Most of my blogs are started at 0300hrs, tapping on my phone describing the day’s activities, trying to calm my boulder nut and get back to sleep. They have never dwelt on tales of woe and hopefully they are slightly interesting and maybe give a wee bit of motivation to get Ootside rather than me coming across as just bumping my gums and bragging.

A couple years ago I was oot on a morning run, when I turbo shuffled past a big hungry Alsatian and before I knew it, I was dragging a big hairy dug along the road by my erse cheek. The owner kind of apologised. It was such a beautiful big creature I didn’t want to report it. So tried to ignore it, and was sent for a tetanus jag a couple days later .

Soon after that incident I disappeared  back to work for few weeks. On my return I was back out on my routine run when I past the same bloke, ” eh mate why is that dug not on a lead or at least some kind of muzzel or jaw restriction” He shrugged and sheepishly sauntered off. 

Since then my head has been getting more and more buckled with dogs, some of their owners attitude is not helping either.

I honestly love dogs. 

Allergic reactions stop us looking after a dog, but if there was a magic cure for sneezing and coughing constantly, it would have to be a Newfoundland or at least something I can go swimming with. Can you just imagine, out on a early summers morning not a breath of wind to cause a ripple on the water. An hour up the Loch and every time you pop yer heed up from front crawl this massive black furry heed nods and “woofs” encouragement.

I cannot think of anything better. Most activities get stale now and then, but swimming with a Newfoundland would be motivation to get an early night and bounce out of bed every morning.

Just imagine urrf uurff splash splash.

I know there’s more to it than taking a big mutt for a swim, please don’t burst my dream. I also know I will never win X factor but it doesn’t stop me singing in the shower and there more chance of me getting four yeses from the celebrity judges than ever having canine responsibilities.

But it seems that running incident has caused a slight fear of dogs and it has been getting worse and definitely seems to have of ramped up since an incident at the start of the year after a late afternoon tranquil paddle board on the river close to the house. By the time I returned at the get out point it was near dark. A couple yards up the river bank where I landed is a narrow gravel path that follows the river and is very popular with owners and their pets.

Just as I was tidying up my kit getting ready to fire the 11 ½ foot board on my head for transporting home when a collie dog ran down the dark embankment growling at me. I completely panicked it only lasted a couple seconds before the dog realised I was no threat and disappeared. A couple appeared out of the dark and laughed “don’t worry about him, he’s stupid” my head buckled it was obvious from my high pitched girly noises, I was a tad upset and at least an apology for not controlling his dog would have helped my fragile mental state. They disappeared unconcerned. Only for another dog to race towards me a few minutes later as I stood trying to calm my nerves. This new labrador threat did not bark or growl, it had a sniff and bimbled off. Its owner apologised and showed a wee bit more compassion, it didn’t stop me having a full on rant, that I still regret. Since that evening when we are out on a walk and a dog comes bounding over a hill I display perfect unchivalry and unquestionable ungentlemanlyness by slowing down and hiding behind Clare or whoever is beside me. If it was not for the instinctive big breath and cowering, I would be laughing at myself

Dugs are not all fear. During the summer we were tying up along side a dock in Boston that kept young Alsatian. It was such a cool looking dog. I was transfixed and had to be reminded to adjust the fenders as I gazed on the black and gold hairy dug. Then a morning  last summer after falling asleep under the stars at Cocksburn reservoir in a bivi bag I woke up giggling when a dog decided to lick my face.

Back to reason for lack of sleep, last weekend was eventful in a few ways. Friday had been full on with a short cold swim in my trunks up at Cocksburn followed with a yoga class then a wee afternoon paddle board and a night time walk with a ghostly story teller dude around Stirling Castle’s cemetery listening to spooky tales.

I managed a wee swim in Loch Lubnaig with double layers of neoprene on Saturday morning then some basketball and very late night getting to bed just after midnight…. awe yeah am getting  auld. The following morning was a planned relaxed affair with a short swim my trunks in my closest reservoir before driving my son to more  basketball games. 

The water temperature has been dropping steadily recently and it measured on the following Tuesday below 5 degrees. I had decided on wearing gloves as cold, sore fingers have been forcing me out of the water recently. I stumbled out the water after 11 and half minutes and it was only as I pulled up my new leg warmers……

…..yes, you read correctly, leg warmers, the 80’s fashion statement and now a kilt wearer’s roasty toasty saviour. 

Pulling my new woolly schorchio calf protection up, I stumbled and  realised that maybe I had spent a wee bit too long in the freezing temperatures. You might be thinking this is where I start a cautionary tale concerning the dangerous of cold water swimming but I have been in a lot worse states. And after five years of succeeding to get mild hyperthermia with most swims, I knew it was nothing serious and I just had to heat up a bit, although I could feel my brain was playing catch up and was not firing on all cylinders. 

My winter swimming clothing has been developing since I started a few years ago. It now consists of fives layers of varying weight of different breeds of wool tops including two base layers, a jumper, an over-sized hoody and a sheepskin bomber jacket, a kilt, Ugg boots and a hat and of course the recent addition of leg warmers. There are many plus points to this strong, warm look and the only one disadvantage that is not that obvious. Wool is great keeping you warm when wet but terrible for cleaning shades or reading glasses where as a cotton t shirt might not be the best material to clean expensive sun glasses it does the job, wool tends to smear any obstruction round the lenses making any vision through them worse. It’s a wee gripe but no big problem. 

When you manage to finally struggle into safe warm clothing after a really cold swim you are engulfed with a massive happy feeling. You will have to trust me or experience it your yourself, this massive natural high is one of the things that have become addicted too. You turn into a giggling wreck. Clare and I recently binged watched a Amazon Prime box set called “Living with Yourself”. Don’t worry there will be no spoilers. The whole time I watched the miserable lead character spending a fortune to transform himself and feel great and get on top of the world sensation. I was thinking, he should have just went for a cold water swim. My own life has went through some kind of metamorphosis since I discovered it. 

Awe yeah

On the way back from the reservoir, I managed to pop an earphone out and chat with a mountain biker and even began skipping along 1.5km landrover track back to the van. I recently had an MRI scan on my left knee and discovered extensive cartilage damage and try to refrain from running, but you are filled with immense energy and have got release it. I realise I must have looked a scary strange sight to the most opened minded person never mind a cuddly pet with a big beige wool hoody pulled up covering a grey and pink wool hat, a black sheep skin jacket, blue and green kilt, muted multi-coloured leg warmers and black Ugg boots prancing along the path with a big smile concentrating on tunes from my headphones. 

When a rotund golden lab appeared over the small rise and barked. I stopped dead in my tracks. My euphoric feelings drain completely. I quickly removed my hat and hood when it repeated it’s warning. 

Clutching clenched fists to my head, my back turned towards the noisy pup. It did not seem aggressive only curious and ran off but his slightly skinnier companion appeared more upset at my lack of breathing and heightened state of anxiety. It became as agitated as myself but much more aggressive, growling and barking with every one of it’s muscles taught ready for attack, teeth bared and heckles raised. I honestly thought it was going to bite me and I lost all ability to move or respond. It did not help my brain was still playing catch up from the swim. I just stood there like a big daft edjit hoping the owner holding the hand of a toddler sauntering towards us would call him or speed up and put a lead on the dog

Seconds ticked by and it was as if the more the dog growled and barked at me the slower time past.

It seemed like forever before a big jovial face appeared instructing the dog to run off and with a big grin he assured me “there is nothing to worry about.” 

I don’t know if it was the relief of not getting attacked or my big stain brain suffering from mild hyperthermia. But I was pretty much dismayed. I asked him why he hadn’t called his dog or even sped up when he saw what was happening. 

“och yer fine, that dog widdnea touch you” 

“how was I to know that” 

An argument ramped up, I swore, then apologised. He told me that it was the countryside and his dogs were well behaved and didn’t need put on the lead. 

I was going to write that I asked him this next sentence but in reality I directed a loud spluttering question at him ” how would he feel if I started shouting at the your bairn.”

“If you can’t handle a couple dogs you shouldn’t be outside. Why don’t you go to a shopping center” 

His response did nothing to calm my collapsing stain brain. He turned and walked off. 

A week has past and for a few days I was really tense and moods went up and down, mostly down. Staying in the water that long didn’t help the situation and it has been noted that I am really sensitive…. not in a snow flake, letting things offend me kind of sensitivity, but my emotions do kind of do a roller-coaster at a slightest thing and I suppose also looking like Mrs Doubtfire after a couple months sleeping rough didn’t help to keep the animals from losing the plot. But I thought having a dog gave you an awareness or at least a bit of compassion. I have not came across many dogs since and I hope I can kind of get this fear thing under control. I enjoy getting Ootside and I dont want to start heading to shopping centre or even the public swimming pool for some exercise.
Ach, maybe it was just the full moon.