Collision Braking and Sallochy Bay

Every morning Beanie & Biggles join us in bed for a snuggle, and every morning they start out being very accommodating bedmates, seamlessly adapting to the way we happen to be lying. Just as we’re drifting back off to sleep they start to stretch out and claim extra space. Susan is typically the first to be forced out of bed, at which point I actually feel the squeeze even more because I’ve got a Beaglet on both sides of me with no protective buffer. As our biggest pup, Mr Biggles has more raw pushing power but unlike Beanie, he doesn’t use his claws. In my semi-conscious state I usually just go with the flow, contorting away from the pressure, then wonder why my back, legs and shoulders are stiff when I finally exit the bed.

This morning however I fought back against those pushing paws. I don’t know what caused this reaction; maybe Beanie’s acupuncture woke me up more than usual, or maybe I’d sub-consiously absorbed some of Victoria Stilwell’s message when her  “It’s me or the dog” training show had been playing on the gym TV screens the previous day. Regardless, instead of reflexively moving away from Beanie’s spiky paws, I lifted the covers enough to study what was really going on. Beanie was lying on her side with her head facing down into the depths of the bed, her fluffy little bum just a few inches from my face, and her rear legs fully extended and pushing hard into my stomach. I took a deep breath and blew a focussed stream of air right at her little pink-brown bum hole, and quickly but gently folded her legs back under her as she reacted and pulled away. I got an extra five minutes of unharrassed snoozing because this, but she got her revenge later during the offlead bit of our beach run, slamming her paws into my groin to decelerate abruptly as she sprinted back for a chicken top-up. I call this “collision braking”, and while there’s no denying that it’s effective, it’s also quite painful.

Happily there was no pain involved on our recent trip to Salloch Bay, although Biggles did damage his pride. Heading off in darkness, we arrived just before sunrise.

Loch Lomond jetty at sunrise [5D3_4205]

Sallochy Bay is on the eastern side of Loch Lomond, and while I’d driven past it many times in pursuit of hills to climb, this was the first time I’d actually stopped there. I can heartily recommend it; you get an easy, peacefull stroll along by the loch shore with the option of doing a stretch of the West Highland Way. We stuck mostly by the water, and every few hundred yards we came upon another little self-contained bay with it’s own private beach and paddling facilities.


The day started hazy and misty and it stayed that way, but from time-to-time the sun broke through and the surrounding hills and mountains became partially visible.

Loch Lomond Islands [5D3_4208]



At one point we came to a fallen tree and Beanie correctly sensed that I wanted to get a shot of her posing on it. She hopped up and balanced there effortlessly, looking out into the distance until the shutter clicked and it was time for payment (Pedigree Tasty Bites – cheesy nibble flavor – in this instance).


Biggles wanted in on the act but didn’t seem confident about jumping up there, which is weird because he can easily jump so high he headbutts me as I’m carrying his bowl out of the kitchen. Anyway, I grabbed the handle of his swanky new red harness and liften him onto the tree, keeping hold until he seemed to have got his balance. I backed away slighty and raised my camera, but there was no Bigglet visible in the viewfinder as I prepared to shoot. Instead there was Bigglet on the ground, flat on his back and looking slightly puzzled as though trying work out how he’d got there. That old adage about falling off a log is apparently true if your name is Biggles. I gave him a much safer shore-line portrait to make up for it. And some Tasty Bites. Obviously.


We headed back to Sallochy for breakfast and a coffee in the Beaglemobile, then headed up nearby Duncryne hill. Although a trivial walk, Duncryne is said to offer amazing views of the little islands on Loch Lomond on a good day. Unfortunately the haze had turned to thick mist by then, so we had to be content with a good sniff, a few choice leg cockings and another round of treats. That said, the amount of deep snoozing that occurred when we got back home told me that our visit to Sallochy had been thoroughly enjoyable.

Loch Lomond Shoreline [5D3_4220]

The shoreline at Sallochy Bay


The way back from Duncryne Hill

Little Devil’s Trail


When people meet Beanie and Biggles in person they often get a completely false impression of their personalities. Unless they’re otherwise busy bursting eardrums, Beanie comes across as a gregarious, hyper little puppy and Biggles presents himself as a quiet, obedient and slightly dull mature boy. This of course could not be further from truth. The Beanster always puts on a joyful, waggy facade if she thinks there’s a possibility of getting a treat off someone, but once they’ve been found to have empty pockets she quickly loses interest. Back at home, most of the time she’s in Greta Garbo mode: tightly wrapped up in a blanky and liable to grumble if anyone makes too much noise.


Biggles on the other hand is a wily thief with a really bad case of woofy Tourette’s. If you leave an item of value within his reach, it’s guaranteed that he will eventually get hold of it and take it on a little adventure from which it may never return (at least not in one piece). He’s the main reason we’ve got not one but two baby gates permanently installed in our house. His compulsion to steal things is matched only by his patience and cunning; he notes every opportunity, but only takes action when he’s sure that your guard is down and he’ll have a reasonable chance of success. That’s why I was just as surprised as he was when a recent sock heist went so very wrong.


Susan had been to the gym earlier in the day, and as often happens, she’d left her discared clothes – including a small pair of ladies gym socks – on the floor of the bathroom. Biggles knew they were in there, but opening the bathroom door is still beyond him so he just had to wait patiently for one of us to do that for him. In due course a window of opportunity presented itself: I left my desk to answer a call of nature. With my head full of work I didn’t bother to close the door properly, and as I attended to the task in hand I became aware of the door opening just a little wider behind me. Sometimes it does that on its own, but sometimes it’s a sign that a little furry person has entered the room.

Trying not to be too obvious, I turned my head so that Susan’s gym clothes entered my peripheral vision, and yep, there was The Bigglet, hovering over them. He threw me a quick glance to check whether I was watching him, but seemed satisfied that I was still otherwise engaged. Slowly and silently he began probing the pile of clothes, trying to find the socks that he knew must be in there. They seemed to be embedded inside Susan’s leggings, and in his determination to get at them both Biggles and the pile of clothes started shuffling across the floor towards my feet.  Those socks were playing really hard to get, but after a couple more seconds of digging Biggles’ nose found its prey, and with the utmost precision and delicacy, he grasped the tip of a sock between his teeth. I knew this instantly because the silly little bugger had pushed the clothes right over my feet and latched onto one of my socks – while I was still wearing it! He started to tug, and I couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

“Oi! That’s MY sock, buggerlugs, and I’m still using it!” I exclaimed. He looked up at me and though he knew the game was up, his face showed not the slightest sign of guilt, shame or embarrassment. He just released my sock, did an about turn, and trotted calmly and happily back out of the bathroom, his tail held high. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; it’s all the same to Mr Biggles.

I’ll finish with a few more shots from a recent walk near Barr village while Autumn color was still on the trees. There are a number of waymarked routes in that area, but after the sock incident I decided on the one know as the (little) Devil’s Trail.







Autumn Lane [IMG_0081]

Auchincruive: Training Ground For Ninja Sheep!

We’ve walked around the Auchincruive estate many times, never realizing that it is in fact an undercover facility dedicated to training sheep in the ancient ways of concealment, espionage, sabotage and assassination. It’s only thanks to the superior senses of Beanie & Biggles that I’m able finally to expose this place for what it really is: a ninja sheep factory.

With the benefit of hindsight I realize that the clues have always been there. The place is like a military assault course; it has steep hills and is packed with obstacles such as fallen trees, muddy bogs and steep drops, all of which appear natural but are in truth deliberately constructed to produce sheep with uncommon agility, speed and endurance.



These tree trunks are the perfect for scrambling over if you’re a sheep. Or a Beagle!!!


A stretch of sticky mud. Ideal for testing leg strength and traction..


An innocent log, or a training aid to improve a sheep’s balancing ability?


A perilous cliff overlooks a stretch of deep water, clearly intended to produce sheep that can swim and climb!

Even with all these clues the four us might still have failed to detect Auchincruive’s hidden purpose. And yet, as we reached the top of another hill, Beanie got the feeling that we were not alone.


We sensory-deprived humies couldn’t see, hear or smell anything untoward, but Biggles agreed with Beanie that there was something here. Something right under our noses, two of which were jet-black, moist and now twitching intently.



Time to sound the alarm!

Still we couldn’t see what all the fuss was about and I was on the verge of declaring this a “Bogus Woofing” when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I strained to focus on the source of the movement and finally spotted, on the river bank below us, a concealed sheep. It must have been some kind of super-sheep to get down there in the first place. That, combined with the fact that I was unable to get any direct shots of it with my camera, was sufficient proof that it was a ninja!

Fearing assassination now that the sheep had been exposed, we hurried away. Between us and the safety of our car lay further obstacles: more fallen trees, bridge crossings, and dangerously narrow trails by the side of a raging torrent..



Come on Mum, that sheep is after us!



I was convinced that highly trained and highly dangerous sheep were waiting to ambush us at every turn and yet, as the sun began to set, we made it back to the starting point of our walk and escaped in the car.


Is a band of ninja sheep hiding round that corner?

Sun thru the trees at Auchincruive [IMG_0112_3_4]

Will we live to see another day?

Ever Onward! [IMG_0098-0100_Manual]

Nearly back to safety!


Yes! Deliverance! And just as well ‘cos it’s time for our tea!

So there you have it. Auchincruive is very pretty, but it’s a breeding ground for some of the most highly trained sheep you’ll ever encounter. Go there at your own risk!