News and Events
2019 – A Review of the Year 19th February 2020
The past year of touring was both fun and varied. I spent a lovely week in late May with a charming couple from Washington State who had been married for 50 years ! They were impressively sprightly and very easy company.
I have continued to take on a handful of day tours for the team that handle shore excursions for a number of major cruise ships coming into Oban. This gets me out of my vehicle – a nice break from driving – and guiding some larger groups who have come off their vessels to see some of the treasures & landscape of the West Coast of Scotland.
Activities were slightly interrupted for a month mid-season as I suffered a partially detached retina in my right eye. The operation was a complete success and all is now fully recovered though it was definitely a bolt from the blue !
In the Autumn I started some touring work for a company who specialise in Clan-related tours along with trips tailored to the Outlander stories, which have been an amazing success, having now come to the small screen in the U.K. as well as the U.S.
I have just about caught up on these rip-roaring tales of Jamie & Clare’s adventures and I look forward to the coming season with several Outlander Tours in the pipe-line. Also, there may just be some Campbells and others wanting to visit the clan heartlands in Argyll and beyond. Now, with the recent upgrade to a much newer Mercedes Vito Tourer, I am ready and looking forward to seeing what visitors 2020 will bring.
A Quarterly update 16th October 2018
Well,the last few months have flown by rather quickly. I did manage to catch our biggest rhododenron in full deep pink bloom when I got back in Mid May from Inverness and the Isle of Skye but then Argyll joined in with the rest of the country in the long, hot, dry spell and the rest of the blooms shrivelled a bit rapidly – but the grass did keep growing. Visited Mull & Iona with folk from Miami; Iona was at its most beautiful surrounded by clear sparkling water
and even the Miami-ites hardly needed their fleeces.
It’s been a busy season of touring and some of the highlights have included; exploring Hebridean islands, catching the early morning shadows and shafts of sunlight amidst the craggy peaks in Glencoe, enjoying the dramatic Bruar Falls (just a stone’s throw from the House of Bruar Retail emporium !) and forest walks above Tain with panoramic views over the Black isle & Cromarty Firth. At this point I would add a small confession that this year was the first time I had really visited the extraordinary Baronial Pile that is Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland, ancestral home of the Earls & Dukes of Sutherland – in a decade of touring, Scotland still has these surprises in store – like Dunrobin and its splendid 19th century bathrooms, amongst other the many other treasures.
Now, we all know that the micro-climate of the Highlands of Scotland and its West Coast is rather unpredictable – and often a little damp even in the height of summer – but it is such a beautiful region that my clients have never been put off. And what’s more, with the great hot, dry weather that we enjoyed this year there was a little extra bonus….the midges that can normally make their little irritations felt between late May & late August were noticeably unnoticeable ! If the gradual influence of a changing climate might mean that hotter (& drier) summers become a more usual feature then just possibly the midges will be frazzled in the heat so now you have even fewer excuses for not making plans to visit this part of the world.
Hoping to welcome many of you to Scotland in 2019 !
2017 Review of the Season 28th February 2018
I just want to start by getting a quick apology out of the way. Regular and strategic promotion of my online presence is not my strongest suit yet this facility to enable me to post updates was designed to make things easy. Lack of discipline to sit down for a few minutes each month to share news may be the only excuse !
With all that said, I have had a busy and enjoyable season of touring in 2017. Indeed I did usually manage to keep my own travel diary in the course of the various trips and it has been both fun and encouraging to look back over these past months. I have covered most points of the compass and ventured from the North-West tip of Skye, to Durness on the North Coast, to St. Andrews & The East Neuk of Fife and even as far South as Manchester – yes, I realise this is not in Scotland – with the Edinburgh, Glasgow and many other places in between.
It has been my luck and privilege to meet some very interesting people. With those folk on the longer trips, it has been a bonus to get to know them a bit better. Whether it has been ancestral family links that have brought people to Scotland or more generally a certain curiosity or fascination with an image of some rugged landscape & the brooding history of the warring Clans, it seems this beautiful country draws people to it strongly. So the conversations we have along the way, comparing our cultural or linguisitic differences, the way society in our rural regions has evolved and the way the various tribes, groups or clans have contributed to the melting pot of present-day Scotland all these make the touring the positive experience that it is for me – and I hope all my clients.
With the snowdrops now providing a wonderful display, I am looking forward to this year’s trips.
Spring is on the way 4th April 2017
After the past months of hunkering down during the darkest period in the year (and absence of wintery blog news) it’s a real boost to get the longer afternoons and have more time for chopping wood; a favourite occupation to generate heat over the winter months!
Suddenly, the clocks have jumped forward, we are all but through Lent and able to look forward to a happy family time over Easter with the younger generation back for a break from school and college; many reasons to be joyful at this time of year. Plus our camelia is covered in stunning deep pink blooms !
To cap it all, I am very pleased to be able to announce that I have acquired an upgrade in the vehicle department. My new Mercedez-Benz Vito will provide clients with all the space and comfort they would expect – I attach a hastily-taken snapshot of the new barouche…..
Summer Touring – a review 11th November 2016
Well, the touring life gets busy especially during the main part of the working season between May and October. That’s my only excuse for not posting more regular updates on my news page….!
I have a fun and enlightening few months on the road, in the company of some really charming clients. I’m glad of the business of course yet appreciate just as much the opportunity to meet the genuinely interesting folk with whom I get do some touring.
On the tours themselves, perhaps one of the favourite places along the well-worn routes remains the Isle of Skye. Without exception, clients this past few months have truly loved their travels on this Hebridean island. It does have some of the most striking, contrasting geology, wonderfully craggy mountains and other fantastic scenery. Also well worth remembering is the opportunity to treat yourself to a fabulous lunch at the unique Three Chimneys Restaurant, which will probably be the remotest eaterie you are likely to visit on a trip to Scotland. This is just the sort of thing (to my mind) that can really make your visit something to remember; just the sort of the thing that I hope my clients will experience. I always try to include the hidden gems along with the best, well-known historic and other places that are on the ‘must see’ list for Scotland. And – seeing as I am quite a fan of food – another lunch spot to experience (that you might not find on your own self-drive trip ! ) is the great seafood cafe at Kinlochleven.
Speaking of hidden gems, I think one of the highlights for me – and for the clients on tour that particular week – was a private visit to the Library at Innerpeffray, near Crieff in Perthshire. At this point, I need to confess quickly that it had previously not been on my radar at all. It is known for being the oldest Public Lending Library in the country, opened in 1680 and endowed by the Drummond family. It houses a unique collection and the ‘Keeper of the Library’ with the other staff are brilliant at bringing its treasures to life. I would really recommend it !
From the expanse and wilderness of Torridon in the North West to a blustery, blue sky day in St. Andrews on the East Coast with the nearby picture postcard harbour at Crail; from Loch Ness
(no sign of Nessie..) to Lossiemouth and the great views of the capital from Calton Hill in Edinburgh, I have shared lots of wonderful moments with clients during the past few months. To round it all off, I even enjoyed an unexpected encounter with ‘Digger’ the Clydesdale horse at the World Horse Rescue Farm just outside Aboyne ! What’s not to like !