Sunday, 29 June 2014

Ben Macdui: Excuses, excuses, excuses

I am disappointed.

You will remember that this weekend I was supposed to be climbing Scotland's second highest mountain, Ben Macdui.

Oh but the humans had so many excuses...

Hail and sleet predicted above 900m. Only 30% chance of cloud free summits.  The other two members of the party exhausted after a twenty plus mile hike across boggy wilderness the day before Gail and I arrived. Sore and arthritic toes. Wobbly knees. The list goes on.

So Ben Macdui lay hidden in the mists while I was taken on damp low level rambles through the ancient Scots pines of the Rothiemurchus Forest and to Loch an Eilein.

Which was all quite pleasant, I suppose, if lacking the thrill of a proper mountain expedition.

Before we left, Gail insisted on this photo in Aviemore, sort of as consolation for my wee Scottie pal Dui, since we did not get to photograph his actual mountain.

No, it's not good enough, is it?

Rest assured, I'll be back!

PS from Gail: As not uncommonly happens in Scotland, the clouds did finally clear from the hills just as it was time to head home. On this picture, taken from the car, Ben Macdui is the distant peak towards the left. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Strutting my stuff at Cruden Bay

PS It looks like the Ben Macdui expedition is ON for Saturday. Weather permitting…..

Sunday, 22 June 2014

A letter to Gail's friend Sally and a suggestion

22 June 2014.

Dear Sally,

Re: Aviemore weekend

I gather you are coming to Scotland with a friend next weekend, and Gail and I shall be driving over to Aviemore on Friday evening to meet up with you both for a couple of days of hillwalking.

Oh you can't imagine how much I am looking forward to this. I am fairly bouncing with excitement already.

I hope you don't think this presumptuous of me, as I realise you may already have planned the weekend activities, but I was wondering if I might make a suggestion?

You see, I have a blogging pal in Australia, he is very young laddie, a wee Scottie pup, and his name is Dui, after the mountain Ben Macdui. Now I have been looking on the map, and I see that a walk from the Cairngorm Ski Centre up to the summit of Ben Macdui might be an option for Saturday, provided your friend is the energetic sort. (Gail has told me how you, Sally, cycled all the way across the USA last year, carrying a tent and stuff, so I have no worries on your account).

Oh it would be so special if we could walk up there together, and you could take loads of photos of me at the summit and I could post them on my blog to show Dui what 'his' mountain looks like.

Gail says she thinks it is a good idea, provided the weather is OK, but that we should probably tackle the 'straight up and down' route rather than longer alternatives which, although appealing, might be too tough on my paws.

So how about it anyway?

You know, if you want to do something else, that's fine by me too, so long as I am included.

'Til Friday,

Toodle pip!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

My furs and Shetland sheep furs

Over by the cottage in Torridon last weekend, I spotted that the local residents - the ones I am not allowed to chase, and must wear a lead when near to - had recently been to the hairdressers.

At least some of them had.

The neatly shorn Shetland sheep belong to our neighbour Julia, a very clever and creative lady. I know several of my readers are into knitting and stuff, and they might like to visit Julia's lovely blog, where you can learn about the wonderful things she makes with her sheep's wool.
The Red Roof Croft House, by Julia Marsh

Seeing the sheep gave Gail the idea it was time to 'strip' me of some of my furs too.

I suggested that surely my furs are at least as valuable as a sheep's and maybe Julia would appreciate them as a gift and use them to create something special?

Gail just gave me a 'look'.

And put the ball of precious Bertie fluff straight in the bin.

I ask you.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Bertie WFT, personal trainer, Aberdeen

Do you know what a ‘personal trainer’ does?

When Gail learned that one of her colleagues pays for a ‘personal trainer’ twice a week, apparently she responded that she has one too and his name is Bertie.

Well naturally I did some research, and soon realized that indeed I have excellent credentials in this field, so I am thinking of starting my own business. Of course, I will need to find some clients. My first thought was to bounce up to fat and gullible-looking people in the park and bark at them, but on mature reflection, I have decided an advert would be a better bet.

My first draft is below.  I am targeting the well-to-do middle-aged lady market, in particular a breed sometimes known in Aberdeen as the ‘oil company wife’.  I am hoping that my friends will review the wording of my ad and suggest improvements as they see fit:

Regain your Bounce with Bertie!

Fit young male, in his prime and always ready for action, offers specialist personal fitness training service. 

To include:

Open air sessions (all weathers) involving brisk walking, sprinting and occasional longer runs across rough ground/through dense undergrowth in which the vocal chords will also be exercised and distance vision tested.  

Ball games – you throw it, you fetch it (‘cos I certainly won’t). 

Indoor sessions - in which muscle flexibility will be developed in a variety of interesting ways as I nudge you into unconventional variations on traditional yoga positions (foot licking an optional extra). 

Practical assistance with lowering calorie intake (I eat it so you don’t). 

Blood pressure reduction - I am prepared to curl up on your lap and let you stroke me for as long as it takes. 

Optional extras include advice on confidence building, maintaining enthusiasm and alertness, bouncing lessons.

[Clients interested in water-related activities will be referred to my retriever friend Jake].


Friday, 13 June 2014

Advice for Dui: Putting the Scot into Scottie

Today, we are welcoming a brand new Scottie pup, Dui, into the dog blogging community. He lives in Australia with his older sisters Bella and Roxy and he is named after Ben Macdui, the second highest mountain in Scotland. In his honour I have written a wee poem containing advice on being a proper Scot...

Your name is a good one, dear Dui my man,
And your human chose well with a simple Munro.
You could have been named Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan,
Or Carn a' Coire Boidheach (shortened to Bo).

When you visit the vet to be vaccinated
You'll also be needing ID, like as not.
Just remember, a chip on both shoulders is said,
(By the English) to signal a well-balanced Scot.

And remember the kilt is traditional wear
For true Scottish males be they humans or dogs.
The lassies will think you so brave and so fair
When you're all fitted out in your best Highland togs.

But you might find it tricky, when Scotland's teams play
'Gainst Australia. You must choose which one you'll support.
(You'll find Scottish footballers have feet of clay,
Andy Murray means tennis is these days our sport.)

Our national dish haggis is affa scarce Down Under,
But it's worth searching out, I guarantee.
The meat is digestible; you will not 'chunder',
You'll love it, dear Dui, so try some for tea.

And lastly wee Dui, stay true to your breed type,
Yon Scottie dugs are couthybraw and thrawn.
Just show those dingos what a well-bred pup's like;
They'll soon be wishing that they too were Scottish born.


Monday, 9 June 2014

My friendship with Horatio hits a rocky patch...

Gosh I had been so looking forward to Sunday, when I met up with my wiry pal Horatio, his Vizsla brother Harris and their family.

We walked up a big hill (Morven), and I learned about life's unfairness.

I spotted Horatio was being given cocktail sausages at the summit, so I hastened over to claim my share.

Only to find that Horatio was not in the mood for sharing.

So Gail gave me a chewy treat.

Yes, that's the chewy treat you see in Harris's mouth.

On the way down I overheard the humans planning to go for post-walk tea and cake at the 'Sign of the Black Faced Sheep' café in Aboyne.

Horatio suggested that if I blacked up my face I might be allowed to join them.

I did not realise he was teasing me.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Remarkable events past and present

I know you've been all agog to hear about my stay with Human Granny.

Did you know that HGY was evacuated to Canada during World War Two? What an adventure that must have been. She was only nine years old when she left, and didn't see her parents for the next four years. But unlike many evacuees, she was treated with kindness and generosity by her adoptive family and has happy memories of her remarkable experience. She does admit she was a bit frightened of 'Aunt' Florence's bulldog at first, although I can't imagine why anyone would be nervous of a creature so closely resembling my darling, beautiful Addi….

I am telling you this 'cos I am learning that Human Granny is still stoical and resilient, and she still enjoys getting out and about despite her arthritis and deafness, both quite severe now. Gail says it is 'real' deafness, and not the selective variety that I suffer from, although I don't quite know what this is supposed to mean.

Well anyway, last weekend, Gail and I took HGY on a trip to see Gail's brother and his family in their lovely farmhouse home on the edge of the Peak District.

You will remember my poodle cousins Percy and Coco.

They haven't got any smaller. Or less bossy.

I was banned from paying a visit to an even larger resident whose name is Susie.

Wasn't HGY brave to stand so close?

Anyway, we had a super day out. So I was bouncing with excitement when I learned that there was to be another excursion to Cambridge three days later.

Just my sort of place, I hear you thinking. All those intellectual types, world famous scientists etc. Perhaps we might bump into Professor Stephen Hawking? I was so looking forward to a serious discussion about the latest findings on gravity waves.

It was not to be.

Turns out Gail was taking HGY to a funeral, off limits to pups, so I was left at home, alone with my dog-eared copy of 'A Brief History of Time'.

Too soon, it was time to return to Aberdeen.

As I think I've explained before, the train journey from HGY's house to Aberdeen is complicated. At Newark-on-Trent we have to walk a mile between stations.

A most remarkable event occurred as we passed though the market square in Newark. We encountered a photographer who ignored ME and was only interested in taking pictures of the bloke under the purple and yellow umbrella. Yes really!

All over Newark there were swarms of humans festooned in these 'UKIP' badges and in fact none of them seemed to appreciate my good looks.

Gail thinks my mixed black, brown and white colouring might not be to their tastes…

Well of course we also stopped again in Edinburgh. Here I was forced to spend ages standing around in the rain, just so Gail could take this photograph, which she insists records a noteworthy event. Can you see anything remarkable about it?

Me neither. Perhaps someone will enlighten me?

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

All aboard the WFT Express!

Gail and I travelled down to Nottingham last Friday, to check up on Human Granny.

It's a long train journey, and by Montrose I'd had enough of my chew and was feeling a bit bored, so I 'suggested' to Gail that she take me a walk down the carriages, to meet and greet our fellow passengers.

Imagine our delight when we spotted this wee wiry fellow enjoying a window seat and a cuddle.

He was a bit shy at first, but  I soon won him round.

I learned that his name is Jimmy and he is twelve years old. He is quite a bit smaller than me, and has an enviably smart haircut. 

We stopped for a break in Edinburgh before heading on south. Even outside of Festival times, there are strange sights in Scotland's capital.  

I know that many of my kind friends will be concerned about Human Granny. She is doing OK, and I'll tell you more about my visit in my next post.

PS Gail, pedantic as ever, is quibbling about my title today, saying that in no way could any train between Aberdeen and Edinburgh, stopping at Stonehaven, Montrose, Arbroath, Carnoustie, Dundee, Leuchars, Cupar, Kirkcaldy and Inverkeithing, be described as an 'Express'...

Sunday, 1 June 2014

But what about a wee dram for me?

You'll be pleased to hear that Gail and I went back to the shop where we had spotted the 'Sweet Wee Scallywag' whisky in the window a couple of weeks ago. (How could anyone resist a drink named after a family favourite wire-haired fox terrier?)

She was about to tie me up outside, but I noticed the sign on the shop door.

Clearly, the 'Deeside Drinks Emporium' understand all about keeping their customers happy. And phew, what a relief it was to find that they had not yet sold out of 'Sweet Wee Scallywag'.

I was a bit suspicious of both the man in the shop and the box containing the whisky bottle, but of course, curiosity won out in the end.

Gail was keen to sample her new purchase, although for some reason she deemed it inappropriate to do so when we arrived home before midday.

I was intrigued by this tasting note from the whisky blender's website:

Scallywag has a rich, dark colour – extracted from the many fine Spanish Sherry Butts selected.  It carries a richly spiced character on the nose woven into delicious vanilla from the Bourbon Hogsheads selected. On the palate detect layer on layer of sweet stewed fruit, Christmas pudding & dark chocolate fused with spice (nutmeg and cinnamon) much of which can be attributed to years slumbering in those Sherry Butts. The finish displays a burst of zesty orange with sweet tobacco, cocoa & rich fruit cake

Another specialist website went further:

Nose: very malty, with Frosties and grain biscuits. Very heavy on sticky toffee notes. Some honey, icing sugar and dried grasses. Vanilla custard. Macadamia nut brittle ice cream. Spices like cinnamon, candied ginger. Some overripe orange in the back. Mouth: sweet and spicy. Raisins, oranges again, revolving around a core that screams young malt. Sugared cereals and caramel. Abundant spices: pepper, ginger, as well as a vanilla woodiness. I think there’s quite some sherried Glenrothes in there – not everyone likes that. Finish: medium long, grainy with a slightly harsh / bitter edge and a dry end.

Imagine how disappointed I was when Gail declared this 46% alcohol/volume tipple NFB*

Later in the evening she poured herself a wee dram, mixed with a splash of water, and declared herself well satisfied with the new addition to the drinks cabinet.

*NFB - Not For Bertie