INSIGHT Magazine - Issue 1


A lifestyle magazine for the Gryffe area and sister magazine to the Gryffe Advertizer.

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

Tours company.



Our Top 5


Day Trips


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

and loyalty.

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:

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.

Contact Us

1st Floor, Neva Place, Bridge of Weir PA11 3PN

t: 01505 613340 m: 07521 651936

e: w:


Open Tuesday to Thursday 9am-4pm

Friday 9am-12:30pm

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.

5. Gourock

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.

4. Dunoon

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!

2. Largs

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.

1. Cumbrae

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

OPEN DAY 25TH August 2018


All Welcome!


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

Glen Moss

Nature Reserve

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

Dragonfly images By Charles J Sharp - Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography, CC BY-SA 4.0,


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

to 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

be disappointed.



(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!

Suzanne xx

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.

One-To-One Training

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.

Two-to-One Training

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.

6-Week Body


Sign up to our

results based


and you will

receive a 30

minute free


followed by a

6-week training


where we will help

you every step of

the way

to reach your

fitness goals.

By Suzanne Kerr from SK Fitness

12 07525 536070 @simplykeepfit


Anna McGeachie

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

so closely.

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

very relaxing!

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

Fancy An


I Do...

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

food produced

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,

ginger, coriander,

chilli, cardemom

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

pay for.

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

Palompo Dixon,

Founder of Palompo

PR, Tells Us How To

Go It Alone


Lisa Palompo Dixon,

Palompo PR


Julie Vance


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

Sterling Furniture.

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.

Good luck!

Lisa x

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

yer bike!


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

instantly relaxed.

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

new potatoes.

Salty frites are

missing from the

dish, but that’s a

small personal

preference. The

beef is incredibly

tender. There is

not one but two

sauces on show

here. A deep red

wine sauce binds

everything together,

but a splash of green

herb pesto-style

dressing is minty,

fresh and mouthwateringly


We wash everything

down with a very

agreeable bottle

(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

come back!

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

wardrobe staple.


the interview

Andy McAlindon,

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

to be.

“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

practice on.

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

any space?

Join the


save some

money and

have fun at

the same


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

HP Sprocket

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

as standard.

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

sign recognition

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).



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