Friday, 30 September 2016

A gory traffic jam at Balmoral

So Gail and I took advantage of the continued fine weather and headed off to the Queen's Balmoral Estate to climb Lochnagar today.

Near the summit we heard some stags roaring.

Then we heard a shot. Or was it two?

Later, as we descended we noticed fresh blood on the path.

And then in front we spotted a well camouflaged party leading two ponies.

Readers of a sensitive disposition may wish to stop here.

A member of the group came over to Gail and asked very politely if she could "hang back" as one of their ponies was apparently frightened of dogs. (Perhaps this pony had once had a run in with the Queen's corgis?)

So we stayed behind the deer stalking party even though they were descending the steep slope by the waterfalls very slowly indeed. The black pony seemed to be struggling with his burden.

 Gail took loads of photos.

Eventually a young man, who was casually swinging a dripping stag's head (which had very recently belonged to the animal on the back of the 'grey' pony) in his right hand, told us we could pass,

And we continued on down and back to the car without further bloody encounters.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

A Boffin's Dreams of Switzerland

I want to scale the Matterhorn, glimpse snowy Alpine peaks at dawn,
I’d also love to see the bears of Bern,
But as a Bouncing Boffin, what I’d find most simply toppin’
Would be visiting the physicists at CERN.

Yes for sure it would be fun, to climb the Rigi like Mark Twain,
I might even reach the summit in one day.
But it’s the Large Hadron Collider that I’d like to get inside o’
To view sub-atomic particles at play.

Some might make heavy handed jokes, deriding all those cuckoo clocks,
As the sole result of centuries of peace,
But for me it’s the Higgs Boson that makes Switzerland the Chosen
Land for scientific-minded WFT’s.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Lederhosen? NO!!!!!!!!

Gail has noted that we shall be travelling through Germany around the time of Oktoberfest.

She is a little apprehensive about taking me on the train in Germany anyway (according to the Deutsche Bahn website, I am supposed to wear a muzzle*) and she has suggested that perhaps I should put on an outfit to better blend in.

Meanwhile, I am wondering if Gail should be wearing a Dirndl?

She says not, but that a large beer might yet be necessary... 
 *Gail says - I am told that it is unlikely in practice that Bertie will be required to be muzzled, but I should carry one just in case. So I am trying to get Bertie get comfortable with the concept of 'ein Maulkorb' by having him wear one at home for short stints, accompanied by plentiful treats. If any readers have experience of taking dogs on trains in Germany, I'd love to hear about it. 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Yodelling? Fondue? More training for Switzerland

You know it's all very well Gail taking me for walks in the hills and calling it "training for the Alps". (In in truth, it's been jolly good fun).

But I fear she has been neglecting other aspects of Swiss life for which I need some practice too.

I did myself take the initiative last night and attempt to bend my vocal chords to a yodelling sound. For some reason Gail did not approve at all and instructed me to be quiet. But never mind, I am thinking there will be plenty of opportunity to rehearse on the long train journey across Holland and Germany, right...?

In one of our kitchen cupboards, gathering dust from the 1970's, I found something I believe is called a 'fondue set'. You can buy Gruyere and Emmental in the shops here in the UK, and I am still hoping to persuade Gail to get going with the methylated spirits and let me sample this delectable sounding traditional Swiss speciality before we depart. After all, I'm thinking that the art of consuming melted cheese without getting one's beard all gunked up might take some mastering.

But Gail seems reluctant, reminding me that my first ever encounter with a Swiss-made object, the 'water soluble pencil set' pictured below, had, quite literally, an unfortunate outcome (as described in 'The Blue Poo Incident')...

Monday, 19 September 2016

Route Planning Fail

Bertie, and Gail's vocal (and possibly former) friend Yvonne, conduct a highly indignant post mortem following Sunday's walk from Wester Alligin to Diabaig.

Yvonne: "That was utterly terrifying. I am a nervous wreck. Bertie, can't you control your owner? She is a madwoman. Every muscle in my body was shaking as she forced me to scramble down those wet slippery rocks in that vertical gully back there. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. I'm telling you, I won't make that mistake again. I can't believe she dragged me down that cliff. I thought I was going to die. I'm a North London Jew and for us a walk is what you do from the car park to John Lewis* at Brent Cross Shopping Centre... I don't think I can move another inch now, I am in such pain. Bertie, tell your owner I'll stay here at the café and have another smoked salmon sandwich, and she can walk back and get the car and give me a lift home."

Bertie: "And you're complaining? Think how it was for me! I was looking forward to bouncing down the gully, maybe exploring the odd side route, doing my own thing, taking advantage of the fact that Gail would be concentrating on keeping her footing. Maybe I'd even get the chance to run off after a deer, or one of those feral goats that hang out in these parts. But no soon as we reached the top of the steep bit than Gail - the big spoilsport -  clamped on my lead, saying she wasn't going to have me running off putting us all in danger by getting myself stuck and needing to be rescued from somewhere even more inaccessible and precipitous. No matter how hard I pulled on the lead as we descended, Gail just wouldn't let go, and I'm telling you, there was a fair bit of what my American friends call HBO language being uttered along the way. It was all very stressful indeed. Really I think you had it quite easy..."

*Note for non-British readers: 'John Lewis' is a well known UK department store traditionally favoured by the comfortably off middle classes.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Heidi or Ursli?

With regret, I am coming to the conclusion that our imminent trip to Switzerland is making Gail go a bit funny in the head. Over-excitement can do that to a grown woman, I believe.

Apparently, at six and a half years old, I am now exactly the same age as Gail was when she first went to stay with her godmother Doris in Luzern.

On that rather flimsy pretext, Gail decided last night to read to me from the books Doris gave her on that first Swiss holiday.

You have to humour them sometimes, don't you? 

We started with 'Heidi'.

Well, this Heidi, also six years old, is a cute little Swiss girl, and she prefers mountains to towns, which I guess is something in her favour. But really. Heidi?! It's a girl's book, isn't it? What else do you have there Gail? 

So Gail sighs, mutters something about insidious gender stereotyping even influencing dogs' taste in classic children's literature, and reaches for 'A Bell for Ursli'.

Now that's more like it!

This Ursli fellow has some excellent adventures, of the sort I am hoping for in October. Maybe I shall get a chance to cross a perilous bridge?

Or run up and down a snowy mountain and dive through the window of an Alpine chalet?

Well I am beginning to understand why Gail is getting so excited.

Is it really still three weeks before we leave?

Monday, 12 September 2016

Er, thank you Easy...

Gail: Now say it like you mean it Bertie. After all, you had such fun taking part in your friend Easy's 'Tuneful Farting' Pawlympic event didn't you? And wasn't it kind of him to send you a special certificate? And we are embarrassingly late with this 'thank you' post anyway.

Bertie: I think my friends will understand why I'm sulking...

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Duthie Park Babe Magnet...

Between you and me, I think those two pug guys were a teeny bit jealous when the pretty little person made a beeline for yours truly in the park the other day.

One of them even growled at me.

Possibly it didn't help matters when I pointed out it's not my fault I'm so handsome.

And then trotted off humming that song.

You know, the one that goes:

"Oh Lord it's hard to be humble,
When you're perfect in every way..."

Monday, 5 September 2016

Bertie in problem solving mode on Morven

So Gail was up early on Sunday, all bright eyed and bushy tailed (er, or was that me?)

"Rise and shine Bertie, we're going for a hill walk today, time to get in training for Switzerland*".

An hour's drive, and I recognised where we were no soon as I'd bounced out the car. Yippee (I said to myself), we're going to climb Morven, my favourite Aberdeenshire hill.

I have to tell you that the first bit of this walk is steep, and Gail was quite red of face when we stopped for a rest on the way up. Of course I was not content with the gravy bone she offered me, and let it be known that I would appreciate a piece of her flapjack too.

To Gail's objection that said treat contained chocolate and thus was unsuitable for dogs, I countered that the chocolate was restricted to a single layer so she could easily nibble it off, problem solved, and also this would be good practice for all those bars of Lindt she will doubtless be consuming in Switzerland...

I'm pleased to report that Gail acted on my helpful suggestion, the chocolate flapjack was duly de-toxified and I found it most delicious.

Before continuing upwards, Gail noticed a dragonfly in a little pond nearby. Can you spot it too?

It was a bit boring watching her try to catch this  flighty insect on camera, and the green pond water looked so inviting.

So I jumped in, thinking perhaps I might reprise the 'First Class Traveller' look I had modelled so successfully once before in Edinburgh.

And then I got stuck!

A lesser dog might at this stage have panicked. But I knew what to do. I emitted a little yelp, just enough to attract Gail's attention, and sure enough, she came over and gently extracted me from the bog. Although not before - somewhat insensitively I thought - taking a photo of my predicament...

Well, we finally reached the summit without further incident...

....and while Gail admired the view over to Lochnagar...

...I ensured no crumbs were left behind from her picnic lunch...

And then I pointed out we'd better hurry on down before the rain arrived.

*Yes, I really am going to join Gail on a big trip to Switzerland in October. More on this in due course...

Friday, 2 September 2016


…by the Friday Westie Gang…