Sunday, 21 January 2018

Winter at Balmoral (no Corgis in sight)

Contrary to the impression given by calendars featuring the Scottish Highlands, it is rare indeed that our winter weather is conducive to the perfect outing in the mountains.

But just every once in a while, the weather gods permit that ideal combination of blue skies, no wind, enough snow to cover the ground but not too much to make walking difficult, and the right temperature so that the snow is in a pristine  powdery state (neither slushy nor icy). Such was the case this Saturday.

In general it is easy, on days when fine conditions prevail, to persuade Gail to seize the moment (especially when the alternative is shopping for a new oven). And so it was that we headed out first thing to Ballochbuie Forest on the Queen's Balmoral Estate, one of our all time favourite places.

Actually, Gail said something about needing to celebrate that civilisation had more or less survived a year of You Know Who as President...

We first stopped for a wee peek at Crathie Kirk,

but the doors were locked,

and so it was onwards for a four mile romp in the sparkling forest.

I thought we might see some corgis but apparently they are all soft southerners and prefer to stay at Windsor or Sandringham in January. I did encounter a bad tempered spaniel who nearly succeeded in taking a chunk out of my flappy little ear. I was so brave about it that Gail only realised when we returned home that I had sustained a very small cut.

On the topic of the Royal Family, I confess I am still holding out hope that I might be adopted by Harry and Meghan. They seem such a lovely couple. A few weeks ago, they even chose Nottingham for their first joint official visit. Such excellent taste! Although I am not aware they have been to Balmoral yet. I hope it is not politically incorrect to point out that my colouring (a mixture of black and white, with reddish furs on my head) would make me the perfect modern Royal Mascot for this particular duo?

PS Thank you for all your suggestions for boots to protect my sometimes sensitive paws. I'm afraid I live with a human who is indecisive about these matters so it will probably be summer before she has placed an order...

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Feeling better already - thank you!

I guess it was all the kind messages you sent after my 'feeling very sorry for myself' post on Monday.

Anyway, I am pleased to report that my poorly paw is feeling loads better, so much so that yesterday afternoon I was able to enjoy an energetic romp around the 'Gramps' (a hilltop nature reserve on the nearby southern edge of Aberdeen, the name is a local abbreviation of Grampians and absolutely nothing to do with grandparents, you understand).

As you can see, we have been blessed with some winter sunshine here, although much of Scotland is covered in snow.

Gail says she is not sure what was going on with my paw. Initially the problem seemed to be a small cut on the underside, between the paw pads. This become infected and the vet gave me antibiotics and it all seemed to heal up nicely after a couple of days. But then a few days later, last weekend, the same paw become swollen and I was really uncomfortable and didn't want to walk at all. Gail feared one of the dreaded interdigital cysts was developing. Except perhaps it wasn't as by Tuesday I was feeling right as rain again. Paws crossed it stays that way - I had such a horrid time last winter with those evil cysts.

As a result of this latest podiatric hiccup, Gail and I have been wondering if any of our friends can recommend brands of protective boots which might help keep my precious and sensitive front paws out of trouble for the rest of this winter? As you know, I am an adventurous hiker and like to go out in all weathers, and so the boots would need to be quite rugged. (I do have a pair Trixie 'walker' shoes but they tend to slip down off my paws after I have walked a short distance and I don't really like wearing them). Oh and Gail says any boots would need to be easy to put on, which I think says more about her shortcomings than mine...

Monday, 15 January 2018

Oh no not again

There once was a terrier called Bert,
Whose paw sometimes horribly hurt,
For months it was better,
But now I regret to
Announce that it's suddenly worse...
That poor little terrier Bert.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

In which we explore the Cairngorm Snow Roads

I'm delighted to report that we had the most wonderful outing on Sunday. Such a good idea of Yam-Aunty’s to go exploring the newly designated ‘Snow Roads’ in the Cairngorms. (Although Gail wishes to point out that the roads are not new, and neither is the fact that they are snow prone. Fans of Jim Naughtie and BBC Radio 4 will already be familiar with hearing that the snow gates are closed on the notorious A939 Cockbridge to Tomintoul route).

I digress. What is sort of new is that art installations have been places at key locations along the roadside, adding extra spice to what are already spectacular viewpoints.

For quality images of these sculptures, and of the surrounding landscape, I refer you to the superior photography on our dear friend Yam’s blog, although we gather you will have to wait a few more days before the Snow Roads are featured there.

Long time readers know that science is my forte. Hitherto I have declined to venture into the precious world of art criticism.  Brian Sewell I am not. I would however like to point out a particular feature of ‘Still’* (a square sculpture with mirrored internal surfaces, located by a quarry just north of Tomintoul) - a feature which I suspect a more conventional art expert would have missed.

You might think nothing could be better than a picture of yours truly, looking adorable against the sparkling Cairngorm whiteness.

But you would be wrong.

Let me explain. Posing inside 'Still' allows you to see my fine jaunty tail and well-toned rear end, and the magnificent scenery in the background, not once but twice over in the same photo. A sort of artistic ‘buy one get one free’ deal!

Quite a result, I’m sure you’ll agree.

*Note we are in whisky country here, just a stone's throw from the Glenlivet and Glenfiddich distilleries, hence 'Still'?