Tuesday, 21 November 2017

A gravy bone from Postman Pat!

Bertie in Glen Muick, midday on 18 November 2017
You might be looking at the picture above and thinking, gosh you are a lucky chap Bertie, living in such a beautiful part of the world with a human who loves to go exploring.

I guess you would be right, but sometimes the best part of an outing is not captured on camera.

So there I was last weekend, trotting along the tranquil farm track on the western side of Glen Muick, when a Royal Mail van - the first vehicle we'd seen - came bowling along.

I don't know about you, but generally I like to walk in the middle of a road if given the chance, and believe it is the responsibility of others to avoid running me down. 

So I ignored Gail's shouts and forced the postman to stop. He wound down his window as Gail, having put me on a lead and dragged me to the side, was babbling apologetically: 

"I'm so sorry, thank you for stopping, my dog has absolutely no road sense...."

The postman had a nice round ruddy face and a wide smile. He ignored Gail, looked down at me and said fondly "ach, you're an affa bonny pup, maybe you'd like a treat?"

And lo an behold he dug into his pocket and produced a gravy bone and offered it to me whole! (Gail normally breaks them in two, or on a bad day three).

This agreeable episode has confirmed my belief that is is always best to stick to the middle of a track, although Gail disputes this conclusion...

After the walk we stopped in the nearby town of Ballater, where a rustic nativity scene was being erected on the green by the church. 

Gail was amused to see that the workman setting up the floodlighting had used the praying hands of one of the Three Kings as a coat hook. 

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Why don't we do this more often?

As you know, my usual early morning constitutional consists of a walk to Duthie Park and back.

So I was a bit surprised on Saturday when Gail bundled me into the car shortly after seven a.m. and announced:

"Bertie, we're having a change today and going to the beach for a dawn photoshoot".

It's only a ten minute drive to Aberdeen City Beach and we arrived about half an hour before sunrise.

Not all the photos Gail took in the low light with her smartphone turned out as intended...

But amongst the many fails (Gail blames cold hands which I guess is a valid excuse - the air is always, er,  'bracing' besides the North Sea), there were a few photos I have deemed acceptable for my blog.

As it started to get properly light, some other pups showed up on the beach.

Gosh it was all such fun,  I do hope we can do it again some time.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Paw wash imminent...

In truth, these days, following my visit to veterinary dermatologist Peter Forsythe in April, a paw wash is ALWAYS imminent, even when I have been walking across ground that is nowhere near as muddy as that pictured above.  And it's not just a gentle rinse, but a thorough working over, focusing on making sure the deep clefts between my paw pads are clear of mud and grit.

The good news is that I have been free of those horrid interdigital cysts, which made my (and Gail's) life a such misery earlier this year, for over six months now. Cross paws that things stay this way through the winter.

Gail says Dr Forsythe is already her clear choice for Man of the Year.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Shy, undramatic and without a trace of egotism

Gosh it has been proving hard to get Gail out of bed these last few dark and frosty mornings.

In truth, usually she is up and raring to go while I am still curled up snug and sleepy. But the combination of a sinus infection (Gail's Achilles heel, if that is not too medically confusing a metaphor) combined with what she says is a most fascinating book, have meant the roles have been reversed - one suspects temporarily - this week.

So the subject of the book that's been keeping me from my customary early attendance in Duthie Park is former UK Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. Perhaps you have heard of him, perhaps not.

Well it seems that when Attlee was deputy to Winston Churchill during the Second World War, he was considered by some as Churchill's lapdog. Leaving aside the implied slur against lapdogs (a status to which I aspire), this, according to biographer John Bew, was very much not the case, and Mr Attlee was in fact most influential despite (perhaps because of) being "shy, undramatic and without a trace of egotism".

Post-war this supposedly meek and ineffectual man defeated Churchill in the general election and became Prime Minister, and his Labour government introduced the National Health Service and laid the foundations of the modern welfare state.

Oh yes, and I should also mention that as a young man Attlee fought bravely and with distinction in the World War One, and was injured in the Battle of Hanna in Mesopotamia (now Iraq).

Not bad for a 'lapdog', I say!

And what a contrast, in both style and achievement, to certain of today's politicians on either side of the Atlantic..

PS from Gail: do we get a prize today for efforts in making the most unpromising subject matter 'dog relevant'???