Worse Nightmare

It’s about time we saw some of my not-so-little leggy relatives on here.

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I think something like this happened to my partner the other day – I wasn’t paying that much attention but I noticed there was an emergency stop and some general yelling before the driver’s seat was rapidly evacuated.

(No banks, partners or spiders were harmed in the making of this cartoon, though my favourite balaclava is starting to unravel slightly and the car is a bit cobwebby.)

Salty Sea Dogs

More holiday giddiness for those crazy masochists who asked for it –

I’m not going to assault you with a blow-by-blow account of the whole time – instead I have condensed it into a sort of smoothie full of goodness where you don’t notice the unpleasant green unidentified bits because they are disguised by the yummy red bits. Have at you!

Ceud Mìle Fàilte – A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

There was a lot of driving on this holiday.  When I say ‘there was’ what I mean is – my partner did a lot of driving. I can’t help out because I drive like a maniac and the DVLA very sensibly declined to let me have a licence after what I did on that roundabout a few years ago. So, well done to my long-suffering other half for concentrating for so long all up and down the country and around much of the Scottish west coast and all the islands whose roads we wore down. You can rest that clutch leg now; sshhh, it’s all over. (Sob!)

Northumbria had much to offer –

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I don’t know how we made it out into the sticks because when we tried to continue our journey from Northumbria the signal for the Sat Nav was harder to find than the legendary red squirrels in Kielder Forest.

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I had to get the map out like someone from the 1990s. Luckily, I enjoy a good map and soon I was immersed in this new vintage reading material. The possibilities were endless – a coastline you simply MUST see and this road is stunning and that road takes you through some fascinating historic…

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The west coast of Scotland is all wiggly and rural and hence rather beautiful in a ‘the nearest shop is 50 miles away and all we’ve got is digestive biscuits’ kind of way. That was pretty much the situation we found ourselves in once we’d located our secluded island cottage fairly late at night.  Cue a mad dash to the nearest town and a swoop around Tesco because it was the only place open. And – relax.

Take a deep breath and inhale that lungful of midgies. AHHHHH!

“Scotland – the auld country.” (A line from my favourite film – Local Hero.)

So much to see and do. We visited a different island each day, thus making good use of the variety of ferry services around the coast.

Some were big.

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And some were small.

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Some were challenging to get dogs onto.

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And sometimes there were already other dogs on there.

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Following his initial reluctance to gain sea legs, our dog became a natural and by the end of the week he was boring us with his tall tales of kraken and other mythical sea monsters.

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Our other dog was less concerned with floors that moved up and down and more worried about the laminated one in our cottage, which really hated her arthritic legs and sent them sprawling in all directions.  We have the same problem at home though so we had come prepared. With DOG SOCKS. Which are worth their weight in comedy gold. Honestly, even if your dog has no problem with slippery floors, just get some.  Even if you don’t have a dog – get some and put them on your kitchen utensils, they are hilarious.

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The weather on the west coast was plentiful and constantly changing.  Whatever clothes you wear, they will be suitable at some point during any given day.

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Trench foot

We were relieved to be missing what sounded like a violent heatwave in the south of the country. Each time I spoke to my dad on the phone (when I managed to find a phone signal for 5 minutes on our travels) I could hear his eyeballs melting as he talked. One particularly memorable day we had just returned to the cottage from a beach and a conveniently timed thunderstorm threw itself at us with force. We happened to have the radio on and heard the newsreader say the words –

Sweltering

Oh, we did laugh but not in a malicious way, you understand. The timing was just so perfect.

Our cottage was a cosy getaway with a wildlife haven of a garden. Although it was a joy to observe voles scurrying and birds flurrying, the dogs were unable to roam freely as the whole area was made entirely of sheep. Hardy Scottish sheep at that, with tattoos and piercings. Some evenings we got home to find them trying to break in and claim squatter’s rights.

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(I honestly did see a sheep wearing a shawl of bracken like this.)

For a further flavour of the mood please see ‘Whisky and Haggis (if you haven’t looked already) – my attempts at painting with Inktense (‘Cos, like, I’m on holiday and I’m gonna be all arty, man) which can be found Here.

If we learned only one thing during our Scottish break it was about ourselves –

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Meanwhile, back at home –

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Finally, bagpipes. You know you want to hear some. I only saw one wee boy busking with a set on the waterfront in sunny Oban but I recklessly mentioned Radiohead in the comments of my last post so here you go – enjoy.

Radiohead on bagpipes, yes, really.

 

 

What we did on our Holidays

Right, settle down and look at my holiday album.  I have over 500 fascinating photos and you are going to study each one and listen to a story about it.  Ha ha ha!  Only joking. I tried that on my dad and look what happened.

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Look, I have film footage of a mountain!

Obviously if I did that I would bore you to death and you’d banish me from your blogging community until the end of time. So I’ve devised a fun method of boring… I mean, sharing my holiday memories with you.  Can you guess what I’ve done?

CARTOONS, YEAH!

Don’t worry, I haven’t drawn 500 odd cartoons of mountains and eagles and otters and shit. I have carefully selected the highlights of the holiday, or, if I’m honest, the bits I drew cartoons of while I was there until I got cheesed off with it and threw my sketch pad over my shoulder and settled down with the whisky on a ferry.

Slainte Mhath! (That’s Gaelic for bottoms up.)

Now then.

NORTHUMBRIA

Scotland is a long way and my partner is into astronomy so we had the brainwave to stop for two nights halfway, in Northumbria, to visit the Dark Sky Observatory and have a bit of a look around.

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There is very low light pollution in this area so it is a perfect spot for stargazing. Unfortunately, it was cloudy when we were there so the Dark Sky was just dark, with no stars.  I was going to draw what we saw but it just looked like this.

 

 

 

 

 

Dark, isn’t it?

The journey north was relatively uneventful.

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I’m not one to perpetuate stereotyping but the constant blue sky and sunshine did honestly turn to rain the moment we passed the sign welcoming us to the north. Truly. Luckily it was a brief shower and it clearly only did it to give me a laugh and the idea for a cartoon.

We didn’t get away very early and it grew steadily dark and late as we progressed towards our destination.  So much so that we very nearly missed seeing a prominent landmark in the twilight.

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We were staying in a bunkhouse apartment out in the sticks and we phoned to let them know our arrival would be around midnight and asked if they could leave us the key somewhere.  The lovely gent running it promised to wait there for us and show us around before he went home. What a star! (The only one we saw…)

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The road became a sort of rollercoaster in the darkness as midnight approached.

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Roads

We had no idea what was outside the car. In daylight it turned out to be wall-to-wall sheep. The road went on and on and on and on… A bit like this blog post.

Finally, we arrived and let the lovely man go home to his bed. He promised to cook us breakfast the next morning, even though he looked wrecked.

We pulled the dogs out from under all the luggage in the back of the car and unfolded their lanky long lurcher legs (don’t call the RSPCA – our dogs actually get to spreadeagle themselves luxuriously over two thirds of the car while we are scrunched in the front seats with our faces crushed against the windscreen and all the bags crammed in my footwell so I have to put my legs on the dashboard).

It’s really really dark in these cartoons so you can’t see what they are saying.  I have thoughtfully added captions below.

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Finally

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AAAhhh

One of the dogs helpfully had a sneaky poo in the dark on the campsite so we had to try and find it and pick it up. When I say it was dark, I mean it was pitch black dark. You couldn’t see ANYTHING, let alone a dark dog poo on a dark field in the dark. This is the Dark Sky Observatory on a cloudy night; darker than a black cat in a coalshed at midnight on the winter solstice. Have you noticed how the word ‘dark’ is starting to seem like a made-up word now? Or is that just me?

ANYWAY!

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smell it

And then the other dog started STARING at SOMETHING, in the DARK.

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This is it, I thought, waiting for the Beast of The Dark Sky Park to come and get me, this is the end. Funny, I always thought I’d die choking on a bit of apple or laughing too hard at some comedy…

Anyway, it turned out to be a bin.  Gormless dog.

I’ve got more photos… don’t be a stranger…!

Come back!!! … please…?

(call me)

 

Whisky and Haggis

What ho!  I been on me holidays ain’t I!  I’m still drifting on that holiday vibe so I’m feeling a bit horizontal – which is my excuse for not having done you a jolly cartoon to giggle at. However, you’re in luck as I spent some of my holiday time playing with my Inktense blocks and I produced a small handful of laughable… shall we call them ‘experiments’? I warn you now that I’m rubbish with a paintbrush so don’t go getting your hopes up. Anyway, just to tide you over until I get my derriere in gear, here, for your delectation, are some bits of my beloved Scotland.

Don’t laugh, unless you’re laughing WITH me…

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There was a lovely beach with a zipwire next to it.  I had to, didn’t I?

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Our dogs had a poo on a different island every day, it sort of became the daily challenge.

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Gigha is a beautiful tiny island off the west coast of Scotland and it was my personal highlight of the holiday.  Due to the generous number of sheep in Scotland the dogs spent a lot of time on the lead so they were most delighted to be set free on a stunning beach where they could stretch their lurcher legs.

In our quest to get dog poop on a different island each day we ventured onto one that I, having been brought up on Famous Five novels, got it into my head that we weren’t meant to be on unless we were rich and/or famous and staying at the posh hotel/spa that owned it.  There was a road bridge, so we just drove on, and there were these grand signs everywhere and I immediately felt naughty as we parked on the crunchy gravel and went for a walk past the golf course and down to the jetty where the loaded folks moored their yachts.

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No gruff gamekeepers came out to shoot us and we didn’t end up in Scaramanga’s underground lair so it was all fine.  However, we did feel guilty enough that one of us went in and booked an eyelash tint so that we could justify our presence on the secret millionaire’s playground island.

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I did TRY to look like I was someone famous as I walked along, just in case we were challenged.

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Bumpy bits.

Okay, that’s the whisky finished.  Normal service will be resumed once I get the sand out of my pants.