Sorry for the inconvenience!

Without thinking I pressed the update buttons for WordPress and the Word Theme which resulted in a critical error on the website. Luckily, it still displayed the landing page but that was about all the functionality it had.

My sincere apologies to anyone who tried to look something up. These things never happen at a good time and as I was quite busy it took a while to be rectified and actually only happened because of the most patient person in the world: Robert from DotScot. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Newhaven, Edinburgh: Tender has arrived

I was on tours two days in a row; day one a wee tour from a cruise ship and up to MacAllan whisky distillery the following day. This is such a privilege and such a rewarding job: you meet new and interesting people every day, you still discover new things in beautiful Scotland and most of all you always learn. It is a never ending joy.

MacAllan is currently only open to the public on the weekends and provides private tours during the week, which last about three hours. My guests took five hours so it must have been good.

Arrived at MacAllan
MacAllan distillery is a truly stunning design
The building compliments the landscape it is embedded in
On weekends the Brasserie and shop are also open to visitors not booked in for a tour
The estate itself is also stunnigly beautiful
Way in

You are never short of things to do in Speyside, even if whisky is not you main theme I may add. While my guests were looked after by MacAllan I visited the The Cooperage, Aberlour Whisky Distillery and Glenlivet Whisky Distillery, went for a walk outside Aberlour and ended up have the most amazing Thai lunch at The Croft Inn, which I very highly recommend!

Aberlour Whisky Distillery
Glenlivet Whisky Distillery
The Croft Inn
Amazing food with a stunninng view and among lovely people
Cooked with love by Nat
This was the best duck curry I ever had!

OYB (on your bike) in May for Starfish Travel

As stated earlier in this blog I had the privilege to participate in the Creative Mindful Retreat hosted by Visualising Scotland, Rebecca on the Wing & and Mindful Routes.

This wonderful retreat included one day on your bike, which was a true pleasure. Back home I went on a 14 mile walk for the Siobhan Trust followed by a day tour down to Kelso which was blessed by wonderful weather and customers.

Tentsmuir forest part of Siobhan’s Walk
Siobhan’s Walk 14th May 2022
Birkhill Gardens
Ruins of Roxburgh Castle
Floors Castle viewerd from Roxburgh ruins
Schloss Roxburghe

Just before the season begins for real my usual mode of transport, the four wheeled Viano, required some TLC, so the aircon got serviced on Monday, it had a valet on Tuesday and has since been away to get the paintwork tidied up.

The garage who serviced the air conditioning kindly provided me with a courtesy car

It was very weird sitting so low to the ground and felt a little retro too. I went to investigate Linlithgow a little on what turned out to be a rather rainy day.

Linkithgow Palace
Canal centre

The car was finished in time for me to get back to Cupar to teach my yoga class.

The day the car got a valet while I took my bike to teach two yoga classes which let me cycle 15 miles. On Wednesday I loaded the bike into the Viano to dropped the car off at the paint shop in Dundee and cycled 13 miles back along the coastal path.

Dundee rail bridgeRiver Tay
Ice cream on the way

I had to have an ice cream break since the weather was so stunning. While the Viano was at the paint shop I got on my bike another two days and summed up 60 miles of cycling for the week.

It is my birthday today so I filled it with yoga and some pony riding. Normal Starfish Travel tour guiding duties will resume as of tomorrow

Birthday yoga
Pony adventures

Siobhan’s Trust Walk finally happened on 14th of May 2022

3rd time lucky and not only that we were presented with stunningly good weather to conduct the 14 mile walk from Tentsmuir Forest all the back to Siobhan’s residence, Birkhill Castle. There was also the choice to opt for a 4 mile version as well as a meander through Birkhill’s garden.

I had a leisurely start at 10 am and had the company of Lucazs and Fran. We took an extended lunch break with cheese, crackers and port and helped to clean up and take the tent down.

We only returned to Birkhill Castle at around 5pm and were welcomed with BBQ food and more port.

The walk had good attendance and hopefully will have raised plenty of future funds for all the good the Siobhan’s Trust does.

Tentsmuir Forest

Leisurely walking through Tentsmuir Forest
Having a wee moment of rest
Along the river Tay
Beautiful clouds and delightfully warm weather
A mindful moment
The old lighthouse
The more modern version
Beautiful walking along the coastal path
Bluebells in May

Mindful creative retreat, Forres, Moray

Kim Grant from Visualising Scotland, Rebecca Gibson from Rebecca on the Wing and Jen Price from Mindful Routes organised the perfect retreat at Victoria’s The Loft, which was a truly perfect location for our intentions.

Cosy little huts for creative thoughts and peace of mind
Comfortable and very inviting communal rooms to socialise
The kitchen contained everything anyone could wish for and the showers were amazing too
The huts were very cute, spacious, comfortable and very cosy

Kim is mostly involved in creative photography but is an equally talented writer. She lead several amazing walks along the coast line inviting all of us to explore our creativity in taking photos as well as encouraging us to turn our focus to the little things, notice the colours changing, finding an object which would bind our minds and engage in some creative writing. Additionally she is outstanding in providing technical knowledge and inspiring us to explore different technics.

Attempting a blurring technic on seals in the far distance
Sunset mood at Cave Bay
Focus on the detail
Drinking in the blue of the fading light

Kim is also extremely talented in being in the right place at the right time. On our first evening we were privileged to observe some dolphins, which really is a thrilling experience.

Playing dolphins right in front of our eyes
Dolphin with baby

Rebecca is a wildlife author by profession and an nature lover by passion. She possesses inner peace and calmness in conjunction with her exhuberance for anything living. Sharing time with her will sharpen your awareness, enhance your learning and most of all will enable you to notice things you may have overlooked all your life. Did you ever asked yourself how a fulmer flies or how a dipper sounds if he is upset (or in our case needs some food)?

Wee dipper being fed
Oyster Catcher with a mission

Jen is a personal development coach, a breathwork teacher and mountainbike coach. All of which she incorporated into our retreat and invited us to “risky play builds resilience” on a mountainbike experience. It was a fun day on the bike and everybody did it.

Risky play builds resistence
Creative writing
Gathering our thoughts
Biking with a view
Jen is flying

Our four day retreat was over way tooquickly, everything flowed, there no pressure to particpate and the various activities complimented each other, not to mention that everyone participating was a true pleasure to be with.

Thank you all!

With some luck there will be another retreat end of Septmeber 2022. I cannot wait

Outdoor yoga in the morning

Gaelic & Wildlife Walk in Cupar

with Alexandra Hoadley, Conservation Project Officer for Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, and Kirsty Strachan, Community Development Worker (Gaelic) at Fife Council

Today I had the opportunity to join the Gaelic and Wildlife Walk in Cupar, This was my second walk and I did enjoy it just as much as the first one. We had warm temperatures and bright sunshine (both thinks we obviously always have in Scotland). Both Alexandra and Kirsty are fabulous story tellers, immensely engaging and super knowledgable.

The name Cupar stems from pre-pititsh times and mean the coming together as Cupar is the place where the two rivers, the Eden and the Landy Burn, come together.

We had the opportunity to learn a bit on meandering rivers since we were walking alongside one, which in places was restricted from meandering.

Alexandra providing insides on many native trees, such as the Scot Pine and you will have to forgive me for not remembering the Latin name. I do, hoever, remember that it can produce 3000 cones a year and is regarded as a blessed tree, used as way marker and that people in fishing villages used its roots as candles.

Somehow the Capercaille came into the conversation and we learned that it means the wee horse of the forest and if you ever heard one of those birds they do make sounds like a wee Shetland pony cantering through the woods.

The Ash tree is regarded as the most blessed tree, the tree of life and can turn its entire crown toward the sun.

The cailleach bheag is the crested tit in English, however cailleach in Gaelic means old woman (or witch) and bheag is small and perhaps the song of the cailleach bheag/crested tit does sound a little like old women chattering?

I massively enjoyed our donder across Cupar Park and will hopefully join the next one too.

Tomorrow at 1.30 pm at Waid Academy in Anstruther there is a talk on place names

The importance of sleep

It is World”s Sleep Day on Friday!

Very few of us sleep enough because most people are leading rather hectic lives. What I certainly did not know is the impact this can have.

Years back I worked nightshifts for my partner’s taxi company and had tentatively started Starfish Travel offering tourists bespoke tours all over Scotland. That resulted in working several nightshifts, going on a day time tour and then returning to nightshifts.

It is common knowledge that nightshifts are not particularily healthy as they interfere with your bio rhythm and how you body reacts to sunlight.

If I was vaguely aware of this I ignored it and carried on switching between day and night shifts. I began to notice that I started to not sleep well during the few hours I did have for sleeping I lay awake worrying about oversleeping, not hearing the alarm clock going off.

This carried on for quite some time and I lost a lot of weight and worse still all interest in anything else in life. I was permanently way too tired to do anything. I also felt physically a lot weaker and it so coincided that my childhood asthma re-appeared as well.

You may think this is easily rectified ; just go and sleep. This is, however, not what happened in my case. I felt worse and even began to loose coginitve abilities. I would forget things and quite often struggled to even make the simpletest calculation. It effected me emotionally I mostly felt nothing. It affected how I interacted with people all the while just feeing too tired for life.

I went on a tour with customers over several days and began to feel quite normal after my first night’s good sleep in months. It happened again when I went for a MBA refresher course. Sadly, it did not seem to click in my head. I was strangely imprisoned in the world of little sleep.

I came across Matthew Walker’s book “Why we sleep” and it absolutely changed my life. While reading it I decided to try to sleep regular hours and preferrably at least seven of those for two weeks. Within days my memory, my mood, my health improved and I have not worked a nightshift since.

Instead I took up yoga to deal with my asthma and lack of general movement. I have meanhile qualified as a yoga teacher. I still ocassionally drive my taxi, but I have learned to look after myself in mind, body and soul and all of thanks to Matthew Wakers amazing reseach. Read his book or look him up on Youtube

The Johnny Walker Experience, Prince’s Street, Edinburgh

The new Johnny Walker Experience in Edinburgh is what you expect: very American, nice and shinny!

I went to explore it with a seasoned whisky lover and friend. We walked in and it did feel like entering “the Staates”, very posh ambiente with a glittery feel to it.

We were greated by a very friendly member of staff, who sadly failed at my first question. I asked if the had the Diageo special releases (which I first encountered at Dalwhinnie Distillery), he replied no and I did find them later in the shop and my friend even got to try them.

Our second question was if there was availability to have lunch in the 1820 Rooftop Bar. A phonecall was made, we were accompanied to the impressive elevators and re-assured that we would be welcomed by another member of staff when reaching the rooftop.

We got there to an empty space and made our own way to the bar where we spent a few minutes feeling out of place. Eventually one member of staff approached us and lead us to a table.

It is a stunning place this Rooftop Bar, very stylish, but that resulted in not the most comfortable seats. We ordered drinks. I had orange juice which was fine and my friend opted for red wine which he found dissapointing. Fresh bread was brought to our table, which was amazing and we did get exited to see what the food would be like.

When it arrived it was a real dissapointment it looked as if it had spent hours under a heatlamp. It really was not appetising at all. The actual tase was not too bad. I pressume the name gives it away it is a bar rather then restaurant.

We skipped desert on the grounds, but the cappuchinos were nice. We took a wee walk around the terrace which offers stunning views over Edinburgh.

On the ground floor my friend was invited to taste some whiskies (I was driving), which was a nice experience and we ended up buying some whiskies as well.

So, overall I would say it is probably what you expect I personally enjoyed roaming around Edinburgh’s many whisky shops more and regarding bringing my guests/customers to Johnny Walker? Not for food and I would rather opt for the two Scottish Malt Whiskies Society (SMWS) Experiences in Edinburgh, the one in Queen Street or the Vaults, in Leith.

In saying all this I still need to experience one of their tours.

John Henry Lorimer Exhibition & Kellie Castle

Reflections – the Light & Life of John Henry Lorimer’, City Art Centre, Edinburgh

I have mentioned Kellie Castle elsewhere on this website more than once. Pre-pandemic I did volunteer at Kellie Castle as a room or tour guide. John Henry Lorimer came to Kellie as a young man and the place captured him and influenced his art.

I could go on what positive influence Kellie Castle, my fellow volnuteers and NTS staff has had on me. Instead I would suggest to you to go to the John Henry Lorimer exhibition at the City Art Centre and experience John Henry’s, or JH as the Lorimer family called him, work in the context of place, identity, femininity, family & home.

If JH captivates your soul as much as he has hold of mine I strongly recommend your next step to be a visit at Kellie Castle. Even though JH’s paintings date back to pre 1936 once you enter Kellie you will see much of what has inspired this amazing artist.

The NTS provided volunteers with the privilege to be guided through the exhibition by Charlotte Lorimer, who co-curated this truly amazing reflection on light & life of JH Lorimer…..

Charlotte is also responsible for Upward and Onward, where you can find out more about the various talents the Lorimers produced

Kellie Castle

Durch das Hochland von Schottland in einem elektrischen Fahrzeug

Mit meiner Firma, “Starfish Travel” biete ich individuell abgestimmte Tagesreisen durch ganz Schottland an und benutze zu diesem Zweck ein lizensierten 8-Sitzer Mercedes Viano Minibus, der jedes Jahr ungefähr 70.000 Meilen zurück legt. Im Frühjahr hatte ich einen Tesla Model S Probe gefahren und war unglaublich begeistert. Das Model X, welches als 7-Sitzer angeboten wird, kostet £90.000 und würde meinen Bedürfnissen gerecht, allerdings würde ich einen Sitz verlieren.

Dieselfahrzeug Mercedes Viano versus Mercedes eVito

Mir war bekannt, dass Mercedes Benz einen “eVito Tourer 100k Wh L3 PRO” anbietet, also rief ich dort an und fragte nach, ob ich einen testen dürfte. Mercedes war grosszügig genug, mir einen eVito Tourer 100k Wh L3 PRO für sechs Tage zur Verfügung zu stellen.

Ich hatte einen dreitägigen Fotografie Kurs in der Nähe von Forres gebucht und beschloss, den eVito Tourer 100k Wh L3 PRO gründlich zu testen. Der Kurs begann an einem Montag und ich holte den eVito an einem Freitag bei Mercedes in Edinburgh ab. Ich erhielt Anweisungen, wie der Wagen aufzuladen sei und zu meiner Überraschung lässt sich der Wagen nicht Zuhause laden (einen Tesla kann man schlichtweg in die Steckdose stecken, wenngleich das sicher nicht die beste, schnellste Methode ist).

Der eVito war voll geladen, was hiess 230 Meilen Reichweite. Die Distanz von Mercedes zu meinem Haus ist laut Google Maps 46 Meilen. Der eVito hatte fast 100 Meilen verloren, als ich vor meinem Haus parkte.

Das bedeutete, dass ich ihn vor meiner Reise nach Forres noch irgendwo aufladen musste. Ich ging Arbeiten und nahm den eVito abends mit nach St. Andrews, um ihn in 45 Minuten aufzuladen. Ich probierte drei verschieden Stationen und konnte den eVito nicht dazu bringen, sich laden zu lassen.

Ich rief die Unterstützung von “ChargePlace” an und mit deren freundlicher Hilfe sah es so aus, als würde der eVito sich aufladen lassen. Ich ging also in die Stadt, ass etwas und kam 11/2 Stunden später zurück, nur um herauszufinden, dass der eVito keine einzelne Meile geladen hatte.
Ich hatte einen frühen Arbeitsbeginn am nächsten Morgen, also fuhr ich den eVito ungetaner Dinge nach Hause.

Ich brauchte bis Sonntag Abend, um Zeit zu finden, den eVito wieder nach St. Andrews zu fahren, um ihn -hoffentlich- ausreichend aufzuladen, so dass er mich nach Forres bringen würde. Als ich in St. Andrews ankam, war ich bereits 48 Meilen gefahren, nur um das Auto laden zu dürfen. An der Ladestation angelangt, weigerte sich der eVito den Schnell-Lader zu akzeptieren. In dem Moment fuhren zwei Leute in einem Tesla vor, schlossen ihr Gefährt an die Ladestation an und kamen zu mir, um mir zu helfen. Wir beschlossen, eine langsamere Ladenstation zu probieren und “Oh Wunder!” es funktionierte.

An der langsameren Station hätte das Laden die ganze Nachte gedauert, also probierte ich mit der Hilfe meiner neugewonnen Tesla-Freunde den Schnell-Lader erneut und, -warum auch immer-, diesmal war der Ladevorgang erfolgreich. Nebenbei sei angemerkt, dass die Gebrauchsanweisung kein Kapitel über das Laden vorweist, wenngleich man es im alphabetischen Anhang finden kann.
Der Tesla war zu dem Zeitpunkt bereits 80% geladen und seine Besitzer fuhren davon. Ich ging mal wieder spazieren und bestellte mir Fish & Chips. Als ich 11/2 Stunden später glücklicherweise mit meinem Freund wieder bei dem eVito anlangte, hatte der ganze 27%/115 Meilen geladen.
Bei dem Zeitpunkt fühlte ich mich an die in den 90ziger Jahren beliebten Cyberpets erinnert, die ebenfalls ständig Aufmerksamkeit brauchten und gefüttert werden mussten.
Ich liess das elektrische Autowunder an der Ladestation und bat meinen Freund, mich mit nach Hause zu nehmen. Dort packte ich meinen Diesel Viano, um mich und mein Gepäck am nächsten Morgen zu dem eVito zu bringen. 48 unnötige Meilen mit dem Elektroauto plus 16 Meilen mit dem altbewahrten Dieselfahrzeug, um 143 Meilen mit dem eVito zurücklegen zu dürfen…
An der Ladestation angelangt, stellte ich überglücklich fest, dass 98% Ladung vollbracht war und die Reichweite 265 Meilen betrug, die sich beim Umdrehen des “Zündschlüssels” auf 238 Meilen reduzierten. Als der eVito bekannt gab, dass er 100 Meilen aufgebraucht hatte, war die reale Distanz 66. Ich begann mir Gedanken zu machen, ob das 143 Meilen entferntes Forres erreichbar war.
Der eVito, wenn man denn endlich mal dazu kommt, fährt sich ähnlich wie ein normaler Vito, lediglich leiser und schneller, wobei der eVito ein seltsames Summen von sich gibt, das einen wage an das Geräusch eines Bohrers beim Zahnarzt erinnert (der Tesla tat das nicht).

Wie schnell Meilen verloren gehen
Selbst ein elektrisches Fahrzeug ist nicht so schnell…

Als ich in Forres ankam, hatte der eVito noch eine Reichweite von 60 Meilen. Ich hatte etwas Zeit und beschloss, den eVito an die nächste Ladestation zu hängen, während ich mein Morgen-Programm absolvierte, so zumindest mein Gedankengang. Die erste Ladestation war besetzt, die zweite funktionierte nicht und die dritte gab es nicht, oder vielleicht konnte ich sie nur nicht finden.

Leicht frustriert fuhr ich den eVito zu unserem Treffpunkt und fragte eine Teilnehmerin in der Mittagspause hinter mir herzufahren, so dass ich das Gefährt in die Ladestation stöpseln könnte. Es war dieselben Station, die morgens besetzt war. Nun war sie frei, allerdings hatte sie kein Kabel. Glücklicherweise hatte der nette Mercedes Mitarbeiter mir eines in den Kofferraum gelegt. Ich fragte mich allerdings, ob es möglich wäre das Kabel während des Ladens zu entfernen. Der eVito lud, ich zog am Kabel und hatte es in der Hand. Die Leute in Forres sind zum Glück redliche Leute und keiner klaute das Kabel.

Als ich 3 Stunden 50 Minuten später zu dem eVito zurück spazierte, hatte dieser enttäuschende 28% geladen. Das reichte, um für meinen Kurs umher zu fahren, aber bei weitem nicht, um zurück nach St Andrews zu gelangen und Edinburgh erwähnen wir besser erst gar nicht.

Ich beschloss am letzten Abend, den eVito an einem meiner Unterkunft nahegelegenen `Teestube zu lassen, die ebenfalls eine Ladestation hatte. Als ich dort ankam, stellte sich heraus, dass diese ausser Betrieb war. Ich fuhr also zurück nach Forres, stöpselte mein Gefährt dort ein und wanderte 2.2. Meilen im Dunkeln entlang der Hauptstrasse zu meiner Unterkunft.

Ladestation an der Teestube war leider defekt

Am darauffolgenden Morgen stand ich entsprechend früher auf, um die 2.2. Meilen -diesmal durch einen Wald- zurück zum eVito zu spazieren, dann zurück zur Unterkunft zu fahren, um mein Gepäck zu laden.

Auf dem Rückweg ins schöne Fife beschloss ich durch die Cairngorms zu fahren, da ich noch Tageslicht hatte und mir relativ sicher war, dass ich nicht irgendwo ohne Strom stehen bleiben würde.

eVito in den Cairngorms

Bei 20% Gefälle fühlte man sehr deutlich, wie schwer der Wagen war. Obwohl er mit sehr guten Bremsen ausgestattet ist, hatte ich doch ein mulmiges Gefühl im Bauch.

Ich erreichte St. Andrews, schloss das Gefährt erneut an die Ladestation, da es die Distanz bis Edinburgh anders nicht bewältigt hätte, lud mein Gepäck in meinen Diesel-Viano, um die 16 Meilen zu meinem Zuhause zurück zu legen, um dann am nächsten Morgen mit dem Viano zum nächsten Bahnhof zu fahren, eine Taxi zum eVito zu nehmen, den eVito nach Edinburgh zu fahren und mit dem Zug zu meinem Viano zu gelangen.

Umständlich, unpraktisch und für mein Geschäft schlichtweg unmöglich ist meine Bewertung für den eVito. Wenn ich mit Kunden unterwegs bin, werden natürlich Pausen eingelegt, um menschliche Bedürfnisse zu erledigen, ein schönes Foto zu machen etc. p.p. und es wäre durchaus möglich 45 Minuten dafür einzuplanen, wenn das Aufladen des Fahrzeugs denn tatsächlich nur 45 Minuten dauern würde. Da der eVito an einem Schnell-Lader aber nach fast vier Stunden nur ungefähr 120 Meilen Reichweite hat, ist eine geschäftlich Nutzung des Fahrzeugs ausgeschlossen. Ich habe in den letzten Monaten die meisten Tage täglich um die 400 Meilen in meinem Viano zurückgelegt. Zum Vergleich: mein Viano hätte die gesamte Tour mit einer Tankfüllung erledigt.

Für die private Nutzung eines eVitos würde ich wohl mein Fahrrad permanent mitnehmen und ein Ladegerät fuer Zuhause installieren. Soweit mir bekannt ist, bietet Mercedes diese derzeit gratis an, wenn man denn einen eVito erwirbt.

Ich habe Freunde, die Anfang des Jahres einen Tesla Model S gekauft hatten und befragte sie, wie sie das Aufladen des Tesla bewerkstelligten. Bei Tesla wird der Ladevorgang beim Routenplanner integriert. Der Wagen schlägt Ladestellen vor, die funktionieren und nicht besetzt sind, 80% Ladung ist empfohlen und findet in maximal 20 Minuten statt. Wird der Tesla nachts zuhause geladen, kostet es 1 Pence per Meile.

Ich gebe ungefähr 25% meines Umsatzes an Diesel aus, Wartung, Reparaturen und Steuern sind erheblich höher bei meinem Dieselfahrzeug und ich würde liebend gerne auf ein elektrisches Fahrzeug wechseln, allerdings wird das dann kein Mercedes, sondern ein Tesla sein,
Der gute, alte Viano muss wohl noch ein paar Jahre treue Dienste leisten, bis ich genug gespart habe, um einen Tesla zu erwerben. YouTube Fahrbericht (auf Englisch).

Zu den Kosten das Ladens des eVitos kann ich leider einen Monat nach dem Ausleihen keine Angaben machen, da das Laden über dei App nur einmal für 11 Minuten glückte. Dafür wurden £1.94 berechnet. Ich gebrauchte lediglich meine Bankkarte für restlichen Ladevorgänge. Seither hatte ich noch keine Abbuchungen von meinem Konto…

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