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.
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
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?
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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.
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
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
THE HILL OF DUMGOYNE
The hill of Dumgoyne is a most attractive little hill. It sits
in the Campsie Fells, immediately north-west of the 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.