these days and so have no pressing need to have a notebook always to hand (mind you,
quality not quantity; a lot of those so-called ideas back then were just god-awful puns).
What I should really do, of course, is use a Personal Digital Assistant; one of those
tiny hand-held computerette thingies you can write onto and use as sketch pads, diaries,
GPS displays and god-knows-what else.
And I do have one, I just don't use it. It's a Palm Tungsten T which I was going to use
to write this topic on as Rog, Brad and I trundled our way through the forest and across
the taiga on our way to Vladivostok on the Trans-Siberian. I had thought of taking my
laptop but I'd heard things get nicked a lot on the train so I preferred something I could
carry on me at all times.
I'd coveted the full-size but collapsible keyboard that connects to these things since
I'd seen fellow skiffy writer Charles Stross using one in an Edinburgh pub a couple of
years ago; in fact I nearly bought one of the keyboards just on aesthetic principle, to own
as an object, because they are simply so damn neat, even though I didn't particularly want
one of the computers themselves at the time. The keyboards fold down to a size barely
any larger than the hand-held itself, and then unfold once and then twice, with bits gliding
and snicking as a little sprung-loaded cradle clips up to support the tiny computer. Beau-
tiful. Nowadays, as well as these fold-outs, you can buy keyboards made from flexible
plastics which you can roll up, but even if they're lighter and better, it's the jewellery-like
intricacy of the fold-out that intrigues me.
Anyway, I have one of these things but I haven't yet started carrying it around; I have
a bad habit of buying glitzy bits of new technology in a fit of retail feeding-frenzy excite-
ment and then losing interest in it for subsequent months or even years, by which time it's
Later Rog borrows the hand-held/folding keyboard set-up to write stuff while he does
the Trans-Siberian all by himself (Brad, too, has had to drop out).
We're shown round Bruichladdich by David Barr, the Bottlings Operations Manager, a
pleasant guy with various tattoos on his arms from his time in the merchant marine.
They're proud of their bottling plant at Bruichladdich. It's the only one on the island - the
other distilleries ship their malts to the mainland to be bottled - and uses local water to
bring the whisky to the right strength. Before all that, of course, it's the mash-tun/wash-
back/still house standard tour with a bit of the history of the place thrown in.
Now, obviously I'm not going to detail in this topic all the different tours round all
the different distilleries, because that would be boring. You probably do not really need
to know, for example, that Bruichladdich currently produces 300,000 bottles per year, or
that the temperature of the second of the three waters introduced into the mash tun is 79
to 80 degrees centigrade, or that the distillery dog is called Tiny, all of which - along with
much, much more - I duly noted down on my tour.