Apr 21
Ben Ime Base Camp
icon1 Paul | icon4 04 21st, 2016| icon32 Comments »

Ben Ime Pano

I’ve finally been to the summit of Ben Ime, but unfortunately due to unknowns about the weather I wasn’t able to take my little furry sherpas with me. We did however hang out at base camp together for quite a while before I started my climb, and it got very cuddly. The fact is that the seats in the Beaglemobile aren’t quite high enough for a truly nosy Beagle, whereas seat plus human lap makes the perfect viewing platform. Installed on their human booster-seats, Beanie & Biggles were able to spy on every sandwich, bun and ice cream consumed within their immediate vicinity. What’s more, hugging was not only tolerated but even welcomed, as it counteracted the foot and bum slippage caused by waterproof hillwalking trousers.

Things got even more cuddly when our car park was invaded by a group of car enthusiasts and bikers. As the sound of revving engines and back-firing exhausts filled the air, Beanie sought to reassure me by nestling even further into my lap; for his part, Biggles reassured the rotating passenger seat by creeping into the foot-well behind it and hanging out until all the roaring and banging subsided. It’s a shame that some of my best cuddles come from scary moments, but if it’s going to happen, I might as well take advantage!

Before long it was time for me to get started. I stuffed snacks and drinks into my pockets, removed Beanie’s snout from said pockets, strapped the tripod to my camera backpack, removed Beanie’s snout from my pockets again, and set out on my mission.  I made good time at first, but as I got a decent way up the mountain snow made the going very tough.

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The true summit finally comes into view…

When I reached the top it was clear of cloud and the air was quite still, but within minutes visibility dropped to a few yards and there was savage windchill. Another five minutes later the cloud lifted again and the wind dropped. And so it cycled round for the next hour or so. During the clear spells I got some really beautiful views, but when the wind was blowing and I was in cloud I couldn’t help wishing I was back at Beagle base camp, inhaling air filled with the subtle fragrance of warm comfortable hound, and the occasional very unsubtle blast of sulphur from Biggles’ bum.

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Given the rapidly changing conditions I was glad that Beanie & Biggles weren’t with me, but from the footprints in the snow clearly somebody’s woofer had enjoyed a good romp around the summit earlier that day!

Sunburst on Ben Ime [IMG_9090]

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I had my phone with me and though there’d been no signal for most of the walk, reception was OK at the summit, enabling me to receive a few textual Beagle bulletins. Apparently chews had been consumed, the trees near the van had been watered copiously, and now Beanie was making popping noises in her sleep. Business as usual then!

I reached my thermal limit just as sunset arrived, and after one last shot from the top of Ben Ime I headed back down.

Sunset From Ben Ime [IMG_9177]

As is often the case, the same snow that made the climb up so difficult made the return journey really easy. There were two deep channels in the snow heading straight down to the boggy lower half of the mountain, and I knew instantly that these had been made by other walkers bum-sledding their way back down. I tested my own rear end in the nearest channel, and it was a good fit. It took two minutes on my bum to cover a distance that had taken half an hour on my feet. By the time it was dark, I was off Ben Ime and on the long trudge back down to Arrochar. This is usually the most tedious part of the walk; all the adrenaline from the climb has gone and there’s nothing but bog, trees and aching knees ahead. Fortunately another Beagle bulletin arrived informing me that the furry sherpas had departed base camp and were coming to help me back to the van.

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When the sherpas arrived they were very keen to lighten my load. Throughout this whole adventure I’d been terribly weighed down by a pair of dental chews in my right thigh pocket, and Beanie and Biggles kindly relieved me of this burden almost immediately. Suddenly the journey back to the van didn’t seem quite so long.

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Back at base camp, and after an all-day-breakfast and a tin of Chappie it’s almost time to leave. Notice our little pack leader at the window,  making sure I don’t go wandering off on my own again.

 

Apr 3

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Every time we have an adventure in the Beaglemobile we get just a little better at making best use of its limited living space. It requires a very different approach from past trips in the caravan where we’ve taken not just the kitchen sink but everything in the cupboard underneath it as well, yet still had enough space to swing a sixteen-squeakered monkey toy by its tail. We’ve now got a pretty good system for food, water and clothing (both clean and muddied), but the  sleeping arrangements are still proving to be a bit of a challenge.

On a recent trip to the Mull of Galloway Susan figured she’d found the perfect solution: get rid of me! She suggested making up the bed just before I went out for a nighttime shoot of the lighthouse. I was naturally resistant to the idea because I knew that with me out of the way, she and our two pups could stretch out to fill most of the bed, leaving me with a little more than a postage-stamp to sleep on when I returned. Needless to say I was soundly outvoted in the “Bed Now!” poll by two paws and one hand to one, and went outside into the cold clear night while the rest of the party snuggled under the covers.

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse at Night [IMG_8821]

On my return things worked out much better than expected; in fact it turned out that being last to bed actually gave me an advantage, because it allowed me to become a human version of The Bigglet. Ordinarily he’s the last one in and his insertion method is ruthlessly efficient, gaining a much bigger share of the bed than a little furry person called Biggles should really have. He trots up along the side that is next to all the fittings (cupboard doors and such), gets his back firmly against solid wood and uses both his paws and his noxious little white bum to force the rest of us into an ever smaller portion of the bed.

Now it was my turn. Compelled by the desperate need to sleep and armed with a gut full of gas from hurriedly consuming a bag of dry roasted peanuts during my photography session, I applied the Biggles bed entry technique almost flawlessly. I say almost flawlessly, because although I got space, I didn’t get enough blanket to cover my feet. However, as I put the squeeze on the other bed occupants, Beanie kind of popped out and ended up nestling by my toes, keeping them toasty warm.

I only got to enjoy the bed for a few hours however; all too soon my alarm told me it was time to go back out for a bit of sunrise photography. As I left the van Susan taunted me with the thought that while I was out there shivering, she’d get to enjoy all that extra free space in the bed.

Mull of Galloway [IMG_4796]

I stayed out taking photos longer than intended, and yet when I arrived back at the van everyone was still snuggled under the covers. It turned out that things hadn’t quite gone to plan for Susan however. She’d expected Biggles to stay in his part of the bed, leaving her ample room to stretch out. It didn’t work that way; Biggles may like having his own space, but that space still has to be next to another living body. No matter where she moved in the bed Biggles homed in on her, making otherwise spacious sleeping arrangements seem cramped.

Comfortable or not, it still took some considerable coaxing to get all the stop-in-beds up and ready for a sniffy, stimulating walk in the bright morning sunshine.

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Breakfast was served on our return to the van, and somehow the eating arrangements became almost as cramped as those for sleeping. It’s funny how a little girl’s bowl can migrate towards her brother’s when he seems to have a bit more in his.

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We sat and relaxed for a while as other visitors began to arrive at the lighthouse, and though Biggles kept a close watch on each every one of them, there was surprisingly little woofage. Is his lordship finally becoming more tolerant of other people and dogs? It’s going to take more than one well-behaved outing to convince me.

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Mar 20
Dead Sexy
icon1 Paul | icon4 03 20th, 2016| icon38 Comments »

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I don’t know if it’s a result all the attention he got during his recent bout of acid reflux, or some strange side effect of the extra tasty wet/dry food combo that our pups are getting now, but Mr. Biggles has become quite the exhibitionist.  Of course he’s never been shy about displaying his wares in the privacy of our home; if Susan or I sit down next to him with a snack, it’s pretty much a given that he’ll roll onto his back and spread his legs. If we don’t immediately interrupt our meal to acknowledge the visual feast that is his Biggleship’s nethers then he’ll more than likely give us a quick kick with his rear legs as if to say “Hey, check it out! It’s all furry, and it can be yours if I can have a mouthful of whatever’s on your plate.”

Recently however he’s started flaunting his bits outside and in view of complete strangers, and I fear it’s only a matter of time before he gets one of us arrested.  Just the other day he literally brought traffic to a halt with his display. He was on a short local walk with Susan and Beanie when he came upon a bit of farm silage ground into the road. Nature took its course and he fell into a roll. I say “fell” advisedly because he doesn’t lower his shoulder and rotate smoothly into the roll like other doggies; he just stops abruptly and drops straight onto his back with a thud as though he’s been KO’d by an invisible falling brick.

Anyway, there he was in the middle of the road “getting his roll on”, when suddenly a car approached. Susan did her best to tug him back onto his feet, but Biggles wasn’t having it. Instead his innocent roll turned into an X-rated erotic display. Still on his back, he rotated his lower body towards the car and, legs akimbo, began showing his bits for all he was worth. Susan likened it to that scene in the Austin Powers movie when Fat Bastard is in bed with Heather Graham. “Ahhmm dead sexy! Look at ma sexy body!” Apparently if Biggles had thumbs, he’d have been twiddling his nipples at the driver. All six of ’em. Only when he was sure the driver had got a proper eyeful was Biggles prepared to get up and trot back to the pavement.

Anyway, in an effort to lift this post out of the gutter, here are some shots of last week’s walk on Ben Ime, one of the so-called “Arrochar Alps”.

Ben Ime Rocks [IMG_4521]

Despite numerous visits to the Arrochar region we’d never been to the top of Ben Ime, and sadly we still haven’t, but we got high enough to enjoy some decent views of the neighboring mountains.

View from Ben Ime [IMG_4554]

Mountains in a row [IMG_4581_IMG_4587]

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Biggles didn’t have the opportunity to show his rude bits to other walkers, but he certainly made sure they could hear him

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Breakfast and snacks for everyone on our return to the Beaglemobile

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