Wednesday, 21 September 2011

High days, holidays and a hurricane

I have triumphed.
Prolonged good behaviour - including walking to heel; collapsing dramatically to the floor when they pretend to shoot me; and wearing a ridiculous blue snood without attempting to tear it off, meant that I avoided the dreaded kennels and got to go on holiday.
And where did we go in the worst summer in living memory? Scotland.
On a positive note there were no midgies. They had all drowned or died of hypothermia.
We drove through the night to get to the beautiful Isle of Arran. Well until the starter motor seized on the Landy and we had to be towed by an articulated lorry.
Sadly, we were followed by Hurricane Katya, which meant we were trapped there for some considerable time because the ferries were cancelled.  Of course, I don’t mind 70 mile an hour winds and torrential rain, so I had a pretty good time with lots of walks, football and swimming in the sea, mostly accompanied by a cheerful Beard, whose mantra was: “why let a bit of water spoil your holiday?”
Despite the conditions he spent hours collecting driftwood, foraging for mushrooms and cooking on an open fire (no matches allowed though as those are for wimps). He also made friends with Angus the mechanic and his brother-in-law Robin who let us camp in his field.  This was helpful because when the serious weather warning finally meant we had to abandon the tent for our own safety, he also let us stay in his cottage. 

Baking bread


Weird seemed strangely quiet during the trip, although to be fair I could only see a small proportion of her face through her waterproofs.  When these started to leak, B said he would buy her an American army poncho for the next holiday for when she was collecting firewood.  At this point she zipped herself into the tent storage area for some considerable time. 

All in all I had a fantastic time. The only downside was when Weird (who has poor eye-leg coordination) kicked my football into the sea and it was lost.  To be fair, I think the layers of clothing and balaclava restricted her movements.
So... we’re back home and B and I are on our own this week because W had to go and do some work in Cyprus.  We took her to the airport, shared a Ginsters breakfast bar on the way back and went for a game of football.  Then I settled down in the special out-of-bounds chair while B watched the rugby.
Life is good.
I must NEVER sit in this char

Friday, 16 September 2011

Dancing sheep and scary toast

September has been an interesting month.  One of the highlights has been this week with the World Sheepdog Trials on TV.  Mind you, it took me a while to realise all the whistling wasn’t aimed at me – I stared intently at B and W for the first 15 minutes to see if their lips were moving, then did a couple of tours of the house looking for the phantom shepherd before I realised where the sound was coming from.  In their usual juvenile way, they found this highly amusing of course.  I then spent the next hour glued to the screen, occasionally checking behind it when the sheep ran off into the distance.
Sheep have played a big part in my life recently. It all started when, in a sudden moment of clarity one morning, I realised that the garden fence is actually only three feet tall, so I jumped over it.  Next I jumped over the neighbours’ fence – and then, having reached maximum velocity*, cleared the five foot wall into the sheep field.   The woolly ones got quite a shock at my sudden arrival, and by the time Beard followed me over the wall in his pyjama trousers, I had them neatly pinned into one corner.  I thought he’d be impressed by this, but he was incandescent, dragged me back to the cottage and set up a complicated rope system that means I am now clipped on to a wire every time I go out of the front door.  Grrrr.
We went to the local Food and Drink Festival not long after that, which is held at a nearby farm. Due to the fantastic British summer weather, this had all the charms of the Somme, with desperate looking stall holders plying gourmet cheeses and chilli flavoured chocolate, while cagoule-clad visitors stumbled through two feet of welly-sucking mud to get to them.  I passed several toddlers spread-eagled face-down in the mud while their parents attempted to carry buggies over the mire. There were cooking demonstrations, folk musicians and even a circus tent, but the best thing of all was the sheep show.
photo: Flickr Richard Gillin

This was hosted by Craig the New Zealander, who introduced us to his collection of sheep friends. With much abuse targeted at Australians and rather too much innuendo for a morning’s family entertainment, he ended the performance brilliantly with a whole row of sheep, who were dancing ... yes dancing....  to ‘The Hustle’ by the late great Van McCoy.  Baaahrilliant.

I have also had lots of visitors – Skydiver Liz (who has now gone off to throw herself out of a plane); Pilates Susie; Andrea the Accountant; Vicar Jan (who I will love forever because she brought her empty butter container to lick) and -perhaps  most exciting of all – Friendly Pete, who brought my first ever dog visitor, Poppy the Spaniel.  In all honesty, she didn’t share my enthusiasm for intimacy on a first date but we had a good run around on the field, so all was not lost.

Finally, the downside of the month is that I have developed a morbid fear of toast.  Apparently this is a Pavlovian thing.  For some unknown reason, W routinely burns the toast.  This sets off the smoke alarm, which hurts my sensitive dog ears, so I run away.  Now I only have to sniff or clap eyes on a piece of jammy toast and I have a complete panic attack.
So, in conclusion, I love dancing sheep and I really, really hate toast.

*A fit collie can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. That’s faster than Beard’s Landrover