SCOTTISH INNS, BARS AND TAVERNS
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.
SCOTLAND'S SLOP ALE SCANDAL
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
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AT MY AGE...
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.
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
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
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.
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