Thursday 6 August 2009

A87 Tomdoun

I did something today I haven't done for 25 years - draw a roadsign.

Let me explain. People ask me now we're retired to Flores "What do you do all day?" Today, as it happens, was quite an interesting day because it was the first time we've had a turnround of guests in our self catering studio apartment on the same day. As it happened, there was bags of time and the outgoers had left the place so spotless there really wasn't much for us to do apart from change the bed etc. But it was a new experience.

The arrival of guests is always "an event" for us and I feel the glass of Malaquias Branco at the cocktail hour seems to wash down sweeter when guests have been welcomed and seem to be pleased with it. So after dinner I settled down to a particularly mellow spot of uploading to my Flickr photostream when I see new uploads by one of my Flickr contacts - a few clicks and links from there takes me to a website called dedicated to British road numbers and road signs.

Now I don't know what "cbrd" stands for yet because I was being too much of a kid in a sweetie shop clicking all the links - in particular in the search for the answer to the vexing question of whether, now those few miles between the north end of the M6 at Carlisle and the south end of the A74(M) have been closed by a motorway (known as the "Cumberland Gap" to UK road cognoscenti), will the M6 be extended all the way to Glasgow? Or will we be leapfrogging unsatisfactorily from the M6 to the A74(M) to the M74 all on the same now uninterrupted 100 miles of three lane blacktop? I bet the bloody SNP Scottish soi disant "Government" - with the enthusiastic backing of the Scotsman "love to be offended" brigade - will block it and thus deny right thinking people the unadulterated pleasure of being able to swish across the border all the way to Glasgow on the M6 as God had intended in His plan for the world on the eighth day had He not been distracted by a day of rest on the seventh ...

I digress. Did I mention I'm absolutely fascinated by road numbers and the related science of road signs?

I'm obviously not completely alone in this because, bizarrely enough, the pic above is my 5th most popular one on my Flickr photostream: we're talking 3 figures of hits. (You really don't want to see the top four if you're not interested in Scottish coastal shipping.)

Anyway, when I was wee (and even when I was quite big), I used to draw road signs. Yes, draw road signs. Not imaginary ones but improvements on actual ones. I could never understand the obsession with signs pointing to Crianlarich and Wetherby: you were actually going to Oban or Fort William or Sheffield or London but you never knew it until you had passed through the "filters" of Crianlarich and Wetherby. Scotch Corner and Brough are other examples of what I call "Crianlarich syndrome". So is Ledmore in the picture above: if you think Crianlarich is a non-event, wait till you get to Ledmore.

Not an accusation you could level at Kyle of Lochalsh with it's unique selling point of a bridge to Skye but where was I? Oh yes - I used to draw road signs (indicating Fort William where the A82 leaves the M8 at Charing Cross in Glasgow instead of Dumbarton) and what do I find on this website but a page with the fonts road signs are written in. Which you can download as a zip.file. Now I'm not entirely sure what a zip.file is or how you download one but the discovery that road sign fonts are available online was a Nirvana moment of the order of the most fanciable girl in the year asking you to dance with her at the school disco - we can work out how to download her zip.file at leisure in coming weeks.

Anyway, due to being inexperienced, I did it the clunky way for now - much like the school disco - and simply printed the page with the font off and traced it.

And thus - here I get back to the point of this post - I drew a roadsign for the first time in 30 years. And it was bloody brilliant: this is what I do now I'm retired and it works for me. This is it:-

In a future post, I will discuss where this is. The junction no longer exists. You have been warned.


Sarah said...

How exciting - 'a change-over day' as they're called in the ski resorts. At this rate will there be room for me to come and stay? Looking into flights now.

Kathie said...

Baby Chou, I hope you do get to Flores! Maybe you and your hosts would enjoy foraging for the local wild watercress (agrião) with which to make the simple authentic Watercress Soup (Sopa de Agrião). I already posted my family's Florentina recipe in a commentary on this blog:

Bom apetito!

P.S. Thanks to Neil/Carol, I've discovered your blog too, and now visit both every day in hopes of finding new postings.

Kathie said...

Rats, the URL didn't all copy, so I've split it in two. Just copy/paste each segment into the browser box, with no spaces in between, then click:

Mary said...

Neil, you have surpassed yourself here. What font do they use? - you know how there is a bewildering choice of fonts in Word - is it Trebuchet MS perchance? - or Univers 45 light? Several things distress me about road signs: abbreviations (the people who would still understand them know where they're going anyway); hyphens (the second half of the name on the second line); lack of artistic flair (five words on the first line, one in the middle of the second); stupidity (XXXXX School School Vehicles Only); italics. I could go on.......

Sarah said...

I'm looking forward to my annual pilgrimage (4th time)to Flores and to foraging for wild watercress. Do you have any other watercress recipes Kathie?

Kathie said...

Baby Chou, I didn't realize you'd been to Flores before. That makes you quite the expert compared to me. While, like you, I've been to the Azores four times, I went to Flores only on my first trip, having had commitments on the next three visits in the other island groups (especially the central). However I do hope to visit Flores again sometime in the next few years, circumstances permitting, and this time to bring my husband (who's never been to the Azores at all, yet).

Sorry, the soup's the only thing I've ever made with watercress, besides tossing a tong-ful of the raw stuff into a mixed salad at a restaurant salad-bar. I've always assumed that folks from the UK eat cress in those little tea sandwiches with the bread-crusts cut off.

Here's a recipe I haven't tried yet, although it sounds promising, for Blender Watercress Sauce:

You can search the Post's other watercress recipes at:

In the interests of full disclosure: I'm a long-time vegetarian (lacto-ovo), so wouldn't be eating a number of these dishes. The only time I fall off the meatless wagon is for the pale golden broth served over crusty bread chunks, Portuguese cabbage or kale and sometimes also boiled potatoes in Holy Ghost Sopas (though I never eat the Alcatra). Maybe next time you go to the Azores you could schedule your visit around one of the festas where Sopas is being served, so you can sample some (your hosts can check the local schedule). My husband (an American of origins nearly as Anglo as you all) got his first taste of both Sopas and Alcatra at an Azorean festival we attended in Toronto, Canada, a couple of months ago, and enjoyed it very much (as well as the massa sovada bread and some red wine); some Sopas luncheons also serve Azorean rice pudding, which even folks like me who normally don't much care for rice pudding like a lot, as it's so creamy and scented with fresh lemon and cinnamon.

Neil King said...

Kathie - you said of your husband "an American of origins nearly as Anglo as you all ...".

Nearly as WHAT as all of us ...?

Kathie said...

It's midnight here, and just a few minutes ago I emailed 10 book chapters in translation to the author in California (where it's only 9 PM still) for a final reading. Remaining 5 chapters plus bibliography, nearly done, are due to him in a few more days. Besides smoothing the English, I've had to commune with the Modern Language Association (MLA) formatting criteria, which are per se sufficient to scramble one's brain.

Adding to my general misery, it's been unusually hot/hazy/humid here the past few days -- we have no A/C except a window unit for sleeping, so I've been slaving over a hot computer in a room that reached a muggy, stifling 86°F (= 30°C) the past couple afternoons (not to mention up past 90°F outdoors). So, as you might imagine I'm feeling a tad put-upon right now, so ya better not mess with the Bakes, grrrr ;-)

All I meant re my hubby was that he's not of Portuguese ancestry. Rather, most of his ancestors hailed from the British Isles (mainly English, Scots-Irish blood) a few centuries ago. Peace out.