We are heading down to England and the MacNaughties are not pleased.
As we leave there are looks of dismay. There is a panicked yelp as the kitchen door closes.
They will survive. We might not be there, but we do have someone on dog duty.
Because the chief and I are off to Catterick, the world’s largest British army garrison.
Home to the Screaming Eagles
It is small beer compared to American bases. Fort Campbell in Kentucky can count some two hundred thousand people in its population.
And the clan name is not the only nod to Scotland. This place is home to the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division.
It is a name that suggests daring do, but please note: the Campbell symbol is not an eagle but a boar’s head…
But more about Catterick
But back to Catterick. The base was founded in 1914 by Robert Baden Powell – he of the scout movement.
By the Second World War it was a community in itself, with rows of barracks and a parade of shops. There were houses, churches – and even a library.
Between 1939 and 1945 some 40,000 service personnel trained and worked at this north Yorkshire site. If you are in your later years, you may have been one of them.
Today, of course, the local military population is much reduced. But with plans to expand, troop numbers are expected to rise.
1st Battalion Scots Guards
Among the latest to arrive are soldiers from the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, relocated from Aldershot.
Now the MacGregor served 18 years with the Scots Guards. And along with Neil Crockett from Fife, helps run their Association for veterans and their families.
Which is why we find ourselves on the front line. Perched on the parade ground. At Beating Retreat.
This event was traditionally the sign that the men should return to their barracks.
A musical spectacle
Today it is a musical spectacle. And it is one that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.
As the red-tunicked and bearskin-capped band strut their stuff, the pipes and drums add their own magic. It is an emotive evening.
And it is followed by more drama. The Duke of Kent is the regimental colonel – and he comes to the event in style.
HRH arrives in a Scots Guards taxi owned by veteran Mark McKay.
A clear message
Mark served in Northern Ireland and fought in the Falklands.
He is a member of the Scots Guards Association – and the message on his cab is clear. They are recruiting.
Soldiers, that is, not taxi drivers…
And so many businesses seem to be doing the same these days. We are told that lorry drivers are like hen’s teeth.
Ah, life on the open road…
And if I was younger… A life on the open road. Driving a big truck and travelling the world. It sounds rather adventurous.
Until you get stuck in traffic. Or in a tight spot in a town.
There might be an added benefit, though. Could your little dog travel with you? Then a naughty Norfolk terrier would not have to be left at home.