Some local creativity…


This weekend we are participating in Cowal Open Studios (along with Pauline Beautyman and her lovely pottery.) Come along and have a look if you are local…

COS is a collection of artists/crafty people on the Cowal peninsular who have ‘open house’ this weekend, allowing people to come visit, talk about techniques, methods and even have a go (in the pottery in our case.)  Here is our dining room at the moment;


It is also a chance to sell some things. I could have sold this several times over it seems- messing about with some little ceramic fish and some battered old driftwood. Still, if you want one, I can always make more!driftwood clockIn terms of local arty stuff, I should also mention that next Thursday at 7.00 I am doing a poetry reading at our local bookshop, Bookpoint. Be lovely to see you there! I should post a poem in celebration really…

I do not really do celebratory poems but here is an old one anyway;


Life still flickers


I have heard it said that

Dead men walking

We are



Like veal

Blown by flies


But life still flickers

Faint but strong

Vibrating these hollow veins

And the voltage you make

Is a current

Wired to the nape

Of my neck


Because this thing we are

Is more than just

A bottle

For blood

So much more than just


Mixed from mud


Beautiful creature

Sing, spirit-



Life glimpsed through winter trees…


A few shots from a lovely walk up through the woods to the ‘Chinese ponds’ round past Toward.

We took a picnic.

The trees always still you. They have this way of telling you that life is not for the burning, but rather is what happens as we pass by. Each bare branch wears its lichen colonies well, as birds flit through on some afternoon mission or other, unnoticed.



Meanwhile out beyond the branches, through forks and crooked boughs, the real world looks so angular, so predictable. I would stay in the woods. At least for a while.




driftwood ships 1



Fridays these days usually mean working in my shed. We need to build up some more stock after a particularly successful Cowal Open Studios event.

I am probably going to go back to working for the council full time over the winter months, so these Friday creating days may be numbered.

My latest obsession has been making ships out of driftwood- mostly Clyde Puffers. There is now quite a fleet of them on our dining room table…

driftwood ships 2


Cowal open studios…


Over the next few days we will be hosting an ‘open studios’ event as part of ‘Cowal Open Studios’. (This is our page.)

This involves showing people the spaces in which we create things- the pottery, my shed- and also displaying and selling stuff we have made.

Currently our dining room is full of all sorts of lovely things.


It made me think again about how we create spaces for particular uses. Our old house has changed hugely over the last ten years, not just in the sense that we have spent a lot of time money and energy in restoring and mending, but also because we have given space purpose. The main purposes have been either to provide hospitality, or to create. The Open Studios event combines both, and so it is a great thing to be part of.

If you are in the area, please come along. You can have a play with some clay and share a cup of tea.

I will be round the back in a cloud of dust, shaping wood and listening to music. Probably best avoided, but I am happy to show you my space…

Workshop bench

The art of whacking stones…

Yesterday was Sabbath.

For us that means that our little family are close together, resting (although Emily fitted in some sailing- she is in one of the boats in the shot above.)

It has been a rather difficult time of late- deaths, illnesses, conflict in our wider families. There is also so much to do, and I have this constant feeling of time passing- of an opportunity to do something that I can not miss.

But when all is said and done (or even when it is still to be said and prevarication holds sway) there is always the art of stone whacking.

This involves three things- a beach, a stick, and some stones.

It is an activity that can be done alone (but best find a very secluded spot or people will stare) but is best done in small groups.

Stand sideways on to the sea, toss stone in the air and whack it as far as you can out into the waves.

You will miss many, but some will fly.

Events and stuff up and coming at Sgath an Tighe…

Forgive the commercial, but I thought it might be worth mentioning some of the things that we have been developing around our lovely old house…

Sgath an Tighe is a lovely Victorian house with stunning views out over the Clyde estuary. It is used as a base for a number of different activities, including a working pottery, a place of spiritual retreat (including wilderness retreats) and craft workshops. We can also arrange guided mountain bike tours, individually led outdoor activities and life-coaching (via our friend Nick,) or maybe you would just like to rest and enjoy the tranquillity of the house, and this beautiful area.

There are shops and restaurants locally, and the town of Dunoon is within easy reach. Take a steamer cruise and explore the unspoilt hills and lochs of the Cowal Peninsula. Outdoor activities are on offer in the area with sailing, kayaking, sea fishing, quad bikes, clay shooting and more. Located at the edge of Loch Lomond National Park, the area is ideal for walkers and cyclists and boasts magnificent scenery.

Attached to the house is a delightful cottage. On the ground floor it has a living room, kitchen and a bathroom with shower. Upstairs there are two bedrooms: one light and spacious double, and one twin room with sea views. There is an open fire in the living room, (initial fuel included, further logs available), gas central heating (£25pw Oct-Apr), electricity and bed linen included, freeview TV, DVD player, CD player, and the kitchen is equipped with a cooker, microwave, washing machine and freezer. Wi-fi The cottage leads onto a shared, enclosed lawned garden with a sitting-out area and furniture, vegetable gardens and free-range chickens. Parking is available, and a cycle store. Guests are greeted with a welcome tray. No smoking.

Prices range from £263 to £558.



There it is!

Over the next few months, the plan is also to develop part of the house for bed and breakfast, which will then allow us to have more space available for planned retreats, which is what we are both passionate about.

So if you are looking for a holiday up amongst the mountains and lochs, then get in touch!


Storm damage…

We were hit with a massive storm in the early hours of the morning – strange as there was no real prediction of the severity of this one. But we woke early to the howl of it. The window was slightly open in the bathroom and this was enough to blow the plants from the shelf. It also blew our front door open, as I had not put the bolt across.

We had quite a bit of damage outside-

William’s shed was physically moved by the force of it, and the roofing felt is in Kansas.

My workshop had roofing ripped away too.

One of our trees now lies in the neighbours garden.

We have lost a TV aerial and the satellite dish.

And, most strangely a surf board/body board appeared in our garden.

No sign of the surfer yet.

Autumn/Winter breaks at Sgath an Tighe…

Thought it might be worth mentioning our holiday let again- If you are considering a wee break then you might like to think about a trip to Dunoon…

The Annexe has a double bedroom and twin bunks, an open fire and a DVD player for lots of late night films with a hot toddy. At £250 a week (or £45 a night) you are unlikely to find anything of better value.

It has been really lovely to have Graham and Victoria (along with Matthew and Ben) over the last week. Graham is a minister in North Yorkshire, and blogs here. After exchanging the occasional comment we met up for a pint when we were on holiday a couple of years ago- only to discover that Victoria and I used to work together in Bolton. It’s a small world.

If you want to know more (about the Annexe, rather than Graham and Victoria) then feel free to get in touch…