Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Glenwhan Gardens

We are still in the south west corner of Scotland and there is so much to see and do that we may be there for a while. One of the main attractions that sees visitors returning here, year after year, is the sheer quantity of beautiful gardens that are open to the public.

In last week's post we visited Ardwell House Garden and found it quite charming. This week however, we will stay closer to our base, on the Isle of Whithorn, and take a look around Glenwhan Gardens, which can be seen above.

Glenwhan Gardens are the opposite to Ardwell House Gardens in respect to altitude. Ardwell House Gardens are situated almost at sea level, on the east side of the Mochars, whilst Glenwhan gardens sit in splendour high above Luce Bay. The view from the top of this garden is simply stunning.

Glenwhan gardens have been a labour of love for the creators and they are rightly proud of what they have created from what was previously a wilderness. I would describe Glenwhan Gardens as being a series of delightful paths, that meander between pools, mounds and flower beds. Watch out too for some odd, but delightful, garden ornaments as you walk around. The hog, seen below, bought a smile to our faces because it resembles somebody we know.

Each area of planting has been carefully worked out to ensure that all of the plants are shown at their best. It is easy to see that the garden has been created with care and will delight the casual visitor and ardent gardeners by equal amounts.

Once you've taken a stroll around this heavenly place you will be pleased to know that there is also a tearoom. Here you will receive a warm welcome and be able to enjoy some home baking.

All in all, we really enjoyed our visit to Glenwhan and hope to repeat the experience next time we are in the area. In my next post about Scotland we will visit Logan Botanical Gardens, which is another gem.

If you want to see some more photos of Scotland or some of our paintings, Click Here

Friday, 23 July 2010

Writing & the Freelance Writer

Hi all,
There's good news on the writing front and I'd like to share it with you in this and my next writing post. I've just had the proof copy of my book about writing delivered from the printers and I'm busy going through it looking for any silly mistakes.

A copy of the front cover can be seen on the right and I have to say that I'm quite proud of the design because it's all my own work. The title of the book, "Writing: How to get Started as Freelance Writer plus a Guide to Self-Publishing and POD" was the cause of much indecision. It's a long title, and perhaps slightly unwieldy, but I was adamant that it should tell any would be purchaser what it was about.

It is in fact a book of 2 parts; the first explains how anybody should go about establishing themselves as a freelance writer while the second part deals with self-publishing and POD.

This is the book that I wished I'd been able to find when I set out on the road to become a freelance writer. It would have saved me loads of time and money.
There are many pitfalls waiting to trap the would be freelance writer, they don't look menacing, but they can waste time and sap the writer's confidence.

I took up freelance writing 7 years ago, so I'm well placed to understand what can go wrong, and know how easy it is for any would be freelance writer to get side tracked. I will be the first to admit that I made quite a few mistakes and wasted a whole lot of time, perhaps as much as a couple of years. I sincerely believe that this book will guide prospective freelance writers in the right direction and help them get established as quickly as possible.

There are just too many opportunities in the current market place and and this gives the would be freelance writer too many choices. He or she is apt to go off chasing one writing opportunity after another and end up like a boat with a broken rudder. To be a success as a freelance writer, it is necessary to plot ones course and then follow it regardless of what direction the wind is currently coming from. This is the best way to achieve your ambitions.

I am hopeful that this book will help those who read it, to get published, get paid and also see a clear way forward at the start of their new career.

I will explain what the second part of the book is about in my next writing post, but again it is written with the objective of saving the reader time and money. In fact, it shows the reader how they can self-publish their book for less then £10 , so that can't be bad can it.
If you would like a pre-published copy of "Writing: How to get Started as a Freelance Writer Plus A Guide to Self-Publishing & POD" you can order one through my website..Click Here
These pre-published copies will be available at a discounted price so please take advantage while you can as once the book is published it will cost about 20% more. It would make sense to make those savings now and be one of the first to gain the benefits from this book

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Twit Twit & More Twits?

Hi all,
Superstitions are funny things and in general I take no notice of them. But I couldn't help wondering if our next fishing trip would be a case of third time lucky.
If you've been following this fishing blog you will know that I've managed to get the rods out three times this year and the first two have been disasters. Not because I didn't catch any fish, but because I seem to be attracting fools. Perhaps I've got a friendly face, or perhaps I just look like I know all the best spots, but whatever it is, I wish it would go away and let me fish in peace.

Anyway, our third fishing session of the season arrived and we took off again to our usual venue; a big fishery with lots of big pools to chose from. However, given that on the previous two occasion we had picked large deserted pools, and then been surrounded by twits, we decided to have a change. At this venue there is a smallish pool that is left to nature and more like the ponds I used to fish when I was a teenager. It doesn't contain a lot of big fish; is surrounded by trees and is therefore ideal for the lonesome angler.

On the morning in question we decided to give this small pool a go as we though it probably wouldn't attract the big carp boys. As we drove along the track across the field to this out of the way pool we were disappointed to find a car already parked up. My wife's face looked gloomy and I knew what she was going to say before she opened her mouth. "What are we going to do now?"
I pulled our car up next to the one that was already there and said, "Hang on a minute, it might not be as bad as it seems". And with that remark I went to see if the person from the other car was on his own or with a mob. As it happened he was a lonesome angler and was siting quietly around the corner out of the way.

It was now 10am, so we should be alright we reckoned. We quickly got the tackle out of the car and I set up enthusiastically while my wife got comfortable with her book. I just finished plumbing the depth and had cast in for the very first time when a car pulled up next to ours. But wait, it didn't end their, as we sat there not believing this could happen it was followed by another one and then to put the top hat on it, a plumber's van pulled up with the radio blaring and an England flag sticking out of each corner.

Seven twits got out of those vehicles (I might have spelt that wrong) and noisily unloaded their tackle. Wherever the twits were going to fish from on this small pool wouldn't have mattered because our peace would be shattered. We just looked at each other and felt like giving up.
"I'm off," I said, and began tackling down. This is not a thing any angler likes to do even after sitting fishless for 5 hours, but to have to pack up before you've actually started fishing is a nightmare. The feeling is on a par with the one that you get when using the withdrawal method of contraception. What a silly concept that is and know doubt responsible for many unwanted babies.

Dejected and downhearted we packed the tackle back into the car and went to find another spot where we might have more luck in the peace and quite stakes. It was now after 10-30 so we also reasoned that anybody who was going fishing must now surely be in their chosen peg. We eventually found another spot in the corner of another pool and there wasn't a soul to be seen anywhere. This was what we wanted, perfect peace and quite and pool all to ourselves. I guess I'd been fishing for about ten minutes when a car pulled up on the lane behind the pool. We sat there doing impressions of Victor Medrew as another twit came and looked at the peg by me in the same corner. If he was hell bent on fishing this pool why couldn't he go and fish on one of the other sixty odd pegs the pool contained?

If he fished in the corner by me we'd be at 90 degree angles to one another so where was he going to cast? We were only about two rod lengths apart and I was casting straight out in front of me. "He can't be going to fish there," my wife said, "nobody would be that stupid." However, I could tell by the way he was eyeing the job up that that was where he was going to fish. I tried giving him the dirtiest look I could manage, but at the back of my mind I was thinking about the bloke who'd just run riot with a gun in Cumbria. Trouble is now-a-days, you don't know what you are up against.

Terry kept an eye on the the twit as he got his tackle from his car. "Guess what," she saya,
"What," I reply.
"The twits parked is car in the middle of the lane and that's where he's left it."
You might remember me telling you that a single track lane ran behind this pool and anglers were expected to park in the lay by at the side of it . This is where we'd parked, but said twit had just got out of his car and left it in the middle of the lane, all other drivers now had to go into the lay by and squeeze between our car and his to get past. He had in fact made his own chicane.

Anyway I won't bore you with too many details, the following will tell you what sort of angler this twit was. He set up with a large swim feeder that he'd filled with some concoction that he mixed in a big bowl and on his hook he had a piece of luncheon meat that was as big as a match box. There going to be a hell of a splash when that lot lands in the middle of the pool I thought, but there wasn't, and that was because he'd lobbed it up against the reeds right in the corner. I had a little chuckle to myself because I know that the water up against those reeds is only about six inches deep. Any carp that was capable of getting a quarter of a tin of spam in its mouth was going to have about a foot of back showing out of the water. He obviously hadn't read my book about fishing, that devotes a whole chapter to the importance of plumbing the depth.

Anyway, it was enough for me, fishing next to a proper angler is bad enough when they are that close, but siting that close to a maga twit isn't on. We packed up out tackle and moved again this time we didn't go in the car we just retired to another nearby pool. There was already an angler fishing this pool, so we respected his peace and positioned ourselves away from him. All stayed quite for what was left of the session and I even managed to catch a few fish.

Our problem now is that we have lost confidence in ever finding a nice quite spot to fish. I am even considering just taking our chairs and sitting in the countryside somewhere for a few hours. I won't catch any fish, but the peace and tranquility should be worth it.

If you want a free download of a sample chapter from my fishing book.Please click here

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Ardwell in the Rhinns

If there is one thing that the south western corner of Scotland isn't short of it's gardens. They are everywhere, and beautiful they are too. This post will concentrate on Ardwell House Garden the first garden we visited in the area and we were so impressed we visited a few more. Ardwell House Garden is situated in lovely a location on the edge of Luce Bay which can be found on the Rhinns of Galloway.

In terms of size Ardwell House Garden isn't very big, but it is still impressive and leaves the visitor well satisfied. This isn't one of those gardens with rows and rows of neatly planted flowers and shrubs. In fact in places it's rather wild, but that is what gives it such charm. One of the other good things about Ardwell is that it hasn't been commercialised, well it hadn't when we visited it last, but things may have changed. There wasn't a cafe or any plants for sale, in fact when we were there we didn't see another living soul. We arrived and parked in the small car park and at once we were taken aback by a meadow full of hawkweeds as seen in the photo at the top of this post. We then dropped our entrance fee money in an honesty box and we were on our way.

The first bit of proper garden we came to has lived with me ever since because it was one of the nicest bits of garden my wife or I have seen anywhere. It was the patio outside the front of Ardwell House which consisted of an area of stone slabs prettily covered with patches of moss and lichens. I know that is nothing remarkable as most people have stone slabbed patios. However, this one was special because in between the slabs there grew flowers of all types and description. Saxifrages, thymes, St Peter Port daisies and all manner of low growing plants too numerous to mention here. It was a riot of colour yet at the same time it was subdued in it's scale when compared to big borders full of delphiniums and lupins.

So overwhelmed was Terry Anne with this bit of garden she made be adopt the principles in our garden when we got back home. Behind a bungalow in Staffordshire we recreated a lovely bit of Scotland.

Eventually we dragged ourselves away from the patio garden to see what other delights we could find. First we followed a footpath around some small pools and eventually came to a walled garden. It was a bit neglected inside although it looked like somebody was actually making a start on sorting it out. It may have been a bit wild, but it was still charming and had some nice plants dotted here and there to keep us interested. It was in the walled garden that we came across the patch of california poppies that can be seen on the right.

On the way back to the car park we took a path alongside which grew some enormous hogweeds and wondered how poisonous this plant actually is. We also wondered if it is related to the prolific plant of a similar description called cow parsley. I say similar, the cow parsley is actually a much smaller plant. With the exception of primroses and bluebells a lane lined with cow parsley has got to be one of the best sights to be seen in early Spring.

Before we got back to the the car we also came across a lovely dovecot and we watched the doves going in and out for a while before carrying on with our journey around the rest of the Rhinns.

Here's a reminder that more pictures of Scotland and other gardens can be seen on our website. On the website you will also be able to see some of our paintings I hope you enjoy them.
Click here to visit our website

By the way I have kindly been informed by Kevin, that the reason the Vaseline probably didn't work for me when I was trying to get rid of the tic was because it needs to be a big dollop. He used the method to get a tic off his Jack Russel the other day and said it worked straight away. So if your dog gets a tic, give it a go you've got nothing to lose. Thanks for your advice Kevin, I shall take a jar of Vaseline with me next time I'm lucky enough to get back up to Scotland.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Proofreading and Writing

Hi all,
I thought it was time to give you an update on my book about writing. I am sorry to say that it's a couple of months behind schedule. However, I am hopeful that it will be available towards the end of August. The reason for the delay is because of the proofreading process. Those of you who know about my fishing book, "Fishing: Learn from the Tips & Laugh at the Tales" may be interested to know that the proofreading exercise for that book ended up with me reading through it 15 times.
I like to learn from my mistakes and was optimistic about my writing book. Anyway, after I'd read through it a couple of times and found a few mistakes and errors I became concerned because this was again taking up a huge amount of my time. There's no doubt about it, writing a book is much easier than proofreading one.
Originally I expected my writing book to be on sale in May, but then I had to put it back another month so things definitely weren't going to plan. I reasoned that proofreading was something I'd have to sort out, not just for this book about writing, but for all my other books that would need proofreading in the future.
So there was only one thing for it. I enrolled on a proofreading course with expectations that it would help me get the writing book ready for market. Well it's working so far, but at the same time it did show up some weaknesses in my writing. So I had to rectify a few gremlins that would have previously gone unnoticed.

The upshot of all this is that the proofreading operation is now over and I'm concentrating on the cover and the title.
Titles are easier than proofreading, but can still cause even experienced writers some concern. Over the last 6 months I've been mulling various titles over and over in my head. The problem is that there are so many keywords that need to be included so that it will come up in searches. Writing, is a keyword, as is freelance writer, because these are the topics of the first part of the book. The second part is about basic choices that face any would be self-publisher. I discuss 6 options, which range from getting somebody else to do all the work to one where the author can self-publish their book for less than a tenner.
So my working title is:
"Writing: How to Get Started as a Freelance Writer, Plus your Self-Publishing Options. Including Book Publishing for Less Than a Tenner."

Okay, so it's a bit unwieldy at the moment I suppose. Somehow I've got to condense the words without losing the key message. Still that's what writing is all about. If anybody has a stunning or otherwise suggestion about rewording this title, I'd be pleased to hear from them.

That's it for now I'd better get on with the cover artwork. Here's just a reminder for any of you who might be interested in my fishing book. I've changed the free download sample that can be found on my website, so if you want to take advantage of it pleaseClick Here
By the way I hope you have enjoyed looking at the 2 photos I've included. My next Scotland post will be with you soon.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The tic & vaseline

Hi all,
It's time we carried on with our tour of Scotland, here's recap on where we got to last time. We were on our way back to the cottage when my wife discovered that our dog had got a tic. Having discovered the little monster and with thought that the tic could poison our wee pooch, she directed me to make as much speed as possible and reach Newton Stewart before the pet shop shut. It was at the pet shop that she hoped to find something that would remove the tic.

Having gone around several corners almost on two wheels we arrived in Newton Stewart in the middle of the rush hour, and there wasn't a parking space anywhere. There was only one thing for it. I stopped the car outside the pet shop, deposited my wife on the pavement and told her I'd go round the block and pick her up after she'd been in the pet shop.

Anyway, I parked up for five minutes before going round the block. I've played this game a few times before in various places where parking is obviously a sin. If I went around the block straight away, she wouldn't be there when I come back past so I'd have to go around again. This winds me up more than cyclists do when they use the button to stop the traffic while they ride over a pelican crossing.

So having given her plenty of time, I make my way around the block and there she is. I stop briefly, much to the annoyance of people in the cars behind who are all in hurry to get home to watch the weakest link. For some reason I get embarrassed if I obstruct other car drivers, so as soon as she had one foot in the car I dropped the clutch and went of like a rat up a drainpipe.
"Well,did you get anything?" I enquired.
"No," she replies as the g force pins her back into her seat. "You can't buy anything in pet shops to get rid of a tic"
By the time we've had this conversation I'm on the outskirts of Newton Stewart heading back to the cottage.
"So what do we do now?" I asked.
"Well, he did say that a tic can be removed by covering it with Vaseline. Apparently the tic suffocates and then drops off."
Now before I go any further I'd just like to say that exactly the same advice was was given to me by Kevin who kindly offered the same information after my last post.
"I take it we've got some Vaseline?" I asked.
"No," she says. "We'll have to get some from the chemist."
"Where's the chemist?"
"Newton Stewart."
"Well why didn't you say? I'll have to go back now and drop you off again and go around the block."
"It's your own fault for diving like a demon," she says, "I don't know what gets into you when you get behind the wheel."
Anyway I dropped her off at the chemists in the high street and went round the block again.

When we got back to the cottage we applied a generous dollop of Vaseline to the tic and waited for it to drop off. Well I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but it didn't.
"Let's have another go,"I said after my wife mentioned that the only other thing we could do was take him to the vet.
The dog hates the vet and I hate the vet's bill, so I quickly applied some more Vaseline. One way or another I was going to suffocate this annoying little tic because it was beginning to spoil my peaceful holiday.

The second helping didn't work either in fact the tic seemed quite comfortable in his new tent. He looked at me at one stage with his hands behind his head saying, "It's lovely and cosy in here, thank you very much."

We thought perhaps there might be pockets of air trapped in the dog's fur around the tic, so we wiped the Vaseline off carefully and then removed as much fur as possible from the area around the tic. Having done that we applied the rest of the jar's contents in a shit or bust attempt to deprive the blighter of air.

Sorry Kevin, and the man in the pet shop, but it didn't work for us. Perhaps it's one of those urban myths like you are never further then six inches from a rat. There again, perhaps we just weren't doing it properly.

Anyway, the following day we took the dog and his new blood sucking friend to the vets. The vet grabbed the tic gently with a pair of tweezers and twisted them slowly. A split second later the tic withdrew its claws and was removed. I paid the bill and everybody was happy. The interesting thing is that my wife witnessed the operation and it was so simple that she used her knowledge to remove two more tics on subsequent holidays in Scotland.So if you want to remove a tic, and suffocation by Vaseline doesn't work, try the tweezers method.
I still don't understand why a tic would rather leaves its claws behind than let go, if it is pulled. Yet if it is twisted, it can't let go fast enough. It just goes to prove there's nowt so thick as a bloody tic.
Sorry we haven't visited any attractions in this post, but we'll get back on the road with my next one. I've added a few photos taken near Wigtown which should be some compensation. And here's' a reminder that you can visit our website and see some of our painting and get a free sample download of my book etc by
Click here

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Fishing for tranquility

In my last post I was telling you about my fishing sessions so far this year. I have only managed to get out 3 times and can't say that any of them were rip roaring successes. The actual fishing, that is to say the catching of fish hasn't been an issue, it's in terms of the other commodity that most anglers crave that has been a disaster.

I am talking here about tranquility. If I can't get that, there is no point in going fishing. I may as well take up golf because at least with that sport you can't finish up with an idiot sitting next to you for a five hour fishing session.

If you remember our first fishing outing of the season, my wife and I went to a very large fishing complex and arrived at about 9:30 am. We chose a large pool and had it all to ourselves. That is until a man who could neither sit still nor keep his mouth shut for more than two minutes decided to set up next to us. Our sport, and more important to us our tranquility, was ruined for the day.

Fishing session number 2
The following week we decide to put the previous week's bad luck behind us and have another go. We went to the same fishing complex and arrived at about the same time as the previous week. Again we chose a pool that nobody else was fishing so that we could indulge in our quest for that much needed tranquility.

All was well as we settled into relaxation mode; my wife with her book and me with my rod. There was hardly a breath of wind and we were sheltered from the sun by the dappled shade that came from a row of small trees behind us. Every now and again a fish would jump out of the water and have a little splash in this idyllic bit of paradise.

We should have known it was too good to be true because I'd only been fishing for about 10 minutes when 2 blokes settled on the pegs right opposite us. They were both in their twenties and neither of them looked like they had the foggiest about tranqulity. "Here we go," I said to Terry Anne, "another fishing session about to be ruined."
Now she is of the glass half full persuasion and replied,"They might not be too bad, let's give them the benefit of the doubt."

Well guess what, I of the glass half empty mindset turned out to be right, not only did they keep shouting to each other, but they also had to keep shouting into their phones. These two blokes had more phone calls in 1 morning than I get in a year. Anyway, as if that wasn't bad enough they were presently joined by their father, who judging by his state of health must've just got off the critical list for something almost fatal.

The old fellow had to be assisted to his peg by one of his sons who then had to tackle up for him. It was quite touching in a way to see these chaps doing everything for their father who obviously loved a bit of fishing. I would've pinned a medal on them myself if only they'd done it all quietly. They spoke so loud that we could hear everything they said, including every other word which almost always started with the letter "F" and if it didn't, it would begin with a "B".

I guess what put the icing on the cake for us was the old fellow. For five hours he didn't manage to catch a single fish, but he was quite happy to while away the day swearing, belching and farting. I don't know what he'd had to eat but we could hear him breaking wind across the other side of the pool.

Like I said, the fishing itself wasn't too bad, I caught some nice carp, a few bream, a hand full of roach and a lively tench. If the fishing had been bad we'd have packed up and gone home, because although the three stooges who sat opposite us did provide us with some entertainment it wasn't what we went fishing for.

I don't like lecturing people, but if you do go fishing, please give some respect to other anglers who may be searching for tranquility. Fishing isn't all about noisey swim feeders and bite alarms. If you see somebody sitting all by themselves, don't set up beside them like the pool stalker. If they are on their own, that's probably how they'd prefer to stay, so give them a little space and go a couple of pegs further on.

In my next post I'll tell you how we got on in our next fishing session. Was it a case of third time lucky? I'll give you a clue things went from bad to unbelievable.

Just a reminder about my fishing book. "Fishing: Learn from the Tips & Laugh at the Tales" a download is available on my website which includes the contents pages, the introducton and part of a sample chapter. Please click on the link below the download is free.Go to my website for a free download