Underdog Transport

No, no, I’m not starting yet another business. While I’m on the subject of business though, I have to set a deadline for anyone who hasn’t yet checked over their stories in the PDF of the anthology that I sent out. Let’s say Wednesday – at midnight on Wednesday I assume everything is okay and start the process of putting it in print.

There’s still the cover, but since the weather is not likely to get above freezing tomorrow I’ll be home all day so I can try out some images.

Also I will be reconsidering the name Underdog Books because as a few people well versed in legal matters have pointed out, the name is rather overused these days. This also means a search will throw up all the other Underdog sites and I’d prefer to be on page one at least.

Then there are the genres. Since I won’t specialise I will probably need imprints – sub-names – for different genres. Depravity Books seems to be still available. That’s  a start.

Digression over. Now, back to the title.

CynaraeStMary has a little dog, and that little dog is now taking control of the entire house here in Scotland. Getting her here was a challenge, but we did it eventually.

It started with a shock. The quick way would be air transport but the lowest quote for that was £1400. It would be far cheaper to shoot the dog in Denmark and buy a new one in Scotland. Not surprisingly, that idea didn’t go far.

Other options included sedating the dog and wearing her as a scarf, giving her a dose of something to make her rigid and pretend she was a stuffed animal, and there were a few strange ideas too.

In the end we went with an animal transporter who travelled by road. The little dog must have thought she’d been kidnapped by a travelling animal collector as she was driven from Denmark to Calais and through the Channel Tunnel to London. That part of the journey wasn’t expensive. Since they picked up several pets across Europe in one trip, the cost of the trip was shared.

Getting her from London to the farm north of Aberdeen was going to cost £600, since she’d have a private chauffeur for that trip and the driver would have to stay somewhere overnight before driving back empty. No problem, we thought, we’ll pick her up in London and bring her back ourselves.

The plan was slightly hampered by not having a firm date for the dog’s entry into the UK. Slightly more hampered by not being able to transport her by plane, train or bus. We had to drive her here.

Okay. I have driven here from south Wales already this year, and horrible though it was, it’s possible. However, my little car has suffered greatly this last year and isn’t in a fit state for such a long trip. Hire car, both ways, was a consideration but driving that route one way is knackering. I couldn’t do it without a few days rest in between and that would jack up the hire car cost. So… no.

We found out the date of the little dog’s arrival on Friday at 2 pm. She was due in that night. In Caterham in south London, some 600 miles from here.

Well, there was an issue there too. The vet had given the requisite anti-parasite dose at the right time, but had put the certificate on the wrong page of the passport. That was enough for Border Control to play Jobsworth and refuse to accept the passport.

The pet transporters went to the trouble of finding a local vet who could amend the passport. They were very good throughout.

Okay, we still had to get to Caterham and bring back a little dog without public transport. It was scramble time.

Within a few hours we had, between us, booked a flight for that evening, a hire car at the destination airport (Luton) and a hotel in Reigate for that night. Caterham was close to that hotel so we could get started early next day.

Every time I hire a car, which is extremely rarely to be honest, I ask for something like the Vauxhall Astra. A straightforward car, no complicated frills. Last time they gave me a Nissan Qashqai and I had to pull into a layby outside Aberdeen to find the screen wash and heating controls. The thing was festooned with buttons. There were more buttons on the steering wheel than my little car has in total.

There was also a slight issue with the fuel cap. Turns out it’s opened by a little lever near the driver’s pedals. The guy at the petrol station must have wondered why I took so long to start filling.

Keep in mind that I learned to drive in cars that had manual choke control and a radio lashed to the dashboard with Meccano. The new ones look to me like something that should really be capable of space flight.

This time they gave me a huge black Volvo V40, again festooned with buttons. This time I checked where the basics were before starting out. Then a tour round the M25 to Reigate without crashing and then parking the monster in the narrow hotel car park without hitting anything. Success.

Next day, we found our way to the pet collection house without incident. The detour along country lanes was a deliberate act on my part, it made a nice change from the motorway, I thought. I did not deliberately disregard both the satnav and CynaraeStmary. It’s been scientifically proven that women’s voices cannot penetrate the driving male brain.

Anyway, the satnav later proved to have its own agenda.

So began the trip back. All pretty good really, even the M6 managed to keep moving, albeit pretty slowly at times. Then we stopped at a service station. Took the dog for a walk then left her in the car while we went for some food.

No chance. The dog set off the car alarm. We could not take the dog into the service station, we couldn’t leave her in the car. We had to go in individually. Every stop. It worked, and to be honest the longer stops meant a longer rest from driving for me.

There were no major issues until Glasgow. The roadworks that were there in the summer are still there. I think Glasgow has forgotten them. The cones have been out so long they are now grey with road dirt and not even slightly reflective. As in the summer, there is nothing to indicate where you turn off the M74 to the M73, so we ended up in Glasgow again.

Ah, but this time we have satnav. No problem – we just program it for say, Dundee, and it’ll get us out of here.

“The trip involves ferries and motorail” intoned the fantastically tedious voice. I said things that could get the blog shut down. It tried to make us head for Glasgow Airport and it wanted us to go to Belfast.

Let me just point out here that Belfast is in exactly the opposite direction to where we wanted to go and is across the Irish Sea. We tried various alternative destinations – it insisted on going via Belfast every time. Maybe it was programmed to pick up a shipment of guns or something.

Finally we got it to accept the postcode of the house here. That did mean we had it babbling away all the way, and throwing a hissy fit every time we pulled into a service station for a rest. But at least it no longer insisted on going to Belfast.

We made it here, car and dog intact, in good time. I have now returned the rental car, also intact, and have my own car back. I did consider just giving them the keys to my car but it seems they have a note of which car they gave me.

From leaving the house to being home again took around 30 hours. 1200 miles in 30 hours. 34 if you count the time to organise the trip. All for a little dog.


Who slept most of the way and then turned into full overexcited toddler mode on arrival. She still hasn’t explored everything.

There was only one incidence of bleeding on the whole trip. I call that a successful venture.



24 thoughts on “Underdog Transport

    • I think that you will find, as I did many years ago, that hire car companies tend to remove the user manuals from cars they hire out, to prevent people stealing them. Quite what use a manual for a car you don’t own would be to anyone I do not know, but that was the reason given.

      This means that if you are using a workaday vehicle like any Toyota, pretty much everything is obvious apart from fiddly little things like how to turn off the internal alarm sensor for if there’s a dog in the car.

      If you are using a Nissan Qashqai (which I drive myself these days perfectly happily; the PhD in technical stuff and computing background help here) then once again, forget working out how to turn off the alarm.

      Leggy here is exaggerating somewhat on the Qashqai screenwash function; it is the same as pretty much any other vehicle I have ever driven. The steering wheel is festooned with buttons, but none are much concerned with actually driving the thing (save for the cruise control/speed limiter) so can be ignored. Fuel cap latches tend to be moved around randomly by vehicle makers; Toyota have variously put this latch on the floor by the driver’s seat, on the door panels and so on. The Nissan method is by contrast fairly sensible, although the front bonnet latch is right next to the fuel filler cap latch.


      • I think the Nissan had a one page manual with the basic things. But it then claimed the fuel cap latch was in a different spot than it actually was.
        The Volvo came without any type of manual and as Kev is still so far the only one with a functioning UK phone we were on our own. I think this was more a problem for me being the copilot having to figure out which buttons did what to get the navigation system to work. It took me way too long to figure out that there was a rotating button. That was after I started the seat heating.


  1. Ah, I know those road works. It’s the giant hole into which all Westminster’s taxation take is falling. On the way to Aberdeen Uni from here so we know it a bit. I think it was begun by Hadrian when he thought about the Northern Wall below Perth, than chickened out, but the contractors had started so it was too late.

    You should have said beforehand when you would be passing the M6 Wigan/Parbold exit in either direction, and I’d have motored over and bought you burgers, and one for the dog! Only about half an hour from here.

    I don’t think I’ve got anything in your first anthology (I’m only a poem man so far – that’s for next year I guess) so hope it goes OK.

    The doggie will certainly enjoy your house…oh and now is probably the right time to prune vines hard, unless you’ve done them already (they’ll be OK, no matter. Very robust plants…)


    • There was a roadwork like that in Norway on the way from the ferry to my grandmother’s. They were working on that for years before my grandfather died and I think they may still be at it. Although I hope I’m wrong as he died about 6 years ago.
      Oh Susie would have loved that. We had dinner at a Burger King where we got nuggets for Susie and burgers for us. She gave the nuggets one sniff and then had half my burger.


    • That would explain the fossilised cones…

      The vines got roughly hacked back so far. Now I can prune them properly and get rid of the remaining dead leaves and any last mouldy grapes so they are all set for next year.


  2. Well, I’m glad it’s all sorted…phew, what a saga. Does the dog know it’s in debt now, for at least the next five years? Should get that cute doggie modelling job just to help out!

    As for publishing names, what about Leg Iron Press, or LIP for short?



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