A BIT OF THIS AND A BIT OF THAT
BUILDING/STRUCTURE OF THE MONTH
This month we feature Glasgow's new Transport Museum, due to open on
21st June 2011. It is housed in a stunning structure that resembles the
very river itself, rising as a wave and merging with the sky. [See
'Glasgow - Other Stuff' page for more on the museum.
THE JOYS OF WALKING
I've done a few long-distance walks in my time: The West Highland
Way (in two halves), The Fife Coastal Path (before it was the Fife
Coastal Path), The Great Glen Way (before they had finished
constructing the thing), The St Cuthbert's Way, Wainwright's
Coast-to-Coast Walk (just half of it... coast-to-land!), The
Southern Upland Way (in two halves), The Cotswold Way, the Speyside
Way and many
others that were not recognised long-distance paths and which I made
up myself, taking great care to plan each and every step and stop
along the way.
There is nothing nicer than walking in the countryside. Invariably
there is a little pain involved, a few blisters, moments of tedium
and strange periods when your mind wanders off somewhere else, but
you can be certain that at least once in every day there will be a
moment when everything seems to slot into place and you experience
what can only be described as intense happiness and contentment. You
never know when that moment will come, but it will, and when it does
the whole day suddenly becomes worthwhile.
When first trying out this long-distance walking malarkey you will
make mistakes. You will not carry what you need, you will carry
stuff you don't need, and you'll come to truly appreciate things
like pillows and beds.
My first big walk was The West Highland Way. I read all about it,
but because it was my first walk I was completely
unprepared for what was in store. I loaded my rucksack with large
tin of beans and such-like, and on that first day walked all the way
from Milngavie to the youth hostel at Rowardennan. It's a
of something like 26 miles. I recall reaching Drymen and feeling
tired and sore, reaching Balmaha and feeling even more tired and
sore, and stopping in woods to open and consume a tin of beans. And
I had a strange experience, as you do, my first in the Great Outdoors. I stood
on the top of Conic Hill, and imagined myself on the humped back of
a great dinosaur whose long bumpy body dribbled down into Loch
Lomond. All those little islands were in fact where the dinosaur's
humps were above the water. When I reached the youth hostel, instead
of freshening up and visiting the nearby inn for a few ales, I
merely collapsed onto my bunk and lay immobile until the next day.
Every time I closed my eyes I imagined I was still plodding through
some forest. As a result of this over-exertion, I only made it to
Bridge of Orchy. I sensed that my knee-caps were planning their own
excursion into areas of my body that definitely weren't knees.
Moral of the tale: take it easy, don't do too much, and throw the
dinosaur a lump of cheese, he likes that.
FANCY A DAY OOT? LET'S INVADE JEDBURGH
Because of its close proximity to the Scotland-England Border,
Jedburgh has seen more than its fair share of invasions. Although in
Scotland, in the past the town has been occupied by the English and
the French. As such, it may not surprise you to hear that the
townsfolk have an inherent fear that some day they will be invaded
again, and so eye strangers in their midst with no small amount of
To help thwart just such a takeover, the local bus company
restricted its service to make it difficult for visitors to get in
and out of Jedburgh. They changed the last bus back to Scotland's
capital from 20.05 to 17.15. There was a later bus, but you had to
change at the grim bus station in Galashiels and suffer a merry
jaunt through most of The Scottish Borders. While helping to thwart
an invasion, this unfortunately did annoy greatly those visitors who
managed to reach the town. For no sooner were they getting into
their stride visiting Jedburgh's magnificent tourist attractions,
like the abbey and the house in which Mary Queen of Scots stayed,
than they were having to catch the last and exceedingly early bus
Ah but times they are a-changing. We at The Good Soup Guide are
given to understand that the bus companies are going to alter their
timetable again to take into account the possibility that some
tourists do in fact prefer to visit Jedburgh as part of an invasion
force, and that on such occasions they do also have money to spend.
And so, the bus service will now comprise not just one, but
twelve hundred buses, all leaving at the same time, and each with sufficient space for horses, special
overhead lance-racks, and ample storage for swords and armour.
DRUNKEN DISORDER AT WEEKENDS
While waiting at Jedburgh bus station recently, I was treated
to the sight of what seemed like hundreds of excited teenagers, many of
whom were drunk, and a few of whom were fighting.
Later, that night, I was treated to the sight of a large wobbly woman on
her hands and knees in the back of a Glasgow taxi being sick out of the
open door onto the road.
Every weekend it's the same: young folk drinking too much, falling about
the place and fighting.
The solution, in case you didn't know, lies in our schools. These days
schools are not so much places of learning as holding-pens where we try
but fail miserably to hold our children until they get too big and break
Lurk in the area of any school at lunchtime and you will find crowds of
loud obnoxious children who clearly have no idea of how to conduct
themselves. Their behaviour is appalling. If we are unable to properly
teach them the correct manner in which they should conduct themselves in
public, then how on earth can we expect them to behave any different
when they leave school and become adults?
That rowdy behaviour at school that teachers are unable to prevent
becomes rowdy drunken behaviour on our streets at weekends, and the
sooner the government acknowledges the link and orders an enquiry into
where we are going wrong in our schools, the better.
Copyright The Good Soup Guide. All rights reserved. CONTACT:
How come you have to pay more to travel by bus or train or plane if
you buy your ticket on the day of travel? Should it not be less?
Think about it.
I was at the ale festival in Paisley back in April. It was great. An
opportunity to drink good ale and chat with complete strangers about
hops and malt and can I share your seat? Because, there were no seats.
Well, there was one or two; two, probably, and some sensible folk
actually brought their own little fold-up seats, the swines.
I mean, listen here you CAMRA guys and guyesses, at my age my legs get
sore when I stand for too long, my left knee in particular. I NEED A
SEAT! And I can't be the only one.
The ale festival is held in Paisley Town Hall, a big old lump of stone
that is showing its age in places. But - and here's the thing - it has
loads of rooms. Would it not be possible for the ale festival to take
over a few extra rooms and provide seating for folk who want to rest
their legs? As Limmy would say, 'What's the ploblem?'
Real Ale Festivals in June
9th to 11th - ABERDEEN - Richard Donald Stand,
Pittodrie Stadium. Open Thursday 4pm to midnight, Friday 3pm to
midnight, Saturday noon to 11pm. Entry £5.
11th - CAIRNDOW - 'Fynefest' at Fyne Ales Brewery at Achadunan,
just over a mile north-east of the village of Cairndow, off the A83
road between Tarbet and Inveraray, near the shores of Loch Fyne.
Opens noon. This is located in stunningly beautiful countryside with
mountains and lochs and what have you. You can get a bus to Cairndow
from Glasgow. Entry £8.50. There is also a Sunday bar and BBQ, and
you can camp overnight (£10) if arranged in advance (second night
16th to 18th - EDINBURGH - 'Scottish Real Ale
Festival' in Adam House, Chambers
Street. Open Thursday noon to 11pm, Friday noon to 11pm, Saturday
noon to 9pm. Entry £5.
SMALL-MINDED FOLK - HECK, THERE'S A LOT OF THEM OUT THERE
There are too many small-minded folk around. I personally don't want
small-minded folk anywhere near me. In fact, if I were elected, my first
law would be one that involved the rounding up of all small-minded folks
to be placed on buses and transported to a field near Brighton or some
other place as far away from me as is possible to do whatever it is
small-minded folks do when left to their own devices.
If I may be permitted to give you an example of a recent instance in
which I had the misfortune to get too close to a small-minded person. It
was in a bus station. The small-minded person was sat behind a Perspex
screen selling bus tickets. There were two small speakers in front,
there, one presumes, to allow me to hear what she was saying. The
unfortunate thing was, they did not appear to be working. I knew they
were not working because if I put my ear to them I did not hear
anything, even when the lips of the small-minded person were moving (my
years at university were not wasted). When I tried to explain this to
her, she was adamant that the speakers were working. She must have had a
green LED somewhere on her side of the counter that told her that
electricity was flowing and as such the speakers were working.
'But, I can't hear you through them,' I shouted.
'What?' she replied.
'What?' I said. Behind me, in the ever-growing queue, I became aware of
a slight increase in the SR (Sighing Rate).
She then did something that always gets my blood a-boiling. She ignored
me, blanked me out as if I had suddenly ceased to exist. It was a case
of lighting the blue touch-paper and stepping well back. I immediately
launched into a theatrical arm-waving, ear-waggling tirade.
'DID YOU SAY SOMETHING? I CAN'T HEAR YOU? WHAT?' I placed my ear right
up against the speakers as if listening out for the approach of a
thundering steam train. 'MAYBE THE VOLUME'S NOT UP.'
With thoughts of beating my fists against the Perspex screen or perhaps
trying to break my way through it by hurling a small old person at it, I
took a deep breath and spoke with big exaggerated Mick Jagger lips...
'Volume,' I said, as my lips threatened to engulf the whole bus station.
She threw her arms to her side in what appeared to be an acknowledgement
that she was dealing with a nutcase, perhaps the tenth this morning, and
made a great show of twiddling an unseen knob beneath the counter.
There then followed the sound of feedback, although where it was coming
from I wasn't entirely sure as it didn't appear to be coming from the
two small speakers in front of me.
'IF WE TURN IT UP WE GET FEEDBACK,' she shouted, rather smugly.
And that was the end of the story. Clearly, I was dealing with a
small-minded person, one in whose miniscule brain it did not occur that
the sound-system obviously needed either overhauling or replacing. If we
turn it up we get feedback, so nothing else can be done.
Like I say, her, and folk like her, will all soon be sent to root around
in a field in Brighton and do whatever it is makes them happy. For in
this quite crazy world it is unfortunately the small-minded folks who
are on far too many occasions the barriers to a properly-functioning
TIPS FROM THE GOOD SOUP GUIDE - Drinking in Pubs
1. When first entering a pub you may find everyone inside initially
turns around to stare at you. As this can be slightly disconcerting, you
can avoid eye contact and any unnecessary upset by walking in backwards.
This has the added bonus of allowing a swift exit in the event that
running away becomes necessary.
2. To avoid the embarrassment that can occur when having to pee when
standing beside a complete stranger at the pub urinal, it is deemed
considerate to hum 'The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia' while peeing.
3. Always carry a stout log under your arm for occasions when you
inadvertently stumble into a rough tough bar, whereupon it may be dooked
into your beer and chewed. This is considered a great sign of your
manliness, and you will be left in peace.
4. If you're standing at the bar counter and someone tries to strike up
conversation, you may put them off their stride by asking if they've
tried the Fookin' Ferkin.
5. If you find you have been served a bad pint, do not complain. Keep it
for later when someone tries to strike up conversation, whereupon it may
be handed to the person with the words, 'Yeh, this is the Fookin' Ferkin...
6. If you take a dislike to the bar person, ask them repeatedly about
the Fookin' Ferkin and demand that they stock it.
7. Because there is now no cigarette smoke in bars in Scotland to hide
unpleasant odours, if you feel you simply have to unleash some
intestinal wind, it is best kept and vented at the exact moment of
handing over the pint of Fookin' Ferkin, as described in Tip Five.
Castle Events in June
4th & 5th - STIRLING CASTLE - 'A Palace Fit for
a Queen' - Great day out here with the reopening of James V's
magnificent palace. This is a very very special event, and
although it might cost a bit to get in (£13 thick squid for an
ordinary adult!), I imagine it will be worth every penny. (NOTE
- TICKETS ARE LIMITED AND ONLY AVAILABLE ONLINE IN ADVANCE FROM
12th - ABERDOUR CASTLE - 'Defenders of the Nation'
- Cannons and muskets will be fired, and there will be much smoke as
that swine Oliver Cromwell tries to take the castle. The thing I
like about Aberdour Castle is that it has an exceedingly large bit
that has fallen off and landed on the ground. If you go, you'll see
what I mean.
19th - DIRLETON CASTLE - 'Strictly Renaissance' - A
nice castle. Today you may watch ladies getting dressed and learn of
the 'orrible potions they put on their faces.
25th & 26th - ST ANDREWS CASTLE - 'The Making of St
Andrews 1318' - A celebration of the 600th anniversary of the
University of St Andrews. This weekend both the castle and cathedral
are free. FREEEEE! So get yourself through to St Andrews for a
stupendous day out and, remember, check the soup and ale pages of
The Good Soup Guide for those eatable and drinkable essentials.
Another New Shop for Glasgow - one of interest
It's always nice to see a new small shop spring up. They're
springing up with wonderful regularity in a section of Glasgow's
busy Argyle Street, between Kelvinhaugh Street and Finnieston
Street. Despite the heavy traffic, this small area is becoming very
interesting indeed. You've got The 78 at the top of Kelvinhaugh
Street, the Ben Nevis Bar and Piece coffee house on Argyle Street, a
Hidden Lane, and now 'the shop of interest', at 1058 Argyle Street.
It's a small shop that deals in art, prints, jewellery, fashion, and
stuff in general. And what marks it out as being an exceedingly fine
small shop is that they have chosen to retain some magnificent wall
tiles by the entrance. The tiles, as shown in the photo on the left,
were placed there by the Buttercup Dairy Company who occupied the
shop in the 1920s, possibly for just a few years between c1924 and
c1929. They are stunning to look at, and show what was presumably
the Buttercup Dairy Company's trade mark, with a cow and young
milking maid. The same trade mark can be seen in the photo on the
right, which was featured in The Good Soup Guide's May 2010 News. At
the time I didn't know what the 'B D Co Ltd' stood for, and thought
they might be old butchers tiles. Clearly the 'B D Co Ltd' stands
for the Buttercup Dairy Company Limited.
This dairy seemingly had lots of branches all over Scotland, and the
tile design allowed them to be recognised, and ultimately attracted
customers through the door, a role that they still fulfil
effectively to this day.