Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Peebles, Moffat & haggis

In this post we will be carrying on with our tour of Scotland. For several weeks now we have been travelling around Dumfries and Galloway looking at the area's attractions. Now we are going to move inland across the other side of the M74 to a place called Peebles.

The photo on the right shows a typical view of the countryside in the area.
Peebles isn't a place that many people other than locals are acquainted with. It's quite a large border town, but being between the main roads that lead to either Glasgow or Edinburgh it is seldom found by accident.

We decided to give Peebles a try because it was closer than going to the highlands and it was a inland which would be a refreshing change from the seaside. I suppose it is quite strange that even when we get older we still tend to drift towards the coast for our holidays. It's a bit crazy when you think about it. The sea is too cold to swim in, and sand is only good for kids and ruining your sandwiches. And what's more, if you like to have a good look around the area when you are on holiday, the sea itself restricts movement by about 50 percent. So an inland holiday may not have amusement arcades, rock shops and candyfloss, but you will get 360 degree access to the surrounding area.

The journey to Peebles was simple, we went straight up the M6 and got off at Moffat, which is another border town that is often missed by those travelling north. It has wide streets some lovely pubs and hotels. We had our lunch in one of these and the plaid carpet put us in the right mood for the first day of our holiday. In fact I got right into the spirit of things by ordering a plate of haggis. I would like to say I enjoyed it, but it left me a little disappointed because it was on the bland side. I had expected it to taste a bit like faggots because I thought it was made from all the bits that nobody wanted for their Sunday dinner. I don't know what was in the haggis I had, perhaps it was best Aberdeen Angus steak. Whatever it was, it wasn't what I expected.

After Moffat we carried on up north and followed the majestic river tweed (Photo on the left) all the way to Peebles.We only stopped once more to take a look around a glass showroom in Tweedsmuir, where we purchased a nice paperweight. Eventually we reached Peebles and drove through the centre of town to find our caravan site. We were staying in a static caravan because there wasn't a large choice of self-catering accommodation in the area, especially for holiday makers with a dog. If that wasn't bad enough, I was a smoker, so our choices were restricted even further.

Anyway, we thought the caravan would be fine, because if you've followed us this far, you will know that we don't spend much time in the accommodation. Having said that, it seems we were allocated the worst caravan on the site. There was nothing wrong with the caravan itself, but its position was grim.

The big leylandi hedge at the bedroom end of the caravan failed to dampen the noise from the A703. Now I don't mind a bit of road noise, which is just as well because I live within yodelling distance of the M6. What made this so bad was that on the other side of the Leylandi hedge was a big white sign with a black diagonal line through it. This is one of the best signs the motorist ever sees because it means that they can put their foot down. And put their foot down they did, every driver just as they passed our caravan jammed their foot on the accelerator as if they were being chased by the Loch Ness Monster.

My wife and I would lie there every night listening as each car came out of town with its engine purring like a kitten. As it got closer we would count down to that moment when the driver's stamped his foot on the juice.

Like all bad things in life you don't learn to like these things, but you do find a
way to tolerate them and by the end of the week we hardly knew the road was there.

I think I'll leave you with another photo of the Borders countyside and take a break before we seriously set about Peebles and its environs. If you want any more information about me, my writing services and books, or would just like to read some of my short stories. Click here
Details about print and Kindle versions of my Fishing book are available on the above website. However, should you like an e-book in a different format Please click here

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Proofreading Advice

Hi all,
I just thought I'd let those of you who are interested in writing know that I've added some advice on proofreading to my website.

The cost of engaging somebody to do your proofreading can prove to be expensive. You may also be apprehensive about contacting a stranger, just in case you get roped into something you hadn't bargained for.

Well, I have low rates and some even better special offers for those who have purchased my book, Writing: How to get Started as a Freelance writer, Plus a Guide to Self-Publishing and POD. Click here to see more information about my book.

If you do want somebody to proofread your document, be it just a couple of pages or a whole novel, just send me an e-mail and I'll give you an outline of my proofreading service and quote you a price. Simple and easy, if I don't hear from you again I'll assume you aren't interested and I won't e-mail you again.

Right, that's enough of the advertising because the whole purpose of this post was to tell you about my proofreading tips. If you are hell bent on doing your own proofreading and would like a few tips on the subject you will find some on my website, Click here. They are in PDF format so they can easily be downloaded or printed off. I wish you luck and hope you find them useful.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Red Squirrels

Hi all,
If you've been travelling with me around Dumfries and Galloway I hope I've opened your eyes to the beauty of the area. The fact that it's known as "Scotland's best kept secret" says a lot about it, but still fails to do it justice.

In this post I will tell you about the last day of our holiday on the Isle of Whithorn. In previous posts about Dumfries and Galloway, you will perhaps recall that we've visited a number of gardens including: Threave, Ardwell House, Galloway house, Logan Botanical, Dunskey, Glasserton and Glenwhan. They were all different and all had a charm of their own.

You may have gathered by now that my wife and I like gardens, so it will come as no surprise if I tell you that on our last day we visited one of the best known and biggest gardens in Southern Scotland. Castle Kennedy Gardens sits magnificently just off the A75 before Stranraer. This is a very large garden, but don't go with the expectations of seeing vast herbaceous borders because you could be disappointed. There are some herbaceous borders, but these are mostly confined to the walled garden that surround the old castle ruin. For me this was the best area of the garden. The rest of the landscape is taken up by pools small lakes and magnificent areas of grass. When one walks down from the walled garden to the pond at the bottom of the grassed slope, one gets a real appreciation of how magnificent this garden is.

Although this was the biggest garden we visited, it wasn't the best in terms of catering. There was a cafe, but not what we were expecting to find in such fantastic surroundings. It was a while ago when we visited so perhaps it's been upgraded by now.

Despite the cafe, Castle Kennedy will always have a special place in my heart. While I was waiting in the car park for my wife to use the facilities a red squirrel trotted out of the bushes and stared at me for a nano second, but before I could get my camera up to my eye it scampered off back into the bushes.

To some people this might no be so remarkable, but I was over fifty years old and it was the first red squirrel I'd ever seen. My wife was so envious when I told her about it because she'd never seen one either. I think I was surprised about the red squirrel because all my life I'd been under the impression that the greys had all but wiped them out. Now I understand that there are quite a few places in Britain where the red squirrel still thrives. Besides those in Scotland, there are colonies on Brownsea Island in Dorset, some more in the lake district, some on Anglesey and yet more near Liverpool of all places.

After our long stroll around Castle Kennedy, we got some fish and chips in Stanraer and ate them over looking the harbour, where we could watch the ferries leaving for Ireland. After that we had a very pleasant drive around the North Rhinn. We followed the Banks of Loch Ryan where we saw the hulk of a beached warship that was sadly rusting away. Then we went over the top and followed the almost deserted roads to Black Head Lighthouse where we were able to park the car and have a spectacular view over a rugged bit of coast.

Sadly, another holiday came to an end much too quickly, but that's life. Next time we visit Scotland we will be in my favourite area and I'm looking forward to telling you about it and showing off some beautiful photos.

If you want to find out more about me, my books or my writing services, please Click here to visit my website.

Monday, 8 November 2010


Hi all,

After self publishing my second book, Writing: How to get Started as a Freelance Writer Plus a Guide to Self-Publishing & POD, I decided to concentrate on my novel, Bossyboots.

I composed a synopsis, my bio and an introductory letter and then polished up the first three chapters until I could see my own face in them. Following that I went through the Writers' and Artists' Year Book and made a list of all the agents who might have a glimmer of interest in what I'd written.

During the next two weeks I sent out the material they'd requested and got on with titivating the rest of Bossyboots. Those of you who've gone through the process of editing a book that runs to 300 pages, will know that this is a task of enormous proportions.

Anyway, this week I managed to complete the job and took a moment to reflect on what to do next. I had nurtured a tiny ember of hope that by the time I'd finished editing Bossyboots, I may have received a telegram from an excited agent asking me to forward the rest of my manuscript with all haste. However, I regret to say that this was not forthcoming and the fire has almost gone out. I still have a few replies to come, but I don't hold out much hope.

If you do happen to be a savvy agent and you are reading this, it's time for you to take action and make a name for yourself. Opportunities like this don't come by very often so don't miss out on another one.

The publishing industry is changing at a rapid rate so getting a publisher to take on a book is becoming more difficult, so it's not surprising that agents don't want to take on anymore clients. They must be finding it very hard to sell the work of those they have already got on their list, so what chance the debut novelist with so many manuscripts awash in the system.

In a way this is good news, because I have my own publishing imprint, I can keep 100%control over my book. Getting it to market will be a lot quicker too.So I've decided to self-publish Bossyboots and I have ordered a proof copy from my printer so that I can proof read it again. I've decided it will be easier to proofread a hard copy of the book rather than try to do it on screen again. With the book I can read it anywhere and highlight the mistakes as I go along.

One of my favourite parts of the self publishing process is in creating a cover. I always use Photoshop Elements because it is simple to use yet gives fantastic results. If you look at the cover of Boosyboots, at the top of this post, you can have your own opinion, but I'm quite proud of my efforts.
By the way, if you do have any comments to make about the cover, please let me have them, any feedback is always useful.

If you would like more information about my books or my writing services,please click here.
In my next writing post Bossyboots will be close to being published, so I will give you an insight into what it's all about. At some point I will also offer a free download.