Author Interview – A. C. Thomas

Here’s my fifth installment of author interviews, and this one we’re doing things a little differently; we’re interviewing a LGBT+ author! I’m super excited about this one!

Continue reading to find more about A. C. Thomas and two of her books and an interesting interview with my first LGBT+ author.

About A. C. Thomas

A.C. Thomas left the glamorous world of teaching preschool for the even more glamorous world of staying home with her toddler. Between the diaper changes and tea parties, she escapes into fantastical worlds, reading every romance available and even writing a few herself.

She devours books of every flavour – science fiction, historical, fantasy – but always with a touch of romance because she believes there is nothing more fantastical than the transformative power of love.

Restricted

Space, LGBT+, Romance, even a space-cowboy, this book seems to have everything!

Here’s the Synopsis:

Dr. Aristotle Campbell is a desperate man. His twin brother has been abducted, and Ari will do anything to find him. Forced out of the comfortable solitude of his laboratory, Ari must leave their home world of Britannia and search the farthest reaches of space for his other half. He hastily equips himself with a flawlessly tied cravat, a handful of clues, and his small science vessel. Now, all he needs is a pilot to get him across the Verge, a barrier separating the civilized world from ungoverned space.

Pilot Orin Stone is a desperate man. No ship, no pay, no prospects. He spends his days barely scraping by in the rough colonies lining the Verge interior. When he gets an offer from a frantic, upper-crust professor in need of a pilot, he has no choice but to take the job. He just can’t believe it when the professor turns out to be the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen and that his offer includes a ship of Orin’s own. If Orin can keep his heart (and other portions of his anatomy) from leaping every time sweet, innocent Dr. Campbell looks at him, this should be his easiest job yet.

Rugged Orin and aristocratic Ari work together to navigate the lawless areas of space beyond the Verge, soon discovering that they work well together in all areas. Their immediate and intense attraction to one another is an obstacle to their plans that neither saw coming. More than sparks will fly when they break through the force field and enter restricted space, all alone together for the perilous journey, leaving barriers to their growing attachment far behind.

In their search across the stars, can two desperate men find their home in one another?

Buy the book here!

Burying The Hatchet (Coming soon!)

Currently pre-orders are available, with this sweet Christmas themed story ready to be released just in time for Christmas! Put your thick socks on, your favourite blanket and sit by a warm crackling fire with this one!

Synopsis:

Home for the holidays for the first time in five years, Clayton Osborne steps off the plane with a chip on his shoulder and a suitcase full of grief…only to come face to flannel-covered chest with his worst nightmare. It’s Jake Carver, his high school nemesis and guilty crush. Clayton never expected Jake to still be working on his family tree farm. Of course, now that he’s older and wiser, it will be no problem to ignore Jake’s axe-swinging, barb-slinging, larger-than-life presence. Right?

Jake Carver loves his work, running NorthStar Tree Farm like it was his own. He’s let other things in his life fall by the wayside as he poured everything he had into his job. Until Clayton Osborne, star of his teenage dreams and his greatest regret returns home as beautiful and feisty as ever. If Jake just keeps his head down and focuses on his work, he can make it through the holidays without revealing his lingering feelings for Clayton. Right?

The mountains of North Carolina ring with more than Christmas bells when boyhood enemies collide as men. Long-buried feelings blossom and grow while the pair work side by side to save the farm, until Clayton must confront his obligation to return to his job in Chicago. He’s going to have to choose. Does he want his big-city life, or love in the mountains? All of this hinges on whether he and Jake can finally bury the hatchet. Can love overcome the years of conflict in their past?

With the help of a good old-fashioned Christmas miracle, it just might.

Pre-order it here!

Interview

Now that I have you interested in her books, here’s a little interview I did with her!

What got you into writing?

I’ve always been writing, always telling stories. I won my first little creative writing award at age seven and I was hooked. I’ve just always loved it. Even when I wasn’t writing for others, I still wrote for myself.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, always. There was never a time that I didn’t want to be a writer. There were plenty of times that I thought it wasn’t possible, but I always wanted it.

Do you play music while you writer – and if so, what’s your favourite?

I don’t. I know that’s a little odd, but I can’t concentrate on writing when there are lyrics in the background. I think it’s the same quirk that makes it difficult for me to hear when people are speaking while I’m reading. I can handle instrumental music while I’m writing, but I just prefer silence.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

That’s a tough question. Persuassion is my favorite Jane Austen novel, and I feel as though it gets overshadowed by the flashier romances in Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility. The mutual pining in Persuasion just hits so deeply and the ending is so satisfying that it’s one of my favorite books of all time.

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

The first and more important thing to me is writing good characters. You can quibble over technique and style forever, but if your characters are solid and relatable, they you really have something. Look at fanction. Endless stories based on well-written, compelling characters. Exposition and setting can be perfectly and beautifully written, but it will never stick with the reader like an excellent character.

How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have?

Right now I’m working on the second book in my Verge series, Captivated. It follows Theo, the missing twin from book one, Restricted.

I also have portions of the third book written. I’ve recently written a paranormal romance short story that I am considering reworking into a novel and I’m keeping another series on my back burner. That one is a regency romance series with heavy doses of humor. I have nearly finished the first in that series and have written portions of the other two. So, I have six partially written books going at the moment.

I’m one of those authors who works through writers block by switching to another project, so they tend to stack up.

Do you prefer to read the book first, or watch the movie first?

I read the book first, absolutely. There is no effects budget that could possibly rival the imagination. I’ve enjoyed some movie adaptations, but I always prefer the book.

What is your favourite word, and why?

Meerscheweinchen. It’s German for Guinea pig. I just think it’s fun to say and sounds so cute!

Was writing your dream job as a child, or was it something else?

Yes, always. It took me a while to realize and accept that what I really wanted to write was romance novels, and that most of them would be LGBTQ+. Once I had that epiphany, the rest fell into place as natural as breathing.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love baking. Creating elabroate pastries and cake decorating. I make multi-tiered decorated cakes for special occasions and even considered opening a wedding cake business for a while.

Can you tell me a little about your book ‘Restricted’?

Restricted is the first book in my sci-fi steampunk Verge series. Restricted is definitely heavy on the romance, light on the sci-fi, just the way I like it. I enjoy placing characters against the sweeping backdrop of space and then focusing in tightly upon their developing relationship.

The first book follows Dr. Aristotle Campbell, aka Ari, along his journey across space to find his missing twin. His first task is to hire a pilot to get him across the dangerous barrier of the Verge, and he soon finds Orin Stone, ace pilot and rugged heartthrob, to serve in that capacity. When Orin offers to serve in other, more person, capacities as well, Ari doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. Orin’s gentle guidance leads Ari past the Verge as well as into his own sexuality in an adventurous leap into the unknown. Developing feelings never factored into either of their plans. What will they do when those feelings interfere with their goals? In an ocean of stars, two heats collide.

Now, tell me a little about the main character(s)?

Ari comes from a neo-Victorian planet, Britannia, and has led a very sheltered, privileged, and repressed life up until the moment of his twin Theo’s disappearance. He is a shy, virginal scientist with very little experience in life beyond academia. Ari has always been the more timid, sensible twin and must scrape up every last bit of courage to embark upon his journey across the stars.

Orin Stone comes from a Wild-West style Verge colony, with rough manners and an even rougher past. He’s been stranded with no ship, no money, and no prospects when Ari offers to hire him as a pilot and guide in exchange for his small ship at the end of the quest to find his brother.

Aristocratic Ari and rugged Orin clash on the surface, but soon find deeper connection. Their attraction to one another is immediate and irresistible, and neither of them could have predicted how it would affect their journey.

Do you think the LGBT+ community in literature is unrepresented?

Very much so. I think we’re starting to see changes made, but progress is slow and remains a daily struggle for the community.

Growing up, and I’m sure this is true for a lot of people, the only queer content available to me was fanfiction. Published LGBTQ+ content was difficult to acquire. This is getting better, but it’s still true today.

I am a cisgendered white bisexual woman, and I realize that while I am a member of the community, I still need to step back and listen when underrepresented voices speak up. I think we need to amplify voices of LGBTQ+ authors until their creative works are given the same space and respect as the work of heterosexual authors.

I think we’re seeing important strides in publishing, but it still isn’t enough. We’re not there, yet.

Do you have a LGBT+ book you’d recommend everyone read?

I highly recommend Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. It’s a paranormal YA romance featuring trans Latinx characters written by a trans Latinx author. It’s gripping and funny and has the emotional heft that I enjoy in a book.

What is your upcoming book about?

Burying The Hatchet is set a little closer to home, in the American South, the mountains of North Carolina.

Clayton Osborne left the family farm years ago and never looked back, not until a family emergency brings him home just in time for Christmas. To his dismay, Jake Carver, his teenage nemesis and star of Clayton’s guilty adolescent fantasies, still works on the farm. Looking even more like a pornographic Paul Bunyan that Clayton remembers.

The two must work together to save North Star tree farm, discovering that they have more in common than they ever thought possible. Long-buried feelings break through the ice over Clayton’s heart as he finds that there is far more to Jake than flannel and a swinging axe.

Will the boyhood enemies be able to bury the hatchet and find love in the least likely of places? With the help of a good old-fashioned Christmas miracle, they just might.

If you’d like to check her out, here are some links:

acthomasbooks.com
Twitter: acthomas_books
Facebook: acthomaswrites
Tumblr: acthomasbooks

~~~

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered/
twitter.com/penny_hoops

Living in Australia – Part 2: My first Christmas away from my parents (Christmas Special!)

Hello my little demons!

Sorry this Christmas Special is a little late, been a little busy lately. But hopefully better late than never, right?

If you haven’t read part 1 yet, read it here!

So, a small update before I begin which my Christmas Special blog post!

In 2009, at just 21 years old (ten years ago!), I went to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. With my ex-boyfriend. It was both an exciting trip and a nightmare!

DSC00755.JPG

Looking at the above photo of me (yes, this was on Christmas day!), you would think I was a happy person, but Christmas back in 2009 was horrendous.

It hadn’t even been a month into my Australian Working Holiday Visa yet I already had lost a lot of money, had a nasty break up with my boyfriend (I talk about this in my previous post), my relationship with my family in Australia was on edge and was now starting to question what to do with my life.

My ex and I had a small plan to build a new life in Australia, my Aunt and her husband had done just this, so we questioned whether we could too. But after finally realising the person he was, I knew that new and relatively young plan we had was crushed.

Now what do I do?

Over the Christmas period my mood was low, not only had I broken up with my boyfriend, I didn’t know what to do with my life, I was unknowingly suffering with depression and I was away from my close friends and my parents, whom I had never spent a christmas apart.

Christmas day 2009 was spent at the house of my Aunt and Uncle’s friends’, along with my step-cousin and a friend of his. It was a very hot day, as unlike the northern hemisphere where we hope for a white Christmas, Australia is in the peak of their summer. It was that warm that a couple of people took a dip in the pool.

Christmas 2009 016(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: A selection of prawns freshly caught for Christmas.

Christmas dinner was a BBQ, mainly focusing on freshly caught seafood, including some rather large prawns and playing a few silly games like this fun spin on Russian roulette which involved a plastic gun which would fire a pin into a water balloon

I remember having a phone call with the other side of the world with my parents at one point. I went off into the dark garden to take the private call and at the time feeling a little upset at the thought of what had previously happened, but then my parents opened the flood gates when they rang.

Luckily the day wasn’t a complete waste with my low mood and homesickness, I do remember a few laughs and good times. I remember my step-cousin’s friend disappearing and someone found him in a bedroom asleep. I took photos as my step-cousin and one other person started drawing something obscene on the side of his face, I remember him waking up and sitting down in the garden again, with a few people making puns, all the while he had no idea what was on the side of his face.

DSC00693(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: Secret santa present from my step-cousin.

I remember my step-cousin had me as a secret santa and had bought me a remote controlled lamborghini and I was extremely happy with it, not just having a cool gadget and a cool car, but the fact he knew me well enough to know I’d like it.

penny 09 10 022
(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: Side-show Penny.

I remember someone had the bright idea to stand underneath a hanging plant and looked like Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons, and a few others, including myself took part in this ridiculous photo opportunity.

I also remember someone bringing out their pet rat and I instantly fell in love.

So, although it wasn’t the best Christmas I’ve ever had, it certainly was one to remember.

Christmas 2009 048

If you liked this post, please do give it a like! And feel free to leave a comment!
~Penny (Aka The Girl Who Whispered).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you liked this blog post, please do check out my others:

A small trip to Reading – Wokefield Mansion

Douglas, South Lanarkshire – A Hidden Gem

Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 5

Happy Birthday! But why do we celebrate?

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November…

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

I won! I came first in the Earnesty Writer’s Awards 2018 Paranormal Genre!

Website: thegirlwhowhisperedblog.wordpress.com

Social Media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thegirlwhowhispered

Twitter: twitter.com/penny_hoops

Instagram: www.instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered_author/

www.instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered_photo/

Douglas, South Lanarkshire – A Hidden Gem

On one of my previous travel blogs, I talk about the best sites in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. One of them, I talk about the hidden gem that is the village of Douglas. I feel that this needs it’s own blog post as I have a fair bit to say about it and that short insert wasn’t enough.

Read on to learn about Douglas, with ties to the Douglas Clan, including Black Douglas, their links with Robert the Bruce, the Cameronian Regiment, PM Alec Douglas-Home, Sir Walter Scott, the Polish Army, even a little gem of a man James Gavin a local tailor.

Plus, it’s a hidden gem that I feel needs to be recognised more. But I also will be telling you both the positives and the negatives of the place.

Douglas, South Lanarkshire

DSC_0343
Remains of the 17th Century Tower, Douglas Castle, South Lanarkshire. (c) Penny Hooper.

Douglas is situated just off the M74, 40 minutes South East of Glasgow with a population of approximately 1600. It’s a small village many people drive through on their way to Ayrshire, usually without a second glance. A thorn you pass on Ayr Road, but without realising that thorn belongs to a rose (well, in some respects). Douglas has it’s name for a reason, which, if you keep reading, you’ll find out why.

Douglas is one of those villages where you will be greeted with a mix of emotions. If you’re driving through in the summer, before you get into the heart of Douglas, Ayr road will give you a view of the Douglas Estate ‘Ponds’ to your right (if you’ve just come off junction 12 on the motorway). A little further you will be greeted with outstretched branches of trees as if high-fiving you into the village. But when you get into Douglas,  you will be greeted with old dark buildings on your left, stepping back into an industrial era, with an old crumbling hotel that has been left derelict for years on your right.

You’ll be partly right, at one point in it’s life, Douglas was a mining town. But we’ll get to that.

If you turn off Ayr road on the right onto Main Street, before the petrol garage, following the brown signs that signal tourist destinations, you’ll be swallowed by more industrial buildings.

However, catch Douglas at the wrong time of year, and it can be cold, dark, wet and miserable. And, unfortunately, due to where Douglas is situated, in-land and not far from the Borders, this can be a majority of the year. But, we’re not here for the weather, are we?

James Gavin Monument

douglas-6684_orig

The stone cairn commemorating James Gavin, Main Street, Douglas.
Source: http://www.clydesideimages.co.uk/war-memorials-lanarkshire.html

First stop, on the Main Street, just opposite the local shop there is a round monument dedicated to James Gavin. Gavin wasn’t a very well known person, at least not outside of Douglas. He was a local tailor, but when he refused to renounce his presbytarian religion he had his ears cut off with his own tailoring scissors before suffering a life of slavery in the West Indies.

Gavin was finally able to return back to Douglas and the monument was erected on the spot where the ruins of his house stood until 1968. The monument holds an engraved lintel with a pair of tailor’s scissors. It’s said the monument stands where Gavin’s backgarden would have been.

But if you keep going up Main Street there’s a little hidden secret waiting to be found, a little secret that upon first glance looks like an average site in Scotland, but this little secret has more than you think.

After finally escaping the burden of the old buildings, the road opens up. The buildings in front of you, a large Georgian stone building with a painted house one end and a smaller house with large windows is hiding a little church. This little church is St Bride’s Church.

St Bride’s Church

DSC_0431

Remains of St. Bride’s Church, Douglas. (c) Penny Hooper.

This little hidden gem doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should. St Bride’s Church is one of the oldest, probably arguably the oldest building in the village, having been built in the late 1300s.

But the interesting thing about this church is that it is the mausoleum for the Black Douglases or Clan Douglas, who were friends with Robert the Bruce, Sir James Douglas in particular.

That’s because Douglas Village was the home of the Douglas Clan!

Most people would have heard of Robert the Bruce, even if you’re not a Scottish History buff. He was King of Scotland from 1306 until his death in 1329, a month shy of his 55th birthday, and led Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence against England.

Sir James Douglas was one of the chief commanders during the Wars of Scottish Independence, and a friend to Robert the Bruce, so much so that on Robert the Bruce’s death bed he asked James Douglas to carry his heart to the Holy Land in Jerusalem to be presented before God. However, James Douglas was called to fight against the Moors and the heart went with him.

Robert the Bruce’s heart was eventually laid to rest in Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders, his bones in Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, and his internal organs buried where he died in Cardross, Dumbarton (which, I believe, was the practice after a death in battle).

Sir James Douglas and his company joined King Alfonso XI of Castile to siege the Kingdom of Granada, which was where James Douglas died. His heart was brought back to the mausoleum for the Black Douglases; St Bride’s Church.

Today, the grounds of the church are open and free to roam, nestled in between houses which were built around it over the years. But to gain access to see Sir James Douglas’s heart and inside the chancel, you will need to ask for a key. Unfortunately this rests on whether the keyholder is available when you are in the village.

It’s also rumoured that the clock face on the tower was a gift from Mary, Queen of Scots and is the oldest working clock in Scotland. Supposedly to chime three minutes before the hour, a reference to the Clan Douglas motto “never behind”. It still chimes every hour, although quieter than it used to, so as to not upset the locals, and it’s not always three minutes before the hour as the clock has to be continuious wound. It also still rings on Sundays to call the locals in the village to church, although service isn’t held in the old St. Bride’s anymore, but instead in the newer church up on Colonels Entry.

Continuing our historic journey through Douglas, right next to the church, on Bell’s Wynd is another hidden gem, an old Chapel; St Sophia’s Chapel, which is now a museum.

St Sophia’s Chapel / Douglas Heritage Museum

12065802_1833714636854821_6105603888612658535_n
Douglas Heritage Museum, Douglas. (c) Penny Hooper.

Originally, this building was the Dower House of the Douglas Estate (a large house available for the widow of the previous owner of the estate, who is called the “dowager”, she usually moves to the Dower House after the heir of the estate marries).

The building has had many uses over the years, in 1706 it was a Parish School, a century later it was used as a poor house for vagrants (beggers/homeless people), then it was reverted to being a house until 1961 when it was an Episcopal Church to replace the chaple in Douglas Castle. Now, since 1993, it has been converted into a museum which displays various aspects of village life, the Douglas family and Castle, and the Cameronian Regiment (more on that later). Exhibitions are said to change annually.

It’s located on Bell’s Wynd, with the front door opposite St Bride’s Graveyard. However, it is only open from 1st Saturday of April and closes the last Sunday of September between 2pm and 5pm. Weekends only. Or by special arrangement, much like St Bride’s Church.

There is an inscription above the entrace of the building, which was from when the building was converted as a school. It is in Latin, but translated reads; “This building is restored for the foster children of the muses under the auspices of the high and noble Duke of Douglas for the perpetual use of the School and Schoolmaster 1706”.

If you continue past the Museum, further up Bell’s Wynd, you will be greeted with a beautiful view; a view of a football field, the Douglas Water river and the woods up on the hill. To the left there is an interesting statue pointing up over the panaroma.

James Douglas, Earl of Angus Statue
and Cameronian Regiment memorial

DSC_0463

James, Earl of Angus Memorial in Douglas. (c) Penny Hooper

For any history buffs, you may have heard of the Cameronian Regiment. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the Cameronian regiment so I can’t give you much background (and probably not enough scope for this blog to delve too much into it anyway), but from what I have found with researching this, the Cameronian Regiment was founded in 1688-1689 by the Earl of Angus, James Douglas, originally called the Cameronian Guard or The Earl of Angus’s Regiment, which, of course, was raised near Douglas Village.

It’s worth pointing out here that James Douglas, Earl of Angus shouldn’t be confused with James Douglas the Black Douglas as these were two very different people. (I hate to admit it, but it confused me at first! Clearly James was a popular name!) James the Black Douglas was born 1286 and died 1330, not quite an Earl of Douglas as the title was created for William Douglas (the 1st Earl, of course) in 1358. James Douglas The Earl of Angus was born 1671 and died 1692, he was from the Stewart family line (the Red Douglases) who inherited Douglas Estate after the fall of The Earls of Douglas. Ironically the 1st Earl of Angus was George Douglas (c. 1380-1403) who’s father was William Douglas, he had an affair with Margaret Stewart, Countess of Mar and Angus (he was married to the sister of her husband).

The name ‘Cameronian’ was originally given to the faction of Scottish Covenanters (Presbyterian movement) who followed Richard Cameron (leader of the Covenanters). Richard Cameron was killed in the Battle of Aird’s Moss, Ayrshire, in 1680.

The begining of the regiment actually began in 1688 when William of Orange landed in England to seize the throne from his father-in-law, King James II. James Douglas gave his support to William of Orange. Ten companies were raised from the supporters of Richard Cameron to form the ‘Cameronian Guard’. The Cameronian Guard, however, disbanded in March 1689.

But in May of the same year, it was re-formed under James, Earl of Angus, in Douglas. It was thus known as The Earl of Angus’s Regiment or the Lord Angus Regiment.

Around 1749, the Regiment was described as ‘The 26th Cameronians’. But in 1786, the titled was officially changed to ‘The 26th (or Cameronian) Regiment of Foot’.

In 1881 under the Childers Reform (reoganisation of the infantry regiments) the regiment was amalgamated with the 90th Regiment of Foot (Perthshire Volunteers) to form the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).

In 1968, it was disbanded due to Government defence cuts.

The statue of James Douglas, or the Earl of Angus, in Douglas is to commemorate the raising of the regiment in 1689. It was build in 1892 to mark the regiment’s two-hundred anniversary.

A little further down the road, on the grounds of the estate there is also a memorial to commemorate the disbandment of the regiment.

Cameronian Regiment memorial
(Disbandment memorial)

If you travel out of the Douglas Village and towards the lakes (or Ponds, known by the locals), just past Stable Lake (which used to see curling many years ago, a few curling stones can be seen in the village if you’re looking for them) towards the Castle remains there is a little memorial sat up on the hill with a view of the river cutting through the land – the river that has a permanent cold wind following it!

This memorial compliments the previous memorial, with one commemorating the founding and this one commemorating the disbandment. The reason for it’s location is because the Cameronians was disbanded at Douglas Castle on the 14th May 1968 by the 14th Duke of Hamilton, and the then Earl of Angus, Douglas Douglas-Hamilton.

On the 13-14th of May 2018 (50 years to the date), the village held a 50th Anniversary for the disbandment of the Cameronian regiment, with an afternoon parade, buffet and more.

For more information on the Cameronian regiment and links to the Anniversary Parades (including YouTube videos), click here: www.cameronians.org

Cameronian Regiment Memorial (for the disbandment of), Douglas. (c) Penny Hooper.

Douglas Castle

Douglas Castle, you may have already figured out, was owned by the Douglas family. Again, my history isn’t great, so again this is information I have researched myself. Also, this will be limited to the Castle’s history, rather than the Douglas family line.

The first Castle was erected in the 13th century and may have been wooden or stone. But it was destroyed and rebuilt many times over the years.

During the Wars of Scottish Independence the castle was captured by the English, and given to Lord Clifford. However, Sir James Douglas recaptured it on Palm Sunday, while the garrison were at chapel attending mass. The surviving English were dragged back to the Castle’s cellar and beheaded, put atop a heap of broken wine casks and food stores and set alight. Douglas then had the wells salted and poisoned with the bodies of dead horses and the Castle burned. The massacre became to be known at ‘The Douglas Larder’.

By the 15th century, the Steward monarchy was threatened by the ‘Black’ Douglases and the Battle of Arkinholm began in 1455. Douglas’s forces were defeated, Douglas himself fled to England the Douglas Castle went to the ‘Red’ Douglases (The ‘Red’ Douglases of Angus and Fife). The Black Douglases had ended. It is believed the castle was rebuilt soon after 1455.

In 1703/1707, when Archibald Douglas was created Duke of Douglas, the Castle was rebuilt again as a tower house and encloused courtyard with a corner tower. In 1745 the Castle saw damage after a rebellion led by Charles Edward Stuart (‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’) and the Highlanders in Charles’ army, after spending two ‘wild days’ around Christmas. The Castle was later destroyed by a fire in 1755, with the exception of the corner tower (which can still be seen today).

In 1757 the castle was again scheduled to be rebuilt by the great architect Robert Adam into a grand palace, which would have been the largest in Scotland. However, Douglas died before it was completed. The Castle would have been a five story building with round towers to the front and square towers to the rear, standing in an extensive park that would have spanned the valley of the Douglas Water.

The estate was eventually passed to his nephew Archibald Douglas the 1st Baron Douglas after the ‘Douglas Cause’ (a legal dispute between the 1st Baron and the Duke of Hamilton).

In the 1930s, Charles Douglas-Home, the 13th Earl of Home, (the family line of the Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home) allowed mining of coal in the park, adjacent to the Castle, to help with the local unemployment. But this unfortunately lead to the castle’s demolishment in 1938 due to dangerous subsidence.

Today, what remains of the Castle is the 17th century corner tower, remains of a cellar block underneath and raised earth that could potentially be from the old road into the castle. A little further out, right next to the Cairn Lodge Services is the remains of the Douglas Estate Gatehouse.

In 1831/2, Sir Walter Scott published the 4th in his series “Tales of My Landlord” called “Castle Dangerous”, the last of his novels. This novel was inspired by Douglas Castle. The Castle sometimes is now refered to as “Castle Dangerous”.

Here are some old photos I managed to find of the old Douglas Castle:

Collection of photos sourced from multiple web sources, including Douglasdale Real Group Facebook Page.

It’s also worth noting that the reason why the first lake is called “Stable Lake” is because this used to be where the Douglas’s Stable used to be, which can be seen on one of the photos above. Unfortunately the Stable was also demolished, I wasn’t able to find any information on when or how, but I imagine they were either destroyed at the same time the castle was in the 1930s, or years before during the many rise and falls of the castle.

Polish Memorial Garden

On the 11th June 1940, the Polish Government signed an agreement with the British Government to form a Polish Army and Polish Air Force in the United Kingdom. Douglas was one site in which the Polish soldiers (around 17,000) were housed temporarily in camps along with Crawford and Biggar (nearby villages) before being more permanently based in Fife, Angus and Perthshire.

Three memorials were erected to commemorate the Polish Army, one square memorial pillar was presented to Douglas by General Stanislaw Maczek, Commander of all Polish forces in the UK.

In 2002 the other two monuments were moved to Douglas to create a Polish Army Memorial Garden.

20191013_132431_076


Polish War Memorial Garden, Douglas. (c) Penny Hooper.

Walks/Hikes

If you’re an avid walker/hiker like I am, there are many walks around Douglas, from the obvious walks around the Lakes (Ponds) and the river Douglas Water, to longer wooded walks up on the hills either side of Douglas. Of course, bring your decent walking shoes and a warm waterproof coat, Douglas can unfortunately be rather wet, windy and cold almost all year round. If you’re going for a walk up in the woods, you might even want to bring your wellies!

For any dog walkers, please be careful around the Douglas Estate, it is now managed by the Douglas and Angus Estate and there are many farm animals around. Sometimes the farm animals escape! On certain times of the year, Royals have been known to go shooting in the grounds too and there is a house up past the red bridge. There are a few signs up near Stable lake that ask you to keep your dog on the lead. If you walk up on the wooded walks either side of Douglas, which can be a lot quieter, dogs are welcome off-lead, but be weary of farm animals in farm land near and the occasional horse rider and motorbike/push bike. Also be aware that these woodlands are usually logging sites.

Of course, you can’t avoid at least a small walk around the lakes if you’re visiting Douglas, it’s where some of the historical sites are! Up past the Main Street and towards the grounds of the Douglas Estate, you will go past the Polish Memorial Garden on your right and over a cattle grid. Stable Lake will be on your left, and if you continue up towards the end of the lake there is a small and rather muddy car park (if you can call it that). Follow the tarmac path around the hill and you will see both the Cameronian Regiment memorial of when it was disbanded and the remains of Douglas Castle.

When you get to Douglas Castle you can either go left towards the red bridge or right following the path around. You can follow the latter path towards the lake behind Castle Douglas which will mostly lead to farm land or double back towards Stable Lake.

The path left at Castle Douglas, over the red bridge, will lead to a house, but if you continue past it you will get to two gates. The gate straight ahead will lead you through farm land, which you are welcome to walk through just be weary of the farm animals and the gate on the left (which is usually quite muddy) will lead up through the woods. The walk up through the woods, if you follow the path at the top to the right, can eventually circle back round (past the M74 motorway), but the path to the left will follow along the hill at the top which you can follow all the way to Douglas West.

Somewhere up on the walk through the woods there is a small circular stone monument of sorts, it looks like an old sundial or henge, but I wasn’t able to find any information on it.

Not far from Douglas West is the old Railway tracks that used to be for the coal mining in the 1900s, the tracks are no longer there, but you can see where the line used to be, with the odd old bridge across it. This line appears to follow Douglas Water and past Glespin where it curves off.

Up round this way, there is a large windmill farm too, which I’ve heard is open to the public to walk around and has some spectacular views over Douglas and the surrounding areas.

On the other side of Douglas, crossing Ayr road, there is also another wooded hill which is suitable for general walkers/hikers, dog walkers and bikes. Known by the locals as Paigie Hill.

Paigie Hill is famous with the locals, as it’s a Douglas tradition to walk up the hill on the 2nd of January, usually just the men (although the women have their own walk, free of the men). It started 30 years ago when just a few men from the village decided to ‘blow away the New Year celebrations cobwebs’. But in 2013 68 men took part.

You can get there by walking down Springhill Road, which leads up a track past a farm as loose stones guide you up. When you get to the tree line, you have a choice of continuing on or turning right.

The path up will lead you past the treeline and up on the hill. As Scotland has a law called “Right to Roam” you are welcome to wander on this barren hill, which has a few views around the landscape where you can see for miles.

The path on the right will follow the hill through the trees, the majority of this is usually fairly clear of mud until you decide to wander off the track. Along the way there are little tracks that you can explore which I believe are for push bikes, but can be explored on foot, some are labled with yellow painted carvings in the trees or beer cans that have been cut and stapled to the trees. The path does eventually lead down the hill towards the A70, if you follow the path a little way past the tree line you can follow it to the right towards a farm house, and down towards the local cemetary, the road right will lead past the local School and back into Douglas.

It is also possible to turn off left when you get to the top of Springhill Road, one grassy/muddy path will eventually lead to an area which has a large tent made up and a very basic swing seat that looks over the view of the hill, but be careful if you have a dog, last time I was there there there was a little bit of broken glass.

There is also word that Mainshill near Douglas will also be redeveloped, it’s an old coal site and will eventually have a woodland including paths for pedestrians and cyclists and a carpark.

Collection of photographs of walks around Douglas. (c) Penny Hooper.

Douglas Wildlife

As well as the usual farm animal (mostly sheep, but some beef cows and of course the Highland cow just outside the village!) and horses that lives in the village, there have been many wildlife spotted in the area, from the common birds like Jackdaws, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Robins, to the more uncommon such as Oyster Catchers, Spotted Flycatchers, Sandmartins and Whooper Swans. I also have heard a Tawny owl calling one evening.

Buzzards are also pretty common in Douglas, as they are in most parts of Scotland, having been dubbed the ‘Scottish Pidgeon’ for a reason. Even Sparrowhawks have been sited, in areas around Douglas Red Kites and Peregrine Falcon’s have been residents. It was also even rumoured that the very rare Osprey has been spotted in the area.

Other animals, as well as birds have been spotted, such as mice, badgers, foxes, deer and even weasles. I also wouldn’t be surprised if pine martins also live in the area and maybe even wildcats since they were introduced to Scotland.

A collection of animals photos, (c) Penny Hooper. (c) Adrian Hooper.

Douglas is a film set!

Only a few years ago, in the Summer of 2017, a film crew decended upon Douglas which was received with mixed emotions from the locals.

This film crew, Mammoth Screen, closed off roads, mainly the Main Street, to film part of the Agatha Christie’s Ordeal by Innocence three-part drama, aired, eventually, in April 2018.

Ordeal by Innocence had a cast of Bill Nighy, Catherine Keener, Matthew Goode, Eleanor Tomlinson, Anthony Boyle, Ed Westwick (although due to sexual assault accusations, his character Mickey Argyll was replaced by Christian Cooke), Luke Treadaway, Morven Christie, Crystal Clarke, Ella Purnell and Alice Eve.

The filming saw a small facelift to the Main Street of Douglas, with the Cross Key’s Pub been given a new lick of paint, two flats being turned into temporary shops complete with boxes of vegetables and homeware tools outside and a number of old vintage cars parked along the road. Of course, the temporary shops were dismantled and the cars disappeared, but the paint on the old pub remained (with a few minor tweeks for the landlord).

Not all the cast of the three-part series was seen in Douglas, unfortunately Bill Nighy wasn’t spotted, however, Luke Treadaway and Crystal Clarke were prominent stars on the Main Street.

The mixed reception with the locals was split between those in favour of Douglas gaining popularity (especially the local busineses such as The Cross Keys who got a new face-lift and The Scrib Tree), and those who had to endure the filming going on into the early hours of the morning – luckily it was on a weekend!

The three-part series was originally scheduled to air at Christmas, but due to the sexual assault accusations surrounding Ed Westwick at the time, the release date was pushed back and eventually aired at Easter in April 2018 with Ed Westwick’s scenes redone. Due to insufficient evidence, the case against Westwick was dropped.

Recently, another film crew decended upon Douglas once more, filming a few shorts in the St. Bride’s Graveyard and a small alleyway on Main Street leading to garages. Luckily the film crew had packed up just after night fall, but clearly the area is picking up popularity between the film industry! However, not much was said of this film crew, it’s unsure what the filming was for.

Collection of Photos from the Agatha Christie’s Ordeal By Innocence filming.
(c) Penny Hooper.

Where to eat and drink?

Douglas has a few places to drink, from the two pubs on the Main Street, The Cross Keys Inn and The Countryside Inn and a cafe which has just been granted a licence to sell wines and spirits; The Scrib Tree up on the Ayr Road.

On Ayr Road, there is also a recently opened Bakery where the old Post Office used to be, up by the entrance to Main Street is a local Indian takeaway and behind the Crossburn Services there is another little cafe; Crossburn Kitchen Cafe & Take-away. There are also a few other shops, including a local newsagents, which sells everything from your newspaper, milk, to cool drinks in the fridges.

Unfortunately the old Douglas Arms Hotel has been closed for many years now, after having been driven to dispare. There had been rumours that it had been bought in the last few years, but so far it has been left untouched. Which is a huge shame, as if this hotel could be brought back up to scratch and with the right marketing, the area could have a huge boost in tourism.

The Cross Keys Inn (known as ‘The Keys’ by the locals) is an old pub on the Main Street. It sells many drinks, from beers, ales, wines and spirits, and has a few TVs which air Sky Sports, At The Races and BT Sports, all can be watched by the old crackling open fire or a round of pool on the pool table near the back.

They occasionally have live music (TheWORDS, Billy Crawford, Midtown Riot, Hooch Hounds, Bracken and Losferwords), which can be very busy with the locals of Douglas and the nearby villages.

Unfortuantely, however, the pub doesn’t sell hot food as there is no kitchen available, but it does offer the odd crisps or pork scratchings!

The Countryside Inn is the other pub in Douglas, having been taken over by new management in the last few years, which not only is a place to drink, but also has a restaurant which can seat up to 50 people. The Inn also has a large function room for parties and weddings.

The Scrib Tree is another nice little place, selling mostly coffees, cakes and small things for breakfast and lunch. However, there have been a number of great reviews for their food. With freshly made soups and speciality sausage rolls and scotch eggs!

http://thescribtree.co.uk/home

Where to stay?

Unfortunately there aren’t many places to stay in Douglas, the only ones I were able to find were the Holiday Cottages on the Douglas Estate.

Click here to go to the Douglas Estate Holiday Cottages.

I was also able to find one property on lastminute-cottages.com, but it doesn’t seem to be available to book at the moment.

Otherwise, I would recommend staying somewhere outside of Douglas, such as the New Lanark Mill Hotel (another great area to visit in South Lanarkshire) or possibly somewhere in the Borders, such as Biggar.

Click here for the New Lanark Mill Hotel.

Getting Around

Douglas is one of those areas that is ideal if you drive. If you don’t drive, and you’re relying on public transport, be prepared for very limited means of travel around the area, especially getting to Douglas!

Unforutnately there is only two bus services that goes to Douglas. There is a Whitelaws bus that goes to Douglas from Lanark, the number 259 (to Glespin) which goes through Rigside, Sandilands (occasionally) and Kirkfieldbank (occasionally), which can be caught from Lanark Bus Station. It takes approximately 40 minutes, depending on what route it takes (whether it goes through Sandilands and Kirkfieldbank or not).

There is aslo a number 9 bus (Stuarts Coaches) which does the same route but runs on weekends and week day evenings when Whitelaws doesn’t run.

Here are a few useful references to websites for more information:

Douglas History
Douglas Clan
Black Douglases and Red Douglases
Douglas Castle
Sir James Douglas “Black Douglas”
General Stanislaw Maczek
Cross Keys Inn, Douglas
The Douglas Heritage Museum
Douglas Paigie Walk

~~~

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered/
twitter.com/penny_hoops

Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas

Back in 2009, when I had only just turned 21, I decided to do something big. Something I had never done before… I went to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. Sun, sea and surfing (well, I probably won’t be doing the surfing bit!)

But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows… I went with an ex boyfriend, who made my life hell, had a falling out with my family out there and suffered with mental health issues.

The journey there was awful, 25 hours flying, leaving on the 4th of December 2009. I was lucky that the flights were cheap, even though it was a few weeks before Christmas, it was too early for people to be flying out to see family for the holidays. I had a layover at Singapore, but not long enough to escape the airport, and a connecting flight from Melbourne to Brisbane, where I will be staying with family in Burpengary.

I stayed with an Aunt and her husband, and for a little bit of my stay I was in the company of my step-cousin and a couple of his friends. And of course, my ex, but that quickly turned nasty just before Christmas. In fact, I had a falling out with my Aunt and her husband and ended up moving in with a Australian family.

My Aunt lived in a town called Burpengary, just North of Brisbane City, in the state of Queensland. It wasn’t a bad place to live, quiet, local amenities, a train station to get into Brisbane. Although it got boring pretty quickly.

The Ex

Day three (7th Dec) into to the year (hopefully) spending in Australia, my ex decided he was going to spend a good chunk of his money on a bike. Now, my ex was a bike enthusiast, although I didn’t share his enthusiasm, but I do like my cars, so I appreciated his enthusiasm and supported his dream to buy a bike.

DSC00288

Even if it was day three.

And the majority of his money was going on this bike.

And I had to spend my own money helping him out with other things, like new clothes for work (we’ll get to that).

Day Five (9th Dec). My ex got a job (well, he at least went for a job interview). We hadn’t even been in Australia a week and he was getting work! I mean, it was good that he was proactive at getting a job, but this became un-fun very quickly. I was hoping to explore and experience Australia for at least a little bit first. He had other ideas. And it was equally painful when I had to help my ex buy clothes for his new job! New shirts, trousers, even new shoes. The little bit of money I had saved up before getting to Australia was getting smaller.

Day Seven (11th Dec). My ex was sending the bike off to get repaired. Yeah, he bought a new bike… which needs repairs. Even more money being spent.

Now, this is where it gets interesting…

I don’t know what day it was exactly, but it was between Day 13 (17th Dec) and Day 20 (24th Dec – Christmas Eve!) that I decided to throw my ex’s things on the front lawn. I’ve told this story to a few people, and it’s still a really interesting story to tell. But basically, I had been feeling low for a while, I felt like no one cared and no one really understood me, not even the boyfriend. On top of it (which I now realised as I didn’t at the time) he was gaslighting me, making me feel like I was the paranoid one, when he clearly was seeing other women.

He wasn’t really being secretive about it either, he was obviously talking to other women, on this dating site “Plenty of fish”, but he made me think he was only looking for ‘friends’. The website had the option to look for friendships, to tell other people you were in a relationship. I had seen his profile, it did say he was just looking for friends, but no where did it say he was in a relationship.

I joined him on it, as I was naive (yet suspicious, I wasn’t completely stupid) and I did meet a few people on there, it was through this website that I met the friend I eventually went to stay with after an issue with my Aunt and Uncle. But, the general feel of the website was for relationships and hookups.

But one day, when it got to the point that I had to look through his history on his laptop (I know, cliche psycho girlfriend thing to do! But I needed a reason!) and I found exactly what he was doing, and decided I had enough. Long story short, I tried to contact him at work and he refused to talk to me, so I decided that if he wasn’t going to talk to me, I was going to put his things outside.

I did. But he didn’t make it easy for me. He literally got so angry that he threatened mine and my Aunt’s life. It was just us two at the time, my Uncle was out at work and my step-cousin and his friends had gone off on an adventure somewhere.

Needless to say I was scared. My aunt and I locked doors and windows, closed curtains, all after shoving his things onto the lawn. We threatened him with the police, after he was being abusive, and the funniest thing was, when he came round with a truck to get his things, moments before, a police traffic patrol car came and sat right outside the house as if karma was on our side. He had no idea that we never called them, and he parked up and walked straight up to them. I wonder sometimes how things would have gone if the police weren’t there.

That wasn’t the last time I heard from him. The break had a huge affect on me, I was still quite young, having only had my 21st birthday (which was pretty shit, but that’s another story), so I was still in touch with him. I can’t remember the order, but I remember a few things happening around Christmas with him. One thing I remember was that I had his friend (who I knew too) ask me why I was being a bitch and bribing him, holding his passport and refusing to give it back to him until I got the money he owed me – I had no idea I still had his passport, all of this was made up, it’s scary how easy it was for him to lie to people, not just me. Although I was asking him for the money he owed me, not only the money from which I paid for his clothes, but I also paid for our travel insurance, he owed me for that too. I also remember him messaging me on New Years drunk and sending some really creepy messages, and I think it was from then on that I decided to cut all contant.

But, moving on, I still managed to see a few places while I was there, throughout my whole stay I saw Brisbane City Centre, Gold Coast / Surfer’s Paradise, Australia Zoo, Glasshouse Mountains, Stradbroke Island, Noosa, Moranbah and even took a trip to Sydney.

Brisbane City Centre

I visisted Brisbane City Centre in the first week I was in Australia, my Aunt and Uncle had taken us in to show me about. It was a pretty interesting city, a bubbly business district mainly, but it had a few interesting things for torists to do. From the man-made beach, the markets and a casino (I heard it called Bris-vegas once, but thought it was funny as there was apparently only one casino at the time).

Although I wasn’t hugely impressed with it as a tourist destination. At the end of the day, it is just a business city. Large buildings, a river running through it. There wasn’t much to see once you’d seen the River, the few Museums (there was a Natural History Museum if I remember rightly), the beach and the casino. It was a place you’d go for just a day out. It was just like any other city, large buildings that people work in, shops that you get in other cities like Starbucks and H&M and yes as it’s a city you get the big brands like Chanel and Gucci. It didn’t really have anything different to other cities.

Although, I do remember going to a Dessert Restaurant with a friend once, a restaurant specifically for desserts. That was one thing that I liked about the place; if you wanted to go out for a decent night out, something different to the usual pub-grub meal, to a decent bar or restaurant maybe (I’m not a clubber myself), then yeah, Brisbane was a little up there.

I will admit, I didn’t really get the chance to explore Brisbane City. My view of the city was a quick stop tour, a hop on the CityCat across the river, walk through the markets and a few pubs/bars stops. I’d be interested to go back to actually see more of the place, do a bit more research, be a bit more adventurous, have a bit more money to spend in unique bars and restaurants.

But I know I wouldn’t be upset if I never went back, there are other places I’d be more interested in seeing first. And that includes places inside Australia.

~~~

If you liked this post, please do press that like button and follow! I’ll be writing a few more travel blogs in the future! More adventures in Australia, Scotland, England, Egypt and hopefully other places when I get travelling again!

Click here to read my post on Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire

Also, please do check out my other posts, such as my written works:

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1
New Story idea!
Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

Also, check out my other adventures:

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire

I’ve had the lovely experience living in South Lanarkshire for a while, also recently having to move back to the area, and I figured I’d write about what the best places are in the area.

New Lanark

New Lanark is definately one of my favourites. A UNESCO World Heritage Site because of it’s 18th-century village built up around an old cotton mill and next to the River Clyde. Definitely a lovely place to go if you’re a keen photographer.

If you’re a history buff too, or just generally like a day out, it’s not a bad site, not only can you walk around the area and soak up the buildings and the working old mill, but there is also a number of attractions to see, from the roof garden, Robert Owen’s School for children, Millworker’s House and Robert Owen’s House to name a few.

There is also a cafe and shop on site, the New Lanark Mill Shop. Although the cafe isn’t exactly the most comfortable, as it looks more functional than anything, it still does some half-decent hot foods, cold foods and drinks. During the summer months, they also have New Lanark Ice Cream in the usual flavours, but some not to usual, such as Irn Bru (I’d recommend!)

The shop is also large and has a variety of items being sold, of course there is a huge section dedicated to Wool and Textiles, but they also sell clothes, books, jewelry, home wear and foods!

New Lanark also has it’s own Hotel, the New Lanark Mill Hotel, if you’d like to stay in the area, which also has it’s own bar and restaurant. I’ve had the pleasure of both eating and drinking there, it has a beautiful bar area, although it can get busy during the summer months as it doesn’t have a lot of seating. And I can’t comment on the dining, as I went there for Christmas dinner one year, and unfortunately wasn’t that impressed, hopefully a typical evening meal would be more enjoyable.

But aside from the odd negatives, I still enjoy going back frequently.

(c) Photographs by Penny Hooper. No sharing/copying without permission.

Falls of Clyde

If you visit New Lanark, I’d also recommend the walk along the river to see the Falls of Clyde. Autumn is my favourite time of year to go, as the leaves on the trees are turning all types of beautiful colours and if you go just after a decent rain fall, the falls will be spectacular! Remember to charge up your camera!

It’s a bit of a walk, so it’s not ideal for those who aren’t very able-bodied, and there are a few steps. It can also get a little muddy in places, so I’d take some shoes you don’t mind getting a little dirty and take a decent coat with you just in case the weather turns. It is roughly about an hour and a half to Corra Linn and back.

There are four Linns in total. Corra Linn (Linn is Scottish Gaelic for Waterfall) is the tallest, and I’d recommend seeing this one at least. But you also have Bonnington Linn, Dundaff Linn (closest to New Lanark) and Stonebyres Linn (lower falls).

If you’re adventurous enough, like I am, I’d recommend walking all the way to the bridge/Weir (Bonnington Weir) and walk across the other side and along to the right, following the river. Here you can see Bonnington Linn. You can even walk as far as Corra Castle, although it’s not a huge castle, it is hidden away in the undergrowth (apparently home to some rare bats!)

If you’re even more adventurous than I am, the walk along the river can take you all the way into Glasgow! Have a look at the South Lanarkshire Council website for the maps: https://www.southlanarkshire.gov.uk/downloads/download/258/clyde_walkway

Alongside the Falls, if you’re an animal and/or nature fan, the Falls of Clyde have a Wildlife Reserve. They have regular evening badger watches, wildlife themed events and even interactive toys and games for children. For more information check out the Scottish Wildlife Trust website: https://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/reserve/falls-of-clyde/ They claim to have a Peregrine watch site a third of the way up, but I have a feeling there are no Peregrine Falcons nesting in the area anymore.

(c) Photographs by Penny Hooper. No sharing/copying without permission.

Biggar

Going the other way, towards the Scottish Borders, is a little town called Biggar (ironically). It’s a medival town built in 1451 and has a wealth of attractions for such a small town. The only downside I can personally comment, is unlike it’s cousins towns and villages in the Scottish Borders, it doesn’t have the beautiful backdrop of hills and mountains around it.

However, there are lots of things to do. From the world famous Victorian puppet theatre, Biggar & Upper Clydesdale Museum and Biggar Gasworks Museum (the only preserved gas works in Scotland).

Biggar is also home to a number of festivals and events, with the famous Biggar Little Festival which is held in October each year, which celebrates arts, dance, crafts, drama and literature. If you stay around until New Year, you may also catch the Hogmanay bonfire and torch-lit procession through the town. It also hosts argricultural shows and vintage car rallies.

Chatelherault Country Park

Going away from The Scottish Borders and past Lanark and New Lanark, closer to Glasgow is a town called Hamilton and just on the outskirts is Chaterherault Country Park.

A 18th century hunting lodge with 500 acres of countryside and woodland. In the summer it’s a great place to go with children, with picnic facilities and a large adventure play ground. Also a great place to go for dog walkers and adventurers alike.

The house and grounds are all free admission, which makes a great cheap day out, with a few of the rooms being open to the public to see, and a small museum inside of what life used to be like there. There is a Cafe inside and a Gift Shop and it is even a great place to hold a Wedding or Private Event.

The grounds offer many trails, the main reason why I go there, as the trails take you through a varity of walks, through woods, across/under bridges (i.e. The Duke’s Bridge) and along a river (River Avon). There is even a small castle ruins called Cadzow Castle (although the last time I saw it, the small castle was trapped within a maze of scaffolding!) and keep your eyes out for the Cadzow Cattle or White Park Cattle a rare breed of ancient horned cattle that live in a field right next to the lodge.

(c) Photographs by Penny Hooper. No sharing/copying without permission.

Bothwell Castle

On the other side of Hamilton, if Cadzow Castle wasn’t enough castle for you, there is 13th Century Bothwell Castle. Another cheap day out, at £3.00 each for an adult, £2.40 concession, £1.80 child (free for Children until 5) or if you’re a Young Scot Card Holder, it’s only £1.00!

There is a fair amount of Bothwell Castle still standing, but what is striking about the Castle is it’s reddish colour and the large tower (or donjon).

The land originally was owned by Walter of Moray who began the construction of the castle in the mid 1200s. But by the late 1200s, was the start of the Wars of Scottish Independence, and Bothwell was unfortunately in the line of fire.

There is a lot of history around Bothwell, more than a simple Blog post can explain, and which I will leave you guys to find out. But one last thing I will note is that Bothwell passed to the Black Douglases, which pops up again later in this blog post, so keep your eye out!

(c) Photographs by Penny Hooper. No sharing/copying without permission.

Douglas

Heading away from Glasgow and Hamilton, back past New Lanark, but the other side of the motorway from Biggar, is a little village called Douglas.

This is a little village hidden away, not many people know of, mainly because there aren’t many attractions here, yet it is steeped in history!

Douglas is where the Douglas family took their name, originally where the stronghold; Douglas Castle was built, as early as the 13th century. The original castle was destroyed and replaced a number of times, until the last building to stand on the site was a large 18th century mansion. Unfortunately this too was demolished in 1938 due to mining in the area, but a single 17th century corner tower still remains.

Douglas and Douglas Castle was also in the line of fire from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the early 1300s, having been captured by Lord Clifford, but Sir James Douglas, Robert the Bruce’s friend, recaptured his family seat. It was because of this, and the loyalty of the Douglases, Robert the Bruce rewarded the Douglases by creating the title Earl of Douglas.

For any literacy fans, like myself, the Castle itself was also where Walter Scott got his inspiration for his novel “Castle Dangerous”.

Although the remaining Castle tower is 17th century, this isn’t the oldest building in the village. St. Bride’s Church is 14th century and became the mausoleum of the Douglases. The church yard and a part of the old church is free to wander, to gain access inside you need prior arrangement.

There is a long story about Robert the Bruce, his heart and James Douglas, one that will require a seperate blog post, but a long story short, Robert the Bruce wished to go on a crusade, but Robert was unfortunately dying. He entrusted James Douglas to take his heart on a crusade. Douglas died in battle, his bones taken back to St. Bride’s Church and Bruce’s heart was eventually buried at Melrose Abbey (his body was buried in Dunfermline Abbey close to his wife’s).

There is a small museum (The Douglas Heritage Museum) which originally was St Sophia’s Chapel, located next to the church yard, but only opens at the weekends between 14:00 and 17:00 (although I am sure it’s usually during the summer months) or by special arrangement.

Douglas has a small claim to fame in recent years too, having been a site for filming of Agatha Christie’s Ordeal By Innocence. If you’re a fan of Agatha Christie, or have seen the series, you might recognise “The Cross Keys”, located on the High Street.

There are also lots of hidden places to walk around Douglas, up in the wooded hills around the area.

(c) Photographs by Penny Hooper. No sharing/copying without permission.

To read more about Douglas, places of interest, and the history, I’ve recently created a new blog: Douglas, South Lanarkshire – A Hidden Gem

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please check out my other blog posts:

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

I won! I came first in the Earnesty Writer’s Awards 2018 Paranormal Genre!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

I’m abseiling 165ft for Barnardos!