So Gail, what's this I hear about you organising a bicycle tour in Scotland for your American friends in May next year?
Yes indeed Bertie, that is so. (I see you have been peeking at my emails again.)
Well Gail, as one who was so nearly picked as Ambassadog a couple of years ago, I feel duty bound to try to ensure your guests enjoy our fine country to the full. May I ask a few questions?
Fire away little Bert.
OK, so you are starting in Edinburgh. I am guessing your friends have romanticised ideas about castles and so forth. Perhaps you should suggest they watch 'Trainspotting' or read some of Ian Rankin's crime novels, so they develop a more rounded view of our capital city before they arrive. That way we can avert disappointment, I feel.
Er, yes, well, maybe Bertie. Or maybe not. Anything else?
Oh yes, plenty. I understand that cyclists enjoy their food and have good appetites. Have you considered the breakfast arrangements?
Well of course Bertie, our hotels and B&Bs will inevitably serve generous portions of porridge, I'm sure.
Um, so are you also sure that folk accustomed to breakfasting on tall stacks of blueberry pancakes with butter and maple syrup, and maybe a side order of eggs 'over easy' and bacon, will find oats boiled in salty water a satisfactory way to start the day? I somehow doubt it.
So then Bertie, we can always add in some tattie scones and black pudding to fuel us up the hills if necessary. So what now?
Oh, it's just occurred to me, am I correct in thinking Americans drive on the right? Will they not find our traffic most confusing?
Bertie, rest assured that my friends have travelled all over the world with their Bike Fridays, and they are a capable and resourceful bunch. Why one of them is a retired USAF pilot, so I'm confident his spatial skills will run to figuring our which way the cars are coming from on a roundabout.
Point taken Gail. But another thing - I do hope they will come prepared for our weather. I mean, even Canadians complain here about how the dampness and wind makes everything feel colder than indicated by the thermometer.
Don't worry Bertie, I shall tell them to pack a full set of waterproofs and thermals. And at least we can assume that the bike trip will not have to be cancelled due to forest fires, unlike the last two occasions I have visited the USA.
Well Gail, I think we have covered enough for the time being. Oh, just one final issue - I believe your friends have said they are interested in visiting historical sites along the route. Now readers of this blog will probably already have deduced that history is not your strong suit, at least not unless it involves rocks that are hundreds of millions of years old. Might I respectfully suggest you spend some time between now and May swotting up on kings and queens and battles as so forth, to avoid being a total embarrassment as a tour guide. Look, I found this on your bookshelves - a good starting point I think...
PS I am delighted to report that, although I shall not be taking part in the bicycle tour, at least one member of the American group has stated her intention also to come to Aberdeen for the express purpose of meeting Yours Truly.
7 minutes ago