Now some of you must be wondering what is fact and what is fiction from reading the stories about Zander and his crew, throughout my first two books in the Zander Trilogy. I can tell you that the following ‘trick’ is based on fact, however the names of those responsible will never be revealed! In my second book More Ports More Storms, the crew decide to have some ‘fun’ with a rival skipper of another nearby yacht, as part of an on-going fued with Zander. After enticing the rival and his crew ashore to have a peace-making drink in Tobermory, … Continue reading High Jinks on the High Seas!
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
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!
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!
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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!
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!
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
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
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
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
The nearest island to the north of Barra is Eriskay and to Zander, that was probably the best place to go. His mind made up, the skipper went back up on deck and informed the crew of his decision; it was either Eriskay or turn back. Having come almost one third of the way towards the Outer Hebrides, his crew were not in the mood to be going back anywhere. To them Eriskay was an island of intrigue, romance and adventure and was not only the focus of the song, the Eriskay Love Lilt, but it was there that Bonnie … Continue reading Something Galore – Eriskay
Typical calendar or events in a Highland Games. Everyone has great fun at these annual events, and they are replicated all over the world. Have you ever been to a Highland Games? Continue reading Highland Games
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
In the top photograph, my wife and editor of all my books, Ann. Imagine the grief I got for omitting this information from this post! Continue reading Eigg grocery store then and now
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
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
“Zander claims to have been the best of pals with Sean ‘Big Tam’ Connery, (seen here at an East Lothian swimming pool in the 50’s.)And while one went on to become a fantastic world acclaimed actor and personality, the other could only act out his own little fantasy of fame!” Continue reading Sean Connery
When researching for part of my first book, a friend of mine, Ian Spiby who lives on the island, sent me some intriguing photos of large fossils he came across on the beach near Fornells, Menorca. Anyone have any ideas on what these creatures were? Ian has left his wristwatch to help estimate the size of these imprints. Continue reading Fossils found in Menorca
2nd Book of the Zander Trilogy is out now!! Here the mischief takes place in and around the towns, harbours and marinas of the East and West Coasts of Scotland and Zander even gets to Algeria. Travelling on a number of yachts, inflatables, rowing boats and a cruise liner, Zander and his gang of miscreants rub shoulders with; Kamikaze seagulls, head hunters, paratroopers, a dead fisherman, the Loch Ness Monster, ships’ pipers, terrorists, Oil Sheiks, a Clan chief, a Spanish Armada Galleon, Japanese tourists and a North African President. They also meet up with night club bouncers, ferocious dogs, pickpockets, … Continue reading More Ports More Storms – On sale now
Plockton Village from the Emerald Continue reading Plockton
Next day their wives tried to press-gang the boys into going on a family day out to the GCHQ Club at Chum Hong Kok, a small resort on the south side of Victoria Island. Here in its spacious grounds the traditional colonial club atmosphere still survived. The members could, swim in an open air pool, play tennis on well kept courts, eat in a fine restaurant or just have a picnic. In this comfortable home from home environment, the families of the British civilian and armed forces community were able to relax, or just top up their tans. However, … Continue reading Deep Water – Chum Hong Kok
To find out what Aberdeen Harbour in Hong Kong, has in common with a Sea Scout from Port Edgar near Edinburgh, read Chapter 20 from my book A Storm in Any Port Just to keep your interest, I will throw in a shark, which makes an appearance near the end of the chapter! Continue reading Tai Tam Bay
In his early thirties, Zander was posted to the Crown Colony of Hong Kong as the Senior Ranking Engineering Civil Servant attached to the naval dockyard there, HMS Tamar. His workload left him with a fair amount of leisure time, with the salary to enjoy it. At last he had all the ingredients in place to follow his dreams; for the first time in his life Zander would be able to do some serious sailing. Not long after taking up residence with his wife, Jane and their young family in the plush Government flat allocated to them, the former acting … Continue reading Sailing the South China Seas – Hong Kong
On the puffer’s bustling approach into the sheltered waters of Tayvallich, Zander gathered an eager audience on deck as he pointed out the Americas Cup boat, tied up not far away. To whet the guest’s appetite for their forthcoming adventure, he provided them with a running commentary on her perceived ‘finer points’, enthusing over her slim racing lines, her tall masts that could hold up acres of sail and even gave an impromptu lecture about her alleged peerless past performances and achievements. He ended the diatribe with his text of the day, “She is a superb relic of the history … Continue reading An American Cup boat in Tayvallich