IMAGES OF SCOTLAND
This month we feature some boats by the harbour in Brodick, on the Isle of Arran, with the pointy mountain of Goatfell in the background. There really is something quite magical about Arran. When I go there I sigh a lot with contentment. You can't beat a good sigh. [See 'Brodick - Other Stuff' page for more on Arran.]
View towards Goat Fell from Brodick on the Isle of Arran
September 2012 News cartoon - singing elephants
Special Report from Hamish
Way down in the jungle, way deep down, deeply down to the deepest deeply bit [Ed - okay, we get the picture] there came a roar. Well... not quite a roar, more a tuneful lilt. For it has recently been discovered that elephants can sing. As reported in the Daily Mail, and elsewhere I'm sure, they emit a low-pitch tune that allows communication over many miles. It's a sort of rumbling vibrating thing not unlike the purr of a cat but bigger, bigger in an earthquake kind of way. And at times it appears tuneful.
Our roving reporter (Hamish) was sent to the deepest most deeply depths of the jungle to investigate. This is his report:

[HAMISH] - I'm now in the deepliest deep bit. It's deep and deeply, and full of big green plants. I hear strange noises, the sounds of insects clicking, monkeys screeching, and plants going 'shrooeeeaack!' It's taken me five days to get here, and back at the castle Sir has left Phelma in charge of the outer defences. When I return I don't expect to have a castle. It'll have been overrun by an army of pitta bread or some terrrrible foe.
I'm going in deeper, hacking my way through the tough scratchy vegetation. It's so humid here. My kilt's drenched. Biting creepy-crawlies are doing their utmost to drain me of all fluids, but I must keep going. Sir has sent me on this important mission. I cannot fail. I am on a quest to find the singing elephants. WAIT!... a sound... what is that sound? I must break through these vines. There is a clearing ahead. I see a shaft of light illuminating a patch of forest...     [MANY DAYS PASS] ...

[PHELMA] - Sir. Sir! SIR! Dust on the horizon. Large cloud of dust approaching our western wall. Should I alert Seamus? Wait... sir... there are sounds. And flags. Sounds and flags. Hang on a minute - that's the banner of Hamish. SIR! HAMISH IS BACK! And he's brought with him... em...

'OHHHH, THE..... BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS OF VIRGINIA, ON THE TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE .... '
Scotland's Online Tourist Guide
September 2012
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YOU AND YOUR DOG
On looking through my web statistics the other day for phrases that visitors to this website had used, I was a little surprised to find one that read, 'Things to do in Ayr with a dog'.
For some unfathomable reason this baffled me. I was always under the impression that about the only thing one could only ever do with a dog was to walk it.
What other things does one do with a dog? Are there canine activities out there that those of us who do not have a dog have never heard of? Might you, for example, take your dog for some juggling, perhaps train it to spin plates or tap dance?
I mean, what was this person looking for? I suppose it might have been a search for pubs in Ayr that allowed dogs.
Or maybe there's ballroom dancing tailored specifically for dogs and their owners; foxtrots and St Bernard's Waltzes where owners whoop and dogs howl.
Throwing a ball for your dog to retrieve is, I suppose, something dog's like. Or catching a thrown Frisbee; they like that too.
I remember seeing a new dog activity in Barshaw Park in Paisley a while back. The owner was pulling a tree branch down low enough for his dog to jump up and catch between its teeth. Thus attached, the owner then pushed the dog sideways so that it swung wildly from side to side. This, the dog clearly loved, and whenever it fell off it was wagging its tail and jumping up for another shot.
Some dogs also like skateboarding. There is much more to being a dog than many of us realise.
All of which begs the question, what exactly is there to do with a dog in Ayr?
Snippets
SCOTRAIL ARE OFTEN on the receiving end of much criticism. But moves are being made behind the scenes to present a much more human image to the public.
'We are aware,' said a spokesperson, 'that our public image is not good. Our primary aim is now to improve it. As from December, all ticket turnstiles will dispense one free pakora every time a ticket is inserted.'
'Well,' said a traveller, 'at least we'll have something to chew while waiting on the flamin' train!'
EVER SINCE WOMEN got the vote they have become increasingly bothersome. It wasn't enough that one of them should become Prime Minister, sell off our assets and put us in this sorry financial mess, they're now wanting to bring babies to work! ENOUGH! If you're a woman and you want a baby then it is you who should look after it; you who should clean the house, do the ironing, and cook food for The Man. And you should do it all at home, not in front of me. Next they'll be wanting to iron at their desk and bake while typing.
THE VERY IDEA that you can have a baby then hand it over to someone else so you can go out to work is, frankly, absurd. And the idea that the government then pays you money to pay the child-minder is even absurder (don't tell me it's not a word - I've used, so it is!). What sort of crazy stuff is that? If you have a baby and can't afford to either look after it yourself or pay someone to look after it for you, then tough cookies! You're on your own. It should not be the role of government to look after eejits, no matter how prone they are to weeping.
MILK WITH CREAM ON TOP
Do you remember the days when early in the morning a little battery-powered milk-float would silently coast through sleeping residential streets? It's presence would occasionally be announced by the gentle clinking of glass against glass. The old wooden gate would open, the soft shuffle of footsteps, and the milkman would leave glass bottles of milk on your doorstep.
And you would drift back to sleep, happy in the knowledge that when it was time to rise, your sugar puffs or cornflakes would be all the better for the cream at the top of the bottle of milk. Sigh.
That was in the sensible days we once had, days when milk tasted of something, when the cream on top was rich and utterly lovely, and dairy farmers made a decent living.
Ah but how times change. Our dairy farmers are being paid a pittance for the milk their cows produce. They are in fact often paid less than it costs to produce it, working long hours not just for nothing, but at a loss.
The solution lies in those old days. If our dairy farmers could somehow find a way of reintroducing those bottles of milk with the cream on top, and of making and delivering it themselves locally, then everyone would be happy. Except perhaps the supermarkets.

The Clyde Walkway Cyclist

Oh ye yella luminescent hing
Ye're oan yer bike
an' yer bell goes ding
Ye huvny time fur folk oan feet
They git in yer way
an mak ye greet
Ye're too aggressive
- it's the exercise
An' if ye come too close
Ah'll poke oot yer eyes.
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