I wasn’t going to blog today, I was going to have a break and just focus on getting my first video done for my YouTube done.
But… it turns out… I finished it! I uploaded my first YouTube video! So, I might as well blog about it!
Now the whole world will see me… will hear me talk… and I’m open for criticism… (I’ll post the video below).
But first, I want to explain what it is and why I did it.
Most of you should hopefully know by now that I had Selective Mutism as a child, I only recently understood what this was in the last few years, for most of my life I just thought I was odd… that I was alone with this weird secret… and I kept it to myself. But, now I know I’m not alone and I want to talk about it (ahhh!!) and hopefully spread a bit of awareness about it so others, like me, know they’re not alone!
What is Selective Mutism? Well, watch the video to find out! 🙂
I also want to apologise, I filmed this back in December… before Christmas!… and it’s taken me ages to edit and finally upload.
I tried a few different video editing software (open source, because I’m tight!), from OpenShot (it was really glitchy!) to Blender (which kept freezing) and finally found Shotcut which was sooo much better!
But of course, life also got in the way… what with working full time, writing (I will get Rose Garden Sanatorium finished if it’s the last thing I do!) and planning a Route 66 Tour (as well as other things… occasionally doing the washing up for example).
I hope you like it.
And apologies for the bad lighting, camera quality (it was a DSLR with no auto-focus), and the little jumps as I tried to edit out my ‘umm’s. Haha!
Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!
Here’s the sixth installment of author interviews. Today I am sharing an interview I had with a friend of mine. I can’t even remember where I met him (might have been on WattPad?), but we jelled pretty quickly, not only because we both write, but because we both like the same sorts of things – the weird and wonderful.
Say hello to my little friend… I mean… say hello to Raymond Newsome!
Raymond lives in Eastern Kentucky with his girlfriend and five children (reading and creativity are always encouraged!) When he’s not writing and spending time with his family, he works as a nursing aid for a local nursing home.
Raymond has a few books out, ‘I am Brian’, ‘Rise of the Fallen’, and a children’s book called ‘The Adventures of Pipsqueak and Bob’. Read below for a sneak peak into my favourite; ‘I am Brian’.
I am Brian
I remember reading the first few chapters of ‘I am Brian’ before Raymond finished and published it and it had me hooked. It’s written in the view of the murderer; Brian Leroy Lewis, and you think; okay, so not a typical ‘who done it‘ because you already know who done it. But the guy sends you on a ride anyway!
After arriving at a grisly murder scene, Detective Jackson finds the killer waiting on the porch.
During the police interview, the murderer introduces himself as none other than Brian Leroy Lewis – a younger man full of mental issues and a sinister history.
He promised a written confession on the terms he can leave a taped record of his life and the people he’s murdered. If Detective Jackson refuses, a new victim will die.
But what exactly are the motives of Brian Leroy Lewis?
Above is a link to the book sold on Amazon in both paperback and e-book format. I can’t wait to get my hands on a real physical, and hopefully signed, paperback copy!
Now, let’s try and decode what’s inside Raymond’s mind…
What inspired you to start writing?
I started reading at an early age and loved it before school forces you to dissect every word. In elementary school in Ohio, they took us to different schools to listen to children’s authors who would visit. That was the beginning.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I used to limit the first draft to a few months, however, the last year has done a number on my writing time and forced me to accept to just focus on the end without a timeline in mind.
Which one of your works is your favourite?
‘I am Brian’ currently holds that position, but one of my current projects may lay claim soon.
What’s your current book about?
I don’t have a current, finished book, but I do have one that I am over halfway finished with the first draft. It’s about a handful of citizens in the fictional city of Pangaea. They experienced the corruption of the city first-hand and began to do something about it. While attempting to help their separate city districts, they discovered each other and the common goal of the man responsible for everything.
What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?
Flow. If a story doesn’t have a steady flow, you can lose a reader fast. I’ve put down multiple books for this reason. Characters. My characters are everything to me. They are the drive behind every action and reaction. Finally, keeping the grammar proficient enough not to discourage the readers. Just like flow, too many typos can lead to someone not wanting to finish the story.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to read and watch whatever movie or show has caught my attention. I love to go on trips with my family. Last summer, I ventured into kayaking, which is amazing.
How much research did you need to do for your books?
A lot of the subjects I touch on in my books (the occult, supernatural, serial killers) I have studied and researched for years before ever deciding to incorporate them into my writing. However, there are those little details that add the zing to a scene that can require multiple Google searches to your writing time.
Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?
I have four active projects, including the one I mentioned earlier. I have close to fifty others in the early stages of my process.
What advise would you give to someone thinking about writing?
Write about something you want to read. If you love the book, your passion is there on the pages. Your readers will feel that. Practice your craft. I started with short stories and poetry which eventually evolved to books. Maybe those are what you love, so pour your soul into them. The goal is to write and keep writing. No matter what the first draft looks like, it can be fixed in editing.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We all have a story to tell. One day you’ll be ready to tell it, and it will change the lives of others. That is the power of your words. Thank you.
If you would like to learn more about Raymond and his books or follow him on social media. Here are a few links:
Last year (it feels weird saying that) I decided to interview a few fellow authors with the intention of helping them get their work the recognition they deserve. It’s been pretty successful too, I’ve had a few people approach me and I’ve had some nice comments. I’ve also made some good contacts, found some really interesting books and even learnt a few new things along the way.
Keeping up with my daily life as well as writing and blogging has been pretty difficult lately, and I’ve struggled to keep to a schedule – and let’s face it, book marketing isn’t the easiest either – I’ve decided to create this blog post so that I can reach more people easily and help their hard work get recognised.
So, if you are a writer/author, would like your short story/novel/true story/memoir featured on my website, please feel free to get in touch! I have listed a few questions below and a contact form. Feel free to email me between 5-15 questions and I will see if I can get your featured on my website!
What got you into writing?
Where do you get your ideas?
What inspired you to start writing?
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Do you have a schedule when writing? Or do you try to fit it in when you can?
How long does it take you to write a book?
Do you use a pseudonym? If not, have you considered it?
How do you deal with criticism?
Do you Google yourself?
What was your hardest scene to write?
Which one of your works is your favourite?
Are you working on anything at the moment?
Are there any themes in your work you are trying to portray?
What’s your current book about?
Is your book based on a real person?
What is your most unusual writing quirk?
Do you play music while you write – and if so, what’s your favourite?
What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?
How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have?
Do you prefer to read the book first, or watch the movie first?
What is your favourite word, and why?
Was writing your dream job as child, or was it something else?
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Can you tell me a little about your book?
Can you tell me a little about the main character(s)?
Do you think the LGBT+ community in literature is unrepresented?
Do you have a LGBT+ book you’d recommend everyone read?
What is your upcoming book about?
Do you write every single day?
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
How do you use social media as an author?
What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?
How much research did you need to do for your books?
What do you need in your writing space to keep you focused?
Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?
If a film were made of your book, who would you like to be cast in the leading roles?
What advise would you give to someone thinking about writing?
Do you have any good blogs you’d recommend for writing?
Anything else you’d like to add?
Please submit your answers (between 5-15) via the contact form below. Alternatively, you can contact me on email@example.com. If you have any images of book covers, marketing images or even wish to have a photo of yourself, please feel free to email these over to the email above.
NB: Please note, if you submit more than 15 questions, I may not publish them all and will pick 15 at random.
“Alice!” my startlingly beautiful, long blonde haired friend gasped in shock. Her gorgeous blue eyes twinkled at me, her mouth slightly ajar in surprised after I told her the train-wreck of an interivew I had yesterday. “You did what?”
“I know! After all that, I told the woman outside to fuck off too,” I said, before burying my face in my hands and groaned.
Olivia and I were sat in a café round the corner to where she worked. I decided to meet up with her before her shift started and I had explained what had happened with the interview from start to end in surprising vivid detail. Well, leaving out a few details; like the handsome man that was behind the table. That was something Olivia would have wanted to know more about rather than the interview itself. She had a bit of an obsession with men.
I liked Olivia, she was the closest thing I had to a best friend. She was originally my roommate for a few months after I moved to the city. She had a small spare room for rent, and luckily she had it up for quite cheap too. We hit it off quite quickly, which I was extremely surprised about. She was a beautiful blonde girl, only a year younger than I was, and was extremely outgoing. I was the complete opposite, but she was surprisingly easy to get along with. Our little arrangement only lasted a few months though, I had found out she was actually renting the apartment herself and wasn’t actually allowed to rent out the other bedroom. The landlord had kicked us both out and we had to go our separate ways. But our strange friendship lasted.
“That’s amazing! At least you fucked it up in style!” she giggle hysterically.
“It’s useless! I’m never going to get a job in a hotel! Maybe I am better off going back to care?”
“Don’t be silly, there are still loads of hotels out there, or maybe you’re better off starting somewhere smaller? Like a hostel or something?” she said, touching my hand in sympathy. “Just don’t yell at the interview panel and tell people to fuck off!” she suddenly smiled.
I groaned again. I realised after having a good long think about what I had done—the whole Miss/Mrs mistake—there was still chance to salvage the interview; just laugh it off as an administration error. But no, instead I decided to yell at people and storm out like a spoilt brat.
Plus, to make matters worse; I really wanted that particular job. Yeah, the role was just entry level, probably only filing and paper pushing. But the company was supposed to be a really good company to work for. I heard rumours that people who started at the company would be well looked after and they really helped you progress. I had dreams of going far in the company. I needed to go far in the company. I needed to prove myself. It was also a social enterprise too, so it helps the community, something that had caught my attention in particular. Global Elite, the company was called. That hotel was just one of two in London, and one of, probably lots around the world. I had done a bit of research, hoping my knowledge of the company and its history might have won me some brownie points. Not that I even got that far.
Olivia open her mouth—probably about to comfort me in her usual sarcastic way—but closed it when my mobile phone rang loudly next to me. I stared at the caller ID but I didn’t recognise the number. It wasn’t a saved contact, so I didn’t rush to answer it. Besides, I had a feeling I knew who it was.
“Aren’t you going to answer it?” Olivia asked, her well-manicured eyebrow rose at my curiously.
“No, it’s probably Simon,” I replied, still staring at the mobile as it danced and sang at me.
“I thought you like Simon?”
Simon was my ex. Well, he was and he wasn’t. We didn’t officially break up. I just walked out on him a while back and stopped talking to him. I guess that consitutes as an ex. We weren’t together for long anyway. Either way I didn’t tell Olivia the whole story. In fact, I didn’t really tell her anything. She didn’t even know I had stopped seeing him. She didn’t exactly ask.
She watched me silently for a few seconds as if trying to digest a hidden meaning in those two words. “Then what’s the problem?”
I sighed. “I’ve stopped seeing him,” I explained, and Olivia’s eyebrows rose together this time. “He came across… desperate,” I continued, when Olivia didn’t say anything.
Olivia burst out laughing. “Maybe he was just horny and wanted to get in your knickers?”
I gave her a look, which was supposed to be a don’t-be-so-gross look, but she clearly read it wrong. I hated the word ‘horny’ and Olivia knew it.
“Wait!” She gasped. “Did you two—”
“No!” I snapped. “I didn’t sleep with him!”
I had told Olivia that I wanted to wait, at least until I knew that he and I would go far in a relationship. Plus, I was a little shy in that department. Unlike Olivia, I wasn’t so confident. But I guess it was a while since I last spoke to Olivia about Simon. Knowing Olivia, she probably thought I did sleep with him and that was why I dumped him.
Olivia just held her hands up in defence. “Can’t blame me for asking, he is fairly attractive. I would. Even if it was just for a quick shag.”
“Olivia!” I gasped in shock at my friend. Although I wasn’t sure why I was still so shocked, she was always like this. But Olivia was a young, beautiful blonde woman, and she always had men after her. I was just lucky that I met Simon on my own and not when I was with her. I had visions of him going off with her instead. “You know I’m not like that!”
She shrugged. “Nothing wrong with it.”
“The guy wanted a serious relationship, not just a quick shag,” I said, lowering my voice slightly so the couple on the table next to us wouldn’t hear me. Which was pointless, they had clearly overheard Oliva. She was so embarrassing sometimes.
“I know, I know!” She nodded. “But you should at least consider it, you never know, you might enjoy it!” She winked.
But I ignored her, my mobile rang again.
“Hey, if it is Simon, wouldn’t it come up on your phone as Simon’s number?” she asked, pointing at the phone.
“No, I deleted it,” I said.
“You deleted his number from your phone?” she asked, her eyebrows rose again.
“I know, it was a mistake. I forgot I did it and he tried ringing me. I accidentally answered it, not realising it was him, until I heard his voice wheezing down the earpiece—”
“Wheezing?” Olivia asked, looking confused.
I shrugged. “Sounded like he was wheezing, maybe he’s asthmatic?”
“Or he was—”
“Don’t!” I said, stopping her saying something crude that I really didn’t want to hear. I knew she was about to say something crude, it was the look on her face that gave it away. She just laughed. “The point is, I ended up having to block his number in the end because he kept rining and kept for—” I stopped. I had Simon’s number blocked. He couldn’t ring me! I looked at the mobile which was still ringing.
“What?” Olivia asked, clearly not getting why I stopped.
“I have Simon’s number blocked!” I said. “He can’t ring me!”
“Then answer it!” she said quickly. “It might be another hunky desperate man wanting a shag!”
I ignored her and picked my phone up from the table, but just before I was about to answer it, it stopped ringing. I groaned.
“Well, I guess he’s got fed up and found someone else!” Olivia chimed, and took a sip of her coffee.
I ignored her and continued to look at my phone. I was quietly trying to decide what to do. Maybe if I sat and waited for a bit, the caller would ring me back, or maybe leave a voicemail. I liked the idea of someone leaving me a voicemail, if they gave me a hint of who they were, I could decide whether I wanted to ring back.
But after a few minutes ticked by on my phone, no one rang back and no voicemail was left. So instead I decided to ring the number back. Olivia’s attention was on something else—or shall I say, someone else.
“Hello, this is Daniel’s phone. Jason speaking,” someone with a rather lovely deep voice said on the other end of the phone. I didn’t recognise any of the names; I didn’t know a Daniel or a Jason, nor did I recognise the voice.
“Err, hi, I just got a miss call on this number?”
“Ah, yes. Dan did look a little flustered while trying to ring you. Let me find him,” the deep male voice said. I said a qiuck thank you but I got interrupted when I heard the same deep male voice yell in the background; “Oi, you cunt, you have one of your bimbos on the phone asking for you!”
My face dropped and I hung up quickly. Clearly not someone I wanted to know anyway. I silently hoped neither of them rang me again. Annoyingly, Olivia hadn’t even noticed what had happened.
Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow! I also recently had my hair cut off for charity! Read about it here!
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
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?
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
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
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
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, 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.
Polish War Memorial Garden, Douglas. (c) Penny Hooper.
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.
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!
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.
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:
Both of my books are currently 99c in e-book format on Smashwords!
The idea of putting them up for sale is to get more reviews and traffic through my sites. I don’t get a lot of profits from selling them so cheap, as Smashwords takes a good chunk, but it’s mostly to get my name out there.
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What would you do if you realised the man you fell in love with had a psychopathic personality disorder?
After getting her degree in history, Jo took the plunge and moved to Chicago. But one day a guy changes her life completely. And not necessarily in a good way.
When she first moved to the city, Jo met Liam. She had a small crush on him from day one. Along with his good looks, he was funny and charming. Maybe a little immature, but he never failed to make her laugh. Finally, one day Liam asks Jo out on a date and she is stupidly nervous and surprised he even likes her!
Jo meets Xander in a bar. He is handsome and confident. He holds himself tall and constantly watches her reactions with mild curiosity. She keeps bumping into him, sometimes deliberately. He seems to say all the right things and do all the right things and she finds herself craving more of him.
The problem was, however, one of them is a psychopath and he now has an obsession with Jo…
Synopsis for It’s My Mistake:
Alice wants a career change, especially after a terrible incident at her last job. Her dream job has always been to work in a hotel, maybe even own one. But after messing up an interview very spectacularly for a vacancy at a well-known hotel chain in London, she wasn’t expecting to hold the attention of the Global Business Manager; Daniel Jeffries. And in more ways than one. Does Alice take the risk and accept Dan’s offer or does she play it safe?
Who knew that that interview day would be the day that changed Alice’s life? But is it for the better? Is this alluring Global Business Manager as amazing as he seems? And who is that mysterious yet amazingly handsome man at the hotel?
**Mature Content** Recommended for ages 18+ due to sexual situations and language.