So my wee hairy haggis Flora might be a Crufts winner after all!

Cat & Dog home girl.
She has no legs, just feet and they are frozen in snowballs.



I am in a state of excitement. If you are not a dog lover then this will bore you senseless but if you are try this…..



Flora modelling a facial leaf. Fashion forward


In 2001 I headed into the Edinburgh Cat and Dog home and found the love of my doggy life. A wee hairy haggis called Flora. She had been found wandering the streets heavily pregnant and nearly bald. They operated on her to get the pups out – they looked like Collies much larger than Flo – and she was a great Mum despite the fact she was on a drip for 3 months. She didn’t complain once. So that day she came home with me and from the day to this we have been the best of friends.

Not Flora!


I call her my terrorist because she has more character in one of her hairy wee toes than most have in their entire canine bods. She is feisty, gentle, loving, cheeky and now at the age of 14 a hairy smelly sausage of love – well that’s what I call her.

So I take photos of her. Talk to her. Walk with her. Lie on the floor and adore her. Her teeth are few, her hair is a tangle and her determination to do her own thing legendary.


Flora pretending to be Greyfriars Bobby

She runs our house and as I see her age – she has had a couple of wee strokes – I get teary even thinking about life without my hairy haggis  so it was with nothing less than deep joy – if not a modicum of scepticism when a guy called Jim left a note on the blog and here it is….

“I believe that Flora is a Glen of Imaal Terrier – or at least partially so. She looks just like my Glennie “Tigger”, found in a trash dumpster some 8 years ago.


Jim I can’t thank you enough. Really. Well of course I have been trawling the internet and agog as there is now no doubt in my mind. My hairy wee half haggis half womble is in point of fact a Glen Of Imaal Terrier. Well I think so ……what do you think?

Sparks fly in Elie as Autumn burns bright.

See! That's a 6ft man behind the lick of flame!
Elie beach - October sunshine and deserted

Off to Elie the other day – October week and a day away! Arrived at our pals and the boys decided to gather together a few leaves, then a few sticks, then a few more. You go for a cup of tea and by the time we come back the boys have dragged a half hundred weight of garden debris into a massive pile and they are about to light it.

Stop! It’s too windy. Shouted the females present.

Too late! laughed a large boy (48 year old man) as he lit blue touch paper and ran like hell. You can see why.

I can report despite the licking flames there were no injuries and a slight smell of smoke on the clothes which we forgot all about when the flames finally died down and after a long and bracing walk along the fabulous beach we headed to The Golf Tavern’s 19th hole, a great bar,  for a top bar supper. Owned by the same guy that owns the famous Ship Inn in these parts I can recommend the grub.  I had chicken that tasted gamey, free range and delicious and Dave said his steak was fantastic but I will have to take his word for that as he had wolfed the lot by the time I asked for a morsel I did nick one his chips though which I dragged through his pepper sauce and that was delicious! All

Is that lava pouring from an invisible volcano? Obviously not.
Robinson Crusoe eat your heart out.

the kids had homemade burgers and they disappeared as fast as Scotlands summer. Loved it.

Elie was looking fabulous the other day, the air so clear, the beach deserted and once the flames died down, you could see for miles. Aye mithering about the fact summer is over I am standing corrected as Autumn and Winter have got a lot going for them if these snapshots are anything to go by.

Elie is on Scotland’s East Coast in Fife. About 20 minutes from St. Andrews and a delightful wee seaside town. Great deli, great bars, shops and most excitingly  a huge, beach untouched by touristy nonsense which you can walk along for miles. If yu go North you come to Anstruthers famos seafood restaurant where you can fill your boots before heading back.

The dogs love me again, though they are too exhausted to show it at the moment.

Flora stick chaser and frisbee snatched lies unconscious and blissful on the couch, as ever I sit on the floor.

Lunging at the frisbee over excited ancient dog.

Silly old cow skids to a halt to halt cow cruelty.

Screeched the car to a halt at the side of the road today. Flora, one of my dogs flew past my ear from the backseat the other one, Sammy the half wit lab, slid onto the floor behind the drivers seat with a thud. But I had no choice. I had to do an emergency stop when I saw these coos.
Look! Skin and bone and a depressed looking fizzog.

Bones poking out! Sunken horror.

Got home, downloaded the photograph and sent it to my pal Shaun – a farmer in Dingwall. 35 seconds after I had uploaded it I phoned him in a state of panic. Something must be done ! I shreiked.There is deep cruelty in the Scottish countryside.
OK I will have a look he said. 30 seconds later the phone went.
‘They’re supposed to be

Half dog half womble giving me the evil eye

like that’.
‘Aye. Really. They are Jersey dairy cows and that’s how they look’.
Just thought I’d show you in a bid to save your brake pads, camera memory stick and most importantly dogs noses. Half dog, half womble Flora is still not speaking to me as the memory, along with the noseprint on the windscreen, lingers long. It would be fair and accurate to say  her nose is out of joint. Literally.

Death on The Shagpile by Agatha Crusty.

Death by chocolate. May prove factual and not just the name of a pudding. Not for me, though I have packed it in, but for the concussed dog Flora. Half dog half womble aka Flora has been left out of recent adventures due to the fact she knocked herself out on the side of the bed the other night. Instead of jumping up onto it she misjudged the height cannoning into the metal side bit instead. Since then her hair has been on end, her eyes have been staring ahead but she has been registering nothing. In many ways it’s like looking in a mirror. As the rest of us run around, in and out, up and down Flo has been sitting, listing to the left disengaged with her surroundings. You can see below she’s not looking the full shilling.

The lights are on and nobodys even popped in frankly.

Under normal circumstances she would flip that hat off her head and savage it instantly. It’s as if her glaikit looking pal, the labrador cross in the luminous green hat,  has decided to imitate her empty headed expression. Here they sit ready to be driven home. On arrival they slumped into their beds asleep – or so I thought. Not an hour later I discovered Flora had snorkled into my handbag and emptied it of it’s last wadge of chocolate, a Smarties easter egg. So now the glazed expression could be concussion, a sugar high, an insulin overdose or poison by chocolate.  The Jurys out. We await the outcome. Will it be Death on the shag pile by Agatha Crusty or   Flora & The Chocolate Factory by Roald’ Over and wagged her tail watch this space.

Day 3 in the Big Brother House – Easter Holidays in Scotland

A Highland cottage - not our one, it's too dark & wet to see our one.

Day 3 in the Big Brother House. Trapped in a cottage in the Highlands of  Scotland. Its pouring with rain, it’s been pouring with rain for 3 days now. The road is like a river, the fields are like lochs, the lochs are like whirlpools and the river has burst it’s banks on both sides.

We have seen red squirrels, deer, wild pigs, a baby pig electrocuting itself on a fence (it’s fine), goats, a cow giving birth, 100’s of wooly boulders or sheep as they are most commonly known, wee hairy horses, kestrels, buzzards, curlews and an Osprey. That’s outside.

Inside the cottage we have 4 adults, 3 kids & 4 dogs with cabin fever.

Let me out!

Flora – half dog, half womble  has concussion. As the storm roared last night she made a valiant attempt to jump onto our bed. It is incredibly high so on attempt 1 she bounced back onto the floor. Attempt 2 she didn’t gain as much height and so cannoned off the hard, solid wood of the base of the bed. I  heard the dead drop of a mass of flesh and bones and honestly thought she had copped her whack. She lay there like a stone still until I picked her up and placed her on a rummled up pile of clothes where she lay still but breathing  until this morning.

So it’s mid-day, the big dogs are sitting staring at us, willing us to take them out for a walk. The 2 small ones can’t be bothered. Flora is sitting staring into space with a glazed expression, Plum the pup has curled onto my lap hoping to  sit completely still for the rest of the day. The wood burning stove is roaring and the Wii was  taken out  half an hour ago.  Tracy the other grown woman here has  just smashed the over head light with her over enthusiastic arm swing whilst trying to play Wii tennis. I am currently being hoovered as the shards of the light seem to have spread through the entire house including my hair.

Our Easter bulbs - thanks Tracy

I am gutted as were just ramping up to get stuck into the Marcus Wareing Chocolate brownies I made in anticipation of this very moment and had hidden for 3 days until they were at optimum stickiness. Lips licked I had just reached forward to get one to stuff into my face when Tracy walloped the light. After they finished me, they  hoovered the brownies but despite this, some health and safety type individuals in our midst think that eating light bulb shards would really put a dampner on things and they should be binned As if things weren’t damp enough. Lily livered, namby pamby nonsense if you ask me.Shards or not, this beauty is going down my gullet.

When no-one is looking I intend to get at least 2 out of the bin and eat them. I am a rider at the gates of dawn and I am taking no prisoners.

At least one of these little beauties is going down my throat shards or not.

We are re-enacting Iron Chef in here every night. 3 competitive cooks and 7 obsessed consumers.  The results of which I will post tomorrow if one of us hasn’t come a cropper with a sharp knife or a sliver of light bulb glass. Tempers are  frayed. So I’m off to marinate my venison ironically as the field outside is full of wet deer looking hungry, sad, cold and wet.  Let’s hope they don’t get a whiff of what’s in the pot for tonight or they may turn nasty. Dear dear deer.

Jura Jura Jura – Oi Oi Oi



Gutted. We find out the house we booked on Jura for our holiday is double booked. The Agent called and told us the owner had taken a booking and hadn’t told them. We are destitute with 6 kids and 5 adults and nowhere to go. We have all got our ferry tickets, Gordon has bought his inflatable and Dave has hired a canoe. I even went so far as to by Tesco wetsuits off the internet Still on the bright side if I don’t have to wedge my body then at least being harpooned might become less likely. The Agent is unrepentant we are unamused. Tell Louis to watch a few back epsiodes of Bear Grylls to see if we can learn how to fashion huts out of the Scottish landscape. Spending hours on line looking for alternatives to no avail so far. Boo hoo.


Dropping Flora half Dog Half Womble for a haircut, she is like a stinky bog brush thanks to guddling under trees and a deep love of rolling in anything revolting. Christine, her personal stylist tells me another customer had come in earlier today with a teeny pup she had just found. She had been walking past the bin at Iceland in Gorgie Road when she heard a whimpering sound. After a quick invesitgation she found this wee scrap of a thing in a plastic bag in the bin. Scooping it up it is now firmly ensconced in her jacket and being a total softie she is going to keep it. How can people be so callous? I just don’t understand what sort of mentality. Take it to a dog home, hand it to a vets surgery, give it to me! but don’t throw animals out with the rubbish.


Flora is too good for us now sweet smelling and silken once again she has left her bog brush days behind. Thank goodness. As I drove to collect her silkenship yesterday I passed an Aldi. We have waited for a long time to get one in Eidnburgh I am in like a whippet and agog at the bargains. Their moisturiser got a great review and is £1.89 a tub, in the basket. I see a highlighter pen like Touch Eclat but rather than nigh on £30 it’s £3.99 and as far as I can make it just as good. 5 nectarines for 89p I am reallly over excited they are about 99p each in some shops. Rush home in a state of excitement slather face cream all over myself and gorge on fruit. Aldi – at this rate I will be a youngie!


On the Fred Macaulay Radio program today talking about new statistics say Scots men think spending as little as possible on a first date is completely acceptable. Aye if you never want to see the woman again. If they start by fiddling around with discount vouchers on day one it’s not exactly a major turn on. I can barely recall the whole carry on having been wedded for so long. I talk to Dynamite about it and she tells me her most memeroable first date was ong long ago in chinesse restaurant on Lothian road. They stuffed their faces then when they’d finished her date jumped up and hissed ‘right come one let’s leg it’ and did a runner. Charming. Dyna being an honest and mortified wee soul hung back and paid for it. If only I could rememebr his name she said I would happy for you to name and shame him 20 years on I’m still getting over it.


Still scouring for a holiday house. Sit still for so long have thighs like Ben Nevis, that’s each one by the way not as the sum of two fat halves. Depressing and yet the great thing about a staycation is you do’t have to reveal the blobs in public. Whoopee. It’s just Dave I feel sorry for really. What happened to the sylph like individual he married? Well not exactly sylph like but certainly not a scrunched up paper bag of a woman. Got Frownies off the internet that’s these sticking plasters your put on your face when you go to bed to stop you frowning. Nice . Pink foam ear plugs for the snoring, plasters for the wrinkling, next thing it will be full body stocking to hold in the parts that no-one would like to reach and a stray dog to keep the feet warm. Did Gina Lollibrigida have to do this?


Pal down for The Tweenies. They are playing tomorrow night in Edinburgh. We are off to see Simple Minds at The Castle. What a decision Simple Minds or The Tweenies – that’s one good thing about not having a small daughter I say as I wave her off to join the legion of tweenie fans and get myself ready for Simple Minds. It’s Jim Kerrs 50th birthday – I was at his 30th birthday in Madrid when they were on tour with Lou Reed whilst doing a documentary on the bands 10th anniversary. Blimey. 20 years ago! I would tell you all about it but I would have to kill you. So off to relive my youth, near youth with no doubt unimproved appalling behaviour to accompany the evening. I will report back if I can remember anything this time…..

The boys camp it up whilst I deal with the firemen, swoon.



Delighted to be invited to co-host this years Great Scot Awards. I have been involved with the judging panel for 8 years now and it is the most important date in annual calendar to meet and talk to the unsung heroes that are The Great Scots. The lovely Jenny Falconer will be co-hosting with me. I haven’t yet put in a bid to be as far away from her on the podium as possible to avoid us looking like the before and after of the Slim Fast Diet. I h ave been trying to stick to salad but there is something about these wild windy, wet, foggy days that just make me want to eat pies. Louis and David are going camping tomorrow for 2 nights to Perthshire.It’s the first time Louis has ever gone and he is keyed up with his rucksack packed full of clothes. Boys don’t change that much when they’re camping Dave told him which put an even bigger smile on his face.


Waved the boys off at 7am as I got into the shower. Louis has even put a pillow in . Really that boy doesn’t know hardship. He is more interested in the provisions food wise than anything else. Yes they have a wee stove, a wee pan and I suspect a slim chance of eating at all as they are hoping to cook the fish they catch. I had bought a couple of burgers for them to put in their cool bag but optimistically or foolishly – we shall see -they have left them in the fridge which is fine as Dynamite is staying with me tonight and we are going to watch the taped Dragons Den, eat burgers and stay off the wine.


Woken up at 5am with rain that would be more at home in a monsoon. Immediately I have visions of the River Lyon swelling and sweeping my two boys away in their tent. I text Dave but of course there is no signal. I wait with bated breath. Keep busy to distract myself and head off to the vet with half dog half Womble Flora who has something stuck in her nose. Really the vet just smirks when he sees me – usually I am with Sam the lab and he knows to get the glove on – but on this occasion Flora is nasally prodded and the verdict is she has kennel cough which is apparently rife in Edinburgh just now. She has been inoculated but apparently that just means they get less symptoms so I take the old snuffler back home and put her on the couch as I wait to hear from the two windswept , starving wet boys.

Still no word from the camping twins. Trying not to worry but have no way of contacting them. This is how it was in the old days of course but I am so used to several silly texts a day that even my hair is clenched. I am walking down the road worrying when suddenly I hear a shout ‘Hey are you looking for a toy boy?’ shouts a cheeky young man. ‘No! I am not!’ I say unable to prevent a laugh flying out of my mouth ‘ Oh well would you like a chip then?’. The charm of the young.

Had Coreen Scott and Andrew Dallmeyer on the Radio Program today talking about their new fringe production ‘The Battle of Pots N Pans’ aka The Battle of Prestonpans . Apparently it lasted 7 ½ minutes but the Scots victorious celebrated for about a fortnight. I liked the cut of their jib. I like the sound of living in 1745 until the Battle of Culloden which didn’t sound quite such good crack obviously. Anyway it is a modern day take on the whole thing and sounds great. Coreen the singer with Laverock has a magical voice and sings songs that intersperse with the story. Anyway they’re on til the 10th at St. Cuthberts Church – a bit of Scots history for the family.


It’s the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival so I have two of the Dizzy Gillespie All Stars on today. Nice blokes performing in Edinburgh it’s hard for them to sound too enthusiastic about Edinburgh when they have barely seen it through the mist, fog and damp that has been this week. But they claim to love it anyway. Bless. Half way through the show a bloke rushes into the studio and starts hitting the alarm casings – what are you doing? – testing the alarms he tells me. His name is Andy from ADT and he is a regular reader of this column. He asked me ‘ how do you fit so much in ?’ I asked him the same question honestly if anyone wrote down what they do in an average week they would surprise themselves. Just as he departed I spotted 3 firemen in full fire gear in the studio through from mine. Swoon. There was nothing to worry about it was just a fire alarm drill.Several of the girls were pretending to faint and hoping to be carried out of the building but the guys saw through them immediately. I know what Dave’s getting for Christmas.


Had a reunion of Aberdonians last night. All the folks we hung about with when we were teenagers. We were thick as thieves in those days and tonight we were in the pub from 7pm until 1am. 7 of us live in Scotland, 1 in London, 1 in Hong Kong and Dave the bass player came all the way up from Guildford on his motorbike. In fact the engine on his bike is bigger than the one in my first car but he was still a but sore round the hurdies. I was impressed with everyone’s stamina last night – especially mine – but not so much this morning. Having sworn off wine, gin is getting my custom these days. My first drink was a double and then the kitty kicked in so I assumed I was getting singles but when I awoke this morning with a head like a bag of bolts it seems there wasn’t much tonic in any of them. Lie still. Quiet. Peaceful but it still feels like I have 76 trombones in my skull. Round to mother-in-laws tonight for a Chinese carry out which is ideal. We sit in the garden, eat Chinese food and all get quite hysterical unable to stop laughing at one point. Early night and looking forward to feeling fresh and cleansed tomorrow.