Hearty Welcomes & Salutations! Originally an action-packed travel blog from a globe-trotting Scotsman, An Ache for the Distance has, over the years, slowed down (I post less often), mellowed out (domestic life has found it's way way on here) and become more of an expat/photo blog. Take a look around, leave a comment and share the love if you like something.
Stuart Mathieson, Lübeck, Germany

Thursday, 25 November 2010

A Recipe From Goa - India

Begin your day in a restaurant overlooking a golden beach, preferably peppered with holy, snoozing beef. Order two boiled eggs, butter toast, a banana pancake and "nescoffee," safe in the knowledge that you'll get change from €5. Once stuffed, park your backside on your shiny, €3 a day, Honda scooter and proceed to cruise the palm lined backroads of tropical Goa, stopping off at markets, beaches, colonial churches and sleepy villages. Once sufficiently windswept, retire to a clifftop cafe and enjoy the Arabian sea sunset whilst sipping ice cold kingfishers and smoking apple laden shisha. Repeat seven to fourteen times for best effect...

From An Ache For The Distance
Holy Beef taking a morning stroll

From An Ache For The Distance
A taste of Lisbon amongst the Hindus

From An Ache For The Distance
Enjoying another sunset...

Monday, 22 November 2010

Indian Railways' Squatty Potties


One too many samosas or a dodgy biryani on an Indian train could see your bare bottom hovering precariously over one of these lovely lavatories...Toilet paper not provided...
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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Atholl Cup Preparation - Goa India

From An Ache For The Distance
Grogan & Mathieson find themselves performing rather unusual warm ups in now infamous Murud

From An Ache For The Distance
Grogan furthers his prowess by crabbing on the beach at Baga

From An Ache For The Distance
Mathieson meanwhile opts for the more relaxed approach

From An Ache For The Distance
Nutritional advice was sought from local experts

From An Ache For The Distance
Grogan also sought to gain advantage by refining his now famous invisible surfboard moves

For a full match report, simply click here...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Atholl Cup 2010 - India

The following report is of the 2010 Atholl Football-Tennis cup, written by Ranjid Singh (a.k.a. Allan "I like your chicken skin" Grogan)

Grogan Claims the Title

Allan Grogan sensationally won his first atholl cup in a match marred by controversy after a cow had walked onto the court and refused to move. Grogan, 108, competing in his third atholl cup was awarded the victory by the umpire after winning the first set as play was abandoned and subsequently delayed.

It was the first time the atholl cup had left the sunny meadows of Blair Atholl and the new venue of a goan beach proved just how far this sport has really come.

There were a host of celebrities, with amir kahan, the agger kan and shakka khan all in attendence, with a surprise appearance from the ghost of Jade Goody.

Both men looked calm and well prepared with Mathieson looking brown and slender much like the mongeese he chased in peru to train for this match, Grogan meanwhile seemed to have continued his usual regime which failed so miserably by getting pissed the night before, he however looked calm and quietly confident having his prematch marlboro.

The event started lively with a local seller of beads harassing Grogan, who was casually drinking his robinsons barley water saying he had a body with the complextion of a chicken. Such racist comment again show how much this once great sport has been scarred by racism.

The game started at a frantic pace with both men showing what little skill they had, in the first game grogan broke mathiesons server. From then on it went to service despite both players having numerous break points most of which came on their left foot which clearly for both men is just for standing on. Which leaves this writer to believe theyd both be shit if this was anything other than a two man competition. Grogan held serve to win the first set 6-4.

During the break there was more uproar as the ghost of jade goody was evicted after accusing the bead lady of smelling like curry. At this point mathieson pulled his tongue out of long suffering girlfriend bertha sharapova's mouth to chivalrously admit he had just farted out his breakfast veg thali.

The match continued and with the heat bearing down on both men Grogan began to look more and more like a chicken tikka. The match again had to be stopped as a pungent smell of vinegar. salt and tomato soup, caused a disruption it seemed to be coming from bertha sharapovas direction but she seemed not to notice the [problem as she was being somewhat overfriendly with the local stray dogs.

As the heat continued to mount Grogan seemed to wilt especially after the kingfisher beer it seemed hair of the dog would not work as he went down 4-1 in the second set. Miraculously he was saved by a heavily pregnant cow taking an interest in the proceedings. The match was then postponed for a later date. However it never was reschedules as grogan using some skullduggery refused to leave his beach hut toilet his trainer was quoted as saying " he's not coming out cos hes scared he'll murudd his pants"

Mathieson also went down to injury as a toxic rash appeared over his body and looked like someone had just vomited cherry tomatoes on his neck. Because of this the umpire had no choice but to award the trophy 1-0 to Grogan.

A delighted Allan said," Wow this is unbelievable, I want to thank God, my Kashid posse and the cow for saving my neck cos i was knackered. Also big thanks to Jade Goody's ghost her arrival meant i wasnt the whitest person there."

A peeved mathieson seemed less happy about the decision. "He's a jammy b****rd he's lucky that was a cow and not a bull cos he looked as red as a ferrari sports car I would have loved to see el torro chase after that fried chicken, then he would have muruded himself."

Fried chicken or not Grogan is the new Atholl cup champion. There is now some confusion over where the next atholl cup will be played with Antarctica, Napoli and Carnoustie beach the favourites to host it.

Written by Ranjid Singh for the Mumbai Mirror.

From An Ache For The Distance
One of the many cows causing sporting havoc on Goa's beaches...

Monday, 8 November 2010

Across the Plains - India

"What is your name?" Asked the Indian guy opposite me through a vigorous moustache.
"Stuart." I yelled, over the din of the train.
"What country you belong?" Shouted the tash.
I decided to answer with unusual honesty, "Scotland."
"What you think of Lennon?"
"Lenin the Russian or John Lennon from the Beatles?" I asked, a little taken aback by the unusual direction of the conversation.
"Yes..." Nodded the tash.
A smiling silence ensued.

With this I knew it would, linguistically, be a tough conversation. With only a few steps away from the tourist trail, English as an official language in India becomes a novel idea and, when posed with a question they don't understand, an Indian will simply offer a polite "yes," a head wiggle and a reassuring smile, as if to say "don't worry Gora, I know exactly what I'm saying yes to..."

As we waved goodbye to the polyglot tuk tuk drivers of Varanasi, we were doing so with only the vaguest idea of what lay ahead. Little did we realise that the tourist trail across central India is little more than a goat track across a misty, fern covered hillside (that last reference being a warning to those hillwalking in Scotland!).

Four hours after we left the Ganges' tuk tuk drivers, cars were stopping on the streets of Allahabad as two tourists meandered along seeking out the local sights. In the evening, diners were brought to a jaw-dropping halt as we walked into a local restaurant and the following morning at the train station, children gawped with a mixture of fear and inquisitiveness as I stood on the platform munching samosas for breakfast.

In a second class carriage somewhere in Uttar Pradesh, not only was I asked about my opinion on Lennon/Lenin but anything we did, from opening a book to me scratching my arse, led to a swarm of curious, smiling onlookers and camera phones being pointed in our direction. In the space of 3 hours, we had achieved celebrity status within the train carriage and, when the time finally came for us to disembark, it was with many a handshake and sincere looks of sadness from our new found fans.

We wandered out of the station, into the dusty urban hole of Satna, and sought out some bus station bound transport. We quickly organised a spluttering trip across town in a wheezing antique tuk tuk and were soon faced with dozens of screaming bus touts in a giant dust bowl. Sporting a fresh layer of sweat and dust, we booked ourselves onto a local bone rattler heading for the tourist sanctuary of Khajuraho, home to India's openly filthy, Kamasutra clad temples. However, our presence in the station soon caused a further stir as some people boarded our stationary bus simply to stare at the two Goras and, just before we departed, one enthralled obserever asked for my autograph across the palm of his hand.

We spent three or four days in Khajuraho enjoying the small town atmosphere, watching kids fishing in the lake, cycling through the surrounding countryside, taking sex tips from the one thousand year old temple carvings and avoiding the numerous touts plying everything from Kashmiri shawls to shawls from Kashmir.

Once refreshed, we started the long haul towards the coast which, due to Lana's extreme phobia, would be conducted entirely by bus. That doesn't sounds too bad, especially considering the genius of sleeper coaches with double beds, until you consider the state of Indian roads. Despite the presence of tarmac, the highways provide an authentic experience of what it would have been like to drive across the Somme in 1916. They also offer Indians a good chance to observe tourists at first hand and, when they've had a beer or two, try and get a little closer.

Whilst on a midnight snack and toilet stop, a random Indian pisshead boarded the bus and tried his hand at a conversation, a considerable challenge considering his lack of English and swollen alcohol tongue. After a few minutes of unsuccessful chat, Rab C Sanjeet decided to see if proximity was the problem and climbed the little ladder to our bed until his face was well within the intimacy zone. He then proceeded to touch my hair whilst murmuring "hairstyle" and then slobbered a wet kiss on Lana's hand. It took a loud "Fuck Off!" before he decided that perhaps he wasn't as welcome in our bed as he'd hoped.

We recovered from the trampoline bus bed experience the next night in Bhopal, a town which 25 years ago was accidentally gassed by an American factory leading to thousands of deaths, and which today feels as far from a tourist destination as perhaps central Baghdad. We checked bus times at the station, stopping people in their tracks. We walked along the street, perusing a woman's small jewellery stall and drew in a crowd of at least twenty onlookers. We went into a local bar offering possibly the cheapest draught beer in all of India and had our photos taken with at least ten other drinkers as well as one guy saying he would remember the day he met us forever. Celebrity status had well and truly returned.

However, the swirling dust and clammer of central Indian cities offered little appeal and, after Bhopal, it was another twenty hours worth of bus travel before we were finally reached Bollywood and the Arabian sea. Mumbai could wait, there were beaches waiting for us...

From An Ache For The Distance
Beers in Bhopal