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.

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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And so to bed!

Love Ben AA HeartPawPrint

Ben’s Munro poem

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.

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:

Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge

I’m doing lots of walking in Scottish mountains for our charity challenge. You can read all about it here:

Mucky Boots and Flawless Paws

 

Looking north and a bit east

Back on the Munros

Steep ascent on mountain hike

Reward of Sausage

By Ben the dog-poet © 2019

 

 

High days and holidays #Senury

Thank you for coming to visit a dog poet. This is my weekly poem in response to Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge From a range of structured poetry types we create our verse, in response to two words prompts.

As Colleen is out of action, while in the upheaval of moving house, we are selecting our own two words. This week my words are, happy and family.

I have such a lovely life with everything I need, in ample sufficiency, provided with love and kindness. As well as my walks, lovely food and  luxury soft furnishings (for relaxation), I have a wonderful garden to play in. Then, when we go on holiday it’s even better still. Me and my people spend all day everyday together, and I am beside myself with happiness. We have just had a wonderful week tramping across the Moors, in North Yorkshire (UK). My short Senury is about that.

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Oh, blessings bestowed

Day long walks with my people

Playing lots of ball.

Love Ben, the dog poet © 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Springtime frolics, #Tanka

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 however, being the first week in the month, we can choose our own words and mine are April and Fool.

You can find out all about the challenge, the different poetry forms, and have a go yourself, by clicking below.
Colleen’s poetry challenge

After the dark days of winter, spring has enlivened me and I’m up for anything.  My newfound mischievousness has inspired this weeks poem, a Tanka.

pet mischief

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I’m game for a laugh

Purveyor of happiness,

Big wagging of tail.

Like the jester’s  guileless pranks,

Springtime frolics, harmless fun.

By Ben, the dog poet © 2019

You can see what all the other poets got up to by clicking below.
The poet writes – challenge no 129

Love Ben xx
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Ben’s new Munromobile #A Tanka

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:

Colleen’s poetry challenge

 

Photo of Ben's van no available in this format.

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:

Ben’s new Munromobile

You can read all about our v. v. v big challenge here. Ben’s adventure

However, look at what I’ve got now and, of course, I had to write a poem about it.

 

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Bought near Pentland hills –
My rising star, shinning bright –
Tanka-Kangoo beams.
Like the promise of sunset
Or a boyant, joyous song.

Love Ben, the dog poet xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have I got news for you!

Friends, collies, micro campers,

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!

Van

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.

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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.

 

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And so to bed

Love Ben untitled 1xx

Sensational

Oh golly gosh,

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 – 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. Though, for the first poem of each month, we can choose our own words. This week I have chosen the words scent and sad and I am doing a short Haibun , followed by a Tanka. The Haibun is a piece of prose, with a title, written in the first person canine singular, and it occurs in the present moment. The poem that follows – never seeks to repeat, quote from or explain the prose. It should reflect some aspect of the prose by introducing a different step in the narrative through a microburst of detail – seemingly different, yet somehow connected; gosh!

To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve captured all that but, then again, I’m only a dog and I’ve done my best for my first attempt. The Tanka that follows is structured in 5 lines, with a syllable count of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7. I’m pretty sure I’ve managed that, which isn’t bad for a dog, even a dog poet.

You can find out about it all and, have a go yourself. by clicking below:

Colleen’s poetry challenge

Sensational

sensational

She entered my life as a burst of starlight on a winter’s night, igniting my senses. The sky is now bluer and mown grass more fragrant, while autumn leaves laugh and crackle under foot. Our walks in the forest inject my heart with joy and – with soft steps – I dance, trying to catch moving shadows on the path. Here, verdant trees – swaying in the breeze – filter sunlight.

When she goes away, as she sometimes has to, a despondency numbs my senses and then a grey mantilla shrouds my life. I am reminded of lines from the poet, Yevtushenko:
“ The colours in my eyes will fade, when your face sets.”

Though – of course – being a dog, my senses will be extinguished when her smell is gone.

Her smell fading now
Each moment a crying shame.
Disrupted, my world –
Like neglected flower heads –
Drooping, lifeless, sees no sun.

By Ben, the dog poet ©2019

Additionally, you can read all the poems from last week here: Tuesday poetry challenge recap

And, if you need a little bed time reading to send you to sleep, you can read lots of my poems ever, here: The dog poet’s poems

You can also read all about my big walking charity challenge here: Mucky Boots and Flawless Paws, but that might keep you awake at night, or possibly give you nightmares – hee, hee!

Love Ben xx 0

Ben’s weekly poem #Senryu

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 poet’s write one of the structured poems permitted and have to integrate, as synonyms, the two words given as a prompt. For the first poem of each month we poets choose our words. This week I have chosen the words meaning and passion.

Click here to find out more and enter

You can read all the poems from last week here: Tuesday poetry challenge 121, recap

And, if you need a little bed time reading to send you to sleep, you can read all my poems ever, here: The dog poet’s poems

You can also read all about my big walking charity challenge here: Mucky Boots and Flawless Paws

 

This weeks poem is about how me and my person feel when we get to the top of one of the big mountains on our challenge.

 

Our joint desire
Heartfelt union of a pulse
Definition – love.

By Ben, the dog poet ©2019

 

 

Ben’s weekly poetry

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 poet’s write one of the structured poems permitted and have to integrate, as synonyms, the two words given as a prompt. For the first poem of each month we poets choose our words. This week I have chosen the words vulnerable and pause.

Click here to find out more and enter

You can read all the poems from last week here: Tuesday poetry challenge 121, recap

And, if you need a little bed time reading to send you to sleep, you can read all my poems ever, here: The dog poet’s poems

You can also read all about my big walking charity challenge here: Mucky Boots and Flawless Paws

 

Rescue Centrekennel

Seeking happiness
My fragility laid bare
Over the threshold
Like a precious question mark.
Waiting, quivering, I hope.

By Ben, the dog poet ©2019