Sunday, 14 May 2017


As promised, I've had a week of doing mostly fun stuff, helped by some half decent, though not particularly warm, weather.  I managed three bike rides, got taken out to a very nice restaurant for my birthday, and even managed to fit in an unplanned gig.  I'll see how this goes, but I may well post my restaurant review as a separate 'bonus episode'!
My first ride of the week was the shortest, though definitely not the easiest. I headed across the Tay road bridge in to Fife, riding through Newport, Woodhaven and Wormit. On previous rides I've gone on to Balmerino from here but this time I took the climb up to Gauldry. I certainly wasn't breaking any records (well, maybe for the slowest time up the hill!) but I eventually made it, to be rewarded by a steep, twisty descent and this view:
The descent wasn't really a reward as it's a bit too much of a white knuckle ride for my liking, but I'll definitely do the route again - to build my confidence on the downhill as well as building up my strength on the climb.  I think most cyclists have a bit of a love/hate relationship with hills, but the more you tackle them the better you get, and the sense of achievement when you get to the top of a hill you never thought you'd manage is pretty much unbeatable so I guess I have to learn to love them! As you can see from the picture it was a beautiful spring day. what you can't see in the picture is the hedges alive with the sound of birds singing away, or the biscuity smell of gorse. I also saw quite a few pheasants , including two pairs in a field on some kind of pheasant double date!

On Wednesday I did what's probably become my most frequent long (for me!) ride - Arbroath via The Corn Kist

I'm usually ready for a cold drink by the time I've done all the climbing in the first half of this ride but it was into an icy east wind on Wednesday so ended up with a coffee.  I have to say I was slightly disappointed by the quiche - it was a bit eggy for my taste and I couldn't detect any of the smoked cheddar in there.  Think it'll be back to the house special black pudding toastie next time! I took a slightly different route back through Arbroath, which avoided the big roundabout in town, and is slightly more scenic, as it passes a nice park at Keptie Pond. You also get a good view West across the high common, though the lighting's a bit rubbish in this picture!

I had to stop in Easthaven, just to take a picture of one of the several bike themed floral displays that have been appearing recently. It's only a tiny village but seems like a place with real community spirit - I can't imagine you get to live in Easthaven and not feel a bit proud of the place!

My final ride of the week on Friday was to Arbroath again, but as the weather wasn't so good I decided to take the A92 cycle path. Possibly not the best plan ever as some of it's pretty exposed to the elements, and the wind had really got up by the time I got past Carnoustie. So not the most pleasant ride, but the prospect of a tail wind on the way home kept me going. That, and the lunch I had at The Old Boatyard.  It's a funny, multi purpose kind of place - part cafe part nice restaurant, and being on the fish quay the menu is definitely big on fish. Very good service though - they didn't seem to object to me rocking up in cycling gear and choosing a table in amongst more smartly dressed diners, and the food was good too. I had a smoked haddock fishcake on a bed of noodles with sweet chilli sauce, which left me just enough room for a muffin and chai latte. Serving the muffins warm is a nice touch.

I don't mind dining alone, but having something to read does help sometimes!

Who'd like to see some swans having a lovely time at the seaside.....?

So to the random gig....I definitely spend far too much time on facebook/twitter, just mindlessly scrolling. However sometimes it has it's advantages. Dundee can come in for a bit of stick when it comes to the live music scene, either from people complaining that decent bands don't come to Dundee, or conversely that no matter how good a band is, people don't go out to support live music. To be honest I've been to gigs where the lack of crowd has been a bit cringe inducing, so I have tried to make a bit more of an effort looking out for interesting gigs, and social media definitely makes that easier. I've been to a few 'Pre-production Presents' gigs at Clarks now, with varying crowds it has to be said, and they've all been good nights. This Thursday's caught my eye - a band that describe themselves as 'a past post-modern bug-eyed beatnik group from Glasgow who are just as confused as anyone else' had to at least be interesting, and Pronto Mama were certainly that, and tremendously good fun. A 6 piece Indie band is pretty unusual anyway but when three of them play keyboard, two of the three play brass instruments, and one of them has a cowbell...well it put a smile on my face anyway! Ending the set on an a capella number with even the drummer taking a part was a brave move, and worked brilliantly. If you like your music a bit quirkly look them up in any of the usual places.  The support act was also very good - a 19 year old local girl, who goes by the name Be Charlotte - I'd looked her up on YouTube and didn't really think it'd be my thing, but actually because it was an acoustic set it really allowed her voice and guitar playing to shine. So two really good acts for £6 - less than the price of a cinema ticket, but because it was a Thursday night there were only maybe 50 people there at most. 

We went to Brewdog on Friday, for birthday drinks, but also because David wanted to check out the Clouidwater showcase. All IPAs so not my thing but I did have three really good beers. Citrus Tart by Fierce (the other Aberdeenshire craft brewers), a really good lemony sour beer, but with enough sweetness to make it lemon puddingy.  I was hoping to get my hands on a Yellow Belly by Omnipollo, and was in luck as they still had a few bottles left.
If that looks a bit KKKish it's supposed to - calling out the ultimate cowardice of institutional racism via the medium of beer. Not entirely sure how that works to be honest, though calling the KKK cowards is fair enoough. It's actually another of Omnipollo's collabs with Buxton and is an 11% peanut butter and biscuit imperial stout, containing neither peanuts nor biscuits. It does taste like Reeces Peanut Butter Cups, and doesn't taste like 11%! My final beer of the night was another imperial stout, Strikes and Gutters, from a Danish brewery, Dry and Bitter Brewing Co. It was very smoky, and pretty heady. I've just looked it up and discovered the name comes from The Big Lebowski so maybe should have given it an extra point on untappd just for that!

Well, I'm all blogged out for now, so I will leave the review of The Newport for another day - all I'll say for now is 'loved it'!


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