NC500 - Day 23 to 26
Updated: Jun 1, 2018
Isle of Mull to Oban to Balloch to Sandyhills (236 Miles)
We left the Isle of Mull on another big boat, and although it wasn't raining, we both shivered together out on deck as the wind blew down from the mountains, and the weather Gods whistled with great force against our skin. The mist was no longer our enemy but the cold was, and as we travelled across the chopping seas, we knew we couldn't just land and drive. We needed substance before our journey started back towards to the South. With rumbling tummies, we sought out an eating place where I was allowed in while Mummy ordered, then sat outside to watch the people of Oban go about their daily business.
It was a hearty breakfast for mighty warriors and explorers, and once we had munched on all things unhealthy, we began the long drive down to Loch Lomond. We didn't stop along the way, although I knew Mummy wanted to, but drove down past Fort William, along the shores of lapping lochs and the edges of beautiful villages. We were both tired from our wonderful Mull adventures and were looking forward to hot showers and a walk along the famous Loch where Mummy had only been as a young adult, with her last not-so-little fur baby, Madi. I had big shoes to fill, making the Loch as adventurous as it once was with Madi, the Japanese Akita who probably would have scared me so much that I would have no doubt become a mini Rottweiler and tried to get the growls in first.
Our site in Loch Lomond was nothing like the ones we had been on throughout the trip; there were organised pitches, level surfaces, several shower blocks, and a signal (yes, Mummy was happy because she could use her phone properly), but it was missing the beach and the sheep, both of which I had become rather accustomed to on our travels. We hooked up and then did a quick escape down to the Loch, so I could get my little legs moving again, and Mummy could stretch hers after Bertie using all their energy.
The Loch was a tempting proposition for me as it had a little sand near its edge and before Mummy could stop me, I was in up to my knees drinking the water and enjoying how cool it was. I don't know why but this brought the walk to a sudden end, and I heard Mummy on the phone to the local vet. VET. This could only mean one thing, that I was going to see a Dr Squeeze about my glands again, like I did when I was in Saunton Sands with Auntie Nicola and the handsome Billy. My bottom muscles clenched, and I gulped in anticipation as Mummy paced the pavement. Then I heard her mention blue algae and my eyebrows furrowed. I didn't know what this was, but Mummy told the vet that she was worried because blue algae had been spotted in the Loch only a week before. I wanted to know if I was going to die so I listened intently to Mummy's voice. I can usually tell how she is doing by the sound of her voice. If I was going to die, I needed to make a sudden will because I knew Furley would want all of my balls, and Winnie would look good in all my bandanas. I had to think about what I would leave my siblings too, and all the other boy and girl crushes in my life, what I would want them to have. My little life was flashing before me ... I was going to die by blue algae, and I didn't even know what it was.
I heard Mummy say goodbye and then felt her kiss me on the top of the head. She told me I wasn't going to die today, and that I had been very lucky because the algae was in another part of the Loch, and I had drunk from the clean part ... I knew that, of course I knew that, I'm not a silly neurotic dog, after all.
In celebration, we continued our walk (on lead), and found a place that would let me in while Mummy bought some supper. They didn't just let me in, they provided me with a water and food bowl so Mummy could share her roast dinner with me. It wasn't even a Sunday and they served a roast; oh we were happy. Our favourite meal on any day of the week! I ate like I had never eaten before, knowing that my life had been saved by the doggy Gods, and while Mummy drank a cold glass of lemonade, I curled up, full bellied and happy to still be alive.
We only stayed in Loch Lomond for the night, passing through to our next destination, but we made sure that in the morning we had a long walk into the village, along the Loch's shores, before sharing a bacon sandwich and heading off to one of the most special parts of our journey - seeing little Alana, Iona, and their mummy. We knew we couldn't pass through Scotland without sharing our adventures with the two special young girls that always sent me little love notes, presents, and most of all, a wonderful friendship that meant we could tell each other anything.
We raced down to see them because we knew we didn't have as much time as we would have liked, and not long after we landed at Sandyhills, their Mummy turned up in a red chariot full of treasures and trinkets that would feed my Mummy for an entire year, and keep her warm through several winters. The girls weren't with us yet ... both mummies wanted a night just catching up and being children themselves. Auntie Sheila suggested that Mummy packed up Bertie and drive him down to another beach where they could be so free that no one would even know they were there. I could see Mummy's brain thinking this through; despite being a bit of an adventurer, I have a sneaky suspicion that Mummy likes her comforts a bit too much, like Bertie's heating! But, the other side of Mummy is that she is more spontaneous than planned, and within seconds, she was throwing everything back into Bertie and chasing down the road after Auntie Sheila, who seemed to know where she was going.
For the first time in my life, I was allowed to run out of Bertie without a lead, or any instructions except 'go on then', and gallop down to the beach more free than I had ever been. There were no roads, no cars, just sand and pebbles, all to myself. Mummy didn't even check where I was as she unpacked all the kit with Auntie Shiela for a night of fires, fizz, food and chatter. I ran and ran, down to the sea, back to Bertie, down to the sea, back to Mummy. I was so busy running and sniffing that I didn't see them light up the fire, and settle down into the damp sand that made their bottoms wet for hours and hours.
While they talked, and as the sun went down, my sniffing and running declined because in the true spirit of us Poos (especially Angus), I dug and dug. I didn't just dig for an hour or so, I dug an entire moat around Mummy and Auntie, digging for all the hours they sat doing what humans do the most, eating and talking. Occasionally, in the black night, so black that I couldn't see my own nose, I barked at the shadows. I growled so deeply that even Mummy felt a little scared because they couldn't see what I was barking at and despite being brave Scottish warriors for the month, some things still spooked us, in the still dead night where sound doesn't exist and shadows hide all sorts of monsters.
When I wasn't barking and scaring everyone, I dug until even the stars went to bed, and despite Mummy and Auntie being fairly organised, they forgot their torch; the only light to occasionally shine on me came from the fairy lights Mummy had wrapped around the food (important to see where my next digging fuel came from). When the pink fizz became too much, they started on the Irn Bru but I wasn't sure they should be drinking such stuff because Auntie Sheila said it had sand seals in it, and they had to keep fishing them out. I wondered if sand seals would get into our food too, and how many we must have eaten. I can't share this thought with Mummy because I know she was checking her pants for days afterwards (even her clean ones after showers) so if I tell her she may have eaten a few, I don't know what she will do. Auntie Sheila said they had even ventured into her pyjamas when she arrived back home (this made Mummy check her pants again).
When the sun disappeared and the stars said goodnight, Mummy wrapped the fairy lights around her head so we could all see our way back up the path and towards our beds for the night. After a hot chocolate and a hug goodnight, we drifted off to sleep by the beach that was all mine.
Without any warning, Mummy jumped out of bed and threw open Bertie's door, running down to the sea as if she had never seen it before. I don't know how she could have seen it before because she is always with me, and I never get to see it.
Normally, I am like a petulant teenager in the mornings, not wanting to get out of bed, and when I do it is usually just for a wee (with much encouragement), and breakfast (again with much encouragement). I am going through my teenage years, so Mummy says, and have taken it upon myself to adopt the morning sleepy gene. But, if there is adventure to be had, the teenage phase goes out the window and I am off like a shot, so I chased after Mummy with gusto, my ears flapping with speed, and my moustache floating in the air as my little legs chased Mummy around the beach. I was surprised Mummy was out in public so early, especially as she hadn't showered, cleaned her teeth or even brushed her hair, but that didn't stop her chasing me on the beach in her striped pyjamas and wellies. What a way to wake up, with Mummy and I doing something we truly have never done. We called Auntie Sheila down and all ran down the beach together (not for long as I am the only fit one of the three).
Our adventures didn't end there as we knew the girls were going to have their day with me and I was so excited to know I could finally kiss and lick them. Mummy drove back to the campsite like a naughty teenager herself. She arrived just in time to say good morning to the miserable neighbours, while jumping out of Bertie still in her pyjamas, and her hair sticking up in all directions. We had a few hours to clean ourselves up before our special guests so Mummy tried to rid herself of all the sand seals under the shower, and I straightened out my bandana while catching the sunshine on my golden locks. We scrubbed up Bertie too, and made him all tidy.
Then it happened, the girls arrived. I could see they were slightly shy of me and Mummy, so as they unpacked my beautiful bag full of special gifts and magical unicorns, I climbed over them in true Poo style and licked them until they couldn't be shy any longer. Mummy said she wasn't allowed to do the same as me and that licking children was a special right just for doggies, so, she let me give the girls all my love while I worked Poo magic. I also got to meet Teeny Annie, who we saw being born (by video), and have watched grow up. Teeny Annie isn't as little as me, but she has the cutest face and the softest soul I have ever met.
We had the best afternoon together, eating, laughing, telling stories and playing games. For those hours, I was part of a family again on my adventure, and I was taken in and loved as if we had always been part of those special bonds.
When Mummy and I had to say goodbye, it made both our hearts sad because we knew it would be some time before we could share those moments again. I curled into my Mummy even closer that night because I had watched her chase after Auntie Sheila's chariot to say goodbye one last time, and when she watched the red chariot disappear, I could see her eyes were sparkly and wet. I know my Mummy well enough to know when she needs a tighter cuddle, so I snuggled into her neck (nearly suffocating her as I did), and tried to tell her that although she was sad, Auntie Sheila and the girls would always be in our hearts and our memories, and the only thing stopping us from seeing them again was, well, nothing. Nothing could ever stop us from seeing them again, or doing anything in fact. With that knowledge in our souls, we fell into a peaceful sleep, curled up together as we always are, one woman and her dog. Best friends.