Category Archives: out and about

Tucking in at the Top of the Town

No doubt the purists may say that the Mamma Mia Italian restaurant is not quite in Stirling’s Top of the Town but it’s close enough for me – especially when I’m hoofing it up that hill past the Tolbooth and Portcullis to the castle.

Cheers —

and never one to pass up a tipple – my lady Helen —

across the road is the original Stirling Royal Infirmary – now a hotel – specialising in weddings and events —

It was a spur of the moment decision to come here for lunch a few days ago but on reflection it was a good one in many ways. Both weather and food were good and this visit brought back memories long forgotten.

Just up the street are many historic sites – amongst them the Tolbooth where – as a young man still to make my way in the world I risked life and limb training in the gym with some of the TV wrestlers from that period. A few steps further took us to the Portcullis Hotel where as a headstrong twenty year old I jacked up the slated roof and reinforced it with steel beams after the building contractor charged with converting the building from a barrack block for the Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders into a restaurant – knocked down one wall too many – leaving the whole roof sagging in a perilous state of near collapse. No worries – the roof looked OK to me on this visit – apart from the ugly dormer windows that have been installed since.

All the way up to the top of the hill and it’s Stirling Castle – fine as ever although the main hall exterior walls are a different colour to what they were when I trained in the castle gym as an open side wing forward with Stirling County Rugby Club.

Exploring the Back Walk beneath the castle ramparts was left for another day but I did manage a hike round much of the interesting cemetery next to the castle where many of the notables with Stirling connections are buried —

and ‘No’ – I’m pretty sure I don’t qualify for that honour —

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Posted by on September 16, 2021 in out and about


Sunshine on Loch Fyne

No Helen – you can’t bring that Tonka Toy home for Jaxon’s birthday —

It won’t fit into the Yeti for a start —

Run up the Saltire and listen for the bagpipes —

That’s what ‘tourists’ do when they are wearing daft hats —

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Posted by on September 15, 2021 in out and about


The Stanley Girls are in Town

Due to distance – lockdown and all it’s six and a half years since the sisters were together —

Lovely to see them catch up —

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Posted by on September 14, 2021 in out and about


Loki to Fat Jack’s for Coffee

Seems like only yesterday that Loki was touching noses with the nine Luing bulls we had for neighbours and chasing deer over the wild hillsides on the island – socialising wasn’t high on the agenda back then.

Our walks may be tamer along the old railway above Loch Earn —

and the breezes not so brisk —

but it’s not far to Fat Jack’s —

just one of the many hidey holes where dad goes to indulge his coffee habit —

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Posted by on September 14, 2021 in out and about


Who says Xmas comes but once a year?

No way! On Friday my lovely daughter came to visit and stayed till Saturday – first proper visit since Lockdown —

not content with making me a happy ‘ol bunny – she walked the legs off our Loki too —

and to cap it all – when Sunday came around I had a free day on the bike and used it wisely by taking a blast up to Oban —


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Posted by on September 12, 2021 in out and about


A Rolling Stone Gathers no Moss

So what do you do when you find yourself homeless and fancy free on the day you retired?

Well – I ordered a new Eriba Troll and went walkabout – in the three and a half years I lived in it I hauled the little beauty as far as the Balkans and there are certainly times I wish I had her yet —

Built in Holland using aircraft technology – she had a tubular aluminium frame for strength with lightness and was clad in attractive aluminium panels. Compact to tow – she had a useful pop-top to accommodate my 6ft 1ins although the permanent double bed across the rear was just long enough if I lay corner to corner – cosy —

There was even storage space under the bed for my Raleigh Maxim bicycle —

gorgeous on the outside —

and extremely practical inside —

with all mod-cons —

including wardrobe – fridge and useful overhead cupboards —

and afore-mentioned double bed with an ever-changing view —

Such a shame that just like my irreplaceable Skoda Yeti they don’t make them now —

The buggers who control such things would no doubt make ME obsolete — if they could —

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Posted by on September 2, 2021 in out and about


‘If You Had all the Money in the World’

Yes – I was asked the question recently – ‘Donald if you had all the money in the world what motorbike would you buy’ —

Well – I’ve already had an awful lot of them so my answer is – ‘unless it’s a proper pig it’s the one I’m riding at the moment’ – whatever that might be —

For now the Honda X-ADV750 fills the bill – this is a bike that confounds the critics – and believe you me there are plenty of those around —

But no worries – I know how good the wee bike is and I have no plans to change it even if I do find that by some strange chance I do actually have all the money in the world in my bank account — she is a little sweetie —

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Posted by on September 1, 2021 in out and about


The Yamaha XJR 1300SP

By the year 2000 I had spent the best part of four years riding the many Green Lanes up and down the Welsh Border area and out to Cardigan Bay with my Church Stretton mates on my XT600E and thoroughly enjoyed it -but – there’s always a but —

This time it came in the form of a beautiful new red air-cooled XJR1300SP I spotted in the window of the Forbes Brothers bike shop at the bottom of the Burway in Church Stretton on a Sunday when I would go over to meet my mates for a spot of trail riding on my XT.

The contents of my wallet were quite safe as the shop was usually closed on a Sunday – but – one Sunday it was open! In I went and the deal was done – and so started another ten year period of involvement with the XJR’s and all that went with them.

Suffice to say – it was a truly great bike that was to take me on so many adventures throughout the UK and Europe —

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Posted by on September 1, 2021 in out and about


Never Return to the Scene of Your Crimes

Well that’s what they say but coming down off the Sheriffmuir t’other day I couldn’t help but take the turn into Blackford – the place where Highland Spring bottled water comes from. I lived there briefly in my mid-teens and even after leaving for pastures new at a farm outside Dunblane I would go back to Blackford for the Saturday night dancing to Jimmy Shand Jnr or something similar. Back then a modern quickstep would be followed by a Scottish country dance – it was where I learned about girls and how to dance with them.

I also learned about the demon drink – a little would loosen up the legs and feet – a lot would come back and sting you before the evening was over. Knowledge doesn’t come cheap and a few beers in the tiny Blackford Inn on the back street of two with my mate Rab Rennie had to be followed by a trip along the optics – finishing at the Glayva – it’s seductive golden syrupy colour and tangerine/almond/honey tinged with cinammon flavour sent me over to the nearby Village Hall as if walking on air.

Jimmy’s accordian was going great guns that night – the girls were birrling faster and faster – when – in the middle of a Strip the Willow I had to clap my hand over my mouth and head for the door! I just made it – sick as a pig and hungover for three days – my old man was seldom amused and he certainly wasn’t by that escapade!

I was seventeen going on an official eighteen on my last visit – now 62 years later I doubt if these legs could do the Strip the Willow or an Eightsome Reel even if I drank the whole cask of the stuff!

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Posted by on August 31, 2021 in out and about


Sprechen Zie Deutche Bitte

I heard this phrase so often during my sojourn in Germany and for my sins I didn’t speak much of it – any I do have is from my schooldays over sixty years ago at the Berwickshire High in Duns so I’m sure I can be excused if it is a bit ropy today —

I do remember this colourful house that popped up while going through my many pics recently – it’s stunning in the flesh. My memory plays tricks these days but I think it’s not far from the Rhine somewhere south of Koblenz – I do hope it was spared during this year’s flooding —

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Posted by on August 31, 2021 in out and about