Posted on behalf of Kila, WDCS Canine Research Assistant
Dedicated followers of the Dog Blog, I humbly apologise for the extended length of time between my postings but the humans haven't let me get a word in edgewise due to the fact that there has been an absolute plethora of those finned things about - apparently that's much more noteworthy (or blogworthy) than my news! Harummph ..
So what's new with me and my assistant then? Well, we've been busy checking out more of the beaches here on Lewis, and some of them just seem to go on and on and on, with sand as far as the eye can see! It's been extraordinarily warm of late up here in the north and there's nothing better than a wee paddle in the turquoise waters to cool off after a hard day's work on the hill, although if we time it wrong and the tide is out, it can be quite a trek down to the waters edge. But there's nothing quite like the feeling of fine sand between your toes so it's always worth the effort. We have of course been responsible beach users and cleaning up any rubbish that we come across, but to be honest i've never seen such clean stretches of coastline so we don't tend to find too much to bring home. Harvey is quite taken with the beachcomber lifestyle, he appears to think that there is something hidden under the sand though as he is constantly digging holes, actually they're more like trenches than anything else. He's yet to find anything so perhaps he'll get bored of it soon. He did however find a jellyfish the other day and being his first one, wasn't entirely sure what to do with it ... after trying to play with it and then eat it he finally decided to leave it well alone, good call if you ask me, those things can sting!!
I also promised you in my last blog that i'd find out more about this "chess" thing (you'd be forgiven for forgetting, it has been a while after all!) that seems to preoccupy my humans at certain times ... apparently it's not an obsession with pieces of wood and is instead a game where you have to try and steal the other persons King. The humans tell me it's a "complex game of skill and strategy", well whatever it is it all sounds a bit boring to me, much more preferable to chew on the prawns instead, oh sorry, i mean pawns! Some of you fellow "chess-ites" may have heard of the Lewis Chessmen ... back in 1831 a chap found 82 chess pieces in Uig Bay (one of the biggest beaches i've seen in a while) whilst digging a sandbank - ah ha, lightbulb moment ... perhaps that's what Harvey is looking for? Possibly not as stupid as he looks after all! Thought to be made in Norway sometime around AD 1150 - 1200 the chess pieces consist of elaborately worked walrus ivory (their tusks) with a few of them probably carved out of whale's teeth - it was made in Norway after all! The pieces are currently held in the British Museum (with a few in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland) and there continues to be some controversy surrounding the belief that they should be back in Lewis where they belong ... despite the fact that they were 'sold' to the respective museums in the first place!
The island is littered with evidence of man's presence from the Neolithic period onwards with the earliest evidence of human habitation being dated back to around 6,500 years ago ... !! We went to one of these 'sites' on yet another windy day (we have a few of them up here); the standing stones at Callanish are older than the ones down near my house at a place called Stonehenge and in my humble opinion they're better, as you can get up close and personal with these ones! Whilst i'm on the subject of stones, did you know that the rocks in the Outer Hebrides are some of the oldest rock in the world, known as Lewisian Gneiss, they were formed between 1,500 and 2,900 million years ago!!! I can't even imagine that far back ... so i won't bother but it does sound like a long time ago!!
I'm being told to wrap it up as we've got to get on the road! We're heading south to the real "Stickless Isles", otherwise known as the Uists (better make sure i've packed my ball!) for a wee bit of a change of scenery and to catch up with some shorewatching friends. We'll be back in a few days, likely with more stories to share!!! And worry not, i'll make sure it's not as long until i write again - I've been told i'll have a chance soon as apparently a "gale" is on it's way ... I don't think i know anyone called Gale but if it means i can write more i already like them!