Sunday, 24 September 2017

Reflections on absence

Was it really only two weeks and three days
That you were gone and I was left bereft
Of all home comforts?

Abandoned in what I would not describe
As a 'pet haven', although I'm told that's what it's called.

Where was the comfy lap
On which to cuddle of an evening?
I barked (and barked) but no-one paid attention
(The other dogs were barking too).

Let me assure you,
A pad in a concrete kennel
Is no substitute
For a shared double bed (with goose down quilt).
And it's hard to sleep at night,
Unbolstered by the warm bulk of a human leg.

On too short walks with unfamiliar pups,
I yearned for Duthie Park.
For favourite trees, park benches, monuments,
For all my friends.


Did you miss me too?
My eager little fuzzy face,
And the endearing way my ears flap
As I trot daintily along
On my more compact than average paws?

You did?

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Bertie allows Gail to show some holiday pictures (just this once)

So this post is going to be all about Gail's recent holiday in the USA, and is the result of a painstakingly negotiated settlement whereby photos involving bicycles are balanced by dog and other animal related images.

Well let's get the boring biking bit out out of the way for starters.
Marse's dog Josh supervises the reassembly of Gail's bicycle
I had understood that Gail went to the USA to join her old friend Marse and a bunch of Marse's friends for an eight day bike ride around NW Montana.

Marse lives in Tacoma, WA. It seems she, Gail and the other riders drove all 450 miles from Tacoma  to the start point in St Regis, Montana on Tuesday September 5. And all the way back again the next day...  I, Bertie, think they were wimps to bottle out of the planned bicycle tour, just 'cos the route they'd planned, up to Glacier National Park, went right through the heart of an area of ferocious wildfires, and the whole state was blanketed in smoke so thick that people were being advised to staying indoors with windows closed and avoid all exertion...
Smoke covering Washington, Idaho and Montana
Gail had been looking forward to seeing all the Montana wildlife, but had to make to with this moose by the lake at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Marse and Moose
Even in Tacoma, the parked vehicles were covered in ash, reminding folk of the 1980 Mount St Helens eruption.

So the bike group re-thought their plans and organised rides around the South Puget Sound area and in Mount Rainier National Park, where the air was relatively clear. Gail says she thinks they did this mostly for her benefit, feeling bad that she had travelled such a long way with her bicycle, only to have the main event cancelled.

One day they started from the Cascade Bike Club HQ in Seattle (Gail was awestruck by the facilities), and toured the campus of 'U-Dub' (aka the University of Washington).

Another day they rode up to Black Diamond for a hearty lunch.

Then came a visit to Harstine Island, where the ride ended with a barbecue at cyclist Bill's gorgeous holiday home.

Next, the bike group spent a few lovely days enjoying more hospitality at Jim and Lori's cosy cabin in Ashford, near Mount Rainier National Park.

From the cabin, one day they rode up the 3600 ft ascent to the appropriately named Paradise.

Later that same day, back at Jim and Lori's cabin, Gail was instructed in the essential American campfire ritual of making s'mores, the perfect follow-up to all that exertion on the bike.
Lori exhibits the perfect s'more
Another day they hiked up to High Rock lookout, where they disturbed the peace of a solitary young man and his handsome dog Champ.

And afterwards drove miles and miles along forest track to harvest Lori's secret huckleberry garden.

Returning to base in Tacoma, Marse had other things on her mind. It turns out that her dog Josh is something of an escapologist, and has recently taken to scaling her 4 ft high fence, and roaming the neighbourhood. I don't see why this is a problem, but for some reason Marse was intent on installing a DIY 'coyote roller'. This apparently involved fixing lengths of plastic tubing on top of the fence so that it rolls in such a way as to make it difficult for coyotes and/or dogs to clamber over.

Oh, just to confuse you, the dog pictured about is not Josh, but seventeen year old Liddie, who also used to exhibit Houdini-like traits, but now is a sedate, if still charmingly cheeky, senior lady.

Finally, here is some bird-related artwork by the shore in Tacoma, plus one more photo of Josh and Liddie, as by my reckoning, there is still an imbalance in favour of bike photos on this blog post...

OK, finally, finally. Gail insists on posting this video she shot at a beach party one fine evening early in her visit, where Marse's nieces Marena and Soroa provided a memorable musical interlude.

PS Next and future posts, I promise, will revert to being all about ME (Bertie).

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.