IT'S been a season of two halves, both of them rank rotten.
IF THIS is the shape of things to come, then life's looking up. Nothing warms the heart like a proper rivalry, the sort that gets the crowd going and makes players hit rucks with that extra ounce of venom, and the collision of the Borders bluebloods of Melrose and the hungry West Coast upstarts in cerise has all the makings of just such a rivalry.
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If Martin Bain thinks that UEFA is victimising Rangers - or, in his words, "undermining" them - he really should try to get out more. He needn't even go very far - the seats bought by local businesses should be far enough for him to experience what the rest of us have routinely witnessed.
L'Escargot Blanc 17 Queensferry Street, Edinburgh (0131-226 1890, www.lescargotbleu.co.uk) Bill please Starters £4.90-£7.90 Main courses £13.90-£21.95 Puddings £4.90 ***
La Garrigue 14 Eyre Place, Edinburgh (0131-558 1608, www.lagarrigue.co.uk) Two courses £26.50; Three courses £30. Rating ****
FIRST of all, the name. Why has Marina Crolla, scion of the famous family of Edinburgh gourmands and formerly the owner of the excellent Café Maria on Cockburn Street, called her newish Royal Mile restaurant Angels With Bagpipes?
EVEN though I love the snow, I've been wont to get a little narky of late. Being confined to quarters for days on end, and sliding all over the shop when eventually braving the pavements, is one thing, but being unable to get out of town for some non-Edinburgh eating is quite another.
Addled by a lack of sleep from watching England's crushing win in the Second Ashes Test, for much of the past week cricket fans have been consumed with a contemplation of Shane Warne's possible return to Test cricket.
The Magnum 1 Albany Street, Edinburgh (0131-557 4366) Bill please Two-course lunch £19.45 Three-course lunch £22 Rating 4/5
Whitmuir – The Organic Place Whitmuir Farm, Lamancha, West Linton (01968 661147, www.whitmuir organics.co.uk) Bill please Starters £3.50-£6.95. Main courses £9.95-£12.95. Puddings £3.95 Rating **
It was always going to be close, but few of the record crowd of almost 19,000 who turned up at Pittodrie yesterday expected it to be this squeaky. With the scores locked at 16-16 for more than a quarter of the game, it took an injury-time penalty by local boy Ruaridh Jackson in only his second international to ensure that Scotland beat Samoa.
There's not much you can do but sit and marvel at Richie McCaw. The All Black skipper will be 30 next month, and yesterday he not only equalled Sean Fitzpatrick's New Zealand record of 92 caps but led the All Blacks for a record 60th time.
Wedgwood 267 Canongate, Edinburgh ****
Last January, porn magnate turned football mogul David Sullivan looked at the accounts of several Premier League clubs. He didn't like what he saw. "Frightening," he said. "We've looked at (the accounts of] 20 clubs since we left Birmingham.
WHEN Delhi won the right to spend up to £4 billion to stage the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the nation's powerbrokers were ecstatic. Here, at last, was a chance to showcase India's status as a burgeoning economic powerhouse.
There was a lot of pompous talk last week of the ongoing match-fixing scandal besmirching the good name of cricket. Such talk comes from people who don't know their cricket history. People with a more realistic perspective reply that match-fixing is as old as international cricket, as a cursory glance at the career of one of the early greats of the game, Ted Pooley, (pictured right) demonstrates.
Battle for Greenland: Scottish tycoon Sir Bill Gammell is leading an oil rush into one of the world's most pristine environments and Greenpeace are determined to stop him
EARLY last Monday morning, shortly before corporate Edinburgh kick-started itself into action after another frenetic weekend of Festival-going, an army of climate-change protesters struck again.
So, according to the high-falutin' trades union known as the League Managers Association, the reason for Martin O'Neill's departure from Aston Villa was the distance of its American owner, Randy Lerner, from the UK.
At just 5ft 3in tall and weighing barely more than nine stone in a sopping wet jersey, Lucy Millard cuts a slight, almost elfin, figure. It's difficult to imagine that she is the player on whom the hopes of the Scotland women's rugby team will rest when their World Cup campaign kicks off against Canada on Friday in Surrey.
Business is blooming: By the end of the 50th Ayr Flower Show, it will have turned over £300,000 and contributed £1.1m to the local economy
IT'S 11 o'clock and the big day is not going well. The Ayr Flower Show, Scotland's rustic answer to the city-slicker counterpart in Chelsea, is celebrating its 50th birthday and the skies above Ayr have decided to mark the occasion by dumping biblical amounts of rain on the Rozelle Estate where the event is being held.