The Quiet Years…..
After the excitement of the first Camping trip to Scotland we returned a few weeks later to participate in the Longbenton DHSS Motorcycle Clubs weekend trip to St Marys Loch in the great area of Roxburgh , Selkirk and Peebles ! This was a great Campsite in the field between the Tibbie Shiels Inn and the Loch , they did stop camping there at one point due to ‘troubles’ (not us i hasten to add ) but later on they did start it again in a smaller way for walkers , in the Inns Garden , because Myself and the Gorgeous Melanie actually stayed there in the 90’s on one of our numerous camping trips to Bonnie Scotland .
Much Merriment was had , including a ride to Peebles where we encountered a car rally coming the ‘Other’ way along the narrow roads ! Even though i had a bike at that time (a Honda Twin 125 due to been a learner) i didn’t take it up there , i did however get to have a (slightly illegal) go of a Moto Guzzi 500 with no Front breaks and a dodgy speedo and to ride on the back of a Classic Triumph 650 Bonnie , possible the best Bike i’ve ever been on .
Couldn’t decide which group photo to post……
Now in 1984 having got the taste for the Uisge Beathe it was actually quite hard to buy the stuff in the Toon (That’s Newcastle to you) , Aye you could pick up the Blends in all the Offies (Off- Licenses) but Single Malts ? you had to go to the Department store in the City , Fenwicks , they had a cracking “Wine Department” that sold some of Scotlands finest that was available at the time . Macallan 10yo was a regular purchase and shortly after a strange brew called La- froy-ageeee soon followed it . Now no matter what anyone says , 1980’s 10yo Laphroaig was a different kettle of fish to what it became in the noughties , quite often at parties in the Bedsit i frequented in late 1984 / early1985 cries of “WTF is that smell !” were heard and if friends dared to taste it….. their faces were always a picture ! Not much experimentation happened in this period , probably due to a lack of expressions but personally i blame Thatcher…..
Myself and Dave did head back for another tour of the Highlands in 1986 along with my then Girlfriend Liz and a mate Peter . We pretty much covered the same places but one of the highlights was staying in Uig on Skye , Great campsite which was sadly gone on our last visit there , within easy staggering distance of the pub , we had a great night there , somehow we were the only people that knew all words to ‘My Old Mans a Dustman’ in the place and the singer managed to guess that we were from Newcastle ( Nowt to do with all the Empty Broon Ale Bottles on the table…..) . One highlight was a trip into Smoo Caves , a guide actually took us in a dinghy further into the caverns .
The 80’s basically just chugged along , went to The Mayfair , went to see concerts – The highlight of which was favourites of mine , Aerosmith , actually touring the UK , have to say them drifting into ‘Seasons of Wither’ at the City Hall was the highlight of the 3 concerts i went to on that tour – going to the local beers festivals and buying the occasional bottle of malt from Fenwicks , oh and there were a couple of Tall Ships races . But things were going to change for ever soon…..
Two things happened that changed Malt drinking at the end of that decade , Supermarkets started selling Decent Malt Whisky and a new shop appeared on the streets of Newcastle and Gosforth , Oddbins ! (own up , who thought i was going to say that’s when i met Melanie ? It’s coming…..)
I remember going into Tescos (and this will shock some people ) and buying a bottle of Springbank (you what!) 18 or 21yo for a ridiculous price (can’t remember which one but £35 seems to ring a bell ) mind you it was rightly cheap as it was in a pretty garish red and silver box . That was the only bottle of whisky i ever had something peculiar happen to , Little flakes of silvery white stuff appeared in it . Oddbins had a greater selection and with the assistance of the well trained and helpful staff they had at that time ( This was before Eddie Ludlow became a member of staff there !) i was trying all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff .
Things were really going to get better in the Nineties !