Apparently, Mum says, sleepovers with Uncle Bracken are going to become a more regular occurrence round here. We’ve had two in October, which is, frankly, amazing. What’s this about, I hear you ask? Well, if you’re a Dog Parent you’ll understand this: winters can be tough. Cold days, long dark nights. Make that long dark nights as you’re standing outside, in pouring rain and a howling gale, waiting on your canine doing his or her business. If it’s tough for you, think how we feel. It’s difficult to balance on three legs with winds at 50mph. And while it’s hard to better wet paws paddling in the sea on a summer’s day, wet paws on soaking pavements in November is another thing entirely.
“There are two of us so your Dad and I can juggle a little when it comes to taking you out for ‘business’,” Mum says. “But there’s only one of Grannie, and it’s tough being the only person when you need to go outside in all weathers.”
I process this. “So my Uncle is coming to stay more?” I ask.
“Yes, probably every couple of weekends.”
“And we get to hang out, and go places, and sniff things together, and careen around wrestling and grouching at each other, and drive you two crazy with our near-constant demands?”
“Yes,” Mum sighed, clearly also processing this. “And it’s also about me getting closer to your Uncle Bracken again, like we used to be before you arrived, where he learns not to resent me all the time. That’s the idea.”
So here we are, last weekend. We headed to St Andrews on Saturday, and stopped off at a village called Falkland, which I’d never been to before. Uncle Bracken and I are pretty chilled about these trips – give us some good sniffs and a wide open beach/park/wood to run along/through at some point, and we’re happy. Falkland was not one of those places. Mum took photos of buildings. “Look at that stonework,” she said, snapping away merrily, apparently oblivious to the gale force gusts of wind. “Squirt, has she noticed it’s cold?” my Uncle asked.
But there was a plan, and that plan was to have a walk through the grounds at Falkland Palace.
Dad was quite excited about this prospect as the grounds include the ruins of the 12th century Castle of Falkland (lots of photo opportunities there for Mum…) and an ancient Orchard with a wild flower meadow (okay, make that a wild flower meadow in summer). Mum, Uncle Bracken and I waited for Dad to emerge and usher us in through this gate, but, alas, it it turned out that canine visitors weren’t welcome. Even those sporting rather cool ear flips, as above.
This is one of the challenges of life with a dog, the Parents say. All the things you once took for granted, like being able to visit places, go into cafés and eat indoors, in the warmth… these quickly become things you dream about doing. As we were to discover again later that day, when we reached St Andrews. To say it was windy would be an understatement. Uncle Bracken is a ‘sturdy’ dude. He strode along the beach, strong and steady, grounded to the sand. Do you ever have that feeling that you’re about to become airborne? Well, that was me… “Don’t turn side on to the wind, son,” Dad hollered.
Beach walks, eh? Hard to beat. Especially when the sand is rushing across the beach at dachshund height, having been blown off the sand dunes. By this stage, we were all frozen. Frozen paws, and sand-filled frozen ears (and I mean this literally), so we walked into town, looking for a place to warm up. If you know of any café or restaurant in St Andrews that welcomes canines, please let me know for our next trip. We didn’t find it. Instead, we sheltered from the rain here, in a courtyard within the grounds of the university. I won’t lie, Dad looks cold…
And then, armed with carry out hot chocolates (for the Parents clearly – what did we have? WATER!), we headed back to the car, and home. Let’s be clear, our weekend adventures aren’t always a barrel of barks, but they are adventures. And now I know that I’ll be getting to share more of them with my Uncle… well, it doesn’t get better than that.