Sunday, 27 June 2010

Writing and Shakey Bridges

Hi all,
I'm keeping pretty busy at the moment especially on the writing front. I am proofreading my book about "Writing: Become a Freelance Writer Plus Self-publishing & POD" whilst trying to do some drawings for my second book about fishing.

Those of you who are familiar with my writing, will know that I like to include a few sketches in my books to give the writing a bit of life. You can see one of my drawings on the right.

Working on the two things together is good because it gives me a break from seeing what I have written. If you've ever tried to proofread your own work you will know that you very often see what you think you've written and not what is actually on the page.

Anyway, while I was writing my second fishing book I felt the need to illustrate a scene from the past; a lovely little fishing spot called Shaky Bridges. The chapter deals with my father taking me to fish a river for the first time and we end up at Shakey Bridges.

Now unless you live in Stafford you won't have heard of Shakey Bridges, but if you are over fifty and live anywhere near the county town the mention of it's name should bring a warm glow to your soul. The same as it does when anybody mentions the Royal Brine Baths, (how could they knock it down? They should've been locked up) but that's another story.

Shakey Bridges crossed the river sow (pronouced like a female pig)about a mile north of Stafford. Set in a lovely valley it had everything, a small weir, a lovely pebble beach, and a pool that was deep enough to swim in without the risk of drowning. If that wasn't good enough, it was flanked by a couple of the most picturesque weeping-willows trees you ever did see.

So nice was this place that people took their kids to Shakey Bridges for a day out. In fact it is rumoured that in the sixties the people of Stafford had two holiday destinations to choose from. Those who could afford it went to Rhyl whilst the rest went to Shakey Bridges.

The problem now is that Shakey Bridges is not accessible anymore and hasn't been for the last thirty odd years. I would like to do a sketch of the place to accompany my writing and so that it can go down in history. However, the only thing I have to go on is my memory of the place, and what I can remember of Shakey Bridges probably won't be the same as other people's memories of the place.

Ideally, I would like a photograph of Shakey Bridges to use for the basis of my sketch. I have put an appeal in the local paper asking for a photo, but I've had no answer yet. If any of you out there have a picture of Shakey Bridges from the fifties or sixties I would be very pleased to hear from you.

Just a reminder that a free sample download of my first fishing book is available from my website. Click here for free download. I'll let you know in a couple weeks if I got any photos; if I do, I'll include a couple on the post.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Tics and Buzby

Hi all,
If you recall in my last post on our tour of Scotland, we had decided to take the backroad through the mountains from Newton Stewart to Gatehouse of Fleet. We left the lovely little wildlife sanctuary that we'd found at the side of the road and headed up into the mountains. The air was fresh and it was so peaceful, I suppose we'd been driving for about half and hour and hadn't seen another vehicle. Every now and again there was a sight to behold, as the side of the hill was covered in young Christmas trees, and there was me thinking that they all came from Norway, perhaps it's all fibs, and Santa doesn't come down the chimney after all.

Anyway, this was one of those magical spots that you sometimes find when you are on holiday. After driving a little further we decided to stop and let our dog Buzby stretch his legs. I guess we also wanted to revel in this paradise we'd found for a little bit longer, as we knew that sooner or later this lovely little lane would throw us back onto the main road, and we'd be joining the ceaseless traffic heading to, or away from the Stanraer ferry.

And so it was that our mountain journey came to an end as we pitched up in Gatehouse of fleet. We called at the nice little craft shop in the centre and then went to have a look at the main attraction which is the Mill on the Fleet (photo on the right). I guess we had an enjoyable hour in the place looking at the books, crafts etc and even found time for tea and cakes. However, it was soon time to head back to the cottage and it was while we were heading back that we discovered something awful. Mostly, Buzby travels in the back of the car but every now and again he wants to come into the front. He makes some terrble whining noises that could drive a person insane. We ignore him for a bit and then shout at him to be quiet, but it doesn't work and eventually, Terry Anne's resolve weakens and she allows him to come through to the front and sit on her lap. Buzby is only a yorkshire terrier I don't know what she'd do if we had a great dane.

Anyway, we were talking away merrily when she shrieked, "Oh no."
Bloody hell I thought, she must have left her handbag at the mill.
"What's up?" I enquire.
"Buzby has got a bloody tic."
Now at that point I couldn't see what all the fuss was about because I'm not a doggy sort of person. Terry is my second wife and dogs came with her, previously my only pets had been some tropical fish, and a little white mouse that kept running up my sleeve(I was too young to have my own clock). So I imagined a tic was one of those nervy things that people get when they can't stop one of there eyebrows twitching. I didn't know dogs could get tics, but there you go you learn something everyday. "He'll be alright darling," I say, "he hardly sees any other dogs and I'm sure they won't laugh at him that much."

At that point I was admonished for talking drivel, and was directed to drive to Newton Stewart, where hopefully we could get something to remove tics from a pet shop. I know pet shops can't get tics, but I didn't want to rewrite that sentence.
Anyway, she explained that tics are nasty little blighters that have legs like claws, and with these they attach themselves to various animals like sheep and dogs. Once attached, they suck the blood out of their host and can make them proper poorly. Apparently once a tic's attached itself, it's harder to remove than marmalade from your best cardy. The problem is, if you just pull them off they leave their claws in the host animal and this leads to alsorts of on infections. Terry had heard that it was possible to remove them by holding a lit cigarette end over the top of the tic's head and when it gets hot it pulls out its legs to shade the top of its bonce and then falls off.
We couldn't try this cure because my wife doesn't smoke. I offered to give it a go with my pipe, but was admonished for the second time that day.

Eventually we reached Newton Stewart and with it not being a big place we soon located the pet shop. Hopefully, the would have just the stuff to fix tics.

I'll let you know about the great wisdom we received in the art of removing tics next time. For now I'll leave you with a picture of Scotland, and remind you that more photos of this lovely land can be found on my website.

Click here to go to my website

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Fishing and crayfish

Hi all,

I've managed to get out fishing three times this year which is pretty good, because last year I only managed the same number of fishing sessions in 12 months.

The results of my fishing expeditions this year have been mixed, although I did manage to break one of my own records. No it wasn't a monster carp it was something much sadder. I managed to catch 2 signal crayfish on my first day out, and they were the first fish I caught as well. I don't know about you, but when I'm fishing I'm not to bothered about what species I catch, or how big they are. Fishing is fishing and as long as I'm catching I'm as happy as a chub with a bun. However, signal crayfish aren't what I paid my day ticket money to catch. I asked the bailiff at the water why they didn't get somebody to come and remove some of the crayfish. There are companies on the Internet who will come and take a load away for free. Apparently, they sell the crayfish to posh London restaurants because the punters down their can't get enough of them. I suppose crayfish is a welcome change from a dish of jellied eels down at the old bull and bush.

As far as fish are concerned; I've had some nice bream, a few carp both common and mirror going to about 5lbs. I've also had a nice tench and even a lovely still water barbel. I'd say it's been a fair to middling start to the fishing season at least catch wise.

Now, I'd like to get something of my chest. There appears to be a growing lack of respect for other angler's peace and quite when fishing. I've been a match angler, and I am used to fishing with people on both sides of me and that is great. However, I am now a bit older, and I prefer a bit of peace and quiet when I'm fishing. I am sure I'm not alone in this quest either.

Anyway, I've slowed down a lot since my heart attack, and my wife now comes with me to carry a bit of tackle, keep an eye on my blood pressure and keep me supplied with refreshments. She doesn't do any fishing, she sits behind me and reads a book, or just watches the wildlife.

Because we both like a bit of peace when fishing we choose to go during the week when it is quieter, and we go to one of the biggest fisheries in the country. This place has several big pools so there should be plenty of room, well so you'd think.

Have you ever parked in a nice quiet spot somewhere and some prat comes and parks next to you when there are acres of space elsewhere. It's happened to me on more than one occasion. Well this year it's happened whilst I've been fishing.

Fishing session 1
My wife and I took a leisurely drive around the several pools at the fishery. Picking the right spot is vital not just for the fishing but also to sooth our troubled souls. On the day in question it wasn't particularly busy, and as it was about 9:30 we reckoned that most people who would be going fishing would already be at their pegs.

Anyway we came to a large rectangular pool that we'd fished before and nobody else was fishing it. So we got the kit out and went onto the second peg from the corner and tackled up. All was well with the world, well almost as I mentioned earlier my first 2 fish of the season were crayfish. However, that was quickly followed by a nice carp of about 3lbs. Things were looking up until a bloke pulled up in his car, he jumped out and set up on the peg next to us, right in the corner. I felt like telling him to push off because not a single other peg on the pool was taken.

"Alright if I fish here mate?" he asked, "I won't disturb you will I."

"No I suppose not," I said whilst trying to sound just a tad pissed off with him.
If I'd known then how it was going to turn out I would have said something on the lines of.
"Actually I do mind, as the rest of the pool empty why don't you shove off and fish somewhere else you ignorant bastard." But I didn't because I'm a gentleman.

Anyway,he didn't take the hint. He set up two rods with large swim feeders and started fishing. I say fishing, every time he cast out it was more a kin to depth charging a submarine such was the splash that was made by his end tackle. Now that in itself might have been bad enough for a float man like me, but this guy also had a runaway mouth. He just couldn't stop talking, well I'll call it talking, it was mostly inane banter and mutterings. Another peculiar thing about this man was that he couldn't keep still. There I was sitting peacefully in my chair while Johnny in the corner, was up and down and going round and round like a whirling dervish

My wife couldn't read her book, and I couldn't drift off into my own little world as I usually do when fishing, because every few minutes we'd be interrupted by the fool fishing on the next peg. He would either ask a pointless question or mutter something to himself.

I suppose we'd been fishing for about three hours when the twit looked across to us and spoke those unforgettable words.
"Nice to have some peace and quiet innit."

It was by far the least peaceful fishing session we have ever had, and hoped that the next one would be better. I can tell you now that it wasn't, and I'm sorry, but you'll have to wait for my next fishing blog to find out what happened.

Just a reminder if you want a free download of part of my fishing book please go to my website.Click here for free download

Thursday, 10 June 2010


This is a photo of the estuary just below Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

Hi all,
Doesn't time fly when you are enjoying yourself, I know it certainly does when I'm writing. It seems like only five minutes since I did my last writing post but it must be over a week.

I have been heavily involved with the proofreading part of the book that I've been writing which is entitled, "Writing: Becoming a Freelance Writer plus Self-Publishing and POD." In fact I'm a bit behind schedule, I thought I'd have it completed and published during May but it looks like being about a month late. The problem I find is that it takes me as long to proofread my books as it does to write them. The writing is much easier for me, I only have to do a couple of rewrites but I can end up going through a book several times to get rid of any spelling and grammar mistakes.

Anyway beside telling you about my writing book being late I thought I'd mention that I've posted a new short story on my website for you to take a look at. It is slightly different from my usual way of writing as this is a monologue.It was aimed at the womens' magazine market and I thought it was funny even if the editors didn't. I'd love to hear you comments and what you think about it.

If you follow the link below it will take you to my website where you can download several short stories for free. While you are there you might want to take advantage of a download of my book about fishing. Just click on the link below, then on writers' resources
Click here for free downloads
I look forward to hearing from you and will leave you with a photo of a lovely loch taken in Scotland.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Creetown & Gemstones

Hi all,
Sorry this post is a bit late but I've been up to my eyebrows with other commitments. Anyway, let's not waste anymore time and continue our tour of Scotland.
It's Tuesday, and we thought we'd have a look at the gemstone museum at Creetown and take if from there. The photo below was taken in Creetown.
My wife has always been fascinated by gemstones (show me a female that isn't) and in years gone by, I had a curiosity about them myself. I wasn't interest in gemstones from an adornment point of view, I had no desire to have them swinging from various parts of my body. I was interested in the materials and where they came from etc. I did collect a few gemstones especially the ones that were shaped like eggs, they were so tactile and I'm sure they had a calming effect on me when I touched them. I reckon they must have put my heart attack back by at least 6 months.

Yes, I was interested in gemstones, I bought a book about them and almost bought a lapidary machine, so that I could rumble a few stones from my local ford. However, at the time, a good machine cost about £80 and I couldn't justify the expense. So my interest in gemstones and lapidary died along with so many of my other dreams. There's no need to get the violin out, I'm still alive and kicking.
Anyway, we soon found the gemstone museum at the back of Creetown and it was fascinating. Not only were there some beautiful gemstones on show but there was an abundance of information about them. The display cabinets were stacked with hundreds of different gemstones many of which I'd never heard of before. They even sold lapidary machines, but I still couldn't part with the cash. Perhaps there is a bit of the Scottish in me somewhere?

We spent quite a while admiring the stones and then had a spot of lunch in the cafe whilst we pondered our next move. We decided we'd take a drive around to Gatehouse of Fleet but not via the main road, we'd go via a lane that looped off into the mountains. Actually, we tend to do most of our driving around lanes because it necessitates that one drives slower, and if one is driving slower one is apt to see more of the countryside and wildlife. Zooming from place to place like a bluebootle trapped in a greenhouse isn't our preferred way to travel.
And so it was that we set off up the lonely mountain pass and we soon came to a little haven at the side of the road.
A small, but very well thought out nature reserve. There were pools and paths leading everywhere and yet all the while you were never far from the car. If you look at the photo above you can see our car in the background. Whoever designed the place should get a big pat on the back. I suppose we spent about an hour wandering arounding and taking photos of primroses by the stream and other items of interest before we moved on towards our intended destination. I'll tell you how we got on in my next post, but for now I'll leave you with a photo of a stream wandering through the trees and remind you that more photos of Scotland can be seen on our website at Click here to see some of our paintings and photos

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Prizes for Anglers

Apologies to those of you who are following my tour of Scotland. My next post, in a couple of days, will see me back on the high road again. In the meanwhile, please enjoy the photo above of a beautiful loch that I discovered at the back of Logan House Gardens.
Hi all,
I may have some good news for some of you ardent anglers. A few days ago I was dodging about the Internet looking for another avenue to plug my angling book, "Fishing: Learn from the Tips & Laugh at the Tales". Well you've got to keep trying haven't you. I wrote it so that as many anglers as possible could enjoy a good laugh at some true fishing tales, and it should help any angler who reads it to catch loads more fish.

Anyway, during my quest to market my fishing book, I came across a website that might be of interest to some anglers and what's more they were giving away lots of prizes.

These prizes varied a lot and ranged from a brand new roach pole to a reel of line. On top of that there were free tickets to some big fisheries like Cudmore.

I am sure you will be pleased to know that no purchase is necessary and it's completely free. The website is part of Angling Times, and they list the winning number in the paper every week. These can also be found on the website, where you will also find the numbers from the draws made over the last seven weeks.If you didn't know about this prize draw I'll give you the full URL at the end of this post.

The interesting thing is, the numbers that are being used for the draw come from your rod license. If you look at the top left-hand corner, you will see a long number, this is what you will need to check if you are lucky winner or not. There are literally hundreds of numbers that have been drawn already so why don't you pop along and see if fate has been kind.

When you look at the numbers involved you realise that, if they are giving away that many prizes, there must be millions of anglers out there who have purchased a rod license. If only 0.1% of them bought my book I'd be a very happy man.

If you would like a preview of my book, you can pop along to my website and get a sample download absolutely free. Click here.

If you want to check your prize draw numbersClick here