Here’s what Lindsey chose:
What an excellent meal we had at the Bridge of Lochay Hotel on Saturday night! The chef is creative, and mixes unusual ingrediants in successful combinations. I hadn’t been in the establishment for thirty-odd years, the last time being when I wild camped with JD just up the road from the Hotel and he gave me my first driving lesson on a single-track icy road, resulting in many pints of de-stressing later on in the public bar.
So awful is JD at darts that I won several more pints, and then went on to drive the Albatross off the Tarmachan Ridge.
Here’s Lindsey inspecting the dart board in the public bar.
But – back to the meal we had in the retaurant.
My first course was thinly sliced fillet of beef with wild mushrooms, spinach and some strawberry salsa concoction. Historic!
My second course was braised lamb shank with mashed vegetables. The lamb was good, but the veg was absolutely delicious! Lindsey had venison, which she said was wonderful. The wine was Chateau Routas Wild Boar Red, which went well with both mains.
The pièce de résistance was the dessert of vodka and chili brûlée with home-made ice cream. An extremely interesting combination that grabbed my attention from the first mouthful, the ice cream being the perfect solution for the unusually fiery brûlée.
I told the maître d’ how much we enjoyed the meal and that the chef could cook!, but that linen napkins would have been an improvement, and that the wine could have been 2-3 degrees warmer. Other than that, one of the best meals for a very long time.
We took advantage of the abnormally warm March weather to visit Killin where we stayed at the Maragowan caravan site. I haven’t stayed there since camping with Fat Mac in the mid-to-late seventies, in the days when he could fit in to a two-man tent. On that trip we met up with Marje, Fifi and Wee Ann and had an enjoyable weekend, with absolutely no hanky-panky. Of course, Fat Mac nearly got us banned from the campsite for obstreperous behaviour late at night.
For Lindsey’s birthday treat, yesterday we had lunch with her mother at the Royal Scots Club, and then went on to see the giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo. I know from past Comments that at least two of the regular readers of this blog will be more interested in the toilets at the Club rather than the pandas, and I’ll come to that in a minute.
What a nice place to have lunch! Men must wear jackets and ties in the dining room. Fat Mac doesn’t own a tie, so thankfully it’s not the sort of place that anyone might bump into him in by accident.
At the zoo, you have to book a slot to see the pandas. There are two of them, and there is a Giant Panda Cam. The male is called 阳光 (Yang Guang = Sunshine), and the female is called 甜甜 (Tian Tian = Sweet). They are expected to mate soon, but until then they are kept in separate compounds, otherwise they might fight.
This evening at the Mandarin class we had a discussion about the female panda’s name with the teacher, because ‘tian’ can mean several things, depending on the context and accents. Frankly, I’m not much the wiser, but in Pinyin, and without all of the accents which tell you how to pronounce the words, saying: ‘today we went to see the giant pandas’ is something like: jin tian wo men qi kan xiong maio.
Another good turnout, and lovely weather, for the Alloa Half Marathon this year. If you’re looking for the results, they can be found here.
The crowd is always good for this run, and their encouragement is very welcome. The route is also good – along the base of the Ochil Hills. There’s a bad hill at about 11 miles.
There were two unfortunate lads who collapsed at 12 miles, and neither looked well at all. It’s just as well that Fat Mac didn’t pitch up – there were so many runners that he’d probably have set a record by needing an abulance before reaching the starting line.
As I’m now an ultra vet, or whatever those over 60 are called, I no longer warm up with a coffee and a ciggie, so I was fair gasping by the end.
My chip time this year was 2:01:02 and I was 31st in the M60 category. I was just beaten by a young woman athlete running pushing a baby buggy. It was great running behind her, as the crowd gave her special cheers.
Last year my time was 1:57:56
In 2010, my time was 2:02:36
Here are the winners.
Over the past year or so I’ve written a handful of short stories. They are:
They are more or less true stories, apart from A night at the border, which is half true. I enjoy writing them, which is the main thing. There’s no financial gain involved, obviously, and they won’t be published anywhere apart from this blog. They could benefit from being edited by someone else, but in that case they would probably end up following a formula, and I wouldn’t be in control. As it is, if I want to write a short sentence, I do. And if I want to write a more complex sentence, with various asides, references, sub-paragraphs and so on, and meander from topic to topic or change course as I feel fit, or even stick in extraneous bits (and even bits in brackets like this one), and such like, then I can, and do.
I know little about short story writing style, and this probably shows in the results. If a few kind people sometimes Comment that they’ve enjoyed a story, then this is extremely gratifying.
Some people of my age write or attempt to write books, but if I tried to write a book I doubt if it would be very good, and it would be restricted as to style and content. I prefer this blog format, which allows stories to be long or short, relevant or not, and have a good ending or not.
In the past, before I retired, I wrote a few scholarly articles and also many other articles for various library and information trade magazines, as can be seen from the Background to this blog. The writing style for all of those was quite different to the short stories.
Writing a scholarly article for a peer-reviewed journal took a great deal of time. When, at my work, they stopped including library contributions in the university’s Research Assessment Exercise, I lost interest in writing for peer reviewed journals, and concentrated on writing for magazines where the audience was likely to be much bigger.
The first article for a peer reviewed journal that I wrote, with Elisha Chiware, was about Information Technology training in a Developing Country academic library. We described how we’d introduced a programme of training to UB Library, and it always amused me that the programme was based on the exact opposite of what had happened at the university library I’d worked at before UB. In the previous library, no one had received a grounding in computers or even typing, and we were all just told to click on various keys or combination of keys, in order to checkout books and whatever. I ended up trying to supervise staff who had no previous experience of computers, who couldn’t type, and who didn’t understand what they were doing or why, and this was the reason for my first fallout with the idiot boss of that time. In UB, Elisha and myself made sure things happened quite differently, and it worked well.
Later on, at one time there were several scholarly articles to be written at the same time, to describe project work done for JISC and the RDN, etc. I’d write the first part of one article and then pass it on to my colleague Linda, who would write the next bit. In the meantime, Linda had written the first part of another article, and she’d pass it on to me to write the middle bit. This worked quite well and ensured that, even when we were writing about similar subjects, the end products were different.
It became obvious that the articles we wrote for non-peer reviewed journals had a far greater readership, so we concentrated more on these.
I once wrote a column for a magazine, and then the editor contacted me to say she’d sent me a cheque as payment. Well! That was a bonus, as there is usually no financial reward expected or received.
I then started editing other people’s articles for a journal that is now published by Taylor & Francis, and later on for a reference book that was published by K.G. Saur. The first language of some of the journal authors was not English, and on occasion a great deal of editing was needed. On the other hand, one or two authors were so good that not a single comma needed to be addded. These people were always librarians, such as Stephanie McKeating and Christine Middleton.
I also wrote or co-wrote a few chapters for various information-related books. Usually, the writing was relativelyy straight forward, but there was one book chapter I got stuck on, and it was fortunate there was a co-author.
It’s always special to see something you’ve written, or contributed to, published. The articles were not significant in any way, though I hope that they helped keep some people informed about developments in certain areas. I’ve kept copies of all of them.
Whilst searching for a photo for a previous post on this blog, I came across the following:
Later on, we went to a party at Alison & Nick’s house, where, in order to overcome my shyness in the presence of some very intelligent people (at least a clutch of professors were there), I drank far too much and became a bore.
I arranged to go for a run with Fat Mac some time ago, but nowadays he can’t even manage to run to the offie if he finishes his carryout and the shop’s about to close, so the plan was that he’d cycle whilst I ran. However, on top of everything and the usual hangover, he’s now got a cold, so couldn’t come.
My goodness, he’s let himself go the past few weeks. He must have put on a further three kilos or more. The exclusive diet of potatoes and Guinness can’t help his vitamin deficiency. Also, laying in the bath for two hours every day isn’t good for his various skin conditions. I’d thought that an hour’s fresh air would do his scabs some good, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, I ran 9.5 miles round Musselburgh Racecourse and back by myself.
I’m looking forwards to the Alloa Half Marathon. Once again, despite the promises, Fat Mac won’t be there.
On Sunday we visited the Whitespace Gallery, 11 Gayfield Square, Edinburgh, EH1 3NT to see an exhibition of stained glass, drawings and painting by Roz McKenzie and Andrew Smith. The exhibition is on until 15th March. Opening hours 11am to 4pm.
Don’t miss it! These are exciting new artists from Edinburgh.