Friday 29 October 2021

A surprise visitor

So there I was, home in Aberdeen and enjoying a spot of R&R after my Inshriach exertions*, when a cute wee face peeped around the door. It was pretty little Ella, my new poodle neighbour, come to visit for the afternoon.

Such a lovely surprise! Thankfully Gail had groomed me quite thoroughly that morning, and I was not wearing my belly band, so I felt at least presentable for receiving lady friends. In an ideal world, Gail might have tidied the room too, but regular readers will already have twigged that my owner is more interested in hiking and biking than in keeping the house spick and span..

Ella seemed at first a little hesitant, so I let her have a good sniff around the study.

It didn't take long for my curly haired chum to gain confidence and before you could say 'cheeky wee lassie' she had sprung onto Gail's lap with an impressive display of athleticism, and was sat up there looking just a teeny bit smug.

Ever the gentledog, I didn't object, but allowed Ella and Gail some precious snuggle time together while I dozed at their feet, happily musing on the pleasures of quiet companionship...

*Gail says: Bertie wants it on record that during our long weekend at Inshriach, he walked four miles on the Friday (including racing ahead of everyone up a steep hill), at least six miles on the Saturday (distance estimates vary according to the technology used) and eight miles on the Sunday (at the end of which he was still going strong, perhaps more so than some of the humans!)

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Inshriach 2021 Report: New friends and old!

So I've decided Hemp's not such a bad chap after all.

I mean, I'm not saying we're ever going to be best buddies. But it turns out that if a house has an abundance of generously sized rooms, and is surrounded by glorious open countryside ideal for long walks, then there is space enough for both a lively young border collie and an occasionally grumpy wire fox terrier to coexist peaceably enough for a few days.

What Gail didn't tell me before we arrived at the Inshriach House gathering was that another former adversary, Max, and his new 'sister' Bonnie (in the smart red coat) would also be present.

Only very long time readers will remember Max. I met him on our Inshriach visit in March 2011, when he rather thrillingly killed a chicken belonging to the owner of the big house, and thus generously diverted attention from any misdemeanours I might have committed that weekend.

Time's winged chariot speeds on and Max, two years my senior, is now both deaf and blind, his arthritis limits his movement and his hen chasing days are well behind him. All he really wants now out of life is for everyone to be his friend.

Also a bit of a shock at this annual gathering of mostly older adults was the appearance of three young children. Now neither Gail nor I are much accustomed to the company of energetic human youngsters and, bright and adorable though they undoubtedly are, it took us both a while to adjust...

I must say I was rather grateful that the children's preferred targets for attention were the other three dogs present and they mostly let me alone. Possibly Gail had said something about my, er, 'leaky' bladder and this put them off, although I'm pleased to say that my tartan belly band was widely admired and no-one present, not even Hemp, was inclined to mock.

So I enjoyed lots of long rambles through the woods by day...

...and by night I was never short of an amenable human to cuddle up against. 

It was in fact, all in all, a lovely few days, and Gail and I want to say a huge Thank You to our dear friends John and Fran├žoise for organising the gathering and inviting us once again.

Friday 22 October 2021

Season's first sighting of snow

Happy Nature Friday folks! And thanks for all the sartorial advice on Wednesday. So I'm going with tartan by day and the starry fabric for jammies this weekend at Inshriach. You'll have to wait until early next week for the full report on Hemp and much more. 

Meanwhile, enjoy these photos of our first sighting of snow on the mountains this season. It's always a bit of a thrill, isn't it?

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Starry Midnight, Supernova, or Black Watch?

Readers of Monday's post will know that tomorrow Gail and I are heading off for a long weekend at Inshriach House near Aviemore, where I shall be required to wear my 'male dog belly band' most of the time. (At home I just wear it during the night). I am really worried that border collie Hemp, who will also be there, will make fun of me.

Perhaps you could help me by telling me which of my three bands you think the most masculine and the least likely to diminish my standing in the eyes of Hemp.

Is it: 

(1) Starry Midnight?

(2) Supernova?

(3) Black Watch tartan?

All advice gratefully received!

Monday 18 October 2021

What could possibly go wrong?

Did you want to say something Gail? 

Yes, in fact I did. Bertie, I just want you to know that we are having a change in routine later this week, and are finally going again to Inshriach House near Aviemore for a long weekend with John and Fran├žoise and several other friends. Isn't that exciting!

Exciting? Well I'm not so sure. These days I'm happy just to be at home with you, enjoying the quiet life, on the whole. Can't we politely decline the invitation?

Oh please understand Bertie, I look forward so much to our Inshriach breaks, and this is the first time for over two years that we've been able to go. You know I put your needs first for ninety-nine percent of the time, so I'd be really thankful if you'd bear with me on this one.

Well OK, if you absolutely insist...

I do, I do. But one 'issue' Bertie is your, er, ever so slightly leaky bladder. I'm afraid that when we are inside the very grand house, you will have to wear your 'male dog belly band' most of the time. Oh and by the way, your old adversary Hemp the border collie will be there too...

Gail, this is a disaster in the making! Hemp will surely laugh at my belly band and call it a nappy. Oh it is all going to be so humiliating.

Bertie, please be assured that Hemp will on no account be allowed to make fun of you. He is a very intelligent dog and I'm sure he has developed some emotional literacy by now. He will respect you for your years and your superior blogging abilities.

(Bertie looks doubtful)

Er, if you say so Gail... 

Oh and by the way, if any readers of Friday's post are still puzzling over the breed of the dog we met, she was, as Fay correctly guessed, a Glen of Imaal Terrier. Here she is again. Her name is Maddy.

Friday 15 October 2021

Autumn alliteration...(and a quiz!)

Colourful countryside constitutionals

Satisfying seaside strolls

Precious pals, pretty pups
(Can you guess this cute wee lady's breed? Gail had to ask the owner.)

Dawn diversions in the dark

Princely posing places!  

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

Wednesday 13 October 2021

Bertie to the rescue!

I expect you've heard that here in the UK we have a dire shortage of lorry drivers.

So I'm thinking of applying for my HGV licence. I mean, how hard can it be?

Apparently Gail is worried that, with government efforts to fast-track driver training, I might not be least well qualified trucker on the roads soon...

Sunday 10 October 2021

Just because it's raining...

...that's no excuse to stay inside.

Far better to go for a walk though the Ballogie Estate, which is where Gail and I were on Friday morning.

After a mile or so walking through the forest we reached open fields and, yes, the umbrella was still up...

On arrival at the village of Marywell I checked out the library but didn't see anything suitable for Gail so we pressed on.

Gail claimed the skies were clearing. Is this what a clearing sky looks like to you?

Back into woodland, five miles into the six mile walk, and despite the continued precipitation, I was still going strong...

....only stopping to pose nicely when Gail waved a treat in front of my face.

And now I would just like to point out how my WFT furs blend perfectly with the autumn colours and still look adorable, despite the two hour trudge through the rain and mud. 

Thursday 7 October 2021

Truffle hunting or nappy sniffing?

Since we returned from our trip to Torridon last week, I've been struggling to gain Gail's attention as she's had her nose deeply inserted into two library books, both apparently highly absorbing (she says), in very different ways.

As usual, I insisted on speed reading the two volumes, scouring the pages for canine-relevant material that might be of interest to followers of this blog.

First the Ben MacIntyre book, 'The Spy and the Traitor'. I really thought I'd drawn a blank in this true story about the Russian double agent Oleg Gordievsky. Until, that is, I reached page 301. It's 1985 and the KGB have rumbled that Gordievsky has been spying for the Brits. And in this tense scene we encounter a Soviet sniffer dog, at work on the Russia-Finland border but being distracted by the wife of the MI6 Moscow chief changing her baby's nappy on the boot of the British Embassy car. The whiffy nappy fortuitously disguised the fact that Gordievsky was hiding inside the boot, sweating with fear, escaping almost certain execution for his traitorous activities.

One can understand how the poor pup got confused. The book does not tell if he was later punished by the KGB for dereliction of duty. I surely hope not.

Perhaps the dogs in the other book had a more enjoyable working environment. In the opening pages of 'Entangled Life' by Merlin Sheldrake (a book about mycorrhizal fungi - yes really) we meet Kika and Diavolo, two Italian dogs who also earn their keep by means of their superior scenting ability. Roaming the woods with their handlers Paride and Daniele, these Lagotto Romagnolos  sniff out Piedmont white truffles. Apparently dogs are favoured over pigs for this highly skilled work as it is not so easy to train a pig not to devour the much prized delicacy immediately upon its detection. Who knew? 

Soviet spy sniffer, or tasty truffle tracer - which would you rather be? 

Monday 4 October 2021

Bladder-friendly road trip log

So. I finally have my Torridon to Aberdeen chauffeur service sorted to my satisfaction. And to my bladder's satisfaction. 

First leg, Torridon cottage to Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre near Kinlochewe (thirty-five minute drive).

Stop for one mile walk round the Buzzard Path. Pretty views but don't see any buzzards.

Second leg, Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre to Nairn Beach (about an hour and a half drive).

Stop for quick romp on Nairn Beach. Photographer "could do better", but is distracted by proximity of kiosk selling artisan pannacotta fudge ice cream...

Third leg, Nairn to Bin Forest near Huntly (another hour in car).

Stop for 1.5 mile forest walk. I most considerately ensure chauffeur has nice view of Aberdeenshire countryside to enjoy while I attend at length to the important business.

Fourth and final leg, home to Aberdeen (just under an hour).

Home sweet home. Dog happy. Bladder comfortable throughout. 

Friday 1 October 2021

In between the showers

You're lucky to get any Nature Friday photos this week.

Yes, I know, we were over at the cottage in Torridon, and it's usually fertile territory for NF-friendly shots of Scotland's natural beauty. 

However, something went badly awry with my owner's priorities this week...

Apparently, in the brief window of fine weather between torrential downpours, Gail thought it more important to apply a weatherproof woodstaining treatment to the sides of the new porch than to meet the needs of my blog.

Well I'm relieved to say that, when Gail did eventually put down the paintbrush, the sun came out and so she took a photo of the view you get if you stand with your back to the porch. 

Even better, we then went for a short late afternoon walk past the tranquil pond among the Scots pines in the Torridon estate. (You can take your pick as to whether you prefer the picture with or without dog). 

We ended up in a breezier spot at the head of Loch Torridon, 

An hour or so later, the rain returned with a vengeance...

Gail says thank goodness she had purchased quick drying woodstain. I say let's hope the treament adheres as well to the wood as it apparently does to Gail's fingers...

Happy Nature Friday! I hope our LLB Gang friends and the rest of you have enjoyed a more settled week than we in Scotland have just endured.