This month we feature the Fisherman's Tavern in Broughty Ferry. Such a lovely untouched pub, and very much worth a trip to Broughty Ferry for this alone. Add a castle, and you have heaven.
Fisherman's Tavern, Fort Street, Broughty Ferry - entrance and interior in 2012
Fisherman's Tavern, Fort Street, Broughty Ferry - interior in 2012
April News cartoon - use of return-trays to serve ale drinkers slops
There is an ale-dispensing system used in some Scottish public houses that allows the customer to be served slops. It is legal, and not a system that Trading Standards are concerned about.
It is a system where spilled ale from the drip-tray is pumped into the customer's glass at the same time as ale from the cask. There are conflicting accounts, but up to around 30% of your pint of ale could be slops served in this way.
Now, I'll be honest with you, I'm no expert. In fact I have only recently discovered to my alarm that this system is more widespread than I had appreciated. But you don't need to be an expert to see what is wrong with it.
The main thing wrong with it is that ale lying in the drip-tray is open to the elements. It is not a sealed unit. So, as well as the unhygienic aspect of being served ale that may have washed over a bar-person's fingers and picked up any number of viruses and bacteria along the way, it can be further contaminated through things falling in the drip-tray: drips from someone's nose, bits of pie, nose-pickings, etc.
But it's not just the contamination issue. If the ale has lain in the drip-tray for a while it will be flat and largely tasteless. It will have lost its condition.
So, is all that not good reason to ban return-trays? It is. But there's more.
This is a secret system. The secret lever or mechanism used by the bar-person to pour you slops from the drip-tray is not obvious. At times it may even be hidden beneath the counter. In short, the customer is not meant to know that he is being served slops.
The argument put forward by those who are keen on the system is that recycling spilled ale helps keep costs down, and that a good bar-person will not allow ale in the drip-tray to lie for too long that it becomes a problem.
It is possible to get a good pint of ale from a return-tray system, but only if the bar-person chooses not to serve you slops. You might be a favoured customer much admired by bar-staff and consequently always get 'the good stuff', or you might be the poor soul who has 'just-gimme-slops' tattooed on his forehead.
And that is the other problem with this system: the bar-person can choose. He or she can choose to serve you a pint made up of 100% fresh ale from the cask, or they can choose to serve you a bad pint made up of around 70% fresh ale from the cask and 30% slops. This is neither fair nor proper.
You cannot have a system that is not just open to the elements but open also to the vagaries of bar-staff who themselves can be downright sloppy, and the sooner this system is outlawed, the better.
Scotland's Online Tourist Guide
April 2013
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At my age in life many things annoy me. It seems to be part and parcel of the transformation from fit young dude to moaning old git.
It will not surprise you to learn that Glasgow City Council and all its side-arms annoy me.
The Mitchell Library, for example, annoys me every time I set foot in the place. It's not so much that they appear largely unable to find whichever old book or journal I want to look at (if your request is for anything more taxing than a Daily Record you could be struggling), but more that the building is not being properly cared for.
Red lights in the lifts do not illuminate. This makes it hard to know what floor you are arriving at.
Clocks on the wall fail to tell the time; clearly replacing batteries or whatever is a skill that is now lost to employees of Glasgow City Council or Glasgow Life or whatever they are called.
This lack of care, or lack of maintenance, is endemic within Glasgow City Council, an organisation that is, from what I can see, actually intent on destroying the city of Glasgow through negligence and apathy.
And yet, for all its failings, Glasgow City Council strives for better things. They strive to enter the modern bleeping world. The Mitchell Library now has an app (forgive me if I choke with laughter).
I suppose it's progress, although I can't help but feel they perhaps need an app concerned specifically with routine building maintenance.
THE OBSERVANT AMONG you will have noticed the appearance of a favicon on Scotland's online tourist guide. It is the tiny image you may see to the left of, or just above, the web address in your browser display. Not all web browsers display favicons. It's only taken us three years to have our own favicon, and we are bursting with excitement. If you can see it, you can drag the favicon to your phone, tablet or desktop to place the tartan hippo right there for quick and easy access to all Scotland's good stuff.
TESCO ARE MORE of a hindrance than a help to the smooth running of life. There's a new Tesco on Glasgow's Byres Road. Byres Road was already choc-a-bloc with traffic, but now you have the added bedlam of huge delivery vehicles unloading on a regular basis. There's another Tesco on Trongate. That store has external cash machines right beside a bus stop. It causes a bottleneck for pedestrians and should never have been allowed. Tesco are about as socially conscious as chewed bubblegum.
THE AUTHORITIES ARE becoming increasingly alarmed by the emergence of a new virus. The Wildly Wiggling Toe Virus (WWTV) first made its appearance in the Far East at the end of 2012. Symptoms of this terrrible virus include toes that wiggle wildly. We understand that spotters are to be placed at railway stations and airports to look out for anyone whose toes move more than may be considered normal. 'We would ask everyone to spend a minute each day looking at their toes, just to be sure,' said a spokesperson.
Tourism Adviser advert
This may come as a shock to some folk, but tourists are all different. They all look different, dress different, and have different needs in life. As such, the things they wish to do when wearing their tourist hat are also different. Thankfully, not every tourist is so different that a few of them can't get together and do things in a combined fashion. If this were not possible, we'd have to gear each and every tourist attraction towards the one visitor that will turn up some day. Of course, in getting together, some compromises will be made, and not every tourist in a whole bunch or bus-load will have the same enjoyable experience as everyone else. (Ed - bear with me. I'm building towards something; I'm just not entirely sure what!)
The thing is, many tourists do travel about Scotland en masse, usually in big buses. They sit back and watch scenery slide slowly past as if it were being hand-cranked by a man. Then, when the bus stops at a destination, they all spill out and do their best to be individuals again by getting their own personal perspective on whatever it is the group is visiting or looking at.
When you visit big places like Edinburgh you find wall-to-wall visitor attractions and huge groups of tourists wandering the streets soaking stuff up, each tourist within the group trying oh so hard to be unique amidst the herd. For some tourists, places like Edinburgh at peak tourist season can be either exciting or just plain annoying. Not everyone likes busy.
As such, it is often far more uplifting to visit some place on your own, some place that perhaps does not have the wall-to-wall visitor attractions; some place quiet and slow where if a touristy slogan existed it would probably say, 'WE HAVE NUHING!'
I like places that have nothing, for they invariably do have something hidden somewhere, something very special that few folk see because most can't be bothered to look. Here at Scotland's online tourist guide we know of some very special hidden things in Scotland. Am I going to tell you what they are here on this News page? Nup! Why? Because special things are reserved for the special folk who seek them out. All you have to do is be an individual and really look. Then you'll see the real Scotland.
Tourism cartoon - individuals or bus-loads
News banner for Scotland's online tourist guide
(180px wide by 100px high. We can make the advert for you.)
Sample Event advert for News pages