Tag Archives: Pyongyang

The National Shooting Centre (revisited)

We don’t often revisit places we’ve previously reviewed and, even when we do, we don’t usually write about them again, however, on this occasion we felt an exception was justified. Back in July last year you may remember that, thanks to a friend who was competing in the European Clay Pigeon Shooting Championships, we decided to join him at the National Shooting Centre Scotland and try to reduce our almost total ignorance of the sport, even if just by a tad. Not only were we amazed by the sheer magnitude of the event … hundreds of people from many countries all milling about … with shotguns! They were also serving scones hence it appeared in the blog. A few months later and much to our surprise, we got a lovely email from the NSC saying they had come across our post by chance when revamping their own website and inviting us for a free lesson … how could we refuse? Our schedule however, meant that it wasn’t until now that we were able to take them up on the offer and, even at that, Pat couldn’t make it so it was just me … could I do a scone on my own?? Internal view of the National Shooting Centre ScotlandWhat a difference a few months make ….wow! The old somewhat drab and dreary interior of the clubhouse had been totally transformed … clean white walls, comfy armchairs and a huge wood burning stove giving an overall warm and welcoming feel to the place.Internal view of the National Shooting Centre Scotland Stewart and Amy also gave me a very warm welcome. Stewart insisted however,  that there would be no scones until I had proved myself able to kill at least one clay pigeon.  After a brief safety chat and gun selection we were out on a stance and ready to go. It has always been a little disturbing for a non-shooter like me to enter a room which is completely lined with guns. Maybe it’s got something to do with the recent anti-gun protests in the US, who knows, but such potential for destruction can be a little unnerving to the untutored eye. The gun room at the National Shooting Centre ScotlandI know you are all desperate to know how I did. Suffice to say I hit more clays than I missed so I was a trifle pleased with myself. I, of course, put it down to my own innate talent, however, I guess Stewart would have put it down to his expert tuition … and he would have been right. There was a wonderful brief moment when any lingering thoughts I may have harboured about shooters being a blood thirsty lot were completely dispelled. Unbelievably, a kestrel came in and hovered, stock-still, right in line with all the guns. All shooting stopped until it had done what kestrels do and moved on about its business … magic! A scone at the National Shooting Centre ScotlandBack in the clubhouse it was time for a well earned scone. Amy, a shooter herself, did the needful and produced one of her own home-baked scones which was absolutely delicious. It would have got a topscone award had it not been presented fully loaded with jam and cream .. and you all know our thoughts about that … scones should come with jam and cream on the side so that individuals can load them according to taste. Although this is a founding principle of all sconology, we do recognise that shooters often have others to load their guns for them, so maybe it’s got something to do with that? Should we make exceptions … no! Just my opinion of course since I was flying solo on this one. Never mind, as the scone’s contents squished out the sides with every bite, it became yet another finger-licking good experience. Logo of the National Shooting Centre ScotlandMaybe not finger-licking but a good experience anyway seemed to be had by Kim Jong-un as he watched South Korea’s Red Velvet girl band at a pop concert in Pyongyang , something which, previously, he would have pronounced illegal … maybe there’s hope for the world after all.

Many thanks to everyone at the National Shooting Centre for their kindness, patience and hospitality … it was a just great!

FK1 3AL     tel: 01324 851672     National Shooting Centre Scotland

Dobbies

It was way back in January that we got a tip-off about the scones at Dobbies Garden Centre just outside Stirling.

January, afternoon tea with two Dobbies scones

Our ever diligent Trossachs correspondents had bought some to take home only to find that they had been given some extra ones free. This was more than they could handle on their own, so they passed on a couple to us and we ate them as part of an afternoon tea we were having with some neighbours. At the time we thought they were rather good, if a little bit oversized … we had to split them up to make them more manageable for our guests. Since then, we have been promising ourselves that we would visit Dobbies and do a proper review … seven months later, today is the day.

Internal view of the restaurant at Dobbies Garden Centre, Stirling
Just part of Dobbies’ restaurant

The garden centre is big and they have a restaurant to match. It is a little bit surprising to come in and find so many people out shopping and then to find a large restaurant which is equally busy. The servery area is also big and, rather than wait in a long queue we opted to go to the automated self service part. There is normally some sort of problem with these vending machines … and so it was, however the problem was not so much with the machine as with the operators.

Automatic coffee vending equipment at Dobbies Garden Centre, Stirling
Coffee machine about half way through delivering and it cannot be stopped

Basically, from the large array of cups, all of which looked identical to us, we selected what turned out to be a tea cup and of course it was far too small for the quantity of coffee being delivered … a kind of Niagara situation ensued. We were a bit bemused by this until we noticed that there were similar but slightly larger ‘coffee’ cups … trauma over. We had opted to share a cherry and coconut scone because they were all so large and also we hadn’t actually tasted that particular combination before. Perhaps we should have stuck to what we know because we found this combo somewhat insipid … the tiny pieces of cherry were relatively few and far between and the coconut, although there, did not feature strongly enough. The scone itself was fine though, still too big for our taste … no topscone here but maybe the prize for the biggest.

The problem with Westminster and Holyrood being on holiday is that there is nothing much to report – witness the BBC’s interminable coverage of athletics. But wait a minute, apparently the end of the world has just got a whole lot nigher … we should report that in case any sconeys get caught unaware. With the great big ‘Goliath’ madman in Washington threatening unimaginable fire and brimstone against the wee ‘David’ madman in Pyongyang who likes dressing up like Ruth Davidson, there may not be much time left. The big question, of course, is … will Scotland manage to become an ordinary self respecting  country before armageddon? The man in the know, Alex Salmond is predicting 4 years for independence but that may be too late. However, with HMRC admitting that Scotland’s economy is actually £15b bigger than they had reported … oops, and the latest figures showing that England ran a massive trade deficit in 2014 and 2015 whereas Scotland had an even greater surplus in those years, perhaps we can just squeeze in a wee bit of self respect before we are all blown to smithereens. How to avoid complete annihilation? We think that Trump and Kim Jong should sit down together over afternoon tea … the civilising influence of a good scone cannot be overestimated and the size of the Dobbies’ scones should almost match their egos!

FK9 4UF     tel: 01786 458860     Dobbies Garden Centre

BREAKING NEWS: Our Tyrolean correspondents have lodged a report on what could possibly be the first ever scones to be baked in Austria … you heard it here first! They were in Scotland for a few days and became so obsessed with scones that when they returned home they baked some of their own ‘Austrian scones’. First scones to be baked in AustriaThey look good and by all accounts were good. No information on whether Austrians go jam or cream first but together, dear readers, we are taking scones to the world … and the world will be a better place! Many thanks C and M.

Cameo Picturehouse

We are members here and try to visit whenever we can … it is smaller and more intimate than the local multiscreen cineplexes and tends to show more interesting and foreign language films. The weather was typically January so it seemed like an ideal day to squirrel ourselves away somewhere dark and cosy with a good film. Cameo 03Arriving with enough time to spare for some tea we decided to give their scones a go as well, although having looked at them on the counter we were slightly fearful, they did not look at all promising. Well appearances can be deceiving, as they say, because, although not topscones, they were pretty good .. fruit and cinnamon, maybe a bit too crusty on the outside but nice and soft on the inside, with plenty butter and a nice little cup of jam. If only our film had been as good! Cameo 07There were three to choose from and we chose ‘The Lobster’, a near-future story about single people staying in a hotel and having 45 days to find a romantic partner .. if they failed they were turned into an animal of their choice. The main character had his brother with him all the time .. a collie dog; he had failed on a previous occasion. In the event of similar failure our man had chosen to be a lobster .. apparently a lobster can live to over a hundred and remain sexually active throughout .. never realised that lobsters had so much fun. We would have enjoyed the start of the film a lot more if we had known that it steadily went down hill from there. It was co-produced by companies from Ireland, Greece, France the Netherlands and the UK .. and it kind of looked like a film made by a committee … won’t say more though in case we spoil it for you. Cameo 05Sitting in the cinema we thought it was a pretty dystopian surreal experience until we came out into the daylight and realised we had women being brutalised in Cologne; another shooting in Paris; people starved to death on purpose in Madaya; Saudis bombing the Iranian embassy in Sana’a; Pyongyang‘s H-bomb test; China‘s stock market collapse … and that the answer to all these problems might be Donald Trump! Maybe we should have stayed inside where it was all much more believable .. thank goodness for the scone … even though it only had a cameo role .. sorry!

EH3 9LZ       tel: 0871 902 5723     Cameo Picturehouse