Sep 30
Last blast of summer
icon1 Paul | icon4 09 30th, 2015| icon34 Comments »

We’ve been at our home in Ayrshire for nearly six years now, but I’m still finding great new walks nearby. The latest is along the river Ayr near Mauchline. I went there initially to photograph a huge old railway viaduct; the shot didn’t work out (I need to try again later in the year when foliage is reduced) but I had a strong feeling that the path by the river would be a big hit with Beanie and Biggles. On one glorious day that felt and looked much more like summer than autumn, I brought the dynamic duo along with me to see if I was right.


A wire fence is meant to be a barrier, but to a Beagle it’s nothing but an invitation to be nosy

Initial signs were very promising. I may not be any good at knowing which objects need to be peed on and which don’t, but even my pathetically ineffective human nose can tell me when something is sniffy, and this walk was very sniffy indeed. Our progress along the path could best be described as erratic as we zig-zagged, backtracked, sniffed, peed and rolled our way towards the viaduct.


Sometimes when we’re on routine walks I feel that I’m at odds with my Beagles. I always want them to enjoy their exercise but at the same time I’m often eager to get back home so I can get work done. However on this relaxing, sunny day the three of us were truly in sync; I was happy to indulge their little whims even when it meant taking detours off the path, and equally they were happy to stand quietly and survey the view while I assessed its photographic potential.

The route eventually parted ways with the river and went along by fields of cattle, forcing us to go through a number of so-called kissing gates. These are designed to allow only one person through at a time, not one person attached to two eager Beagles. There must be thousands of these gates throughout Scotland, and Beanie & Biggles must have traversed a hundred of them by now, but still they don’t get the whole “wait your turn” thing. Somehow we made it through each of them until we came to this one, which I judged impassable:


The reason it was impassable had little to do with the gate itself, and everything to do with the three yard stretch of ground between it and the next gate, because it was open to the cattle. In truth we could probably have made it across to the other side without incident, but I wouldn’t have been confident about the return journey due to The Biggles Factor. Thus far my boy had been pretty quiet, but the odds were very high that he’d have called the cows rude names as we crossed that short stretch of no-dogs-land. There was no choice but to turn back early, but we’d still had a decent walk, and what’s more the pause at the gate had given Beanie enough time to find a little cache of ripe blackberries.


Blackberries are only in season for a couple of months each year, but Beanie always remembers to look out for them!

The stroll back was equally as relaxed and uneventful, save for the discovery and subsequent destruction of a potato scone wrapper. Biggles was the first to find it, but after a brief examination he deemed it unworthy of his time and moved on to something of greater importance (a bush needed peeing on). Beanie’s reaction to the wrapper was much stronger; she’s always been very good at at getting every stray molecule of food off things and never lets anything go to waste. As she approached, it was spotlighted by a patch of sun like some mythical artefact in an Indiana Jones film. She gave it nearly 3 minutes of her undivided attention, carefully – almost lovingly – licking every surface. Then abruptly and in a frenzy of motion, she ripped it to shreds. Job done!


Sadly the Legendary Scone Wrapper of Mauchline wasn’t preserved for the appreciation of future generations. But it entertained Beanie for a few minutes, and when she was finally done, we went home for tea and long nap. Not all days go like this, but they probably should.


Sep 15
Better than cake?
icon1 Paul | icon4 09 15th, 2015| icon33 Comments »

It’s been a a couple of weeks or so since Biggles turned seven, and our two spoiled furballs have finally accepted that although they had servings of birthday cake for three days straight – more than long enough to set a precedent in Beagle law – they’re not going to get cake every day. It sucks, and if Ewan McGregor and other charity-supporting celebs knew about it, they’d be appearing on the TV between the PPI and accident claim adverts asking families through the UK to donate sardine-flavored cakes, buns and muffins to our two.


Remember – donating just two cupcakes or fishy french fancies a month could give a hungry Beagle something to speed-swallow between normal mealtimes

Fortunately for Biggles, he’s found something to fill the cake-sized gap in his life, and it’s something that might surprise you. It certainly surprised me.


Yes, that’s right, it’s my used snotty paper hankies. I’ve had a really unpleasant cold over the last week, and Biggles has become obsessed with my mucus filled cast-offs.


If I’ve had a nice smelly TV dinner and put down my plate next to the sofa, I can successfully keep Biggles from licking it. It takes constant vigilance and the occasional “Oi! No!” combined with a cautionary index finger, but The Bigglet (and Beanie, for that matter) will comply. Same goes for an empty cup of hot chocolate. But.. if I’m careless enough to leave a used tissue within reach, Biggles just has to have it, no matter how stern a voice I use or how much my index finger is pointing at him. On one occasion a curious Beanie followed him to his “safe” place in the corridor while he had a tissue in his possession, and she was told in no uncertain terms to butt out, and that hardly ever happens, not even when she’s vacuuming up stray kibble that he’s knocked out of his bowl at mealtimes.

It’s possible that NASA or SETI may find incontrovertible proof of life on other worlds within my lifetime, but I can guarantee you that I’ll expire without ever knowing why Biggles finds my used, snotty hankies so irresistible (whether they have an aloe vera balm to reduce nasal friction or not!)


Aug 30
Lucky Number Seven!
icon1 Paul | icon4 08 30th, 2015| icon310 Comments »


There’s a reason why Beanie & Biggles are sitting so expectantly in the above shot, and it has everything to do Biggles’ seventh birthday. The subject of their interest isn’t a toy, because they’ve already got tons of those, a fair number of which are still serviceable.


Toys? We got ’em coming out of our big floppy ears!


Though Beanie’s crinkly, squeaky orange fox does some have some weakened stitching after a recent play session

As you may have guessed, the real reason for Beanie’s John Wayne style wide sit and Biggles’ outrageous tongue deployment is food; specifically the Biggly Boy’s birthday cake. Though tasty enough, the cake for his previous birthday had been somewhat lacking in visual appeal. In fact it looked more like a couple of poos sandwiched together than a cake, largely because I’d made it. Fortunately Susan was in charge of cake construction this time around and things went a lot better!


The ingredients were roughly the same as last time..


But the real secret to Beagle cake-making is in the preparation


It looks like this is going to be a good baking session


Beanie sends a prayer out to the Beagle God of Bowl Licking


And is suitably rewarded..


But not as much as Biggles!


Oh yeah, this has all the signs of being a great cake


But even though the cake has come out of the oven, Mum’s still not finished with it! What’s that she’s got there? Some kind of pate?


And could that really be cream cheese?


And doggy chocolate buttons, two of which have by sheer luck fallen near the edge of the worktop! Don’t worry Mum, I’ve got this!


There’s no need to put those spoons in the dishwasher either..


..Not when the apprentice bakers are on hand to do the washing up


The finished article..

On the day of his Biggleship’s birthday, and after a morning run on the beach with me, the cake was finally served. Normal protocol for receiving food went out of the window briefly but was then restored, although Biggles never quite managed to get his bum properly on the floor during the “sit” and “leave” part. Having said that, it can’t be easy to keep your rear end firmly on the floor when your tail is going like a propeller on a speedboat.



So, how does a seven year old Beagle boy tackle a huge slice of birthday cake? Does he firstly lick off the cream cheese and pate before nibbling delicately at the sardine-flavoured sponge? Or does he just try and get the whole thing in his gob in one go, half-choke on it, cough/spit the excess out onto the rug and desperately try to vacuum up the debris before his sister intervenes? Well, just remember that he’s a mature Beagle now, a cultured man-of-the-world, not some silly little inexperienced puppy with no self control.


So yep, pretty much try to down it one go, nearly choking in the process.


And not to be left out, Beanie did the same.


Time for a nap while all that cake gets processed. Happy Birthday Mr Biggles!

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