The title of this post immediately creates the expectation that a bit of Beagle nibbling/clawing has permanently deflated a previously inflated bed. I should therefore state clearly at the outset that this has not in fact occurred, and bursting an inflatable bed cannot (yet) be added to Mr Biggles’ ever-growing list of misdemeanors. Nevertheless, his Biggleship does feature prominently in this latest tale of Beagle-induced hardship, as does an inflatable bed, so the title is still justified.
The story begins pretty much where the last one left off: thanks to a visit from Susan’s brother, we’d found a new Beagle-friendly route up GoatFell mountain on the Isle of Arran, and I was eager to have Beanie & Biggles try it out. Well, as it happened Ayrshire was treated to a brief spell of amazing weather earlier in the week and we hopped back onto the ferry to Arran.
The plan was this: test out the first part of the walk with Beanie & Biggles, head back down to wild-camp overnight by the car, then get up super-early to do the whole thing, getting a sunrise on the top of Goatfell. Given that our most recent wild camping adventure on Ben Narnain had gone rather well, I had high hopes for this one. What’s more, the fact that we were camping by the car allowed us to have a level of comfort in our tent that we hadn’t experienced before: proper pillows, thick sleeping bags and best of all, an inflatable double bed to lie on. Yep, this was going to be a good one!
The try-out walk on the first day went very well. It was sunny but not too warm, as the mountain itself gave us shade during the steepest parts of the climb, and there was plentiful running water to slake Beagle thirsts and cool furry feet. The only slight negative was the midges; we hadn’t seen much of them this summer, and now it became clear why: they’d all migrated to Arran. Even during the briefest of stops, clouds of the little buggers would quickly form around the four of us. Liberal applications of Deet cream mostly prevented bites, but still it wasn’t pleasant having hundreds of them landing on us and crawling around. Of course there couldn’t be any protection for the Beagles, but if Beanie & Biggles were getting bitten by the flying pests, they didn’t show it.
Susan and the Beagles on the ridge between neighboring peaks Goatfell and “Mullach Buidhe” (try saying that after a beer! in fact try saying that even without a beer..)
Despite the midges, or possibly because of them (they kept the recovery stops short), we reached the ridge between Goatfell and Mullach Buidhe just as “golden hour” was beginning. This was as far as we were going to go on this first day, and the views were spectacular; easily the equal of what we’d seen during our first over-nighter on this amazing mountain.
That’s Susan and the dynamic duo perched on the mound to the right
A slight breeze brought a welcome break from the midges, but they were replaced by a group of deer, further up the ridge and close to the summit. Nothing winds up Beanie & Biggles like deer, and Goatfell suddenly became very noisy. In years gone by a single whiff of Bambi would have caused Biggles’ aaarrf! button to stick in the “on” position for hours at a time, but now, at nearly seven years of age and truly a man of the world, he managed to calm down in as little as ten minutes. And did I mention that he managed to get up and down all the steps on the ferry without a carry? What a guy! What a Beagle!
So Mum.. about those biccies in your pocket.. er.. can we have ’em?
Almost the last of the sun on Goatfell that day, and my favorite shot..
We hung around for sunset, then packed up and made best possible speed back to the car. After all, the sooner we could get back down and pitch the tent, the more sleep we could have before our pre-sunrise sortie, and I was confident I’d have no problem falling asleep on that uber-comfortable bed.
Even the after-glow is pretty
As the light failed the midges went into hiding, and by the time we reached the car we knew our over-nighter would be mostly insect free. I popped Beanie & Biggles into their crates in the car while I hunted through big the pile of bedding, spare clothing and shoes to get their bowls. When I found them, two little bags were sitting in them: two tea-time servings of kibble, already measured out and ready for serving. Such was the level of preparation for this little adventure! Susan erected the tent and opened out the inflatable bed inside, while I hooked up our air pump to the car’s power socket. Within two minutes the bed was fully inflated and securely stoppered, and all that stood between me and a sound sleep was to give the pups a last drink and an opportunity to pee. What could possibly go wrong now?
Well, as I’ve already noted, one of the things that didn’t go wrong was a sudden, Beagle-induced deflation of our bed. In fact the bed didn’t deflate at all, which in a strange way was a pity, because in its inflated state the bed was slightly too big for out tent and would not allow the entrance flap to be zipped fully closed. What kind of idiots plan wild-camping trip an island with a bed that doesn’t fit their tent? Er, that would be us.
Ordinarily a tent that won’t close wouldn’t be that big a deal (especially when insects aren’t an issue) but when you’ve got two furry Houdini apprentices in the tent with you, it becomes a very big deal indeed. We didn’t want to leave their leads attached to their collars in case they somehow throttled themselves in the night. Equally, I wasn’t happy about putting the two of them in their crates in the car because it could get pretty cold overnight, and in any case the car was just a little too far away from our tent for comfort. So instead we tried to get Beanie & Biggles settled at out feet, and Susan did her best to block the unzipped part of the entrance with her pillow and her head. Now all we had to do was fall asleep, but not so deeply that an escape attempt would go unnoticed. Needless to say not much sleep happened that night. The fear of waking up and being one Beagle short would have been enough to deny any meaningful amount of shut-eye in itself, but Mr Biggles and to a lesser extent The Beanster both contributed to the problem.
At first he settled down quite well, but it wasn’t long before he began to fidget. He tried curling up behind my knees and resting his chin on my calf. That worked for a couple of minutes, but then it just wasn’t right. Treading carefully over my legs in the way that Biggles doesn’t, he tried snuggling into my tummy. That didn’t feel right either, so he tried to sleep on my head. This of course was much too close to the exit flap so I turned on to my back and hauled him down between my legs and back towards my feet. He stayed there for a few minutes before trampling my testicles and curling up in the space between Susan and myself, taking the covers with him. After a quite a struggle I managed to tug them free and for a brief moment, all was well. Then he started panting rapidly. I feared at first that he was about to be sick, but as it turned it he was just too warm. It wasn’t easy to uncover him without uncovering myself and Susan, but somehow I managed it, and finally there was the potential for a restful period of almost-sleep.
It was around this time that Beanie – who we often call “Beanie-pops” – lived up to her nickname and started popping. You see when she’s dreaming, her virtual woofs come out as high pitched popping noises. This dragged me back to full consciousness, but at least it put a smile on my face, because no matter how sleep-deprived you are, it’s quite cute. But then suddenly the pops turned into full-on, wide-awake, red-alert woofing, and Biggles joined her, even though he had no idea what she was woofing at. Come to think of it, I had no idea what Beanie was woofing at either, but clearly there was some noise outside the tent that had triggered her panic button. Susan and I grabbed their collars to keep them from bursting out of the tent, and held on grimly until the disturbance passed. Eventually peace was once again restored, but then Biggles started fidgeting again. His fidgeting was more pronounced this time, and pretty soon it was accompanied by whining. The part of my brain that interprets Biggleisms was translating this as “pee – need pee now”, so I fumbled around for his lead, attached it, and handed it to Susan. Thanks to our over-sized bed there was no need to unzip the tent flap; Biggles just scrambled straight over Susan’s head, out through the open gap and began relieving himself while Susan held onto his lead.
Now Biggles has done some really, really big widdles in his time, but this was a new personal best. It just didn’t seem possible that so much pee could actually have been stored inside him. I mean even if you were to construct a life size replica of Biggles without any bones or internal organs and fill it completely with pee, you still wouldn’t have as much as he emptied out in that single session. And being Biggles, he made sure that a substantial portion of it was aimed at the tent. Next time you’re looking at the “hydrostatic head” rating of a tent, just remember it only covers rainwater, not Beagle pee.
By the time morning arrived, we’d abandoned any thoughts of another trip up the mountain. Instead we drove round to Lamlash bay to get a look at Holy Isle, a little island off the southern end of Arran.
This killed just enough time until the next ferry back to the mainland. So, we never got to view the sunrise from the summit of Goatfell, but given that the morning was pretty cloudy I doubt we’d have seen anything to rival the previous sunset.
Even boys who’ve kept us awake all night get a biccie on the ferry home.
Them’s the rules!