Archive for the 'Retrospective' Category


Monday, July 2nd, 2018

I’m just catching up. Typing this a clear month late, we went to Largs. just over 30 miles west of Glasgow; so it’s where lots of Glaswegians head on a sunny day, as we found when we arrived after a gratifyingly easy journey north, through the city, and back out the other side. The seafront and the pubs were packed with people.

It was quieter later in the week, though still busyish; with Glasgow so close (under an hour on the train) there’s lots of day trippers.

So then, Largs: so many churches. A couple of impresssive churches, but so many. I’m a great fan of churches, less so of what goes on in them, but here they spent a metric fuckload of cash on them, with two Church of Scotland chruches with impressive towers looming over the town.
Besides that, the town is largely traditional seaside; a big, wide prom, a small seafront collection of funfair rides, a kiddie’s play area at one end, a park and boating lake at another.

There’s plenty of pubs too, which you’ll find over at PubBlog, though real ale, and especially good real ale, was a bit scarce, though we fared better for that on a trip into Glasgow.

Talking of trips, the proximity to Glasgow ensured good public transport: a station in the town on one railway line, another line (with the wonderful Wemyss Bay station) just a short bus ride away, ferries to Bute and Great Cumbrae. We even managed to get Dunoon (lovely, but in need of more TLC) and Rothesay (underwhelming) piers in, and all of this without using the car apart from actually getting there. We also managed a trip on PS Waverley on a gloriously sunny day, in a week of sunny days and returned suntanned 🙂 .

A Tale of Two Crap Towns

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

We’ve been away, and as I still didn’t fancy the long drive required for Scotland that we often take at this time of year, we went a bit closer- Morecambe. Morecambe has something in common with Walsall: Public ridicule by up-themselves arseholes.

Morecambe faomusly gained 3rd place in the original Crap Towns book in 2003, but by 2013’s “crap Towns 3” it has gained “not so crap” status. Walsall, was once famously described by Theodore Dalrymple as “Ceaucescu’s Romania with fast food outlets”, which brought forth one of the few times I found myself agreeing with Mike Bird, and is rumoured to have appeared in one of the books, but I couldn’t find it.

Scotland: The way south

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

All too soon it was time to start our journey back home. Unlike our welsh excursion, where we were glad to leave, we’d have liked a bit longer, but with around 12 hours drive, the journey has to be split. We took a different route south, which is quicker, as it happens, and less single-track- across to Inverness, a short burst on the A9, blowing past the dawdlers in a plume of particulates, and a detour to see some friends just off a the wonderful A939 to hear the tales of not being able to go out for 4 months and having the washing line as your only visible garden feature (putting the snow here in perspective somewhat), then continuing down the back way of the A93 rather than the A9 “Road of Death”, and finding that either a) Citroen C4 VTRs don’t handle, or the guy driving one was a wuss: The Leon goes *very* well over the twisties- far too quick for an ‘automatic’ diesel hatch, even if you get shaken about a bit as the suspension isn’t exactly soft.

We’d stayed a bit too long at the friend’s place, and got stuck in traffic around Perth. That and one wrong turn (signage in Perth is shite) meant we reached our (very nice) overnight stop after 5pm, though we still made the pub before 6pm…

A nice meal and a few drinks folowed by a good night’s sleep & breakfast saw us back on the road at 9:20am. From there it’s mostly motorway until sunny Brownhills. We’ve covered around 1400 miles, averaging in the region of 48mpg, and the cat was pleased to see us.

Scotland: Part2: While we were there

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Aultbea proved to be a good base: there’s two hotels nearby, a very well stocked shop, and views across Loch Ewe from our very comfortable cottage. There were a few walks from the door (Laide Woods, Mellon Charles, some small Lochs), and a few nice bits of driving: The Applecross Pass was entertaining, as was the drive towards Ullapool on the A832. Any road in this corner of the country provides a bit of fun, and usually several fantastic views.

Other nearby attractions included Inverewe Garden, and the country’s smallest distillery at the Drumchork Lodge Hotel just up the road- you can witness whiskey-making on a very small scale.

There’s photos at the gallery.

Scotland: Part one: Heading North.

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

We’ve been away in Scotland, starting on Fri 17th with a trip up the M6, M74, M73, M8, A82 and A83 to Arrochar for an overnight stop and a few drinks (it’s nice to be outside a lochside pub at 2:30pm, rather than at work):

A lochside pub in Arrochar, Sept 17 2010, 14:31.

Arrochar isn’t far from Loch Lomond, but the B&B prices are a lot lower.

The next morning saw us striking out north up the A82: a fuel stop at Fort William, a brief pause after a local lands his car on it’s roof behind the Armco a few miles north (and he escaped without a scratch, via the tailgate), then it’s pretty much uneventful for mile after mile: the roads get smaller, but they’re an interesting drive. We stop at Lochcarron, have some lunch, look at the cottage we should have been staying in, which suffered a nasty fire:

Damaged Cottage

Fire Damaged: The place we didn't stay.

and then hit the (often) single-track road north, reaching Aultbea at around 4pm.

Out and About in Brum

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

(catching up…)
After working over Easter, we went out for some R&R around Birmingham. First off, a visit to Aston Hall. This place is unbelievable- a Jacobean mansion just yards from the Aston Expressway, and free to get in to as well.

We followed that with a walk through Aston, avoiding any drive-by shootings, and a small pub crawl.

The Beer & The Bar

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

[partly written offline on the zaurus, as I was unable to leech Internet Johnny Foreigner. Beer in hand, shades on]

While enjoying the sun, I got to musing about both the beer we drink, the serving of it, and the attitudes of other nations. For beer, you can mostly substitute ‘alcohol’.
In the uk, we serve crap lager, unless it’s imported, where it becomes ‘acceptable’, and decent ale, but often both badly served. We have the best idea for service (approach bar, get beer, pay), and the worst attitude (get blind drunk, fight), IMO caused by our previously restrictive licencing.

Out here in Mallorca, like much of Europe, the lager is good, and cold, and the ale hard to find 🙁 , and you get served your beer by a waitress, which may involve a wait (this bit sucks at times, but is nice sometimes too). The only badly-behaved drunks are (surprise) the British with football shirts & baseball caps. Fortunately they’re just up the coast in the 7th level of hell.

Ireland: Day 8: Back

Saturday, September 10th, 2005

An early start at 7:30, a much quicker drive back to Dublin, to discover a practical joke that involves signs to ‘Dublin Port’ starting some 10 miles out that disappear in the city centre, taking us on a sight seeing tour of places we’ve been before in Dublin, but with no indication of how to find the port.

We got there eventually, and had a choppy crossing that was a full 7-pinter in terms of staggering effect, and for the second time witnessed the spectacle of a fully loaded HGV passing a car driven by doddering pensioner at 35mph on a main A-road. I think there was a tartan blanket on the parcel shelf too :-).

Ireland: Day 4,5,6,7: Mmmmm

Friday, September 9th, 2005

So what did we do with the rest of it? Not much. Drank Guiness, eat food, played with cute pub pets (I love pubs with cute furry creatures), walked a few miles. There’s a few pics in the Gallery, more to follow.

Ireland: Day 3: Tramore

Sunday, September 4th, 2005

We went to Tramore, traditional Irish seaside town, and according to Lonely Planet, home of the most fast food per square foot anywhere. It’s nowhere near that bad. It’s not exotic, rural, or cultured, but it’s OK. Had the traditional HOTD2 game too.