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What  we got here is a bunch of nutters basically ‘bagging‘ beer all over the world. It’a great craic and they share a lot of their spirit of adventure with the Bagging Scotland team. They’ve got a website which tells you all about their adventures www.beertickersfilm.com. It’s obviously a laugh but there will be ‘medical’ and ‘moral guardian’ people throwing their hands in the air, suggesting it’s encouraging people to drink beer and have fun! Outrageous!

If you tie this in with those cheeky guys at www.brewdog.com brewing the World’s strongest (Tactical Nuclear!) beer, it’s clear that brewing is going through an exciting period of change. It could be argued that a lot of mainstream brewers would be quite happy to have the world drink three colours of beer, in about half-a-dozen generic flavours.

Now, I absolutely LOVE a pint of mass-produced Guinness but surely variety has to be the spice of life? That’s why anyone that champions trying out lots of different varieties, has to be saluted!

Stephen Fry says the two most dangerous words in the English language are ‘Health’ and ‘Safety’ and with much Health and Safety bonkers going on, it great that people like the Beertickers and Brewdog are taking a slightly ‘f*ck-you’ stance to Political Correctness, over-regulation and in the words of Brewdog,the ‘nanny state’.

Well, we love them, we love their approach and we love Mavericks of every kind. Here at Bagging Scotland, we salute them!

As well as the microsite we’ve created at www.bagging-scotland.com we’ve also finished a rather lovely Proposal document as well. It contains lots of clever things, some of them extremely private but it also has the first drafts of what the ACTUAL sites could look like. Below is Whisky-Bagging.com and it shows in rough outline how you can start your odyssey! This is just a screen grab so don’t try and click onto it. If the site worked and was ready to go, why would we need any funding to complete it?

Which brings me round to funding. If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well and that’s why we’re refusing to allow www.bagging-scotland.com to be rubbish. It will have a number of cutting-edge social media features and as you need clever people to create these things, that won’t be cheap!  If you know or are working with a great brand who’d like to ‘own’ the Bagging-Scotland’ presence, we’d love to talk. We’re in negotiations with a number of ‘Scotland’ type organisations and we’re being really honest because we totally understand that as a concept, Bagging-Scotland is unique and there’s nothing like it out there, at the moment. It’s a chance for an organisation to get in on the ground floor of something conceptually brilliant but this also means we’re starting from ‘scratch’, so it’s gonna take a bit of time to bloom. A leap of faith (albeit a small one, we know our stuff!) will be required by ALL of our ‘In association with’ partners! Do you know anyone who might like to be one?

However, in the grand scheme of things, if you’re looking at entry into the Tourism market, with a dynamic and fantastic-looking series of web platforms, we’ve been incredibly frugal…so far and what we’re looking for ‘don’t amount to a hill of beans’ in the Global Tourism marketplace. It’s a top opportunity for the right, Bagging-minded people!.

Whisky Bagging

This is how to Bag Malt Whisky Distilleries

The Baggin Waggon

There’s a company called Danbury Motor Caravans who actually make REAL ‘Baggin’ Waggons’. When we first thought about the best way to Bag Scotland, we were in broad agreement that an exceptionally cool VW ‘Combi’ would be the way to do it. Unfortunately, anyone who’s owned one will tell you that the reality of owning an original 1950′s/60′s one isn’t quite so ‘cool’. Most of them wheeze along on a tiny, air-cooled engine and overheat, break down and are about as reliable as that other 1960′s icon, George Best was.

So, when we found out that those clever people in Brasil still make ‘old school’ VW campervans, we had to find out more. Our journey led us to Danbury. They import them from Brasil, make them Right-Hand drive, underseal them (rust ain’t such a problem in balmy Brasil) and generally ‘pimp’ them up to a state of overall magnificence! You can have basically anything, so if you want to tailor one, to make it suit your every demand, they can do it!

The’ve got modern engines, fridges, airbags, computer connections, flatscreens and the likes and you therefore can pose beside them, basking in the glory, rather than peering through a plume of smoking engine oil.

The Baggin’ Waggon is much more than a bit of a pose though. We’ve spoken at length with a number of the major ‘brands’ who use a vehicle to gain them a bit of ‘presence’. From what we’ve ascertained, they’re a brilliant and very ‘real’ brand building tool. They work, in taking brands to audiences and engaging with them, which is exactly what Bagging-Scotland is all about.

It’s for this reason that by practising what we preach (Bagging-Scotland)we’ll quickly establish the Bagging concept. As it’s a ‘camper’ van, it’s also dual-purpose. By staying in the van, we’ll save on hotel bills and will be able to be really flexible, when visiting our Bagging-Members (and potential Bagging-Members). It makes real sense.

So, you can expect to see the Baggin’-Waggon sooner, rather than later. We quite like the look of the one above but it’ll be branded-up, so NOBODY will be able to miss it!

It’s only a tiny wee picture of him but Gary Sutherland’s actually a very big talent. Okay I’ll admit to a bit of bias here as I used to work beside Gary and he bought me a pint or 4 in Glasgow’s real ale mecca, The State Bar last night. Anyway, Gary’s written a couple of belter books about the REAL Scotland. The books, ‘Hunting Grounds’ (all about visiting every Football Ground in Scotland) and ‘Great Balls of Fire’ (all about visiting the unusual and unique festivals that take place in Scotland) are great reads. Gary’s tone is understated, witty and a squillion miles better than the way I write, so obviously I’m jealous.

However, the reason for severe pintage and drams in the State last night was because Gary’s just landed a new job! Obviously the mandarins at VisitScotland have also read Gary’s book because they’ve given him the what I’d reckon to be dream job of supplying the Content for VisitScotland! It’s a big job but when I heard Gary had got it I was delighted. His writing is EXACTLY the style that our proud and magnificent wee country should be adopting and I think everyone who tunes in to VisitScotland will notice a big difference.

Gary’s from Hopeman (no, I don’t know where it is either) and he tells me his knowledge of the highways and byways of Scotland is even better than mine. One thing is certain, his knowledge of the FAIRWAYS definitely is. Gary’s next book is a golfing travelogue, where he visits golf courses all over the Scottish Islands. Right up our street, obviously as it means he’s an Island Bagger. Anyway, good luck in the new job, Gary. It’s a big task, but YOU’RE THE MAN, as our North American golfing diaspora might say!

Read more about this unassuming but annoyingly clever chap here http://birlinn.co.uk/author/details/Gary-Sutherland-1024/

Gary

Pallid faces-will anyone notice?

Pallid faces-will anyone notice?

Is there a country better suited to spending Hallowe’en in? It won’t have escaped even the most event-phobic person, but Halloween has now become a HUGE deal. As a wee boy I certainly enjoyed a bit of ‘guiseing’ but it’s not moved to level where kids are the least important members of the Happy Halloween gang!

You can look at this in two ways. You could throw your hands up in erm…horror at the crass commercialism of yet-another event, designed to drain the coffers of the beleaguered parent, in the run-in to Christmas. Or, you could embrace the fact that there’s been a bit of life injected into an ancient event, which takes place as we move into what can be a long and dark winter. What’s more, Scotland’s great for Hallowe’en. With a ‘nip’ in the air and with it now dark from 5pm onwards, what better place to create a scary and atmospheric event? Scotland should capitalise on this.

The thing with Halloween is it’s VERY open to interpretation, It can be a kid-friendly, ‘dooking’ for apples, dressing-up, harmless, fun, stay-up-slightly-late event for small ones, of assorted ages. It can also be a scary as…anything event for clubbing adults, giving a bit of ‘fright focus’ to the start of winter.

I think it’s a GREAT idea and in the same way that Scotland has ‘claimed’ Hogmanay, I think it’s time we also took ownership of Halloween. It was quickly done with Hogmanay, so let’s quickly do it with Halloween! We’ve got the ancient cities, abandoned castles, majestic, auburn countryside and dark, dank nights. Perfect.

There’s a ‘Zombie Walk’ taking part in Glasgow and this sounds like a huge amount of fun. The Carbeth Hutters are holding a ‘Haunted Halloween’ walk in Carbeth Woods and there are loads of other things happening, We should formalise all these and others  into a robust and impressive weekly calendar of events and claim Scotland’s Halloween as yet another reason to visit off-season Scotland.

VisitScotland, are you listening? Extent the season! Get working on it!

View From the formerly rubbish Morar Hotel that’s now quite good!

View From the Morar Hotel

Here’s Victor, pictured outside the old-folks-home that is …the Morar Hotel. Actually, that’s a bit unfair, this formerly atrocious waste of a spectacular setting is now open all day and the friendly staff were great, the day we were there. Tea on the terrace and all that jazz.  Here’s something we thought we’d never say: Go for a pint to the Morar Hotel…there, we’ve said it. Even if you’re under 75, go for a pint there.

Surely they also move into the Top Ten of ‘Best bar views in The World’ with this spectacular view., looking out to the Small Isles and with Morar Beach in the foreground? It’s amazing, so The Morar Hotel deserves to be busier and it’ll get better. Start righting this ‘Catch 22′ situation now!

On our little Bagging fact-finding mission we had absolutely AMAZIN’ weather and me a the Bagging possee had beach barbies and strolls around the surrounds in 60 degree temperatures. Okay, not bikini weather but for Scotland in October? First rate. We took off our jaikets, our scarves and, at one point, we were in T-shirts. Not one of us were taken to Belford Hospital in Fort William with hypothermia.

So Baggers out there, go mad, take you clothes off in October! The midgies have gone, so the only swelling will be 100% natural. You know it makes sense!

More pics to follow!

Phil Cunningham and Ali Bain

Ali Bain and Phil Cunningham

We’ve just been watching an old re-run on TV where multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter Phil Cunningham visits North America to see the influence that the Scots have had on the music, ‘over the pond’. The whole programme can be summed-up in one word-amazing. From Hillbilly music, to Bluegrass, to the Country greats, Phil met them, heard them play their music and pointed out the glaring similarities and influence, all clearly developed from a lot of the traditional music, us Scots know and love.

As there’s a long-established Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards, perhaps it’s time to have the Music of Scots Origin (MOSO) awards?

At the event, all the great modern Country stars (who sell more records than anyone else in America), could pick up ‘gongs’ celebrating the heritage and influence of what surely is one of THE most amazing musical countries in the World.

The ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Awards could be handed over posthumously to the families of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley! Johnny’s gang were from Falkland in Fife and the Pressley (probably with two s’s) possee hailed from Renfrewshire. No surprise that these two music legends adopted ‘the Scots sound’. They had good taste!

Swordfish near Alloa!

 

Swordfish near Alloa!

A Scottish Swordfish! We’ve mentioned Basking Sharks and other ‘exotic’ delights like whales that are quite often spotted of the West Coast of Scotland. However, on the East Coast, wayyyy up the river Forth, past Edinburgh, The Forth Bridges and South Queensferry swam this not-so-little creature. Incredible this did not get more coverage because in Scotland, this really IS rare. Something you’d see in Miami or Antigua, swimming around, near Grangemouth! We think that due to climate change, this is only the first of many unusual ‘vistors’ we’re going to see in and around Scotland’s Islands.

Just cos it's 'Mac' don't make it Scottish...

Just cos it's 'Mac' don't make it Scottish...

Hmm, not quite sure what to make of this. Of course, LOTS of people make Whisky and even places pretty close to home, like Wales do a Single Malt. It’s just that calling it MacMyra is SO wrong. Like all things with ‘Mc’ or ‘Mac’ in them, it doesn’t mean it’s Scottish. I’m sure this stuff is okay but it’s not and never can be ‘Scotch’, so why the silly name? Maybe we should start doing Scotch Vodka called Gothenberger? See how they like it?

The world\’s only scheduled beach landing

It’s the only scheduled flight in the World that lands on a beach. And what a beach. Cockleshell on Barra is amazing, The fact that it’s an official airport makes it even more incredible. Barra is one of BaggingScotland’s favourite of all the Scottish Islands. It’s got a really unusual Castle (Kisimul) it’s got the beaches (see below) but it’s also got one of  THE quality pubs in Scotland. The Castlebay. A touch of Irish, a smidgeon of other-wordlyness and a hint of Whisky Galore. No surprise in that because the film of the same name was filmed in Castlebay. So, Barra. If you’re a CastleBagger AND an IslandBagger, that’s two reasons to visit it. If you want to see why VisitScotland used it as the setting for their their beautiful, ‘Perfect day’ promotional video www.visitscotland.com or if you just fancy a pint of Guinness in a close-to-perfect pub setting, then get on that wee plane to Barra!

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