_ l“ The flowers of Scotland

Craig McLean takes the high road with Peter Irvine, author of a new guide to our many-splendoured


‘I decided that I would just go everywhere.’ And so off he trekked, a man with a mission, a burning desire to discover the inside odds on his own country. Peter Irvine‘s Scotland The Best! (The Really Good Guide) is the result, and needs no fancy titles nor prosaic footling. Perhaps unbeknownst to observers of our national football scene or our pitted political

landscape, ‘best‘ and ‘good’ are the most adequate " ,. ._. t .3 l and illuminating adjectives for Scotland. Hip hip - I ' " " hooray for Jockland! Three cheers for our natural and "I" "VIM 3‘ h" “on” I" 3mm amwmm jewelled splendour! The flower of Scotland is alive phew, With such a wealth of data, the danger of

and well and blooming round the comer, down the street, ben the hoose. and up the glen . . .

Ills quest: to chart and annotate the physical, geographical, hlstorlcal, cultural, commerclal, resldentlal,

gastronomical and blbulatory high spots of Scotland.

information overload is offset by Irvine’s sparky, punchy resumes, assessments and recommendations.

The book amounts to a kind of national database. Necessarily, updates and revisions are inevitable Irvine is already inviting readers' suggestions and/or criticisms. ‘The difficulty'with something like this is that it has to be absolutely up-to~date,’ he nods, ‘but ,it was revised up to the last minute, in January this lyear’

g‘lt seemed to me that there wasn‘t a book ? that gave you the best of the things that were available.’

‘It seemed to me that there wasn’t a book that gave you the best of the things that were available,‘ says Irvine. ‘There were a lot of guidebooks like The Good Hotel Guide or The Good Pub Guide, whatever, where Scotland was a wee section at the back. Then there are lots of walk books and specialised books like places to take kids, art galleries and the like. But there was nothing that had everything . . .'

Everywhere and everything. Driven by this blindingly simple agenda, fortysomething , Edinburgher Irvine took time out from his day-job as . a rock promoter (he was ‘responsible' for the Wets, Mike Oldfield and Nigel Kennedy at Edinburgh Castle last summer) and began his quest: to chart and 1 annotate the physical, geographical, historical. ‘delights, offering concise insights that are punter- cultural, commercial, residential, gastronomical and t friendly and prc-suppose neither learned intimacy nor bibulatory high spots of Scotland. First port of call financial ability nor physical capability. ‘In our

. Scotland The Best.’ is indispensible and accessible. There is no arcane buffery here. Whether you‘re a majestic fairway fury or a hirpling hacker stuck in

the rough, the golf course recommendations will

point you in the right direction. Whether you‘re a

l connoisseur of the water of life or a rheumy-eyed.

lred-conked alky, The Best Distillery Tours list is the perfect starting point.

And therein lies the essence of Irvine‘s guide: a

; solid base for further exploration of our country‘s

was the iSIand 0f Gigha in September 1991- _ backyard we have some of the most amazing scenery ‘I wanted to do this and I'd talked to Mainstream there for a few hours you could look at this and see I in the world and an awful lot of people never go Irvme recalls. ‘But I wanted to see whether it was V15“ “161’? 0r 3 g00d Pub worth Slaying m- 50 I did islands _ t t It may sound ttttc but I did fee] that it was going to work in the way of research and producing feel that it worked, though I realised that I had a . . . good info and it was worth letting people know. it. Would it be worthwhile? So I went to the Isle of massive task on my hands. Bot I enjoyed it.’ gghahfor tlngweeklend. Itc’isfa small island. I’d never IBY 13:: :Prtingt after a 592111 feseharcfh mp tfo TaXSIdCt so get to it! Scotland's the best! en t ere ore. staye or three days, and when I Wlne ‘3 I C “W mater” S m t e 0”“ 0 C0P10U9 - - . , s , , , . left I felt that I knew all the good things about it. written notes. culled from his own, on-the-ground, ghetrnéeéw'shesYI? OBtfe,r éxtigulg?gakgi501$1s for Now Gigha in the book has one entry for the island Personal observations and bolstered by local 2th 90 h‘": . OI?” fruition of thtyt article I and maybe two Other entries in other sections. and recommendations everywhere. The months thereafter ; e" c p m c prep“ ' i there are over entries In [his But I feel were Spent cntIY'CrupChmgs CrQSS'CheCkmg and. 1560,10,“! The Best bt. Peter Irvine it. published by tthat when I left Glgha I could tell people what were CTOSS'refercncmgt Wlth everything finally Complled 1M - ., [£9 99 lthe good things about it. So if you were only going into numerical order and cartographically arrayed. ! (""5 ream a ' '


54 The List 9-22 April 1993