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Social Media Alba ®

The Power of Facebook.

Facebook campaign goes viral – Over 17,000 people have responded to this Facebook campaign in only 5 hours! The campaign originated in Inverness, Scotland. An effective Social Media Strategy and Policy of use could have helped to mitigate some of the apparent damage.

A new Facebook community page called Boycott the Royal Highland Hotel was opened just after 8pm on Sunday 14th July 2013. Within five hours, the page had amassed more than 16,000 likes. The image below of Uncle Willie has since been shared over 16,500 times and the post has received over 17,000 likes. Some people have commented that using pictures of uncle Willie was not right to do, and others have commented that Facebook is not the right media to use to vent a grievance. There are also reports that the press and media have picked up on the story.

The purpose of the…

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Skooty Alan is a Beneteau Swift Trawler 44

Skooty Alan is a Beneteau Swift Trawler 44

Another very interesting and busy week at work as the numbers of boats coming through the canal has definitely increased recently.

This week I had the pleasure of meeting Alan, Sue and Spot of the Skootyalan, who are currently circumnavigating the British Isles to raise money for RNLI, a most worthy charity.  I really enjoyed chatting to them for a couple of hours while helping them up through the Dunardry lock flight and hearing a bit more about their trip so far.

Please visit their blogs for lots of great insight and stories from their trip:

And if you are able, then please consider making a donation to their cause by visiting:

Auld Acquaintance

It seems that STV are increasingly the best place to watch for news, debate and programming leading up to the referendum.

They have now announced a mini series charting Scotlands road to the referendum, beginning on June 4th.

STV– Road to referendum

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I met some amazing people today, taking part in the 2013 Justice and Peace Pilgrimage which is being undertaken by a committed group of people from any, all and no religious persuasions who have got together to walk from Iona in the Scottish  Hebrides to the houses of parliament over 2 months this summer.  The ‘pilgrims’ were on their third day when they met up with their pilgrimage boat, the ‘Tanera Mor’ and headed through the Crinan Canal in mid-Argyll where I work.

From their website:  “the primary aim of the 2013 pilgrimage is to focus national public attention on the government’s intention to spend up to £100 Billion renewing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system, while continuing to slash NHS, education and social welfare budgets – including financial support for some of this country’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people”

please have a look at their website – – for more information or visit their facebook page –

As they journey south, they hope that a lot more people will give some time to join in the pilgrimage, whether it’s for half an hour, a day or two or even longer – your support means a lot to them.

Part of the pilgrimage involves a plan to take the ‘Tanera Mor’ up the river Clyde to see how close they can get to the Faslane Naval Base where the Trident system is kept,  this will hopefully raise further awareness for their cause.

I really enjoyed meeting them today and helping them through the Crinan Canal.  I hope to go to Glasgow on my day off this week and walk with them for a while.

So please, if you or anyone you know are of a like mind to these people, spread the word of what they are doing and join in if you can.  Typically, it is hard to find out about this movement in the mainstream media and I would most likely know nothing about it if I wasn’t working today so you can make a difference with this one.


Calton Hill

Edinburgh is a fantastic city. I lived there for 9 years and just outside it for another 2 years and loved it.  When I left school, I really wanted to go to university but, growing up on a croft with acres of fields and very few neighbours,  I hated the thought of living in a city.  Luckily, a lot of my school friends went to university in Edinburgh too and when I got there I discovered that it was not at all what I was expecting.

There are big open spaces everywhere such as The Meadows (seen here from Arthur’s Seat)


I spent an entire summer when I wasn’t working, sitting out in The Meadows with friends, having a few beers, playing frisbee and generally having a great time.

Another great thing about Edinburgh is that you don’t need a car or public transport to get about. Everything is within walking distance and with the Union Canal and the Water of Leith both running right into the middle of the city, you can get away from busy streets while getting about.

Dean Bridge

Dean Bridge over the Water of LeithWater of Leith

Water of Leith


There are plenty of other walks too, with Edinburgh traditionally said to have been built on seven hills, like Rome.  In Edinburgh’s case the seven are usually said to be Arthur’s Seat, Blackford Hill, Calton Hill, Corstorphine Hill, Castle Rock, Braid Hills and Craiglockhart Hill.  All provide great walks and fantastic views from the summits.  About 12 years ago, I lived right at the foot of Arthur’s seat, an ancient volcano which also includes the Salisbury Crags.  I could go from my house to the summit of Arthur’s Seat in about twenty minutes and once there I would find a quiet spot to spend a few hours reading and occasionally sleeping. There’s something really nice about sleeping outside, although of course you have to be careful where you do it.

view from Arthur's Seat

view from Arthur’s Seat

I left the area 3 and a half years ago but I still have many great friends there and I love going back to visit when I can (which is not as often as I’d like) to catch up and just enjoy the city again.

These are just a couple of the things that I like about Edinburgh, I haven’t mentioned the brilliant live music scene, the excellent restaurants, pubs and clubs or the world famous Edinburgh Festival and Military Tattoo.  Edinburgh is a fantastic place to be at any time of the year.  There is always something going on and it has a rich cultural history.  So if you’ve never been (or even if you have) then visit Edinburgh and learn about it’s beginnings as a city built around brewing and baking or the rise of Industry after the completion of the Union Canal.  Take a walk down the Royal Mile and visit Mary Kings’ Close or the Edinburgh Dungeon to experience what life was like in the old city.  Visit the Castle, the zoo, the royal yacht Brittannia, Holyrood Palace, the Scottish Parliament and the many fantastic Art Galleries and Museums.  There is so much to do in Edinburgh, you won’t want to leave.

20th May 2012 028

a view from the summit

This is the first time that I’ve taken part in the Word A Week Challenge from the great blog, A Word In Your Ear.  But when I saw this week’s word, Mountain, I knew I had to write something.

I love mountains; always have, always will.  Right up near the top of my list of favourite things to do is get up early and go and climb a mountain.  So far I’ve only climbed some in my native Scotland, but when there’s so many amazing walks and climbs to choose from here, I’ve never thought about going elsewhere.  Although, looking at some of the other mountains of the world that I’ve seen photographs of, they look amazing.

I like to start my walks early in the morning, about 4am in summer time.  I guess I’m just being selfish then because I want to have the places to myself and not share their magnificence with anyone else.  But at the same time, it is always nice to meet somebody else who is doing the same thing because it’s good to chat with someone who you know just ‘gets it’  and conversation always comes easy, even with complete strangers because you know that they are just good people and that you are sharing something special.

My favourite mountain to date is still Beinn Liath Mhor between Achnasheen and Lochcarron in the West Highlands.  At 926 metres or 3038 feet, it is a Munro, in fact it’s the first Munro I climbed.  I won’t do a full walk report here because you can read that here, but it was a fantastic walk which covered 14.7km and took 6 hours. Here’s some photos:

This is the view from the first top, looking along the ridge

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looking North from the summit to the Torridon mountains

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looking back along the ridge

Beinn Liath Mhor - The climb starts at the other end of this magnificent ridge, the third top (nearest the camera) is the summit, then you come down this side and walk back along the the coire below.

Beinn Liath Mhor – The climb starts at the other end of this magnificent ridge, the third top (nearest the camera) is the summit, then you come down this side and walk back along the the coire below.

Just looking at these photos makes me want to do the walk again.  There are some hills I’ve climbed that I’ll probably never do again, but this definitely isn’t one of them.

I’d also like to take a couple of minutes here to mention some friends of mine, the McAulay brothers from Hawick in the Scottish Borders who, on Saturday this week (18th May 2013) will be climbing the famous Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe in tribute to their late father and to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity which is very important to them personally.  This is no simple task considering they are not hillwalkers or climbers so please, if you can, donate some money to this most worthwhile of causes by visiting their just giving page.  Thank you.

Buachaille Etive Mor

Buachaille Etive Mor – Doug Lee [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

A long time ago, there were two friends living beside each other. Let’s call them Scott and Ian.  Scot had a small house with a beautiful garden and Ian lived in a mansion on a sprawling country estate.  Ian wasn’t content with what he had and he really liked Scott’s little house and garden and wanted them for himself.  After many years of trying to buy it and using underhand tactics like moving boundaries to steal some of the land, Scott was still resolutely against giving in to the wealthier Ian.  Eventually Ian went to Scott’s family members and offered them money and land of their own elsewhere if they would help him to get Scott’s little place for himself.  So Scott’s family advised him to make bad investments and even robbed him when he wasn’t looking and, once he had no money left, they convinced him that the only way to recover financially was to sell to Ian.  Ian then approached Scott as a kind neighbour and said “hey, i know you’re down on your luck just now. why not sell me your house and garden and I’ll let you live in it anyway for a reasonable rent”

Scott felt he had no choice but to go along with the suggestion.  The new arrangement continued for many many years and slowly, Ian took more and more control of Scott’s life, convincing him that he should control Scott’s finances and even friendships.  So now Ian was using Scott’s money to pay for his own lifestyle and failing to look after Scott’s little house and garden when they needed work done.  Even when it was discovered that Scott’s little garden stood right on top of a massive oil well that would make Scott rich, Ian insisted that all the new found wealth was his; even though the house had been in Scott’s family for hundreds of years, as far back as any research could tell.  In fact, there wasn’t even any paperwork drawn up when Ian had bought the house all those years ago.

In the meantime, Scott had worked hard and had a very good income and prospects and was highly regarded in the renewable energy sector.  He also had very few debts and would easily prosper on his own.  By now, he was thouroughly sick and tired of Ian’s antics and just wanted to get away from him.  But every time he approached Ian about getting his house back and getting on with his life, Ian just laughed at him and told him that he’d never survive on his own.  Scott even took legal advice and was assured that legally the house was his and the money from the oil was his and he could break away from Ian’s grasp at any time and end up much more wealthy and prosperous than Ian.  But the influential Ian kept producing documents written by his friends and so called experts where they lied about how all the oil was nearly gone and that by going it alone now, Scott was doomed to failure and destitution.  Scott knew this was untrue and that Ian was just greedy and trying to keep everything for himself.

Determined to make it on his own and prosper, he started to ask friends and neighbours what they thought he should do.   He had a lot of support but Ian had a lot of influence and convinced many people that he was right and would win the case in court if it came to it.

So you decide – what should Scott do??

Now go back over the story and substitute Scott with Scotland and Ian with England and answer the question again.


Auld Acquaintance

I waited patiently last night for a whole 5 minutes of BBC Reporting Scotland to see if they would even allude to the twitter storm involving the Labour activist and Better Together supporter Ian Smart’s outburt of racist language, and the slur that we Scots are inherently racist. Where he compared us to the Ku Klux Klan and said that he would rather have 100 years of Westminster Tory Rule than Scottish Independence.
His remarks caused such a furore that Lord Jack McConnell, jumped in on his pals side without even reading what the fuss was all about.

Surely this storm was significantly news worthy to report on? Particularly when the BBC had gone to such great extent in demonising ordinary Independence supporting Scots for expressing their views on the internet.
You all know the sort….nasty Cybernats like me!
But not a bit of it…not a whisper from them last…

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So now we’ve had a few days in the new house, we’re (mostly) unpacked and the kitties are getting used to their new territory.  And now my attention turns to the garden, which looks like it hasn’t been worked on in some time but I can see so much potential and can’t wait to get started on it.  So here’s some photos of the garden from before the work begins and I’ll document my progress as it goes along.


Front Garden

Front Garden


There’s a couple of nice things here – Fuchsia and Buddleja but also a lot of rubbish. hoping to expose some of the nice rockface and get some ferns, heathers and a few other nice bits and pieces in here.

beside the front door

shore cottage 008

The front and side of the house with the gate into the back garden.  Just grass here at the moment but planning to create traditional cottage garden type borders to provide colour throughout the year.

The back garden is long but still wide enough to split into sections…

Looking back down to the gate with Loch Fyne beyond.  The grass area to the left will be the vegetable plot for this year and I may look to extend it for next year.  Time is getting on a bit but I’ve already started off lots of things in the in-laws’ greenhouse so I should be able to make up some time on this.  Will probably leave the grass on the right side for now but might use part nearer the wooden fence for some salad leaves.

It’s a nice tree and doesn’t block the sun from the paved area behind it which shall stay as it is as somewhere for the barbecue.  Under the tree and the small gravelled section between the tree and the concrete will be the wife’s herb garden.

The bottom section is heavily concreted but that serves as a handy base for a garden shed and greenhouse.  We are also discussing the possibility of building a clay oven on top of the old coal bunker as there is no longer a fireplace in the house.

The garden also extends round the other gable end of the house and the plan for this is to have a wild area with plants chosen to attract bees and butterflies to the garden.

There are already a number of birds visiting the garden including green finches, chaffinches, wagtails, blackbirds, robins, coal tits and others and we look forward to seeing what else we can attract in.  The eagle eyed among you will have spotted a little birdhouse on the fence.  (needless to say, the cats will remain house cats!)

So that’s my new project and I can’t wait to get started!

definitely worth a read

Auld Acquaintance

Its been a funny old week…. Yes really! Down right hilarious even.

These jesters on the wonderful BBC programme “Have I got News for You” or HIGNFY for short, for those alphabetically challenged…(such as Ray Winston, their guest presenter this week, who has made a career out of missing out half his vowels and trading them in for some obscure sounds) decided to have some gentle loving humour for us Scots, just to show how much affection they have for us dawn Sawth in the seat of English enlightenment.

Such gems Ray and his wonderful panel, including Ian Hislop ( token Scottish Anglo Saxon satirist and editor) provided for us.

Pictures of Highland Dancing, more pictures of Highland Dancing with a piper, George Osbourne visiting the natives, and Alex salmond on a building site… The question being what was the connection?

Hislop gleefully informed us that If Scotland go Independent…

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