Sunday, August 31, 2014

More Trials

This video is from a short walk with Song at dawn. I am not sure exactly where we were. I pulled in at a B&B in the evening on my way from the Westruther trial on Saturday afternoon, headed to Lockerbie for another trial Sunday. The birdsong is somewhat lost in the video. This was beautiful country, with hills dropping to lakes and fields, laced with stone walls and clusters of old stone buildings on the farms.
Sunday Morning Walk

Ran in two more trials today, both on mules. I was the second runner at Lockerbie this morning. A lovely site with the post at the top of a hill. Not a brilliant run but we finished.

Exhaust pen at Lockerbie

Lockerbie trial looking out over the field


Scotland is surrounding me with breathtaking beauty. I did not have time to stop for pictures on my travels this weekend, and how could I have decided which beautiful landscapes to record as every turn brought another. I needed to put a go pro camera on the roof of the car.

Then I drove up to the Glendevon trial, another beautiful site on a hill. A cool sunny afternoon watching dogs among like minded people. Song and I had a very good run. I left soon after to drive down to visit a friend in north Wales. I picked up my email tonight to find we were second place. At least 70 dogs ran.
Glendevon Trial Field
Glendevon "Scotloo"

Geraldine GPS continues to prattle on about imaginary roundabouts. I am learning to parse the reality from her ramblings.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Let the trials begin

Loch Ness on my way to the Fort Augustus trial early Saturday morning. It is a very long lake, rimmed by hills and cliffs. The setting feels primitive, as if mankind is merely a visitor trespassing on nature's secret garden.
Loch Ness

Today we went to two trials. The first in Fort Augustus had a flock of very spirited blackface. I ran fifth. I watched my sheep plunging wildly back and forth across the top of the field while the competitor before me attempted to finish the course. My girls tried every option to avoid being set, dashing each direction, splitting in various configurations and dashing different directions, but in the end were briefly stabilized in the intended zone. Song tends to lift with more deference from a left hand gather but the girls looked more fragile on the right so I sent right. Sure enough, ready or not here I come Song came up over the rise with more force than I felt the situation called for. Overriding my opinion she declined to stop. And the setout dog refused to let the sheep go. And Song was going to bring me sheep. All this provocative action is Song's excuse for blowing off all stop whistles until the fetch panels which by some miracle we made. Now for the turn. The four blackies decided I was Satan. This would have been flattering if they had conferred me some of the powers of Satan, something I might be able to use to pull a reasonable run out of the hat. Instead they just crossed themselves and said three Hail Marys as they dove away from me. Song did manage to settle them somewhat once away from me on the drive. Our lines were not horrible but we missed both panels. Now for the chute. I could not get far enough away from these girls holding the rope. Song did some excellent work holding them in the working area but I did not see success as a likely outcome. We retired to let the next victim go to the post. Already I saw a fresh packet darting across the top.

I did not stay long after my run, heading four hours southeast to another trial in Westruther. I am getting pretty handy with friendly Fred the rental car. On this next leg I discovered he manages the windshield wipers for me, turning them on and off and adjusting the speed as needed. Geraldine GPS, on the other hand, can be very annoying. A protracted incident that began with an imaginary roundabout had me ready to toss her out the window near Edinburgh. The drives have been lovely but now I have a schedule so no time to stop for photos.

The Westruther sheep were mules. Light but reasonable. Song's sheep broke hard to the other side as she ran out. I could not see her from the post to see if she had caused this but when she came into view again she was running wide off them still. She worked quite well with decent lines but my failings lost us both drive panels. She was great at the pen and I handled it well too. The split was easy.

Now I am in bed at a B&B somewhere on route to the next trial. Poor Song is spending the night in the car.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Travelling the Highlands

This cairn was more interesting than the castle. Double stone walls with earth between, strong and insulated.

Castles get boring. Somehow water tumbling over the stones in a lush gorge never does. This needed sound so I chose video.
 Big Burn Falls, Golspie, Scotland (Video)

Song did not want to keep in her crate in our room. She kept trying for the little sofa. We compromised.

I really enjoyed the tour of the whiskey distillery. Cardu was founded by a woman. She distilled illegally when she began. When the law came to her kitchen distillery she would put dough on the table and dust her apron with flour to disguise the smell of yeast. Then she would excuse herself and duck out back to run a red flag up the pole. This warned others that the law was about. Regardless she was caught several times, with her farmer husband going to jail for her. They did not send women to jail.
The stills were beautiful, the process fascinating. The tour started by testing our noses on scents that can be found in the mature spirits and ended with sampling and trying to identify the scents. At the outset they listed the ingredients and I realized I would not be able to enjoy the samples as there would be gluten. They suggested I just sniff them. So I bought a bottle of the one I enjoyed most while sniffing.
About 2% of the whiskey evaporates every year it matures in the casks. They call this "the angels' share".

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Did the mandatory castle tour today. I was looking for moats and drawbridges, dungeons, towers and crenelated walls with walkways I could follow while imagining pouring boiling oil on the enemy hordes below. This castle was a letdown. Very pretty and it did have a drawbridge. Most of the tour featured the living spaces with ancient finery. The gardens were lovely though I don't see who would want a 7 foot tall thistle variety in their garden. Walking through these gardens did make me see that adding an 8 foot tall stone wall surrounding the entire space would add much charm to my gardens.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Friendly Fred the Rental Car

"Friendly Fred" my rental car. Once I got over the 6 speed manual transmission (do you really need six gears?) Fred has been a trooper. If I fail so badly with the clutch that I kill the engine he restarts himself. How sweet is that? No whining, no foul mouthed recriminations, just gets that engine going again so fast the other drivers need never detect my incompetence. Fred even disengages the parking brake for me when I put him in gear. Mind you it took me 24 hours to find the parking brake as it is just a small switch on the console. I was looking for a pedal or lever. Fred also turns the engine over if I turn the key partway for power then delay starting. He protects his battery. Maybe I should have called him "Hal".

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Off and Away

Puppies farmed out; sheep all settled back at the home field; paperwork completed; bags packed; plenty of food for the adult dogs staying with mom; lawn mowed; crate loaded.  Tomorrow Song and I begin our journey to Scotland.