Passing place etiquette

Driving on rural roads in parts of Scotland can throw up new challenges for the suburban driver. There are sheep and cattle to watch out for and tractors and cyclists to navigate around. But the main problem you’ll have to face is single track roads. Don’t get us wrong, after moving here from a city we found it hard to get used to. So here are the rules and some unwritten ones to help you help us.

Passing places work more than one way. Firstly they are for when two cars meet going in opposite directions which in this situation, the car closest to the passing place must either wait in it or wait next to it for the other car to use. DO NOT change sides of the road! Secondly, they can be used to let the faster driver behind you pass. These are usually irritable courier drivers who really shouldn’t flash or beep their horns but ignore the ones who do and let them pass without giving them the finger.

Now for some etiquette. Try to avoid any situation where you have to reverse or make the car coming towards you reverse. Just go cautiously around bends to eliminate any need for reversing into passing places. Not all of us are so confident in reverse especially if we’re new to the roads and panic easily. If you are in a checkmate situation where you’re both at an equidistant from two passing places but there are two cars coming towards you rather than you just on your own, then you should really do the reversing, simply because it is easier for one car than it is for two. Lastly, it is generally easier to wait at the passing place going down hill then to let the car going uphill wait and then make a hill-start. In general, it just takes a bit of common sense and to ask yourself in each situation what would be the best thing to do for both cars concerned.

When it comes to cattle on roads, I would suggest not beeping at them – my neighbour did this once only to have her bumper kicked off by a disgruntled cow.

Rowan trees according to the locals

The rain from last night and most of today has thankfully filled up our water tank. No more trips to the burn with the watering-can for us now. A little wander around the garden when the sun came out, because it does look so much more appealing after a bout of showers, lead to this find.

The shape of the leaves leads us to the conclusion that it is a rowan tree which we think is a good omen after our neighbour once dissuaded us about a fallen rowan tree which we had had our eyes on for the wood burner, saying that to burn it would bring us bad luck. It wasn’t until a year later that the importance of the rowan tree would crop up again. This time, we heard about a wedding ceremony taking place underneath a particular rowan tree that had grown on top of an oak, an epiphyte or ‘flying rowan’, that is especially potent in warding off evil spirits, that we started thinking about the relevance of the tree to Scottish mythology.

They are everywhere up here although it isn’t until the Autumn when their bright red berries appear, that you start to notice just how many. If you spot one in a graveyard, its presence is probably not a coincidence as they are planted by loved ones of the deceased to prevent any hauntings.

Rowan is still used in the craft of stick-making, that is still taught at our local village hall, even if the mythical properties behind its use in the past by druids might not always be known. We’ve yet to see our local farmer put a sprig of rowan above his barn door to protect his cattle from harm although we might suggest it only if we see him down the pub and have had a few drinks first.

If you’re in the Loch Lomond area and fancy a walk then you might be interested in this.

The marmalade cake

With rain pelting against the window, there seems little else to do but bake a cake. Especially when there’s nothing else sweet in the house to eat. And if you’re looking for sweet, then the marmalade cake really hits the spot with its drizzle frosting.

According to www.rampantscotland.com it was first made in 1797 in Dundee after a Spanish ship sort refuge from a storm and then had to sell its cargo cheap to the locals. Always up for a bargain, never have we wanted to be a resident of Dundee 200 years ago more than now.

Ingredients for the cake

6 oz butter or margarine

6 oz caster sugar

6 oz self raising flour

3 eggs

3 oz marmalade

Zest of one orange

Ingredients for the icing

Juice of one orange

4 oz icing sugar

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the marmalade and zest and then the flour. Bake in a lined round 6 inch tin at gas mark 4 for about an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Beat the icing sugar and orange juice together and drizzle on top of the cake while still warm. Yes, it will make a mess.

Someone pass Mr Murray a slice of this – there’s always next year, Andy.

That flying rowan we were talking about

The rain from last night and most of today has thankfully filled up our water tank. No more trips to the burn with the watering-can for us now. A little wander around the garden when the sun came out, because it does look so much more appealing after a bout of showers, lead to this find.

The shape of the leaves leads us to the conclusion that it is a rowan tree which we think is a good omen after our neighbour once dissuaded us about a fallen rowan tree which we had had our eyes on for the wood burner, saying that to burn it would bring us bad luck. It wasn’t until a year later that the importance of the rowan tree would crop up again. This time, we heard about a wedding ceremony taking place underneath a particular rowan tree that had grown on top of an oak, an epiphyte or ‘flying rowan’, that is especially potent in warding off evil spirits, that we started thinking about the relevance of the tree to Scottish mythology.

They are everywhere up here although it isn’t until the Autumn when their bright red berries appear, that you start to notice just how many. If you spot one in a graveyard, its presence is probably not a coincidence as they are planted by loved ones of the deceased to prevent any hauntings.

Rowan is still used in the craft of stick-making, that is still taught at our local village hall, even if the mythical properties behind its use in the past by druids might not always be known. We’ve yet to see our local farmer put a sprig of rowan above his barn door to protect his cattle from harm although we might suggest it only if we see him down the pub and have had a few drinks first.

If you’re in the Loch Lomond area and fancy a walk then you might be interested in this.

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