Sunday, 29 November 2009

In which I attempt to visit the Queen's sauna...

Well it was a really unpleasant morning here in Aberdeen, cold, dark, truly dreich. I was overdue a proper Sunday outing, and the weatherman on the radio said that conditions were better inland. 

So I persuaded Gail to drive us in the Mini all the way up Deeside. What a nice journey that is. You should try it some time. 

We stopped a few miles short of Braemar and parked in the Invercauld car park. Luckily, the machine which demands £2.50 for parking in the middle of nowhere wasn't working (remember, I am an Aberdonian....) Anyway, I ran straight down the path to the river.  After more than an hour in the car, I was ready to lift my leg and fertilize some heather.
That's the River Dee and the old Invercauld Bridge in background. I know some readers of this blog are more into history than me, so I've included a photo of the sign telling you all about the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion, Fort George and why the bridge was built. Biggify the picture if you're interested.

We crossed the bridge and entered the Balmoral Estate (which belongs to the Queen). I then realized why Gail had made me wear my red coat. 

We wouldn't want a trigger happy Prince Philip to mistake me for a stag, now would we? 

After a mile or so walking through Ballochbuie Forest - a beautiful stretch of native Caledonian woodland at the western end of the huge Estate, well away from Balmoral Castle and all the tourists - we came to a secluded and picturesque spot, and found this wooden lodge. 

Gail says it was a gift to our Queen from the King of Norway, and it contains a sauna. I'm not sure I believe this (people spout all sorts of rubbish at times, don't they?) I tried to locate the entrance, to check it out for myself. I wonder if the Queen wears her crown when sitting in her sauna? Maybe I'd find out! 


But no, it was all locked and boarded up. What a disappointment! So I just had to content myself with admiring the views outside. By then it was snowing a little so we hurried back to the car and I am going to write and complain to that weatherman. 

Friday, 27 November 2009

I find a cap that fits

By now you'll be aware that I'm not into frivolity. These silly costumes that some dogs get dressed up in. All well and good for the less serious minded, but I prefer to retain my dignity. 

But a chap's head and ears can get a bit chilly at this time of year in Aberdeen. So I was quietly rather pleased to find this distinguished looking hat which Gail brought home yesterday.

It suits me doesn't it? The black velvet combines with my white coat to striking effect, I feel. The hat is versatile, and can be worn over or behind the ears. Apparently this style of headgear is called a 'John Knox' cap. It is worn by students at the University of Aberdeen who graduate with a PhD, thus befitting my intellectual status. 

 Gail is trying to argue that she is the only one in this household entitled to wear a John Knox hat. And it has to be worn with a fancy red gown. But look, it suits me much so better than her, don't you think? (And after all, I did help her a lot with that thesis thing....)

Well, you'll probably have realised that I'm now feeling a lot more cheerful than earlier in the week. Partly 'cos my human Granny came all the way up on the train from Nottingham, specially to visit me for a couple of days! (Oh, and something about attending a 'graduation ceremony' too). And, OK, I have to admit I was exaggerating a bit in my last post when I said I had been stuck in a cage for five days. It was more of a run, not a cage, with a comfy bed and a heater, and I did get taken out for walks twice a day, and the nice lady looking after me and the other dogs remembered that I have tender paws and always made sure I could always be walking on nice soft grass. So it wasn't that bad really, I suppose....

Back to the hat. I was hoping it could be mine for keeps. But it was whisked away yesterday afternoon, as it was apparently only on hire for one day, and I have been instructed not to publicize the fact that I was allowed to wear it at all.
PS. Finally, a message to my friend Fiona, who I haven't seen for ages, but I really like. She's getting married tomorrow to someone called Steve (I don't know him but I'm sure he's nice too). I hope that they both have a truly splendid day, and that all goes well for them in the future. Maybe they'll come and visit me sometime, and bring treats (left over wedding cake would be fine.....)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Discovering my inner Victor Meldrew...


You may have noticed I've been quiet this last week. And maybe even wondered why. I'm not normally one to suffer in silence after all.

Well let me tell you, I've been having a perfectly dreadful time recently. You just won't believe how badly things have been going. How can people do this to me?

As if it's not bad enough that I'm getting old, and deaf, and my paws keep itching. And it's cold and dark and wet outside, and I have to do SO much barking before I can persuade anyone to take me for a walk. And Gail is SO selfish because although she's at home most of the time just at the moment, she pretends she has to 'work' on the computer and ignores my needs...

Yes, and as if all that wasn't enough, I then get driven off to some farm place and stuck in a cage for five whole days, abandoned by Gail and surrounded by other dogs who bark even more than I do. A chap just couldn't get a moment's peace. Can you believe it? This has never happened before. WHAT DID I DO WRONG??? Oh. Gail is bringing up that old gripe about me having bitten one of my carers when she went away in September. But that incident was AGES ago. Surely, isn't it time we forgot all about it? Let bygones be bygones? Please?

Well I'm now back home but feeling thoroughly out of sorts. The whole world is against me. Today, I am unapologetically a GRUMPY OLD MAN.

*With apologies to non-British readers who may not be familiar with the old BBC comedy "One Foot in the Grave"

Monday, 16 November 2009

Relaxing Monday, and the pointlessness of ironing...

Gail’s My bed. 

PS Many many thanks for all your excellent tips on coping with deafness. We are going to try sign language, and I expect to reach the same level on this as I did for verbal commands, i.e. I am sure I shall understand the instructions perfectly well, and shall reserve the right to ignore them totally. 

Friday, 13 November 2009

Deafness - no longer just pretending...

What was that you just said?

For years, as long I can remember in fact, I have been practicing what Gail refers to as 'selective deafness', but I would rather call an intelligent and discriminating approach to deciding whether to bother listening to humans (especially bossy or angry ones). 

This tactic has served me well in the past, allowing me time to focus on important things like sniffing lamp posts and investigating piles of leaves. 

The problem is, now I really can't hear very much at all. 

My eyes are fine, my sense of smell and taste superlative, my heart not too bad for a chap of my advanced years and I am in excellent voice (as I demonstrated at about 5:45 am this morning when I decided I wanted to go out into the garden...)

It's taking quite a while to train Gail to deal with my loss of hearing. She thought I was pretending at first (unfair accusations about 'crying wolf', whatever that means, were flying around). She even thought I didn't love her anymore, 'cos I was no longer rushing to the door when she came home of an evening.

But now she knows to come and touch me gently if I'm on sofa sleeping, and look me in the eyes and not startle me by sneaking up from behind. And she doesn't get cross when I ignore her commands, and has accepted that I no longer 'announce' visitors. I know she tries to understand that I feel insecure at times, and like to keep her in my sights, even when she visits the bathroom.... 

So I'm staying positive. Isn't it nice to have the internet! Such a boon for deaf dogs (and humans). Perhaps some of my cyber-pals have suggestions on coping with a silent world? 

Monday, 9 November 2009

Birthday treat (being 14 isn't so bad after all......)

Words cannot express how wonderful this was.....

(Martha and Bailey - note that I am only permitting blurry photos. And I DID get a treat!)

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Haircut / industrial action...

A dilemma!

My intention today had been to highlight the cruel treatment I received earlier this week, when a certain thoughtless and incompetent person arranged for me to visit the hairdresser on the very same day as we had the first frost of the season. To illustrate extent of my suffering, I commissioned a series of 'before' and 'after' pictures from the photographer-in-chief. 

Then I started catching up on my favourite blogs, and my militant tendency came to the surface. I realized that I absolutely had to do something to support comrades Martha and Bailey Basset in their heroic struggle against  oppression in the form of the constant invasion of their privacy by a person wielding a flashy box. 

Yes, Martha and Bailey  are on strike, refusing to pose for the camera unless treats are proffered. No longer are we dogs prepared to be exploited by our 'owners' by providing, free of charge, material purely for their own gratification! 

But then, my 'before and after' photos had already been shot. What to do? 

Well of course, Gail and I locked ourselves in the traditional smoke-filled room, ordered in some beer and sandwiches, and conducted a lengthy negotiation. 

The result - a classic 50% compromise. 

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Advice on taking your human for a walk

Well, after visiting the RAF memorial on Saturday (previous post) I took Gail for a walk along the nearby cliffs, starting at Portsoy. 

As an old dog, with much experience of life, I have come to appreciate the importance of making sure your human enjoys the walk as much as you do. How better to guarantee that outings are frequent and rewarding? 

One key thing to understand, is that humans do have slightly different requirements from us dogs. 

One simply must recognize, for example, that in the homo sapiens species, the sense of smell is sadly very limited. Would you believe,  your owner might just about be able to tell that one of their kind has peed against a wall (it does happen) but they wouldn't have the faintest clue about the identity of the pee-er. Yes, really, pathetic, eh? But anyway, don't expect them to get all excited about sniffing trees and lampposts etc., it just isn't going to happen.

No, what a human likes is a Nice View. This can include historic buildings, such as in the old (17th century) harbour at Portsoy.
Or, with Gail, glimpses of the sea are also important (boring, I know). 
Strangely, she doesn't seem to enjoy romping across a nicy soft boggy patch of ground nearly as much as I do.
And I've NEVER  seen her rolling around in the mud for the sheer joy of it.....
It is probably a good idea, for long term harmony (Martha and Bailey Basset take note), to tolerate some picture taking during the walk, including misguided attempts at 'arty' shots....
I have also noticed - and in this we, Gail and I, are of one mind - that an eating opportunity at some point in the proceedings always goes down well. (I'm afraid that I failed on this score last Saturday).

But all in all, I think I managed to give her a good time. 

I wonder if my fellow canine bloggers have noticed any other odd things that humans like to do on their walks?