Monday, 3 October 2022

A hotel in the woods?

Yesterday was a lovely morning for an outing in Maryculter Community Woods with our friends M and J.

Gail explained to me that, in a tradition going back to my predecessor Bouncing Bertie, these walks normally feature a coffee break where the humans can relax, sitting on a conveniently situated log and enjoying the view, and afterwards I would be expected to 'pose nicely' for a photo.  

Apparently Bertie would sit at M and J's feet for the photo call, but I decided to ring the changes, at least in one respect, and assert my top dog status...

Further down the path I spotted an unusual wooden construction and overheard M telling Gail it was some sort of a new hotel.

Oh that's wonderful, I thought, just the place for my pals from across the Pond to come and stay - Americans will find the rates so cheap now that the dollar and pound are more or less the same value. 

I checked out the accommodation inside and out and raced back to Gail, eager to debate whom to invite first. Her response was really quite belittling.

"Oh you are ridiculous Nobby, it's an insect hotel. Surely you noticed it doesn't even have a roof and the 'windows' and stuffed with twigs and pine cones! Come next year when all the wood has started decomposing in earnest, all sorts of creepy crawlies will be making this their home and no amount of cheap currency will tempt your friends to stay there."

Gail did later point our that we have a perfectly good house in Aberdeen, and another in Torridon, and plenty of room in both, and our friends need only say the word and we'd love to welcome them.  (Although if they visit the Torridon cottage in July and August and leave the windows open they might well mistake it for a midge hotel...)

Friday, 30 September 2022

Off piste foraging

Given the UK's current economic crisis, and anticipating worse to come, Gail decided this week that it was time to brush up her hunter-gatherer skills.

But before I tell you about Wednesday's mushroom hunting excursion, I want to make public one small complaint, which some of my pals might relate to.

Have you noticed how, when you venture off piste in pursuit of a squirrel or maybe a deer, you're promptly summoned back on track and if you don't respond right away your human can get quite cross? However, it's apparently totally OK for that very same human to wander at will into the woods, for example if they spot what they think might be an edible mushroom, and one is not supposed to protest.

Enough of the quibbling, onto the fungal foray. We were a bit late in the season, and after the dry summer this has not been a vintage year for mushrooms in NE Scotland anyway. Most of the specimens we spotted were distinctly past their best and those pictured below are not for human consumption.

But eventually Gail spotted a large mushroom with a smooth and shiny chestnut cap, pale coloured spongy pores on the underside and a bulbous stem, broader towards the base and with a net like pattern on the surface. Looking highly delighted, Gail plucked it from the ground, placed into her bag and brought it home. 

Officially named Boletus edulis, this much prized edible mushroom is variously known as the Penny Bun Bolete, Cep, Porcini or Steinpilz. 

Gail lightly sautéed her specimen in butter and oil, adding garlic and thyme.

It smelled interesting and she said it was totally yummy.

But all I got out of the afternoon was a nice walk in the woods.

Happy Nature Friday! 

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Messy Bessie at Haddo Country Park

So at 11:00 am on Sunday morning, seven Aberdeenshire wire-haired fox terriers plus a WFT wannabe (a white schnauzer) gathered at one end of the car park for Haddo Country Park. And yes, that's me in the foreground. Everyone commented on what a big boy I've become.

After a short 'meet and greet' our attention was caught by a rival gang. About twenty greyhounds filed placidly past us to set off on their walk, which looked to be a rather calm and sedate affair.

It won't come as a surprise to you to learn that the term 'sedate' has never been applied to a pack of foxies...

We headed into the woods and of course quickly located a nice puddle.

Then I spotted an opportunity to explore some marshy territory at the edge of the lake.

As, it turns out, did Bessie. Isn't she gorgeous!

I think I might be developing a bit of a crush... 

I was mighty impressed that 'Messy Bessie' had accumulated even more mud than me...

All good things come to an end and shortly afterwards Bessie and I and a couple of fellow mudlarks were thrown into a relatively clean stream, and when it was time for the team photo we were all, if not quite Crufts standard of grooming, at least more or less presentable for the camera.
Left to right: Nobby, Merin, Bessie, Agatha, Stan, Snowflake, Peanut, Ollie

I bet those greyhounds didn't have half so much fun.

Monday, 26 September 2022

Gone fishing...

We were walking along by the clear and sparkling waters of the Dee last week when I spotted some men in waders standing in the middle of the river.

When I asked Gail what they were doing she said they were fly fishing for salmon. Or at least attempting to. It appears that one man was giving the other a lesson, but the novice didn't seem to have mastered the technique. 

I thought maybe they needed some top tips from a terrier and set off to offer my assistance, but then thought better of it. Gail says in over twenty years of walking along the river bank she's never once seen a fishermen catch a single salmon, although there's apparently no shortage of folk happy to pay many £££s for the privilege of standing in the cold water all day, living in hope. 

So I returned to the river bank, trotted along a short distance and then posed nicely for my new header picture in lieu of going fishing. 

It is a more reliable way of ensuring delicious snacks come my way. 

Friday, 23 September 2022

Seaweed versus sheep poo...

One's tastes change and evolve as one matures, don't they?

Gail tells me that in childhood she preferred Primula 'cheese' over Blue Stilton. Now quite the opposite! 

On previous visits to Torridon, when just a puppy, I delighted in the proliferation of droppings left by the many sheep which roam around the unfenced fields (and on the road) close to our cottage. 

For some reason Gail never approved of me consuming this particular delicacy. There was a lot of yanking on my lead and yelling "No Nobby, NO!!!".

Now that I am pushing 8 months old I have, much to Gail's apparent delight, outgrown my sheep poo phase and discovered a new source of totally yummy treats, conveniently located by the shore of Loch Torridon (a sea loch).

Do you like seaweed? Or perhaps you live in the middle of a big continent and have never had the opportunity to sample this satisfyingly squelchy snack? What then is your favourite Food for Free?

PS from Gail: Worried readers can be assured that, in truth, Nobby only really likes playing with seaweed - putting it in his mouth and dragging it around. If he swallows any at all, it is in very small amounts. 

Happy Nature Friday to all our friends! And once again a big thank you to Rosy and the rest of the LLB Gang for hosting this, our favourite blog hop. Do go and visit the other posts.