Thursday, 8 December 2016


A couple of blogs ago I wrote about a visit to Craigmillar Castle and it's role in Scottish History, most notably Mary Queen of Scots. On that occasion I was just wandering around filming the outer walls to add in to a short film for my young students.

Last Sunday I revisited the castle, only this time I paid the entry fee and wandered within its walls. I had read that fairly recently extensive preservation and restoration work had been carried out. It was partly this that prompted the visit, but also I was on the hunt for a location for filming Macbeth.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sun shone brightly, casting long shadows across it's grounds and beyond, as I entered through it's portcullis-style, heavy iron gate. The castle itself sits in the centre of a 4m high perimeter wall that was built a few centuries after the castle. The castle itself has a myriad of rooms and staircases going off every which way, primarily because it was added to over the centuries.

Right in the centre of the castle is The Laird's Hall, and on entering through a replica oak, metal-studded door, you are transported back to the 15th century, and can almost hear the banquet being thrown. There is no furniture of any kind throughout, but it's not needed, as the castle itself evokes the right atmosphere.

Once home I started the process of applying for permission by email to use the castle to film Macbeth. As I did so, I was pleasantly surprised by an email that popped into my Inbox from Adventure Cycling in America. Back in July they had invited me to talk at their 40th anniversary celebrations in Missoula, Montana.

Unfortunately I couldn't make it across, so instead I sent them a short video about the cycle I had completed the year before, including all the gory details of the crash and its aftermath. Now they have gathered together films of all the talks given, including my film, and posted them together online. After just two days I have almost 200 views for my film alone. Click HERE if you'd like to see all the talks. (scroll to the bottom of the page to see mine):

To round of this weeks blog, a little rant.

A few weeks ago I purchased a new bike light set, a Lezyne 350, the number indicating the number of lumens brightness. All seemed good, and I liked the bungy-type connection that allowed it to be placed anywhere on the bike. Several settings added to the appeal.

However, one night I was cycling home from the centre of Edinburgh, which part of the route follows the Innocent Railway path, which has no illumination at all. I switched the light to it's strongest beam, and then just left it on that setting until home, about 20 minutes further on. By the time I reached the house the light had all but died.

Why such a short life of power, you might ask? Well, in my opinion it is the advent of manufacturers now making all their bike lights rechargeable by USB. This is a complete nonsense, especially if like me you might want to enjoy a night ride, or if you're cycling through country roads in the dark. You need a bright light that is going to go the distance and not run out of power. Unless you put a USB-chargeable light on a low setting, or blink, then it's not going to last. I've yet to come across a USB charging socket in the middle of the Scottish Highlands! So I went to a local bicycle store to buy a battery powered front light that I need for a night ride this weekend, only to find they no longer stock them!!

Clearly these people don't use bicycles, or at least not at night. Eventually I did find a battery powered light.

On Amazon.

Made in China!

Here ends the rant. Maybe.

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