Christmas 2012

Seeking refuge from the traditional Christmas – i.e. eating too much then falling into a coma on the sofa in front of mind numbingly crap TV – we spent most of Dec 25th out in the hills around Arrochar. We hoped to walk to the top of Ben Ime (the highest of the Arrochar peaks) and celebrate Christmas on the summit huddled in our big orange storm shelter. We were certainly well equipped for the task; in addition to copious layers of clothing, snow spikes, blankets and thermally insulated mats, we had turkey sandwiches, mince pies, some naff tinsel and a small set of battery-operated Christmas lights. Unfortunately our plans went down the toilet faster than projectile vomit from the mouth of a norovirus victim.

The main problem, as you might guess, was the weather. Visibility on the hills was dramatically reduced by heavy mist/fog, and Ben Ime itself was almost completely covered in deep snow. We bravely walked a little of the way up, but our spirit of adventure gave way to common sense when we got hit by a heavy, wind-driven sleet shower. Out came the storm shelter and we hurriedly threw it over ourselves, our Beagles and our rucksacks as we perched on a lump of rock. Ben Ime was no longer on the menu, and sadly neither were the turkey sarnies and Christmas decorations. Why? Well the fact is there’s just not that much room in our shelter, and when you’ve got a hungry, shivering Beanie on your lap the last thing you want to be doing is wrestling with tinsel and sandwich boxes.


I promise I won’t try to eat your sandwiches and mince pies. Honest.

I can’t say it was particularly comfortable in the shelter, but at least it did warm up quite quickly. Whatever material that big orange bag is made out of, it’s good at trapping warm air and keeping out the elements.  Too good in fact. It has two vents to allow gas exchange, but unfortunately/fortunately (depending on your species)  these vents are the perfect size for Beagle heads. Beanie was the first to ram her head down a vent, but shortly after Biggles found the other vent on his side and blocked it also. At this point, both of our Beagles had an unlimited supply of fresh mountain air, while we were trapped inside the shelter with their little furry bottoms. It soon got pretty funky in there I can tell you, even though none of us had consumed any Brussels sprouts yet. When the shower eventually subsided I made a hasty escape!


The sleet shower has gone! Beanie & Biggles join me outside, while Susan – having succumbed to the foul botty gases – remains inside

As often happens, the end of the shower heralded a brief spell of dry, clearer weather and I was able to take a few shots. The Cobbler and Ben Ime never once lost their misty shroud however.




We packed up and started the long trudge back to the car. Every now and then we got a thorough soaking, but at least this time it was just plain rain with little or no wind. Each time a shower passed we were treated to another brief spell of better weather, even the odd burst of sunlight!




Just before we descended into the forest we seized a last chance to put our Christmas decorations to use..


Back at home, chilled to the bone and consumed by hunger, the four us ate enough food for a small army, crashed out on the sofa and fell into a group coma in front of an endless stream of crap compilation shows and repeats on the telly. I guess there’s no escaping Christmas tradition after all!

The next day – following an early run on the beach and a visit to relatives – we finally got round to that other Christmas tradition: opening the presents. Experience has taught us that its largely a waste of money to buy posh pressies for our two doglets. They’re just as happy – happier in fact – with a pile of treat filled boxes to rip apart. Yep, the best way to a waggy Beagle is wanton destruction followed by food!


Fortunately for us, this Nokia box hadn’t housed a mobile phone for some time. Not that Biggles would have cared either way!



Why bother unwrapping when you can just stick your whole head in there?


Of course that technique can result in a bad case of “box-head”

Eventually our two hit upon a couple of boxes holding a something more substantial: tripe-filled bones!




Mid way through her bone, Beanie couldn’t shake the feeling that she’d missed something in one of the boxes. She started rummaging through the debris and eventually confirmed her suspicions: there were still a few crumbs in the box that had come from the Beagles Bakery.


It’s never a good idea to leave your primary treat unguarded though. Biggles may be hen-pecked and beaten down by his sister at times, but he’s still brave enough to swap his mostly finished bone for hers when she’s otherwise occupied..


Simple plans work best: just drop my bone, take hers and scarper to the other side of the room!


Job done!


Surprising though it may seem, Beanie was quite happy with the swap. She’d been having a hard time crunching through the bone to the extra tasty bit in the middle but now she had one that Biggles had prepared for her!


Peace and contentment amid the carnage..

A Change Of Pace

I’ve been trying to improve my running speed despite a series of niggling injuries, and my current favorite workout is “30:20:10”. You start with a warmup, then jog for 30seconds, run at race pace for 20 secs, and sprint all out for 10 secs. Repeat this a few times, then jog for a couple of minutes to recover and do it all again. And again. Since you’re always changing pace the training session flies by, and there’s none of the anticipation/dread that normally builds up prior to a more conventional speed workout. The problem – as ever – is finding the time to get all this training in whilst still doing work and other daily routines like dog walks. With that in mind I decided to combine one of my 30:20:10 workouts with my weekly 10k with Beanie & Biggles on the beach.

It was a brave decision given that structured exercise and Beagles generally don’t mix well. In the past I’ve taken Beanie & Biggles along on hill sprint sessions and ended up either grinding to a halt half way up the hill with my legs tied up in their leads, or arse-surfing down the hill when they decided that my recovery jog to the bottom should be a desperate sprint. This time however, things went smoothly. Beanie, and especially Biggles, quickly settled into the rhythm of the workout.

After the first couple of repetitions I started adding a verbal cue to each phase: “Easy!” for the jog, “Running Pace!” for the next gear and “Turbo!” for the sprint. There are no prizes for guessing which part my two pups liked the most! Every time I shouted “Turbo!” Biggles would bay his head off and shoulder-charge his galloping sister.

Adding to the fun & stimulation of the constantly changing pace were the many obstacles that the tide had deposited on the beach. We regularly had to leap over tree trunks and branches, and there was also a car seat (!!??), a microwave (with missing door), a green wellie, the rear section of an old CRT-style TV and an assortment of holed tubs and buckets to go over and around. At one point we had to cross a stream made by a sewer or drain outlet. Beanie and Biggles leapt across in perfect sync, while I couldn’t quite make the distance and got a soaking wet foot. Fortunately a subsequent sniff test of my shoe discounted the theory that the stream was run-off from a sewer, so no harm was done. By the time we got back home I felt that I’d drained my batteries pretty well, and I figured that Beanie and Biggles would happily nap the afternoon away leaving me in peace to get some work done. That’s probably how it would have turned out too, if hadn’t been for a spot of drama over Biggles’ “cot”.

The cot came into being when a spare duvet was temporarily dumped into one of the baskets in the living room, instantly turning it into the most sumptuous Beagle bed ever.


It didn’t take long for the duvet to get a bit grubby, but a bit of muck never bothered a Beagle!

Biggles immediately took a shine to this new super-luxury bed, so we started referring to it as his “cot”. Initially this didn’t cause any conflict because the ever-antisocial Beanie prefers to be up on a sofa securely wrapped in her blanket, only emerging from her cocoon to empty an unguarded cup of tea or vacuum up the crumbs left from a TV-dinner. Today however, perhaps still feeling the stimulation of the beach run, it suddenly occurred to Beanie that she might be missing out and things quickly got noisy. She complained at Biggles solidly for ten minutes, then when he left the basket (either to escape her moaning or for a drink, I’m not sure which) she climbed in and tried to claim it. He responded by woofing of course. When that didn’t work he lured her into a play fight which sent cups and remote controls flying and left the hall rug at a very jaunty angle. Tails were pulled, ears were nibbled and eardrums were burst before we eventually got the two of them to calm down. The end result? Well Beanie was cocooned on the sofa once again, and Biggles was back in his cot. He looked so sweet in there that Susan commented she should really have a teddy bear to cuddle. Well we didn’t have a teddy bear to hand, but we did have “Toby” the little soft toy Beagle, so…


He genuinely seemed to like having his little cuddly companion with him in the basket


Even holding on to it with his paws as he rolled over

Beanie of course wasn’t impressed by any of this, and Toby had another brush with death when she got hold of him..


Little Miss Jealous-Belly plots her revenge


And has a Hannibal Lecter moment..

Even Big Boys Need Cuddles [IMG_4418-Edit]

Happily Toby escaped undamaged, which is more than I can say for Biggles’ street cred.  Do other four year old adult male Beagles like sleeping with a Beagle-teddy?

It’s Just Routine

Beanie & Biggles like routines.

There’s the morning routine, where they get let out of their crates to have a snuggle with us in bed before we all get up.

Then of course there’s the mealtime routine. Very popular this one! The two of them wait impatiently outside the kitchen for nosh to be served up in their bowls. Once the food-maker emerges from the kitchen, Beanie immediately runs to her allocated spot in the hall and sits down very neatly. Biggles tries to do likewise, but more often than not feels the need to make a single jubilant “boing” (bouncing jump) at his bowl first. Once they’re both in position there’s a ten hour “leave” exercise (that’s ten hours in Beagle time, or about 5 seconds in human time) before they get the “OK” to tuck in.

At the end of the day there’s the bedtime routine, comprising of:

  1. toothbrushing (which is tolerated, more or less, in return for a cube of dried fish skin from Fish4Dogs),
  2. a trip into the garden for a final loo visit. Although he’s now 4 years old we still have to remind Biggles to “do his business” as he trots out of the door for this, otherwise he forgets what he’s being sent out to do and we end up having an emergency repeat loo visit during the night.
  3. the presentation of half a Dentastix each in their crates. They race each other into their crates for this, charging over, under or through anything that’s between them and their bedtime treat. Once in their crates, Beanie sits dutifully in the middle of her bed but Biggles, again overcome by excitement, has to keep sticking his head out of the crate for a quick peek to make sure that his treat is coming.

Now however there’s a new routine for them to master. It can come at any time of the day, but is always signaled by the words “What day is it?”. Yep, we got a doggy advent calendar from The Beagles Bakery.


The calendar’s made of fabric, with a little pocket for each day in the countdown to Christmas


The pockets smell good..


Really good!


But this isn’t a “help yourself” deal! You have to wait for the humie to do all the fiddly ribbon removal


Then you have to wait again for the tasty treats to be removed from their cellophane wrappers. Ideally this wait is done in a sit, but sometimes it just smells so good that.. well, BOING!