Iona Abbey and Beyond

From the second book of the Zander Trilogy, More Ports More Storms, chapter 12, Zander and his crew’s itinery was set to take in a number of beautiful places on the West coast of Scotland, aboard their ‘borrowed’ 45 foot luxury yacht, the Fast Lady. The following places were included in their planned trip: The Sound of Mull, Iona Abbey, Ganavan Bay near Oban and Loch Buie Iona Abbey is an abbey located on the island of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest Christian religious centres in … Continue reading Iona Abbey and Beyond

To the Pub!

The pub visited by the yachting crews from More Ports More Storms, in chapters 17 and 18 was based on a real place, the Mishnish Hotel and Bar, on the seafront in Tobermory. ‘The Mish’, near the pier on the harbourfront, is a favourite hang-out for visiting yachties and a great place for a pint, with a very convivial atmosphere. Wood-panelled and flag-draped, this is a good old traditional pub where you can listen to live folk music, toast your toes by the open fire and enjoy some local banter. Tobermory was built as a fishing port in the late … Continue reading To the Pub!

Fastest promotion ever!

Excerpt taken from Chapter 4, Do it in style get out fast, in More Ports More Storms; On one occasion, by virtue of an unpredicted passage through the transit area of an airport in a war zone, the army awarded him a Campaign Medal for active service there.  This went some way to make up for the one denied him by the sea scouts.  In a service career littered with ups and downs, Zander experienced occasional minor ‘ups’, but principally major ‘downs’, the most significant down being his spell of two years National Service, that put his professional career on … Continue reading Fastest promotion ever!

No No No -Yes – Waverley Station Edinburgh

Are you sitting comfortably?  Good.  I am about to tell you a series of stories about the adventures of one extraordinary man, and believe me – you do want to be sitting down for this. Yes, I know you have heard many stories before, exciting stories, thrilling stories, stories that set your heart pounding and your blood racing.  However, these particular stories are different.  They are funny ones that make your heart sing; your body convulse with laughter and leave you to enjoy a warm contented glow.  You may think yourself a veteran of the works of tellers of tales … Continue reading No No No -Yes – Waverley Station Edinburgh

Explosives and Jewellery!

There are loads of new short stories in More Ports More Storms, my second book of the Zander Trilogy, and I wanted to share with you one such story which involved  Zander, many years before he got involved in Sailing. How much is Fiction, I will allow the reader to decide, but let me say that I was there and have the T-shirt to prove it! In the late 1960’s, Zander was training to be a Chartered Engineer and was required to work at a place called Harthill, where construction was underway to create the first Motorway Service Station in … Continue reading Explosives and Jewellery!

Sailing home

For anyone who has sailed a boat, anywhere in the world, the joys of heading into a berth for the night, after an exhausting experience is very welcome. To view the scenery, on the route whether familiar or not, stays with you forever. “Late afternoon found the despondent Emeraldeers south east of Arran puttering up the Firth of Clyde in almost flat calm conditions, the sun scattering diamond like reflection on the surface of the sea. Their intended route would take them between Bute and the Cumbraes, past Wemyss Bay, with Dunoon on the port side then turning to starboard … Continue reading Sailing home

Midges and Clegs

A wee bit of advice for any visitor to the Highlands and West Coast of Scotland, is to take suitable insect repellent/ clothing, as these wee beasties have a habit of appearing just when you least expect it and interrupt your plans. Midges, pronounced Mijjee,  The Scottish midge belongs to a family of midges known as Ceratopogonidae – biting midges. Other members of this family are known as ‘no see ums’ in North America Clegs also known as Horseflies cause piercing burning sensations and can take a long time to heal, and may become infected. One of my chapters in … Continue reading Midges and Clegs

Auld Reekie – Puffer

The Puffer featured here in my books is the Auld Reekie, one of the last to be built for the Royal Navy in 1943. It was built by Isaac Pimblott at Northwich on the River Weaver in Cheshire. When it was subsequently demobbed, it plied its civilian trade around the western seaboard of Scotland. Victuals Inshore Craft (V.I.C. No 27) was initially designed, fitted out and registered as a shore-to-ship water carrier. She originally worked out of Rosyth then later at Scapa Flow before moving to the west coast of Scotland. She was one of a number of different types … Continue reading Auld Reekie – Puffer

Puilladrobhain

The following relates to Chapter 56 and 57 in my 1st Book A Storm in Any Port describing some of the places the crew visited. The crew of the Emerald sailed back across the Firth of Lorne, up the west side of Luing, before steering through the narrow channel that separates the islands of Easdale and Seil. They were all in need of some light refreshments, which invariably means finding a Hotel where they can sample some beer and local spirits, so it was Grunt, who suggested they head for Puilladrobhain – translated in Gaelic as ‘the pool of the … Continue reading Puilladrobhain

My Dad’s reunion with Eric Liddell

Joe Biden gave a nod to the film Chariots of Fire, in his first address as president-elect, in January 2021 – “Now, together, on eagle’s wings,” Biden told the crowd in Delaware, “we embark on the work that God and history have called us to do.” This line, via Isaiah 40, mirrors the climax of Liddell’s sermon in the film: “They that wait upon the Lord … shall mount up with wings as eagles.” (1) When I read the content of President Biden’s first address as president-elect and saw his quotation from the Eric Liddell and Harold Abraham biographical film … Continue reading My Dad’s reunion with Eric Liddell

Ceilidh Night!

The following relates to Chapter 53 in my 1st Book A Storm in Any Port describing some of the places the crew visited. The crew of the Emerald looking for a place to drink, that had a wee bit ‘atmosphere’, ended up at the Kilmartin Hotel, near the Crinan Canal, where they had their first (and last) experiences of a Scottish Ceilidh! Apart from the warm welcome and customary hard drinking that was going on, Zander learned another traditional skill, of Playing the Spoons! So, what exactly is a ceilidh? Modern ceilidhs (pronounced kay’lee in case you were wondering…) tend … Continue reading Ceilidh Night!

Thank you!

For the past couple of months, I have been working on my 3rd book of the Zander Trilogy, A Storm in A Tin Cup and I apologise that I have not been able to keep up to date with all the kind comments received on the website posts, and throughout social media platforms that I am connected to. I have become engrossed in getting A Storm in a Tin Cup finished and the daily re-reading and checks take up most of my time. I am hopeful that I can get this to the publisher within the next couple of months, … Continue reading Thank you!

Isle of Gigha

The crew of the Emerald set of for the Isle of Gigha, after their high-jinks on Islay, now looking forward to some rest. Ch52 – A rock or a soft place, in A Storm in Any Port. The Isle of Gigha is an island located off the Kintyre peninsula’s west coast (Argyll and Bute, Scotland). Gigha island has a total area of approx 14 km2 and a population of around 200. Gigha Island features mild climate, more than average sunshine hours and fertile soils. In 2002, a “community buy-out” transformed the island, whose population is constantly growing and new commercial activities complement the … Continue reading Isle of Gigha

Lost Youth – Jura

The ding-a-ling of a bell gave warning that the bar of the Jura Hotel was about to close and also brought the triumvirate’s evening of serious drinking and even more serious ‘blethering’ to an end. As usual, the intensity of opinion, on the most inconsequential of matters, had increased in proportion to the amount of alcohol they had put away. Now it was time to get back to the boat. All evening Grunt, not a seasoned drinker, had been matching his messmates, measure for measure and quaff for quaff, so by the time they left the hotel, he was by … Continue reading Lost Youth – Jura

Ardfern

Excerpt from Chapter 44 – A Stand In – Ardfern With his mind still full of what he had just seen, Zander went into the Estate Office where, as promised, his client gave him maps showing the positions of the lodge and the loch. They were copies of the  1906, six inches to the mile Ordnance Survey series, and although beautiful examples of the draughtsman’s art, they had no contours. All they showed was a scattering of spot levels and even fewer benchmarks1. Nonetheless, from what Zander could see, it looked as if his task might not be too difficult. … Continue reading Ardfern

Island of Coll

Excerpt from Chapter 42 The Battle – Coll A Storm in Any Port – Book 1 of the Zander Trilogy “Looking along the road, the Emeraldeers could see that the hotel was on the near horizon and a fair way off and unfortunately, there was neither a bus stop nor a telephone booth to call a cab. In their desperate rush to make their futile advances towards Seonaidh, the would-be smoothies had forgotten to ask her if there was any public transport on the island. The long walk to the hotel did not appeal to any of them but they … Continue reading Island of Coll

Four Men in a Dinghy

Prologue from A Storm in Any Port West Coast of Scotland   – Fairly recently The skipper, mate and two deck hands who made up the crew of the chartered yacht, were feeling the effects of their combined ages of more than 300 years, as they motored into Puilladrobhain on Seil, an island just off the west coast of Scotland. Although none of them would admit it, the day’s motor sail from Crinan had taken its toll on both bodies and minds. The slightly corpulent, white haired skipper firmly believed he was a good sailor and had an inshore certificate to … Continue reading Four Men in a Dinghy

Eigg Highland Games

An island 10 miles off the west coast of Scotland, Eigg was hosting their annual Highland Games, and the fictional crew of the Emerald took part in the events of the ‘games’, including Tossing the Caber, Hammer throwing, the 100 yard sprint and the 400 yard relay race. For some fun stories surrounding this event, see chapter 32 and 33 of A storm in any port. Continue reading Eigg Highland Games

Gift idea for Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, and a lot of uncertainty about how the pandemic is going to affect our Postal services, why not consider purchasing one or more of the books as a gift for someone here or abroad? A Storm in Any Port – Have a read of the Prologue  – Click here Set principally in Scotland’s beautiful Western Isles with side trips to Hong Kong, the Lake District and the Balearic Islands, the narrative is an expose of an ambitious, accident prone Scot with a sailing bug who leads his scallywag crew and breathes life, fun and nostalgia into … Continue reading Gift idea for Christmas

Who is Zander?

Chapter 5 – The Man As Zander grew up it was only natural that he should take a keen interest in the sea and ships. To him they were symbols of happy times, adventure, fun and freedom. Whether on the deep blue sea, canal or river, given half a chance, he would clamber on board any vessel and feel immediately at home. However, even in maturity, his ability to attract trouble was always there or thereabouts. Perhaps, Zander had been near the end of the queue when common sense was handed out. His friends and acquaintances used adjectives such as … Continue reading Who is Zander?

Gilbert Show’s His Metal!

Major Gilbert Bernard Humble is oblivious to the fact that his initials form the acronym for Grievous Bodily Harm. He was a fearless (more likely insensitive) soldier who, during his career, had no opportunity to do any sailing. His postings had all been to inland bases where, as he was wont to say, he was a ‘loyal defender of the Empire’ a role similarly claimed by Zander. If either of them had been what they purported to be, there are those who might be tempted to think God help us all. Grunt maintains, disparagingly, that they were more likely referring … Continue reading Gilbert Show’s His Metal!

The Worm Turns – Crinan

On a fine, if lightly clouded, blue-skied day, the puffer was tied up to the stone jetty outside the western basin of the Crinan Canal, ready to fulfil a charter. To the west of her, the sea spread away over the Sound of Jura towards the shimmering outline of the blue-grey mountains that marked the islands of Jura and Scarba. On board, the crew was awaiting the arrival of the client, top man of a well-known international corporation. He and the last of his guests were driving over by car from Edinburgh. As soon as they arrived, the puffer would … Continue reading The Worm Turns – Crinan

Murdo’s Measure  – Foyers (Loch Ness)

Murdo’s Measure  – Foyers (Loch Ness) Scratched into the surface of the bar counter in the Foyers Hotel, is a strange scale. At just over two feet long, it has marks across it, dividing it into a number of units of irregular width. Under it are scratched two lengthwise arrows, one with a capital ‘H’ pointing left, the other a capital ‘T’ pointing right. Written in uneven letters in chalk underneath this puzzling piece of primitive art is the title, ‘Murdo’s Measure’. Any visitor intrigued by this almost indecipherable marking and curious to know what it was for, would be … Continue reading Murdo’s Measure  – Foyers (Loch Ness)

Elsie Inglis Hospital – Edinburgh

Anyone born at this famous hospital? Zander Duff was born on a stormy night, in this Edinburgh hospital, 1934. As he grew up, he asked his mother the classic question which children the world over ask ‘Where did I come from?’. His mother had spent a large part of her life in and around the theatre, so recounting the following description, was second nature to her!. “It was on the Titanic in 1912, that your grandmother, heavily pregnant, was helped into one of the lifeboats by none other than Captain Edward J. Smith himself, which allowed your mum here to … Continue reading Elsie Inglis Hospital – Edinburgh

The island of Coll

On page 238, the chapter named The Battle, takes place on Coll, which is a small island situated around 2.5 hours off the West Coast of Scotland. Recently a news story appeared on the BBC Website, relating to a former Scottish rugby international, Rob Wainwright, who has lived on Coll for the last 21 years. Once the world gets back to the way it was before the COVID 19 outbreak, it would not be unreasonable to think that Coll will become a major tourist destination in Scotland, as people wanting to sample the beautiful scenery and hospitality of its residents, … Continue reading The island of Coll