Penguin Appreciation

watermarked-Penguin 6.1What is it that makes penguins so fascinating and adorable?

On International Penguin Awareness Day (20th January), here are five fun facts about these sharp-dressed, flightless birds of the Southern Hemisphere.


It’s a Bird, It’s a . . .

The first published sighting of a penguin was by an Italian “tourist,” Antonio Pigafetta, who tagged along with Ferdinand Magellan’s first voyage to circumnavigate the globe in 1520.  Antonio described the birds he saw near the tip of what is now Argentina as “strange geese.”

Speedy Birdie

watermarked-Penguin 4.1
Gentoo Penguin

The Gentoo Penguin is the fastest of all penguins.  They can soar through the water at speeds of up to 22 mph.  They are the third largest type – only Emperor and King varieties are larger.

All Dressed Up

The “tuxedo” plumage of many penguin species provides camouflage to help them hide from predators under water.

Seen from above, their dark backs blend in against the ocean depths.  It’s also hard to spot them from below as their light bellies don’t stand out against the brightness of the water’s surface.

Bad Feather Daywatermarked-Penguin 1.1

Unlike most birds who shed and replace feathers gradually, penguins lose all their feathers at the same time in what is called a “catastrophic moult.”

This is why they sometimes look very scruffy instead of their usual sharp suited selves.

Just the Two of Uswatermarked-Penguin 7.1

Although it varies between species, most penguins have the same mate for life, although they don’t spend much time together outside the mating and chick-rearing season.

They share responsibility for incubating the egg and caring for the baby though.


(All photos in this feature were taken at Edinburgh Zoo.)

And the best song about penguins comes from Sandra Boynton and sung by the late Davy Jones.  Your Personal Penguin.

Stockdog 2015

What a fabulous gathering of pups and their people in Inverleith Park on Sunday afternoon, 20th September!  We missed Stockdog last year as Charlie Papillon was still recovering from being neutered (ouch) but were delighted to be there this year.

Although Charlie and Robert didn’t win the “best dressed on six legs” competition in their Star Trek Original Series gear, we all had lots of fun.

We loved the high energy display from Flying Scots Flyball teams of West Lothian, the best smile, waggiest tail and diva competitions (and Charlie’s pal Dodger won that one!)  Best of all, it was a nice opportunity to meet lots and lots of dogs and their people.

And it didn’t even rain!

Stockdog is part of Stockfest, an annual week-long event promoting local businesses and celebrating the local community in and around Stockbridge in Edinburgh.  Stockbridge must be one of the most dog-friendly neighbourhoods anywhere in Scotland.

A huge thanks everyone involved in planning and organising the day – no mean feat – including fab photographer Emily of Canines of Edinburgh, Louise (and Prince!) from Bliss Boutique, JoJo (and TioPepe!) from Lilies & Dreams, Just Dogs Shop, Cameo Cinema, Jordan Moffat Photography, Those Were the Days Vintage, Scoff FoodsEdinburgh Dog & Cat Home, Patisserie Florentin and Gourmet Dog Treats.

There’s also a cute feature on the STV website with lovely images from Emily and Jordan.  Can you spot Charlie Papillon?  🙂

(Click the thumbnails below for larger photos.)

Dog Day Afternoon @ Sofi’s Bar

Where are all the dugs?
Where are all the dugs?

With the morning getting off to an unpromisingly wet start, we decided it was a fine day for spending some time in the pub, with dogs.

We first went to Dog Day Afternoon at Sofi’s Bar back in October, only a few weeks after Charlie Papillon came to live with us.  Although we found the plethora of pugs (and other dugs) fun and exciting, Charlie was was less than thrilled.  In fact, he was fairly terrified.

But, he’s come a looooong way since then so we thought it might be nice to see how he would react in a similar setting now.

The Lovely Arthur
The Lovely Arthur

We were the first to arrive after the bar opened, which meant Charlie got lots of cuddles and scritches from the barmaid.  But alas no pugs, no dogs of any kind.  For ages.

Just as we were about to drink up and head off for lunch, in came the most adorable, self-assured chihuahua called Arthur soon followed by an extremely polite (and silky soft) border collie called Loki!

Unlike last time, Charlie did approach and went through the usual doggie greeting rituals with only one, brief, Elvis-style snarl. Soon they were all sharing snacks and the humans sharing stories about their respective pups.

Luckily, Edinburgh offers a number of pubs, cafes and shops (see Dugs Welcome), where you can enjoy time with your friends and your pets, some even offering tasty treats for their four legged patrons (Sofi’s stocks Crumbs of Portobello liver cakes on the bar.)  Call me greedy, but I do wish there were even more.

Gentleman Loki
Gentleman Loki

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay too long but it was lovely to relax in the cosy space at Sofi’s (must come back one night for their knitting group – I managed to contribute a small flower to the collective knitting box!)  Thank you Sofi’s for hosting us!

Dog Day Afternoons at Sofi’s Bar, First Saturday of each month from noon to 5 pm, 63-65 Henderson Street, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6ED.

Dugs not (Corn) Dogs, Haddington Show 2015

Over the JumpHeavy horses, cattle judging, a dog show, vintage tractors, alpacas and duck herding? What’s not to like about the Haddington Show programme for 2015?

The heat and glorious sunshine (as well as sense of community) reminded me of the county fairs from my childhood in Southern Illinois, even though the funnel cakes, lemon shake ups and corn dogs were conspicuous by their absence.

However, there were plenty of gorgeous dogs of the canine variety – every shape and size.  Now that Charlie Papillon is gaining more confidence, he greeted several of them.  It was also lovely to see so many young people showing off their skills in the ring.Obliging Cow

The Quack Commandos team from the Trossachs featured the awesome skills of the border collie herding Indian Runner ducks as an alternative to sheep.  It seems ducks became a stand-in when foot and mouth disease meant movement of livestock was restricted.

We were mesmerised by the equestrian vaulting team – how they make the jumps and turns look so effortless and the sheer beauty of the horses twisting, turning and leaping.  The dedication of the young riders was certainly evident. Vintage Allis-Chalmers Beauty

Perhaps it’s a vestige of my upbringing, but I’ve always had a passionate love of . . . tractors, and there were some beauties on display at Haddington – modern, state of the art to vintage machines from between the wars.

The highlight for me was the immaculately restored brilliant orange 40’s era Allis Chalmers, both for the patience and loving care that went into it and the fact my mum had a similar (though sadly decaying) version in her back garden (long story!) Charlie Wee Dug at Haddington Show

It was a joy to see the shiny tomato red livery of the latest Case IH machines.  I have abiding, strangely pleasing early memories of the hum of International Harvester tractors and equipment traversing the hot, flat fields.  I also commandeered my elder brother’s miniature set of IH farm machinery – inadvertently jamming the elevator baler with a piece of chewing gum.

Perhaps it’s a good thing we ran out of time before seeing all the stalls and displays with their tempting locally-produced food and other wares, but we couldn’t resist a rye and caraway loaf from the the Bakery Dunbar (and it was delicious as cheese on toast!)


Looking forward to next year already!

Prints and products from the images above are available to order here.

Fun at the Cat Cafe

Birthday Boy Sebastian

What better way to spend a summer Sunday evening than enjoying a kitty cat birthday party?

We had a lovely time helping Sebastian celebrate his big day in the company of all the Maison de Moggy crew and a small group of feline-loving guests.

Their new home off Edinburgh’s Grassmarket is spacious and bright, resplendent with an adventure playground’s worth of cat trees, scratching posts, hidey-holes, climbing frames and wobbly bridges.

All are well-used by the gorgeous assortment of furry residents, giving us extraordinary views of the kitties and giving them a choice of chill-out zones.Happy Birthday Sebastian

After  blowing out the candle, Sebastian and his pals tucked into a celebratory fish cake while us humans enjoyed Prosecco, juice and an assortment of delicious cakes and coffee.

Everything about the environment from the decor to the delightful cats themselves is relaxing and uplifting.  Watching them peer down from high perchs, snuggling and snoozing on the sofa or hotly pursuing their paper wad “prey,” – it’s hard to think of a better tonic!

Having first visited the cat cafe back in April in their temporary Stockbridge home, it’s great to see the cat cafe grow.  Happy belated birthday wishes gorgeous Sebastian and best wishes for a happy and successful future in your new home to everyone, furry and otherwise, at Maison de Moggy.

Click the thumbnails below to see the gorgeous kitties in their new and previous homes.