Travels with foodie Phil, ploughboy turned playboy


All is safely gathered in,
Now the real fun can begin!

NOTHING MUCH HAPPENS IN WINTER for an arable farmer. Once his harvest is gathered, his fields ploughed and harrowed and the autumn-sown lie low beneath a crisp crust until the spring he settles back to enjoy a life of leisure.

Or so my friend Farmer Morebottle tells me.

That’s when ploughboy turns playboy, locks away his tractor and tattie harvester and heads for some winter sun. Last autumn’s grain prices must have been particularly grand: Morebottle has spirited away his better half, the beautiful Tania, on a six-week tour of the Far East and the Antipodes.

His WhatsApp messages have been more inspiring than his Sunday night dominoes, so I have appointed him Food and Travel Editor (unpaid) of The Clarion.  These are our exchanges so far. . .

12.15am, January 1

MOREBOTTLE: Happy new year 🍾🥂💥

ME: Same to you two! Love to Tania x x🍺🍾

6.45am 😬: Hic!! Think I’ll give the Tai chi a miss!

No! Have a pint or two of the stuff, I hear it’s a helluva good New Year’s hangover cure! All best.

Thursday, January 2

The notorious ‘Hanoi Hilton’ or Hoa Lo Prison, now a tourist trap

Good morning, Vietnam! Nearly finished with the bedlam that is Hanoi: seven million people and five million scooters, so we were told. Interesting, all the same! Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow 😎

Far from being ‘hanoi-ing, Hanoi looks bloody great if the pool is anything to go by! Where are the rice paddies? Glad you’re enjoying the trip so far. Drop a Get Well card to Lawnmower, if you get the chance. He’s been off his legs since Auld Year’s Night and back-to-back race days at Kelso and Musselburgh haven’t helped! I s’pose the trip means you won’t be in the Red Lion tonight?

Sunday Jan 5

No Red Lion, but that just means it’s safe for you to get your wallet out for a change! 😀 Hanging out in Ho Chi Minh; well it’s actually my tongue that’s hanging out as it’s hit 37C! 😎 Mekong boat cruise tomorrow morning. By the way, here’s the toilet in our hotel room: the Vietnamese idea of privacy seems to be a pane of glass!

A pane in the arse, you might say! Envy you the boat trip. 37deg sounds like something only a gallon of Foxy Blonde could assuage! Undertaker was on chauffeur duty for the dominoes last night and we were the only regulars in the Lion on Thursday. Plus Dennis the Menace, of course. People must be missing you. Enjoy yourselves!

Food and well-endowed women seem to be Morebottle’s obsession. . .

Bloody chopsticks! How do you work them? My shirt is getting more to eat than me!🥢

Ask for cutlery, for fork’s sake!

Wednesday Jan 6

Made it to George Town, even hotter! They advertise a bucket of beer here. just the thing. . .

Black Sheep gets everywhere!

Thanks for your photos… Black Sheep? A bucket of beer? Some things never change. You can take the farmer out of the Red Lion, but. . ! You’re missing nothing here: the Undertaker and I swept the pool at the dominoes on Sunday, Byreman did not deign to join us as he is obviously missing his dominoes partner. Love to Tania

Sunday Jan 12

This man Morebottle and his fair maid just can’t stop munching!

Been very hot few days in George Town seeing sites in the relative cool of the morning then hanging around the pool after lunch, had some v good food of different origins, Malay, indian & Chinese!

Do you know how many Georgetowns there are in the world? Hundreds, most of them in Asia. From the looks of the food you appear to be in Penang (Malaysia) and certainly not Georgetown in Tasmania or New Zealand or New South Wales or in any of the 47 Georgetowns in the United States! The grub certainly does look good. Where is the next stop?

It’s George Town, not Georgetown! But I can see the problem for you old fellas, old and infirm hunkered down for the winter in your colder latitudes! Steamboat for dinner tonight, a sort of do-it-yourself dinner kinda like a fondue but with consequences for the morning! Singapore on Tuesday for two nights, then NZ!

Tuesday Jan 21

At last! A glam shot of something other than squid in black bean. Tania!

Yummy grub and good words and pics, Phil. A hick from the sticks is now promoted to agricultural hack. You are now my farmer-turned-foodie on your foreign travels and it’s all appearing in The Clarion pages at<> so keep it clean! The boys thank you for the glamour shot of Tania, by the way…



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