Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Gowfcroft - extreme bog-golf at Gateside, Shetland

Here is a description of and rules for extreme bog-golf at The Gowcroft, Gateside, Shetland:

'Extreme bog-golf' is played on uncultivated 'in-by' croft land at The Gowfcroft, Gateside, Shetland. Please note, this land is very wet and peaty, and is unsuitable for golf carts, golf shoes, tractors or heavy earthmoving equipment. A tractor disappeared here not long ago. No responsibility is taken for your safety or well being should you decide to play here. Golf at your own risk.

Please shut all gates, or at least try to wrestle them into position. If you let Lowrie's sheep in, you will have to round them up and transport them to Sumburgh.

There will be no putting (for the moment) at The Gowfcroft. Putting should (temporarily)be carried out after the consumption of at least one pint of beer, on the close-cropped lawn of the St Magnus Bay Hotel, one mile to the south-west. Please ask permission first.

The Gowfcroft can be played as a three, six or nine-hole course. There are, essentially, six holes, with nine being achieved by playing the first three again. There are three flags, no greens. A hole is deemed completed when the player's ball is within two feet of the flag in any direction.

Basic rules of Extreme Bog-Golf are as per the Royal and Ancient, with certain exceptions:
-Wellington boots are advised, but not compulsory.
-One lost ball per hole is assumed. If you do NOT lose a ball, one stroke is removed from your total for that hole. If you find a ball in the general vicinity of where your ball landed, but it is NOT your own, you may play it as if it IS your own, benefitting from the bonus stroke for lack of loss.
-Preferred lies and penalty-free cleaning of balls at ALL times.
- All fences indicate out of bounds, except the one at the final hole (3, 6 and nine). Do NOT play your ball from beyond the other fences. You will be attacked and eaten by dogs.
-rubber driving range tees are preferred/essential.


Entering the croft of Gateside, cross a ditch immediately to your left before reaching the house, pass the site of regular Wicker Man burnings (clearly evident) and the blue flag of holes three/six/nine. Cross the fence leading to the open croftland, heading uphill. You will see a piece of astroturf (the tee) and, to the north, in the far corner of the field is a yellow flag. This is the first/seventh hole:

HISTORIC SCOTLAND (175 Yards; par 4)
Beware landing on the ancient monument approximately 80 yards from the tee. Divots may reveal all kinds of things. This is a heel-shaped burial cairn thought to have been used by Picts as an early form of bunker.

Having played 'Historic Scotland', turn west, south wet and look for a red flag.This is the second/eighth hole. There is a piece of astroturf which can be used as a tee, but this is not compulsory.:

DA BRIG (200 yards; par 4). Beware the various drainage ditches.

Turn back towards the house and look for the blue flag. Find a flat piece of turf near the drainage ditch, by the flag. This is the third or ninth:

HAMEABOOT (125 yards; par 3. Any damage to the house fabric must be made good.

Return to the first tee, and aim for the red flag. Proceed to play the three holes you have just played, in reverse. You may, by this time, be suffering from exposure. In which case, abandon the game. If conditions merit, play the three holes in their original order to achieve nine. Which is exactly one half of 18.


None. A contribution towards lost flags may be posted through the house letterbox.

Good luck. Coastguard rescue services are available in cases of extreme distress, but should not be called out lightly. Proper waterproof clothing, or possibly diving equipment, should be worn. The landowners take no responsibility. For anything.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring may just have suddenly sproinged in Shetland

I've been examining our 'forest'. No, not the old, mighty and massive trees you can see here, but the woodland planted on the croft three years ago and still at the marginal-might-or-might-not-make-it wee-tiny-stick stage. You can see a wee totie example in the foreground. Hundreds of native species - mostly willow - have gone in, along with some spruce and other planty things I forget. I think they might even grow! Buds have appeared. They are not, despite volcanic ash, hurricanes, ice, snow and the baleful hatred of passing sheep, dead yet.

And the daffodils are out at Gateside, aka The Radiocroft. It's actually warm in the sunshine. Could it be....could it possibly be...spring?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beyonce as Etta James in Cadillac Records

Quite surprisingly moved by the emotional clout of Cadillac Records, currently showing on Sky Premiere. Great cast: Jeffery Wright (Felix Leiter in Quantum of Solace) superb as Muddy Waters; Mos Def convinces as Chuck Berry, and as for Beyonce your heart out, Amy Winehouse! Really good film. Music, as Sam Philips said of Howlin' Wolf, "where the soul of man never dies."

Friday, April 16, 2010

You want volcanic ash? We got volcanic ash...

Shetland this morning - it's very fine, like the softest, greyest talcum powder. Must remember not to breathe...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The future for magazines and newspapers?

OK, so Marvel's comic book application for the iPad plays to the simplest strengths of both formats, but surely this is the way ahead for the dead tree industries? I mean, yes, we now expect free content online...but for the convenience of having your daily newspaper/monthly mag downloaded, in full, to your mobile device, complete with video, links, sound...where do I subscribe?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Election first week - unexpurgated Sunday Herald piece

I was, I admit, somewhat miffed to find the commissioned 700 swashbuckling words (written whilst on holiday in Mallorca, he said, playing the sympathy card) devoid of either swash or buckle and cut to here's the original, if anyone's interested:

What’s it all about, Alfeeee? Oh, how the foghorn tones of Cilla Black, a veteran of celebrity Toryism, would have added to Sir Michael Caine’s appearance with a suspiciously pallid-of-cheek David Cameron (can you get coloured botox?) , for the announcement of the Tories’ proposed National Citizens’ Scheme.
Instead, it was left to 77-year-old Muppet Movie star Sir Michael, to speak for yoof. He had been brought up, he pointed out, in the Elephant and Castle, and run with his homies in a gang so ferocious its habit of ringing doorbells and scarpering was legendary throughout London. Cor. Blimey. Luv a duckhouse. Meanwhile, his Etonian pal was hoping that his plan to make all 16-year olds wear khaki shorts and help old people like Sir Mike across the road would ‘do more than blow the bloody doors off’. A quote from Caine movie The Italian Job. As opposed to the much more popular Cider House Rules, that glorious anthem of praise to Frosty Jack consumption by the under-12s.
Back in Scotland, Alex Salmond was unimpressed. No, Scotland would not be having any truck with teenage Tory marching organisations. What was the point, when the Orange Lodge was doing such a fine job? And besides, wasn’t the SNP setting up its own paramilitary youth wing, the Young Sturgeons, featuring glossy uniforms, flags and armbands and special sporrans designed by respected Christmas card designer Gerry Burns? No? Oh well.
Jings, whit’s going on here? Swooping down from the skies in his private jet comes Nick Clegg, dropping in on Scotland to view the Libocrat troops, and looking like David Cameron’s less carefully coiffed wee brother. Would he be forcibly enlisted in Cameron’s classless Eton Rifles? Or join a coalition? Or say something in Spanish for the weans at home, where it’s apparently the language of Clegg family life? No, there’s time only for a swift cerveza and shouts of ‘don’t let your wife cut your hair like that again, shagboy!’ Slept with 30 women? Fair enough, but did the Libocrat hierarchy have to get t-shirts printed to that effect? Still, 30 votes is 30 votes. Onto that aeroplane and away south, son. Flying’s the green option. Petrol’s dirt cheap this week.
Deception! Deception! Gordon’s clunky prose and lumbering enunciation, his jaw moving like that of a masticating wildebeeste, sends accusations at the business leaders supporting the Conservative line on National Insurance (deceived), and at the Cameronians themselves (deceivers). The Tories have worked up their economic policy on the back of an envelope, he claims, failing to realise that envelopes are so last century. Half a Blackberry, a sliver of Apple iPhone, and Adam Smith’s your uncle. There’s even a spellchecker so you can be sure you get ‘Welth of Nashuns’ right. That’s spellchecker, Gordon. s-p-e....oh, never mind. Next you’ll be saying you’ve never heard of Twitter.
Ah well, it’s Friday and ye ken noo. Step forward, Stuart MacLennan, hitherto ignored no-hoper Labour candidate for Moray, the seat that used to sport more Ewings than Dallas in its heyday. For 16 months, longer than most Labour cabinet ministers knew its existed, online microblogging service Twitter has seen mucho activity by young Maclennan, who has been slagging off Moray folk as teuchters (so wrong: teuchters only exist west of Forres, not including Findhornians, who are from California, Venus and Tharg) Labour codgers as ‘coffin dodgers’ and worst of all, decrying the whisky industry. Sitting Moray MP Angus Robertson, SNP, while endeavouring to keep the smirk off his face, fulminates fulsomely: “This litany of abuse...language unacceptable in any company...very disturbing...shocked...” Yeah, right, Angus. Just listen to Jim Murphy, asked why it took so long for Labour to condemn, then sack MacLennan. “You must understand that we in the Labour Party had not heard of this...Tweeter until mere minutes ago. A statement is being telexed to you as we speak. Or faxed. Or if we can find a pigeon, posted. Unless JK Rowling can supply us with one of her owls.”
There’s no time to mention Boris Johnson’s New Model National Citizens’ Scheme, the version with swords and sidearms, or Charlie Kennedy’s ginger gravitas. Now he really IS a teuchter.