The Old Bank House | Moniaive, Scotland
It's been a while since we've written a blog – not because we haven't been having adventures, but because Mummy has been busy moving house, setting up her business, and trying to finish her book. There have been lots of little adventures in between all these things, but we had a rather epic one in September that I've been itching to share with you. (Actually, I've been itching rather a lot lately and am having my anal glands flushed on Wednesday to see if it helps, but that's another story).
Back to my adventures in September.
Our first stop was Cliveden, a beautiful National Trust property in Maidenhead. I cried a little with excitement when we arrived, but then my heart sank to the bottom of my paws because we weren't walking, no, we were picking up another little dog and her human. We met in a pub carpark, and I had to share my new car with Poppy and her mummy. I wasn't impressed and believe me when you get to the end of this story, you will see the journey home was even more disgraceful.
Once on the road, I was told we were heading to Scotland. I knew it anyway ... I'm not that daft ... there was a tartan bandana in my suitcase!
Driving to Scotland required a stop off at our old favourite, the Dog & Partridge in Ashbourne. It's a good half-way point to Scotland and is not far from Dovedale, which always means I get to splash my delicate paws in some ice-cold water before I realise I'm a big wuss when it comes to getting my tummy wet.
After a night in our usual room, and a good walk in the morning, we headed back out onto the road and towards Moniaive. This is the part of the journey where I found out that other Poos were going to be joining us and there was going to be a massive Sunday lunch in a big house, with four chickens. FOUR! I swear my stomach rumbled all the way to Scotland when I heard Mummy and Aunty Pam discussing all the food that was coming into the house. What pleased me even more, was that all my aunties were doing the cooking and not my ill-equipped and undomesticated human who lets me starve for days on end.
The Old Bank House (we ended up naming it the White House, because we were, of course, as important as President Trump, and felt just as stately in our mini-version), was beautiful. There was room-after-room to sniff, bed-after-bed to jump on and push cushions off, and then there were two gardens to wee in and scent, and of course, sniff!
We didn't get much time to explore before our guests arrived and we spent the evening out on the White House steps listening to the festival music in the village. Mummy sat out there quite a bit with Aunty Shiela, so I got to stick my nose into all sorts of Scottish shrubbery.
The next day was full of adventure at Drumlanrig Castle. We met up with even more aunties and their Poos. The humans hugged and squealed for quite some time before we actually got down to the serious business of weeing up bushes and putting our snouts to the ground like truffle hogs.
Us hounds weren't allowed inside the Castle but why would we want to go in anyway? The grounds are incredible, and there were all sorts of things to investigate, like mushrooms and squirrel poo. I did try to find some Scottish fox poo but failed terribly. Oh, did I mention I found some on the Dovedale walk? It made me feel rather proud of myself if I'm honest.
After a long walk, some splashing in mud puddles, coffee, cake, toasted sandwiches (even gluten-free ones) some hand-made soap shopping and hugs goodbye, we all went our separate ways until the evening, when adventures began again, in the White House.
With a real fire, lots of food and board games, we plotted for the big day. FOUR CHICKENS! There were nine humans and six dogs all starving in anticipation of the four chickens, one-hundred-plus roast potatoes and five desserts. We were a starving mass of belly grumbles for at least 48 hours before eating, and the planning didn't help one bit!
Across the Scottish landscapes, in the wilderness of blustering Scottish weather, chickens were being roasted, potatoes were being peeled, fresh double-cream was being whipped ... and Mummy was sitting on the White House steps with her cup of coffee, her cigarette, and my Aunty Sheila, who was just as bad. They called themselves the Kitchen Minions, but I can think of a few other names for them...
Chickens arrived in the back of cars as if dodgy smuggling was happening in Moniaive, and desserts were being precariously perched on back-seats with Poos being tortured by the smells. Aunties ran around the kitchen clunking pots and pans, which always sets me off into barks and growls to let the world know I am about to be served my very own culinary delights; it is a warning signal that the food is all mine. Napkins got folded (Mummy even managed to lay the table), and wine began to flow.
All was quiet for about ten minutes. Just ten minutes. And then, after our moments of gluttony and groans of stuffed-ness, it all started again with desserts. Us hounds didn't get any of these, which is pretty damn mean considering we all had to smell the sugar, the cream, bananas, apples, chocolate and meringue.
The food came and went. Two days of logistical planning, counting the spuds, licking of lips and belly grumbles ... the food came, then it went!
The next day, before heading home, I was told that I wasn't just sharing the car with Poppy again, but a puppy was joining us. A puppy! Do you know how those little things jump all over my face and how unimpressed I am? Well, thankfully, the puppy wasn't staying with us in our room at the Dog & Patridge because I would have air-snapped it into submission! Even so, I wasn't impressed. Part of our mission was to take it safely back to another aunty who lived on our way home. Little Shona was going to her forever home, and we were her carriage. Despite being a calm and chilled out little pup, I still wasn't impressed when she came near me.
We finally made it home after almost seven days round trip. I slept for three days just to recover from all the food, tummy rubs, barking, howling singing, board games, eating, sniffing, driving and best of all, adventures with my aunties.
Note from Julie
Just to add to Little Rea's account of things, I wanted to say what a beautiful property the Old Bank House is. It wasn't full of modern luxuries and is quite bespoke, traditional and quirky, but it is one of the happiest places we have stayed on our travels. Maybe that was the company too, but the house itself has a rather magical feel to it. There's no doubt that it needs a little attention in places, but we all fell in love with its charm and character. Some properties have a wonderful sense of happiness and calm, and the Old Bank House was full of both. Would we go back? Well, we've already booked it for an adventure next year!