Sandy Bell’s

Ok, my ramblings were on hold during Canada Calling but we are now on home ground so back to normal.  ( Normal? Ed. )

Our ex Prime Minister’s list of honours nominees has been announced. I don’t really know exactly how the honours system works but always imagined it existed to mark an outstanding achievement or contribution to society.

A contribution that is away above what people would regard as normal. Beyond the call of duty. Selfless. For the greater common good. Without any thought of self promotion or aggrandisement.

What we get this time is people who by chance happen to be working for the Prime Minister of the day, ( who has to abandon ship leaving us in the hands of the Pirates who have not a clue in which direction to set course from the compass or know where landfall may be )  people who are able to make contributions of £2.5 million pounds to the Conservative Party. One such gentleman was head of Barings Securities at the time of rogue trader Nick Leeson’s shenanigans which led to the collapse of the company. Afterwards he was head of investment and hedge funds and on the list of donors in ” leaders group” who could get access to the Prime and other Ministers.

Money “Can’t Buy Me Love”  but it sure can buy influence in this corrupt so called democracy.

The two biggest recent donors have already been given peerages. The fourth a knighthood. Another investment banker also previously of Barings is a board member of UK Financial Investments which is a group set up in 2008 to manage the government’s – read OUR shareholding in RBS and Lloyds after the financial crisis.

Yesterday RBS announced losses of £2 billion this year. Don’t think the managers are managing to manage very well!

These losses are due to ” legacy issues”       It wasnae me constable!

Departed Dave has given honours to 46 former colleagues. His chief of staff and head of policy unit get gongs simply for doing their jobs.

An OBE goes to his wife’s special adviser though why the fuck  did she need one and why the fuck did we have to pay for it out of our taxes?

Not only is he rewarding people who are simply doing their jobs  ( you may as well just pick folks at random from the general population) but he is demeaning awards made to those who might have truly earned them.

I used to think Dave was a decent man ( though his TV company wasn’t up to much ) but I find myself despising what he has done on this.  Way to go Dave?   Not. What sort of values do you have if you can sink so low?

The Pub:

Sunday pm during Edinburgh Festival 2016
Sandy Bell’s


Wi Fi password is Auchentoshan which in Gaelic apparently means ” the field of the corner” –   ( what the heck does that means in English ? )   Bitter and Twisted, Ossian, Innis and Gunn, Guinness, Tennant’s, Addlestones, Joker IPA, Budweiser, Volcan Wolf (?) all on tap.

A huge selection of malts and good range of gins available. Her inside and I are up to 35 different gins tasted. And rising—

Sandy Bell’s is privately owned.

Famous mostly as a folk music venue from the 60s onward, it has also been a gathering place for political debate. Despite me loving music this is my first visit since I came to work in the city 47 years ago!!

My musician friend Tom remembers being at a session here when Emmylou Harris dropped by.

Innis and Gunn lager is good as usual then I ask for the lowest abv beer on tap but it turns out to be Deuchars, which used to be a great pint but they changed the recipe completely, hoping that no one would notice, so I try Volcan Wolf at 4.7% abv which is very dark. ( This is due to the roasted malt. Ed. )

Now pay attention pub quiz people as it is named after the highest mountain in the Galapagos for a German naturalist Theodor Wolf.    Why?     Don’t ask me!

Promo bumf says dark yet light ( huh? ) but they mean colour v taste. First arrived on the market July 8th it is a collaboration of 4 Msc students, Heriot Watt Brewing and Stewart’s Brewery under the banner of  Natural Selection Brewing. Their thing is to promote a particular type of beer for a year then try something completely different. Interesting concept!

And an interesting pub.    Where next I wonder?


Canada Calling

Arachnophobes look away now!


National Art Gallery Ottowa
What spider?

Outside National Art Gallery Ottowa.

When in exile Robert the Bruce was supposedly inspired by the perseverance of a spider so here goes again.

Just back from a trip to Canada to celebrate brother-in-law’s 80th birthday. We spent a few days in Ottowa at the hotel below.


Chateau Laurier Ottowa

We got schlossed here every night.    Sorry, couldn’t resist it!

The only hotel we’ve stayed in with marble skirting boards.

Next year Canada celebrates 150th anniversary of its confederation. Happy Birthday –   et Bon Anniversaire!


Deacon Brodies Ottowa

Above we have Ottowa’s version of Edinburgh’s High Street pub.

On a bus tour of the city we passed Craft Beer Market so took a walk there later to check it out.

Only open for a few months it’s main selling point is it’s choice of over a hundred cask beers. Try a six pack sampler for 9 bucks. A great way to try small volumes of lots of different brews.

Our bar manager Mauro Kelly tells us the place is doing well and in true Scots fashion we wait ten minutes til 3.0 before ordering food so that we get $3 off each of our snacks!

Guess some of “Mo’s”  ethnic mix?

He tells us that Kelly is the second most common Irish surname. Can you figure out the most common? And whilst we are there what was the most common boys’ name in Glasgow last year?


Some of the beers on tap
CraftBeer Pub


The White Hart Inn in Edinburgh is famous for a photograph of what is apparently a ghostly hand but Craft Beer Market appears to have two!



Spot the Sport in the Barrels
CraftBeer Pub Ottowa


Beer barrels add to the unusual decor. Note the golf coverage!

Basketball was on another screen and, fortunately for me, tennis was on above the bar.


CraftBeer Restaurant and Pub
Beer lovin’ old tennis coach in heaven


Now Serendipity can be a fickle mistress but when we went for another “walk along the river” (” Blue Sky ” – Allman Brothers ) we arrived at the Mill Street Brewery. Happy coincidence!  After placing our order the waiter came back to say that they wouldn’t serve my choice as it had only come off the lorry a few hours ago and would not be at a suitably cold temperature. I was mightily impressed by that.



I made another choice brewed on site as below.



Ok, the most common Irish surname is Murphy.

The most common name for boys in Glasgow was Mohammed.


I have got to congratulate myself for having got through this blog without any political comment. ( Readers may be advised to miss the next few. Ed.)


The last photo is the blogger in brother-in-law’s back garden.


“See you Tommy”