Hearty Welcomes & Salutations! Originally an action-packed travel blog from a globe-trotting Scotsman, An Ache for the Distance has, over the years, slowed down (I post less often), mellowed out (domestic life has found it's way way on here) and become more of an expat/photo blog. Take a look around, leave a comment and share the love if you like something.
Stuart Mathieson, Lübeck, Germany

Monday, 30 December 2013

DoberBat in Bed

How to caption this one... "Sleeping Beauty"? "Sleeping Doberbeauty"? "Sleeping Doberbat"? Or simply "Doberbat in Bed"?

Friday, 27 December 2013

Growing Up - Doberman Style

Everybody loves puppies.  It's that simple.  Even people who don't really like dogs, love puppies. The problem for the latter is that puppies don't last forever.  At some point your cute little four-legged friend may well develop into a gigantic, sofa-hogging drooler/snorer.  Of course it depends on what type of dog you have.  If you find yourself with an adorable mongrel puppy then it's simply pot luck as to how much of the sofa you lose in years to come.  If you go for a pure-breed then at least you have an idea of what's to come in the future, but in reality nothing can prepare you for the seemingly overnight growth with larger breeds.

When we got Sam, he was about the same size as a cat. Our Italian neighbour used to call him "Patatino" for the first few months, which would probably translate as "little potato".  But by the time he was 8 or 9 months old, the first faces of fear started to appear as we walked him through the local markets. After his first birthday the dobermuscles developed and people stopped approaching him altogether. This despite having unusually floppy ears for a doberman and a full, constantly wagging tail!  By his second birthday only doggy enthusiasts looked at him the same way as everyone else when he was a puppy and it's a real shame, because when it's your dog, you know that even with 45kg difference, he's still the same puppy! :)

Sam & Co. on Facebook at, Twelve Hairy Legs

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Huskies & Alcohol

Last summer a friend mentioned that his husky was somewhat of a four-legged alcoholic in as much as whenever he opened a beer, his hairy companion would react in a similar manner to that of a fat child in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.  At the time I thought he was exaggerating but after thorough sniff tests involving my own blue-eyed little lady and various beers, it's been confirmed that huskies are in fact, four-legged, potential alcoholics.

Actual drinking might not be allowed but then who needs it when just a sniff sends you cross-eyed.  Although in saying that, a pot of yoghurt can have the same effect!

More Husky antics at, Twelve Hairy Legs

Just Because I'm Hairy, Doesn't Mean I'm Warm

It's that time of year again where doubling up on your underwear becomes a serious consideration as the mercury steadily drops. Maybe you glance enviously at your canine companion's all-season furry attire?  One suit for the whole year, cool in the summer, warm in the winter, or at least in theory.  Our doberman, Sam, became acclimatised to long hot Italian summers and when the temperature begins to dip, he looks for the warmest places possible.  Sometimes in front of the fire, sometimes on the sofa, or usually he just makes his way to Mischa's bed and uses her as a kind of German Shepherd pillow/blanket.  At first she was a little sceptical but over time they seem to have come to a mutually cosy understanding...

Friday, 20 December 2013

Making Friends With The Hedgehogs

Sam & Papa-Hog
Whilst we were living in Italy, Sam (our doberman) discovered that a family of hedgehogs had taken up residence in and around the grapevines in the backgarden.  Two or three nights a week, he would catch a different member of the hedgehog clan and parade triumphantly through the garden with the spikey ball in his mouth before depositing the said hog, slightly dazed yet unscathed in a different part of the garden.  Obviously it must have been a traumatic and tiring experience for the hedgehogs but they could at least recover from the evening's escapades with a daytime snooze.  That was until Sam found out where they slept... 

Following the bed-hog-room discovery, Sam made a point of personally inviting/forcefully bringing them to his house during the day as well as the usual evening parades.  Needless to say the hogs were quite disgruntled by this unwanted neighbourly attention and shortly after a lunchtime invite, papa-hog being dropped onto the kitchen table, the hedgehog family moved into the garden next door where fending off the neighbours' cats seemed like a much more appealing proposition.

More of Sam at Twelve Hairy Legs

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Macerata, Italy

One of my favourite facebook pages at the moment is Macerata Photoemotion.  Admittedly I see the photos through nostalgic eyes but it's well worth a look if you want a little taste of Le Marche and Central Italy. (https://www.facebook.com/MacerataPhotoemotion)

Photo by Stefania Vecchioni

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Dangerous Doberman...

We have a sign hanging on our gate which says "Beware, Dangerous Dog" and next to it is a picture of a doberman.  The reality of what goes on inside the house is very different... This wasn't the first time Sam has sported fashionable headwear either (http://saharanscot.blogspot.de/2012/05/disconnected-no-more.html).

See more of Sam on facebook at Twelve Hairy Legs

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Scotland Photo of the Weekend - Glen Brittle

Photograph taken by Peter Houtmeyer

The Doberman Experience

Spike: Havelock Island 2010
Exactly 3 years ago on Havelock Island, India, I met Spike.  A crab-hunting, fish curry eating doberman who's affection I won through a daily supply of biscuits and cakes.  Whenever my girlfriend and I arrived at the bamboo, beachside shack on our little Honda scooter he was always on hand to welcome us back and ready to accompany us on a beach stroll i.e. crab hunt.  Over the two weeks there, we were together at the beach every day and when it came time to leave, my heart was broken.  It was a teary backpacker that got into the departing tuk tuk.  A month later and back home, we contacted the owner of the bamboo shacks to ask about Spike only to discover that he had died.  Another guest had placed poison outside his hut to kill the rats which plagued the resort and Spike had inadvertently eaten some... 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Currency Clichés

Last week I meandered over the border into Switzerland for the day and in Lugano got my hands on some Swiss francs for the first time.

As with any new currency, I took a minute to give it the once over and it dawned on me how much the local money actually says about a country.  Whether it's euros or rupees, I realised that every type of currency gives you a little insight into the country and it's mentality and to prove my point, I spent a Sunday morning compiling a list and dribbling egg yolk on my keyboard...

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Lago di Fiastra, a Hidden Gem in Central Italy

The Marche region nestling between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Coast in central Italy is  blissfully unkown to those making their way along the Italian tourist trail. At the heart of the region lies Sibillini National Park and Lago di Fiastra is the reward to the few fortunate enough to find themselves there!