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You haven't been to the United Kingdom until you've sampled a platter of fish and chips. (Photo: AP)
You haven't been to the United Kingdom until you've sampled a platter of fish and chips. (Photo: AP)

Diary: I've found fish and chips but no hooligans

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Now that's Mark Spoor has sampled fish and chips, seen locals playing cricket and discovered that television here leaves much to be desired, all that's left is to see the inside of a pub and run into some soccer hooligans.

By Mark Spoor, Coordinating Producer

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- I can now officially say I've been to the U.K. -- sort of. I've finally had fish and chips but have yet to step foot inside a pub.

In all, the fish and chips -- a staple meal over here -- wasn't a bad experience. I must tell you that I was a bit worried when John Byrwa, our managing editor, told me to put vinegar on it. Vinegar? Really? I thought you just used that stuff to color Easter eggs and punish kids for cursing.

Byrwa, a veteran of 10 trips across the Pond and true fish-and-chips officionado, said the version we found at the course were average at best. I thought they were really tasty, but then again I have nothing to compare them to other than a Filet-O-Fish with super-size fries. In that match-up, it fared a lot like LeBron James when they used to show his high school games on ESPN.

I have yet to enter a pub on this trip. I'm hoping that happens this evening. Going to the U.K. and not hitting to a pub has to rank somewhere next to going to Scotland and not bringing an umbrella.

Oh, wait ...

I'm also looking forward to meeting a soccer hooligan. From the way those stories are covered in the American press, you'd think they'd be standing on every street corner with four teeth apiece and big signs on their chest saying something like, "Pick a fight with me."

No such luck.

And while we're on European sports, can someone please explain cricket to me? We have a cricket field near the house we're staying at and every time we go by there, we see folks playing it. I've heard forever that it's like baseball, but it looks to me like that game "pickle" that we all used to play when we were kids. You know, when kids used to actually play outside.

I think I'm most intrigued by the scoring. Every cricket score I've ever heard is like 96-4. How is that fun for anybody? Is there not a mercy rule that goes into effect when you're down by 92?

But I digress.

Through three days, we've learned that the television offerings here are somewhat less than thrilling. For example, there's a channel that shows nothing but rounds of roulette. You can actually call in and make bets. Now those who know me also know that I'm quite a big fan of the whole Las Vegas scene, but if they saw me calling some number to make bets on televised roulette, I think they'd be calling for the guys in the white coats -- and rightfully so.

We have, however, found a show here on BBC called "Last Man Standing" that has American hit written all it. The premise is they take a group of six athletes, all with different areas of skill, and shuttle them off to remote corners of the globe to compete with local tribes in the tribes' games of choice.

In last night's episode, our heroes were competing in a form of fighting called Aki Kiti, where all attacking and defending is done with your bare feet on a dusty, bare dirt patch of ground. The object is to either kick your opponent to the ground or knock them out of a 20x20 foot square. They train for this by running up and down the local terrain -- which can be politely referred to as "rough" -- in bare feet.

Another thing that has struck me over the past few days is how old some of the buildings here are. Of course, I knew I would see plenty of old architecture here, but expecting it and actually seeing it are two completely different things. Maybe it's because I myself am getting a little bit older, but I'm starting to think that not everything has to be the newest, latest and greatest to be spectacularly effective.

Off to find a pub. Talk to you soon.

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