Friday 29 January 2021

Camouflage?

It's been cold and grey in Aberdeen this week, and I have spent much of the time snuggled up on the sofa beside Gail, closely monitoring the progress of her latest knitting project.

Hmmm, it seems that Gail has started on a new jumper for herself. The colour reminds me of our Scottish landscape in August, when the hillsides are resplendent with the purple glow of heather.

I wonder if Gail intends this new garment as camouflage? With a fair wind, she should have it ready to wear for when the heather comes into bloom later this year! 

I too would like a purple sweater - perfect attire for a spot of deer stalking, don't you think?

Happy Nature Friday friends! Here are some more old pictures of me out and about in the heather-clad hills.

Thank you once again to the LLB Gang for hosting this our favourite blog hop. Do jump aboard! 

Wednesday 27 January 2021

You can't fool me


So we are in the park early. Gail says it's to enjoy the sunrise.

Frankly I would have stayed cuddled up in bed a little longer. 

Back home, I observe a familiar sequence of preparations before Gail disappears for a few hours.

I settle down on the sofa and patiently wait.

When Gail returns she murmurs endearments, says sorry she was out so long, and I get an affectionate ear scritch.

But she doesn't look or sound sorry. And the hi-vis jacket is a dead giveaway, confirming my suspicions that my owner abandoned me in favour of going for a bicycle ride with a friend. 

And her rosy cheeks and cheery demeanour are frankly rather irritating.

Monday 25 January 2021

Warning, post contains troubling images...


The roads being apparently too icy for the bicycle this weekend, Gail sent an S.O.S. call to her Cycling WhatsApp group. 

I am delighted to report that Heather answered the call, and a rendezvous was arranged for Saturday morning.

But before showing you more photos from the walk along the coastal path, I need to issue a trigger alert.

THIS POST CONTAINS IMAGES OF PALE AND GOOSE-PIMPLED HUMAN FLESH. (THOUGH THANKFULLY NOT IN HIGH DEFINITION...)

But first we chanced upon two other friends, out for a run, and they paused for a socially-distanced few words. Feeling sprightly, I wanted to join them running, but was reined in.

So Heather, Gail and I proceeded as planned to Cove Harbour, where I do believe that my compliant posing was used as a front for Gail to zoom in on a small party of swimmers.

What! No wet suits???!!!

Readers, the sea temperature in these parts is currently around 7ºC. And on Saturday morning, despite the sunshine, the air temperature was only a smidge above freezing....

Rest assured I kept all four paws on solid ground. As, thankfully, did Gail and Heather.

But still I am worried that all the humans are going a little crazy just now...

Friday 22 January 2021

Crow versus crisp packet on black ice

Something a bit different for today's Nature Friday. 

Seen on the way back from Duthie Park on Sunday morning. Bertie and I were standing about ten feet away.

https://youtu.be/NalizUM9nOw

Is this crow perhaps failing to live up to his species' reputation for high IQ...?

Thanks again to our dear friends Jakey, Arty, Rosy and Sunny for hosting this blog hop. Do go and visit the other posts - we know you won't regret it! 


Wednesday 20 January 2021

Walk on by.....


I had an early morning date at Hazlehead Park with my Westie friend Rosie. 

I hoped to impress her with my smart winter attire.

Do you think I succeeded? 

 

Monday 18 January 2021

Hefted to Aberdeen

Have you come across the term 'hefted'? 

That's hefted as in relation, usually, to sheep in the uplands of Northern England.

My friend, writer Robert Macfarlane, described it thus in his 'word of the day' Tweet a while back: 


Or, to quote from The English Lake District World Heritage Site webpage: 

Hefted sheep have a tendency to stay together in the same group and on the same local area of fell (the heft or heaf) throughout their lives. These traits are passed down from the ewe to her lambs. The sheep are acclimatised to a particular terrain, weather conditions and diseases that prevail in the area. They are familiar with the ways to find shelter and, at gathering (bringing sheep down from the fells) times, the way to the farmstead and back to their grazing ground.

Why bring this up? I hear you ask.

Well, after nearly a year, on and off (mostly on), of being locked down in Aberdeen, I am beginning to feel 'hefted' to the local terrain.

It is true that I live with Gail in the heart of Scotland's third biggest city, I do not roam free on a Lake District fell, but the principal of being attached to one's territory, through knowing it intimately, still applies.

Within a three mile radius of our home, I doubt there is now a street, alleyway, track or footpath, a park, public garden, beach or wood, which I have not walked/trotted/bounced along, or sniffed or marked, at some point in the last few months. 

For example:

I know exactly which side of Duthie Park is most subject to chilly winds, and where the ice still lies in wait for the unwary on an otherwise frost-free day. 

I can tell at first sniff when a strange pup has marked one of the trees in our street. 

If a gale is blowing, I know better than to venture down to the seashore, as the waves can be scary and the sand gets in your eyes. 

There is a gently sloping river beach just along from the park, and this water-averse terrier has learned it is the safe place to go for a paddle on a warm day. (We don't do 'hot' here in Aberdeen.)

If the river is high, experience has taught me that the route under the Bridge of Dee archway on the northern side will not be passable.

We have 'winter paths', where the trees stripped of leaves afford fine views over the city, and 'summer paths' where wild flowers flourish and there is shade a-plenty. 

Certain trails are wonderfully muddy after rain, and if my luck is in, Gail forgets to avoid these.

I can tell you where, in the harbour area, you are at greatest danger of being splattered with seagull droppings...

I choose to stay away from those roads I know are particularly busy - my puppyhood fear of noisy lorries thundering past has abated over the years, but deep down persists. 

I could map the distribution of dog breeds throughout the city - Westies and 'Doodle' types here, Retrievers and Spaniels there, Staffies and Rottweilers elsewhere. 

Finally, I can find my way home, from each and every direction, and once inside the house, I will detect the sound of my food bowl being filled even if I'm two flights of stairs up from the kitchen...

Oh and by the way, I am much smarter than a sheep!



Friday 15 January 2021

Welcome to the Trump International Doggy Park!


My Nature Walkie this week took me from Balmedie Country Park, through the sand dunes and on to the Trump International Golf Course Doggy Park.

To say I had a spring in my step would be an understatement.

Totally deserted, it's a great place for social distancing.

And although the chemical-drenched greens and fairways are far from nature-friendly, we will admit (in the spirit of reconciliation) that they provide a welcome dose of greenery in grey January.

Golfers? What golfers? This is a doggy park, right?

Happy Nature Friday friends! Thanks again to Rosy and the Gang for hosting the blog hop.

 

Wednesday 13 January 2021

The Year of Travelling Comfortably



Now don't get me wrong. I love travelling, and my two long train trips through continental Europe (to Switzerland and Germany) rate as among the highlights of my adventurous life so far. 

But still, the sad truth is that too often when Gail goes on holiday, I am consigned to what she euphemistically calls 'camp' and this is a whole lot less satisfactory. 

Well, for reasons familiar to all my readers, all thoughts of holidaying abroad had to be abandoned in 2020, and in place of her planned April trip to Berlin, Prague and Vienna, Gail opted to explore these places, and then many more besides, mostly via their literature, and in some case through history and travel books too. This was all accomplished from the comfort of the sofa, where I was more than happy to join her. 

Over the course of the last year, we've 'visited' the following countries:  

Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Albania, France, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, India, Soviet Union/Russia, Iran, Nigeria, Korea, Japan, Peru, and the USA.

It's all been very enjoyable and interesting, although I do have a minor quibble that, aside from Švejk's rather disreputable background dealing in stolen dogs, us pups did not figure large in the reading list. 

I wonder what your humans do when they can't travel? (Or maybe they never ever like to leave you, which is most commendable.) 

Monday 11 January 2021

A quiet week in Aberdeen.


So I understand there were some ructions in Washington D.C. last week. 

Meanwhile it's been a quiet few days here in Aberdeen. 

We had an inch or two of snow ...

... which was fun for a while.

But then it melted. So we went to the beach. 

Oh and I slept quite a lot too. 

Sometimes quiet is good. 

How was your week?

Friday 8 January 2021

Nature walkies - keeping it legal

It's fun to go for a walk in the woods with a couple of pals, don't you think?

Last Sunday our intrepid friends M and J showed Gail and me a short but lovely route around Newmill Hill.

Fun, but as of the next day, illegal in Scotland (and the rest of the UK). The new rules, in response to the worsening Covid-19 situation, now say one human can only meet up with one other human for outdoor exercise. As far as I'm aware, there are no limits on dogs.

So at the moment, Gail can take me for walks with J, or with M, but not with M and J all together... Unless they all want to be arrested.

Oh, and the walk must be not more than five miles from Aberdeen city boundary.

On Wednesday Gail and I went for a wee trot around Tollohill Wood - on the edge of Aberdeen - with Muriel. (And if there were a couple of other friends not far off, that was pure happenstance...)

I am pleased to report that Muriel - a lady of most excellent taste - brought along some cheesy oatcakes especially for me!

Thank you Muriel! And thank you also to Millie and Walter for giving Muriel the prompt with their comment on an earlier post.

It was a crystal clear morning and we stopped briefly to admire the view from the lookout point.

Sadly the snow capped mountains we could see in the far distance are currently out of bounds... Sigh.

Happy Nature Friday friends! And thanks to the LLB Gang for keeping our favourite blog hop going. Gail is feeling in need of things to look forward to just now.

Tuesday 5 January 2021

If not Torridon then Torry...

Our Torridon cottage in the NW Highlands is undergoing renovation - still far from complete - and is anyway out of bounds right now due to Covid travel restrictions.

Since we can't spend time amid the peaceful mountains and lochs of the Torridon area, I suggested to Gail the other day that we go exploring its near namesake, Torry - a district of Aberdeen just a hop, skip and a jump across the river from where we live. 

Gail raised her eyebrows at the idea that Torry would be a satisfactory substitute for Torridon, but she decided to humour me anyway and off we trotted.

We approached Torry via the harbour and the golf course. So far so good. 

But on the hill overlooking the golf course, the sight of these grim apartment blocks, calling to mind Soviet style Khrushchyovka, did not bode well. And altbough to me, the local aroma of waste treatment plant blended with wholesale fish operations was actually quite appealing, Gail disagreed.

Further down the main street, the brutal 1960's buildings gave way to tenement housing, so typical of an earlier era in Scotland. Perhaps the scene would have looked more cheerful on a sunny summer day.

We reached the shops, and discovered the source of the many Tyskie and Zywiec beer cans we'd earlier seen littering the path by the harbour.

Disappointingly, Gail did not venture inside to buy me some Polish sausage, and when we found a more traditional Scottish food outlet, it was closed.

I was starting to think Gail was right to be sceptical about the attractions of Torry, but then, quite by surprise, hidden away on a back street between the shops and the harbour, we came across a couple of rows of old fishermen's cottages, all gaily painted (a most welcome splash of colour amid the all-pervasive Aberdeen grey) and we decided the expedition had been worthwhile after all.



And for those of you who love a map... our route, 4.8 miles, is marked by the yellow line.

PS This post is especially for our dear blogging friend YAM-Aunty. She knows why!