Playing The Blues Scottish Style

It’s been a sad few months up here in the Highlands, after a time of hope that promised a new way of life to break away from the English politicians when we got our chance to vote for freedom, yet didn’t take it.

It’s a strange place to be, after we so resoundingly voted for Scotland in the general election – you couldn’t have got two more conflicting messages.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against the English, unlike a good number of my neighbours up here, I just would have like to seen us get the chance to rule our own country, and put to bed once and for all those gripes about how we’re an afterthought and get the dregs of the money and benefits.

It’s a time when English voices want to break away from Europe, a place they dragged us against our will to begin with, and at the same time tell us unity is important. I can see the vast cost of Europe, but I also see the benefits from afar, always easier to see what other people have when you don’t have those things yourself.

In the coming days, I’ll set out my personal manifesto to life in more detail, along with my self sufficient blueprint for a self sufficient life.

When The River Runs Dry…

Just a quick post today to note that I’ve been talking a little about the best exercise machine I’ve ever heard of, as it’s time to announce I’ve met my three way new years resolution for 2016. With three and a bit weeks to go, I’ve hit my target of losing three stones. It’s not been easy, granted, but incredibly I’ve made it.

If I’m honest I didn’t really expect to manage this back in January, but here I am, feeling half the size I was at the start of the year. If you know me personally, you’ll know that my wee grandson is the one I credit this all to, and I hope one day he realises he might just have saved Grandaddy’s life, or added a good few years to it, years that I look forward to watching him grow up.

If you fancy reading about how I did it, the details are here.

Cutting Out Our Evolution

As you probably know, by day I’m a carpenter, and by night (well, evening at least) I’m an aspiring author.

toolsincircleToday, I want to write a little about the day job, which is my way of bridging the gap between my real job and what I hope will one day pay enough to allow me to leave cutting, slicing and shaping wood behind. I work with a great team of joiners, who are all artists in themselves with incredible ability to solve the most complex problems with their woodwork. I, however, see the trade as a means to an end, whereas they’re always learning more to further their trade.

For me, the obvious way to indulge both sides is to start writing about carpentry, the skills I learned, the pieces I made and the tools I use. I’m going to start with the last of those, as it’s something I frequently help people with, especially those who are embarking on their first projects working with wood. Carpentry is certainly a passion, and although there are days when enthusiasm fades, just like any other job, there’s nothing quite like looking at a finished article and feeling the pride of knowing I made it.

People are surprisingly lacking knowledge about the various tools of the trade that I use, and that’s something I hadn’t given a lot of thought to until recently, as they’re mainly things that you would find in an amateur workshop, often the family garage of the handyman. I was recently talking to a friend of mine, Stuart who runs his website ( reviewing mitre saws for a living. He’s only started it recently, after a number of years working in a well known chain of home improvement stores. He saw an opening in the market for providing extensive information about what chop saws are, what they do and how each of the ones on sale differ. Like me, he likes the all rounders, known as multi-purpose mitre saws because they are able to cut wood as you would expect, but also other materials including metal and plastics. This is achieved with purpose made blades. This means that beginners don’t need to understand the differences between blades, and people like me don’t have to waste time changing them when switching between materials to cut. Stuart’s favourite model comes from Evolution (read his reviews at, which he recommends to his readers as it’s a very versatile power tool for the price tag (you can see that via his site).

Of course, that’s just one tool I have in the arsenal – whether I’m working on large areas with lathes or delicately sanding down surfaces manually, there’s a lot to talk about. The point is that many people can get started either with the tools they already have, or if they’re very new to working with wood, with a very small outlay. Stay tuned, as we’ll no doubt talk in more depth about the tools of the trade in a future update!