Often things happen by the weirdest coincidence… I took my motorbike for its MOT and wanted to wait for it so I stroll through Cupar and noticed this amazing “shop” full of old clocks- seriously old clocks:
Eric Young is the owner of this shop and a clock maker himself. There is even a stunning clock on display he created. The clocks currently on display come all from one house, which is undergoing renovation which allows the rest of us to go and view these amazing pieces of careful engineering. The exhibition still runs till July and and is definitely well a visit.
Thanks to Eric I had a peek into my great grandfather’s pocket clock which is nowhere near as old as some of those exhibits
VisitScotland and the V&A set up to host the Creative Congierge yesterday in Dundee. The event was intended to inform about all the fantastic events happening in Dundee this year and also to encourage attendees to network, but above all it allowed attending businesses to visit the Tartan Exhibition.
It was a lovley evening and since I had not yet made it to the Tartan Exhibition a superb excuse to do so. If you have not been yet I highly recommend it and it is so big that I intend to return very soon to spend more time investigating all these fabulous exhibits in more details.
It is spring break and I was lucky enough to be be booked for a Highland Tour by some lovely people who wanted to see Glenfinnan Viaduct as one of them is a true Harry Potter fan. We booked the first ferry from Armadale to Mallaig and ended up (luckily for my guests) at Glenfinnan when the steam train meandered its way across the famous bridge. My clients managed to get some photos of the event and were super happy.
However, there are three car parks which were full. I dropped my clients off and pulled into a a layby, where I bought a coffee and stayed at the car as I was blocking other cars who were mostly illegally parked there. Prior to dropping my guests we went passed the car parks (to turn around mainly) but that road (which is the main artery to Maillaig for heavy traffic) was almost blocked by cars randomly abdoned by their owners to capture a selfie with a steam train.
It is total mayhem really.
While I was sipping my coffee and waiting for my guests to return I got engaged in a nice conversation with a local lady who I met at the church. Listening to her what this mass invasion does to the community I was ready to refuse future guests to go to Glenfinnan. However, like with the Fairy Pools on Skye or just Skye that will not work I suppose.
I love my job and take great pride to realise my client’s dreams but I do have sincere reservation when it comes to over crowding.
Back in 2021 I visited Tesla in Edinburgh and tried the Model 3 for 45 mins. I was so taken by this amazing experience that I thought why did I not switch years ago?
Sadly, the Tesla did not have the seating capacity I required.
It took me a while to convince Mercedes Benz to let me have an e-Vito L3 to try.
A few months later I again set off to Edinburgh to collect the e-Vito and take it on a trip to the Highlands. The car itself drove fine and basically was a Vito as I had driven for years, but the range of 230 miles was not a lot to start with but I never managed to reach anywhere near. I could not charge the car at home, so I was forced to leave it in St Andrews to charge enough to take up north to Forres. I never managed to charge 80% within 45 mins and I did a lot of worrying and walking on this trip. Incidently I did the exactly same trip a few months later with my combustion engined Viano and never even had to stop to refill.
I returned home quite desillusioned but did not entirely give up on the idea of going electric.
Over the years I have had a number of guests who either had dietary requirements or are vegetarian or vegan by choice. Generally speaking Scotland caters quite well for both and there are even vegetarian B&Bs but not always where you need them.
As standard Starfish Travel provides bottled water and a fruit basket (in summer always locally sourced and containing blueberries, rasberries, brambles and strawberries). During whisky tours I have also supplied packed lunches which were mostly randomly bought to ensure some stamina when sampling a little too much whisky.
In the aim to focus on locally produced food and cater for vegans in particular we have teamed up with local businesses and have added some own efforts. Do take a look at some examples:
If you search this website for Queen Mary of the Scot’s sightseeing tours you find her under the header of film locations, which really does not do her any justice, especially as it only refers to the newest movie about her life.
Mary was born on December 7th or 8th 1542 at Linlithgow Palace. Her father died within a week of her birth at Falkland Palace and I am pretty convinced that the cause of his death was not the fact that Mary was a woman.
She was crowned queen and her mother, Mary of Guise, ruled on her behalf. Mary of Guise was afraid that Henry VIII may attempt to seize Mary forcibly marry her to his son Edward VI. For her safety Mary, who was brought up at Stirling Castle until then, was moved to France where she grew up as catholic and was promised to the future king of France, Francis, whom she married in 1558 and became Queen Consort of France. She also had a legitimate claim to the English throne through her grandmother, Magret Tudor (sister of Henry VIII).
In 1560 Mary lost her mum, her father in law, King Henry II and her husband, which forced her to return to Scotland in 1561. A country she hardly knew, which had become protestant in her absence.
She ruled successfully for five years until she married Henry Stuart/Lord Darnley, who himself had a claim to the English throne, but was otherwise anything but a suitable husband to her, though she had James VI/I with him who was born in 1566.
In February Lord Darnley was murdered and Mary may have been involved.
James Hepburn, 4th Lord of Bothwell was accused of Darnley’s murder but was acquitted in April 1567. He kidnapped and raped Mary, which forced her to marry him. On July 24th 1567.
This caused her to fall out of favour, especially with her half brother, James, Earl of Moray (an ilegitimate child of Mary’s father James V).
She fled and turned to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, for help, which led to her almost 20 years of house arrest. In 1586 Mary was found guilty of plotting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. On 8th February 1587 Mary was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle.
This is extremely brief outline of Queen Mary’s life already provides sufficient evidence why people 500 years later are still fascinated by her.
The years follwoing Mary’s death polarised people into supporters or enemies- or catholics and protestants? George Buchanan (1506-1582) and John Leslie (1527-1596) both were influentual in promoting Mary’s life, look them up.
Two hundred years later Mary’s story was re-employed in the aftermath of 1745 Culloden to romanticise the story of the Stuarts. There is a famous painting kept at the Huntarian in Glasgow: Gavin Hamilton, The Abdication of Mary Queen of Scots, 1765 – 1773, oil painting, well worth visiting.
Between numerous images being created which did not even look like the real Queen as well as coinage in the 20th century filmaking took over:
Next to films numerous modern books are available too, such as: Lady Antonia Fraser’s 1969 book “Mary Queen of Scots”, Jenny Wormald, ” Mary Queen of Scots: A study in Failure”, John Guy’s, “My heart is my own: The life of Mary Queen of Scots” and many, many more.
Last but not least if you like a little Braveheart freedom the sisters Fee and Ellen Compton (their brother co-founded the SNP) played in a silent Mary Queen of Scots movie which has just been rescued, though I am not sure when it will be screned again.
If your world has just turned into winter wonderland (like mine has, see below) you may want to start dreaming about Scotland and if you do I have a few suggestions.
I love whisky and walking if that is you too try this book for entertainment and ideas. There are some very common routes, such as Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroiag (if you sample enough whisky on route you may never leave it either), but there is much more.
Personally, I have fallen in love with Morven penisula and NcNean which can easily include Mull and Tobemory. Since we should not drink and drive walking seem a real option.
There is also the option to visit the Hebridean distilleries by boat. Get in touch for more ideas:
As previously stated I would love Starfish Travel to become more sustainable and less poluting. Currently I operate a Mecedes Viano with a traditional combustion engine carrying up to seven guests.
When providing day tours in summer I often exceed the 400 miles a day mark. I do encourage slower travelling and offer tours up to ten days but this is not possible for everyone.
I attended last month’s London’s EV show which was very interesting indeed. We expected to see a variety of electric vehicles but actually there was more on chargers, infrastructure and research, which was both surprising and fascinating.
The event was intended to encourage networking and that indeed happened.
So I am now lined up with both University research as well as training on electric vehicles. We also spoke extensively to Maxus who offer a standard van which is bigger than practical for our small Scottish raods. Ford had a big stand and their developments do sound exiting but their nine seater is not yet available.
We tried the Mustang Mach-e which had a range of 315 miles which is almost what I require.
If I take a group into the highlands at some point they require lunch, coffees, a comfort break or indeed a visit to an attraction. If chargers are available and charging indeed only takes 30 mins to an hour driving electric should work, shouldn’t it?
Tesla had a stand and we tried the Model 3 (again) and loved it. While waiting for the car to become available we bumped into a lovely London cab driver who was running a Mercedes V-class electric or the past three months and provided us with some detailed insights as to how to. It certainly worked for him. The range was roughly 200 miles.
Upon my return I arranged a meeting with the Energy Trust once again and that provided to be helpful. There are obviously more electric vehicles available so I ventured out and test drove the MG5, learned about the Kia Nero and also tested the I-Buzz of VW. All of which do not have the range or number of seats I would like. The I-Buzz provides five seats but an amazingly big boot space.
I finally got a good look at an used Tesla X seven seater. The two seats in the back hardly allow you to sightsee as there is next to no view,. Also the seating is not really for tall persons and you loose all the boot space. It may work for a day tour but as soon as an overnight stay is added there is not sufficient space for luggage.
With all this in mind I am at the point when I am comtemplating to keep the Viano and add an electric vehicle to learn how to run it. However, will this be more suitainable? Paying insurance, servicing, repairs, “fuel”/electricity for two vehicles?
To all of you out there running electric vehicles in similar circumstances do get in touch and tell me how it works for you.
I moved to Scotland in 1993 and we had a Glaswegian friend who introduced us immediately to Glasgow’s party scene around Sauchiehall. We had tremendous fun, though -back then- female toilets were not a standard in Glasgow’s pubs. Returning in daylight hours to this powerhouse of the industrial revolution was somewhat less magic. I still utterly disagree with a motorway running right through the city centre. In those days Glasgow was a little rougher though her people then and now are a particularily nice bunch of Scots.
“The Burrell Collection” was originally opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1983 and after expansive refurbishment with re-opened in October 2023 by King Charles.
Pollok House is situated within easy walking distance meandering through a beautiful park which lets you forget you are in a city at all.
Visiting both venues can may well take an entire day, whether you are an art, history or garden lover.
Following the art theme you could spend the next day in the west end starting with the cute Astone Lane followed by a visit to the amzing Kelvingrove Museum and or the the Huntarian, meander over the Glasgow University and conclude with the Hidden Lane. All of this can be done walking .
Obviously no visit to Glasgow could be complete without visiting the City Centre. You might want to start with a tour of the City Chambers perhabs followed by some browsing at Walker Slater. Have a nice tea and cake or a light lunch at the Willow Teamroom enjoying Rennie MacIntosh’s work. Visit George Square and have a laugh at the Duke of Wellington who usually sports a traffic cone and conclude with the Gallery of Modern Art or perhabs venture on for some shopping or a dinner?
I recently published a post on visiting Innerpeffray Library and have since than given myself a lovely, early Christmas present by buying the exquisitely published book telling the story of Britain’s first lending library spiced with a good bit of Scottish history as well.
If you, like me, love books or know someone who does this would be a fabulous xmas present. Just take a look how carefully this has been produced:
The book itself is only 130 something pages long but every one a little piece of art in its own right.
You could obviously rush over to Innerpeffray Library (Wednesday to Saturday 10am – 5pm and Sundays 2pm – 5pm) purchase your own copy (or one for a hughly valued acquaintance) should that fail, however, you can also order one online.
This is certainly not the cheapest book you ever bought, but you are supporting the library and apart from that it is truly addictive. ENJOY!!!