Review of the year – 2019

Friends, Collies and my greatly esteemed friends and followers,

And, for anyone new to my dog blog, find out what it is all about here Ben’s big adventure

So, 2020 has arrived and I’m now living in a new decade, which sounds awfully exciting; I’ve not done that one before. Apparently the chips are down on the chances of my seeing another one, but I don’t want to think about that just now. Instead, let me take you on the grand tour of Ben’s life in 2019.

Right at the end of last year’s review David had just got back into a little bit of walking. That was after the horrid, awful, terrible (do I make myself clear?) three months, following the big fall and broken pelvis which, in itself, came fast on the heels of saying goodbye to the old girl. The worst part of being on a mountain, with an incapacitated David, was the whirligig thing that hurt my ears and stole my person from the mountain.

However, I’m so happy to report that right from the beginning of 2019 it has been back to business as usual, by which I mean the rightful reinstatement of my morning routine, consisting of: a lovely early morning drive to Mabie Forest; meeting up with the gang to discuss the weighty issues of the day and then – oh, what unconfined joy – playing ball and lots of it, my absolute – incontrovertible – favourite thing, apart from a spot of dinner, of course. In celebration of this return to normality, I’ve developed an ebullient little song and dance piece, that I perform on the back seat of the car, as soon as we hit the drive that takes us deep into the forest.

During the winter afternoons that follow this morning ritual, I’d while away the time with vivid dog dreams about “… gold lama baskets and choice cuts of meat …” 1 until woken from my slumbers by the sound of Wainwright biscuits hitting porcelain bowl. Reality tore me from luxurious fantasies but, the familiarity of home wasn’t half bad. About this time of day, B’s smell – round and about the house – has faded to the level at which I knew she was about to arrive home (oh dear, I’m so sorry my fellow canines. I’ve just given away the mystery of how we know when our people are coming back. Incase anyone didn’t know, dogs do it with noses ). So, after tucking into a nutritionally balanced – fat free – meal, I’m up at the window waiting for B to drive in. In my excitement I throw myself into her arms, the same v. v. v big welcome home every night. I’m not altogether sure that my exuberance is fully appreciated. Bags seem to go everywhere and sometimes we find ourselves in a confused heap on the floor. She particularly doesn’t like it when one of my paws slides down her face, leaving a big red scar for days on end. I like to think of it as a term of endearment.

Leaving the worst of the winter behind us heralds the start of the caravan season, when we return to our mobile home (that doesn’t move), in The Lake District. I’ve done it every year of my life, the same pattern, with gleeful anticipation of the spring, summer and autumn that lie ahead. This year I was robbed of such happiness. As soon as I crossed the threshold I could smell her. It hit me like an incense bomb and was everywhere – the unforgettable scent of our old girl, Maisie. I curled up in my cushion and got all depressed. Eventually, a little bit of dinner brought me out of myself and, a game of ball on Moor Divock the next day wonders but… every time I got back to the caravan the black dog, instead of our old girl, was my companion.

               

 

It took a lot of hard work but I had to pull myself together, because me and B had work to do and helping others is always such a tonic. We needed to get David confident on the hills again, after the big fall, and – even though I say so myself – we done good. Thus, on 30th March 2019 – exactly six months after the accident – me, B and David, did a return to Place Fell and, on this occassion, actually got to the top. 

March also held another red letter day and gosh, all fiddlesticks – my tummy still gets excited remembering. It was a case of out with the old, in with the new. Though in this case it was just a bit newer. On 11th March 2019 we crossed a line. No more sleeping cramped on the floor of an unreliable VW Caddy van. Now me and B were going up in the world. The future heralded not only a more dependable car but also, one we were going to convert with a micro camper kit. 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nevertheless, despite the excess of comfort, it was with a tear in my eye that I said goodbye to my faithful – if unpredictable – friend of three years. The ally that had got me and B going on the Munros and witnessed my first 47 climbs, and 52 of B’s.

14

Perhaps you can imagine how eager I was to go Munro bagging again and try out the soft furnishings in our new Munro mobile. Sadly, I had to exercise something called patience, which is soOOO hard for me to do.

April of 2019 brought in yet another big, BIG event, in our small lives, and it had to be marked. David had one of those birthdays with an 0 at the end of it. I’m not meant to tell you which one, so I’ll put it in v. v. v small numerals and you can pretend you never saw it. (70, hee, hee). For Dog’s sake, HOW MANY DECADES IS THAT? It seems we were heading east to celebrate and I had to test out a whole new suite of soft furnishings. Home comforts aside, I’m not a great fan of sudden change and definitely at my best when running on well oiled lines, with a bouncing spherical object to cement my happiness. Therefore, when we set out on roads I had never, ever been on before, the lava from last year’s butterflies started to hatch in my tummy, giving me a very strange sensation indeed and, not at all to my liking. Of course, all’s well that ends well, and the very first thing to happen, when we arrived, was that I had a lovely big dinner. After that, secure in the knowledge that my food had travelled with us, I set about testing out the buoyancy of the soft furnishings, in this home from home.

For the next week we ranged far and wide across somewhere called The North York Moors. The landscape was gynormous, with vistas stretching into space across bracken and heather hillsides, broken only by deep sided valleys that had – in the geological mists of time – been scooped out of the very earth we might have stood on. These vales took some considerable effort to tumble down and then climb back up so that, by the end of our walk, we needed to stop for refreshment. I would have my dinner beside the car and then B and David would warm their paws, and the cockles of their hearts, in a pub called The Lion Inn, at Blakey Rigg. Unfortunately, I couldn’t join them because of my propensity to take objection to the frightening smell, accompanying the odd human, which brings on a defensive nipping of ankles and makes me canine non grata. Instead, I was left to ponder on the whereabouts of this lion, how fail-safe the locks on our car were, and just why the windows had been left so open. On their return, D & B’s happy disposition met my relief and made for lovely companionable evenings.

Once home, from the birthday celebration, my enthusiasm to get Munroing became a bone of contention, so to bark. First of all the weather was against us but, even when it wasn’t, I was excluded. Apparently, B just happened to be working in Glasgow and it made sense for her (and not me ), to take off north from there. Unbelievably, inexcusably, it was July before I put paw to Munro. However, over that weekend, and another in August, we put another 10 summits in v. v. v heavy bag, which stamped it with the impressive number of 84; me and B had done 57 of these together. The fiery sun played hide and seek behind Cumulonimbus clouds, and then danced on the shimmering waters of high mountain lochans which – in sequestered corries – were protected by cliffs that rose in awe-inspiring towers that beguiled and terrified, These were blissful times together and, on the highest Caledonian hills, we soaked up panoramas that brought the heart, and soul, of a young dog alive. Gasps for breath, from the bi-ped beside me, suggested the heart wasn’t quite up to the job; as for the soul – well, that’s anyone’s guess.

Lots of photos on my special slide show. It’s a bit on the slow side but you can use the arrows to move forward

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Of course, as mentioned in so many of my blogs before, being away with B is never a totally easy experience and nothing had changed in the last year, unfortunately. On the first day of our July weekend – luckily after we had bagged Bynack More – I was brought down to earth, literally, by the exploding tyre beneath me.

The case of the exploding tyre

And then, the very next day, I was met with a compromising situation in the safety department as our navigational aids – that provide my security – were made redundant, in a catalogue of neglect. The straw that broke the collies back was when our map – the very foundation of our whereabouts – blow off in the wind. Somehow, I survived to tell the tale.

The case of the disappearing map

B went bagging again briefly, in both September and October but, by this time, I was having something they call divided loyalties, which is a very nasty condition. With the old girl gone back to ashes, I couldn’t bare to think of David – home alone, when I was away with B. On the other paw, when I kept David company, the thought of B on the mountains, without the protection of her Munro buddy, sent me into a tumult of guilt and anxiety. This unconditional love business isn’t always easy. I felt like I was becoming a tug of love dog.

After October, it was better – lovelier – we were all together, all the time. We had such companionable walks in the Lake District, me with my ball, B & David with that incessant chatter thing that humans do. Then alas, it was the interregnum (from the caravan site) and we were banned from the Lake District till March. The season of mellow fruitfulness had given way to winter and I took to the indoor life, disporting myself around the soft furnishings, while catching up on a spot of reading.

It has to be said that, my absolute best read of 2019 is a little tomb called, ‘The Enlightened Spaniel’. I need to qualify that sentence in a couple of ways. The book is in no way little. In fact, IT IS MEGA. It has changed my whole outlook on life. And then, of course, there is the issue with the breed (not my favourite, since an unfortunate little altercation, regarding the property rights of a certain spherical object, a couple of years ago). Clearly, the book should have been pawed by a noble Border Collie but, it seems, the floppy ears got in first. That said, I think this way of being may have something to offer.

For instance, you are – apparently – meant to live in the moment. Well, let’s face it, that’s easy peasy for me. That moment could be blissful, with one of my bestest humans throwing my ball over an arch of sky, or it might be some scary instance requiring the nipping of ankles; either way, when it’s done it’s done – nothing of the past remains and, as for the future, it’s a foreign county; anything could happen. Another facet of this world view is about unconditional love and – say no more – that’s what we go in for, big style. I might even have to let the Spaniels in on that one – reluctantly.

According to Buddhist philosophy, which is big on this enlightenment stuff, we get born and born again – ever improving – on a path to somewhere called Navana, which is the bees knees. Did you know that bees have knees? Nivana is the best place imaginable and you have to be v. v. v well behaved, caring lots about other creatures, to get there. Honestly, I really was doing my best but then along comes Christmas and well, let’s face it, we all indulge ourselves a bit – or a big bit. All those presents, eating too much, loafing about and, of course, the excess of dog beer – it may have set Nivana back a bit.

Nevertheless, just a few more incarnations and I fully expect to be there. The first Border Collie ball dog at Wimbledon… perhaps next year.

In the meantime, more dog dreams.

And so to bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Ben

 

1 Carroll, D H (2013); Dog Dreams. This England, Vol 46, No 2, Thompson Publishing, London.

Munros 2019 – August 26th – The Easains

Friends, collies, homeward bound dogs,

(If are new to my blog let me, Ben – a young Border Collie – say a huge welcome. I’m absolutely elated that you have chosen to read my post and not been put off by that old chestnut about people attributing human characteristics to animals!! My blog is all about the trials and tribulations of a young dog – and their person – on a v. v. v big challenge, climbing lots of mountains in Scotland, called The Munros. You can find out much more about it here Ben’s challenge … the story continues)

The last Monday of August 2019 announced itself, in the central highlands of Scotland, like so many, many, mornings have over the centuries. Ubiquitous clouds assembled in a mass gathering that drew curtains across the dramatic stage behind. In other words we couldn’t see a thing!

I would like to report that B woke up every Munro morning, absolutely raring to go and put more Munros in our bag. That would however, be a v. v. v big lie. Today, the lowering cloud, the later start (we had overslept by an hour) and the thought of a five hour drive, following seven or eight on the hills, weighed heavily on her. As for me, well, I just go with the flow. It took longer today to get some life force pulsing through B’s old body and, therefore, the start of our walk was of the sluggish variety. She did utter our tried and tested mantra, “We’ll just see how far we get” but somehow, it didn’t hold the conviction that we were going far at all.

Stodgy, best describes the mood and ambulation as we diverted from the track beside Loch Treig, and took to the hills on an increasingly muddy and boggy path. This was, to say the least, unfortunate. B is at her absolute worst when tramping uphill with feet sinking into squelching quagmires. I did suggest she might take a lesson from me, going barefoot, because she would be better without those heavy boots dragging her down, but that suggestion didn’t seem to go down too well for some reason.

Plodding through bog while looking at an imposingly steep climb, as banks of cloud obscure the two Munros beyond, isn’t – I learnt today – the best way of raising one spirits. Still, I’ll give B credit for one thing – perseverance. We had been robbed of yesterday’s walk, because it was just too hot, and we weren’t going home without achieving today’s Munros.

Once we got to the steep ascent rock began to replace bog, so it wasn’t all bad news for B. For me, of course, it’s a win, win, situation. Out of the bog and onto steeper slopes B’s verbal ticks went from moans and groans to huffs and puffs. Alongside these exclamations of exertion comes the need to stop and draw breath and, this is where I come in. My best empathetic glance, and unspoken encouragement, demands edible rewards – obviously – oh, happy days. We eventually got to the top of Meall Cian Dearg and still nothing of our two Munros had revealed themselves.

However, though the cloud clung doggedly to the summits, the wind – hurtling through the glen – was having a rare old game. Tumbles of grey and white summersaulted across the mountains in the most dramatic salsa and sometimes, where seams of shade collided, the sun – protesting against obscurity – sent down shafts of light to create hillside galleries of the sky; elsewhere it danced in gay abandon, skittering across the  ruffled waters on the surface of Loch Treig.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As we continued light and dark pirouetted in their familiar tango, with brighter forces gaining brief victories, before submitting to the elemental force of stormy clouds. Traversing the sinuous ridge above the loch we saw our first Munro clearly ahead, in a brief moment of clarity, but then it’s summit’s crown was lost again before we claimed our own victory.

Thus, my photo a top Stob a’ Choire Mheadhoin took on that old familiar aspect of… not much at all. Looking ahead a moment later we could see our immediate direction of travel but nothing yet, of the second prize we were pursuing. The sky-scape continued its wafting and then, suddenly, the long arched shoulders of Stob Coire Easain were visible, urging us on but, by the time we got to the summit cairn of our 84th Munro, visibility was a thing of the past.

Nevertheless me and B were on top of the world (well, pretty high up in Scotland anyway). From the pessimism of this morning we had ploughed through our dampened spirits to arrive at these giddy heights. As always the ridge we had travelled spoke magically to the soul so that, on our return, we were in 7th heaven, trotting along as if the uphill slog had really been no effort at all, the bog non-existent and the long drive back a mere hiccup, as we gasped the last breath of our brilliant weekend.

For the rest of the afternoon the battle of the sky continued with the cloud lifting higher all the time. The shades of colour intensified where the sun could shine and who could do anything – even a little dog – but gaze in amazement at the splendour of this world.

Then, looking back with great satisfaction, there was the sight of Meall Cian Dearg and the two Munros beyond that had, today, etched the number 84 on our Munro bag.

28

Then, after all that, guess what I did on the way home?

IMG_5038
And so to bed!

Love Ben xxAA HeartPawPrint

25th August 2019 – Time out

Friends, collies, meteorologists,

(If are new to my blog let me, Ben – a young Border Collie – say a huge welcome. I’m absolutely elated that you have chosen to read my post and not been put off by that old chestnut about people attributing human characteristics to animals!! My blog is all about the trials and tribulations of a young dog on a v. v. v big challenge, climbing lots of mountains in Scotland, called The Munros. You can find out much more about it here Ben’s challenge … the story continues)

Little did I know that yesterday evening, while I was putting an impressive amount of effort into keeping the old eyelids closed down, my B had been wrestling with the forecast and the fact that we had come all these miles north to do a few days of Munro bagging. This was after nearly two months when the people from the Met had advised us to steer clear, in symbols that communicated only wind and rain. Now, in an unpleasantly ironic twist of fate, a freak day of high temperatures was going to cover the UK which, in our parts, rose from a predicted 24o centigrade to a predicted 29o in the space of 2 hours. There was going to be very little in the way of breeze and the temperatures started rising at 6.00am, from an overnight base line that that didn’t dip much below 20o. Full sun was going to bathe the hill in glorious colours and a roasting blanket of heat. This forecast gave a very clear steer to direct B’s thinking but her disappointment obliterated the obvious. Desperately she looked for alternatives: shorter walks, different parts of the country, getting up even earlier. However, none of them could get around the fact that – no matter where we went, or what time we started out – at some point in the day we would be spending several hours in the v. v. v hot weather and, as proved to be the case – according to the gospel of Facebook – dogs can get heat stroke. Finally, she admitted that the 25th September 2019 was cancelled, having the temerity to blame it on me.

Given that I was unconscious at the time of this wrangling I found the lack of consultation a little hurtful, but my indignation was short lived as I was able to lie in late the next day. Now, I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression. I really am in this for the long haul and have all the necessary commitment but, I ask you – honestly – what would you rather do, flog up a 3,000 foot mountain or two, and get heatstroke, or turn around, scratch your blanket up into a nice ball and then flop down for a tad more shut eye?

Last night, once our proposed Munro trek had definitely been written off, B – thinking about how I might like to spend such a hot day – has hatched a plan B.  As it happens, our physical presence in this universe had planted us just a couple of hundred metres from a stunning highland loch, and I had been destined to spend many hours in the cooling properties of Loch Laggen’s sylvan waters. As we had approached the gate, giving us entry to the field which annexed the shore, we could see a heard of cattle grazing nonchalantly, right in our way. Seemingly, these bovines could become enraged at the very sight of little old me and all hell could let loose. Well, I don’t know about any of that but I just wished a stupendous tube of Primular cheese could have been lowered from the sky to distract the cows, granting us a safe passage through the field, so close to the loch. Several times we paced backwards and forwards to the gate but, the cows were not for moving.

So Instead, we spent Sunday in an opaque passing of hours; much of it looking for shade. On a bench under trees, just beyond the Creag Meagaidh car park, B passed the time reading and writing, while I spent it on guard, ready to put in a strong objection when anyone dared to pass by. At these times, the distracting nozzle of my Primular was swiftly placed close to my lips and copious amounts of the velvety substance transferred itself, as if by magic, to the back of my throat. It was a day to treasure.

My friends, who get this post in their e mails, may need to go to my website to see these photos as a slide show – Ben’s website

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Early in the evening some cloud cover dissipated the heat of the sun and we decided to move to our resting place for the night. During our short drive early evening light silhouetted mountains high against the sky as glorious monuments spelling out the beauty of the natural world.

Fersit lies at the end of a minor road leading to Loch Treig. Me and B love to end our day in such sequestered pockets of solitude. Here overlooking a loch  and cradled by mountains, we relished the privileged freedom of roaming the land by day and sleeping in Tanka, our Renault Kangoo, by night.

B told me all about those people who had to do big fights to win our rights and pave the way for us to be sleeping here tonight and climbing Munros tomorrow. First she told me about the Diggers, who in the 1630s occupied some land, objecting about the money people who wanted to take it from them. They were fighting to be able to graze their sheep on common land so they could feed their families. “We are free men, though we are poor”, they said.

images

Then she told me about the Manchester Ramblers, who did an illegal trespass on Kinder Scout, Derbyshire in 1932, asserting their right to roam over the moors, in order to claim a bit of a work / life balance, after labouring in industrial mills and factories all week. “I may be a wage slave on Monday, but I am a free man on Sunday” is how Ewan McColl phrased their perspective on life. Clearly he had no idea of diversity and omitted woman and dogs from his song about the big march, which is pretty unforgivable.

C_71_article_1202431_image_list_image_list_item_0_image

After such heavy intellectualising, my head hurt badly and my eyelids were sinking in the direction of my snout. I sometimes think B forgets that I am only a dog when she starts philosophising. I needed zzzs.

IMG_5038
And so to bed!

Love Ben AA HeartPawPrint

24th August Creag Meagaidh circuit

Friends, collies, loch swimmers

(If are new to my blog let me, Ben – a young Border Collie – say a huge welcome. I’m absolutely elated that you have chosen to read my post and not been put off by that old chestnut about people attributing human characteristics to animals!! My blog is all about the trials and tribulations of a young dog on a v. v. v big challenge, climbing lots of mountains in Scotland, called The Munros. You can find out much more about it here Ben’s challenge … the story continues)

Though Saturday afternoon, Sunday and Monday, had all looked like fair weather walking days, the forecast for Saturday morning was less certain. Light cloud symbols decorated the BBC forecast and the mountain weather information service was ambivalent about the chance of cloud free Munros. So – obviously – B was up early and we were setting off at 6.30am, with the cloud banked low over the summits! She is a creature of habit and bending to the mood of the day doesn’t seem to feature within her narrow realm of flexibility. Seemingly B had a theory. Apparently, the cloud would rise with us as we climbed though, to be honest, I couldn’t find any the scientific evidence to back up this notion. More likely it had something to do with that dubious concept called wishful thinking.

We certainly put in the climbing but look how B’s theory worked out at the top of our first Munro that day, both at the summit cairn and with a 360 degree view.

Not only was our view obscured but high winds, from the south, were blowing us about like paper flapping uncontrollably near to an electric fan. We took shelter in the lee side of the summit cairn – constructed for such eventualities – and B tried to kid me on that the wind was a good thing. According to her second theory of the day, it would blow away all the cloud so we could find our way. Well, true enough, dogs aren’t great on keeping time but I do know this, I was getting v. v. v cold sitting around waiting for this latter day highland clearance, and I still couldn’t see a paw in front of me. Me and B kept having a look back, in the direction of the wind, and the sun was doing its best. At first a tiny circuit of light, the size of a saucer, could just be glimpsed through the cloud; then it became a tea plate and even a dinner plate. Nevertheless, whoever it was that made the cloud must have had the upper hand, because all that crockery never penetrated and waves of cloud kept sweeping across those translucent circles of hope, obliterating the suggestion of brightness.

By this time B had a nice hat on, was sporting some lovely warm gloves and her coat was all zipped up. I, on the other hand, had none of these luxuries and I began to wonder about the balance of power in this special relationship. Just as I was contemplating what rebellion looked like, from a young dog on top of a Munro, the sun performed a feat of magic. With one last blast of wind all the hills around us cleared of the smoke screen that had obscured their curves and crevices and, like a farewell to arms, the sun rose in ascendancy announcing its supremacy. It seemed that B’s theory wasn’t all bad after all, even if it was a bit late in materialising. We set off at a fair pace to warm up and make up for some lost time, embarking on Munro number two. Everywhere around us the great dog in heaven smiled down, Illuminating gently folding contours and raggedly exposed gullies. Our senses were ignited with vistas prone to bring on big releases of endorphins and, despite the lack of wind abating clothing, I knew what a lucky dog I was to be up here, running along with the wind in my fur, close to my person; we were so very happy.

As we continued along the ridge the cloud base continued to lift and patches of blue wove a tapestry of promise in the sky. Nevertheless, Creag Meagaidh’s topknot still remained a shrouded mystery, covered in a circumference of stubbornness that wasn’t going anywhere fast.

8 Circumference of stubbornness on CM

B, on the other hand, was going up there, regardless of the warnings written in the route we were following, “… difficult to navigate in poor visibility, precipices nearby!”. Having come this far, who were we, she said, to let fear of a few precipices stand between us and our third Munro. Personally, I began to think this use of the royal we a bit over used and, what’s more, the butterflies in my tummy agreed.

In the meantime, we still had to claim the second Munro for our bag and, according to our route, it was at the top of the next steep ascent. Well, me and B popped up the next hill, did a big descent and then started climbing, imagining ourselves to be on the way to Stob Poite Coire Ardair. At the top, we came upon a cairn and conducted our usual summit ritual: drop of malt whiskey for B, big hunk of sausage for Ben, full on photo-shoot.

At this point we had ascended well into the cloud and were trying to find a path to the south west that would take us in the direction of the invisible Creag Meagaidh. Why then, we wondered, did the two men who sped past us at this point seem very intent on heading directly west on, it has to be said, a fairly clear path. B consulted our GPS only to find that the hill we had popped up earlier – while waiting for a steep climb – was, in fact, Stob Poite Coire Ardair and we had walked right on past. This is the only Munro ever where I haven’t had my photo taken.

8a Looking towards Stob Poite Coire Ardair - cairn just visible

Heavens alive, she must be getting fitter than either of us thought. The cairn where we did the ceremonial was none other than Mad Meg and, happy days, just a few hundred metres across the plateau was the highest point of the walk, our third Munro today. This was one up for our energy bank and several points down for navigational skills. Creag Meagaidh marked the 82nd Munro and I really did wonder how we had managed to find our way to all the others. What, I also wondered, would the other 200 now left have in store for us. The views from the top were… identical to those from the summit of Carn Liath earlier today!

11 CM

We now needed to retrace our steps to the bealeach called ‘The Window’. As soon as we had passed and turned our backs on Mad Meg the sun, in a display of supremacy, wiped out the cloud, showcasing a panorama of mountain topography. The battle for the sky had been one at last and for the rest of the day sunrays bounced off mountain rock faces while the jewel in this crown, Lochan Choire, sparkled in a glorious azure of temptation. And, guess what, oh… uncontainable joy, I was going swimming. However, my excitement has let me get ahead of myself.

The steep descent from ‘The Window’ is not for the faint hearted. Here is a tale of brutality, enacted by some angry elemental force that ripped the landscape apart, tossing it’s broken frame about in a viscous storm, before hurtling the pieces down to earth in a crashing torrent. Thankfully, that was some time ago and all we had to do now was find our way through the remnants of that great tempest.

A walker’s path weaves almost miraculously through the pieces, though its traverse is no simple matter and, for me, without sturdy boots to protect my paws, it was a somewhat painful experience. B, even with all her protective gear, was not exempt from discomfort. Old bones are prone to wear and tear, with joints taking the brunt of this anatomical evolution. Today’s complaint came from her knees so that, by the time we got to the loch, B was nearly as excited about having a rest as I was with the prospect of a swim.

For the next 15 minutes or so I ranged about the lochan swimming after my ball, while the shimmering waters danced around me in the sunlight, under the great fangs of Creag Meagaidh’s Corrie, a revered site for winter ice climbing. Beyond the loch we followed the path back to the car park to complete the full circuit. The rest of the day was blissfully simple in the satisfaction of a job done. There were zzzs before dinner, more zzzs after dinner and finally, deep sleep zzzzzzzzs to see me through till morning.

IMG_5037
And so to bed!

Love Ben AA HeartPawPrint

 

 

 

AT LAST!

Friends, Collies, Red Admirals,

(If are new to my blog let me, Ben – a young Border Collie – say a huge welcome. I’m absolutely elated that you have chosen to read my post and not been put off by that old chestnut about people attributing human characteristics to animals!! My blog is all about the trials and tribulations of a young dog on a v. v. v big challenge, climbing lots of mountains in Scotland, called The Munros. You can find out much more about it here Ben’s challenge … the story continues)

Me and B had been looking for the chance to ‘bag’ some more Munros since our last weekend away in July. So often, when looking a number of days ahead the weather had  looked promising. Then – big, big, disappointment – as the weekends got nearer, nice sunny symbols were overruled by despots of black, proffering tear drops of rain. At last, after nearly two months of this fraught weather watching – with its tension of will we, or won’t we, get away – the forecast for the weekend ahead took on a more consistently optimistic outlook; it appeared that we were off. I had recognised the frantic activity at home as indicative of a move, and this was made absolute when B & David sat huddled over maps. Those butterflies in my tummy started flapping about with that familiar, and heady, mixture of excitement and trepidation; I had to nip outside urgently.

The next day I had my morning constitutional in Maibie Forest with David, involving the usual meet, greet and chase routine. Then, arriving home, I walked into to a whole lot of angst. It turns out that the good job B thought she had done (getting our tyres up to scratch, by dealing with our puncture and swapping an offending wore item with a spanking new spare) wasn’t such a great effort at all. In fact, we had a flat tyre and, this was just as we were meant to be off for a long drive, to go Munroing.

Flat tyre

Suddenly, the morning departure – aimed at beating the worst of the bank holiday and Friday afternoon traffic, across the central belt of Scotland – was abandoned. Instead, a mercy mission to tyre specialists in Dumfries was the order of the day. Despondency loomed large as we wondered if we would get away at all, in this brief respite from the westerly fronts that had kept assaulting the UK – Scotland in particular – for the past couple of months.

It concerned me somewhat that we were never, EVER, going to have a straight forward Munro trip. One where preparation, and an uneventful drive, was followed by a few days of solid walking without any complications. The question mark hanging over this particular weekend was, however, resolved by the swift, efficient and friendly service at Denton’s Tyre Centre in Dumfries (five stars all round). Within an hour and a half B was back at base with the affronting tyre all puffed up and looking very pleased with itself. Even though I’ve never met them, the v. v. v clever humans at Denton’s instantly became some of my bestest friends. I vowed that they are exempt from any interest in their ankles – from a potential nipping perspective – should I be lucky enough to meet them – whatever the temptation.

Denton's

At this stage of the game, our 1 pm departure would now, undoubtedly, result in a more congested journey. Right enough the M74, heading north from Moffat, boasted a carriageway three lanes deep in heavy traffic and then, following a straight forward trip into Edinburgh, we were queued up waiting to get onto the city bypass. After that the A9, going west, supported only slow moving travel while, long before we could even see the Queensferry Crossing (over the River Forth), we were nose to bumper in stationary traffic.

misery for people stuck on queensferry crossing

On the north side of the bridge we got going again only to arrive on the outskirts of Perth at what amounted to rush hour. Here we took our part in, what seemed to be, a race where we had put all our money on the snails winning. Finally, just south of Birnham, where no forests came to meet us (despite the Bard’s prophecy),  traffic cones and contraflows dominated the scene of a slow moving procession. The roads beyond were clear though, oh my golly gosh, what a bendy road that A86 between Laggen and Spean Bridge turned out to be. By the time we turned into the Craig Meagaidh car park, at 6.00pm, my butterflies had been on one hell of a roller coaster and I was exhausted.

Still, on the plus side (me and B are keen to focus on positives), my sleeping accommodation had taken a turn for the better. No longer was I perched on a high rise cushion that slipped down the gaps between the boxes that supported it. Instead, I was staying on my comfy front seat except that, with the back of it laid nearly flat,  B and I could just about touch noses; happy days. With that arrangement I felt a whole lot more secure so that – after a bite to eat and a bit of route planning for tomorrow – me, B and the butterflies in my tummy, settled down for a good night’s sleep.

sleeping

Lots of love,

Ben AA HeartPawPrint

 

 

Thank you my patient friends

Friends, collies, v. v. v patient dogs,

I am so, so, sorry to – only now – be posting blogs about my Munro exploits at the end of August.  Modesty forbids me telling you that I’m great on getting my thoughts assembled straight away (oh I just have!) but, I have to rely on my person with the technology – there’s only so much a paw can do – and now I’m all behind. She pleads all sorts of excuses of course, and I’m promised a better service after retirement – which sounds slower rather that faster to me but here’s hoping. However, the next few days will, at last, give you a window into the world of our adventure the last time we were both in the Munros. So bear with me please, it’s taken a lot of nagging and, I believe, my persistence has pushed my records ahead of all those walks she went on without me, which she still has to publish. Ben’s blogs, naturally, take precedence.

While waiting there was only one thing I could do.

img_3505a
And so to bed!

Lots of love,

Ben AA HeartPawPrint

 

 

Munros 2019 – July 8. 9 Mullach Clach a Bhlair (No. 79)

Friends, collies, early rising dogs,

Oh my goodness, now this was getting seriously silly. 4.00 o’clock in the morning is no time to expect any self-respecting dog to be up and looking their best and, though she had instigated it, I can personally vouch for the fact that B would have turned out a lot better herself with another couple of hours of shut eye.

Still Munros are Munros, and they’ve got to be done and, what’s more, when this bagging business is followed by a long drive home, they’ve got to be bagged early. This is what happens: get up at some ungodly hour, put a Munro in our bag, get a couple of hours of zzzs, drive home… job done.

This morning’s walk started out down the beautiful Glen Feshie. We set off at what for B was a cracking pace. The clear path beyond Achlean aided our progress so, quite how we deserted this, to follow a track down to a bridge over the river, I’ll never know. Route planning last night had clearly shown that we needed to keep to the north side of the river. I must admit to getting quite worried about this tendency of totally ignoring what was, as plain as the nose on your face, only a few hours before.

Still, on this occasion we rectified the error early and were back on our rightful track absorbing the clarity of light on this glorious extremely EARLY July morning. The route through the glen took us through more of the Scot’s Pine that cloth so many of the glens in the Cairngorms. B had been combing the area this year, most of it without me. Today we were in the south east of the national park and once Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair was in the bag there would be just 3 more routes, to finish off all the Munros in the Cairngorms. After our early mishap we did find our way safely through the forest and then, turning north east, started the inevitable climb. By this time – the fourth day of our long weekend – I had got the treat hunt down to an exact science. I was able to predict with absolute precision the moment when B’s momentum would give out, and she would grind to a halt for a bit of a breather. The frustration of these interruptions to our upward progress was compensated for by the treats that came my way, before we set off again. I just had to look adoringly and, bobs your uncle, I was munching on some nibbles. As these rewards were my main motivation for flogging up mountains I decided to bring forward the moment of administration by pre-empting the next break, sitting down, and gazing with that pleading vulnerability that melts hearts. Alas, we were only a little way into my guise when B cottoned on – she’s not always as daft as she seems. Then she started to tease me, walking for longer than she would normally, even though the huffing and puffing was getting seriously out of hand. I was left sitting behind her with my most pathetic look fixed on the back of her rucksack. I tried racing ahead and sitting down again but she wasn’t having any of it. I think we were playing something called a cat and mouse game, which is somewhat curious because she’s a person and I’m a dog.

Distant views as we ascended

The popular image of the Cairngorms is of huge rounded lumps of remote mountains, characterised by the bogs and hags that lie between them and v. v. v little human habitation; I think it’s called wilderness. Every now and again though, they catch you unawares and take your breath away. Erosion in these parts didn’t always produce smooth, graceful slopes. It could be angry and violent, cutting out gullies of rugged cliffs. Such an episode must have visited the Coire just ahead and, with this awesome prospect greeting us, B and I gave up our game and sat down to soak up the vista. Well, to be more accurate, B was taking in the scene and I was keeping a steady fix on the banana she was eating, being quite partial to a bit of fruit myself.

It wasn’t long after we got going again that we were at the top by another cairn of old stones. Today’s summit was also the culmination of our achievements over the weekend. Admittedly, our mishap on Saturday had cost us the next day’s planned route, and two Munros, but at least we had added five more to our bag, a cause for celebration. After all Friday nights little tête á tête, with the RAC person, had nearly cost us the weekend. B hugged me, I dutifully went doe-eyed and a nice hunk of sausage came my way.

Summit of, and views from, Mullach Clach a Bhlair

We elected to go back the same way sacrificing variety for a bit of saved time. On the way down our outlook was dominated by indomitable presence of those classic Cairngorm hills – voluptuous curves and folds of hills sloped into deeply cut glens for as far as the eye could see, as if the National park was one large sculpture park, set down by evolution, with the sole purpose of pleasing the eye.

Here, in the upper reaches of Glen Feshie, the other half live in splendour able to feast their eyes on the scene from their gardens in all it’s glorious changing seasons. Soon all the hills would be smothered with flowering heather, as it was just ready to burst into a riot of purple.

With less of the readies to splash about, but stores of memories to draw on, B collected souvenirs from the ground. Me and B are going to make a mountain shaped Christmas decoration from the pine cones, to help us recollect all the fun on today’s walk as we have our yummy Christmas dinner every year. The shade of the trees was very welcome as it had become very warm at this more reasonable time of the day, some 7 hours later.

The bit of shut eye, before we drove off, was very timely too but, the most heaven sent thing of all was the sight of my David opening the gate to our house back at home. I got so excited when I saw him and there were no contrived treat driven pranks it was just pure authentic delight. I had so much to tell him.

And then some proper zzzzzzzzs, AT LAST

SF 8
And so to bed

Love Ben AA HeartPawPrint

Munros 2019 – July 7th. A’Chailleach (No. 78)

Friends, collies, bothying dogs,

After our long walk yesterday, and with a shorter walk now planned for today, we were wallowing in a long lie in. However, when at 7am there was no movement coming from the bed next to me I began to see if I could nudge the motionless body into life. After all natures call waits for no man or, in this case, woman.

Our last two days had been a bit of a roller coaster. The puncture on Friday had threatened to sabotage the whole weekend. Then, yesterday’s walk was – in all the ups and downs of navigation – very taxing, to say the least. Today our experience promised to be more sanguine.

We started out beside the Allt a’Chaorainn, crossing it up stream of the bridge, to make a direct route for the corrugated shelter, an unmissable landmark on the walk. At exactly the point we reached the hut dark clouds forged together and emitted a light, persistent rain. B & I amused ourselves in the secluded charm of this basic shelter, etching our presence into bench and, in so doing, married our names with Jan and John, Shirley and Derek and scores of others that had sheltered her for just an hour, or who had put their heads down for their overnight zzzs.

Lots of remote shelters are to be found over the highlands ranging from primitive emergency stopping places, to bunk houses for paying guests. Many of the buildings are maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association which is is a charity that maintains about 100 shelters in some of the remoter parts of Great Britain.

With the permission and support of the owners, the shelters are unlocked and are available for anyone to use freely. Maintenance activities are carried out by volunteers and they are always looking for new members to support their work. Without that support, many of the unique shelters would be lost forever.

 

bothy
http://www.mountainbothies.org.uk

The Bothy Code

Respect Other Users
Respect the Bothy
Respect the Surroundings
Respect Agreement with the Estate
Respect the Restriction On Numbers

 

 

When me and B resumed our walk esumed our walk the rain had stopped and we continued upwards over that most ‘wonderful’ of terrain, bogs and hags. It even sounds horrible doesn’t it?

1 Looking North West to the south eastern face of A' Chailleach
Looking North West to the south eastern face of A’ Chailleach

Eventually, I hauled B up the final pernicious slope wondering how much longer she could attempt this and I could manage. On this occasion we arrived at the top before anyone else. This meant the butterflies in my tummy were sleeping and I could relax for my summit snap, which always makes for a better pose.

5 A'Chailleach
Only a day late

Views north, north west and south

On the way down the troops were abroad and I displayed my best behaviour with nearly everyone I met, regardless of how many legs they had. I got petted by two humans and had a nice reciprocal sniff around Meg, Stan and Corrie. I was rewarded with lots of lovely Primular and my tummy – though never full – felt nice and satisfied. No one will ever know, least of all me, why I then took exception to the young man I met next but, while B was talking to the female person, I decided he was a treat to my security. Form there I was on auto pilot with barking, lunging and with the ultimate temptation of a nip, high on my priorities. It seemed that the people moved on very quickly after that, for some reason. B, disappointed as ever, gave me a big cuddle. She seems to be resigned to the butterflies in my tummy getting the better of me and told me that is why she always has to have a v. v. v tight hold of my lead.

14 Looking down on bothy

By this time we were passing the bothy and the rest of the day passed off uneventfully. It wasn’t long before we were back at my Kangoo with dinner in my bowl nice and early. After that we both had a bit of shut eye and then made for Glen Feshie, to be well positioned for the last walk of our weekend, tomorrow.

IMG_4866
And so to bed

Love Ben AA HeartPawPrint

Munros 2019 – July 6th. Carn Dearg, Carn Sgulain, (nos. 76 & 77)

Friends, collies, navigators

B is up and doing long before I have any notion that morning has arrived. I know when she is in determined mood though, and at such times resistance is futile. So, after a few shakes and a number of stretches I was nearly ready to face the day.

1 No a bad place to wake up
Not a bad place to wake up

We set off to try and bag three Munros in the Monadhliath mountains, starting from Glen Blanchor about six miles west of Newtonmore.

Another deserted farmhouse  –  at the foot of the Monadhliaths

After a hike up Gleann Fiondrigh we found the spot to cross the river no bother, and then began flogging our way up toward Gleann Ballach, in a south westerly direction. It was horribly boggy and the path disintegrated early on. A much younger woman easily caught us up and, after a nod and confirming that she was going after the same mountains, marched ahead; I was left with the slow coach plodding over the peaty hillside, now on a north west trajectory. We traipsed along behind Ms speedy as she frog march over the tough terrain, with us losing ground all the time. Eventually, she disappeared out of sight but, curiously, did not reappear heading south west to claim Carn Dearg, the first Munro on the route. This threw B into a state of confusion. She studied our map; looked at the mountain and looked at the last place we had seen the young woman. It didn’t make sense. In order to solve the puzzle she got out the GPS, to double check our whereabouts on the route.

Oh my goodness, the batteries were dead. Now, rather late in the day if you ask me, B remembered that she’d meant to look at the GPS last night. It had been eating up our batteries lately and she wasn’t sure it was functioning properly. Yesterday evening though, we had to made an appointment with the man from the RAC and, I might add exchange cash, in order to get us road worthy after the wheel underneath me started wobbling down the road. Not only had B forgotten to give our GPS the once over but, having put all the batteries together to try them out, we didn’t have our usual set of spare batteries with us. At this, words that no innocent dog should hear escaped from B’s mouth and, as if in rebuke, the clouds that had been threatening closed in and it started to rain. Carn Dearg, if it ever was Carn Dearg, became invisible.

Things seemed to have reached a head because we started back the way we had come and I began to think it was all off. However, every so often B would stop and look behind her, wearing that desperately disappointed look; she doesn’t like giving in. After some moments of indecision we turned again, walked a little way and then stopped again. It seems she had remembered the app on her ear piece, which would give us a grid reference to tell us where we were on the map. But… not today apparently, because the batteries were flat; another case of navigational negligence, I thought. More bad words issued forth and we about turned again, this time with less of the looking backwards. After about just five minutes the sun came out and B ground to a halt. The mountain, that might possibly be our mountain, was revealed in all its glory. It was too tempting anyway, whatever mountain it turned out to be. For the fifth time we tramped over the same bit of ground, as I desperately tried to get B’s attention. PLEEEASE, I wanted to bark, I really don’t mind which way we go but can you make your mind up. I’m getting desperately dizzy down here.

I think me and B communicate by something called telepathy because it was a long time before we turned back on ourselves again. We headed in the direction of what might, or might not, be the Munro we wanted to bag. It wasn’t that far but it was up a v. v. v steep hill, so we had to have a little sit down and a big snack on the way; it took us a long time and I had to do a lot of tugging to get B up onto the ridge. Once at the cairn I had my photo taken in a spirit of optimism, hoping it was the right summit. We would know soon enough as, according to our printed route, we should come across some rusty old fence posts if the next hill, on our way to Munro No. 2, was Carn Ban.

Looking south east with Schiehallion in the distance

For many walkers this mountain furniture might just be some ugly scrap iron, long past it purpose, but for us it told us that we had just claimed our 76th Munro and were indeed on the right route, heading for number 77, YIPEE.  Not only that, but we were promised that these fence posts would take us along the 7km of featureless mountain top that would – otherwise – be difficult to navigate, if the clouds came down again. Goodness knows where the person from this morning had gone but we were going to claim victory from the jaws of defeat, or so we thought.

After about 3km the clouds did descend again, the mist closed in around us, and light rain clothed us as we walked. Just then, B noticed that her map wasn’t in the map case; a further feat of safety carelessness is you ask me. Here we were on top of a featureless plateau, in wind-blown, damp and mucky conditions with rusty fence posts as our only allies. Our own navigational aids had been reduced to one typed up route, with minimal directions, and a compass – the functioning of which B had never quite mastered. Admittedly, the posts would get us to the top of the Carn Sgulain but what then. We had been on the go for 6½ hours and that would be a v. v. v long way back, when on earth would I get my dinner. The upshot of all this was we turned back, except this time we were scouring the ground and it seems that someone – perhaps the great Dog in heaven – was looking after us because, in just about 500metres, there was our deserted map up against a rock.

We resumed our walk but I really didn’t know if I was leading with my head or my tail, never having spun around so many times in one day before. It was still a long way to get to the summit but the good news was that the clouds had lifted and we could see our way. By the time I was having my photo taken we could even see across to the third and final Munro of the day. We just had a fairly short bit of pathless navigation to get there and then were promised a path all the way back. Oh how my little heart leapt with joy; dinner wouldn’t be too late after all.

Clockise: the summit of Carn Sgulain; looking south with Ben Lawers in mist.; looking west to Knyodart

Following the instructions on the route we returned to the last Bealach and headed south west to avoid the big drop between the hills. Then… I’m out of exclamations and I don’t want to use any of those bad words B resorts to – we came a cropper again. Our route now told us to head south east but this was away from what we had thought to be our third Munro, which was now to the north east. What lay to the south east was a cairned mountain top but it didn’t look as tall at all. Nevertheless, routes was routes and ‘Walk Highlands’ routes were gospel. Perspective can be a funny thing on the hills and perhaps the angle we had looked at the initial top had made it look bigger. We continued in a south easterly direction and at one point did seem to be going in the direction of the higher summit. Sadly, we knew immediately we were at the top that we were in the wrong place. One look back along the ridge told us we were lower down and, while the top – of what turned out to be Geal Carn – sported a wind shelter, there was no sign whatever of the massive cairn described in the route.

13 Not A'Chailleach But Geal Carn
Not A’Chailleach but Geal Carn 😦

We looked back and decided – in our psychic manner – that it was just one step too far. Our legs were hurting and our tummy’s were empty. If we substituted tomorrow’s long, long walk, with a hop up A’Chailleach instead, we could have a lie in and a much more relaxing day. It seemed like a much better idea at this hour of the day, even though it would rob us of the two Munros we had planned for the next day.

The essentially flaw in this line of reasoning asserted itself quite quickly. The path we had been planning on to help us off the hill didn’t materialise because we were on the wrong mountain. The pathless way down, was steep and not without difficulty; B was often kept upright only by clutching at heather. I was much more agile but then I am 35 years younger and I have four good legs. Eventually, without a hook or a crook, we got down into the Glen, finding ourselves not at all where we should have been of course but, back on the track we started out on this morning. It was a straight forward trek back to base after that and, after my dinner, I had the best night’s sleep ever.

And so to bed

Love Ben AA HeartPawPrint

Munros 2019 – 5th July. Bynack More (no. 75)

Friends, collies, the RAC man

It was early when me and B gave up on any chance of sleep, due to my uncomfortable sleeping accommodation, which I barked on about in my last blog. We could hear the birds in fine voice greeting the day and I began to remember what this Munro bagging was all about. We’d get up v. v. v early, walk for hours and hours and hours – mostly uphill – with B doing lots of huffing and puffing. Then, right at the top, I had to sit in front of a pile of old stones and smile sweetly while something called a camera was pointed rudely in my direction. After that, I got a nice chunk of sausage and, at the end of the day, all my legs hurt… badly. The best bit was always the sausage.

Today, we were going up a Munro mountain called Bynack More. It’s the one in the far North East of the Cairngorms, in Scotland. We started out, like so often before, through a forest and that rang alarm bells straight away. Forests are known for forest tracks and lots of them. This renders B ultimately vulnerable in the… how do I find my way through here department. Today though, we seemed to be hitting all the landmarks spot on, for a change. Before long we came to the beautiful Lochan Uaine with its delicious, tempting, turquoise water. Al I needed to make my world complete was a ball and someone to throw it.

Not everything about Munro bagging speaks directly to my soul, especially when it becomes a dialectic struggle (hey, hey, how’s that for a young dog). Apparently, I needed to preserve my energy for the big hill, instead of going like the clappers to retrieve a ball from a Loch, LOTS of times. So we went on, with B tugging away at a reluctant Ben.

Soon we were out of the forest and making our way to the next marker. This is the spot where Bynack Stable isn’t anymore. How odd, I thought to myself, that an empty site can become a navigational reference point. However, there we were, just before the river, looking at an area of flat green ground that housed nothing at all.

On the other side of the Nethy we could see our way ahead as a clear path snaked up into the hills. Just here, over an hour into our walk, my tummy started getting hungry and B wasn’t responding to my pleading looks. It was with a heavy heart that I realised that I needed to get her trained up all over again, in the frequent administration of my treats, after not being on the Munros with her for nearly a year.

3 Path ahead

We continued to the top, though where the real top was wasn’t immediately obvious amongst the crested outcrops of granite tors. These had been spewed up from the mountain’s entails in some violent peak of seismic climatic change. Further along though, there it was, as bold as any other old pile of constructed stones, our summit cairn; out came the camera, on went my smile.

From here we could see the east facing slopes of five, out of the six, highest mountains in Scotland and, though we were well into summer, the last gasps of snow clung to hollows, like rock climbers clinging on for dear life by their fingertips.

 

We returned by the same route with wide open vitas right across North East Scotland.

8 Long view over Moray

It took us much less time to get back to the bridge over the Nethy, and the vacant landmark beyond. Once again we marched right past that lovely lochan even though I tried my best to bark, to say my legs didn’t hurt at all and I had lots of spare energy. Just when I was beginning to think that actually, a bit of shut eye wouldn’t be a bad idea after all – catching up on some of last night’s misplaced zzzs –  out came the map. Its perusal – scrutinised from every angle – was accompanied by a series of deep sighs. It seemed that, just over a kilometre from our Kangoo, we had been beaten by all those forest tracks and didn’t know which one to take. After another half hour of going wrong, flapping maps, and sighs that had evolved into groans, we hit on the right path and were back at the Munromobile, with another hill in the bag and without having encountered too many mishaps.

Me and B had a short nap back at base and were then keen to get to our pit stop for tonight’s sleep-over, close to Newtonmore. A nice big dinner, route planning and some writing would see us ready for sleep, hoping to wake refreshed for the next day of adventure. Oh dear Dog, if only being away with B could be that straight forward. We stopped for petrol in Aviemore and then drove back onto the road. Jeepers Creepers, what a strange sensation assaulted me. Bump and crunch accompanied each rotation of the wheel below me. Newtonmore was off, Glenmore Holiday Park was on, as we wobbled our way off the road ASAP.

B did lots of talking down those things you humans are always tapping away at, or holding to one of your ears. It seemed that someone could come to help us but it might be four or five hours. We had broken down at the busiest time possible. 5.00pm on a Friday evening in summer. At this news I went into a bit of a decline. My tummy was v. v. v hungry and that seemed an awful long time to wait for my dinner.

As I have indicated, B does get us into some awful pickles but, it has to be said, she can come up trumps when the cards are down. Before you could say, “Where’s the RAC”, my tummy was nice and full, lunch was done for tomorrow and B’s tummy was full too. All this happened by the side of the road, from the back of our Kangoo, as myriads of people, and their dogs, were arriving at their holiday chalets. I was just settling down for a few hours kip when – after a quick bit of talking down the ear machine – a god sent mechanic rolled up nice and early. He was from a local garage sub-contracted by the RAC. Oh dearie-me, the news wasn’t good. Not only had my tyre gone for a burton but the spare we were relying on wasn’t in great shape either. There was a lot more talking with words like recovery and home casting a black cloud over our weekend. Then, after even more confusing chat, this time with the man talking into his own ear extension, I got propped up on someone called Jack and he took away my wheel. At this the butterflies in my tummy started a trapeze display on v. v. v high wires.

However, the long and the short of it was that within another hour I had a brand new tyre fitted to my wheel and, to keep the butterflies well at bay, we had a new spare tyre too. Newtonmore was back on and the words recovery and home were flung out the window for at least, we hoped, the rest of the weekend.

IMG_4865
And so to bed

Love Ben  AA HeartPawPrint