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new post 11

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Have just returned from a short visit to Dunkeld in magnificent Perthshire. Prime reason for the visit was to chair a Flood Committee. Unfortunately, the valley in which the village of Dalguise is situated has been subject to two major flooding events in recent years as a result of which the Council and Network Rail have jointly funded a Flood Study which may ultimately result in a permanent flood defences for the community. Fingers crossed! Meeting was very well attended with the local village hall full to capacity (about 50) comprising both local community and people from nearby Logierait which was also badly affected. Our own property suffered badly and we are in early stages of considering a re-build to limit the flooding risk in future.

The meeting was attended by reps from the Council, Network Rail, SEPA and Halcrow. There was a full and frank Q and A session. It was interesting to learn from the experts that the various dams in the locality actually minimise flooding against the perception in many quarters that release of water from Pitlochry and others was the prime cause of the flooding surge. Also, the experts discounted the build up of gravel in the river as a cause of flooding excess.

Stayed overnight at the Birnam House Hotel, an interesting Victorian era establishment which is poised for a major refurb.

Later went on to visit a badly flooded farm at Logierait where the farmer and wife was in surprisingly good spirits notwithstanding the devastation that had been caused to their residence and business. A local gillie popped in for a chat as a result of which I have agreed to promote his fishing business on my website.

Upon return to base have a mountain of work to fight through, including many incoming tour enquiries. North Americans are still there notwithstanding the historically weak exchange rate.

A teacher from Edinburgh has brought his virtual tours business/product to my attention and sent over a coup,e of sample CDs. Looks interesting. Be interesting to explore how I can exploit this product.

Had first tour enquiry in from a German gentleman (in the German language) which proved a challenge as I don't speak the language. However, enlisted the assistance of a friend in Germany who has kindly helped with the translation work.

Note from today's Independent newspaper that archaeologists have discovered the remains of a huge ancient settlement in Wiltshire used by the builders of Stonehenge-and a party which occurred there about 4,600 years ago.Wow. I would love to go and visit that site.

Will have to close now. Back tomorrow, I hope.

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New post 10

Monday, January 29, 2007

Plenty of activity today.

Quite a few itineraries to finalise and a new enquiry in for self-drive tour.

Have developed some good connections on Skye, with a father and son. The father is a local expert on wildlife and has given me permission to put a recent article on my web site. His son is an artist and I have agreed to promote his work via an on-line shop, also on my website. Just arranging for a professional photographer to go in and take some images of the art work which is very Skye centric. The father is prepared to act as a local guide for my small group tours, an arrangement which should prove mutually beneficial.

Have also linked with a Glasgow photographer who specialises in images of times past. Hope to put one of his pics on my Glasgow tours page.

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New Post 9

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Back again. Just nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to get into Blogger via Firefox but to no avail. Found a way in via Internet Explorer-at last.

Spent a few days down in Newquay, Cornwall which is, arguably, the U.K.'s premier surfing centre. Weather was mild and people were surfing off Fistral Beach. I note that the town has just appointed a Regeneration Manager , an appointment which is definitely required. The town is very tacky with a predominance of surfing orientated shops and cheap "backpacker" type accommodation. Many of the hotels are being knocked down and turned into flats, which is a reflection of changing holiday patterns. You have to wonder how many flats a town like Newquay can absorb. It's fairly remote and the only thing going for it is the weather and beaches. No industry of any note. Took lots of pics.

Back to Scotland. Amazingly, the Ryanair flight back actually left 30 mins early which I find incredible. That suited me because I had a tight connection at Stansted which worked just fine.I like Ryanair because the airline takes a great pride in punctuality-it does what is says on the tin!

Whilst I was away there was an interesting Timewatch programme on BBC2. This covered Hadrian's Wall and was presented by Dr Julian Richards who I actually met last June when he was filming the programme and I was leading a re-enactment march by Roman legionaries. There are some pics if this meeting in my photo gallery. My wife taped the programme for me so I am looking forward to this "televisual feast" within the next day or so. Some of my friends in the U.S. would dearly love to view the programme but U can't think of a way to share it with them.

I see from Wednesday's Times that the U.K. has nominated the Antonine Wall for World Heritage site status. I think this is very appropriate. Unesco will make a decision next year. Fingers crossed!

I see from the Daily Mail that there is something of a kerfuffle over the National Trust's decision to film a recreation of the famous Battle of Culloden at Lammermuir hills, far away from the actual battle site near Inverness.The new film will be shown at the new GBP10M visitor centre at Culloden. Whilst people in the Highlands are disappointed with the decision their counterparts in the Borders are delighted.

Hope to get back into serious blogging over the next few days.

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New Boston to Glasgow flight

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Scottish airline flyglobespan launches its new non-stop Boston to Glasgow daily service on 25 May. This follows the June 2006 launch of their first transatlantic service connecting Orlando and Glasgow.

This is good news for U.S.visitors to Glasgow.

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Back in to Blogger!

Phew. For about a week or so I have been locked out of my Blog and despite a lot of gnashing of teeth could not get into it. As last resort had to call in a techie who soon got it fixed-so here I am again.

I have just put a three page article on the Antonine Wall on my website, together with some pics. A lot of work went into that because I had first to obtain copyright approval and then type up the article myself. Who dares wins! Also, placed more images in the photogallery, these were kindly supplied by some Dutch friends who we met in Scotland. Have been promised more pics from past clients from the U.S. More pics the better!!

During the period I was "off air" there occurred the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union between England and Scotland. Very subdued. No street parties. As one wag said on the radio, "someone in Dundee set off one firework in celebration"; not too far from the truth. An opinion poll for the BBC suggest that about 58pct of the populace want the Union to continue.

Attended the travel trade fair in Glasgow on Sunday. Made some useful contacts,especially with the Indian Tourism people. Am actively exploring the possibility of setting up a new venture marketing tours to India. Watch this space.

On Thursday there were reports in the press of just how far Scotland's accommodation providers have improved with some B&Bs ranking among the best in Europe. The following were mentioned in dispatches:

Already I have referred a client to one of the B&Bs.

That's about it for now. Hope to update more frequently in future.

Have a nice day!

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Monday Jan 15th

Monday, January 15, 2007

Last night saw the Time Team excavation on Isle of Man. Absolutely gripping with focus on early Christian keeills (chapels) and ancient Ogham writing. I am definitely a frustrated archaeologist.

Today's press carries a report that Scotland is going to market itself with a "health tourism" theme. Emphasis on stress relief as opposed to the usual tartan and kilts rubbish. Good idea. Its so wet and windy here at the moment that you need to be healthy just to survive!!

There also press reports that the independence minded Scottish National Party is surging ahead in the polls. I am not sure if that means Scots have really thought through the independence option or is it that the SNP is the only outlet for frustration with the governing Labour Party? Funny old world.

The 37 strong community on the remote island Egilsay have asked fort help to rid themselves
of a plague of rats. They want a hit squad along the lines of the successful initiative to rid Canna of a similar plague in 2006. No doubt the Pied Piper of Hamelin will be sending in his CV!

The climate definitely seems to be changing. Nearly every major river in Scotland has a flood alert. As I know from personal experience, flooding can be a devastating and costly experience. I learned today that in the December bout of flooding, the Tay flooded properties it had not touched in decades. Interesting times. I have a love-hate relationship with this magnificent water way.

Received another tour enquiry in from some prospective visitors from Canada. Unfortunately I am already committed so passed the enquiry to an associate.

That's it for now. Running late tonight because of a neighbourhood Watch meeting.

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Sunday, Jan 14th

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Good news! Time Team is back. This time an excavation on Isle of Man. I have taped it.This is an excellent programme which stand out against the trash which most of the channels churn out.

Have just type up the article on the Antonine Wall and for which I have copyright permission to place on my website. Exactly three pages of A4. I see that part of the article is already on the web but I will have the full version. Will probably buy the book, should prove a good source of reference for the future. It's amazing what a complex structure the Antonine Wall was.

It would be nice if I had more enquiries for tours of Roman Britain, because this time period is very close to my heart and location of the various sites is mainly in magnificent countryside.

Went on a cycle ride today. Got absolutely soaked and a puncture at the farthermost point from home! Had to fix it in high winds and pouring rain-an interesting experience.

Working on a few prospective Scotland tours with my U.S.tour agent associate.

Have a 50 page dissertation on ancestry tourism which I may place on the website once I have got to grips with potential copyright issues.

More news tomorrow.

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Bits and Pieces of Scotland News

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Have noticed in the press that the Edinburgh Military Tattoo organisers have completely sold all 209,000 tickets, this for an event which will not be held until August 2007. This sell-out is a record. Just as well I got in early with a supply of tickets for my clients!

The press also reports on the GBP14M ($27m) year long celebration of Highland culture, sponsored by the Scottish Executive. Apparently, the Highland economy is growing and population decline reversed. prima facie this is good, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

Golfers out there might be interested to know that the seventh course at St. Andrews has been named the Castle Course.

Roxburgh in the Borders was once a medieval town of great importance. The ancient town apparently lies underneath the modern town. I think this was the subject of a Time Team investigation some time ago. Interesting.

I have encountered great difficulty in tracking down a copy of a book entitled With Sword and Harp by W.M.Currie. It is subtitled Warrior Poets focuses on the history of Clan Currie. This is required by an artist friend of mine in connection with the Clan Currie reunion August 2007 on Bute. Both Amazon and e-Bay drew a blank but have left an order with e-Bay in case it turns up in the future. The publishers of the book appear to have gone out of business. If anyone out there Knows where to get this book then please let me know.

The weather in Glasgow/West of Scotland is appalling with heavy rain and strong winds. My wife has valiantly gone for a walk along the Antonine Wall. No doubt she will require some hot soup upon return.

A new Persian cat arrived today for fostering. It is a ginger colour and was badly matted until I gave it a good brush and comb. for an ex-astray it has an unusually mild temperament. If you live in West of Scotland and want to adopt the animal then please let me know.

Signing off now. Hope to get back later in the day.

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A Roman Legacy

Friday, January 12, 2007

Some good news this afternoon.

Learned that Historic Scotland will allow me to add to my website a recent article on the Antonine Wall, being a summary of The Antonine Wall by David J Breeze. The downside is I will have to copy type the article (about 1500 words) as no soft copy is available. Nevetheless, should prove excellent content for my website, especially as Roman Britain is very close to my heart.

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News from Catswhiskerstours

Last night went to see the new Beatrix Potter film. It was OK, very profound with emphasis on Victorian and Edwardian social rules. The big failing from my perspective was complete absence of any reference to Beatrix's holidays in Perthshire, particularly Birnam and Dunkeld which a grounding for her fascination with nature, particularly fungi. Nevertheless a good film, worth a watch.

Today, is very wet and windy and I have concerns for flooding in Perthshire where we have a cottage on a flood plain. Fingers crossed!!

Today's press carries a report on The Sculptor's Cave, a 3000 year-old temple dedicated to young children near Lossiemouth. Thus may be similar to the High Pasture Cave on Skye?

Lots of work on the agenda today, fine tuning tours for the current year.

Have noticed that shop in Dunkeld is holding a closing down sale of half price stock comprising Scottish themed CDs, Jewelery and other products. May be I should buy the stock and market it on my own site?

Had a request from a hotel group in Prestwick for reciprocal web links and supply of brochures. This is encouraging and proving my website is getting known.

That's all for now. Hope to be back later in the day.

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A NEW START

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Today is the first day of the rest of my blogger life. Up till now I have been summarising Scotland related news content but have been advised this is not particularly Google friendly and won't do much for my website.

I have quite a number of bookings for 2007 but enquiries seem a little slow at present, maybe the weak Dollar is an influence?

I have just added a new Glasgow based tour page to my site. I have just woken up to the possibilities for Glasgow centric tours which I am well placed to provide because of my Glasgow domicile.

We aim to see the Beatrix Potter movie. Reviews have been somewhat "average". We have a special interest because we own a cottage in Perthshire wherein is alleged to have lived the role model for Mrs Tiggy-winkle. Beatrix was certainly active in the Dunkeld/Birnam/Dalguise area and gained a lot of inspiration from the local flora and fungi.

Have an interesting tour enquiry in from a gentleman who wishes to travel through the Crinan canal:

"I am planning a holiday in June, during part of which I would
like to travel from somewhere on the Clyde (river or firth), to
and through the
Crinan Canal if possible, by water from Crinan to Oban passing
by the whirlpool at Corryvrekan, etc. I wonder if we could
take advantage of any of your tours for the first part of this
itinerary, getting from the Clyde to Crinan.

Basically I'm interested in retracing some of the route of the coal scows
and goods barges that went up the coast to Ft. William and
beyond--if I've got my facts right.

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions you might offer."

I am working on this at present.

Weather at present is mild but awful, with very high winds and heavy rain. Went out on a cycle ride this morning and the first time in years was forced off the bike by the heavy winds!

We are off the the Holiday and Travel show Glasgow Jan 19th-21st which should be interesting.

Next post tomorrow.

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Hedgehogs Harried in the Hebrides

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hedgehogs were introduced to North Uist and Benbecula in the 1970s to control garden slugs but the animals turned instead to feasting on the eggs of rare birds such as dunlin, lapwing and ringed plover.

Scottish Natural Heritage have been culling the animals but the British Hedgehog Preservation Society claims it is much cheaper to capture and relocate -GBP50 per animal- compared with equivalent culling cost of GBP950 per animal.

The 2007 cull is scheduled for April and May.

Visit Scotland's islands with catswhiskerstours.

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Mull may become Britian's first marine national park

The proposal to assign the Isle of Mull Marine National Park status is causing controversy with the 2678 strong populace fearing a threat to the traditional farming and fishing way of life. There are fears that the single track roads will not cope with even more tourists.

The island benefits from such wildlife as:

Visit Mull with catswhiskerstours

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New Service to Trace Emigrant Ancestors

A new British website has been set up to provide a database of the 30m plus passengers who left British ports on long haul ship journeys after the 1890s. This should prove a great help to people wishing to trace their family tree.

Contact catswhiskerstours if you require an ancestry based vacation in Scotland.

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The Elusive Scottish Pearl

Monday, January 08, 2007

Scotland's freshwater pearls are both rare and expensive. This is because they are a product of the freshwater mussel which only thrives in such clean, fast flowing rivers as the Tay and Spey. However, acquisition of such gems can prove elusive because:

  • The mussel is a protected species
  • Collection of pearls from the protected mussel is an offence without a licence
  • Cost of such pearls is between GBP50 ($90) and GBP1000 ($1900).
Explore the elusive parts of Caledonia with Catswhiskerstours

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Barra-the most Scottish part of Scotland

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The West Coast island of Barra is known for two features:

  • The unique aircraft landing strip on its beaches.
  • Cockles, which are collected by hand and exported to many parts of the world.
Visit Barra with catswhiskerstours

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Knowledge is Power!

Until the mid 16th century, the rugged West Coast of Scotland was ruled by autonomous Clan chieftains, well removed from the power of King James V in Edinburgh some 200 miles away. The land terrain was impassable leaving the sea as the life blood of communication and culture. To gain control of his territory King James commissioned a map of the West Coast seaways which was undertaken by Nicolay Rutter. This proved remarkably accurate and with benefit of enhanced intelligence of the area the King was able re-assert control which he did by capturing Clan chiefs and holding them hostage in Edinburgh until his death in 1542. Additionally, the King assumed the title Lord of the Isles, hitherto held by Clan Chieftains, and which to this day is held by Prince Charles.

Visit the castles and islands of the West Coast with catswhiskerstours.

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16th Century Scotland Map for sale

Friday, January 05, 2007

A map of Scotland created by Alexander Lyndsay about 1540 for James V is expected to fetch about £20,000-£30,000 ( up to $60,000) when it is auctioned January 10th.

Explore Scotland's heritage with catswhiskerstours

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New Political Party for Scotland

Archie Stirling, a businessman/landowner has announced plans to form a new political party with aim of keeping Scotland within the U.K.

Mr Stirling is a nephew of David Stirling who founded the SAS and is laird of the Keir Estate in Perthshire.

This move coincides with a survey which shows a dramatic fall in public trust in Scotland's devolved government.

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MISS POTTER

Learn more about the film.

Visit Beatrix Potter sites with catswhiskerstours.

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New Battle of Bothwell Bridge

Local residents are currently engaged in a new 'battle' to stop a 20 house development on the site of the battle in 1679 when presbyterian Covenanters were defeated by government troops and 600 men died.

The campaigners are hoping to attract support from Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay in recognition that the first Duke of Rothesay was married in the local Bothwell parish church.

Visit Scotland's battlefields with catswhiskerstours

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Scotland's Golden Prospects

The high purity of gold obtained from Scotland's streams and rivers results in a market value about four times that of 'normal' bullion, with current price about GBP100 ($190) per gram.

The soaring price has acted as a catalyst to re-opening of the Tyndrum mine in Stirlingshire. Also, new licences have recently been granted for four sites:

Visit Scotland's gems with catswhiskerstours

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Scotland's New Year hit by adverse weather

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Traditional Hogmanay celebrations in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh were cancelled by a combination of 75 mph winds and driving rain. This was the second time that Edinburgh was forced to cancel in three years.

The Edinburgh authorities were criticised for leaving the decision to cancel the £1,75M event until just 90 mins before the scheduled start.

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Was Dr. Livingstone a failure at conversion?

A new book entitled Dr. Livingstone, I Presume by Clare Pettit suggests that the famous Dr. Livingstone may have converted only one African to Christianity and that he lapsed after only three months. Just by way of a recap, Livingstone:-
  • Was born March 1813 in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire.
  • Was self-educated whilst working in a cotton mill.
  • Suffered an injured left arm following a lion attack.
  • Discovered Victoria Falls.
At death, his body was repatriated to but his heart buried in Africa.

Visit Blantyre with catswhiskerstours

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Cellardyke benefits from bird flu

The arrival of a dead swan infected with bird flu at Cellardyke harbour has had an unexpectedly beneficial effect of the local economy and property prices. In the nine months since the dead bird was found house prices in the picturesque Fife fishing village have risen by 30pct.with the intensive publicity seen as the key driver behind the uplift. Property in neighbouring villages such as Crail, Elie and Anstruther have also benefited.

Visit the East Neuk of Fife with Catswhiskerstours

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Scotland attracts settlers from rest of the U.K.

Over the past decade figures from Bank of Scotland with a net gain of 54,000. Quality of life and affordability of housing were two of show that Scotland gained 540,000 new settlers from other parts of the U.K. against emigration from Scotland of 486,000 leaving Scotlandthe key drivers in this population movement.

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National Park to cull 'alien' species

Cairngorms National Park is set to eliminate such non-native species as grey squirrels, mink, and sika deer on the basis these species have the potential to damage existing species habitats and ecosystems.

Animal rights activists oppose the proposed cull.

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