Well, it’s going to take a bit of time for me to write up all my adventures in the Munros last weekend and, as you know, it’s never plain sailing (or walking) with B.
In the meantime, I thought I’d whet your appetite, by using a couple of my photos to launch a new competition.
I haven’t run a competition for a long time. I got so down in the mouth last year. B had to go down south a lot and our old girl, my mentor – Maisie – went down the tubes, before having to get the vet out that one last time; and then … to put a tin lid on it, David had that v. v. v big fall, coming home from hospital with lots of horrible equipment that scared me silly. It wasn’t great.
In fact, I didn’t even announce the winner of my competition last May, when I gave you a clue to help you work out the old girl’s great age in hours. I feel bad about that. But, better late than never. Tink, my little friend from Devon, will be getting something nice and juicy to reward her. She has astonishing abilities in arithmetic for a feline. I will give her prize to her people, when they come to visit my people, in August. I only had two entries so I think I’ll steer clear of anything mathematical in the future.
This time, then, here is your picture starter for 10. My competition is open to anyone and I will post the prize anywhere in the world, free of charge. The winner will be the first person to get my correct answer. The result will be posted on 7th August.
Me and B came upon these curious burrows as we were struggling over big tracts of pathless, boggy and peaty terrain, while doing some Munros last Saturday. My question is, what sort of creature lives here? Just add your answers to the comments below this post
I needed a big sleep after all that hard work, so B tucked me up in my cushion in the back of Tanka, our Renault Kangoo.
My poems for Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge are a take on life from a canine perspective. We poets – and to date I seem to be the only dog-poet – write one of the structured poems permitted and have to integrate, as synonyms, the two words given as a prompt.
On the first week of every month we get to choose our own words. Mine are food and climb .I am doing a Haiku
You can find out about the form, and have a go yourself, by clicking below:
My person has been away Munroing without me three times already this year, and I’ve been getting more and more fed up about it. This was meant to be our big, big project.
I know, I know, there’s a bit of a thing about me chasing bikes on those long rides into the Cairngorms, and the temptation of nipping moving ankles which, for some reason, doesn’t seem to go down too well.
Then… additionally, I’m not allowed on ridges and scrambles in case someone suddenly comes my way that I might be frightened by and the same – rather unfortunate – outcome!!
Apparently, I’m not quiet the easy Munro buddy I might have been 😦
But, my people still think I’m rather special and there are lots of hills we go up together so …. HUGE excitement ………….
Oh my goodness me, what a turn up for the books. As if landing ourselves with a much more reliable and younger Munromobile wasn’t enough, we seem to have gone way up market with, in fact, a Des Res, for our big charity challenge. Read all about it!
It’s all very salubrious compared to my old van (about which – by the way – I won’t hear a bad word). Though I have to admit to being a bit worried about this Des person, I just don’t know where we are going to fit him in.
We seem to have gone high rise with mark 2 and my bunk bed sits on top of a small truck containing all our precious maps, routes and assorted Munrobilia. B’s head is close to mine, with all my food and treats and balls stored under her. I do hope she doesn’t squash them.
Oh joy of joys, what times we are going to have. We spent all Easter weekend kitting it out and personalising it and now we are just raring to go.
I have a very sad addendum to add here. It seems, that after last years aborted efforts, we have a lot of catching up to do and B has to go Munroing whenever she can. Sometimes, that might not include me 🙂 In fact, she did the first weekend on her own, taking the opportunity of working in Glasgow on a Friday, nearly 100 miles north of home, to head further north and do a bit of Munro bagging. She did the same, for the same reason, at the beginning of May and left me behind for a whole week. Mind you I might have been a bit of a liability. B was using her bike to cut down walking through the v. v. v long Glens to the start of the ascents. What, with my strong chase instinct, I might not have been able to have resist a chase and a nip when other cyclists past us. I’m told that lots of them did pass her too (hee, hee).
I’m going to post links to the place where B writes about all her solo Munroing on my blog and here are a few photos to wet your whistle. She’s very slow writing them all up though.
I can’t wait to go bagging again myself, and write up all about my adventures. Watch this space …
Thank you so much for coming to visit a dog poet. My poems for Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge are a take on life from a canine perspective. We poets – and to date I seem to be the only dog poet – write one of the structured poems permitted and have to integrate, as synonyms, the two words given as a prompt.
This week the word are spring and sing; I am doing a Tanka.
You can find out about it all, and have a go yourself, by clicking below:
Last week I had to relinquish my van, which had been our friend, transport and accommodation, as we climbed the first 50 mountains on our quest to conquer the 282 Munros in Scotland; they are the mountains over 3000 feet. While I had grown to love the character of my van it seems that’s it’s unreliability was a bit of a liability. I had very mixed feelings about this transformation and wrote about then in this blog:
Last Monday my afternoon slumber was badly disturbed, or so I thought at the time. In Ben’s life, mornings are all about playing ball in the forest for a couple of hours and, after all that exertion, afternoons give way to lots and lots of zzzzzzzzzzs; life’s not all bad.
Being a creature of habit, I’m not at my best when such a well-oiled routine is interrupted and, therefore, I was in a foul mood when woken and directed to the garden (nature’s own public convenience), before getting into my seat in the car.
Arriving at B’s work to collect her early perked me up no end, but my body clock was seriously confused; what was going on? We started back towards home, but then went sailing (well, OK driving) right past the end of our road. Curiouser and curiouser, I thought, but such a lot of thinking was beginning to make my headspace hurt and the anxiety butterflies had started their workout in my tummy. There really is only one response to such uncertainty, so I thumped down on my seat – to let my feelings be known – and then proceeded to catch up on some shut-eye.
When the motion of rubber on tarmac became uneven I was jolted into consciousness and serious worry commenced. There was nothing recognisable here that could anchor me to time or place. The familiar dance of the butterflies I had experienced earlier became a frantic workout, involving cartwheels, back flips and double somersaults.
We had fetched up by some ruinous mill-type building, with portacabins and lots of cars, seemingly abandoned, decorating the landscape. Not only was the unfamiliar a cause for concern but B and David immediately deserted me and I didn’t know if they would ever come back. As you can imagine, I followed their footsteps with my eyes out on stalks and my neck stretched to the back window, which is a very long way, even in our little Fabia. Well, what a funny thing. B and David were giving one of those abandoned cars the once over and, before you could say “Ben, meet your new Munromobile”, B had driven off in it with a strange man, and David was sitting beside me.
It turns out that my van is being traded in for a newer model. Oh my goodness me, you should see it. Well, actually you can, here’s some photos. Will you take a look at that!
The mileage is only just over half way round the clock (whatever that means), and everything works as it should, which is a real novelty. Now the van won’t blow a fuse if she forgets the back door lock is dysfunctional, and neither will she get the key stuck in the passenger lock, because that one doesn’t work either. The audio system does the job properly too, which means melodious tunes. No longer do musicians sound as if they are undergoing some very nasty examination while trying to sing at the same time. And, if that isn’t enough, just look at the paintwork. I know appearances are only skin deep but I can do shallow if it means a spiffing car. I can tell you, I will be sitting up very proudly as we make for Munro country, waving my paw as if, for all the world, I was related to royalty.
And….., as if that wasn’t enough, very soon it is going to look like this – hells bells!
When B came back from her test drive she asked for my opinion, and obviously that was a no- brainer. What adventures we are going to have as veritable owners of our Renault Kangoo, which is seven years younger than my van. I wish B could lose seven years just like that. Then we might be able to get up our Munros one heck of a lot quicker.
I’m going to call my new car/van Tanka. It’s after the poetry competition I enter most Tuesdays. While a Tanka is a form of poetry originating from Japan, my new Munromobile looks a little bit like a tank and drives like pure poetry in motion.
We got Tanka from Fraser Murray Cars Sales in Penicuik, near Edinburgh, and his is a v. v. v commendable outfit, getting lots of those five star things. I even got a donation in my fundraising pot. I’m going to add Fraser Murray Car Sales to my team, when I get back from my weekend away. Me and B are telling everyone to get their cars there.
I couldn’t sleep on the way back home. My tummy was in such a state. I don’t even know how to describe it. I had got so v. v. v excited, but now there was another drama going on and the butterflies were in free-fall. What was going to happen to myvan. B and me had started our big Munro challenge in it and, in fact, it had been our accommodation for the first 50 Munros. I know it had let us down a few times, and had more quirky qualities than you could shake a stick at, but it had character and I had grown to love it. We had even identified our own special song in it; albeit with Ronan Keating singing in a pitch something akin to soprano. I also got worried about Micky, who had come back for shelter again this year, as winter approached; how would he keep warm now? Apparently, the new model was top security, not even a little field mouse could gain entry. Then there were all my mini paw prints, each one denoting a Munro I had climbed. Where could I put them now, with nine windows taking up all the space? Oh dearie me, now I wasn’t so sure at all.
I know B’s tummy was in a similar state to mine, and I believe hers started going wobbly when she produced that thing they call a credit card. Me and B had a big conflab when got home. B reassured me that we would find somewhere to put my paw prints and, while she is going to get a bit of kit that becomes a bed, for the sake of her old bones, I can still have my cushion beside her. Also, and oh this took my breath away, as Micky hasn’t been back for quite a while now, it is highly likely that he is a goner.
B was still going on but by this time my head space was like mince, and I was flat out dreaming of a Renault Kangoo parked far below towering Munro peaks.
I concluded last year’s review by looking forward to doing more of the self-actualising stuff – through walking on mountains and writing about it all – having established that all my other needs were being met, according to this big cheese called Maslow. So let’s see how it all worked out.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
To make sense of my life in 2018, I have decided to take a tour through the unfolding seasons.
To be quiet honest with you, not much was doing in the New Year and I found myself joining in with that down-in-the-mouth trend that is so catching in January. What, with lots of slouching about, lying in front of the fire and supporting a rather extensive tum, after an over indulgence of Christmas treats, I could hardly muster enough energy – let alone enthusiasm – for even a short walk. I had metamorphosed from self-actualising Munro Buddy into lethargic mass of excess flab, mirroring my people.
Just as I was in danger of succumbing to something called sloth, I was saved from myself by the arrival of two very different events. Firstly, my personal friend, Julia Bradbury (of UK TV fame), sent me a present for allowing her to host my blog on her new website. Spotting the postie with a parcel I made contact – not altogether welcome – with his hand, getting through the packaging in a 1, 1, 2 and, before you could say http://www.theoutdoorguide.co.uk, I was sporting a rather spiffing buff and looking rather dandy, even if I say so myself. Ben’s personality and hiding lights under bushels are two mutually exclusive concepts, if you get my drift.
It’s possible that the bohemian look of this rather rakish neckerchief predisposed me to take advantage of the second happening, in that otherwise uneventful start to the year. While surfing the net on my blog site, as dogs do, I chanced up a weekly poetry challenge. Well I thought, as Border Collies do, why not. With the extra time on my paws and the new debonair look, what was there to lose, aside from a v. v. v temperamental ego. So, in the twinkling of a keyboard’s return button, Munro buddy became budding poet and, oh my dog, with what results. Ping, ping, ping … went the notification alerts on my PC, as readers liked what they saw, necessitating a quick visit to the garden, my tummy getting all excited.
Since that day, most Tuesdays have been a creative frenzy as I put paw to paper turning a two-word prompt into structured poems. Would you believe it, I am the only dog poet among this company of new literary friends. Colleen Cheesebro provides all the rules, the two words and, each week, Colleen selects one author as poet of the week. You could have blown me down with a writer’s quill when I achieved this accolade myself, at only my second attempt, with a little Senryu I wrote.
Folding into warm contours
Dissolving in dreams
This is what Colleen wrote about my poem,
“Other than the fact that I ADORE dogs who write poetry, the simplicity of Ben’s words tells the whole story of this Senryu and the fabulous picture posted with the poem. It just felt like something a dog would write about. Sometimes the simplest things bring the most pleasure.”
Me and Colleen have become great friends over the last year and she has given me such encouragement. You can read all about the challenge here. Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge
By the by, if you need something to help you dissolve into dreams at night you can read all my poems just here All Ben’s poems
Eventually we seemed to be turning from winter into spring, as snow and ice gave way to buds and blossom. By this time and with slightly longer walks, I was beginning to fight the flab, looking towards the Munro year ahead.
Alas, my aspirations became a causality of the Beast from the East, when a late blast of bitterly cold weather swept across the UK from the North Sea, lasting well into April and thwarting my fitness regime.
Then, just like the return of an old friend, the ‘cruellest month’ flipped into May and, with that transition summer asserted itself early, casting spring to the dogs, in a rather questionable manner of speaking.
As the annual cycle of growth accelerated so the old girl began to back peddle faster still. By the time she was 15, Canine Cognitive Dementia had set in and her back legs were, well… let’s just say it – useless. I found out lots about the CCD condition and have written a whole page of advice, in my own inimitable style, to help others Ben’s top tips for doggy dementia
The old girl’s 15th Birthday (not her wine!!)
Suddenly, we all became allied healthcare professionals, our raîson d’etre being two fold:
To keep the old girl going, as long as she was happy.
Not to keep her going a moment after she wasn’t happy anymore.
My main role in this nurturing environment was to help maintain an aura of calm by suppressing my ADHD tendencies (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Doggy), something I have written about before. I did my best but it was v. v. v hard work.
Alas, I had to play second fiddle, which is also quiet hard for a self-confessed egoist who thinks he is conductor material. I kept hearing phrases like ‘his time will come’ and ‘we’ll make it up to him’, but they didn’t mean at lot to me at the time. I did get a lot of long walks during the week away at our caravan and just had to alternate my people, so that one of them could take on carer responsibilities for our old girl. All the walking was getting me match fit for the Munros which were, apparently, just around the corner; something that rather puzzled me as we always seemed to spend hours getting to Munros in my van. I concluded that it was a very long corner.
Just then, nearly half way though my year, our orbit tipped out of kilter, everything went topsy turvy and it is only now, at the beginning of 2019 that we are getting back to normal, if I can ever believe in such a thing again. Firstly, just at the end of that May holiday my female person went away and then she kept coming and going for weeks on end. Being a dog I hadn’t a clue what was going on but boy did I do a good imitation of “I’m your best friend, just try and beat this welcome”, every time she came home. David tried his best too but, to be honest, he just hasn’t got the style or, for that matter, the waggy tail to go with it. Anyway, I just made damn sure I got in first to get all the cuddles.
We did make a Munro trip shortly after and spent three glorious days together, scouring the hills, reaching high peaks with fabulous views and we got to the top of 5 Munros. We even reached the first big landmark, notching up the 50th Munro for our bag. In the evenings we’d soak up the unparalleled beauty of the highlands while listening to our own special song, “You say it best, when you say nothing at all.” As nighttime approached I’d jump in the back of my van and snuggle up for sleep in the little space I had available, falling quickly into zzzs after our energetic day on the mountains.
Summit of Beinn a’Chreachain Looking North
Summit of Beinn Achaladair Looking North across Rannoch Moor
When we are away my person does a lot of talking into those strange things bi-peds are always putting to their ears. I do worry about her… a lot, though it seems to bring her some sort of comfort. Then she puts the horrid thing to my ear and it really freaks me out. I look all over for the voice but I can never find him and it makes me sad. When we went through this ritual on our third night we both ended up sad because the voice machine told us the old girl was going further down the tubes. We vowed we would go home after our next walk, a day early; arriving as a surprise cavalry, bringing reinforcements.
The rest of the summer was sung to the old girls tune, her every wish our command. Ben was never the centre of attention in those tranquil dog days. Not actually neglected you understand but just left to my own devices. I kept tapping away at my device of choice and on 19th August I was award the title ‘Poet of the Week’, for the second time. The dog poet honoured a second time
This brought me such a lot of joy at a sad time for us all. My poetry kept me going because, without the Munros to write about, the soul had gone out of my prose.
There wouldn’t be anymore mountains in our collecting bag until the old girl didn’t need to be looked after anymore. None of us wanted to bring that day forward, not one little bit. Even a self-centred dog poet like me knows intuitively when a bit of the old altruism is required. Thus on those summer evenings, when we came in from the garden, I’d snuggle up to the old girl – forsaking my rightful place on the soft furnishings beside B – and offer a bit of fellow comfort. I think she liked it. Walks were reduced to lots of running after ball – maximum energy from Ben, least effort from my people – but you won’t catch me complaining about that and it was always meant to be just a temporary arrangement.
Feeling a little overwhelmed, must sleep. Part two shortly.