January 2011
The Glasgow Tenement
This month we feature the sturdy Glasgow Tenement. The city of Glasgow is famous for its tenements. Most were built in the Victorian and Edwardian periods and remain as solid as a rock. They are stout and firm, like the people of Glasgow, and will possibly be the only thing left standing in a post-nuclear meltdown.
Although not listed in The Good Soup Guide's 2011 Awards, some mention should be given to Traquair House Ale. It was a close thing, let me tell you. This is a rich dark amber ale that is best drunk with fresh hosiery at hand because it will blow your socks off. Powerful stuff. It's the sort of ale that leaves one sighing with contentment and reckoning that winter's not so bad after all. A superb brew.




Lesson 2t - 'Excuse me, fellow, but I thought I should point out to you that that white line on the road is one you should stop behind; not on or in front of. Have you got that?'

Lesson 2v - 'You see that red light, well, that's part of what we call a Traffic Light System, and not a visual notification for you to put your foot on the accelerator and pass through at speed.'

Lesson 5a - 'Excuse me, I see you've got a new car there, and it's possible that you're either not used to it or they didn't tell you everything in the showroom, but those glittering orange things at all four corners of your vehicle are termed indicators. I-N-D-I-C-A-T-O-R-S.'

Lesson 7f - 'Hi - I see you've chosen in all your wisdom to cross over against oncoming traffic to park facing the wrong way on what is effectively the wrong side of the road. While I appreciate that it is a decision that you alone have arrived at, I thought I should point out that when you come to leave your parking space and rejoin the flow of traffic, you will be unable to see what's coming as the driver's-side is now at the kerb and your view is blocked by other parked cars. Okay?'

Lesson 9d - 'Y'see that yellow painted grid on the road junction, well, it may come as a surprise to you, but it's not a work of art.'

Lesson 12g - 'I wonder if you might divulge the significance of the time gap between the two toots in a two-toot hoot?'

Lesson 12j - 'TOOOOOOOOOOOTTTT!!!!'
Pensioners are being asked to earn their Winter Fuel Allowance by helping out during the current severe wintry weather.
November's blizzard conditions in Scotland saw the country's salt and grit stores almost wiped out, and councillors are no longer willing to fork out what is a fortune in obtaining more from abroad.
'We thought,' said the Minister for Transport, 'that in these difficult times it is incumbent on us all to help out in some way. Nowadays we have a surplus of pensioners, all getting free fuel payments and what have you, and it was felt that it was about time they gave something in return.'
When asked how the system will operate, the minister had this to say, 'During anticipated periods of ice and snow, all pensioners will be rounded up and taken by bus-load to main roads and motorways. There, they will be deployed in a lying-down-on-the-ground capacity to assist vehicles in getting a grip on the slippery surface.'
The Good Soup Guide understands that public opinion is mixed. 'Ah've been telt wull git free fritters,' said a wee woman in Partick. 'So ah'm all fur it.'
There is an alarming decline in the use of beer-mats these days. The beer-mat is a functional item that carries out its task efficiently as well as providing a prime advertising medium. You can't get a better promotional space than one that sits constantly in front of the consumer. The beer-mat is there to prevent drips. It stops you lifting a pint to your mouth and dripping beer all down the front of your good shirt. So why the heck aren't there more of them out there? I'll tell you why: because stuck-up folk reckon beer-mats are too basic an item to have with their drink. The beer-mat, they think, is something utilised by that uncouth common man, he with the bunnet and the grimy hands and any number of illnesses through spending most of his working life employed by folk who don't like beer-mats.
I asked for a beer-mat the other day. I was informed that while they didn't have beer-mats, they did have Bev-Wipes or some such nonsense. Basically, it was a napkin, one you used to wipe liquid from the outside of your glass, but not one that could take the place of a beer-mat as it sticks to a wet glass. I mean, if the term 'beer-mat' is just too coarse and beneath your station in life, then how about a wine-mat or a champers-mat that would do the same job, with the same promotional space, and wouldn't give you snotty-nosed blighters a coronary!
The Question

Why is the broadband speed for the whole population in Korea (North? South? East? West?) far superior to that in the UK?
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The Good Soup Guide's
2011 Awards

Much humming and hawing has  taken place over the past year with regard to who and what should be picked as Award Winners. The 2011 awards are for those businesses or products or tourist thingyjingers (I hereby launch this new word into the big wide world) that have performed, or just been, consistently and exceptionally good during the previous year.

The 2011 Award Winners are as follows

BEST SOUP IN SCOTLAND - Criterion in Partick, Glasgow.

BEST ALE BREWED IN SCOTLAND - 'Ossian', brewed by the Inveralmond Brewery in Perth.

BEST BAR IN SCOTLAND - The bar of the George Hotel in Inveraray.

BEST THING TO SEE IN SCOTLAND - The Pilkington-Jackson Gallery of the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre (listed under 'Bothwell' in this guide).

BEST LITTLE WALK IN SCOTLAND - The footpath that passes Preston Mill in East Linton.

And so, if you stay in Scotland, then start planning days out. It's all here at The Good Soup Guide - everything you need to make a good day great. And if you don't stay in Scotland, well, the same applies to you. Check our map and start planning places to visit. Unlike some other websites, we do actually have proper information on the towns listed, so get out that paper and pencil, start drawing lines and making notes, and prepare yourself for a voyage of discovery that you will not only wish to remember for ever and ever, but will make you want to come back again and again and again.

May the New Year bring you many adventures.

Edward Burns
I was in ASDA recently. It's a supermarket, a big green sort of place that bristles with staff and efficiency. I bought a tin of mushy peas, as you do when you're skint. At home, I read the tin label: 'NO COLOURS - We've done all the hard work by removing all added colours from this product.' Is it just me, or does this sound more than a little strange?
              BUT WHAT IS IT THEY'RE AT?
For breakfast I eat muesli, supermarkets' own brand. It's cheap, and probably reasonably good for you. Or, at least, it used to be.
Up until a few months ago, Sainsbury's own-brand muesli used to cost around 60p for a 1kg packet. Then it suddenly jumped to around 90p, a whopping increase of about 50%. When I questioned Sainsbury's, they checked their computer, which seemed to indicate that the last price this item had been was around 80p. While I'm sure that a reputable firm like Sainsbury's would never put up the price of an item for a very short period - less than a day, even - and then further increase it so as to give an impression that the price increase was not really that big, I would like to know what the heck is going on here. There should surely be some sort of law preventing the price of a staple food item from increasing by just so much. Surely?
                                       TESCO TITBITS
Another price labelling issue uncovered recently at Tesco. Their new Maryhill store offered Gala apples at a reduced price. Unlike most other fruit displays where loose goods have a displayed price in kilograms with a much smaller printed imperial (pounds) price equivalent, these apples had both the price per kilogram and the price per pound printed at the exact same size. They were printed on a label that was a different colour to other labels so as to make it stand out and give an indication that there was a price reduction or special offer on. The price per kilogram was above the same-size price per pound on  the label. What this meant was that at first glance you reckoned the price of the item had been reduced from the kilogram price to that given for the pound price, £1.74 to around 77p, which was of course not the case.
While I am sure Tesco is a responsible retailer who would not stoop so low as to deliberately dupe the public, I have to say that I am of the opinion that somewhere in Supermarketland there are devious folk qualified in psychology whose sole task is to think up ways to confuse customers so that they end up spending more than they intend. Check your receipt!
Scottish Government's Six-Point Plan to Combat Severe Wintry Weather

The Scottish Government has introduced a series of measures to deal with heavy snow and ice. The six-point plan includes some radical steps, and The Good Soup Guide makes no apology for quoting the plan in its entirety.

POINT 1 - Unemployed members of the public shall be deployed to motorways where they will line up, look to the sky, and chant in unison, 'GO AWAY SNOW!'

POINT 2 - Low-risk prisoners will be asked to gather at roadsides, where they shall wave their jackets around in a somewhat frantic manner in the hope that the draft will waft snowflakes away from the road.

POINT 3 - All residents in every street in the country will be organised into squads of four. When heavy snow is forecast, they will be required to stand outside, each member of the squad holding a corner of a specially-commissioned snow-blanket. Thus the snow will be prevented from falling on the ground.

POINT 4 - Members of her majesty's armed forces will be asked to wear their big boots and stomp up and down our byways taking every available opportunity to squash any snowflake that gets through all the above measures.

POINT 5 - Any unemployed person not engaged in Step 1, will be used as grit. ('Just lie down there, sir... yes, that's the way. NEXT!)

POINT 6 - A range of Government shops will be opened on every High Street in the land. Called CASH-FOR-SNOW, they will offer 50p for every kilogram of snow brought in by members of the public.

'We feel quite happy,' said a Government spokesperson, 'that all these measures will deal very effectively with anything winter can throw at us. However, let's not be under any illusions here. This is a serious business. Any snowflake that breaches our defences will be given an ASBO.'
Excursion of the Month -  A Day in East Linton

Today's excursion will take us to East Linton. Okay? Are you ready? Take my hand, and let's be off...

Step 1 - First of all, leave your car at home. It doesn't need a day out like you do. Take a train to Dunbar. You can catch a train to Dunbar at Edinburgh.
Step 2 - With your Ordnance Survey map at hand (Landranger Series, 1:50000 or one-and-a-quarter inches to a mile, Sheet 67, 'Duns and Dunbar'), walk from Dunbar to East Linton. Sounds easy, huh? A section of the John Muir Trail runs between Dunbar and East Linton. Check the route in the pdf file HERE, and mark it on your Ordnance Survey map with a yellow highlighter pen. As you can see, it's about 6 miles, so it's going to take you something like two hours. Make sure you've had a pee and have some  water and a snack before leaving Dunbar. Best to leave the trail at Preston, and follow the footpath south past the old hobbit mill (see it on your map?) and into East Linton.
Step 3 - Once at East Linton, slurp soup in Ferrari's Delicatessen on the High Street.
Step 4 - Explore this charming little town, then retire to The Crown for a few ales.
Step 5 - Head back towards the old bridge, and have more ale in The Linton.
Step 6 - The rest of the day's yours. Do with it what you wish. Eat, drink, be merry, then catch a bus back to Dunbar (bus-stop near The Linton), then a train back home. Hic!
RIP -The UK Milk Industry
Foreign Milk
UK Supermarkets
Has that got your attention? It should do, because unless we pull our finger out and start listening to our own farmers - those we have in this country - that is exactly what will happen.
Do you want your children to drink milk from a cow reared in a foreign land; from a cow reared in conditions out with our control; a cow eating all the crap of the day instead of green grass in a green British field?
If that's what you want then just you carry on as normal. Carry on ignoring the plight of UK milk farmers, British men and women who are knocking their socks off and being paid a pittance by supermarkets. Things are getting so bad that many are being forced out of business, a business that in some cases has been in their family for generations.
If that's what you want, then just you go ahead.
When you wander into a bar for a pint of real ale, what do you expect? Well, you would expect the ale to taste and smell pretty close to what the brewer intended, making perhaps a few small allowances for the negative effects of transportation and such like. You would expect ale that the publican had lovingly tended over a number of days, ensuring the cask was nice and settled, able to breathe, and in an environment that was properly controlled with regards to temperature and so on. Correct?
When we think of publicans and the devious things they might get up to when tinkering with our ale, we perhaps think of times past when at the end of the night all the beer from partly drunk glasses and drip-trays was gathered in a bucket and poured back into the cask or barrel. We think of ale with bits in it where the bits look strangely foreign and under normal circumstances would have no place in our ale. We think of Bad Beer.
Would it surprise you to learn that today, in some public houses, slops are served up to unsuspecting drinkers? And would it surprise you to further learn that it is a legal practise that Trading Standards aren't really bothered about?
There is a type of ale-dispensing system that allows ale from the drip-tray to be added to the ale being poured. Ale in the drip-tray, being simply spilled liquid, is, by dictionary definition, termed 'slops'. Well, what's wrong with that, I hear you say; it's just a little ale that's lain for a wee while. No harm there, surely?
The type of ale-dispensing system involved is termed the 'Injector Apparatus For The Recovery Of Spilled Beer And Like Beverages.' A US patent was filed by Alexander McGlashan of Glasgow, and others, in 1942.
In some pubs in Scotland, this system is still used.
Basically, there is a small tube leading from the drip-tray to the main body of the beer engine, and when the barman turns a small lever, one that is separate from the tap used to turn the ale on, ale from the drip-tray is sucked up and mixed with ale coming from the cask.
Unfortunately the open construction of the drip-tray - so designed to allow it to actually catch any spilled ale - means that there is the chance that other things might drop in it, and you have to wonder what else it might contain. It would not be outwith the bounds of possibility for it to contain drips from someone's nose, nose pickings from a mischievous customer, bits of pie, or really anything at all. And, of course, in getting to the drip-tray, any spilled ale will have washed over a barman's fingers and picked up a good selection of bacteria and viruses along the way. So, as well as dispensing ale that will in all probability be flat through lying in the drip-tray for a while, it is also unhygienic.
But one of the most disturbing aspects of this secret surreptitious system is that the barman can decide whether to pour you a fresh pint, or one that includes slops. If he turns the small lever while he is pouring your pint, he's adding slops.
In this day and age there should be no room whatsoever for a barman to choose whether you are worthy of a good pint or one that could be better. And as such, the sooner we outlaw this ale dispensing system, and any other than includes the use of drip-tray contents, the better.