Oh what a year, early December 2023

This has been a blast of a year in so many respects. I have effectively started a new business, stopped drinking, lost weight, found Tchaikovsky and Jaramillo coffee, gained wisdom, got one year older and just managed to keep my head above water financially.

So I am quite chuffed overall. I seem to be able to do tour-guiding which is a pleasant surprise, given that I never got selected onto the scottish tour guide association course.

But heho, it’s not necessary to have the blue badge and I have a feeling I would have found the course tough going to be honest. Back to the classroom again and the polite chat and all that history and geology overkill and the rest of the stuff they cram you with.

I am also now working in a bottle shop. In fact not just any old bottle shop, but indeed ‘The Bottle Shop’, which is Luvians in St Andrews. Set up by the Fusaro brothers in 1983, it’s a formidable establishment with very cool staff (mostly students but some university philosophy lecturers! With first class degrees or heading that way and all vastly knowledgeable about the industry- known as Luvianistas!).

Anyhow it’s a great environment to work in even though I am not so knowledgeable about the industry and very much didn’t get a first class degree. I scraped a Desmond.

Luvians is very similar to Taste, the amazing wee coffee shop in North Street and the incorrigible butcher boys’s pad in Bruntsfield and Rosevear Tea and the chippy in Leven and the Crail lobster shack and Kay’s Bar and The Canny Man’s (when they let me in) and that deli with the wonderfully eccentric looking chap in Val D’Isere (if it’s still there and he is still there) and the Bar d’Alsace and The Woolpack Inn and La Grand Ourse and The Phoenix and Mellis’s and Penmans and North Street Newport Bakery when Jo-Lee is on and I could go on? But let us stop with Jo-Lee in the Newport Bakery.

There aren’t enough of these places that’s for sure. Long live the quirky, classy independents. Especially the ones with such nice staff.

So if anyone is floating around St Andrews then do please float by Luvians in Market Street and have a wee dram (there is indeed a whisky tasting library!) and a natter and a chortle if all goes well.

Everyone likes a good chortle. Well unless you’re not disposed that way. But I do like a good wee chortle.

And in my opinion there is not enough of that going on these days.

Long live the good wee chortle.

My tips for the week (all running in the 3.30 at Doncaster) are the new book by Dolly Alderton, the sherry casked Glenturret 12 year old, the Ninja long black with extra shot from Taste, any ice wine, Tamazaki 18 year old, The Highlander Inn, Tomme de Savoie, Romato fino sherry, Nick Drake, chocolate panatone and of course the Newport Bakery almond croissant, ideally served up by Jo Lee.

Fare forward passengers.