Tweed, haggis and bicycles

We went to Scotland.

The lowlands and Edinburgh was our destination. A few days in April filled with tweed, bicycles, haggis and drinks. You always hear about rainy Scotland and the cold weather. But for us this time, it was like any sun vacation around the Mediterranean sea. Sunny, warm and very nice weather.

The days was focused on tweed safari, visiting Harris Tweed shops, Walker Slater, woollen mill outlets. Observing ladies and gentlemen using tweed as everyday cloths. We were amazed by how natural so many used different tweed clothings, jackets, suits, coats, skirts, scarf’s, hats and caps. They where not going by the rules of the modern fashion icons. The tweed people used their own mind, to create a look that represents the person wearing the clothes. Instead of being a follower of fashion, where the clothes shows who you pretend to be.

Just sitting outside in the sunshine at an pub located at Grass market, looking at the display of all people waling by was real treat. Almost as an cat walk. Sadly the weather forecast told us that it would be rainy and cold upon arrival. So, I decided not to use my own Harris Tweed jacket. That was a bad mistake for my part. Since the spring had arrived in sunny Edinburgh. The birds was singing and trees was blooming. A tweed jacket had been the right choice! Instead I had my winter jacket, that made me look like a polar explorer.

Edinburgh is a town build upon hills. Streets, stairs, up and down. Having a tea in Princess street gardens, a glass of locally brewed ale at Tollbooth tavern on Canongate or trying a small Whiskey at an pub on Cowgate. A nice town with lots of atmosphere and things to see, parks to visit and steep streets to walk. Of course, there were bicycles to. The regular ones but there were some interesting ones standing here and there to. You had to look around a little to see them.
Among others there was a display outside a coffee shop. It was a rusty British roadster, all original with rear coil springs with a front loop leather seat. Typical rod brakes and a delivery carrier mounted in the front. It was a real beauty!
Then we had the modern rat bicycle with fat tires, a Sögreni style chain guard and turned down handlebars. Many of the special and classical bicycles we noticed, were used as commercial eye cathchers. The best example we saw was the rusty worn old racer that had commercials for a repair centre where then learn you how to repair things (sadly not bicycles, more furnitures), all over the bicycle.

What about the food I hear you ask? Of course, Haggis! The traditional Scottish dish. In short, it was available everywhere, from the traditional serving, to the modern style. You could have an traditional Haggis with “neeps and tatties” or you could have it as breakfast along the sausages, beans, tomatoes and eggs. Or why not try it as a hamburger? There were all ways of serving haggis. We found one place that served the haggis burger with the option of sausages on top. That was a bit to much for us. So we settled only with “bangers and mash”, fish and chips or one of all pies that was on the menu.
But the Scotch egg is a real treat! So strange, yet so perfect. It is an hard boiled egg placed inside a layer of sausage meat, then coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried. Absolutely delicious!

In short, it was a good visit. It was 4 years since my last visit to the United Kingdom, but my first visit in Scotland.
Will I return? Tweed, haggis and bicycles? Of course!

But the next time I will use my tweed jacket.



Banks, money and local supermarkets

Hello! It’s me again. I am back, and I like to apologize for my absence the last months. The reasons why I haven’t been around are many and strange. But that will be saved for another post perhaps. I will get back when things calm down and I can yet again crawl up from underneath the stone I am hiding.  But until then, there is one thing I want to share.

A few days ago I got the silly, yes silly, idea of going to the bank who has had me as a customer since well over the last 20 years. I have a piggy-bank at home where I put all change received when doing some shopping. When I was young I was learned that “a saved coin is a coin earned”. So ever since then I put all my coins in a piggy-bank that was a present from my grandmother. Every time it was filled up, I took out all the coins and put them all in small paper tubes, different tubes for different values on the coins. Then we went to the bank to deposit the money in to my bank account. All was well. it was fun! My very own money, I even got an interest rate! By having money in the bank it became even more money by it self!! Amazing!

This way of saving continued among the years. The piggy-banks got larger and larger. Right up until a few days ago I was saving coins.

The first signs of problems was when they stopped handing out paper tubes to put the coins in. Then you had to bring your money in a sack/plastic bag/pockets/hat and pour the coins in a machine that eats the coins (that’s what it sounds like). Then gives you a receipt with numbers on that tells you what amount that was deposited on your account. The lovely game of searching banks that had one of those machines was a real challenge. Ever walked the streets of the city with huge bags of coins during a blizzard? The weight is just a pain when you get to one bank and they say “no, sorry we do not have that machine here any more, but try the bank at….”. The walk continues, the search goes on.

A few days ago I went to the only bank in the city that still had that machine (the one that eats your coins and gives you numbers on a receipt instead). As I entered the bank I right away got a feeling of something missing. The machine! It was gone!  It was replaced with a machine that only eats your paper money (in the same fashion as the coin machine). So I thought that the lady behind the counter had access to the machine for the coins. Of course I had to take a que note, with a number on it. Then I had to sit down and wait for that number on my note to be called out. After a long wait I finally got to the desk and asked the lady where I could exchange my coins to numbers for my account! She said that they (the banks) don’t do that any more. But she said that if I went to the supermarket they would have machines to change the coins to numbers on a receipt that I could exchange real money (not coins). So away I went. Off to the supermarket nearby and there I asked for a machine that eats coins. Yes, they indeed have one! Great!

Hang on a minute… “fee for exchange coins, 4% of the total amount”?!

The banks don’t accept coins any more, but they rather sends their clients to the supermarket with their coins. Only to pay a fee for a service that the banks don’t provides any more?! In today’s society the banks don’t handle money due to the risk of robbery, if you want money you have to use an ATM or equal. No matter of depositing or withdrawing money. There is a machine for that. “Nopp, we ain’t want your money, ’cause we’re a bank, see”?!

Now you only need to use your credit card that is connected to your bank for depositing, withdrawing, using, paying money. I understand that the future is happening now and we cant run around with the pockets filled with coins and banknotes. Or the old system of  bills in brown envelopes (old Swedish thing) every month.

Today everything is uploaded, megabits and text messages, SMS, MMS, BDSM, AOL and LOL or what ever it’s called. You can sit on the toilet and manage you entire personal financial disaster by some simple swipes with your finger on your smart phone.

But if you are an elderly person sitting at home with a piggy-bank you are totally lost. You need to take the money to a supermarket (in a bag), exchange the coins there, pay a fee for it and you get a receipt with numbers on it that you must exchange to paper money. That you deposit in a machine at the bank. I bet they are thrilled to pay a fee on the money that they paid tax on already just to deposit the saved coins on their bank account.

I accept the fact that the banks don’t want to handle money due to the risk of violence and robbery. But honestly, it must be a rather stupid criminal that want to rob a bank that only have coins in the vault.

“Stand and deliver! Hand ye swag”

“Sure do you got a fork lift for the 2½ tonnes of coins that we have in our vault, it will take you five men and three hours to shift that loot”.