Monday, 18 September 2017

I'm back! And so is Gail.

And not before time...

You know what? I am so used to Gail arriving home from holidays empty handed, I could not believe my deep-set little eyes when she placed this super toy on the front doorstep and said it was for me.

This was such uncharacteristic behaviour on her part, I began to wonder is she and her friend Marse had been filling up with something other than petrol (sorrry, 'gas') on their travels in the Pacific Northwest...

Of course it all became clear when I was told the gift was actually from fellow terriers Wyatt and Tegan, and delivered via our esteemed blogging friends, Murphy and Stanley, whom Gail met (along with Bob and Carol) a couple of Sundays ago at Point Defiance in Tacoma.

Thank you so much Wyatt and Tegan!

Gail tells me she and Marse had such a super hike together with the Doods and family,  and Carol even succeeded in educating Marse's pup Josh in the fine art of posing for blog photos.

(You can see more photos of the meet-up on Murphy and Stanley's blog today.)

Now my friends, perhaps you can help resolve a wee argument I am having with Gail just now. You see she has come home with a ton of photos and a mistaken belief that she should be allowed to post some more of them on my blog later in the week. But surely this is most unfair as I was locked up in 'camp' for the duration, without access to a camera or phone?

We have negotiated a provisional agreement that at least every other holiday picture Gail posts on this blog should feature a dog or other animal, and that shots involving bicycles should be kept to a minimum. Themes to be covered covered will apparently include wildfires and smoke, Mount Rainier, Gail learning how to cook s'mores, and installation of a coyote roller...

Does this seem fair to you?

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Don't forget me..

I shall be in my 'holiday hotel' for the next two and a half weeks, while Gail is having adventures across the Pond.

I'm afraid I shall not have access to internet in the Fairways Pet Haven, and so shall be out of touch for the duration.

Please don't forget me!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Just a wee bit worried...

I knew something was up when I caught Gail cleaning the chain on her bicycle.

Finally, she confessed. In a few days time she is heading off to the USA to visit her dear friend Marse in Tacoma, WA. She will be away for over two weeks and during that time she and Marse will be joining a group of Marse's friends for a bicycle tour around NW Montana.

You know what? I am not concerned for myself (in truth the boarding kennels aren't too bad, although don't tell anyone I admitted this). But oh gosh I am VERY WORRIED about Gail.

Among my fears are:
  • That Gail will stay safe when travelling. Remember earlier in the year when she was perilously close to being blown up in a terrorist attack in St Petersburg? Really, I have to tell you that Gail was quite traumatised by the whole affair (a dog can detect these things) and I must say I was hoping the episode would put her off international travel, at least for a while.
  • That the US immigration authorities will not allow her in the country, given that Gail's work sometimes involves dealing with companies from countries that Mr Trump does not approve of one bit. 
  • Oh yes, President Trump.... I understand that it might be OK for Gail to air her somewhat liberal political views when in the Seattle-Tacoma area, but once out in the wilds of Montana, I am thinking she had better keep schtum...
  • And how will Gail cope in Montana if I am not there to protect her from grizzly bear attacks? 
  • I have never met Marse, and I guess she must be OK 'cos she and Gail have been good friends for nearly thirty years, but I am a little worried nonetheless given that several of Gail's stories about the many trips they have take together involve (according to Gail) her near starvation due to their differences in metabolism. Concerning one notorious backpacking trip in Yosemite in 1989, Gail tells me "I lost 8 lb during those two weeks, and I really didn't need to".
The one thing that reassures me, is that a certain pair of esteemed Blogville former mayors (and their humans) will be meeting up with Gail one afternoon in Tacoma. 

It's such a relief to know that blogging friends I trust and respect will be checking up on her. 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Why go to Skye?

There have been several newspaper reports this summer that the Isle of Skye is full up with tourists.

Regular readers of this blog will of course already be aware that there are lots of places in all corners of Scotland which are well worth a visit.

Neither Gail nor I are big fans of crowds, and so we are delighted to report that on Monday we walked all day across beautiful Deeside hills (an hour from Aberdeen), and met not a single other person.

And gosh it was fun.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The worst thing about this picture...

Where do I begin?

So those of you who know the Greyfriars Bobby story will have worked out that Gail is in Edinburgh, and the observant amongst you will have noticed that I am not there.

Gail could of course have taken me to Edinburgh - after all we know I am an excellent traveller and a well behaved house guest - but she claims it would have been "inconvenient" as she was down for a couple of days with her Book Group, attending various Festival Fringe events.

Have you ever been called "INCONVENIENT"???!!!

What's more, it has come to my notice that one of the events the Book Group attended was a comedy show by Sara Pascoe, and this apparently included several references to Ms Pascoe's love of dogs... (including a routine about how her now ex boyfriend refused to let her have a puppy so she considered instead getting pregnant so she could then dress up the baby as dogs of increasing size, from chihuahua to St Bernard, as it grew. I guess you had to be there.)

Gail and friends also had lunch at a restaurant called 'Badger & Co', located in a house where Kenneth Grahame (author of Wind in the Willows) once lived. I would have enjoyed that too.

I am pleased to report Gail is now safely back home and even found time to take me for a nice riverside walk this afternoon, and although we saw neither Mole, nor Ratty nor Badger, all is well.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

A misunderstanding about Siccar Point

Yesterday Gail announced she was going to Siccar Point.

Oh wow, how exciting, I said. Of course I shall be coming too? It has been such a long time since I went on a geological field trip, and it is the aspiration, surely, of every serious earth scientist, to visit the hallowed ground at Siccar Point where, in 1788,  Scottish pioneer of geology James Hutton, recognised the now famous unconformity as proof of his uniformitarian theory. Come on Gail, hurry up, it is a long drive down to Berwickshire. And don't forget to pack my hard hat. Look, here it is in the bag.

Imagine my disappointment to learn that 'Siccar Point' is also the name of some boring old energy company in Aberdeen and this was where Gail was attending a meeting. And that dogs are not welcome in their offices (although I would have done a fine job of hoovering up the left-over lunchtime sandwiches).

On the upside, Gail has promised that we really will go to visit James Hutton's most famous Scottish unconformity at some time the future.

I am hoping that when she says "some time" Gail is thinking human or even dog terms, and not in Deep (i.e. geological) Time, the concept first developed by our estimable Mr Hutton,

Siccar Point unconformity: Photo by dave souza - Own work, GFDL,

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Birthday best behaviour

So on Sunday I wanted to help Human Granny unwrap her birthday presents, but Gail said HGY didn't need any assistance and if I wanted to show everyone what a good dog I am, I should just sit down and pose nicely for a birthday picture.

So that is what I did.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Nottingham morning routine

Well I've now been in Nottingham long enough to have established a regular morning walk. Perhaps you would like to join me?

Before heading down the road to Beeston lock, it is important to check there have been no overnight trespassers in Janet's wee front garden.

When we reach the canal, I like to inspect the houseboats, and contemplate an alternative life style.

The river Trent flows beside the canal here, and yesterday, when Gail was admiring the reflections of the willow trees on the far bank, I inadvertently stepped into to water that was deeper than anticipated and nearly had to be rescued. (Gail was too shaken to take any photos of my wet and muddy self).

To continue the circuit we cut through the grounds of the Nottingham Casuals rugby club. Human Grandad used to play for this club in the 1950s.

Just a few days ago Gail asked an old family friend, the wife of one of HGD's erstwhile rugby club pals, about the origin of the name 'Casuals'. The reply came back thus: "Well I don't think they took the game too seriously Gail, they were all a bit hopeless really, and mostly interested in the booze..." And then she went on the describe the pub on the edge of the Lace Market (in the days when that part of Nottingham was derelict not trendy) where the rugby players and the braver of their girlfriends congregated after the games, and how it always smelled of cat pee.

Those were the days...

Back to the walk. Finally, we return along the embankment on the other side of the canal.

Although this stretch is best avoided on Saturday mornings when the 'Park Run' fraternity meet.

It is, of course, a good place for making friends. And as Gail is always reminding me, Nottingham has long been famed for its surplus of pretty girls...

Well apparently our summer sojourn down in Nottingham comes to an end tomorrow when, after calling in to wish Human Granny Happy Birthday, we shall be setting off home to Scotland.

It's been fun.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Boots, Beeston and remembering HGD

Well I am pleased to report that I did eventually get to visit Human Granny on Sunday, and found her quite cheerful despite her wobbly knees, bent back and ever slower movements.

Gail and I are staying in Nottingham for the whole week. We are hoping our host Janet does not subscribe to that thing about house guests being like fish and smelling after three days. Although Gail has just pointed out that I was, in her words, "stinking to high heaven" (see previous post) when I arrived. So where does that leave us, I wonder?

I want you to know that I have now been bathed and shampoo'd VERY THOROUGHLY.

On to other matters. The part of Nottingham where Janet lives is called Beeston, home to Nottingham University and former HQ of well known UK company Boots the Chemists.

Yesterday morning Gail and I walked over to the Boots 'D6' factory building, where Human Grandad worked for the best part of 30 years.

Apparently D6, constructed in 1938, is now a 'listed' historic building, considered to be an icon of British modernist architecture. Oh I could have shown you so much more if Gail and I had been allowed past the security gates, but a very rude man shouted at us and called us back when we attempted to saunter casually through...

So if you want to learn more about D6 (and I'm sure you do!) then you will need to click here.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

It was all going so well...

So the second leg of our drive to Nottingham started so well when Gail, for once, actually ordered a 'proper' breakfast AND even agreed to divvy up the bacon into something approaching equitable shares (weight for weight at least).

Then we had an early lunch in the agreeable town of Richmond, North Yorkshire, where at the Crossview Tea Room on the market square the waitress recognised how I was on the verge of collapse through starvation and brought me my very own plate of sausage.

Approaching Nottingham, Gail decided we should go for a walk beside the River Trent before calling in to see Human Granny, and as we passed tbrough a field where cattle had recently been grazing, I saw fit to adorn myself with some locally sourced pastoral perfume, as for sure HGY would want to meet me smelling my best...

But Gail saw things differently and I was subjected to an uncalled for dunk in the river. It was small comfort to learn that the Trent is now, unlike when Gail was a child in Nottingham in the sixties, relatively clean and so I was unlikely to catch some nasty pollution related illness. When we returned to the car I was pleased to note though, that the smell of manure still lingered.

Imagine my shock and disappointment when we arrived at Human Granny's care home and  I was made to stay all alone in the car for the duration of Gail's visit...

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Technologically challenged

The typical hotel TV experience...

(We are staying overnight in Moffat, en route to Nottingham to see Human Granny.)

Sunday, 30 July 2017

A team effort and a question

Readers, I guess you might be wondering how things are going with my paws, after I had so many problems with painful interdigital cysts earlier in the year.

Well I'm delighted to report it's all good news!  When Gail took me for a follow up visit with dermatology specialist Peter Forsythe on Friday (in Aberdeen not Glasgow this time) he carefully examined the skin between the pads and said he was really pleased 'cos there were no signs of any soreness or infection and, basically, everything looked hunky dory.

I could claim the credit for the improvement, as I've been so good about tolerating all the paw washes and the poking around making sure not one tiny grain of dirt is left in even the deepest cleft between my pads.

But, I will concede, Gail is also to be congratulated on her persistence in making sure that every single day, even when she has to get to work early, she never omits to go through the now well established paw cleansing routine after my morning park walk.

And then of course, we have to recognise the contribution of Mr Forsythe, who took the time to consider my medical history, examined me carefully, and then applied his expert knowledge and judgement to work out the likely source of the problem.

So really, the fact that my paws are now in finest of fettles is down to a team effort - so often the best way of solving a seemingly intractable problem, don't you think?

Oh and talking of team efforts (or not..) I have a question for my readers in the USA. Watching the TV news this week, I am, frankly, puzzled.

You see, whenever Gail tells me about her time working in your country, and about the friends she still has over there, she says how almost all the Americans she's met have been kind, polite, considerate and gracious in their behaviour.

So it is disappointing to find out that across the Pond there are several humans in positions of power  who are setting a very different sort of example.

How could this happen? I am, I admit, confused.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

A novel concept: the refreshing dip!

You know what? Last weekend I made a most surprising discovery.

It really can be quite refreshing you know, going for a quick dip in a Scottish river!

(Hitherto I had thought of such an activity more as an endurance test).

Let me explain the context.

Although not sunny,  it was warm and a tad muggy on Sunday afternoon here in Northern Scotland when Gail took me for a long walk around Glen Tanar.

After six or seven miles I was feeling a wee bit weary and, you know what, the orangey brown river water (so coloured 'cos it contains dissolved organic matter from the upstream peat soils, nothing to do with pollution) began to look quite inviting. 

So I tentatively waded in, taking care to keep a firm footing.

Look, wasn't I brave - the water is almost up to my belly.

And I emerged feeling like a brand new dog, and came close to achieving escape velocity on the last two miles back to the car...

Monday, 24 July 2017

New Duthie Park Café and Canine Rights

There is an important debate going on in Duthie Park this morning. Let's listen in for a minute.

Well it seems that the newly renovated café in Duthie Park is about to open, at last*. 

The regular dog walking gang are asking the manager if the café is going to be 'dog-friendly'. It looks like the dogs are joining in. Really the case in unanswerable, don't you think?
  • First off, it is noted that year round, we dogs and our owners are the main park users, we come here come rain or shine, every day, unlike your fair weather, school holiday visitors, Saturday afternoon cricketers or bus tourists doing the rounds of the Winter Gardens. So we feel we have rights.
  • Secondly, it is not good enough for dogs merely to be given access to the outside terrace area, which apparently is the current plan. I mean, how many days per year in Aberdeen is it actually warm enough for even the hardiest and most loving dog owner to want to be eating outdoors? 
  • Finally, there is the economic argument, which is of course paramount in the minds of so many humans. Not only will allowing dogs in increase takings, but just think how much could be saved in floor sweeping costs with all those canine Dysons to hoover up the cake crumbs...
We shall be reviewing the café in due course.

*Behind that 'at last' is a long and sorry saga of Aberdeen City Council mismanagement, incompetence in letting the café contract to an untrustworthy party, lies told by said party, delays, near bankruptcy, supposed investors dematerialising when payments are due and - oh gosh we had better stop here before Gail explodes in a fit of apoplexy...

Thursday, 20 July 2017

A gneiss lecture for Yvonne

Hey Gail! What is this stone doing on our kitchen floor?

Well Bertie it's a present from our friend Yvonne. She picked it up on a beach on her recent trip to the Isle of Lewis. It's nice isn't it?

Oh ha ha very droll. Of course I know it's gneiss. Lewisian gneiss in fact. But really, isn't there something a bit coals-to-Newcastle about giving a lump of rock to a geoscientist?

Bertie now, we must learn to be more appreciative. Yvonne told me she wants in return a lesson on the whole topic of the Lewisian gneiss - she is keen to be taught some geology and this should be encouraged. Maybe you could put on your Bertie Boffin hat and help me prepare something for her?

OK then, that's a great idea. Well let me see.

First off, the Lewisian is very old. Even older than Yvonne. Archaean in fact! It is the oldest rock formation in the UK, although if you go to Australia or Greenland or Canada, you can easily find rocks which are even older.

Secondly, it is a metamorphic rock, which means it has been changed, i.e. metamorphosed, from its initial state. Originally this boulder was probably a granite. Just like the stone from which our house, and Yvonne's, are built.  Perhaps Yvonne could imagine our houses were somehow buried tens of kilometres under the earth, where the heat and pressure are so intense that the granite minerals very slowly recrystallise into the type of rock we call a gneiss.
In general, we explain how rocks get deeply buried in the earth, and then rise up again, by applying plate tectonics theory, as in the image above. But way, way back in the Archaean era (when of course there were no houses as there were no humans nor other life forms excepting maybe a few bacteria) the plate tectonics thing was only just getting going and the earth was a whole lot hotter than it is now, so the favourite geologist's dictum, 'the present is the key to the past', is a bit hard to apply to this phase of Earth's history.

So around 1.7 to 3.0 billion years ago, when the Lewisian was forming, geologists now believe that rather than the current set-up of tectonic plates, there were all these 'terranes' crashing into each other, and, truth to tell, it was a long time ago (did I say that already?) and it all gets very, very complicated.

Gosh you know what? I've just remembered. The son of one of our Torridon neighbours, a fine young chap called Dr John MacDonald of Glasgow University, is a proper expert on the Lewisian formation. He has written papers with titles like:

Temperature–time evolution of the Assynt Terrane of the Lewisian Gneiss Complex of Northwest Scotland from zircon U-Pb dating and Ti 

I am thinking we should invite Yvonne over to Torridon (where, after all, we have a bunch of Lewisian rocks just around the corner) and if Yvonne asks nicely, then John, a real bona fide lecturer, can tell her all she would ever want to know about Scotland's most ancient rock formation. And possibly more...
Lewisian rocks (pink): distribution in NW Scotland

Fine Bertie, but in the meantime I expect Yvonne will want to learn about the pretty pink bits in our rock. 

Oh yes of course. The pink splodges are in fact a mineral called potassium feldspar. It's the same mineral that gives the granite buildings in the Deeside town of Banchory their pinkish tinge. Although in Aberdeen the granite is grey because it crystallised from a magma of slightly different chemical composition.

Er Gail, I am feeling a bit tired. This teaching business is hard work isn't it? 

Also, could you please tell Yvonne that a better present would be one of those delicious chewy things from the 'Pet Comforts' shop, rather than some random old rock? 

Or should I, next time she pops over for a cuppa, tap in to Yvonne's own area of expertise and demand a Jungian analysis of that dream I had last night about chasing sheep? 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The price you pay

So finally the skies over NW Scotland cleared, and on Sunday Gail and I went for a most agreeable stroll along from Incheril to the banks of Loch Maree, at the foot of that fine mountain, Slioch. (We decided not to climb up Slioch as it is a steep and rocky ascent and Gail thought that after all the rain on the previous day it would be too slippery underfoot).

Gosh the views of the surrounding landscape were stunning as we gaily trotted along together through the luxuriant bracken.

It does seem a bit unfair that the flattest bit of this glacial valley floor has been commandeered by sheep, and so the footpath along the edge is harder going than one might expect as it traverses the uneven surface of the lateral moraine. 

At one point Gail stumbled and fell into the bracken, and then had the cheek to criticise me for using the opportunity to try to run off up the hill rather than rush over to comfort her and lick her (very minor) wounds - fat lot of good that would have done...

Oh yes it was a glorious afternoon, and I must agree with Gail that if downpours such as we endured  the previous day are a necessary condition for having such lovely soft meadows and heathland, all delicately spattered with tormentil, buttercups, self heal, heath spotted orchids, bog asphodel, cotton grass, heather and sundew, then it is a price worth paying.