March 2012
View of the Bass Rock from cottages overlooking Canty Bay near North Berwick
This month we feature a view of the Bass Rock from cottages overlooking Canty Bay near North Berwick. It is an exceedingly nice view, and the photo only goes a small way towards conveying how nice it really is when you're there in person. If you were walking from North Berwick to the castle at Tantallon (CAUTION - pavement disappears near castle and walk become slightly dangerous with cars), you would pass this viewpoint. (See the North Berwick pages.)
March 2012 News cartoon - litter problem, showing overflowing rubbish bin in park
The Litter Problem
Councils up and down the land have a real problem with litter. It's not so much that there's a lot of litter about, but more that councils appear by and large fairly clueless when dealing with it. Take, for example, Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow. A while back the city's Parks Department or whatever fancy name they have these days attempted to sort a litter problem. Too many members of the public were lying on the grass sunbathing then wandering off in a pleasant brown daze leaving all manner of paper, plastic and metal detritus in their wake. Something had to be done.
What the city's Parks Department or the Department-For-The-Management-Of-Grass-And-Flowers then did was to bring in more litter receptacles. In doing so they turned what had been a pleasant tree-lined road through the park into a bin-lined eyesore. It didn't seem to occur to them to empty what bins they already had more frequently. No... we need more bins; what the heck does it matter if bins outnumber flowers and trees!
You can see this rather foolish attitude in the photograph above, taken in Elder Park in Govan, where a bin was clearly not emptied for a while. And you have to admire the determination of members of the public to use this bin, where all manner of balancing manoeuvres have been employed.

The Poem

Oh ye dirty Glesga puddle,
Ye'r aye sae wet
An' nuhin but trouble,
Sumtimes ye'r wee
An' just like spit,
But sumtimes ye'r as huge
As a lake an' a bit.
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I've come up with a new business idea. It's a back-up in case I'm unable to sell sufficient advertising in The Good Soup Guide.
The idea is similar to something you may already have seen in some High Streets. It's a form of skin therapy where customers dook their feet into tanks of  water and small fish nibble the dead skin to leave their feet fresh and invigorated.
My idea does away with the fish. Instead, I will personally chew folk's feet. For Ten pands a session (per foot), I will spend two full minutes chewing their feet and removing all that dead skin.
But there's more.
All the dead skin I remove will be saved and stored. This will then be sold to countries that are suffering economic hardship, like Greece, where it will be distributed amongst the poor and turned into burgers.
That's my plan. Whatdyathink?
To save long queues, please submit your application for Foot Chewing now.
Gangrenous toes a speciality.
In the main Aberfeldy page of this website, I made a statement that I have since had cause to chew over, as one does when one's genes are apt to worry. I suggested that tourists who scoot around the country by bus rarely actually see Scotland; they merely tick things off a list. I want to clarify that statement, as I feel it could be picked up the wrong way.
The thing is, there are buses and there are buses. Some buses are wee, and some buses are big.
Are you with me so far?
There is a very real place in Scottish tourism for wee buses, those that have a knowledgeable guide, whose tours take you to special places that you might not ordinarily either know about or easily access. I have no truck with tour firms that operate such bus tours. Indeed, such tours may be regarded as not only enjoyable in their own right, but an ideal taster to tempt you back to spend more time in the areas that appeal to you. Apart from anything else, public transport in many areas of Scotland is wholly inadequate, at times non-existent, and such small specially-tailored tours form an essential part of Scotland's tourism arsenal.
It's the big buses that bother me. I may be wrong on this (for I am not the god-of-accuracy that you believe me to be), but I think some buses may arrive in Scotland from other parts of the world. It's those big buses with those strange and very large wing-mirrors at the front, the antennae-like wing-mirrors that make the whole bus look decidedly beetle-like. These buses seem to arrive in the country with their payload of tourists and scoot here and there at will. They might stop at a small tourist attraction for a moment, allow the beetle's innards to spill out to take photographs, then they all get back on and go away somewhere else. Which is exactly what happened when I was standing at Aberfeldy's Black Watch memorial.
So, why should this upset me?
Well, these visitors do not really see Scotland. They are presented with a sanitized version with bells on. They see what they are led to believe they cannot miss, and yet what they actually miss is the real Scotland, the Scotland that has much more to offer than just haggis-capped mountains.
I suppose you could say that such big bus tours provide a good taster in the same way that the smaller, more personal bus tours do. But they also do a lot of damage, not directly, but indirectly by bypassing communities near some of the tourist attractions they spend a full minute looking at.
In Stirling, for example, the big buses make their way up to the top of the town, allow their payload of travellers to visit the castle, then they leave Stirling and go somewhere else. These travellers are not even given the opportunity to see Stirling, to walk down Stirling's streets, slurp soup in Stirling's coffee houses, quaff ale in Stirling's pubs, or see the many and varied tourist attractions and sights in Stirling itself.
What this actually means is that while visitor figures for Stirling Castle are probably pretty good, the number of visitors who wander through Stirling's streets is no doubt in some decline. Without a good flow of visitors, shops and other businesses that might otherwise be doing quite well, financially, are struggling to survive. Many close down for good.
I would imagine that a similar thing may be witnessed elsewhere in Scotland: Inverness being bypassed in favour of the Culloden battle site; Ayr being bypassed in favour of Alloway's Burns stuff, and so on.
If we are to have any hope of increasing tourism in Scotland, and of making the visitor experience better for the hoards who come by bus, then we have to educate the rest of the bus-scooting world on the error of their ways. Big bus tourists miss out on so much good stuff.
The busload that stopped at Aberfeldy's Black Watch memorial were probably not even aware that the Birks of Aberfeldy existed. And yet if they had just stopped for a while, slurped coffee and soup in Aberfeldy itself, and taken a stroll up that delightful tree-lined gorge, they would have experienced a level of natural beauty that they would remember for all their days.
I BOUGHT SOME deodorant recently. '24 hour protection against odour and wetness,' it says on the tin. 'Protection for men,' it proclaims. 'MAGNESIUM POWER,' it proclaims in big letters. On the rear of the tin it says, 'TRY ME, LOVE ME.'
What it doesn't say is that when you press the button on top of the tin this huge cloud of white dust is blasted out. When I first switched it on it took me about three days to find my way back out of the bathroom.
 WE APPEAR TO have lost our way a little where street signs are concerned. When the Victorians and Edwardians constructed a tenement building at a corner, they always placed signs on the building with the names of the two streets that formed the corner. Thus, you knew where you were. These days there are far too many modern buildings with no such signs, and as a result it is often very hard to know where you are and find your way around. Legislation is required. Thank you.
ALE DRINKING EVENT - Get yourself through to Dobbie Hall in Larbert on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st March for an opportunity to quaff good Scottish and UK ale and cider. It's the Forth Valley's 4th Larbert Beer Festival run by those bearded chaps and bearded chapesses at the Campaign For Real Ale. It's open from 5pm on the Friday and from noon on the Saturday. Larbert has a railway station. See The Good Soup Guide for soup and ale places in nearby Stirling and Falkirk.

EXPERIENCE 1 - This is when you're perusing shelves in a supermarket and an old lady appears from nowhere to position herself between you and the shelf. The old lady is oblivious to your presence, and will spend no small amount of time going through the shelf and referring back to the list she holds in her hand.
EXPERIENCE 2 - This is when an old lady that you've never seen before appears at your door and asks you to unscrew the cap on a bottle or jar.
EXPERIENCE 3- This is when an old lady falls in the street, as they are apt to do. Often, this will result in terrible injuries, with bits hanging off, maybe even the loss of a limb. Yet still the old lady will insist that it's just a scratch.
EXPERIENCE 4 - This is when an old lady materialises out of thin air and appears by your side in a queue. How she got there, you do not know, but what you do know is that the old lady will be served next. Old ladies are often exempt from queuing.
EXPERIENCE 5 - This involves verbal communication. Often old ladies are entirely in their own little world, and any attempt to bring them into the real world is liable to fail. You may, for example, stop an old lady in the street to ask directions, to which she will invariably reply, 'Half past two.'
EXPERIENCE 6 - This is when you find yourself in a shop or store holding a door open for someone. For all of a sudden there is a procession of old ladies who will all take advantage of the open door and walk through. Not one of them will acknowledge your kind action, or even your existence.
EXPERIENCE 7 - This is when an old lady tries to cross the road. Usually there will be a pedestrian crossing a mere spit away, but the old lady is determined to cross where she wants. The end result is, at best, a whole load of frustrated drivers and honking, at worst... a terrible mess to clean up.
EXPERIENCE 8 - This happens in supermarket checkout queues when the old lady behind you constantly bumps you with either her basket, trolley, or bag. It is difficult to determine if she is totally unaware of what she is doing, or if there is a certain malicious intent in that some part of her brain reckons if she dunts you often enough you will just go away and she will be nearer the front of the queue.
Old Lady Experiences
I recently got some antibiotics for an infected tooth. In casually reading through the information leaflet that came with them, I was somewhat alarmed to see a rather extensive list of possible side effects. These included brain disease (encephalopathy), yellowing of the skin, unexpected infections (I'm taking medicine to cure an infection and the medicine may give me an infection!!), bleeding gums, pancreatitis, convulsions, hallucinations, double vision, darkening of the urine, feeling dizzy, numbness, furred tongue, vomiting, diarrhoea, and a whole host of other things.
Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it? No, hang on... 'wonder' is not the word. 'Worry' is the word. Big time.
Amidst all this financial gloom the world of beautification is seemingly doing quite well, thank you. There might be a distinct lack of readies in one's pockets, yet still women are having their hair done, their skin... em... done (what does one do with one's skin again?), their nails footered with and their eyelashes glued. Some folk are even paying money to have fish eat their feet.
Women can also pay to have their eyebrows threaded. In fact, they can have other bits of their body threaded: lips, forehead, side face, or full face. To me, it sounds like some sort of activity that might take place in a hospital accident and emergency department on a Saturday night, where folk undoubtedly get bits of their body threaded on the NHS for free.
We are now accepting advertisements to accompany a Special Feature in our May News on the strange underground passageways of Gilmerton Cove in Dalkeith, near Edinburgh.

Advertisements should be supplied as jpegs of 257px wide by 349px high.

Deadline is 23rd April.
COST: £120
Reach 3,000*
potential customers
for a monthly equivalent
of around £6.
* Anticipated monthly online visits
during the Autumn of 2012
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