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Back Buzz - November 16, 2013

pumping heartThe Village Rest, Pier Road, Luss, Dumbartonshire, Scotland

In August we went up to Scotland to attend a wedding on the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond, the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain. I don't remember if we took the high road or the low road, but we did get there before the rest of the wedding party.

We stayed on the southern edge of the loch in a B&B in Balloch, which for some strange reason was heaving with athletic German tourists. On our first morning we drove up the west side of the loch toward the Trossachs so we could get some loch views. We passed Duck Bay and ended up at the Cruin, a group of self-catering cottages with restaurant that happened to be the venue for the wedding. Coincidentally we met up with the bride and groom who had just arrived from England, followed by a scattering of siblings and friends. As it was late morning and Andrew and I were suffering from the caffeine deprivation of typical B&B dishwater coffee, we suggested finding an espresso cafe where we could all sit and catch up.

Espresso cafes are a bit of a rarity around Loch Lomond, but Rory suggested a place in the nearby village of Luss. Dating from medieval times, Luss grew to its not very large size in the 18th and 19th centuries when housing was constructed for workers at the nearby slate quarries. The village became popular in the 1980s and 1990s as the setting for the TV soap "High Road", and nearby is a golf course that stages the annual Barclays Scottish Open.

Finding street parking in Luss is challenging, as the place is a bit like a quaint theme park village, with throngs of tourists everywhere. We ended up parking in a large car park on the edge of the village which accentuated the theme-park impression. Chinese and Japanese tourists were everywhere, happily photographing everything they came across with their cameras and phones. Maybe we should pick up a tour map and a book of tickets, I thought to myself.

The heavens suddenly opened so we hastened our walk to the Village Rest, a terra cotta chalet filled to bursting with hungry and thirsty tourists. The theme-park feeling wasn't dissipating: I felt as if I were in Solvang, otherwise known as California's Little Denmark, or in Los Angeles's own Bavaria, Alpine Village.

As there were 8 of us we managed to find a few empty tables to push together in the middle of the room. As we had all come from different places a cacophony of chaotic conversations quickly developed, most of them having nothing to do with ordering drinks. Eventually it was decided that all of us wanted hot drinks and 3 people were having cake. When we finally got the waitress's attention I ordered 2 double macchiatos. She paused, stared at me as if I were speaking in a Papua New Guinean tongue, and finally nodded and wrote my order down. Perhaps she would have responded right away if I'd ordered in Danish...

Three of us had ordered macchiatos which were served in proper macchiato-sized cups, but the beans were a bit burnt in taste and the foam a bit wobblier than it should be. They tasted too weak to convince us they were doubles, and they weren't hot at all. Jim had a cappuccino which had a ridiculous amount of chocolate sprinkled on it (I really don't understand this British custom), and the rest of the group had tea which was satisfactory. Andrew's serving of red velvet cake looked like chocolate cake but tasted overly sweet, as if the amount of sugar had been doubled.

All in all I can't say much for the Village Rest as a coffee venue. Perhaps the meals are good. But I couldn't help feeling like I was in a cafe in Yodelland. Where were the dirndl skirts and the leiderhosen?

Speaking of yodelling and other loud activities reminds me of a recent short Facebook posting session:

The only thing more absurd than seeing somebody walking down the street talking loudly on their hands-free is seeing somebody walking down the street who is talking loudly on their hands-free and gesticulating. Product idea in here.... How about a hands-free voice activated gesticulating app? 82% of people walking down the street talking loudly on their hands-free and gesticulating are actually talking loudly and gesticulating to themselves and are just wearing the hands-free kit to look a little less barmy.