by Travel correspondent, Amos Oddie
Each year hundreds of tourists clamber up to Edinburgh Castle, whilst others buzz around the isle of Skye like a wasps around a bin. Many people tell me that Arbroath is the jewel of the North. But did you know that some of the greatest things to see in Western Scotland are right here in the Ochentosh area?
1 Minchie Gardens
These beautiful gardens, situated on the coast between Ochentosh and Minchie, contain some specimens you might expect to find in the jungles of the Amazon. Towering rainforest trees, bright tropical flowers. How is this possible you may ask? Minchie Gardens are warmed by the Golf stream, a flow of warm water that runs from the Carribean across the Atlantic to Northern Europe. Once it gets here the warm water is trapped by Loch Minchie. Indeed the locals swear that bathing in Loch Minchie is just like relaxing in a warm bath. Open every day except Shrove Tuesday.
If history is your passion then a visit to the tiny hamlet of Pishdribbl is a must-do. It was here at Pishdribbl, in 1745, that the Young Pretender, Bonny Prince Charlie, on his way to claim the throne, stopped to relieve himself. Today the spot is marked only by a small stone near a boggy area. Rated as the number one attraction in Pishdribble on Trip Advisor last year. Local historian, Agnes Giddins runs guided tours of the site (10 pounds payable in advance) daily, except Thursdays
3 The Flinge Experience
The advent of modern materials like carbon fibre and marshmallow has all but wiped out the use of old-fashioned flinge. It’s hard to image that Western Scotland once produced four thousand tons of flinge each year. In fact, almost all the flinge required by the enormous British Empire was hand-produced by an army of crofter’s in the local area.
The Ochentosh area, with its damp and windy conditions is perfect, both for harvesting yarp and for making it into flinge. Indeed so pure was it’s product, it is said the Queen Victoria would only use flinge produced in Ochentosh. Now you can amaze your friends by visiting the Flinge Experience where you can see flinge being hand-scroggled in the traditional manner, but also take home a small jar of your very own to rub on at your leisure. The Flinge Experience is open every-day of the year, except obviously Shrove Tuesday, and cost 25 pounds per person. Protective clothing is provided.
4 The Big Haggis
Ever wondered how haggis is made? Or indeed why? The Big Haggis has the answers. You can’t miss it, the giant plastic haggis that stands at the entrance has been an iconic attraction since 1972 when, local entrepreneur, Miles Frequent-Flyer erected it. You can even make your own haggis, or if the thought of it makes you pale, just buy some from the well-stocked shop. The Big Haggis is open every day except Shrove Tuesday. 4 pounds per person.
5 Ochentosh Tobogan Centre
If winter sports are your thing then make sure the Ochentosh Toboggan Centre is on your bucket list. Open from February 8th right through to February 19th, the centre offers an exciting toboggan experience. After an tension-building tractor ride up the hill, you can choose from a selection of hand-crafted toboggans, put on your helmet, take a big gulp of home-made whisky, and then experience the ride of your life, as you speed back down. Helmets included. Two rides 11 pounds. Whisky extra.
6 The Old Man of Kinmuckle
No trip to Western Scotland would be complete without clambering up Ochentosh’s own mini-mountain, The Old Man of Kinmuckle. Especially as the Old Man has been enhanced with several tones of gravel last year adding an impressive eighteen feet of extra height. The views from the top are simply breathtaking! Free.
Getting to Ochentosh
But you say, where is Ochentosh, and how do I get there…..
Ochentosh lies in north-eastern part of western Scotland. Travelling north from Glasgow on the A99 then west on the B3467 towards Slange before turning south to the . Keep Loch Feartie on your right and if you reach Minchie you’ve gone too far.
By Air: You can fly direct to Minchie International airport. Flights twice a week to and from the Faroe Islands.
An epidemic of smug is headed for Scotland with doctors advising people take precautions to protect themselves from this debilitating virus.
The UK had two million confirmed cases of smug last year. But Smug expert Dr Monty Derringer, 42, says this spring he expects that figure could rise by 25 per cent.
“This year has all the hallmarks of a peak season,” Derringer says. The higher than usual smug activity, according to Doctor Derringer is due to the clement weather.
“Warm days allow smug people to spread the virus,” says Derringer. “Barbecues, cocktail parties, or just a drink in the pub. There’s always a miasma of smugness in the air.”
Vegan cyclists are 90% more likely to suffer from smug
Studies show that certain groups are much more likely to contract smug. Cyclists are one group, also vegans. Vegan cyclists are 90% more likely to suffer from smug than more ordinary people.
“A lot of people don’t take smug seriously,” he says. “The worst thing is that you might have smug for years and not realise it.”
Other at risk groups include; Chelsea supporters, people who do Yoga, and Ed Sheeran.
Infection control expert at the University of Strathgarry, Professor Sienna Pecan, says it’s difficult to avoid catching smug if you aren’t prepared.
“Smug is transmitted orally and non-orally. The spread of smug from a carrier, can travel up to 25 metres,” she says.
Professor Pecan explains that an infected person could be sitting on the same train as you and be spreading smug without any obvious sign, which is one of the reasons it’s so difficult to control.
“You have to be vigilant,” she says. “Just ignore that man talking about his new Mercedes, as virus particles can get up your nose.”
Doctors are encouraging us to consider our families and work colleagues if we feel the onset smug-like symptoms like superiority or self-importance. Pecan recommends vigilant hand washing, and humbleness therapy.
by Harry Beast
Minchie man, Ernest Crop, 62, wipes away a tear as he tells the heart-warming tale of how he found the love of his life using just his mobile phone.
“Marrying Consuela is the most fantastic thing that ever happened to me,” says Ernest, sitting next to his wife in the kitchen of their Minchie maisonette. Ernest works as a chartered accountant for a local firm.
“And to find this beautiful woman using a mobile phone was a stroke of genius.”
Raven-haired Consuela, 39, originally from Columbia, blushes as Ernest recounts their story.
“It happened in B&Q last week,” explains Ernest. “I was in the electrical aisle trying to work out the cost benefit of buying an LED light bulb.”
“I had worked out that although the bulb will last seven years, when you take into account the higher upfront cost, you will only start to recoup that initial investment after four. It was at this point that I noticed Consuela had wandered off into soft furnishings.”
“I sent her a message; ‘Where R U’, using the letters R and U instead of the words ‘Are’ and ‘You’ to save time.”
“A few minutes later I found her next to the garden tools.”
Ernest met Consuela at an accountancy conference in Huddersfield. The couple married in Bogota last September.
by Amos Oddie
“I was amazed,” said publican Jessie Scraper, from the bar at the Bull and Thistle in Minchie.
“Most of our customers eat the pie or the fish but leave the salad,” explained Jessie. That was the case until last Thursday when an unnamed customer arrived from Glasgow driving a Peugeot.
He even ate the parsley
“He ordered the cod and chips, said Jessie. “But then I noticed he was eating the lettuce and the lemon with the chips. He even ate the sprig of parsley.”
Mr Scraper who has been landlord at the Bull since 1987, has helped to put Minchie on the map, not only with his easy-on-the-pocket family friendly menu, but also with his extensive range of craft whiskies.
The Bull and Thistle,rated as the fourth best pub in Minchie by TripAdvisor, has recently refurbished its toilets.
Regarding the eating habits of the metropolitan patrons and their fondness for salad, the Bull’s landlord simply said, “I suppose I’ll have to go to the Co-op and buy some more.”
By our guest reporter Nicolas Anelka
I am Nicolas Anelka, the well known captain of France. This is my World Cup diary…
Landed in South Africa and drove to training camp in a big bus. As I am captain I sat at the front next to Mr Domenech. Ribéry was at the back singing rude songs about someone called Carla. Sent text to Fat Uncle Frank to tell him about it.
Merde! I have to share the room with Thierry Henri and Ribéry. Mr Domenech said I should keep an eye on Thierry because he is sad.
I’m not sure I like them at all. Ribéry makes nasty smells and then boasts about it. (Uncle Frank sent text to say that he has same problem with Rooney, who is using his bed as a trampoline). Thierry is miserable all the time because no one in Ireland likes him. I said ‘Why do you care?’ ‘Ireland are not even at the World Cup’. He did not cheer up.
The hotel in training camp is tres bon. There is a swimming pool with a slide.
At breakfast there is cereal in little boxes. Coco Pops is my favourite. At night the maid turns back my sheets and puts un petit chocolat on my pillow and I eat it all up while I watch TV and try to block the sound of Thierry weeping in the other room. He is always muttering about ‘Karma’.
Today we trained really hard. I told the Mr Domenech I was very fatigué and did not want to kick the ball anymore. He got cross and said I had to kick it some more. I think he is stinky, and I’m not sure I like him at all. I told Ribéry, but he called me “princess”. I don’t like Ribéry either.
I noticed when I was saying my prayers that Thierry was watching me. Ribéry just watches rude films all evening.
I cannot believe it Ribéry deliberately ate all the Coco Pops at breakfast before I got there. He is a fat pig and I told him so.
Today we had a press conference. Mr Domenech was very serious and made a speech about what a great privilege it was to be here. As captain I had to sit next to him. Some of the questions were quite hard. I drew a good cartoon picture of Ribéry on my notepad.
Thierry came and said bedtime prayers with me this evening. I said I was praying that there would be enough Coco Pops at breakfast. He said was he praying for ‘redemption’. Uncle Frank texted to say that Thierry was in a ‘bad place’. But I don’t think our hotel is that bad.
First game today against Uruguay. We are all very excited. Even Thierry managed a smile. I forgot my boots and had to borrow some. Mr Domenech was very snappy with me.
We drew the game. The Uruguanians were very nice afterwards, and only a bit gay I thought. Vuvuzelas gave me a big headache and I was sick in the coach on the way back to the hotel.
Je suis desolée, Ribéry ate my little pillow choccy. Thierry is desolée too, I think he is one snail short of a full bag of snails. He spends all evening washing his hands over and over again.
That’s it I have had it with Ribéry. He put a fake doggy-doo made of pillow chocolat in my boots. I went and told Mr Domenech but he just shouted at me about the “honour of playing for my country” and how I was not taking the World Cup seriously. He does not have to share a room with Ribéry.
Hah! Managed to beat Ribéry to the Coco Pops by getting up at 4am. He sneered and said he would make his own Coco-pops with his bottom.
Played a South American team I think it was Mexico. Coach was shouting at me during the game but I couldn’t hear because of the cotton wool I had put in my ears so I just shrugged my shoulders. At half time he was cranky but I just ate my orange.
Got a good seat on the bus on the way back.
Waited outside in corridor for maid to get my choccy. Great day!
I cannot believe it. The coach has shouted at me at training for no reason. It was not my fault that our room bill was so large. It was Ribéry that watched all those films and it was Ribéry that emptied the mini-bar, twice. I do not even like Pringles.
Thierry is behaving very strangely. He is running around the edge of the pool like an aeroplane and laughing like a hyena. It looked like a good game so I tried to join in but he just ran away.
I cannot believe it. The coach has just called me into his room and said I am going home early. I was shocked as I think we still have to play another game. He said he didn’t need me and something about ‘loyalty’. I said ‘bof’. That I didn’t care.
Later Ribéry whispered some very rude things about the coach in my ear, and patted me on the back. Maybe Ribéry is not so bad after all.
Uncle Frank texted me to say he was sorry I was going home and that Rooney was driving him mad.
Plane was very nice. And guess what! they have hot towels! Not the big sort that we have in the team bath that Ribéry uses to whip peoples bottoms. I do not like it. No these are small towels that you rub on your face and it feels all tingly.
Team is playing South Africa. Watched the first half, then went for a walk. I miss Ribéry even though he is a stinker.
I was taken to see the French President and his wife today. She is very nice but has a bit of a stoop. He is quite short and has big shiny shoes. He says he is going to have an investigation and that it was a national disgrace. I said that was a good idea. I said we need to find out why there were not enough Coco Pops at the hotel.
Quiet day at home.