SCOTTISH INNS, BARS AND TAVERNS
Here we feature the Old Toll Bar, in Paisley Road West, Glasgow. Put
quite simply, it has one of the best preserved Victorian pub
interiors in Scotland, full of old dark carved wood, advertising
mirrors, stained glass, and the work of true craftsmen. As I type,
this pub is under serious threat. Some utter idiot thought to remove
what turned out to be a major supporting wall, with the result that
the stability of the whole building was put in some serious doubt.
The pub and the building have now been abandoned, and unless steps
are taken to stabilise and sort the structure, we will lose
something very very special.
BAG FOR, EMM... LIFE?
YOU MAY HAVE noticed that shops now charge for a bag to hold and
take away the goods you have purchased. The ruling was felt
necessary because we were all being a tad irresponsible with these
bags, plastic ones mainly, and they were finding their way out of
landfill sites or out of our bin-sheds and landing in bushes, trees,
and other bits of the countryside. I'm inclined to think the problem
did not so much lie in our irresponsibility but rather in the idea
that we maybe don't employ enough folk to clean our streets and
I bought a pair of shoes recently. They were not boxed, but loose.
At one stage during the transaction the shop assistant said, 'Would
you like a bag for these shoes?' It seemed such a ridiculous thing
to say. The very idea that I might leave a store clutching a loose
pair of shoes, then cart them through wet sodden streets without
a bag was clearly absurd. The assistant was, of course, merely being
polite. I might have had a bag secreted about my person, in which
case I would not need to purchase - PURCHASE! - a bag, a bag that
carried advertising for that very store!
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I recently walked from Milngavie to Killearn. The route I
followed was a somewhat higgledy-piggledy one that took me by Mugdock
Castle, Mugdock Country Park Visitor Centre (great soup!), Dumbroch
Loch, then joining the John Muir Way at The Boards and on to the West
Highland Way by Glengoyne Distillery, the hill of Dumgoyne, and on and
on, arriving finally in Killearn in a somewhat pooped condition. There,
I found The Old Mill inn closed down. So, I dragged my weary body to the
Black Bull Hotel to find it was no longer the Black Bull. It was now the Killearn Hotel. With a pint of ale in great condition at hand, I
retreated to a seat by a real log fire in the lounge and relaxed in
I highly recommend The Killearn Hotel. Especially the lounge.
I HAD A 'schooner' of beer the other week. It was served so cold it
was a smidgeon away from being an alcoholic ice-lolly. What on earth
is this strange habit adopted by bar-staff where they keep glasses
in what is to all intents and purposes a freezer? I don't want beer
in a frozen glass. Apart from anything else my fingers get frostbite
if I hold it for too long. It also gives the beer no flavour
whatsoever. It's just cold liquid, and about as refreshing as an
ice-cube served in an igloo.
AND WHILE WE'RE on the subject of 'schooners', what is a schooner?
It was once the case - and I know you'll find this hard to believe -
that glasses used in bars had marks on them. These marks, whether to
denote a pint or half-pint, were there to inform you that you were
being served beer in a glass that held a standard measure. You could
be assured of the quality of the measurement. This was not a glass
blown by the guy next door; it was a proper glass.
So, what is a schooner? Some so-called schooners I've had did not
appear to have any standard markings to tell me what volume they
might contain. The dictionary definition for schooner' is 'a large
beer glass'. This, is not, to my knowledge, a standard
measure. Some pubs may say it is two-thirds of a pint, yet where are
the recognised government markings to tell consumers that this is
indeed the case? Have standards in public houses in Scotland fallen
so far by the wayside that they use unmarked glasses that could
contain any volume under the sun? Would Trading Standards like to
comment? Because from where I'm standing I might question whether a
so-called 'schooner' is even legal!
ARE YOU SATISFIED?
We live in strange times where consumers are rarely satisfied
yet with every blink of an eye we are being asked to complete
satisfaction surveys. It seems at times that I can be literally seconds
into an online newspaper, hardly enough time to even focus on a screen,
before a box pops up and I am expected to reveal how satisfied I am with
the whole experience. Well, not very satisfied at all, to be honest.
If I make contact with the customer care section of a huge firm I am not
allowed to escape the interaction without filling in a satisfaction
survey. I mean, what on earth is going on?
As consumers we are probably experiencing the worst levels of service we
have ever had to face, what with lengthy phone calls to customer service
or shop assistants whose sole level of expertise lies in the ability to
say, 'Are you alright?' or 'No problem sir,' every two seconds.
If you ask me, the whole thing's got right out of hand. It's only a
matter of time before you buy the morning milk to find yourself
surrounded by security guards who will all say in unison, 'Are you
alright sir? Little survey required. There you go. No problem.'
A GLIMPSE OF MUGDOCK COUNTRY PARK
The remaining tower of Mugdock Castle. A few days after this
photo was taken, most of the large tree on the right fell down.
A well-disguised Highland cow in the countryside around Mugdock
View towards Deil's Craig Dam and the Campsie Fells.
Winter colours by the Allander Water in Mugdock Wood. The West
Highland Way runs through this wood.