Travel: Walks along the Water of Leith, Edinburgh

Travel: Walks along the Water of Leith, Edinburgh

The Polish Bear and I went on a lot of adventures together while living in Edinburgh. One of our favourite walking trails was the devastatingly beautiful Water of Leith. This natural body of water crosses over the Forth and Clyde Canal, which I've written about extensively before. The Water of Leith snakes its way through…

Every Picture Tells a Story: Lake Menteith in the fading light of a winters night

Travel Poetry: The Crackling Thunder of Frozen Lake Menteith

I wrote this poem in 2011 during a particularly bewitching snow-storm on Lake Menteith in Stirlingshire, Scotland. I had borrowed a pair of old, worn out and blunt ice-skates that were a size too small. And together with my friend, we set out to skate on the lake and also record the audio of the…

Book Review: Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg https://wp.me/p41CQf-KRb

Book Review: Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg

*Contains no spoilers Born and brought up in Sweden, Karin Altenberg moved to Britain to study in 1996. She holds a PhD in Archaeology and is currently senior advisor to the Swedish National Heritage Board and a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London. Island of Wings is her first novel. It's the dazzling and…

Luminous Edinburgh during Christmas time lit the way for work-weary me

Travel: Luminous Edinburgh during Christmas time lights the way through winter 

Edinburgh is bewitching at all times of year but arguably the most captivating time is before and during Christmas. From early December the area in Princes Gardens is turned into an enchanted frozen amphitheatre. The faerie wonderland buzzing with a German Christmas market and overflowing with handmade, wooden and delicate trinkets, along with carnival rides…

An exciting jousting event takes place outside of Linlithgow Palace each year.

Travel: A weekend trip to the medieval town of Linlithgow: History through the mists of time to today

The beautiful burgh of Linlithgow charmed the pants off me when I went there a few years ago. The town sits astride the Forth and Clyde Canal (which I’ve written on extensively) which is around half way between Edinburgh and Glasgow. There’s a train link on Scotrail which goes between cities that takes you there, and…

Adventures on the Forth and Clyde Canal

History: The history of the Forth and Clyde Canal

Above is a map of the first part of the canal which stretches from Lochrin Basin to Falkirk Wheel over a distance of 32 miles. The remainder of the canal after that goes to Glasgow and turns into the Clyde River. See more detail.    Originally opened in 1789, the Forth and Clyde Canal crossed…

Adventures on the Forth and Clyde Canal

Cycling along Edinburgh’s canal: Lochrin Basin to Almond Acqueduct

See more detail here This is one of my favourite scenic routes through the leafy, pastoral and mountainous outer suburbs of Edinburgh and East Lothian heading out into the countryside. This epic shared pedestrian and cycling path goes all the way from Edinburgh to Glasgow (56km one way) alongside the Forth and Clyde Canal. With…

Scotland's Momentous Decision on September 18th

Words and Music: The Disintegration Loops & Edinburgh

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjnAE5go9dI [Here is a poem about a place I've been and seen and drunk in, along with some music to match] Edinburgh City of dreams and sloping pagan peaks in a city Gigantic sea-shanty sized voices with looping arr sounds Turbulent winter snow drifts Warming whisky tumblers filled with smoky graceful ease Like a cream…

Scotland's Momentous Decision on September 18th

Travel: Five Brilliant Off the Beaten Track Restaurants Around Edinburgh

From writing for several years for the Edinburgh Food and Drink Guide I have gathered together some personal favourites of the Athens of the North. Here are a selection of Edinburgh restaurants that require some pounding of pavement often through beautiful scenery to get there. These eateries are worthy of recommendation because of their beautiful ambience,…

Paperholm: A delicate ever-expanding paper universe

Paperholm: A delicate ever-expanding paper universe

Paperholm is a tale of the dedication and tenacity of one very determined Scotsman named Charles Young. It all began in 2014 with 200 gsm watercolour paper and PVA glue. Young set himself the challenge of building a tiny paper model of a building every day for a year. Then 365 paper models later and…

Book Review: The Fahrenheit Twins by Michel Faber

Book Review: The Fahrenheit Twins by Michel Faber

I had the pleasure of meeting Michel Faber at the Auckland Writers Festival this autumn. He's a reserved, humble and softly-spoken fellow who was gobbled up by the overly bold interviewer, someone far less important, whose name escapes me. Faber brought with him onto the stage a pair of dainty red women's shoes and only…

A tribute to the phenomenal Scottish writer William McIllvanney

A tribute to the phenomenal Scottish writer William McIllvanney

William McIlvanney or Willie to his nearest and dearest was single-handedly responsible for the genre of Tartan Noir, the bleak and rainy Glaswegian streets, grisly crime screnes steeped in whisky and venomous characters that were the stomping ground of characters like Inspector Laidlaw (changed to Taggart for the famous TV show). All other Scottish crime…

The Legacy of Robert Burns in Scotland

The Culinary and Poetic Legacy of Robert Burns in Scotland

Robert Burns is a cult figure amongst Scottish people for his celebrated poetry and folk songs from the 18th Century. He used to write in the Scots language and also English with Scots dialect. Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns has travelled far beyond Scotland, to become a universal song for New Year's Eve. Every…

Scotland's Momentous Decision on September 18th

Scotland’s Momentous Decision on September 18th

In about a week's time Scotland's people will be making a momentous decision for the country's future. The decision to cleave away from their historic neighbours and become an independent country, or to stay and be a part of Britain. There have been fiery debates between Tory minister Alaisdair Darling and First Minister Alex Salmond.…