SCOTTISH INNS, BARS AND TAVERNS
Here we feature The Bull Inn in Paisley. It's an astonishingly well-preserved Edwardian pub, complete with carved wooden bits and pieces, stained glass, and glorious snugs.
Bull Inn, Paisley
May 2014 News cartoon - feeding trees
WHAT TO FEED YOUR TREE
If you've ever seen newly-planted trees in urban areas, you'll perhaps have noticed a tube coming out of the ground right at the base of each tree. This, it seems, is used to feed the tree (I kid you not).
From what I understand, such trees are partial to a bit of pizza on a Saturday night, and maybe a few chips on a Sunday. These trees have indeed become so fond of junk food that passers-by have been somewhat surprised to hear whispers along the lines of, 'Gie's a chip mate. Chist the wan?'
I suppose the main question here is, how did the trees manage before we felt the need to feed them? Are trees becoming way too dependant on us? And how long will it be before Tree Restaurants start appearing on our High Streets?
Scotland's Online Tourist Guide
May 2014
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REAL ALE OR KEG
I am becoming increasingly alarmed at the number of popular real ales that are now being brewed as keg beer. In most cases the pump-clip of the keg version is practically identical to the real ale version. Most customers are none the wiser, not appreciating the difference between real ale and keg beer, and they just ask for a pint of whatever it is.
It bothers me because I see it as a deliberate attempt to dupe. I once thought that minimal pasteurisation and filtration could result in a keg beer that tasted and smelt as good as a real ale. I now realise this is not the case.
The true craft of the pub cellarman, like real ale itself, is under threat like never before.
Snippets
I RECENTLY HAD a bit of a ponder on honey, as you do. It seemed to me that our poor bees must be a tad overworked in making all that sweet gooey stuff, and I felt science could perhaps help out. If we could somehow isolate the bee genes responsible for honey manufacture and insert them in, say, cats, then instead of lounging around all day doing sod all cats could make honey and earn their keep. And it needn't stop there. You could insert the genes in other animals. Unemployed people, even. You know it makes sense.
I'VE BEEN A-THINKING about bees some more. Honey, in fact. There seems to be two main types of honey: set honey and runny honey. When I'm in a supermarket I'm often tempted by the budget runny honey, but when you tilt the jar it becomes apparent that the honey is not so much runny as very liquid indeed, so much so that I am inclined to think it may have been diluted with something that is not honey. It's just not as thick as other runny honeys. I've even seen some so-called set honeys where on tilting the jar it becomes apparent yet again that the set honey is not quite as set as it could be, and may be said to be verging on a runny honey.
Now, my question here is this: at what point does a runny honey become a set honey? Are there guidelines that state what consistency honey should be? Are supermarkets allowed to add diluents or adulterants to honey to eke it out? Is there in fact some bit of kit that measures the consistency of honey, telling you whether it is an acceptable runny honey or one that has been diluted way too much? In short, is there a Runnyhoneyometer out there, and if so, we wanna buy one.
CRAFTY BEER
In the licensed trade there is something of a Craft Beer Revolution taking place. The word 'craft' is appearing everywhere. I wasn't really bothered too much until I saw a TV advert for Greene King IPA, in which the slogan was 'Crafted For The Moment', or some such nonsense. It was in my view, a step too far.
I think the original meaning of the term 'craft beer' was probably to denote a beer that had been produced by a small brewer in small quantities, and pretty much made by hand. Or something like that. But then struggling breweries and pubs saw an opportunity and now the term is meaningless, encompassing everything from keg beer to real ale and everything in between. Ales once termed 'real' are being brewed as keg versions, and some of these keg versions are now termed 'craft beer' . It is a nonsense that is not only confusing to Joe Public, but in my opinion also a little bit underhand and designed to deceive.
Forgive me if I repeat myself, but real ale is now under threat like never before.
 THE HILL OF DUMGOYNE
Coming down off the hill. Dumgoyne, by Killearn
View of Dumgoyne from near the Carbeth huts
Waling on the path between Blanefield and Killearn, with the hill of Dumgoyne in the background
The hill of Dumgoyne from Craigallian Loch on the West Highland Way
The hill of Dumgoyne is a most attractive little hill. It sits in the Campsie Fells, immediately north-west of the Strathblane Hills, between Strathblane and Killearn. It is a hill that for me signifies home. On the rare occasions when I take to the skies it is the first recognisable feature way down below as your plane approaches Glasgow Airport. I've tried on many occasions to capture its magic, but generally failed miserably. Here's a few of my photographic efforts.
WALKER ON THE PATH BETWEEN BLANEFIELD AND KILLEARN, WITH DUMGOYNE IN THE BACKGROUND.
WALKER COMING DOWN OFF THE HILL OF DUMGOYNE.
WALKER ON THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY RESTING AT CRAIGALLIAN LOCH, WITH DUMGOYNE IN THE DISTANCE.
COLOURFUL VIEW OF DUMGOYNE FROM A PATH NEAR THE BOARDS, JUST OFF THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY.
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