Tag Archives: South Korea

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

Cupcake Café Bar

Readers will remember from our last post regarding an unintentional visit to Bathgate and the Coffee Club that we drove around Cairnpapple Hill to get there. While we were doing that, about a mile or so out of Linlithgow, we passed a sign for the Scottish Korean War Memorial … the what? We didn’t stop but it raised our curiosity. You could probably write what we knew about the Korean War quite comfortably on the back of a postage stamp … so it made us wonder. It made us wonder so much that, in an attempt to remedy the situation, we decided to go back and actually visit the place to find out what it was all about.

Gate to the Scottish Korean War Memorial
The gate to the Scottish Korean War Memorial

Apologies to folks who know all this already but it turns out that Korea was occupied  by Japan from 1910. At the end of WWII, however, when Japan was defeated, there were difficulties agreeing who was to rule thenceforth … and believe it or not, the US and the Soviet Union got involved in what the US saw as a war against communism. From 1950 to 1953 twenty one countries fought on the UN side, Britain being one of them. Five million soldiers and civilians lost their lives … incredible, so soon after the end of a very bloody World War.

View of the Scottish Korean War Memorial
The Korean style shrine contains name boards listing all the 1,114 men who died.

The Memorial, the only one in the UK,  takes the form of an arboretum of 1,114 native Scottish trees, one for every British soldier who died,

The Flag of South Korea
Flag of S Korea

and a shrine surrounded by two mounds in the shape of the Ying and Yang on the Korean flag. It is a quiet peaceful place and judging by the fresh flowers placed beneath trees still very much a place of remembrance for the relatives of those lost. Exterior view of the Cupcake Café Bar near TorphichenFeeling much better informed we decided to head for home but we had hardly got started when, on the other side of Torphichen, we came across signs for the Cupcake Café Bar. Not somewhere we had ever heard of in spite of it being only a few miles from home and being in existence for over three years … our ignorance knows no bounds! It had to be done. Once we had negotiated the bomb-crater sized potholes in the driveway we arrived at an old converted farmhouse set in a large nicely laid out garden. Inside, it was surprisingly modern. Interior view of the Cupcake Café Bar near TorphichenInterior view of the Cupcake Café Bar near TorphichenWhen we ordered our scones from a lady with a rather mischievous look in her eye, she told us in no uncertain terms “you will enjoy them” … we felt duty bound! She was right of course, we did enjoy them … nicely presented with plenty butter (local), jam and clotted cream. A scone at the Cupcake Café Bar near TorphichenThey were soft and light with just the right amount of fruit … the coffee was good as well. Again, not quite a topscone but yet another admirable attempt. Back in Korea, a cease fire was eventually brokered in 1953 by dividing the country into North and South with a ‘no man’s land’ in between. Both countries are still officially at war to this very day! The communist North is now led by the 34 year old Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un, a man who is generally regarded by the western press as more than a little ‘unhinged’. Thank goodness we don’t have anything like that in the west … oh, hold on a minute?? Kim is the only one in the country allowed to bear the surname ‘Jong Un’ all others with the name were forced to change. We suspect that no force at all should be necessary for the Trumps of this world.

EH48 4NQ      tel: 01506 654697       Cupcake Café Bar TA