in our neck of the woods. 

Let's go for a wee stroll around the neighbourhood.

Aberdonians are not in general given to ostentatious display. Here, the low key but lovely tradition is to put a Christmas tree in one's bay window, so it can be admired from the street. 

Of course, there's always one household that doesn't quite grasp the concept of the modest and tasteful display.

And what did we find right next door to this extravaganza? Oh dear, I fear someone might be feeling rather deflated, having been outshone by the competition...

The local paper shop has made a bit of an effort. Gail says anything to distract from content of the newspapers this year is probably a good idea...

Further along the street, we see a practical illustration of the proposition that in the UK, worship of the Health Service has become the national religion.

Gail and I are both rather fond of this cheerful reindeer fellow, all poised to greet visitors to the house a few doors up from ours. He may not be aware that household mixing is banned right now.

Nearby, another reindeer, rather a pretty one, is shyly prancing behind net curtains in an upstairs window. 

And finally, we are proud to present our new close neighbour, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Tesla, surely the coming thing in environmentally friendly present delivery. 

Sadly, he appears only to have one antler.

Monday 14 December 2020

Cobwebs, what cobwebs?

Just because it's been raining cats and humans* all week, and the wind has been working hard to prove it's worth as mainstay of Scotland's renewable energy resource, and it's the time of year when on a dull day the risen sun barely makes an impact on the light levels, does that mean you get spend all day lounging around on the sofa when you live with my owner Gail?

Of course you don't.

In this not very religious household, it is an article of faith that, whatever the conditions outside, one must on a regular basis go for a walk to "blow away the cobwebs".

Have you ever been troubled by cobwebs gathering on your furs?

Me neither.

But still Gail deemed it necessary that yesterday afternoon we should join neighbours Kirsty and Susanna for a stroll down to the headland at the mouth of Aberdeen harbour. That's about two miles from our street. I would like to point out that any stray cobweb which might have had the temerity to come along for the ride has probably been blown all the way across the North Sea and reached Norway by now!

*Makes as much sense as 'raining cats and dogs', right?

Friday 11 December 2020

Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud!

 One of the glories of nature, surely?

I dream of being a hippo in another life...

Happy Nature  Friday!

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Er, but what's it FOR?

In her ongoing, though intermittent, project to upgrade her needlework skills, Gail has been experimenting  with 'duplicate stitch', a technique which involves sewing a pattern or picture on top of a piece of plain knitting. This is her first effort.

If anyone can think of a use for this item, which is about 8" by 8", please let us know! 

(And in case you were wondering, I think it's supposed to be a wire-haired fox terrier...)