A Wonderful Week

I really have had an amazing week. It started off with my first food tour for Kevin at Scottish Golf Experience and it couldn’t have gone any better to be honest. Eight wonderful guys from North Carolina were across for a week’s golf and had just pitched up in town. They were excellent company and we had a superb night of it. Thank you guys for making that such a fun experience for me too.

Now, I was playing the Old Course on Thursday evening and practicing my putting before teeing off. I heard some very familiar voices at the side of the green and it was the North Carolina lads who had just finished playing. We had a wee chat and it turned out they had all managed to get a game on the Old through the ballot system apart from Jeff. So I said that he could join me and Isaac as we were just about to tee off. The guys looked a bit incredulous in the least at this offer, but sure enough Jeff was able to play with us and we had a great game in the evening sun on the old lady.

His friend Joe walked out to caddie for him last few holes and the rest of his mates walked out to see him play the last hole in the fading St Andrews light, which was lovely. A fine end to their week in the auld toon.

I was so glad to help here as it would have been real tough on Jeff missing out on playing the Old. And what a bit of a player he is, having just started the game about ten years back, he has an incredible swing and touch.

A lovely man as well, as were all the group. I really do have so much time for nearly all the Americans I meet. They are impressive.

Now, I played in the first round of the Jock Hutchinson on the New Course on Saturday and got off to a flying start. However the wheels came off on the par 5, third hole, where left with only a five iron second shot in, I walked off with an 8 and then proceeded to drop a further 7 shots over the next three holes! 10 over after six! Consistency is not in my golf bag! Nor my life bag for that matter.

I did pretty well to finish at plus 12 and give myself a wee chance to qualify for the match play on the Old Course and one of the most coveted trophies in the club.

So must go for now folks as I am due out on the Eden for the second round in an hour, the rain is coming down a bit but I’m feeling bullish. But I always feel bullish before a game of golf mind!

Have a good one folks.

postscript on Jock Hutchinson:

2nd round: I had another disaster on the Eden with a 9 on the 3rd hole again. I won’t talk you through it though. It appears now that I am very borderline to qualify. Tant pis !

C’est la vie.

Post postscript: I did qualify for the match play over the Old Course in the Jock Hutchinson!

There manifestly is a golf god.

Fare forward passengers.

JB’s Golf Classic

I have had a fun two days taking around some lovely folk who are on Jack Buchholz’s incredible 17 day tour of Scotland and England. We strolled Edinburgh Old Town on Monday and then St Andrews yesterday.

Jack and his wife Deborah have really cracked it with their Classic golf tour, in making it a sightseeing and general interest tour alongside of course the golf. They run a competition for the golfers throughout the trip for some quite serious monetary prizes I believe.

And they have run some pretty interesting trips by all accounts, down the Danube on a river boat par example. I think that’s the first golf tour of that kind out there. This is really quite a refreshing take in the old golf tour game and I’m well impressed guys.

So many of our operators are rather too set in their ways and serving up the same bog-standard agenda. There is no real spark nor anyone really doing what Jack and Deborah are doing. The one exception maybe is my fellow caddie, Kevin Fogarty, who has set up the Scottish Golf Experience and is trying to add a bit more colour. He has kindly asked me to do a Food Tour for his guests during their stays.

I suppose I tried to do things a bit differently a few years back with my friend Ricey (Ambroggio McLintock to be exact! Yes you got it; Ambroggio ergo Ambrosio, ergo Ricey!) when we did whacky weekend ski trips up north with The Big Fun Company. We certainly had fun. Ah those were the days! Shame we let go of that domain name mind! Careless.

Anyway we are now in the present and I will be following and harking on about JB Golf Classics from now on. In fact you could say that I’m a JB Golf Classic fan. They certainly attract a fine bunch of people on their tours which says a lot for Jack and Deborah. In fact I believe they have waiting lists for some of them.

And they are certainly getting 5 stars from this auld Scottish tour guide. That’s for sure.

Fare forward passengers.

Reaching Out

I have had a blast and a half of a start to my tour season with the luck to have met some wonderful people on my first few tours of the year. How lucky I am to be able to do this. I am indebted to Alan Chalmers, who has now sadly passed, who gave me an opening here. What a very decent chap Alan was.

Now I have been doing a wee bit of browsing on the web to see what’s out there in the food tour world and stumbled across Arva Ahmed who set up ‘Frying Pan Adventures’. She was a a Dubai based food blogger who got a bit bored I believe in having to dish up reviews to order and so set up a food tour company with her sister, the first in Dubai.

It seems like she has absolutely killed the food tour scene there and has made a bit of a name for herself. She got invited onto that Netflix series ‘Somebody Feed Phil’ with that chap Mr Rosenthal who in my opinion has one of the best gigs in the universe, wandering the globe and trying out the best and most individual cuisine each region has to offer. I see they got Tony Singh in the Edinburgh one. Sound choice.

Now the weather here in St Andrews has been miserable. I managed to get my American client Phil onto the Old Course last week but the heavens opened and the wind blew and it was cold and dreek and we got utterly soaked to the skin. But Phil and I navigated our way around with the help of Brian Erskine, my friend who was roped in to caddie and did a sterling job. Brian is a sterling bloke though.

There are things afoot on the restaurant scene folks but I can’t divulge more than that at the moment. I will keep you all in the utmost suspense!

I see PIGGS have now opened up in Bruntsfield. It is run by my friend Iggy Campus’s sons and will kill it there. Iggy really knows what he is up to and his sons have the looks and the style and indeed the food to pull this off big time. It should make a nice change for people who frequent the monstrously overcharging Montpelliers. But let’s not hark on about that crowd. They are not my flavour of the decade, albeit they can turn a bob or two.

But it’s not all about money. I would rather treat people fairly in life.

Outwith that, I see Dine Murrayfield are now 4th on Trip Advisor! I knew it was a super location there when I opened my cafe 10 years back and it’s a bit of a shame that we didn’t make that work as a bistro. We really failed badly there. Ho hum. I take a lot of the blame of course for not addressing things quicker. It was a truly learning experience. The guys now doing it are pretty on the ball even though I’m not bowled over by their food if I’m honest.

I was bowled over this week in Dollar though as we slipped into Cafe at No 44 on the main drag and I had the best bacon roll I have ever had tasted. And what a charming little place too with lovely attentive staff. This really is spot on folks.

Anyway as I said exciting times are ahead now for me on the food scene and as I said watch this space.

Fare forward passengers.