Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Hi all
It's been a few weeks since I mentioned my new hobby of pyrography. When my wife bought me a pyrography iron for my birthday in April, I didn't realise how addictive it would become. Our house smells like November the 5th every day. Even though I've only been doing it in my spare time I have managed to create quite a number of pieces. I added trinket box decorated with a rose to my website this morning, and below you can see a chopping board that I've just finished.

I've always been interested in painting a drawing, but I've really taken to pyrography. I guess one of the reason pyrography suits me so well is that it doesn't take any time to set up. I just switch the iron on and in two minutes I can be burning wood. This is very handy if I've got a bit of writer's block, all I do is turn around to my pyrography workstation and think about the plot while I'm burning wood.

If you would like to check out some of the stuff I've done so far Please click here
I am also happy to answer any questions if anybody has any regarding pyrography and I'll help if I can.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Aird; Almost Heaven

Hi all,
In my last post I left you in Ardfern, a lovely little village that sits handsomely on the shores of Loch Craignish. We were travelling towards Aird which, according to our map, is an isolated village overlooking the sea at the end of the pennisular we were driving down. Given its idyllic location we thought it would be ideal for our planned picnic. There is only one road to Aird, and what a road it was. It snaked along the side of the Loch before turning inland and going over to the northern side of the peninsular. We were busy taking in the fantastic scenery when suddenly we came to an abrupt halt as a gate closed off the road. At the side of the gate was a lodge house, which I assumed was guarding the entrance to a private estate.
"Well that's it," I said To Terry Anne,"it doesn't look like we'll be having our picnic down here. We'll have a cup of tea from the flask and head back."
Anyway I had my brew and pipeful of tobacco while Terry Anne went to investigate. She returned smiling just as I finished my tea.
"There are no signs on the gate saying we can't go through it," she said in a hopeful tone.
"Look, I said, being the ever cautious person and worrier about nowt, that I've always been, "if they wanted people to carry on down that road they wouldn't have put a gate across it would they?"
"Perhaps, but if they wanted to keep people out they would've put a sign on the gate saying 'PRIVATE KEEP OUT', so sup up, we're going through.
So Terry Anne manned the gate and as I drove through I was half expecting a Rob Roy look- a-like to charge out of the lodge protesting wildly at our audacity.
After closing the gate, my wife jumped in the car and I drove off quickly while keeping one eye in the rear view mirror. A few hundred yards later we crested a small rise and found ourselves in heaven. There was even a small deserted car park which removed all my fears about us trespassing. We were surrounded by beautiful blue sea and had the place to ourselves.We wandered through this paradise of lichen covered rocks, closely cropped grass and wild flowers, taking it in and revelling in our good fortune. For Alpine gardeners the place was perfect beacause Wild Thyme was growing everywhere creating natural rockeries in every nook and cranny.
There was also an old pier, so Aird must've been a busy spot in years gone by, but there were no houses and no information, so it is still a mystery to me. If you know anything about the history of Aird, I'd love to hear about it.
Anyway, we had our picnic in this fantastic place and only saw two other people while we were there. Perhaps the gate puts most of the tourists off.
Fully satisfied with our picnic we roamed about Aird for a another couple of hours and then headed back to the lodge.
I'll leave you with a reminder that if you want to find out more about me and my books please click here,
or if you would like to see some of my pyrography work please click here.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Castles in Paradise

We have been in our lodge on the banks of Loch Awe for three days now and enjoying every minute. The Loch is about 30 miles long but we have only seen the six miles around the top end, so today we would check the rest of it out. Turning right we left our lodge at Portsonachan and followed the twisting road along the length of the loch. The journey was peaceful as you would expect in such a remote part of the country, but I guess it wasn't always so idyllic.
Loch Awe is very narrow and not connected to the sea, but it has been fortified with no less than 4 castles. They didn't build them for fun, so somebody must have been having a hard time. Pictured above, is of Kilchurn Castle, which is situated at the northern end and is the most accessible castle on the loch.The other 3 castles from north to south are; Fraoch Filean, Innisconnel and Fincharn.
About half-way along the loch we came to a waterfall at the side of the road. We pulled up, took some photos, stretched our legs and gave our dog a walk.
We were the only people there and I couldn't help but think that if this waterfall was in England, it would be surrounded by gift shops and ice cream kiosks.
A few miles further on from the waterfall we came to a field full of Highland cattle, some of which had calves. Now my wife is a sucker for Highland cattle and to see some in their own habitat with calves was a photographer's dream. You can see one of the photos below.
Eventually we reached the end of Loch Awe and popped out onto the A816 at Carnassarie which boasted yet another castle. Turning right we used the main road for a few miles and took in the vews like that below.
We turned off to follow a small penninsular down to a small place called Aird. In doing so we followed the banks of Loch Craignish which is a delight with many small boats moored just off shore.
About a mile down the loch we came to Ardfern a delightfull village with craft shops and post office. "Some people are very lucky to live in such places," I said to my wife.
"I bet it isn't so good in the middle of winter," she replied. Perhaps she was right, but there again we were probably just jealous and sad that we'd never be able to live in paradise.
I think this is a good place to leave this post and because we will be arriving in Aird soon and the place needs to be approached slowly.
Here's just a reminder that you can find out more about me and my books by clicking here,or see what I get up to when I'm not writing by clicking here.

Sunday, 14 August 2011


Hi all,
Today we have decided to stay local and visit Inveraray which sits in a lovely position on the banks of Loch Fyne. We took a pleasant nine mile journey through Glen Aray and arrived in Inveraray around mid-morning.
Because our main focus for the day was to see Inveraray Castle, we went there first hoping to get around before the masses arrived. Inveraray castle is the home of the Duke of Argyll, chief of the Clan Campbell, so as you would expect it is a magnificent building. It also houses enough swords to keep lovers of cold steel more than happy. What I found very pleasing about our visit to Inveraray Castle was the car parking arrangements. If you check out the photo below you will see our red Modeo estate parked almost in front of the doors.
Compare this with a visit to most stately homes in England, where car parks seem to be getting further and further away from the buildings one is visiting. I always think it is nice if one can at least park in the same county.
Anyway, after taking a tour of the castle and the grounds our stomachs were starting to grumble so we needed somewhere to eat. I don't know how it happened, but we ended up in a cafe in the Argyll Wildlife Park which we found a couple of miles further down Loch Fyne from Inveraray. Below is view looking towards the eastern end of Loch Fyne.

We don't usually visit Zoos, but it had a cafe so we went in and both had an adequate serving of pastie and chips. Hot and cleanly presented we enjoyed the meal and because the wildlife park looked interesting we thought we'd give it a try. The wildlife park is set in over fifty acres of trails, so we reasoned that it would do us good to stretch our legs a bit. We enjoyed the walk and looking at the animals and birds although I would prefer to see them in the wild. There weren't any exotic animals here except a completely white peacock, but they all seemed very happy. The only animal I was disappointed with was a Scottish Wild Cat, it looked like a tabby and more bored than wild. Our next door neighbour's moggy, Biscuits, looks more dangerous to me.

After the the wildlife park we went back into Inveraray to have a look around the town. It is quite small which suited us because we were feeling the effects of our earlier exertions. The main shop in the town was the woollen mill which seemed to be attracting most of the visitors. A tartan clad piper stood outside blowing for Scotland and once again I was reminded of next door's cat because the piper was making the same noise the cat made when it got its tail stuck in the shed door.
Sorry about that, I know some of you love bag pipes, but they are just about the most annoying thing about Scotland.

I'll leave this post with another view of Inveraray
and a reminder you that you can find out more about my books by clicking here.

You can find out about my attempts at phyrography by clicking here.

If you would like to see some of our paintings please click here.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Falls of Lora

Hi All,
Today is the first day of our holiday in Portsonachan which is situated on the south shore of Loch Awe. From our Log cabin we could see the the northern shore and this was where we would head to start the day. We soon skirted around the most eastern part of the loch and after passing through the village of Lochawe we drove through the Pass of Brander and eventually arrived on the banks of Loch Etive. For the most part Loch Etive is inaccessible by car but its beauty can still be admired from boats that take passengers up the loch towards Ben Nevis. The photo below shows one of the boats.

We stayed a while here and wondered around the shores of the loch and wished we could take a trip on the boat. However that would be impossible as we had our pet dog Buzby with us and did not want to leave him in the car for the length of time the trip would take. If one has a pet one needs to make sacrifices.We finally left Taynuilt and arrived at Connel from where we could view and photograph the Falls of Lora. See photo of the Falls below.
I guess you are unimpressed, well I guess I would be too. So, let me explain about the falls. Apparently the falls are a phenomena in as much as they are tidal and quite unique. They occur where Loch Etive empties into the Firth of Lorne which is in effect the Atlantic ocean. So when the tide drops, the water that comes out of Loch Etive, cascades over the Falls of Lora. Obviously from the photo you can see that we were there at the wrong time, but if you are interested the following link will show you more about it.
Just below the falls, at Connel, a bridge spans the width of Loch Etive and is quite impressive. By now we were getting a bit peckish so we made our way over the bridge to the Locknel Hotel which we had seen on the other side of the loch. We had a lovely Sunday roast while watching the boats go past.

Full of grub, we headed north and then cut back up a mountain track that would lead us down to the other side of Loch Etive on the opposite bank to Taynuilt. Half way up the mountain as we were passing through a particularly beautiful area of mixed woodland and glades we stopped to walk the dog and stretch our own legs. While we were walking along the remote track we came to a tree with a pair of boots nailed to the trunk. We looked at it unable to decipher what it meant but it gave us an uneasy feeling, so we walked back to the car and carried on with our journey. A mile or so later we crested the mountain pass and we were rewarded with the spectacular view of Loch Etive that you can see below. The camera doesn't do it justice but we still have the memory.

When we reached the northern Shore of the loch we came to Ardchattan Priory Gardens where we spent a pleasant hour strolling around the grounds. We were the only ones there and the peace and solitude was amazing. By now we were both tired so we followed the loch side road back to Connel and then retraced our journey back to the lodge. We were tired but well satisfied with a great day out.

If you would like to find out more about me or my books please click here.
There again,perhaps you'd like to see what an old man can do with a red hot poker and a lump of wood this is the link to click.see more photos of the falls

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Thirsty Wurzel

Hi all,
Sorry for the delay in my latest tour of Scotland post, but it will be delivered in the next few days. The reason for the delay is that I've been tied up sorting out out my websites. Those of you who visited my website recently will have notice that it was a right dog's dinner.

I was trying to give information on my books and promote my pyrography. Anyway after sipping more cider than a thirsty Wurzel I decided to lash out on another hosting, one dedicated to my books and the other to my art. So if you are interested in fishing or any of my other books you can click here. However, life isn't all about fishing and writing, so if you'd like to see what a Wurzel can do with a red hot poker and lump of wood please click here.

I'll leave you with a picture of one of my recent creations and promise that my normal tour post will resume shortly.