Sunday 30 May 2021

Was she fibbing?

I saw this photo on Gail's phone a few days ago and I thought she was fibbing when she claimed she'd been out on another bike ride with her friends in NE Scotland.

Surely she had taken a quick flight to a beach somewhere warm and sunny. Portugal perhaps? 

But then I saw a second photo and concluded perhaps she hadn't been fibbing after all. 

Gail says the photos were taken on the coast at Whitehills, near Banff. And now it's perhaps the turn of my Canadian readers to be confused! They will be wondering what has happened to the Rocky Mountains. Very rapid erosion perhaps? Swallowed by a subduction zone?

Just to clarify - Banff in Scotland (the original Banff, incidentally) really is by the sea, and has lovely beaches nearby. Or so I'm told, although I'm still waiting to be taken there...

Meanwhile here's a picture of me bouncing along the bonnie banks of the River Dee yesterday afternoon, when Aberdeen was a chilly and haar enshrouded 12ºC but ten miles inland at Drumoak we entered a different and delightful climate zone.

To be honest, I don't so often feel bouncy these days. But I still have my moments! 

Thursday 27 May 2021

I don't like Thursday mornings...

If I block off the exit route, do you think Gail will take me out for a nice walk rather than meet up with her friends for their regular Thursday bike ride?  

Unfortunately, my strategy doesn't seem to be working.

Looks like I might need to call in support from my Big Dog pals.

I couldn't help but notice Gail took out her 'winter bike' last week. When she returned several hours later, her clothing several saturations wetter, she observed that for once she'd made the right choice of bicycle... 

I did get a short walk down to the river, eventually.

Monday 24 May 2021

Weather to suit one's mood

Gail and I are checking up on progress on the Torridon cottage renovation this weekend.

There has been weather to suit every mood.

Do you feel sunny and cheerful?

Dark and tempestuous ?

Bright and breezy?

Maybe a bit sheepish?

Confused about which season it is?

Is sunset your special time?

Can you see a rainbow?

Friday 21 May 2021

A secret place in the woods

Have you ever fantasised about a Thoreau-like retreat into a secret hideaway in the woods?

I bet you have.

Well earlier this week I think I found the perfect spot. 

Just follow me along this path between the birch trees and I'll show you.

We'll pause a for a mindful moment to appreciate the wood sorrel,

Before penetrating deeper into the forest.

Eventually we reach a clearing and find a ready-made dwelling place. Simple but pleasing, I think you'll agree.

Let me show you round. 

So there's a well constructed bench beside a cosy fireplace,

And a leak proof roof (er, maybe).

Can you believe that Gail says I'd last half a night out here before she found me whimpering on the doorstep of our solid Aberdeen granite house, pleading to come inside and cuddle up on her warm bed...

Happy Nature Friday! And once again thanks to our dear LLB Gang friends for hosting the blog hop.

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Bertie misinterprets Zoom's 'chat' function

So I'm joining Gail for some on line training in plant monitoring for Plantlife volunteers this week. We're looking at indicator species in native pinewood and juniper scrub habitats.

I see Zoom has a 'chat' function, and I have something to say about cross-leaved heath and one-flowered wintergreen.

What do you mean Gail, that's not what the chat function's for?

OK, so I'm bored now. Wake me when it's time to go out and explore a real pinewood please.
PS Gail says: please be assured my 'mute' was switched on during this webinar! 

Monday 17 May 2021

Still enjoying life's simple pleasures

From early morning cuddle time,

To breakfast (with tablets),

Then a trip to the park and the local shop,

Later, if I'm lucky, a venture into the hills,

And finally more cuddles and a snooze.

A note from Gail: Thank you so much for all your kind comments on Bertie's Friday post. His visit to the vet threw up no new surprises. All the signs point to his bladder tumour having increased in size, and to manage his apparent discomfort on peeing the vet has prescribed Bertie a painkiller, Gabapentin, to be taken in addition to the Previcox. I'll admit to having more than a few reservations about dosing Bertie up with Gabapentin due to the distinct possibility of adverse side effects (the most commonly cited are 'sedation' and 'wobbliness'), but I've decided at least to try it for a short while. So far, I haven't detected any dramatic changes in Bertie - he sleeps a lot anyway, but still eats well and on Sunday he managed a gently-paced ascent of Peter Hill, and a lively scamper back down again. We're taking each day as it comes.

Friday 14 May 2021

Not doing so great...

Friends, I want you to know how it's going with me.

Well I'm still going, but things aren't so great.

It takes me longer than it used to, to squeeze out those last drops of pee. And that sometimes my front leg shakes a bit with the effort of it. (I'm still taking the Previcox tablets.)

Over the past few months my hearing has deteriorated, and what once was selective deafness is now involuntary. 

Peripheral vision never really was my thing, and it certainly isn't these days.

I do believe I have a touch of arthritis in my right hip joint, but I still trot along on my walks (even quite long ones) happily, if a touch unevenly. Perhaps there's not so much bouncing as once was. And much more stopping to try to pee.

My appetite is just the same as ever, although I did have a bout of 'the runs' earlier this week.  

But I feel a little vulnerable now, and like to spend more time cuddling close to Gail.

PS from Gail: The sad truth is that after several months in which Bertie's bladder cancer symptoms first eased (after being prescribed Previcox) and then stabilised, there's been a marked deterioration very recently. He's stopping ever more frequently on walks, seemingly to try to force out more pee and looking distinctly uncomfortable, and a noticeable amount of  blood has been appearing in his urine from time to time in the last week or so. I am taking Bertie to the vet later today.  I fear it might soon be time for a difficult decision.  

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Our latest conquest

I expect you are wondering which mountain Gail, myself, and our friends M and J ascended this week.

Is it Everest? 
No, I can still breathe.

Kilimanjaro perhaps? 
No, this doesn't seem to be an extinct volcano.

The Matterhorn?
Not pointy enough. 

Ben Nevis?
Er, I don't think you can see the back end of Torry from Scotland's highest peak...

OK, I suspect you're tired of guessing so I'll reveal we were at Baron's Cairn on Tullos Hill, the area known locally as 'The Gramps' on the southern edge of Aberdeen. We reached the grand height of 83 m above sea level and Gail and I traversed a treacherous boulder field to conquer the summit. 

We descended on a path through the yellow gorse-covered hillside, where I'm pleased to say the scent of coconut* was strong enough to overpower any nasty whiffs drifting over from the nearby landfill and waste treatment sites. 

*Fun fact for today: when cycling along a narrow and gorse-fringed lane a few days ago, Gail's well-travelled fellow cyclist Anita observed that whereas gorse shrubs in bloom give off the powerful scent of coconut, there is no such aroma if you are pedalling through an actual coconut plantation! 

Monday 10 May 2021

A Convenient Excuse

I have heard people say that "a dog is a tie".
These are not dog lovers, obviously.  
Today I propose an alternative view,
And I hope you don't think me obtuse
When I state that a dog's a convenient excuse. 

When the person's a lark, and it's hours after dark,
And the party's gone on far too long,
And they hate to seem rude by departing too soon, 
They remember the dog that they've left all alone.
At such times, a dog's a convenient excuse. 

If the cycling club's due to ride all the day through,
But the forecast's for afternoon rain, 
Then why not join in until coffee, then say
That you need to turn back 'cos your dear pet's shut in.
Again, I contend that a dog's a convenient excuse. 
When family stresses make home life oppressive,
(We all know this happens sometimes),
The claim you can make, that the dog needs a walk,
Ignoring the fact he's on bed, fast asleep,
Demonstrates how a dog's a convenient excuse.

In long wakeful nights, when losing the fight 
Against intangible worries and strife.
A person's mind might focus on how short
A dear dog's life is, and other woes suppress.
And in this too, a dog's a convenient excuse. 

PS from Gail: This poem should, of course, include a 'dog ate my homework' verse, but my family never had a dog when I was a child, and anyway I was a diligent little swot who almost always handed her homework in on time! 

Friday 7 May 2021

Bertie front and centre

It strikes me that the last few posts on this, MY blog, have dealt with topics of particular interest to my owner Gail, and I, Bertie, have not been sufficiently prominent. Today, I aim to redress the balance with various photos taken over the past couple of weeks (since we regained our freedom to roam), where I am posed front and centre, enhancing a variety of attractive Scottish landscapes.

Looking north from Scolty Hill

River Dee, Milltimber

Coire Mhic Nòbaill, Torridon

Òb a' Bhràighe, Torridon

Bullers of Buchan

Cowie Water, near Stonehaven

Polling station at Ferryhill church

That's more like it, don't you agree?

Happy Nature Friday! 

Wednesday 5 May 2021

'Pushing Out the Boat'

It might come as a shock to readers of this blog that my owner engages in activities other than taking me for frequent walks and going on the occasional bicycle ride, but in fact this is the case.

Today, Gail wants me to tell you about the new edition of 'probably the best regional literary magazine in Scotland' (according to their website).

The magazine is called 'Pushing Out the Boat', although I don't think it has any particular connection to nautical matters. Gail is part of the team of volunteers based here in Aberdeen who produce this always excellent (she told me to say that) publication.

Well I must say, POTB Issue 16 has a vibrant and attractively geological cover, but of course the first thing I looked for inside was any story or poem about dogs, or artworks on the same theme.

It wasn't until page 80 that I found a canine-relevant piece - 'The Lead', by Calum Moore.  As we all know, the best literature can support a variety of interpretations, and my response to this poem and Gail's differed markedly. What I saw as an enthralling and satisfying poetic account about an unleashed dog killing a deer (something I have done often, but only in my dreams), Gail read as a tragic work, compactly addressing issues of shame and failures in personal responsibility...

Well of course, there is lots more inside the magazine to savour - Gail particularly recommends Brenda Conn's 'Fit Like', a short and witty story in Doric in which a widower comes to terms with loss through taking up cycling. 

I bet if you bought a copy of Pushing Out The Boat Issue 16, available online for £5.99 plus postage and packing, you too would find in it something to enjoy and treasure.