The old caddie lark

This old caddie lark is a bit of a lark.

I mean I hang out a wee bit in St Andrews these days and have my ear near to the ground (sometimes a bit more near to the ground than others if you get my drift!)

Anyway I was in Taste just now and bumped into a caddie who works at the Old who has just informed me that the Links Trust are now allocating caddies for the Dunhill, which means that if you have had a client for the past few years then tough, because you ain’t going to have them this year.

These blokes who run the Links Trust have again got above themselves. Of course I have a personal axe to grind with them when they dictated that I should show them every article I wrote before it got published! Who do you think you are guys?

You who have no real feel for the history of our game here either. You changed the name of the Old Tom Morris Shop where he had his workshop to the ‘The Open’ !

Yuk. Why?

Moreover they have run roughshod over employees with respect to their pensions, pay terribly low wages to their workers when they (the chosen few fat-cat directors) walk away with stratospheric sums, have put up the yearly residents ticket this year by over 40 per cent on the pre-text of having to recover from covid after they somewhat milked the government for furlow dosh. Tenuous what?

Some charity.

I shall be looking at the accounts with particular interest this year.

However the caddies are ripping it this year. I met a nice chap yesterday just off the Old. He showed me his gains from the round. A hundred and seventy quid!

Now I am in the wrong job like.


I did my first tour of Dundee on Saturday and I’m a bit cock-a-hoop about the place to be honest.

My lovely guests from the Midwest (America) just arrived that morning on the first ever cruise ship to roll into town.

Yes folks. Dundee is now a veritable tourist destination. Would you believe it?

Well you wouldn’t have a few years back before the start of the £1 billion bucks investment into the waterfront and the new Kenzi Kuma designed V&A now sitting majestically next to the RRS Discovery.

I chanced to find the most amazing cafe I have come across in years. Empire State sits in the very heart of town in a lovely curved Victorian street which left me awestruck. An oh so cool cafe.

I mean this felt like being in Borough Market or Left Bank Paris or West Village, NY. But no it was down-town Dundee. Wow!

But more than this Dundee has a wonderful down to earth quality and is very happy in its own skin. It is the UNESCO design capital of the UK. It is the home to the Broons and Oor Willie and Desperate Dan. It has the stunning McManus Gallery and the most pretty Howff Cemetery, epic views from Dundee Law, a Tailend fish and chips shop, a Fisher and Donaldson and one of my favourite bars this side of Tokyo, The Phoenix. It’s kind of like The Canny Mans in Edinburgh but without the stuck-up owners and that awful, awful pretentiousness.

Modest and real just like Dundee. A city that is so very much happening.

And so far without any sickly self-conceit.

How refreshing.

On writing bad reviews

I am in the habit of writing poor restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor. Now, this is for no other reason than the meal I had was nearly always worse than I expected.

I went to Ziggy’s in St Andrews the other day to try their fish and chips. I have never been to Ziggy’s but have heard mostly positive reports about it.

My suspicions were immediately raised though when I was told that the fish only came breaded. I asked if it was fresh and was informed that it came in every day. However my hunch is that maybe it did come in every day but it probably came in already breaded.

Anyway, my fish and chips arrived and it confirmed my suspicions. A tiny piece of fish breaded to death in a thick, tasteless hard crust, alongside some bulk processed chips, a tiny bowl of tartare sauce with the highlight being two slices of lemon.

I advised in my review that they shouldn’t really be offering fish and chips if they can only muster up what you’d expect to get in your bog-average, city centre Costco. This is St Andrews.

When I vented my grievance with the waitress she remonstrated that they sold a lot of them. I said I’m sure they did and indeed Starbucks sell a lot of coffee but this doesn’t mean it’s any good.

I tried the new Mowgli street food Indian place in Edinburgh a few weeks back after reading a rave review in the Telegraph, but it was similar. Albeit they used much better ingredients and there were some reasonable flavours in a few of the plates. But on the whole it was a rip-off. Huge prices for very small quantities. We had a poor bottle of red and several plates, got stung £50 each and left feeling we could certainly eat more.

So basically I’m very reticent about eating out nowadays. It’s largely a huge let down. And I’m not going to splash out on any of your bank-busting tasting menus in a hurry, as I’ve worked for one of these joints and have seen that charade from the inside.

This is not to say that I will not be dishing up my tasting tours in Edinburgh and St Andrews soon. But I will make sure that people get enough to eat, the quality is up there and that people will feel that they haven’t been monumentally ripped.

I have invited Jay Rayner (why not at least aim high!) on my first Edinburgh tour which will sample oysters and chablis in the White Horse, some nice tapas in Piggs, a cheeky snifter in the Jolly Judge at the top of the High Street, some venison and a wee claret in The Witchery, Peking Duck in the West Port chinese and then head to the Radford’s at Timberyard and see what they can dish up on the dessert and cheese front?

Check me out on Tours By Locals. It’s going to be a blast.

But no poor reviews please!

Well unless they are justified, constructive even.

I don’t mind that.