Friday 26 February 2021

The elastic ruler...

Happy Nature Friday friends! 

It was a lovely sunny day earlier this week when Gail took me for a walk up the Hill of Fare

As you know, here in Scotland just now our walks must begin and end not more than five miles beyond the city boundary. And I think we should leave it as a matter of conjecture as to whether, on this particular occasion, the ruler Gail used to measure the five miles on her map was an ever so slightly elastic one...

We start off with me posing nicely in the farmland near where the car was parked.

We then ascend a track through a mix of broadleaf and conifer plantations, our ears ringing with the merry sound of birds anticipating spring.

Before long, we find a small patch of snow.

And as we climb higher, leaving most of the trees behind, the snow patches across the track get bigger and deeper.

The Hill of Fare is a broad and gently undulating plateau of heather moorland, and at the summit we enjoy stupendous views all across Aberdeenshire, from the snow capped Cairngorm mountains to the North Sea.

Or at least Gail enjoys the view, while I focus my attention on scavenging for any picnic leftovers which previous hikers might have dropped in the vicinity of the little summit cairn...

It is thin pickings I'm afraid, picnics being one more of life's pleasures not allowed in Scotland right now...

Thank you once again to our friends the LLB Gang for hosting the Nature Friday blog hop.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Only six photos?

So Gail and I were doing a wee circuit of the neighbourhood the other afternoon when we ran into our friends Martin and Freda. 

Freda has been shielding and only now that she's had her vaccine is she starting to venture out and about. She and Gail had a long chat.  A very long chat in fact, and to be honest most of it passed me by as I focussed on sniffing the base of a nearby lamppost. 

But my flappy little ears did prick up when I heard Freda (who is a keen amateur artist) remarking on my extreme handsomeness and then saying she's been experimenting with drawing animals and she'd like to try a sketch of 'Bertie in repose'. She asked could Gail perhaps send her some photos as a starting point. 

Freda said she'd requested the same of another friend and commented, with a note of surprise in her voice, how this friend had emailed her twelve images of her wee Jack Russell terrier Freddie. 

Well I was surprised too. I mean twelve images seems scarcely enough, I would have thought. Why then did Gail reply thus? "Don't worry Freda, I won't send you that many".

Below are the six (yes, a mere half dozen) photos which Gail sent Freda.

I am hoping I get to see the final result of Freda's endeavours.

And of course, if none of the above images provides the necessary inspiration, we can always send her a few hundred more...

Sunday 21 February 2021

A cautionary tale for humans

When you have a load of snow and then it all melts quite suddenly, your human might be tempted to venture out on her bicycle and leave you home alone.

In so many ways, this is never ever a good idea.

Much more sensible to leave the bike in the shed and exercise your dog!

Thursday 18 February 2021

Birthday Special Scones!

Today we are celebrating my 11th birthday, while Gail is also fondly remembering my predecessor Hamish the Westie, whose life came to and end on the very same day that mine began.

And what better way to mark the occasion than for Gail to bake me some ultra-scrumptious Haggis and Cheese Scones*!

In a subtle nod to one of Hamish's most famous exploits, Gail served me the scones on the Nottingham lace tablecloth she inherited from Human Granny and Grandad. 

[You might remember also that I once staged a re-enactment of the 'Hamish trashes HGY's scones and  smears jam all over the lace tablecloth' episode...]

PS from Gail: huge thanks to our cycling friend Muriel for alerting me to this most deliciously Scottish scone recipe! 

Tuesday 16 February 2021

PE with Bertie!

It has come to my notice that in these times of lockdown there is a good living to be had as a fitness trainer, and I am thinking that I might have something to offer in this expanding field.

Tell me, does your human ever struggle to keep up with you when out on walks?

Well I have an infallible method of incentivising mine to get the old cardiovascular system pumping away.

You race well ahead, making like you're chasing a deer or something. You feign deafness, and as your human's shouts become louder and more panic-stricken, you step on the gas.

For sure they will sooner or later be compelled to ignore all those things they learned in puppy school about never ever running after your dog while trying to recall them...

Of course it is important to judge things right so you provide your human with a good workout while not making them so cross that treats are not forthcoming.

Who's for PE with Bertie then? A full body workout - sprinting, frantic arm waving, exercising vocal chords too - guaranteed! 

PS Photos taken last week. Our snow has mostly melted now. 

Sunday 14 February 2021

Not romantic?

I regret to report that the euphoria of last week's perfect powdery snow under (sometimes) blue skies has given way to gale force winds, freezing rain and treacherously icy pavements bordered with dirty sludge.

So after a quick trot around the park we're staying indoors today, and Gail has decided to show me some old letters sent from Human Grandad to Human Granny, in 1955 when they were just engaged to be married.

It won't come as a surprise to my long time readers that Gail's family are not demonstrably romantic by nature. 

Or at least I thought not until I saw this letter, written in the late evening when HGD's work had taken him away from home for a few days to a work-related conference in Eastbourne. 

It has to be admitted that HGD's handwriting was never the most legible, so here's a transcription of the passage that caught my eye:

"However, when the day does at last come to a close I lay in bed and think of ourselves, and all the pleasant things that the future surely holds for us, and the encouragement that I have received from our friendship. Somehow, since falling in love with you Maureen I have gained a new confidence in myself and a sense of responsibility to you because you seem to have confidence in me and I can't bear the thought of letting you down in any way. When away from you this seems to find its outlet in a desire to do my job as well as I possibly can in order that you can be proud of me."

Sadly, the collection of letters that Gail found when clearing out her parents' house after they died did not include a reply from Human Granny.

By the time I knew Human Grandad his wits were beginning to fail him, although he always would remember to save a bone for my visits and to welcome me a fond pat on the head. 

Happy Valentine's Day to all my friends!

Friday 12 February 2021

It's been a snowy week...

...and I couldn't be happier! 

The week begins at dawn in Duthie Park 

Tuesday sees a trip to Dunecht Estate

Where I roll in the snow

And yet more snow falls

I pause for a snack...

... while Gail warms up

Snow deepens as we reach Dunecht House

And I audition for Abominable Snowdog

Back home, this is the scene on our street 

On Wednesday I meet a handsome friend in the park 

Then pose by the frozen River Dee on Thursday

Ice is nice, right?

I end the week in a blur of joy! 

Happy Nature Friday friends. I do hope you've been enjoying the weather in your neck of the woods!

Thursday 11 February 2021

Thankful for Bertie's medication

Gail here: 

Over the years, the pharmaceuticals industry has developed a bad reputation. 

And yes, I'm all too familiar with the various criticisms of the way drugs companies operate. Many are valid. But today I wish to take a moment to state my appreciation of the dedicated scientists engaged in researching and developing treatments which genuinely improve length and quality of life for so many.

Why this topic? Why now?

Quite simply, I am beyond thankful that my beloved companion Bertie is sitting on my lap as I type, contentedly resting after a lively two hour romp in the snow, free of any obvious symptoms of the bladder cancer diagnosed back in September last year. At that time I was more or less told to expect the worst, and soon.

But since then, he has confounded expectations in every way that I can think of, and all the evidence points to the Previcox tablets he has been taking once a day ever since his diagnosis being responsible for the improvement in his wellbeing.

Are the tablets a cure? Assuredly not. Have they shrunk the tumour? Just possibly. Is my dog more comfortable and happier than he was six months ago? Most definitely, at least for the moment.

I readily admit that my attitude to pharmaceuticals is biased by my background. My father worked his entire career for Boots the Chemists at their Nottingham HQ, initially as a development chemist and later as a senior manager. It was there that he met my mother, who was working as a Personnel Officer. In later life my mother often said that moving to Nottingham to take the job at Boots was "the best decision I ever made"! Among my father's many fine colleagues was the man credited with 'discovering' ibuprofen (Advil to my friends in the U.S.)

Not everything that happened at Boots was good. Their record on using live animals in research is something we would now condemn. But with the world still in the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic, I also feel the time is right for a word of praise for the experts in chemistry, pharmacology, virology, immunology, genetics etc. who have been working night and day to develop life saving medications and of course vaccines for humans.

And then there is dear little Bertie.

Monday 8 February 2021

Can one have too much weather?

All in the last few days. 

Our street (these photos are not black and white)...

Two miles to the east at the harbour mouth...

In the woods five miles to the west...

It's all been quite exhausting...