Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Hi All
just a quick post to let you know that I have just finished my first book trailer video which, will hopefully, help promote my book Bossyboots. I don't think it will win any oscars, but I had a lot of fun doing it. I even got to play my guitar on the sound track. If you like good music, you might want to turn your speakers down low or even off.

I'm hoping santa is going to bring me proper video camera when he slips down the chimney this Chrismas and then I can do something a bit higher tech. Meanwhile I thought I'd share my debute into the world of films with you.

If anybody is interested, I did it using windows movie maker which comes free on most computers. Perhaps not the best video editing software, but it's free, so I can't knock it.

Here's the link and I'd love to hear your comments. Book Trailer

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Top of the World

Hi All
Continuing our journey around the north eastern tip of Scotland we soon found ourselves descending the gentle slope that has led a multitude of travellers to John o Groats. This is a fascinating place where visitors buzz about the place like wasps on a jam sandwich. To be truthful it isn't very big; there is a ferry terminus a few shops and the well known posers signpost.
We didn't linger too long in John o Groats because we needed to find a peaceful place to have our picnic. Taking a narrow road we headed up to Duncansby Head which is on the very tip of the north east of Scotland. We parked the car facing the sea and had glorious views over perfectly blue and smooth sea to the Island of Stroma. On that day, and in that weather I don't think there was a better place on the planet. I've called this post, 'Top of the World' because that's how it felt to be sitting at the tip of Scotland looking over a vast blue ocean. (The photo below doesn't do it an ounce of justice.)
Having finished our picnic, we were interested in some signs we'd seen pointing to Duncansby Stacks somewhere across the headland. It was time to stretch our legs so we thought we'd take a look. I guess it was a about a mile half there and back but well worth the walk. Two great pinnacles of rock could be seen sticking up from the sea that strangely put me in mind of a bra that Madonna wore in one of her videos.
The Stacks also provide a home for thousands of seabirds and it was great to watch them soaring around the cliff tops. My wife stood well back as she took the picture below because those cliffs are very high.

However, all great things come to an end and mindful of the fact that we were a long way from our lodge we set off to our next destination. Now, you may think that John o Groats marks the most northern bit of Scotland, but it doesn't, that accolade falls to Dunnet Head which is about 15 miles further along the coast. Compared with John o Groats and the magnificent Duncansby Head, Dunnet Head comes as a bit of a disappointment.
Don't get me wrong, it's still a nice place and the romoteness in which it sits gives it a certain charm but having little in the way of altitude the visitor is unable to glean the best view from what is undoutably a fine spot. The picture below is of me walking our dog just about as far north as you can get on the Scottish mainland.

Dunnet head marked the half-way spot in the days trip and as it was now mid afternoon we reluctantly got back into our car to start the long journey back to our lodge in Rogart.
I leave this post here and leave you with the usual links.
About me and my books please click here.
About my pyrography work please click here.
My discounted pyrography shop click here.

By the way, my wife was so taken with my shop on folksy .co she opened one of her own where she displays some of her paintings click here to see some of here stuff.
If you live in the Stafford area you could be forgiven for if the title of this post reminds you of the night club that, on a Saturday night, sat in it's own pool of detritus in Stafford. The establishment was always known to me and my friends as Top of the Grot and I think that just about summed it up.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The road to John o Groats

Hi all,
After my last post which took us on a leisurely circular tour, today we are going to make a start on a long day out. We will be driving the 78 miles up the A9 to John o Groats. Then across the north coast through Thurso to Portskerra where we will turn south again and follow one of the remotest A roads in the country (the A897)back to Helmsdale on the East coast. ) All in all it is a round trip of about 180 miles, which is a lot in one day considering we will be visiting a few places along the way. We were a few years younger when we did this trip and it is hard to believe that we could cram so much in one day when now I get tired just walking to the kitchen. Ah well, nice to have the memories.

We started the day by picking up the A9 at Loch Fleet and then turning north along a nice stretch of road that hugs the coast for much of the way to John o Groats. We soon fond ourselves going through the small village of Brora where a stone monument at the side of the road marks the spot where the last wild wolf in Sutherland was killed in 1700. The man who carried out the deed was a hunter called Polson; I bet he didn't know that his name would go down in history.

Writing about the last wolf in Scotland reminded me of something funny I overheard the previous week.
The first woman asked "Are there any wild bears in England?"
"I don't know replied," her friend, "there are probably some in Scotland."
At the time of hearing this conversation I was concerned about some people's ignorance; how could their general knowledge be so poor. Perhaps it's all down to priorities and remebering what you thing is interesting or important. I bet they could name everybody who is currently starring in 'I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here,' where I certainly couldn't.

Ten miles later we came to Helmsdale and stopped to stretch our legs and have a cup of tea before carrying on with our epic journey. It wasn't long after leaving Helmsdale and it's lovely harbour that we came to a visitor's centre for Caithness Glass. The building was impressive so we decided to take a look and had a unique experience. Visitors stand along a gallery looking down upon a factory of workers who are all busy making glass products. Watching them melt the glass, blowing it and shaping it into bowls and vases was brilliant and time well spent. There were lots of colourful items of glassware on sale in the shop but we didn't buy any. Glass can be pretty, but like its touch, it leaves me cold.

Onwards and upwards, we arrived in Wick where we visited a supermarket to get some provisions for the picnic we would be having later and visited the busy harbour. That's me in the picture below enjoying a peaceful moment with my pipe.
We are now about half way to John o Groats and this is perhaps a good place to leave this post for now; I will continue it in a few days time.

Here's a quick reminder that you can find information about me and my books please click here.
More information about my pyrography work can be found by clicking here.
Finally if you are interested in buying some pyrography work you can find discounted items at my shop on Folksy.com by clicking here.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Lairg and The Falls of Shin

It is Monday on the second day of our holiday in the North of Scotland. We left our lodge in Rogart at about nine o'clock and proceeded towards Lairg, a town that sits neatly at the southern end of Loch Shin. Now, if you've read some of my blogs you will know that we have always enjoyed good weather when we have been north of the border, but today was an exception because it was coming down in torrents. On the way to Lairg we passed a bus that had skidded off the road and had gone through a fence, no doubt the accident was caused by the weather condition. The usual emergency crews were in attendance and I felt sympathy for the people who were doing a grim job in such foul conditions.
Because of the weather we didn't stay long in Lairg and carried on towards our destination, which was the Falls of Shin. We had read a write-up about the salmon that could be seen leaping up the falls and because neither of us had witnessed such an event we decided to remedy the situation. The good news is that as we took a lovely ride, on the B846 from Lairg, the sun came out and it turned into a lovely day.
Now the bad news, the falls were splendid enough with some nice viewing points, but, although I almost popped an eyeball from staring too hard, there wasn't a salmon to be seen. John West must have been there before us and banged them all in a tin. Anyway, having seen (and heard) enough of the gushing water we walked back up the path and called in at a huge log cabin that served as a visitor's centre and had some lunch.

After a delicious meal we carried on following the river as it snaked its way down the valley to the Kyle of Sutherland and then onto the Dornoch Firth.
This is a large inlet where the River Shin meets the North Sea and it is very scenic. A ferry used to be the only form of crossing here, but now a magnificent bridge carrying the A9 spans the water. We stopped for a while and had some tea from our flask and walked our dog before heading back to our lodge.
During the ride back the weather changed again and we entered a hail storm the likes of which we'd never encountered before, or again since. The hail stones were almost as big as marbles and I can only wonder that our car didn't finish up covered in dents.

If you want to find out more about me or my books please click here.
Or if you would like to see some of my pyrography work please click here.

Here's just a reminder that I also have some pyrography work on sale at the Folksy.com website. The difference is that the items on here are sold at bargain prices please click here.

Monday, 7 November 2011


This post is about the first day of our holiday in the highlands of Scotland. We are based in a lovely lodge on a hillside overlooking the village of Rogart which is about ten miles from Lairg. We had done a lot of travelling over the previous two days so today's priority was to find entertainment within easy reach.
We started off with a short drive to Loch fleet where we admired the scenery especially the vivid yellow gorse that covered the far side of the loch.
We walked the dog and sauntered along the shore before driving a little further to the little seaside village of Dornoch.

Here you may recall that Madonna got married in a nearby castle a few years ago. Luckily when we were there all was quiet. Having had a tranquil morning we retraced our steps over Loch Fleet and headed three miles further north to the village of Golspie. Dunrobin Castle the home of the Duke of Sutherland is situated in the village and as it is open to the public we decided to give it a try. The castle with its magnificent turrets looks down over the sea and lovely gardens.
It was in the gardens that we enjoyed a flying display by some birds of prey. My wife, Terry Anne, even had the pleasure of being allowed to hold one. It is a memory that will stay with her forever.

The only sad thing about the visit to Dunrobin Castle was its association with the Highland clearances. Between the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries thousands of Highlanders were driven from there homes to make way for sheep. These were cruel times and the then Duke of Sutherland was heavily involved in the eviction of people from his land.
When we were visiting the castle one of the tour guides told us a story that explained that although it happened a long while ago feelings about the clearances still run high.
Apparently, the previous week an elderly tourist fell over and a doctor was called to check her out. When the doctor arrived he declared that he would not step over the threshold of the home of the Duke of Sutherland because of the families links with the clearances. To receive treatment the lady who had fallen over had to be carried outside and laid on the tarmac drive. To be fair, they did lay her on a blanket but it was still a rum situation.

While I'm talking about the Duke of Sutherland, you may be interested to know that the Duke of Sutherland is associated with Trentham gardens, via marriage to the Marquise of Stafford. When leaving Trentham by heading south along the A34, you may have seen a statue looking down at you from the woods on the right hand side of the road before you get to Tittensor. Well the statue on the top of that column is the Duke of Sutherland.

Just a reminder that if you want to find out more about me or my books please click here.
Or if you are interested in seeing some of my pyrography work please click here.
If you would like to buy pyrography gifts at discounted prices please click here.