Monday 31 January 2022

The Usurper

As anyone can see from my blog header, my rightful place is on Gail's lap. This is especially so when she is relaxing in the study on her pre-historic (and very comfortable) reclining chair.

Apparently not all guests understand this.

My wee poodle neighbour Ella came to visit on Saturday afternoon. I sensed from the off that she had her eyes on the prize.

I wasn't too happy when she edged herself closer to the launch position but, being the perfect gent, I stood aside.

I pretended I didn't care (although Gail says my tail angle tells another story).

Before you could say "cheeky wee poodle" she was up there on Gail's knee, looking ever so slightly smug.

Sometimes a chap has to recognise that girls rule!

Later, when Ella pulled the same stunt a second time, I made sure she understood I had better things to do...

Friday 28 January 2022

A watery week

Well it's Nature Friday again, and truth to tell, I've been struggling a bit this week to come up with a coherent post, as we've been here, there and everywhere, including a quick trip over to Torridon to deal with a (Gail says) boring cottage maintenance issue.

Looking at the various photos taken over the week, a common theme did emerge.


Something we are never short of in this part of the world. 

So here I am by the River Dee on a peaceful Sunday walk with our friends M, J and K (photo taken by M).

Then a day later, on the Nairn beach, favourite stop en route to Torridon. (These days I'm let out of the car after an hour of driving, or maximum an hour and a half, which means lots of nice little walks.)

It was a watery scene when we reached Loch Torridon.

See the puddles outside the front gate to the cottage just after dawn on Wednesday.

A bit later that morning I enjoyed the tranquil scene by the loch, for a few minutes anyway, before the wind got up and more rain swept in.

At least the waterfalls never run dry in this part of the world.

Can you see me here, showing great bravery crossing a stream in the woods at the base of Beinn Eighe, a final walk on the western side of Scotland before we set off back to the relative dryness of the north east.

Look! There are actual patches of sunshine on the slopes of Slioch. After our walk in the forest, Gail wanted me to wash my paws with a paddle in the clear, clean waters of Loch Maree before I got back into the car, but I did not co-operate.

Happy Nature Friday friends. Was your week a wet or a dry one?

Tuesday 25 January 2022

The best laid plans...

Apparently I am in disgrace.

I had hoped I could get away simply with showing you some photos from last Friday's walk up to the Queen's Well in Glen Mark, and thus make the lovely weather and glorious scenery the focus of this post. 

But Gail, who (unlike the UK's current Prime Minister) lays great stock on being honest and open at all times, insists that I also tell you about our encounter with the solitary mountain biker.

Well this is my version. 

About a mile up the glen from the car park we came across a youngish chap sitting disconsolately by the side of the track, his mountain bike on the ground beside him. He was holding a two ends of a broken chain in his oily hands. Gail, who will never learn that young men generally don't appreciate older women offering to assist them with bicycle repairs, said "oh dear, maybe I can help, I'm a cyclist myself, shall I have a look?"

Meanwhile, I had noticed a half eaten pack of chicken sandwiches beside the bicycle. Don't you just hate food going to waste? 

Really, why Gail was so cross with me when she turned around and saw the remains of the sandwich clamped firmly between my jaws, is something of a mystery. 

I was unceremoniously dragged away in haste, Gail muttering profuse apologies (unnecessary, to my mind) as we left a forlorn mountain biker alone in the wilderness with broken bicycle and no lunch.

Gail says: Oh dear! Trying to do someone a good turn does not always work out as one intended. In the immortal words of Scotland's greatest poet, whose memory we celebrate today: 

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men
    Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
    For promis'd joy!

(from To a Mouse, by Robert Burns)

Friday 21 January 2022

Bertie the barometer

I like to think that when Gail stops to take my photo on our early morning walks around Duthie Park, it is because she is overcome anew with wonder at my continuing handsomeness and wishes to have this on record and perhaps post the picture on my blog.

It turns out this is not the whole story. At least once a week the photo taken on my dawn outings apparently becomes a key element in decisions about the conduct of  Gail and her friends' Thursday morning bike ride.

I only discovered this by chance, when I happened to glance the messages on Gail's phone. 

And yes, the WhatsApp group is called 'Scones R Us'...

Do you think I should charge for my services to safe bicycle ride planning?  Or at least insist they bring me back a cheese scone. 

PS Gail is not sure this post qualifies for the LLB Gang's Nature Friday, but as it's (albeit indirectly) about our Scottish weather I, Bertie, believe it counts! 

Thursday 20 January 2022

Walkies time - which do you prefer?

To be early up and about, and catch first light on a crisp frosty morning?

Or to wait for the gentle glow of the late afternoon sun? 

It might not come as a surprise to you that my preference is for both! 

Monday 17 January 2022

To Dilyn - an offer of respite care

To: Dilyn the Downing Street Dog,
10 Downing Street (aka 'The Party House')
London SW1.

16th January, 2022.

Dear Dilyn,

There has, as you probably know by now, been much in the press lately about 'goings on' in your adoptive home, 10 Downing Street. All this must be most distressing for you and so I am writing today, terrier to terrier, to let you know how much I feel for your predicament, and to offer help as far as I am able. 

When, some two years ago, you were adopted by a certain then unmarried couple you no doubt had high hopes, like any dog who has endured a shaky start in life, of a peaceful and loving home with unselfish, considerate and empathetic humans.

Sadly, it was not to be. 

You may by now have twigged that, with your cutely scruffy looks, you were brought into the household principally as a distraction from habitually disgraceful behaviour of your new owner, the (for now) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who cynically uses photos of you on his Christmas cards to promote the image of a regular, straight up and down honest family man.

You maybe hoped that someone who had already lost count of how many children he had fathered (was it five, six, seven?) would be happy to focus his limited spare time on your good self, rather than in short order to bring a couple more squealing infants into the world. 

Dilyn, it seems to me particularly unfair that it was you who was recently castrated to cure your reported 'urges', when the far more obvious candidate for neutering remains scarily 'intact' in 10 Downing Street.

And now we learn that over the past two years, you have had to put up with constant disturbance in the form of noisy 'Bring Your Own Booze' parties and other alcohol-fuelled so-called 'work events' attended by  a stream of morally bankrupt individuals, all in your own back garden. How you must have envied those pups whose owners thought it right to obey public health measures and restrict their socialising to meeting one other person and taking their dog for a walk.

Well Dilyn, I am wondering if you would like to come to visit me in Scotland for a few weeks, while your humans contemplate their uncertain future in Downing Street? We do still have a few Covid-related rules here but I am happy to say that there are no limits now on when, where and how often a dog can be exercised in our beautiful countryside. I would only advise that, when out and about, you might avoid mentioning the name of your owner too often as he has few fans, human or canine, north of the border....

That's all for now. Looking forward to hearing back from you soon.

Toodle pip!
Aberdeen, Scotland.


Friday 14 January 2022

The aftermath

We have had some quite nice weather in Aberdeen this week (that's quite nice, mind you, these things are all relative and it is January, and Scotland). I had been hoping Gail would take me for one of our favourite walks, up Millstone Hill, but it seems that this particular trail is still out of bounds, as are many others in the region, due to fallen trees, the aftermath of December's Storm Arwen. 

So instead we went to Dunecht Estate and were relieved to see that most of the estate's rather splendid beech trees are still standing.

Although many other trees are not. 

Once clear of the post-storm debris we were delighted to find that the route through to Loch Skene, which is normally (and we think in contravention of  Scotland's Outdoor Access Code) blocked behind a high locked gate, was for once freely accessible to dog and human. Hooray! 

Happy Nature Friday!

Wednesday 12 January 2022

Cuddle your pet

I find it incomprehensible, but apparently people are getting upset because one of the big UK energy suppliers sent an email to customers telling them if they were worried about the cost of heating their homes this winter they should try cuddling their pets. Or eating porridge. 

Both suggestions seem excellent ones to me, and regarding the cuddling proposition, I would like to demonstrate to my canine (and feline?) friends a variety of possible options to help keep your human warm. 

Oh, and if sitting on laps is not your thing, why not take your human for a brisk walk, ideally off leash so you can run on ahead, ignoring their calls. They will be well warmed up by the time they've exercised their sprinting muscles to chase after you at speed, and if you repeat this several times, your human will not cool down again until long after you've returned to your chilly home.

I expect my friends will have other helpful suggestions on this topic. Please do share!

Monday 10 January 2022

The Lion in Winter

So many points of discussion here: 
  • Why is only one out of the four lions at the base of this Duthie Park monument wearing a scarf?
  • Is a scarf sufficient to keep creature who evolved on the African savannah warm on a frosty Aberdeen morning? (He looks stone cold to me...)
  • With such a magnificent natural mane, surely the neck is the one part of the lion that does not need extra insulation?
  • I have a matching (and very smart) red sweater. Why did Gail forget to put it on me this morning?
Hmmm, I shall ponder these questions as I briskly complete my early morning circuit of the park.

Friday 7 January 2022

A good decision. Or not?

So Gail has apparently been going round telling her friends how she made a bad decision staying in Torridon for one extra day, how we should have left before the bad weather set in, and how it was a scary drive across blizzard hit northern Scotland on Tuesday this week, with the car skidding all over the snowy roads while at the same time being buffeted by gale force winds.

To be honest, if Gail's fingers were gripping the steering wheel with more than the usual strength during the white knuckle drive back across the Highlands to Aberdeen, I hardly noticed as I was comfily curled up in the back of the car, daydreaming about the two lovely short walks we'd enjoyed the day before. (The day we would have missed if we'd come home earlier).

Friends, do look at the pictures below, and let me know if you think we should have gone back home early, rather than relish being out and about around Loch Torridon, soaking up an all too brief episode of winter sunshine.

Happy Nature Friday! And thanks to our LLB Gang friends for continuing to host the blog hop despite their 'blogging break'.