Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Season of Goodwill

You know, over the past year, reading though my blog, I do realise that I've spent quite a lot of time complaining about my 'owner' Gail, and not being truly appreciative. 

Well today, as it's the season of goodwill, I want to redress the balance and sign off for the year by telling you about a couple of nice things she's done for me in the past few days. Examples of how sometimes she can be kind and thoughtful.

You've all heard about my sensitive paws. Over the weekend we had a little snow in Aberdeen and it all turned very icy. By Monday, the pavements were all so hard and jagged that it really hurt to walk anywhere. 

So what did Gail do? She consulted the tide tables for Aberdeen harbour and next thing I knew I was being whisked off to the beach for a run on the sand at low tide, the only place with no snow and ice. 
It started off sunny, but then a mist came down and in the low winter light it all looked very atmospheric, I think you'll agree.
Then we got lots more snow , which looked pretty, but was too deep for my little legs. At least it was soft on the paws and so Gail dug a path to the street and took me out. 

A neighbour came round with a Christmas gift, but Gail was busy, so she put it down and then went out. This is what she found when she returned to the house. 

She was VERY cross.

But I was forgiven (as I always am in the end) and even given a proper Christmas treat. 

So, a Very Merry Christmas to all my lovely friends, and, dogs, please be nice to your humans over the holiday season, they really do try their best you know....

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Hamish succumbs to Christmas after all...

OK, I give in. No longer is this blog a Christmas-free zone. 

Now it strikes me that the thing to do at this time of year is to write a Christmas newsletter. Gail never does, saying she "disapproves of the concept", but I have decided to take on the responsibility myself of telling folk what I've been up to in 2009. 

First off, I have to admit that as I'm new to this game I consulted examples of newsletters which Gail has received in the past, to get a feel for what is expected. I learnt that a Christmas newsletter contains certain essential elements, and for this first attempt I have decided to conform to the standard format. 

First off, one has to list all one's major achievements - exams, promotions, sporting trophies etc. etc. 

Er.... Help! Gail! Did I actually achieve anything this year? 

A long silence follows. 

Well I was nominated for a few 'Dogs with Blogs' awards for this blog, but was not allowed to accept them on account of "already being big-headed enough". Does that count? 

And I did gain a mention in the 'acknowledgments' section of  a certain PhD thesis. Look...

Secondly, one is expected to create the impression of a busy, successful, purposeful and exciting life, dividing one's time between high powered employment and glamorous holidays to exotic locations. 

Look, this is really difficult. Basically, my life consists of eating, sleeping on the sofa, being cuddled, and rousing myself twice daily for walks where more time is spent sniffing trees and lampposts than in forward motion. Usually all this takes place at home in Aberdeen, but sometimes I perform the same routine  in our cottage on Loch Torridon and sometimes at Gail's parents in Nottingham. Purposeful enough? 

Thirdly, details of medical problems on a 'more information than strictly necessary' basis are required.

Och this one's easy! Have I already told you about my itchy bottom? It gets really really itchy. So I lick it quite a lot, or sit down and scoot across the carpet to relieve the itchiness. Other areas itch too. Often it's my front paws, sometimes my groin area. Actually I rather enjoy having special anti-itch cream rubbed into my groin, what male dog wouldn't.....

There is usually a section on domestic disasters, related in a way that makes them more amusing than they seemed at the time.

Well let me think here. 

Oh. It is being suggested that I am the domestic disaster. That is SO NOT FUNNY, Gail. Let's move on. 

Finally, social highlights (invitations to garden parties at the Palace,  trips to Glyndebourne, that sort of thing) must be noted.

Well to be honest, these days I really can't be bothered. And at the prospect of company I tend to retreat upstairs and jump up (with the help of a step) onto Gail's bed and remain there until the visitors have departed. That's just how it is when you're fourteen I'm afraid. 

Well I think that's about it for my year. I hope you all had an equally successful and exciting one.....

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Christmas-free zone

By this time of year, I know that many of you, both dogs and humans, will be feeling stressed about Christmas. All those presents to wrap (and unwrap..), cards to deliver, dumb photos to pose for, parties to attend, food to cook/steal, relatives to visit, family tensions to defuse....

So welcome to my blog, a Christmas-free space, where the spirit of intellectual enquiry remains active over the holiday season, and refined contemplation wins out over rampant consumerism. 

Sadly, the Scottish weather has returned to normal. But no matter. It is good to be indoors for we have serious matters to discuss today. A new and highly relevant scientific study no less! Have you seen this week's copy of the New Scientist magazine?

Yes, finally, we have conclusive and objective proof, that, all things considered, DOGS ARE SUPERIOR TO CATS.

I have already shared with article with my dear friend Stella, who occasionally has 'issues' with her resident feline Ali Zophia. We both agree that there is much here to relish. I shall quote directly from one paragraph, on the subject of the relative utility of the two species:

Dogs can hunt, herd and guard. They can sniff out drugs and bombs and even whale faeces; they guide blind and deaf people, race for sport, pull sleds, find someone buried by an avalanche, help children learn and possibly even predict earthquakes. Cats are good if you have an infestation of rodents.

I think you get the drift. 

If you want to read more, click this link: Dogs vs Cats - the Great Pet Showdown

Monday, 14 December 2009


This is me, posing to order by Loch Clair in Wester Ross last Friday. The mountain behind is called Liathach (a Gaelic word which, if you make a sound like you're being sick, you will have the pronunciation nearly right). Yes, the sky and the water really were that blue!

Look, I know I was going on about the lack of snow last week, but, to be frank, if this is climate change, I'm all in favour. 

Would you believe we just had FOUR WHOLE DAYS of sunshine over at the cottage on Loch Torridon?! So we went on lots of lovely walks, and I was allowed  plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular scenery. 

Between you and me though, absolutely the best thing about the weekend, from my perspective, happened inside the cottage and there aren't any photos. Gail's friend Margaret, normally such a capable lady, actually managed to drop a whole steak and kidney pie on the kitchen floor on Thursday night!  Incredibly, the humans didn't seem to want to eat up the scrapings. I am so glad they realised that us dogs aren't that fussy.  You can imagine how much I enjoyed having my normal boring dried food mixed with super yummy pie meat and gravy for the rest of the long weekend. Thank you, Margaret, thank you!

I just can't quite understand why nobody took out their camera to record this exceptionally interesting incident...

Anyway, as I did, all in all, have such a splendid time, I have once again allowed Gail to post her favourite photo, even though it doesn't feature me (or steak and kidney pie). This was taken just outside the cottage at 8:30 am on Sunday morning. 
For some reason I always seem to get excluded from photos of sunrises and sunsets. Something about the camera 'not being up to it'. 

Or would that be the photographer, Gail? 

Monday, 7 December 2009

Where is the snow?

It's December, right? I live in the north of Scotland, latitude 57 degrees 6 minutes N, to be precise. For my geographically challenged readers (and those with a North American perspective), that's almost as far north as Juneau, Alaska.


We went for a walk yesterday in the woods by Crathes Castle and I didn't see a single flake.

I have been checking my friends' blogs. They all live further south than me. I see lovely Stella joyfully rolling around in the soft white stuff. The land around the Rocky Creek Scotties' residence is looking stunning, like a scene on a Christmas card. Hoover now blends in beautifully with his background. Jake and Fergi have decided that the best response to a blizzard is to loll around indoors all day in their jimjams. 

What do we get here in Aberdeen?  Rain, rain and more rain.  It's just not right is it?

I gather that there is a big meeting in Copenhagen this week. Gail explained it all to me. I think I understand. A lot of hot air will be generated, then Barack Obama is going to fly in at the end and fix it so we get snow in Scotland next year. Something like that.

Do you think he'll succeed?

Oh. Gail has put on her scientist hat (metaphorically) and is telling me I'm over-simplifying again.....she's blethering on about the Gulf Stream, and how this young laddie Obama isn't personally responsible for the Scottish climate....

PS from Gail - it seems that on some computers, part of this post appears in Greek, but on other computers, including mine, it all looks normal. There is NOT supposed to be any Greek! (Hamish is not THAT clever!) I am investigating. Has anyone else come across this before?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

I am worth it!

It was very nice that several of you, my dear friends, commented on how smart I looked wearing my red coat in the previous post. 

Well no doubt it looks OK in the photos, from afar, especially as Gail has not yet bothered to work out how to get high definition pictures on the blog... But the truth is, this coat is now over 10 years old, and so worn and frayed that I am almost embarrassed to wear it. 

See what I mean? Just imagine if I had bumped into one of the Queen's corgis at Balmoral last weekend....

I have hinted before that I need a new coat. So far to no avail. I fear that Gail thinks it a waste to invest any money in garments for an elderly dog like me. 

How mean is that??