June 2011
Glasgow's new Transport Museum - due to open on 21st June 2011
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.]

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.
Descending Sgorr Dhearg on way to Ballachulish
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 ridiculous distance 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.
June News Picture - 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 trepidation.
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 back home.
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.
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 out.
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.
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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
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 free).

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.
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 world.

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... try THAT!'

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 Scotland
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 HISTORIC SCOTLAND).

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.
Buttercup Dairy Company tiles at 1058 Argyle Street, Glasgow - 'the shop of interest'
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.
Buttercup Dairy Company tiles in Dunbar High Street shop