One of the very great pleasures of living here is that the West Highland Way is on our doorstep. I walk out of our steading, and about a hundred yards up the way is a glorious landscape, at the far edges of which (on a really clear day) Ben Lomond and the Trossachs and the Arrochar Alps are all visible. I walk here every day, and enjoy these walks tremendously. Today I took my camera so you can see it too.
Hiya! It is I, Bruce. A while ago, we lived in a tall stone building in a city where there were lots of cars. Now we live here:
Where there are lots of these:
And a few of these:
One of the many good things about it round here is that there are many Paths and I get to walk on these Paths with Kate and Tom. Sometimes I get to go swimming, and sometimes I leap about in the long grass, smelling interesting animal smells. But wherever we go, there is generally some water and mud for me to get myself nicely lathered up in. Hurrah!
This particular Path is known as West Highland Way and is frequented not only by dogs and cows and deer but by many human walkers. Human walkers can be forgetful, and occasionally they discard their belongings along Path. That is OK though, because I sniff out and find these belongings, and then I make them MINE. Without a doubt, the best of these found belongings is GLOVE.
Now, I first found GLOVE about three weeks ago by Path. Since then I have played with it many times and it is now sodden and chewed and has a delicious bovine odour. GLOVE seems quite robust though: Kate tells me that it is fashioned from acrylic, and is therefore a sort of plastic which refuses to decay. But though GLOVE is indestructible, and now has a very strong smell about it, sometimes I play with it so hard that I actually manage to lose it in the grass. Tom or Kate will insist that GLOVE is finally lost forever, but then, O joy of joys, a few days later I will always find it again, usually in a completely different location. I suspect the cows to have a hand (or hoof) in its unaccountable movements.
Now, there are many fun things to do with GLOVE but probably the most fun to be had is when the humans throw it for you. Kate describes GLOVE as “a vile object” and is sometimes unwilling to join in the game. But, dear friends, let me tell you a good trick I have discovered: If you present Kate with GLOVE often enough, and stare at her for long enough with your most persuasive expression, she will eventually join in.
Once Kate has capitulated, and throws GLOVE for you, you can retrieve and prance with GLOVE until you are exhausted.
F U N!
But, eventually, it is time to leave and – sadly – to leave GLOVE beind, as for some unknown reason, Kate will not allow me to bring GLOVE home.
This is Gate which leads home off West Highland Way.
Right by Gate there is Old Wall.
Kate instructs me to LEAVEIT behind Old Wall. This makes me sad.
But if I don’t LEAVEIT behind Old Wall we don’t go home.
Well, goodbye, fun GLOVE buddy.
Probably the only good thing about leaving GLOVE behind Old Wall is that, unlike losing it in the grass, it is always there next time, and I am always surprised and happy to discover it once again!
See you soon, love Bruce xx
Sometimes things just have to be done. Last year, the Scottish Owl Centre relocated to Polkemmet in West Lothian, a short drive away from Edinburgh. Boasting “one of the largest collections of owls in the world”, how could we not pay a visit?
We met Hudson, the great horned owl.
and this lovely wee feller, a Southern Boobook owl . . .
. . . whose name was . . .
Though I have some issues with creatures in cages, I also appreciate the work of conservation breeding and education that is conducted by organisations like the Scottish Owl Centre. Rod Angus, who lead the o w l demonstration, was really knowledgeable and I felt that amidst the ooohing and aahing we came away having learnt quite a bit about o w l s, their unique behaviours, and the ingenious ways in which they they adapt to their environment.
We saw lots of other beautiful o w l s but I think that this chap – a milky eagle owl – was our confirmed favourite.
Jesus is back. He was discovered at a neighbour’s, lured away by the promise of full Scottish breakfasts, oodles of milk, and a general lack of workmen and disruption. He is looking a bit scraggy, but certainly no thinner . . . We are keeping the wee man inside for a few days and the neighbours have been politely asked to stop feeding him fried eggs and sausages.
But my hopes of a nice, quiet few days were dashed when an idiot joyrider drove a car straight into the side of our campervan, which was parked outside our flat. Happily, no-one was injured, so I can show you what happens when a speeding car hits a stationary campervan.
As well as crushing the chassis on the driver’s side of the van, the force of the impact pushed it backwards into a parked car behind. The damage is significant. After some back-and-forth with our insurers, they are coming to take it away to look at it this morning and I fear that will be the last we ever see of it.
I am terribly upset. For me, that van – which we refer to as the wazzwagon – is so much more than just a vehicle. It has played a crucial part in my recovery and gave me hope at a very bad time. It has enabled me to enjoy the landscapes that I love, and has taken us all over Scotland. It may be that it can be repaired, but I very much fear the insurance company are going to want to write it off. Poor wazzwagon.
Please keep your fingers crossed for it.
We have just returned from a photoshoot. It is a very hot day and Tom couldn’t stop taking photographs of Bruce’s monumental panting tongue. (Don’t worry, he was supplied with plenty of water). In between the hot dog shots, he was photographing my new pattern – a cardigan, which is due for release toward the end of the month. I am very pleased with this design, and couldn’t resist showing you a couple of outtakes from the shoot.
This will be the first of three designs, all inspired by my favourite Edinburgh places. More soon!
It is a while since I’ve known a spell of weather like it.
The verges have bloomed into wildflower meadows.
Everything seems sharper, brighter, a dappled world of light and shade.
The evening air is soft and fragrant.
Folk stroll about, bare-armed, leisurely.
Inside, the new rooms are cool and clean and very pretty.
Bruce prefers the shade.
We are looking forward to a quiet weekend, with no workmen, and no dust. It will feel like a tremendous luxury to simply cook and enjoy a meal together in the kitchen. While the relocation stress continues, things are out of our hands for a wee while – our only worry at the moment is Jesus – who has not put in an appearance for 11 days. Jesus is an elusive creature, and he has been more than ordinarily elusive of late while the workmen have been here. Still, 11 days is a long time, even for a self-sufficent and resourceful feline like him. Come back, Jesus.
Hiya! It is I, Bruce. I am here to tell you about a Fun Walk I had yesterday at Braid Hill with Kate and my buddy, Felix. This walk (which is one of my favourites) begins by Golf Course. Golf Courses are very mysterious human spaces: men walk purposefully about them with large bags and sticks, and occasionally a ball flies by which I am not allowed to chase. Also, Golf Courses are composed of large flat, inviting lawns which clearly say “gambol upon me.” Oddly, though, whenever we encounter one, I am not allowed to gambol but am sternly told to walk to heel. Yesterday, though, I was so happy to be engaged upon the business of Walking with Felix that I got away, and gambolled happily about the Golf Course. Then I did something in the middle of the big green lawn which made Kate shout “Oh No! Bruce!” in that way she often does. So I thought I’d cheer her up by rolling in something a horse had left nearby . . . sadly this did not seem to do the trick.
Felix remained in good spirits, however, and, fully fired up with eau de cheval, we ascended Hill. At the top of Hill it was clearly time for a game, and, after rummaging in the bushes I presented Felix with Old Ball.
Come down from there, Felix, it is time to throw Old Ball.
Look at me prance with Old Ball, Felix.
Time to throw Old Ball again, Felix.
What do you mean, its the end of the game?
Please throw Old Ball again, Felix.
Sadly, there was no more Old Ball fun for me as Kate decided it was time to take some pictures of her new sweater.
Such is life.
See you soon, love Bruce xxx
Hiya! It is I, Bruce. Today I am here to tell you about the place called New Lanark.
As well as being an important World Heritage Site, New Lanark is a place where you can enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Falls of Clyde.
This was definitely the bit that interested me.
Up along the river banks and woods, there is much fun walking to be had. I smelt many interesting smells and went for a swim . . .
. . .I looked after the humans, hurrying them along the paths, and posing obligingly for photographs.
. . . I also heard some sounds that were new to me. For example, these icicles on the opposite bank made an interesting crrrrrrack and crrrrrash sound as they broke and fell into the river.
Then we came to a place called The Hide.
There was much excitement around The Hide because The Egg had just appeared in the nest of a Peregrine. The humans at The Hide had equipment through which Tom and Kate could look and see the Peregrine sitting on The Egg. Kate seemed quite interested in The Egg, but was perhaps even more animated by the colour of the Peregrine’s eyelids, which were apparently a very very very bright yellow. I was not allowed to look through the equipment, but I was very good on my lead and did not snaffle any of the Hide humans’ tasty meat-filled sandwiches while they were being distracted by the excitement of The Egg.
Now, I know and understand many human words — egg and chicken, for example, are two words that make a lot of sense to me. But two words that do not make sense are the words called Monkey Walking, which is what the humans shout at me with glee when I do this on a path with gaps in it:
The naming of things is perhaps the deepest of all human mysteries. For example, why is this crunchy, tasteless, pointless thing called Lichen when there is nothing to like about it at all?
Why is this piece of Scottish hydroelectrical equipment called YORKSHIRE?
Who named this bench BROWN LONG EARED BAT?
And which daft human decided that this fence should be called DONKEY?
Answers on a postcard, please . . .
See you soon, Love Bruce
Kate adds: A shout-out to Laura, the New Lanark ranger, who reads this blog and who we met on our walk today. Thanks so much to Laura and all her colleagues for their hard work maintaining this wonderful landscape for everyone to walk in and enjoy! xx
Hiya! It is I, Bruce. Today I am pleased, because, after a long break for the Winter, the walking and camping times have begun again! This particular walking and camping time was a surprise, because the weather is good, and Tom has not yet begun New Job. We packed up the van, and set off for West Highlands, a place in which Tom and Kate always seem very happy.
In West Highlands there is excellent walking to be had, and many interesting smells that I do not smell in other places. These smells are because of the big deer buddies, with whom I am not allowed to play. Indeed, an interesting feature of West Highlands is the prevalence of fences and gates, which are there to keep the buddies IN and me OUT. As you can see, however, the buddies sometimes get OUT . . .
. . . and (with human assistance) I can get IN.
These gates are mystifying machines. Try as I might, I cannot operate them.
The best thing about West Highlands is that we go for lovely long walks. This time we walked up hills and through woods. . .
and then we walked along the side of the water. All of this was fun.
Afterwards, we went to camp in the place that is called Bridge of Orchy.
The place is called Bridge of Orchy because of this:
The Bridge. Of Orchy.
At Bridge of Orchy it became very cold. I am often told that I have a nice thick coat, but although this is true, I do not have extra woolly clothes and fluffy bags to keep me warm in Extreme Highland Conditions. The humans have these things, and though they were cold, they were not as cold as I. Then a very exciting thing happened. Because I was cold, I was allowed to get on the hunky bunk with the humans for the first time ever! It was cold on the floor, but it was warm on the hunky bunk with three of us, and so we all slept there together! This was very good. All I can say is, now I know just how good it is on the hunky bunk, I shall definitely expect to sleep there at all times. I shall ignore all human mutterings of “this is not a precedent” and suchlike — YES! ITS THE HUNKY BUNK FOR ME!!
In the morning, there was ice all over the van, and the water had frozen in the pipes. And then we discovered that the van had run out of cooking gas. Kate was extremely worried that she would not be able to have her requisite Giant Cup of Tea, but disaster was averted by Tom, who is the keeper of all equipment, and who had the forethought to bring the spare camping stove.
Giant cups of tea were drunk, I snaffled half a hot cross bun, and everyone was happy.
See you soon, love Bruce xxx