For exclusive Scottish tours, email info@catswhiskerstours.co.uk or visit my website.


Tuesday, February 27th 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Still recovering from flu, but managed to put in almost a full day's work today so must be improving.

Its encouraging to see tour enquiries coming in. Just firming up a couple of 10 day tours, one for Wales which should be interesting.

Have an American couple who are interested in visiting neolithic sites during October.This sort of tour is close to my heart and will try and make it happen.

Nothing much else happening today. Hope to progressively revert to normal life as my health improves.

According to the TV news this evening, we are experiencing the warmest winter in about 350 years.

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SUNDAY, FEB 25TH 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Slowly recovering from debilitating flu; yesterday I was 'knocked out' and hence no Blog.

Trying to catch up with work but the old brain is not working too well. Might take a few more days to get back up to speed.

In the meantime making progress in finalising some tours which are in process.

Been contacted by my new associate who is moving forward with his virtual reality tour of Hadrian's Wall. This is good news. I will be meeting up with him next month. I am well down the Google rankings for Hadrian's Wall. Will have to chase up my web manager re the new content which I have submitted.

This will have to do for today. Hopefully, I will get back into blogging as my health improves.

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HADRIAN'S WALL TOUR

Friday, February 23, 2007

Here is re-post of previous Blog entry with improved linkage.

What a fantastic challenge and adventure!Five Roman Army enthusiasts from the U.S. travel to England to march the entire length of Hadrian's Wall ( 80 Roman miles) in full, Roman Army kit all arranged and managed by designated Quartermaster, Nigel Cole of Catswhiskerstours. Here are the people:Bob: Centurio Marcus Antonius Lucius-Cohors IV of Legio X Fretensis http://legioxfretensisblogspot.comPeter: Petrius Galginus Apollo ConallRomani: Marcus Flavius AvinniusJoe: Quintus Moravius SeverusJeff: Quietus Badudius GermanicusNigel: Primus (Quartermaster)Day 1. June 19th 2006 We arrive by train, plane and automobile at Newcastle upon Tyne. By kind permission of Newcastle Museums we are allowed to stay overnight in the reconstructed Roman fort at Arbeia, South Shields. This provides a flavour for the authentic conditions of Roman soldiers, sleeping on straw mattresses and making ourselves a basic breakfast with limited facilities. We try to stay as close as possible to the Roman diet-on which more later.Day 2: 12-13 miles Segedunum Roman Fort (Reconstructed Roman Bath House and Museum) to Heddon on theWall. This is a distance of about 13 miles entailing marching through Newcastle City. This proves tough going on footwear and presents difficulties for the quartermaster (in back up vehicle) maintaining contact due to road/parking restrictions. Some of the City office workers raise an eyebrow or two at the contingent of Roman soldiers marching through their midst! Two-way radio and/or cellphone would have been of help for the group to stay in touch-but hardly authentic! Using a combination of telepathy and luck we do all meet up and find our way to camping barn at Heddon on the Wall. This is good accommodation provided by www.hadrianswallaccommodation.com Proprietor, Paula Lewis is a very helpful and friendly lady-and archetypal farmer's wife! That evening John Naylor of www.timetarts.co.uk arrives in his van bringing various replica weaponry which he manufactured. John is ex-army and a fascinating guy to talk to. He specialises in historical replicas for film and TV. That evening Quartermaster, Nigel makes contact with Tyne Tees Television News via e-mail. They express interest in the march.Day 3: 10 milesHeddon to Errington Arms (or Portgate).With benefit of the new weaponry, the group is able to march with full compliment of equipment. At end of day's march visit Corbridge, which was a supply base for the Wall and developed into a prosperous garrison town.The museum contains fascinating finds and remarkable sculptures. Well worth a visit.That evening back to the camping barn at Heddon. That evening met up with a couple of lady hikers of a certain age-Connie and Chips- who proved very good company. Evening meal at local pub in military dress.Day 4: 11 miles.T.V. crew arrive 0845 at the camping barn and commence filming. That day's march commences at Portgate/Essington Arms where the film crew meet us for more filming. March on to www.hadrians-wall-bedandbreakfast.co.uk via Chesters Roman Fort and Museum, the best preserved Roman cavalry fort in Britain which benefits from a delightful riverside setting and extensive remains of a bath house. There is also the Clayton Collection of alters and sculptures from Hadrian's Wall. That evening stay at the Old Repeater Station (camping barn) under management of the legendary "Les" who is a good and generous host with character. That evening we sit down and watch ourselves on the local T.V. news ( a full two minute slot)-what a unique experience! A recording of this news item will shortly be available for viewing on the Roman Tours page of Catswhiskerstours. Day 5: 7.5 miles. Hard marching over tough terrain to Housesteads Roman Fort and Museum.This is the most complete Roman fort in Britain located on a spectacular position with commanding views and incorporating granaries, barracks, hospital and ingenious latrines coupled with good stretches of Hadrian's Wall.Lots of photo shoots with walkers who are astonished to come across genuine Romans! At Housesteads we meet up with Dr. Julian Richards, a famous archaeologist and presenter of " Meet the Ancestors" and many other archaeological themed TV programmes. He is working a Timewatch programme on the Wall which will be shown in the autumn/fall. Dr. Richards kindly consents to a photo shoot with the legionnaires. We visit the famous Vindolanda fort and museum at Chesterholm which has excavations in progress. Home to one of Britain's top ten treasures-the famous Vindolanda letters, which were the e-mails of the day and preserved in wet conditions thereby providing us all with a unique insight into the minutiae of Roman life. There we met up with another Roman re-enactment group from Yorkshire www.comitatus.net who are camping on site.Overnight at the Old Repeater Station, with our genial host. Les.Day 6: 10 miles Steel Rigg to Birdoswald Fort via the Roman Army Museum. Birdoswald is a Roman Fort and residential centre. This is where the Wall, fort, turret and milecastle can all be seen. The Roman Army Museum ( Carvoran) is well worth a visit and provides a valuable insight into the daily lives of Roman soldiers. Final half mile proved a very sharp, uphill climb.Overnight at Bankshead Camping Barn, which is very basic-but then Roman soldiers did not have 5 star accommodation!Day 7: 7-8 milesTo Sandysike Farm. Easier marching with mostly level terrain. Saw first views of Scotland across the Solway Firth and finally leave the masonry wall behind. However, mile upon mile of ditch and Vallum is evident ahead.Evening meal at local pub, appropriately named the Centurion!Overnight at Sandysike Camping Barn. Well looked after by hosts who are descended from Clive of India!Day 8: 10 miles. To Carlisle finishing at the Sands Sports Centre. Good marching with benefit of the gentler landscapes of Cumbria. Continuing interaction with other walkers.Overnight at Hillside Farm, www.hadrianswalkbnb.co.uk Very well looked after. Friendly dog and host kindly provided some running repairs to equipment using blacksmith skills.Day 9: R & R. Visited Carlisle including Castle, Tullie House Museum, and Cathedral. A fine city with lots of history.Day 10: 15 miles-the longest day!!Sands Sports Centre to Bowness-on-Solway finishing at The Banks, a restored Edwardian promenade. March nearly all at seal level with expansive views across the Solway marshes towards Scotland. At finish we sign the visitors book at the Kings Arms pub to verify having completed the Trail. Well done to all participants!Good interaction with local school children who have the day off school due to a burst water main. Excellent hospitality from Maureen at www.oldchapelbownessonsolway.comIn the afternoon we visit the Grand Turke, a replica tall ship visiting Silloth. A somewhat unusual experience to round off the grand adventure!Overnight again at Hillside Farm Camping Barn.Day 11: back to Arbeia, South Shields by motor transport.Interaction with visitors at the Museum during the afternoon. In the evening we enjoy a Roman feast in the re built fort, fantastic ambiance to round off the great adventure. We are joined by John Naylor, his family and Time Tarts crew all of whom are dressed in Roman costume. A final overnight at Arbeia and then fond farewells and commence journeys home. All appeared satisfied with this unique experience provided by Catswhiskerstours.Here are some Roman recipes as used on the march, courtesy of Centurio Marcus.Roman Sour Wine: 40pct pure dark grape juice40pct water5pct Red Wine Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar15pct Comparable Wine-Red or WhiteRoman Hard Tack. Equal amounts of White Wheat Flour and Oatmeals-mixed dry.Add a small amount of salt-mixed dry.Add water to make it a dough like consistency.Optional: add Sunflower seeds.Add honey to tasteMix thoroughly out dough to desired thickness Cut to desired triangular size/shape.Preheat oven to 350 F Bake 15 to 20 mins per side (depending on size and thickness)Baked thoroughly to desired consistency.Enjoy!! PercipioBeef Jerky (marinated strips of dried beef) supplied by www.ScottishJerky.com This is similar to the dried meat used by Roman soldiers. It is light, high in protein and keeps for a long time. Excellent food.Special Recognition
The kind and generous help from the undernoted contributed enormously to the success of the venture:-
Stephen Farthing of English Heritage
Alex Groom of Tyne and Wear Museums
David McGlade of the Countryside Commission
Fiona Briggs of Antonine Wall Cottages
John Naylor of Time Tarts
Please contact Catswhiskerstours for similar expeditions along Hadrian's Wall or the Antonine Wall or, indeed, any other aspect of Roman Britain.

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Wednesday, February 21st.2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A very busy day. More tour enquiries and bookings. Welsh trip confirmed.

Have noticed that quite a few businesses with web sites don't show up when you first search by Google, viz:

Definitely a need for web optimisation.

Took an enquiry for wildlife tour from a lady down in Bournemouth. Will have to do some research.

On an eco note see that a project to develop electricity from wave power is going ahead in the Orkneys. Sounds good.

That's it for now. Another cold is taking its toll!

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TUESDAY, FEB 20TH

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

No Blog yesterday. Was down in London meeting up with Indian tourism officials. Went very well. I am all fired up for launching my Tours to India project. Start with a basic website and then build it up during the course of the year with aim of full launch autumn/winter.

Today I was inundated with tour enquiries-which is very satisfying. Even have some prospective tours to Wales, which makes a change.

No other major news at present. Just keeping my head down with work and tour enquiries. Also, thinking about replacing my vehicle which is nearly up to its 3 years.

That's it for today. Have to have an early start tomorrow to cope with volume of work.

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Sunday, Feb 18th 2007

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Went on a cycle ride this morning and for the first time in ages did not suffer a puncture. Incredible.

Made contact with a new neighbour, who is a professional, Indian gentleman and who should prove to be a help in regard to my Indian tours venture. He has lots of experience of trips to India and thinks the concept has merit. Will catch up with him again in a few weeks.

Quite a few tour enquiries in today. I have noticed an uptick in Glasgow centric tours which I attribute to my new web page on this topic. Good prospects for a 10 day tour in October for four persons from the U.S.

Have ordered a book on famous 1950s golfer Ben Hogan which features on the cover an image of my relative who caddied for him. Should make an interesting read.

Lots more content poised to go into the website-hopefully it can be done within a week or so. Found a very helpful photographer on Skye who will let me use his images on the basis they are copyrighted and back linked to him. No problem.

That's it for now.

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Saturday, Feb 13th 2007

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Whew! Just managed to get back in to my Blog. Access is fine for a couple of weeks then all of a sudden it cuts off and I can't get in. I have spent so many hours faffing around getting access to this Blog that I have to wonder if all the stress and anxiety is worth it. Anyway, I am back in now so will make hay while the sun shines.

Have been catching up on some family history and discovered that I am related to a famous professional golf caddie named Cecil Timms who was British but migrated to the U.S.in the 1940s/50s. He was caddying at Carnoustie in the early 50s-I was there last year and had no idea of my family's golfing connections.Have written to a golfing contact in the U.S.to ascertain if he knows anything about Cecil's family/descendants.

My web manager is making progress with my new on-line art shop, which is good. Also have obtained permission to use a fantastic photo montage of Glasgow for my Glasgow page.

Have just obtained images from my recent photo-shoot of Glasgow. Some are good and I have commenced inputting them to the website photo gallery.

Looking at the news, I see that Western Isles Council has approved construction of one of Europe's largest onshore wind farms-181 turbines on Lewis. On balance I think this is a positive development.

There are many reports in today's press and radio of the excavations at the Roman amphitheatre in Chester where there were gladiatorial and other activities modelled on those at the Colosseum in Rome. Would like to go to Chester and see the remains.

A contact in the U.S. has just shared with me a virtual tour of a Roman Villa in Germany. A nice gesture

Latest edition of Scotland Magazine (no 31) includes some useful articles on Argyll & Bute (timely relative to the Clan Currie reunion) and Genealogy.

Another two punctures on my bike-don't know whether to laugh or cry.May be I should buy a new bike?

That's it for now. Hope I can get back in to the Blog tomorrow.

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THURSDAY, FEB 15TH 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Another 3 punctures on my bike today. Absolutely incredible. Utterly at a loss to understand why this is happening. My wife suggests it might be our cats scratching the tires but I am not so sure.

I see from the press that the Scottish Executive is planning to go ahead with a new Forth Crossing but leaving the contracts to civil servants. This will be a re-run of the Scottish Parliament fiasco and discredit the Scottish Parliament. The construction companies must be rubbing their hands in glee. Maybe I should buy shares in the companies when the contracts are announced. The only loser will be the taxpayer. The only way to progress this type of project whilst maintaining financial discipline is to use PFI.

Making progress with additional website content. Well advanced with new Ancestry Tourism, Isle of Skye, Fishing and Roman Britain pages/content. Also, setting up a new on-line art shop.

Received a positive response from a U.S.gentleman who wants a 5 day tour for family of 7. Doing this in conjunction with associate with a mini-coach. However, nothing firm yet.

Have a lot more digital images of Glasgow following my recent photo expedition. Some are quite good. Will have to get on an and place the best ones in my photo gallery.

Running behind today-because of the punctures averted to above.

Bye for now

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WEDNESDAY, FEB 14TH 2007.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

St. Valentines Day. Fortunately, I remembered to give my wife some flowers and she sent me an electronic card. So, we are good terms!

Went on a cycle ride this morning. Weather great and I did not need gloves-incredible for February in Glasgow. Mended 3 punctures last night. Hope to have puncture respite for a few days at least.

Decided not to proceed with the 50 page dissertation on Ancestry Tourism on my website. Just too worried about the copyright issue. Instead will set up a dedicated web page to the topic.

Couple of tour enquiries in today; one from Australia and the other from France. Both very different. Responded positively to both, so will see what happens.

My web manager is working is working on a lot of new additions to my site including an on-line shop for art. Looking forward to this.

On the TV news tonight there was mention that the authorities have decided to go ahead with a new Forth Bridge at estimated cost of GBP1.0BN ($2.0bn). The cynic in me wonders what the overrun will be, I guess about 50pct.

Having some discussion with a local photographer who has an inventory of photographs of Old Glasgow. Would like to display these on my site. Will see what happens.

See from the press that Clan Chief, John MacLeod of MacLeod has died at age 71.He tried to sell the Black Cuillin mountains for GBP10.0M. This reminds me that I will have to get on with my new Skye page.

Had some good news re new tours to India venture.

That's it for now.

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TUESDAY, FEB 13TH 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Made some progress tidying up loose ends on a couple of tours; one self-drive and one escorted. Made first hotel accommodation on Bute relative to the Clan Currie reunion due in August.

Bit of a kerfuffle midday when my insurance (car) company wrote to advise they had not received a package of docs from me relative to application for new cover. This was notwithstanding I had sent the docs by guaranteed next day delivery and the Royal Mail confirmed delivery some 5 days ago. They eventually located the docs in another department and all is well now.Mmmm.

Not happy with my Google ranking for tours of Hadrian's Wall, way down at foot of page 4. However, 3 pages of new material going in shortly which should improve things. On the plus side I do rank on page 1 for tours of Roman Britain, which is topic close to my heart. One of my contacts on the Wall has promised to send me an aerial footage DVD which should be interesting.

My web manager confirmed actions with regard to a whole host of new content. Also sent down some technical info on web sites.

Today's press carries a report that Edinburgh may forfeit its UNESCO World Heritage Site status due to a new buildings planned for the centre of the city. Frankly, I did not realise it had WHS status. Its an interesting city but gets overcrowded in the summer, especially when the Fringe and Tattoo coincide.

Also see reports that the residents of the Outer Hebrides have targeted the rabbit population for extermination i order to protect the rare machair habitat. Animal rights people are not enamoured with the prospect of the slaughter.

Off to mend my bicycle punctures now.

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MONDAY, FEB 12TH 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

Uptick in tour enquiries today; one group of 5 enquiring about a 10 day tour and another, family group, seeking a one day tour. Nice to see the enquiries coming in.

Sent off my new page for fishing packages to my web manager today. Hope we can get this in place soon.

Just about finalised a tour for an American couple for September. They are delighted with what I have arranged so far.

Tomorrow I expect to finalise a self-drive for an American couple during August.

Other things on the agenda include reviewing change of car.

Hope to make some progress with my new Skye page tomorrow.Have already sourced the key words.

Not many back links today!

Cold is progressively getting better. Went out for a cycle ride this morning and experienced yet another puncture. Can't understand how they arise at such frequency.

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SUNDAY, FEB 11TH 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Today, I designed a web page for my new fishing packages product, initially centering on Perthshire. In a cautious sort of way I am excited about this. I was really impressed b y the welcome and enthusiasm by the local people involved in the industry. However, they are all very wary regarding a potentially catastrophic disease, namely Gyrodactllus salaris. This is the piscine equivalent of Foot and Mouth and is prevalent on the Continent (Europe). If the disease manages to migrate over the North Sea that could spell the end of Scottish salmon fishing. I had never heard of this before; quite an eye-opener.

Heard on the news today about a group (of 6?) who managed to get lost in the Highlands. I think there was a death on the hills near Glencoe. I think there is regular stream of about half a dozen deaths each year in the Highlands due to climbing accidents. Even the most skilled and best equipped come to grief.

Over the next day or so will get on to the next web project which is a page dedicated to Skye where I am now building up knowledge and valuable personal contacts.

Sandy of Tour Scotland sent me a nice note saying I am on the right track regarding this Blog, which was encouraging.

Finally made contact with a schoolteacher who has set up a business supplying virtual reality tours on disk. We seem to be on the same wavelength. Agreed in principle to co-operate on a virtual tour of Hadrian's Wall. Again, I am cautiously optimistic as to where this may lead.

News in from a client for whom I am helping with a self-drive tour in the summer. He is from the U.S.where temperatures have been down to minus 26C. Wow! That is cold.

That's it for today. Back tomorrow.

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SATURDAY, FEB 10TH 2007

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Made some progress today. Followed up on the fishing contacts made yesterday, in particular one of the hotels. Have to get on tomorrow and design a web page. Have checked out the popular search terms on the web with no surprises.

Received a disk of images of the work of a Skye artist which I am planning to promote on my on-line art shop. They Look good. Will have to on-forward to my web manager.

Made a final booking for a tour itinerary in September in Fort William. I pass many times through Ft William but have never stayed there yet.Has to be a first time.

Made arrangements to call a new contact who has an embryonic business making virtual tour CDs. An interesting market. Have no idea where this will go but the concept seems to have potential.

Today's Scotsman newspaper has a feature listing 101 must do things in Scotland. Divided into various sub-sections, e.g.pubs, sport, wildlife, islands, etc. Learned a few things I did not know before, such as :

  • the Horseshoe Bar-a Glasgow institution with the longest bar in the U.K.
  • the Globe Inn, Dumfries which was Robert Burns favourite watering hole.

Had an enquiry in yesterday for a budget tour during June. May have found something suitable which I have shared with the client, albeit starts from Edinburgh rather than Glasgow.

Went on a cycle ride today in a mix of rain and snow. Nevertheless, I needed the exercise notwithstanding still recovering from a cold. I think I am on the mend. Lots of work to catch up with tomorrow.

Pleasantly surprised to see that I still rank on page of Google (no.3) for tours of Perthshire. Not bad! I would really like to get up the rankings for Hadrian's Wall, which is very close to my heart. See what happens when the new three pages of content is input soon.

That's it I guess for today.

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FRIDAY, FEB 9TH 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007

Just a quick update today. Have spent most of the day on Tayside around Logierait and Ballinluig learning about fishing on the Tay at Kinnaird Estate. Absolutely fantastic. Ghillie, James was very helpful, showing me round the beats and introducing me to the various hotels chief of which are:

I was provided with a good supply of fishing images which have just been placed in my photogallery, general section.

Also met up with a visiting Ghillie from Dumfries and Galloway which may prove a useful contact.

Will now get on and design a web page to promote fishing packages.

On a sad note, it was disappointing to see the extensive damage to the banks and fishing beats caused by the Dec 13th 2006 flood. Remediation will cost £000s.

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THURSDAY, FEB 8TH

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Weather is seasonally cold for once although we have not had the snow that has featured in England.

Tour enquiries still coming in, which is nice. My eight day tour seems popular but favoured by those seeking a budget tour which is not the market I am in. Good prospects for an 8 day for a group of German Swiss; this has been under consideration for over a year. Whilst writing this have received an enquiry for a short Robert Burns tour, my first enquiry for this theme.

I see from the press that this is the 250th anniversary of Thomas Telford's birth. Telford was a remarkable Scottish engineer who was responsible for more than 1500 miles of road, including the main route from Scotland to England, Edinburgh's New Town,, the village of Ullapool, 1000 river crossings, 43 churches, harbours and dockyards, the Caledonian Canal, Craigellachie Bridge, Menai Bridge and Pontcysyllite aqueduct. All of these remain functioning today. Obviously, Telford was no slouch and would appear to fit in the same mould as the famous Victorian engineer, Brunel. Maybe there is cope for a Telford themed tour?

That's it for today.

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WED, FEB 7TH 2007

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Learned that U.S.client very happy with itinerary for September tour. Have now to book the accommodation. Will get on to that tomorrow.

Typed up three pages of content for my new Skye page. Hope to get it on the site within a week or so. Skye is a fascinating place with lots of wildlife.I did not realise until today there are lots of otters there, compared with a small population elsewhere on mainland Britain. Typing up content the hard way certainly forces learning of the subject.

As predicted yesterday, there is a lot of noise in the press concerning the proposed new 137 mile line of pylons (towers) across spectacular Scottish countryside. The line is to stretch from Beauly near Inverness to Denny, between Glasgow and Edinburgh. The scheme is costed at GBP320M (about $600m). A public enquiry has opened in Perth and expected to last 11 months. Mmm. My best guess is that the scheme will get the go ahead as the alternative of burying the power lines underground may cost up to 12 times that of the pylons.

Went on a cycle ride again today. Weather cold and crisp but no wind/chill factor. Still trying to fight off my cold.

Another tour enquiry in (June) for a group of German Swiss.

Things are ticking along quite nicely. New tours to India venture is moving forward but nothing firm at this stage.

Lots to do tomorrow so will have another night and, hopefully, finally dispense with this debilitating cold.

Hope to be back with the blog tomorrow.

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TUESDAY, FEB 6TH

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A good day today.

Weather exceptionally sunny for time of year with good visibility so went down to Glasgow with my camera. Went up the Glasgow Science Centre Tower which is the tallest building in Scotland at 127m/416ft. Stunning views, even as far as Ben Lomond in the distance.Took lots of pics of the river, dry docks, bridges, etc. Will definitely take clients there in the future-assuming they don't suffer from vertigo! The Waverley was in dock. Cycled down as this is the best way to get around that congested part of town. Took about 40 pics in total which should find their way to the website soon.

Had an enquiry for traditional Scottish music.First time ever. Website beginning to kick in. A group of 12 staying near Stirling who want to attend to attend a performance in June. Contacted Birnam House Hotel who have quite a few "gigs" provisionally scheduled for that time of the year so was able to respond in the affirmative. Hope this happens.

This afternoon tidied up an itinerary for a September tour for a small group from the U.S. Looks interesting.

Heard on the radio this morning of plans by the electricity utility to set up a chain of giant pylons (towers) to transmit electricity generated by renewables (wind farms) across the spine of the Highlands. Not surprisingly, the protests have started already partly because of impact on scenery and tourism. No doubt there will be a story in tomorrow's press. Some people don't want nuclear power yet when the the alternative of renewables is promoted they don't want the pylons either. Maybe we should go back to oil lamps and horse drawn buggies!

Chased up my web manager re lots of new website content which is in the system. Lateness attributed to sickness and other work pressures. On the plus side received copyright approval for a very useful article on Skye wildlife. All I have to do now is type it up-and then design the new web page.

Still struggling with a heavy cold. Another early night.

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MON FEB 5TH 2007

Monday, February 05, 2007

A good day today. Managed to sort out car insurance renewal at a price somewhere near where it should be. I find the U.K.insurance industry very fragmented and inefficient. There is cover for tour guides out there but finding it is the tricky bit. Google is useless mainly because the insurers and brokers don't properly advertise their products on the web.I managed to find an insurer in Edinburgh via a personal contact who was formerly in the industry. I have written to my new insurer suggesting they should be more proactive in this niche as there must be a few thousand tour guides in Britain requiring Hire and Reward insurance.

Have also booked my trip to Perthshire to link up with a ghillie to see the beats and from there hopefully make a start in marketing fishing packages. Looking forward to it.

Had an enjoyable cycle ride today. Weather cold but little wind and very sunny. Very enjoyable for mid winter.

Pleased to see that one of the C.R.Mackintosh sites in Glasgow has reciprocated my web link. I have quite a few o/s links to chase up.

Had a look at Hadrian's Wall on Google today. I am there but way down the rankings. What to do? I am very passionate about Roman Britain and the Wall in particular.On the plus side I am on page 1 for Roman Britain and the Antonine Wall. Should have some more Hadrian's Wall content going in shortly.

Reviewed my Yellow Pages advertising. Tidied up the key words and availed of the free text facility. I have neglected this advertising medium and will have to keep a closer eye on it in future.

My cold is going through its motions. Will have an early night and see if that makes a difference.

Tonight there is the TV programme covering the Glencoe Massacre. Will probably tape it and review it later.

That's about it for now.

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Sunday, Feb 4th

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Have just finished repairing a couple of bicycle punctures. What a filthy job. At least I am mobile again. One of the bikes requires a full overhaul, including brakes.

Another foster cat was delivered late this evening. Have to admire the dedication of the lady which runs the local cats protection network.

I see from the press that tomorrow evening, Feb 5th there is a programme on BBC2 covering the famous (infamous?) massacre at Glencoe in 1692. May be I should put a summary of this event on my website?

Following a strongly worded note, I have just been taken off a couple of websites which I was unaware were promoting my tours. One of which was a .org and should not have been used for commercial purposes. Hope my site won't be tainted by this experience. Bit of a jungle out there in Web land with everybody second guessing Google.

Have just sent up to my web manage 3 pages of text covering Hadrian's Wall. I would love to do some more tours there this year but no enquiries as yet. Maybe I should be more proactive?

Had a shock this evening when I realised that my car insurance renewal quote had jumped 60pct for no apparent reason. I have made no claims over the past 12 months. Will have to call the company tomorrow and seek clarification. In meantime have been ringing around contacts to find insurers. Q Why don't we independent tour guides link together and try to arrange a special scheme?

This car insurance experience was not entirely negative because one of my insurance contacts gave me some tips regarding our claim for flood damage.

Hope to have a lot more content pumped into the website shortly.

Saw an interesting Time Team programme this evening on an Iron Age settlement on Anglesey. Not quite as interesting as the write had suggested but nevertheless very worthwhile.

That's it for now . Early start tomorrow to get car insurance before the current policy expires.

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FEB 4TH 2007

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Today linked up with a gillie on a large estate in Perthshire. Going up to meet him in a week or so and learn more about the beats and take some pics. Propose to set up a new page promoting fishing trips.

Lots more work in progress on the website: a new page for Isle of Skye, a dissertation on ancestry tourism, a new on-line shop for selling art work, a new page for Scottish recipes and more! This will keep me busy.

Had an enquiry in today for a Scotland castles tour. Should prove interesting .Will see what happens.

Looking at the news I see that England beat Scotland today at rugby; ah well can't win 'em all.

Also in the news is a report of a valuable find on the seabed by some fishermen in the Firth of Clyde. the men were looking for sand gapers but discovered a 19th century sculpture by Rinaldo Rinaldi and which may be worth about GBP45,000. Wow. What a lucky dip!

Global warming is very much in the media today. Britain is expected to experience more extreme weather with drier summers but wet winters with flooding. This has already started in Perthshire!

Lawyers acting for the estate of Ernest Hemingway have forced a Glasgow restaurant to change its name from hemingway's to Cafe Noir. This will cost the owner a huge sum to re-brand. Funny old world.

Tracking back to my ;previous comments on Newquay (Cornwall) I see that a major British property company is proposing to set up a massive indoor leisure park there at a cost of about GBP50M. Mmm sounds a bit risky to me.

Had an interesting exchange with VisitScotland personnel. During the winter they run a series of local tours for participants in the toursim industry. Beimng a tour guide I asked to go on a few so that I could learn and network. However, this was not well receievd beacuse the tours are restricted to particpants in those same geaographic areas, i.e.they learn more and more about less and less. This policy is utterly bizarre-and funded by tax payers' money!

That's about it for today. Lots of paperwork as ever.

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FEB 2ND

Friday, February 02, 2007

Took some exercise today. Went on a cycle ride but had a puncture about a mile from home. Could be worse. Both bikes now have punctures. I have had repeated punctures over the past few weeks, very strange.

Did my bit for the community. Introduced the Council to an eco friendly product for preventing graffiti. It seems to work well. Should help to break the vicious circle of yobs applying the graffiti then the Council removing it then the yobs return. Its amazing that the company which manufactures the product does not market it more aggressively.

Had an unusual tour enquiry in-for a wedding for a Canadian couple.. Came via third party contact. Expressed interest but will wait and see what happens.

More coverage in the media of global warming. I think there is scope for a new build eco hotel in Perthshire possibly powered by a micro hydro scheme with all the other bells and whistles.

For some reason today's Daily Mail carries a full page report on the famous 1692 massacre at Glencoe, which still resonates in the community today. In similar vein, the times reports on the Royal Martyr Church Union which is supportive of the Royal Stuart line of succession and held a service at St.Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh to mourn the execution of Charles I.

There is another press report on the initiative to reintroduce wolves to re balance nature. Britain's three main carnivores-the wolf, lynx and bear have long gone resulting in distortions including the over population of deer. Wolves are a very contentious issue with the populace with images of the animals running off with babies and similar horrors.

Received today a sample disk of an virtual reality tour of historic locations. This is a venture by an Edinburgh teacher and although aimed at the education market may have applications for the tourism industry. Needs to be made more user friendly but could prove a very useful product/tool. Will have to meet up with the proprietor and assess potential.

Masses of office work to catch up on. Have just realised I am about 1 month late with a tax return. Hopefully, not a hanging offence.

Getting a little tired with a mild headache. Will have an early night and get back up to speed tomorrow. Another day another Dollar!

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Feb 1st 2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Steady feed of tour enquiries in today. Managed to find a home (another tour operator) for a family of 10 from Spain during August.Plodding on with self-drive tours also.

Today linked up with a tour guide based in the English Cotswolds, a favoured tourist destination and which I know well. Agreed in principle to set up a page on my site to market his tours.

This evening's news carried a report of the visit of a pod of killer whales to the Firth of Forth. Apparently attracted by the young seals. Interesting development!

Another press of report of interest is that of a mooted housing development opposite the historic Borders home of Sir Walter Scott, i.e.Abbotsford House. This is causing quite a kerfuffle locally.Doubtful if Sir Walter would approve, but then he is long dead and life goes on.

Also note that tonnes of boulders are to be deposited to halt erosion (caused by walkers) at Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh. This place has interesting history part of an extinct volcano and holds the remains of an iron age hill fort. The name may mean "the height of the arrows".

That's all for now. Its getting late, I am tired and I think I have a cold coming on.

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