Monday, 25 July 2011

My Last Shutdown

Hi all,
In my last post we said a sad farewell to the Crinan Canal, which is one of the loveliest places in the whole of Scotland. However, all is not lost and we have now arrived at Loch Awe which is further north and a bit further inland. Below is the first view we got of Loch Awe on the way to our chalet.

The year was 2003 and I remember it well because it was the last holiday I had whilst working in a factory. It was the first week of our annual shutdown and therefor a week to be enjoyed. Those who do not work in a factory will probably not be acquainted with the term, 'shutdown,' so here is an explanation. Most factories have a summer break, usually the same two weeks every year. The factory closes down so that the maintenance teams can service machinery that perhaps hasn't had a break for 365 days. It is also a time when new machinery can be commissioned and manufacturing layouts altered.
If you work in a factory, the shutdown was all you lived for. Okay Christmas came a close second if only for the booze, but shutdown was the motivator and the highlight of the year. The only trouble with the shutdown it was over in a flash. One minute you had 2weeks holiday to look forward to and then suddenly it was just memory.
The first week was always the best and this is when most people took their holidays. The second was spoilt because you'd already started counting down the days when your nose would be back to the grindstone. Two weeks earlier you would have been counting the days till that Friday afternoon when the the factory hooter signalled the start of 2 weeks of fun.
As it happened, I didn't go back to the factory after the shutdown of 2003 and my weeks holiday in Loch Awe. This isn't the place for me to explain why, but if I'd known at the beginning of the holiday that I wouldn't be going back I would have enjoyed it even more than I did. Anyway, after catching our first view of Loch Awe we carried on down the southern shore to Portsonachan House which sat proudly above the loch. (Photo of Portsonachan house below). The chalet that we had booked for the week was one of two that sat at the rear of Portsonachan House and as we pulled up at the side of our accommodation we were very taken with the view. (Below is a photo of the view taken from our chalet). It looked like this was going to be a holiday to remember and so it was.In my next post we will start the tour of the area, but for now I will leave you with a reminder that details of my books can be found by clicking here
If you would like to find out about my pyrography work please click here.
It was a long journey to Loch Awe and my wife and I were very tired, but so was our dog Buzby. If you look at the photo below you will see the snap my wife took of me giving him a cuddle.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Crinan, Our Last Day in Paradise

Hi all,
Sorry this post is a bit late but I've been working on my new website. I'll let you have the link to it at the end of this post should you want to check it out, but for now let's get on with our tour of Scotland and the area around the Crinan Canal.
The last day of any holiday is always sad and because we had a long journey ahead of us the next day we decided to stay local to the Crinan Canal. We pottered about during the morning and had another excellent lunch in the Grey Gull, in Ardrishaig, where the gannets gave us a repeat display of their flying skills.Having followed the seagulls example and filled our stomachs, we went into Lochgilphead and took a stroll in the municipal gardens. Then we took a leisurely drive up a small road that followed a glen towards Loch Awe. This turned out to be a great idea because the scenery was fantastic. I have included photos above and below, but to be honest they hardly do the place justice because they can't provide the sense of scale that is enjoyed by being there in the flesh.
No matter which way one looked it was just what we wanted to end our holiday. Eventually we came back to the main road and had a short walk around the historic village of Kilmartin. For those interested in ancient monuments, stone circles and cairns, this place has the lot. It is also close to the large mound of Dunadd Fort which sits at the head of the marshes of Maine Mhor. Apparently, in days long past, this was where Kings of Scotland were crowned. We lingered a while around Crinan Moss and the estuary of the River Add, which skirt the northern edge of the Crinan Canal and took yet more photos. I will leave you now with one of Bellanoch, which is beautifully situated on the Crinan Canal.
Finally, if you would like to see my new website that concentrates on information about me and my books please click here.

I mentioned Loch Awe earlier and that is where we will be heading in my next post which will be coming soon.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Mull of Kintyre

Hi all,
In my last post I left you at the tip of the Mull of Kintyre. If you've ever wondered what it looks like here is a photo.

Speaking of photos, I've decided that in this post the photos can do the talking. The only thing I can say about the scenary on the way back, was that is was stunning. I won't wax lyrical any more about it but give you a flavour of the views from the road across the Atlantic Ocean.

It wasn't sea views all the way of course, but the countryside is pretty good too.

Tomorrow will be the last day of our Holiday on Loch Sween and I will tell you about that in my next post.

If you would like to find out more about me and my pyrography work please click here
I have also started another blog which concentrates on my books, if you would like to check it out please click here.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Crayfish Update

last year, I wrote the blog you see below and have to admit I was wrong. If something isn't done about the signal crayfish it will most certainly ruin our fishing.
Crayfish a threat?
In the fishing world there is often a monster lurking around the corner. Something that is going to come along and ruin it for us all.Over the last few decades we've had the anti bloods sports brigade threatening us. We had the lead shot ban to get over and we were all going to see our fish stocks eaten by shoals of zander. According to the experts these fish were going to spread like wildfire, they would wipe out all our fisheries and if we wanted to carry on fishing we'd all have to buy some piker's tackle because there would be nothing else left to fish for.
Now we have another threat, the signal crayfish. It came from North America in the 1970s and is set to wipe out our own crayfish and anything else it can find to eat including our fish. During last summer I caught a crayfish a nice little fellow he was too. It took a single grain jolly green giant on a number 14, so it must've been hungry. Here is picture I took of him before I put him back.

I am assuming it is a signal crayfish because of the red claw and it was a big specimen. In the olden days they reckoned our native cray fish were a good bait for chub. Well no chub was going to get it gums around this little beast I can tell you.
Whether or not the crayfish does as much damage as the doom and gloom Johnnies predict is left to be seen.
I can only go back to the threat of the dreaded zander. That was thirty odd years ago and I still haven't caught one. By the way if anybody is having trouble with signal crayfish let me know. There's a company in Oxford who are looking to find supplies. They will come and net your pool and get rid of most of them for you. Apparently signal crayfish are good to eat and this company supplies a number of restaurants with them. Strange old world ain't it, some folk will put anything in their mouths.
For more information about me, my books and my pyrography please click here.
To see some of my paintings or those of my other half please click here.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Sir Paul McCartney

Hi all, in my last post we had just left Campbeltown, on the Mull of Kintrye and continuing our journey to the tip of the peninsular. Once you get beyond Campbeltown the landscape opens up; everywhere looks clean and unpolluted and the skies are big and blue.

The photo above was taken from our car window and typical of the scenary around Campbeltown.It is easy to understand why Sir Paul McCartney fell in love with the place. If I was a celebrity and had loads of money I'd definitely choose the Mull of Kintyre before Beverly Hills. We soon covered the ten miles to the tip of the Mull and found ourselves at a small beach at a place called Dunaverty. We spent a while taking in the peaceful surroundings and took some photos, one of which can be seen below.
It is a shame that we didn't have time to linger longer, but it was a going to be a big journey back to our lodge on Loch Sween. However, before we hit the A83, which is the main road that clings to the west coast of the Mull, we popped over to have a look at a small village called Machrihanish. Here we found a row of houses clinging to a lovely piece of shoreline and we both wondered what it must be like to live so close to the Atlantic Ocean especially during a gale swept winter. We took a few photos then retraced our steps to Campbeltown where we would begin our long journey back.I will leave you with a picture of the Atlantic Ocean; similar views that accompanied us for many miles and I will share some more with you in my next post.
Just a quick reminder, if you want to find out more about me, please click here.