1 2 3 4 5 6
A lifestyle magazine for the Gryffe area
Local actor Andy McAlindon
talks to us about Outlander
and his Highlander
Our Top 5
Fashion • Food • Family • Features • Travel • Reviews
A Bit About Us...
6 Taking the Kids Doon th’ Watter
8 Gryffe Casting Studio
Rona Simpson and Anna McGeachie here - the newbies at
The Gryffe Advertizer and INSIGHT HQ.
It’s always difficult starting a new job, often more so if there
has been a break from employment, which was the case for
both Rona and I, having both taken some time off to care for
our young children. What a breath of fresh air it is to work
here. Supportive, flexible, bosses who value your opinions;
friendly, generous and very patient colleagues (thank you
Fiona and Neal - their help has been invaluable in creating
this magazine and are truly amazing at their craft.) It’s been
a lot of hard work but we’ve also had a proper laugh in the
making of INSIGHT. Many companies could learn a thing or
two from the work ethic fostered at The Advertizer – a happy
workforce equals excellent productivity, creativity, flexibility
So what can you expect from INSIGHT? Features on food,
fashion, health, homes and technology; interviews with local
business owners and celebs; reviews, and a larger space to
allow businesses to showcase their products and services.
We want to give our readers the opportunity to see the human
face behind the company name. All of this bound within the
pages of beautifully designed, glossy magazine.
So, here it is... the first issue of INSIGHT. We do hope you
enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed making it. We
would welcome any thoughts and ideas you have or if you’re
interested in advertising with us, please get in touch by calling
01505 613340 or email: email@example.com
R & A x
Health & Beauty
10 A Walk on the Wild Side
12 How to Simply Keep Fit by Suzanne Kerr
14 Summer Feet
Food & Drink
16 Shimla Cottage
20 Fox & Hounds Review
22 The Interview: Andy McAlindon
18 Lisa Palompo Dixon on Going it Alone
Home & Technology
24 We Love It: Upcycling
25 Gadget Guide #1
26 The New Audi TT
Sister Magazine to the Gryffe Advertizer
Special thanks this issue to guest writers Suzanne Kerr, Lawrence
East and Lisa Palompo Dixon. Thanks also to Andy Stark of Stark
Images for creating some brilliant photographs. Cover image by
Find Her in The Highlands.
1st Floor, Neva Place, Bridge of Weir PA11 3PN
t: 01505 613340 m: 07521 651936
e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.advertizer.co.uk/insight
Open Tuesday to Thursday 9am-4pm
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited.
Insight Magazine cannot be held responsible for unsolicited materials. The views and opinions by
contributors in this magazine may not represent the views of the publishers. Insight Magazine takes
no responsibility for claims made by advertisements in this publication.
Our winter issue will be out late November.
Deadline 9th November.
Taking the Kids
Doon th’ Watter!
Main Image - Lunderston Bay by User:Dave souza - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5
Circle Image - Crocadile Rock by DeFacto - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
The staycation has its roots in America, but Scots have
been talking about going ‘doon th’ watter’ for generations. Day
tripping on the Clyde became a popular summer pastime with
the advent of the paddle steamer in the early 20th century. In
today’s economic climate more families are again enjoying
day-trips closer to home. Here are our top five trips to take the
family ‘doon th’ watter’ this summer.
With its sandstone tenements, Gourock used to be known as
Glasgow-by-the-Sea. Although sometimes overlooked as a
place simply to catch the ferry to Dunoon, Gourock’s variety of
fantastic cafes and restaurants such as Cafe Continental and
One Cove Road, as well as a great selection of independent
shops, make it somewhere well worth a visit. Nearby is the
lovely, although sometimes crowded, Lunderston Bay - the
perfect location for some quality rockpooling. Gourock is also
home Scotland’s oldest open-air, heated pool - with spectacular
views over the clyde estury.
There is plenty to do to while away an afternoon in Dunoon, and
just getting the boat is exciting for most kids. A little-known gem
is Puck’s Glen – a steepish walk by the side of a fast flowing
series of waterfalls. You pass through gorges and over bridges.
It’s a glistening, moss-covered fairy-landscape best seen in the
morning when mist rises and the dew sparkles. Not advised
for very tiny children (although would be okay in a backpack),
as some ledges are a little dangerous. There is crazy golf, an
old-fashioned amusement arcade and ice cream to be had in
the town too.
3. Cardross area and Loch Lomond side
Just across the water from Port Glasgow is the lovely Ardardan
Estate. It’s a working farm, so there’s lots to see, plus tractor
rides will keep the kids entertained. They also have a fab cafe
and farm shop, as well as garden centre and beautiful walled
garden. They often have activities organised for kids during the
holidays too. Nearby is Loch Lomond Shores – home to the
Birds of Prey and Sea Life Centres if the weather turns. Further
up the loch is the picturesque village of Luss, which has a great
campsite if you fancy going wild for a day or two!
There’s been a bit of a revival recently in this old-fashioned
seaside town with new restaurants opening up around the
Marina. But if you prefer to keep it ‘old-skool’ then you can’t
go wrong catching a few rides at the fairground, followed by
a fish supper from one of the fantastic chippies, finishing with
ice-cream from the famous Nardini’s. Also nearby is Kelburn
Country Estate and Castle. It has amazing grounds and
fantastic activities for kids throughout the holidays.
This wee island punches above its weight with activites to enjoy.
Despite being only one and a half hours from Glasgow, it boasts
its own micro-climate – it can be raining on the mainland but
clear on Cumbrae. There are even palm trees, and porpoises
can often be seen from the boat ride over. Cycling around the
island is a popular pastime - there are plenty of bike-hire shops.
Take a picnic and stop at any of the lovely beaches on the
way around, climb on the famous Crocodile Rock, play on the
playgrounds or fairground rides, catch yourself a crab, or just
enjoy some ice cream in the sun!
Exciting times lie ahead for Gryffe Manor Nursery, formally known as
Woodlands Day Nursery. We offer a unique learning environment for
children from birth-5yrs. The Nursery is based in the lovely village
of Houston, set in acres of woodland on the Houston House Estate.
We offer a learning experience unlike any other - both indoors and
Gryffe Manor Nursery offers a nature-inspired educational experience
for your child. Here, creativity and imagination are encouraged
alongside more formal academics so meaningful learning can take
place. Indeed, nature is a magical place for discovery! Incidental
learning and hands-on experiences in our outdoor natural setting
(woodland camp) are the focus of our programmes.
Our dedicated staff concentrate on developing children’s milestones,
building relationships and learning, whilst also having fun!
Fully registered with the Scottish Care Inspectorate, Gryffe Manor also
offers an out-of-school-care option too based in the Carrick Centre,
Main Street Houston. Here we provide both term-time and holiday
clubs throughout the year.
We have spaces available. Please call us to organise
a visit or to enquire about a place on 01505 613134
or email email@example.com
OPEN DAY 25TH August 2018
Cast Your Eye Over This...
Anna catches up with Emma at
The Gryffe Casting Studio: it’s
I meet up with Emma, owner and
creator at The Gryffe Casting Studio
in Bridge of Weir. In her garden
studio Emma is working on a torso
piece. She explains to me how
these individual pieces of art are put
together, and it is immediately clear
that this is not just business for Emma,
but most definitely a passion.
We sit down with a cuppa and, as I look
around the kitchen, there are hands, feet
and bodies everywhere.
I mean everywhere. Open a kitchen
cupboard and it’s not the tin cupboard as
you might expect, instead its fingers and
toes you see. Actually it’s lovely and not
weird at all, which, if I’m being entirely honest,
I thought it would be. And remarkably Emma
knows whose hands and feet are whose, and
the ages of the tiny (and older) people to whom
they belong. And so we get to talking about
Emma, The Gryffe Casting Studio, and how she
now finds herself creating bespoke sculptures
and interior design pieces as reminders of precious
moments that have been captured beautifully in time.
“I first became aware of the art of creating 3D snapshots
of our form following my Mums’ breast cancer diagnosis
10 years ago; thank goodness Mum is still with us. Mum’s
course of treatment was a mastectomy. We talked about
how she would like to have a personal memento of her body
the way it was before the intrusion of the illness, and tried
to create something using plaster bandages from ideas on
YouTube; crude but fitting at the time. There was a lot of
laughter and, after many attempts, we did it.”
This endeavour to capture a moment in time and the powerful
emotions it evoked stayed with Emma, and it is here she
began her journey in life and body casting. She has trained
extensively with a world-renowned Life Casting studio and
consequently Gryffe Casting is now one of the very few
studios in the UK that offers ‘body casting’ - which means as
well as hands and feet, Emma also casts body
areas such as torsos, arms and legs.
It’s the metamorphosis of the human form Emma
finds so intriguing. Lately she has been creating
pieces for the fitness industry, sculptures which
demonstrate the changes that happen to a body
with pure exercise and sheer hard work. These
can be seen in selected gyms.
The beauty of this sculptural technique, I
guess, is that almost anything can be cast
- whatever floats your boat really. One of
Emma’s specialities is using casting to express
special bonds, relationships, family ties...
something literally to hold on to and cherish
for generations - couples holding hands, a
family holding on to each other forever, a
mummy holding on protectively to her baby’s
tiny hand, an older couple, their lives together
etched in every detail of their beautifully aged
skin, every line telling its own story, holding
hands exactly the way they have done for
years and years.
The Gryffe Casting Studio is able to capture
part of something which would otherwise be lost
forever, whether that be through a life beginning,
growing and changing, or a life coming to an end.
Emma tells me that she has been commissioned to
create memorial pieces with terminal cancer patients, pieces
which have given immense comfort to the ones left behind; it’s
really very emotional to hear this. What an incredibly intimate
and comforting thing to be able to bestow on those suffering
On the other side of this, at the core of Gryffe Casting Studio,
is capturing tiny little hands and feet – ‘they are only little for a
little while’, is Emma’s motto. And it’s so true - we forget all too
soon how quickly our children grow, and how fragile life is. It’s
such a precious thing that Gryffe Casting Studio does; timeless,
thoughtful, utterly personal, and with so much meaning. Emma
should be super proud.
To see more examples of Emma’s work go to:
Health & Beauty
A Walk on the Wild Side : 1
By Rona Simpson
This issue I am taking you to Glen
Moss Nature Reserve; a lovely little
walk right on our doorstep. The loop at
Glen Moss is quite small, but with areas
of woodland, marshland and wetland it
is a haven for wildlife and plant species
and there’s plenty to see for the careful
History: In the early 20th century the
area was used as a curling pond. At
the south west corner the club had
introduced a sluice which was used
to flood the site in autumn for winter
curling and skating activities. Despite
being drained each spring, the annual
flooding resulted in a wetter habitat,
and many new marshland plants and
animals colonised the area. In 1973
the site was designated as a SSSI
(Site of Special Scientific Interest)
and in 1991 the Scottish Wildlife Trust
negotiated with the landowners to
allow the southern area of the site
to be treated as a Nature Reserve
encouraging public access.
How to get there: From Kilmacolm
centre, cross Bridge of Weir Road into
Moss Road, right into Gillburn Road
and right again into Gowkhouse Road.
Walk up the hill on Gowkhouse Lane
to meet Glenmoston Road at the top
where you will find the Reserve.
Distance and time: It takes about 20
or 30 minutes to walk around, longer if
you want to stop and take time to look
for species of plant and animals. It is a
great walk to do with smaller children;
my 5 and 3 year old managed it in
about 40 minutes (we carried the small
one some of the way).
Map taken from Scottish Wildlife Trust leaflet. For more information go to https://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/reserve/glen-moss
Dragonfly images By Charles J Sharp - Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/
What you may see: In summer look
out for rare wetland plants including the
northern loosestrife and mud sedge,
which like the marshy areas. The
unassuming coralroot orchid can be
found growing through the layers of moss
under willow scrub.
In these warmer months, the reserve is
alive with dragonflies and damselflies.
You may be able to spot the Black Darter
- a small, quick dragonfly with black legs.
Female’s abdomens are yellow; male’s
are black and narrow in the middle.
The Four Spotted Chaser is larger with
a dark bottom and is so named for the
marks on the outside edge of each wing.
The most spectacular type of dragonfly
to look out for is the common hawker,
which is around 10cm long from wingtip
Come mid-summer, thousands of frogs
are on the move - my kids absolutely
loved finding these tiny hopping
creatures. In autumn and winter look out
for the many species of waterfoul around
the ponds. Teal ducks can be heard as
they fly around the edge of the water.
Keep an eye open for tufted ducks and
golden eyes too.
Spring is a good time to look and listen
out for the many varieties of birds,
including the colourful yellow hammer,
the pretty-sounding willow warbler and
throaty reed bunting. Whatever time of
year you come to Glen Moss, you’ll not
HOW TO SIMPLY... KEEP FIT!
(When you haven’t for bloomin’ ages!)
Are you feeling guilty about the lack of exercise you can fit
in to your busy life; the extra food consumed on holiday and
refreshments by the pool? If this sounds familiar read on!
Just over two years ago I made the decision to give up my
career in gym design and set up business for myself. As a
working mum of two I felt that the work-life balance was a
constant juggling act, and I struggled to make time for myself
and maintain my fitness which has always been important to
me. I spoke to friends and other mums at our local school and
I realised that so many of us put our families first, work second,
the list goes on and on before, as a working parent, we make
time for ourselves. My business goal is to make keeping fit as
simple as possible, so I share simple recipes, home workouts
and offer drop-in classes with no ties.
Where to exercise and what type to try can be confusing and
frustrating as there is so much choice. One thing we know for
sure is that unless we find something we actually like, and can
fit into our busy lives, it will be impossible to keep up.
My top tips to start or return to a more active lifestyle:
Set yourself a realistic goal, don’t say you will workout
five times a week when you know that even three will be
a challenge. A brisk half hour walk is great place to start.
I recommend a minimum of three workouts a week and if
you manage four that is your gold star.
Surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate
you. Exercising with a partner or group of friends can
really help, especially the days when you just can’t face
it - we all feel like this sometimes!
There are also so many apps and fitness trackers on the
market and I highly recommend using one of these to
keep you accountable.
So to get you started here is the simplest homework
out. Give it a go and you will see that exercise will make
you feel and look great! Do each exercise below for
repetitions of 21-18-15-12-9-6-3
Squats Press-ups Sit-ups Done!
It’s the first day of the rest of your new, healthier life!
At SK Fitness in Bridge of Weir we offer one-to-one
fitness sessions, small group training, and group fitness
specifically tailored for women by women.
Group Exercise Class
Group-based classes are a fantastic way to get in shape.
They help you to stay motivated to work harder while
providing a fun, sociable experience while you keep fit.
These fitness sessions can be delivered at our studio or
in your own home. Whether you are new to fitness or
looking to tone up and embark on a healthy lifestyle, we
can help you create a positive change.
Small group training is growing in popularity
in the UK, and we recognise that more
and more people want to train together at
maintaining and improving
their fitness while working
as a pair.
Sign up to our
and you will
receive a 30
followed by a
where we will help
you every step of
to reach your
By Suzanne Kerr from SK Fitness
skfitness.co 07525 536070 @simplykeepfit
breaks out the
We Love It:
Hello Summer Feet...
In readying myself for summer, I have
purchased myself a new pair of ‘Birkies’.
During the process, it dawned on me
that this means I will have to face the
reality of getting my feet out....eek! I
am sure this is something many across
the land will sympathise with. Feet the
length and breadth of Scotland have
been ensconced for months and months
in layers of socks and boots. And the
truth is unkempt feet and toes are really
not a pretty sight! So, what steps can we
take to prep our scaly tootsies for public
viewing over the coming months?
I decided to take action and consulted
with my friend and neighbour Charelle
Gallacher, an excellent beautician and
owner of Beauty by Charelle. I gingerly
broached the subject... would she mind
doing something with my plates of meat?
Short of performing some sort of miracle,
I was unsure as to what exactly Charelle
would actually be able to do, and felt
a little nervous about a non-stranger
studying my less-than-perfect dewbeaters
I was assured that I should not worry, that
part of a beautician’s role is to deal with
such things, and complete discretion was
assured. I was advised, upon inspection
that, in fact, the situation was not as
terrible as I had first anticipated; the
damage was reversible, with a little tlc.
And so she set to work!
My feet were left feeling remarkably
smooth after winter skin had been filed
away, and some fabulously luxuriant
cream applied. Then it was the turn of
the toenails, which were filed and shaped
to perfection, before having a coat of a
wonderful summery gel colour.
A well applied varnish to the toenails
makes such a difference and should be
long-lasting. And I do love a matching
finger and toenail.
I can honestly say that after an hour or
so with beautician attention, your feet
will be left feeling like new, smelling
wonderful and ready for summer action!
If you’re not lucky enough to have a
wonderful beautician neighbour or friend,
there are many other options. Laura’s
Nail and Beauty Lounge in Bridge of
Weir offer a wonderful treatment for
this very issue - ‘The Podicure’. It
is comprised of half an hour with a
professional podiatrist, followed by a
pedicure with gel polish. Alternatively,
make an appointment with a chiropodist,
where your feet will be beautifully
smoothed, and any problem areas will
be seen to as well. There’s also Sole
Solution in Kilmacolm, a podiatry clinic
and footwear specialist.
So don’t hide your feet away, don’t be
afraid – the solution is easy and actually
Tips From The Professionals
• Soak your tootsies. Use Epsom
Salts or tea tree oil to cleanse.
• Exfoliate. Profusely.
• Moisturise – use a thick emollient
cream or Vaseline and slap it on
your feet on a daily basis.
• If you can bear it, wear socks to
bed after said moisturisation – this
will ‘lock in’ the moisture. Do this
a couple of times a week if you
• Tidy up your cuticles.
• Polish up – apply a bright fresh
colour for summer.
• Don’t forget a base coat under
the polish, unless you want
your toenails forever stained a
delightful nicotine yellow shade.
Food & Drink
By Anna McGeachie
Shimla Cottage has been the Indian on the corner for as long
as I have lived in the village. In fact Shafiq’s Shimla Cottage
has been spicing up Bridge of Weir residents’ lives since 1973.
A family run business, it was Farzand Ali, Shafiq’s dad, who
started it all 45 years ago. The Simla Restaurant, as it was
known in those days, is among the oldest Punjabi restaurants in
the West of Scotland and, at that time, was the only restaurant
serving Indian food outside of Glasgow – Farzand was a
trendsetter. Shimla is now a familiar part of village life, and we
would surely be lost without it.
Now in its third generation, Tabby, his brother Anjum and their
father Shafiq are warm and welcoming hosts, ever-professional,
always with a smile and taking the time to listen to their
customers, ensuring they get exactly the dish they want. (And
if the customer is unsure of what it is they want, the boys
somehow just seem to know and never fail to disappoint.)
The quality of the
across the years
has never faltered.
Shimla prides itself
on using the freshest
of produce – and it
shows. The spice
mix is carefully
thought about and
most dishes are
made to old family
recipes. The garlic,
and turmeric... each Tabby’s late Grandad Farzand Ali
harmonious but, in the
various dishes, given their own space to shine. The chicken
tikka is a particular favourite here! Granted the price may be
slightly higher than your average curry house, but because the
boys at Shimla refuse to skimp on ingredients, and the time
and love given to creating these dishes is such, there is an
equvilance in price. And the old adage is true: you get what you
As well as the wonderful food, the restaurant has been newly
refurbished; adding a brighter and even more welcoming
ambience to the overall dining experience.
A small and heart-warming aside to the actual business side of
the restaurant is a story I was made aware of some time ago,
late last year to be more precise. Shimla Cottage joined forces
with a Glasgow Mission, Mary Street Angels. Mary Street
Angels is a group of volunteers who supply food, among other
necessities, for the homeless and those who have, for whatever
reason, fallen on hard times and find themselves in less than
favourable circumstances. Tabby organised for batches of
food to be prepared, cooked and delivered to The Angels for
distribution on the streets of Glasgow; such a kind, selfless
contribution made by a long standing local Bridge of Weir
business. Farzand would certainly be proud.
Guest Writer Lisa
Founder of Palompo
PR, Tells Us How To
Go It Alone
Lisa Palompo Dixon,
IMAGE OF LISA
When it comes to moving to a new village and running your
business from home it seems as if you might just be a bit out
on a limb, but that worry couldn’t be further from the truth. We
moved to Bridge of Weir almost three years ago; I immediately
fell in love with the village but was worried that perhaps working
from home in a village might get a bit lonely…I was wrong!
There are so many other small, burgeoning brands in the area,
people who are working from home and building their business
from their kitchen table too.
Four years ago I decided to set up my own PR business,
Palompo PR, offering PR for companies of all shapes and sizes,
which I now run from my home in the village. My background
in PR started with my degree in Corporate Communication; I
worked in corporate PR before starting a family, and I now have
fifteen years of PR expertise under my belt. I have worked with
many clients from the local villages and beyond, including Three
Sisters Bake, Lorraine Wood Flowers, Craig & Rose paints and
Why did I go solo is the number one question I am asked, and
how big a risk was it usually follows up second. There was
no specific push to go it alone, but rather an accumulation of
events and feelings over a number of years. Working around
the kids when they were very young was a factor; now it’s about
being part of a client’s business and running my own agency.
What would I say to others who are thinking of doing what I
did? Yes, it’s scary, it’s definitely a challenge, and things will
not always go the way you think they will. Be prepared to face
the challenges head on. Be flexible, be willing to change your
ideals, and be prepared for disappointment along the way.
It’s not easy, but I can honestly say the good outweighs the
Here are my top tips for anyone thinking of going it alone.
• Something has to give. What will your compromise be? Mine
is to do the majority of my copywriting work and client planning
in the evenings and early mornings so I can still do the school
run and after school activity juggle between 3-6pm.
• There is no off switch. I’m fortunate that I spend 75% of my
working week working from my home office. But that also
means I spent most of my life at work. Finding the balance is
• Reach out. Don’t be lonely at home staring at a wall hoping
for some sort of epiphany. I wrote an Instagram post a few
years ago asking for ‘virtual’ village colleagues, looking for
those who work from home in and around the villages, asking
for coffee mates for brainstorming sessions and business
moans… (we are now regulars at Three Sisters Bake in
Quarriers Village and Cairn in Kilmacolm to do just that – feel
free to come and join us!)
• Don’t pretend you know everything. I am not a qualified
accountant, photographer or programmer. Don’t waste your
time on the parts of your business you aren’t the very best at. I
outsource the bits I know I won’t ever to able to do.
Why did I go solo
is the number
one question I am
asked, and how
big a risk was it
usually follows up
If you’re racking your brains for yet more fun activities for the kids
for the remainder of the summer that don’t cost the earth, then the
Three Sisters may just have something for you...
The Three Sisters Bake at Somerville Weir Hall, Faith Avenue in
Quarriers Village, launched their Summer Cycling Challenge at the
end of June. It is open to children from 3 to 17 years old and runs
until the end of the summer holidays, so there is still time to take
advantage of it.
A bike rack has been installed at the Three Sisters, and to celebrate
this, The Sisters have sponsored a mile of the N75 Sustrans cycle
path in an effort to encourage customers to ditch the car and travel
to the cafe along the cycle path. And with the beautiful weather
we have been enjoying, there’s never been a better time to get the
family out for a gentle bike ride in the sun.
To register for the Summer Cycling Challenge, families are invited
to drop in to the Quarriers café and collect a Summer Cycle
Challenge registration pack. The first 250 children to register will
receive a free Summer Cycle Challenge drawstring cycle bag
filled with a scavenger hunt and a cycle quiz. Then have some
fun getting out and about on your bike, and record the number of
miles you have travelled along the cycle track using the mileage
calculator map included in the registration pack. Prizes will be
awarded at the end of the summer to the winner from each age
group who has travelled the most miles, and there will be special
The Sisterhood Get
On Their Bikes!
awards for those who have learned to ride a bike too! So there’s
still time to get out there and clock up some miles! In addition,
Three Sisters Bake will be issuing ‘Pedal Power’ ice cream and
coffee loyalty cards; each time a customer travels to the Quarriers
Village cafe by bike, or brings their bike to start their cycle at the
cafe, they will earn a ‘pedal power’ stamp. Six pedal power stamps
can be traded for a hot drink or ice cream.
Situated just off the cycle path, Three Sisters Bake is accessible
via the traffic free path by bike from Bridge of Weir; Kilmacolm;
Kilbarchan; Lochwinnoch; Brookfield; Greenock; Gourock; and
Three Sisters Bakes’ cycle hire partners, RT Cycles, will rent bikes
for adults and children, as well as carriages, seats and tow-alongs
for the younger members of the family. Delivery of cycle hire to
Quarriers Village cafe can be arranged through RT Cycles directly.
So people of Renfrewshire and Inverclyde...get outside and on
The Fox & Hounds
Reviewed by Rona Simpson
I am not a fan of bright lighting when
out for an evening. It might be something
to do with the increasing years. Even
in summer it’s quite nice sometimes
to escape the brightness of the day.
Descending stairs to the Stable Bar at the
Fox & Hounds in Houston surrounded by
twinkly lights and dark wood beams I am
Once seated, the waiter immediately
hands us glasses of prosecco. So far, so
good. With this comes warmed miniature
rolls to go with the whipped sea-salted
butter that lies on black slate plates.
These are light and delicious.
We are here to sample their new Table
d’Hote Menu. To start I choose the
scallops with caramelized cauliflower and
brown butter cappuccino. The scallops
are beautifully seared, there’s nuttiness from
the cauliflower and the butter cappuccino is frothy and
luxurious. It’s stunning. My dining companion’s Marinated
Beetroot and Goat’s Cheese is almost as beautiful to look at
as it is to eat. Earthy beetroot, punchy goat’s cheese, a pep
of horseradish sauce and a crunch of walnuts. Superb.
Main courses arrive promptly. A generous, meaty chunk of
roasted monkfish is swimming in oodles of tomato butter
sauce. The braised fennel is soft with just a little bite, its
mild aniseed notes complimenting the earthy saffron in the
crushed potatoes. I love it! My companion plumps for Fillet
of Beef (no extra charge). It comes with creamed spinach,
pearl onions and
Salty frites are
missing from the
dish, but that’s a
beef is incredibly
tender. There is
not one but two
sauces on show
here. A deep red
wine sauce binds
but a splash of green
dressing is minty,
fresh and mouthwateringly
We wash everything
down with a very
(or, ahem.. two) of
Pinot Grigio. When
it came to desserts
my Assiette of Chocolate looked almost too good to eat, but
eat it I certainly did! The toothshakingly sweet mouse offset by
bittersweet candied citrus fruits is a delight for the senses - and
utterly addictive. Rice pudding with Mango and Lime is the
kind of dessert which would have Masterchef’s Greg Wallace
grinning stupidly and trying to hug people. It is very, very good
and despite being incredibly full, I can’t stop dipping in for one
last spoonful. To sum up the experience: it is the best food I
have had in these parts in a long, long time and I can’t wait to
Wardrobe Essentials: The Flat Cap
An outfit can be changed, instantly updated, with a good
accessory. Accessorising is not just for women, it’s a gender
neutral thing these days, and something which men so often
forget about, which is such a shame. Men, do not fear the
For all the fashion conscious men out there, and even those
who are less so inclined, the flat cap is the ideal accessory, the
perfect finishing touch to any ensemble. It has been about for
quite some time now, and justifiably so – its versatility means
it is easily worn, flattering, suits men of all ages and is perfect
for pretty much any style, and practical to boot! What more can
a man ask for?! And a flat cap is particularly perfect for these
climes, suiting the four-seasons-in-one-day type weather us
Scots are faced with. So, you see, it’s not just for autumn or
winter – one could wear a lightweight denim style flatcap for a
sunny spring or summer’s day in order to protect one’s bonse
from the occassional Scottish sun.
But beware! There are a few rules to observe when donning
your trusty flat cap:
• It should be neither too big with extra material that puffs
out like a cartoon chef’s hat, nor too small thus perched
precariously on top of one’s noggin – either of these options
will just look weird.
• The look one should aim for is of having just casually thrown
on said flat cap on the way out the door – do not try too
• On that note, the flat cap does not have to match every
detail of what you are wearing.
• Nor should you think that because you are wearing your
flat cap you must have some additional ‘olden day’ type
accessories – a pocket watch is not required.
• The material choice is an important one: one also does
not have to look like one is off to do a spot of clay pigeon
shooting, dahling, when wearing one’s flat cap. Unless you
really are wearing your flat cap specifically for such country
pursuits, it might be best to opt for a plain material in black,
grey or perhaps a brown hue. Or go for corduroy.
• Also remember to vary the material according to season –
keep the heavier fabrics for the winter months and opt for
a lighter weight material, such as linen or cotton, for spring
and summer months.
So, as accessories go, the flat cap is one of the most versatile,
on-trend, yet easy-to-wear items available. It’s an accessory
for every man regardless of age, race, style or job. Guys,
do not fear the flat cap. Do not be scared. Embrace it as a
electrician turned actor,
speaks to Rona Simpson
about his journey and
the inspiration behind
his Highlander Tours
Image by Find Her In The Highlands
As I walk up towards the house a large, handsome,
beaming, hairy-faced Jacobite in full regalia including calf-length
leather coat and flintlock pistols leaps out from behind a van,
“You must be Rona!” and he shakes my hand so warmly that
the various weaponry attached to him rattles. “I’m Andy… The
Highlander!” he says. I had guessed!
“Can I show you what’s in my van?” Andy asks eagerly. Laid
out on display are swords, dirks, pistols and scabbards as well
as a large Outlander hardback book with stills from the show.
“I’m just getting set up for a Tour.” Andy McAlindon – a starring
extra in the Outlander series – also runs Highlander Tours; a
company that specialises in Outlander, Historic and Scenic
tours and holidays. But it quickly becomes clear that this is not
just a job for Andy.
Eyes shining, he proceeds to tell me in detail the names of
the weapons and explaining when and how they’d be used in
battle and their connection to the show. He explains etymology
behind words and phrases such as ‘a flash in the pan’ – he
points to the ‘pan’ an area of the flintlock which holds a charge
of gunpowder and can sometimes explode here instead of firing
the pistol properly. He points to his beard and explains that the
term ‘sideburns’ came from redcoats holding the red-hot barrel
of the pistol against the side of their faces. I’m hooked. His
passion is infectious. He urges me to hold the ‘basket-hilted’
sword, which is incredibly heavy and beautifully designed
and can, with one careful flick as Andy demonstrates, whip a
shorter sword out of the hands of your enemy. He’s like a living,
breathing history lesson.
Once inside the house I’m face-to-face with a life-sized poster
of Andy in his Jacobite costume. He’s unashamedly proud and
I don’t blame him for feeling delighted about where his life is
at. He has not always graced the sets of films or made a living
escorting people around the country whilst being wrapped in six
foot of plaid kilt brandishing swords and pistols. He used to be
an electrician. I ask Andy how, in his late thirties and with three
kids, he made this huge leap.
“My dream was always to be an actor. My dad died 10 years
ago and I was completely devastated. A friend of mine
persuaded me to join the Kilmacolm Dramatic Society. The
acting gave me an escape and a good distraction, which made
the grieving process a little more bearable. And it opened doors
for me to progress to a more professional level. I eventually got
the part of DC Lowe in the TV drama, In Plain Sight. I cancelled
two holidays to do that. We were all booked up to go to Croatia.
I phoned Ana and told her, “I’m not coming on holiday with you!”
I ask if Ana (his wife) was angry. He looks at me directly and in
a rare moment is very serious, “No, she understands.” he said,
“When these chances come, you’ve got to grab them.” For all
the fun and wonder that shines out of Andy McAlindon, you feel
there is also a steely, driven side.
It wasn’t long before the call for Outlander came. For those of
you who have not heard of Outlander (where have you been?!)
the story begins in post war Britain and follows the character
Claire who time travels back to the 1700s, falls in love with
Jamie, a young, handsome highland warrior, and becomes
embroiled in the romance and adventure of the Jacobite
struggle. I asked Andy if he knew how big the series was going
“No idea…but I’d watched a couple of episodes. I loved the
atmosphere of the show. I thought it was shot beautifully. I
loved the historical aspect to it.”
Despite being left handed, Andy had to train himself to
fight right-handed in order to make it through the Outlander
bootcamp, which he did with flying colours.
“The anniversary of The Battle of Prestonpans is the 21st of
September 1745. That was the same date I was at bootcamp
training to fight The Battle of Prestonpans.” Andy tells me
excitedly. It’s a strange coincidence, no doubt, but there is
something reverent, almost fatalistic about the way Andy
speaks about his time on the show and his subsequent career
in historical tours. Talking about wearing the costumes on set
he says, “It’s like it spoke to me,” and of his tour company, “It’s
like a calling!” Like everything Andy says with passion and awe,
you can’t help believing him, believing in the magic of it all.
And perhaps he was destined to play his part in Outlander and
have it change his life. But I know he worked incredibly hard to
get it and there seems a burning determination to make things
What was your favourite part or scene to play in Outlander?
“I just loved the fighting scenes. We did the Prestonpans scene
and the scene of Jamie’s return from France. And it was tough,
you know. You’re away from home, you’re outside in the cold
and on your feet all day. It’s physically very demanding. But
being part of those scenes, especially the one where Jamie,
having just come back from France, comes down to the fields to
rally the troops to fight against the Hanoverians. It changed my
life. It was moving. It’s going to stay with me forever now. It’s
Were there friendships formed out there on the battle ground?
“Absolutely! We bled together! I broke my ribs in season 3!
There were five of us. We met in the studio and decided to find
shared accommodation up in Crieff. After filming, and you're
often filming 12 hour days, you’d get a quick shower and go
to the local pub in Crieff and that is where the friendship was
forged. Our group was called The Wolfpack but then Grant
(MacGregor) – a geophysicist turned writer – changed the name
to Paca – which is Gaelic for ‘the mob’, ‘the pack’.
Paca are a productive bunch and have stayed in contact. Grant
has written a screenplay called ‘After Culloden’ for which they
are currently looking for funding.
Maybe, like Claire from the series, Andy McAlindon has also
become a time traveller. He seems to spend more time in his
kilt than out of it.
What is it about the Jacobite era that you love so much?
“The simplicity of it. We’re so consumed by technology these
days. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of horrific things in
the 18th century like bedbugs and disease but there’s just
something romantic about it all...”
The phenomena of Outlander not only reignited an interest in
Scottish history but it has contributed to growth of the Scottish
Tourist industry. Andy, in a hugely smart move, has combined
his passion for the Scottish landscape, the Jacobite era and
working knowledge of the show, and formed his own Highlander
Tours Company. I asked him why he thought this idea could
“After Outlander I decided to buy the gear myself - the kilt,
the scabbard, the sporran, and I did my own video in my back
garden showing how to wear the plaid. A leading internet
entertainment company asked if they could share the video and
it got 5.2 million views.” Part of this might have been the fact
that at the end of the video, once the kilt is on, he decides to
prove his credentials as a true Scotsman! (Yes ladies, he does
flash his bottom!)
“I then started meeting fans from all over the world. I joined the
Outlander groups on facebook and I became quite well-known.
Ana decided it would be a good idea to call myself ‘Andy the
Highlander’ and I decided to set up Highlander Tours.”
His company has gone from strength-to-strength, with bookings
well into 2019 already. Andy provides two types of tours -
Historical/Outlander and Scenic - but can also design bespoke
tours on request. They range from one day to three days
and can cater for up to eight people at a time. Whisky toasts,
transportation, amazing scenery, costumes and VIP treatment
all included! With his charm, passion and knowledge there is
little doubt he is an excellent host.
I ask Andy if he reckons he shares certain traits or
characteristics with the 18th Century Jacobite soldiers.
“The clan system was quite harsh. It was brutal. And the
different clans fought each other and had violent disputes... but
I think in the end they were honourable men and maybe I share
that!” And it’s really hard to disagree! •
For more info on Andy’s Highlander Tours check out:
Home & Technology
Why buy new, when you can
find old, and often far more beautiful,
pieces at a fraction of the price?
Local charity shops are a perfect
place to start, or search online on
sites like Gumtree and Preloved –
lovely stuff needn’t cost a fortune,
and it’s a great way to breathe new
life into old things. It doesn’t just
have to be furniture – upcycling
applies to clothing and accessories
too....anything you can lay your
hands on really and re-purpose in
any way you may choose. Buying
from charity shops, flea markets
and second hand shops is no longer
something to feel embarrassed
about; indeed we should be proud
of it – we are not being wasteful, we
are in fact recycling and reducing the
carbon footprint we leave. People
have turned upcycling into business.
But you absolutely don’t have to be a
professional ‘upcycler’ to have a go
at this. So...where to start?
Perhaps, rather than diving straight in
with a family heirloom you’ve decided
could do with a spot of updating, visit
your local charity shop first for a piece to
Have your tools at the ready – if it’s
furniture you’re working on, good quality
brushes will ensure a better finish. And
check if the piece requires sanding
down first (if using chalk paint for
furniture, minimal prep is required, but
always check instructions).
Think about your colours – what colours
will fit with the decor in your home. Do
you want to be bright and bold, or go
with soft pastel tones that will fit into
have fun at
Don’t be afraid to be imaginative – you may
see something in an old piece of furniture
that no one else has...there’s no wrong or
right in the upcycling game!
Where to start looking:
n Charity shops: St Vincents Hospice in
Bridge of Weir and Howwood always has
a good stock of pieces of furniture, lighting,
and vintage clothing. Ardgowan Hospice
has an excellent warehouse in Greenock
stocking all manner of furniture, art,
n Gumtree/Facebay in your area: Always
worth a search – it’s amazing what people
are looking to sell/give away! But be quick,
the good stuff goes fast. Be prepared to
go to someone’s house and dismantle
large pieces of furniture and have suitable
transport at the ready.
n Vintage / Retro shops: Both clothing and
furniture - these are increasing in number,
on the high street and on Facebook and are
definitely worth checking out. If you love old
stuff, then browsing these shops will be like
We love it:
Top Tips for Upcycling
Start small and work your way
up. Don’t overface yourself
and get put off entirely!
An unused, but loved, piece
of material can become a wall
hanging or door curtain
Paint your breadbin to add a
pop of colour to your kitchen
Freshen up an old lamp stand
with a coat of bright paint
Paint an old picture frame to
give it an entirely new feel
Lawrence East brings you his top three
gadgets this issue - hot off the high street!
Amir 3-in-1 Lens
The Amir-3 in-1 attachment for android phones uses high quality glass that
provides HD photos for a variety of situations. This lens has 3 distinct modes;
the 10x Macro Lens, the 180° Fisheye Lens, and the 0.4x Wide Angle.
• The 10x Macro Lens allows the user to capture stunning detail that your
mobile camera cannot.
• The 180° Fisheye Lens allows the wide angle shots to be distorted in
beautiful artistic fashion.
• The 0.4x Wide Angle Lens reduces the lens flare that usually affects mobile
cameras, so you have the ability to capture beautiful natural panorama or
bustling city scenes.
A great way to experience a variety of professional photographic techniques
whilst still remaining frugal.
Currently only £10.99 on Amazon, a brilliant steal at £15 off the original price.
This small and stylish Bluetooth device has been designed to locate the most
commonly lost items with ease, all from your smartphone. It also works in
reverse, simply double clicking the Tile will cause your phone to ring at full
volume, even if set on silent. This device is easily attachable to almost all
everyday objects due to its size and durability. The Tile comes in four different
designs; Mate, Slim, Style and Sport. The Tile Sport and Style form the proseries.
Made to be more rugged, allowing it to be used in a wider variety of
situations, the pro-series boasts increased range, and the volume of the device
is doubled when compared to the Mate and Slim. The pro-series is also fully
waterproof up to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes.
John Lewis: Tile Mate - £18, Tile Slim - £30, Tile Style - £30, Tile Sport - £30
The HP Sprocket is a slim and sophisticated mobile-phone sized printer that
delivers high quality photos that are transmitted from phone to printer using
Bluetooth and is available in a number of colours. The printer has an excellent
battery life allowing up to 50 photos to be printed on a single charge. As
opposed to its counterparts, including the often more popular polaroid cameras,
the HP Sprocket not only allows the user to print their photos, but also allows
these photos to be saved on the users phone. The HP Sprocket app allows
photos to be edited and for borders to be included and personalised. Also
available is the HP Sprocket Plus. This larger version allows larger photos to be
printed, as well as being substantially thinner.
HP Online Store: HP Sprocket - £119.00 and the Sprocket Plus - £133.54.
*Prices correct at time of print.
The New Audi TT
The TT has been around for a while
now and has fans all over the world.
The car is well known for its design and
Audi’s close attention to detail, as well
as the TT’s iconic shape. Twenty years
on, and the TT has had a comprehensive
update – a sporty and refined exterior
design, higher powered engines and,
on the interior, a broader scope of
equipment as standard.
There’s a far more edgy, masculine
look and feel to this TT with a threedimensional
radiator grille and large side
air vents on even the basic version. And,
if desired, the optional S line exterior
package further enhances the sporty
character of the TT with a full length front
splitter, vertical air inlets, a radiator grill in
titanium black and specific side sills with
inserts, and a sporty rear end, as well as
a wider diffuser, vertical air inlets below
the rear lights, each with three horizontal
fins. The model comes 17” alloy wheels
Sports car aspects are also foremost in
the interior with the basic version of the
model including the following features:
▪ Audi drive select dynamic handling
▪ Rain and light sensors
▪ Heated exterior mirrors
▪ Multifunction steering wheel
▪ Illuminated USB ports
▪ Bluetooth for wireless pairing of
▪ 12.3 inch digital display – driver can
choose between 2 modes; classic or
▪ Top of the line MMI navigation plus
▪ 12 speaker Bang & Olufsen sound
▪ Rear-view park assist camera
▪ Active lane-assist and traffic road
There is a range of petrol engines,
paired with either a six-speed manual or
seven-speed dual clutch transmission,
with the close-ratio lower for powerful
acceleration. All new engines come with
a gasoline particulate filter. Should you
choose the S line sports package or Audi
magnetic ride, the body is lowered by
10mm, and the progressive steering and
wheel selective torque control improves
handling. The updated TT is a classic
Roadster with a soft top which can be
opened and closed in 10 seconds at
speeds of up to 31mph.
The new Audi TT is set to arrive at the
end of 2018, and will be available to preorder
from late September. Prices start
at a little over £31,000 (correct at time of
print according to exchange rates).