How to Find Finnich Glen (The Devil’s Pulpit) – Outlander Location

I’m not the ‘fangirl’ type, and I prefer fact to fiction in life and TV, but when my mother-in-law messaged me saying, ‘You must watch Outlander’, I gave it a go. Over 60 hours of my life spent in front of the screen appreciating Jamie Fraser and before we know it we are headed to Scotland on an Outlander quest.

Outlander Locations

We graced Doune Castle (Castle Leoch), Dunure Castle (Silkies Island), Hopetoun House (Duke of Sandringham’s house and the site of the duel), Midhope Castle (Lallybroch), Linlithgow Palace (Wentworth prison), and Blackness Castle where we were serenaded by bagpipes after fun facts from Ray, the guide (the flogging and Claire & Jamie’s escape from Fort William, which we re-enacted). All of these places are great, notwithstanding the Outlander connection, definitely worth going to. By far the trickiest Outlander location to visit is Finnich Glen, Devil’s Pulpit, the scene of Claire’s test of honesty test by Dougal MacKenzie. Had she attempted it, I’m not sure mother-in-law would have lived to tell the tale.

Finnich Glen – The Devil’s Pulpit (Liar’s Spring)

The first thing to say is, I think for now, the Scottish Tourist Board would really rather you did not go. Why?

  • It is quite dangerous
  • Parking is inadequate and oversubscribed
  • Locals are having their space, and driveways, invaded

Hence, parking restrictions are now in place and are being enforced.

However, if you are a determined Outlander fan (most likely), you will go to Finnich Glen. There are plans afoot to make it more visitor friendly, but in the meantime, here are some details you need for a safe and enjoyable visit.

Not for the faint hearted, or sufferers of severe vertigo

Parking at The Devil’s Pulpit is a Devil of a Job!

First off, there is a layby that lies almost opposite the access to the surface of the glen, alongside but behind the new double yellow lines. Do not park here, you will get a ticket!

Parking bay for three cars is now out of bounds, you will get a ticket! What3Words: wired.flukes.export

Where to park to visit Finnich Glen/The Devil’s Pulpit/Liar’s Spring

Be prepared for very limited parking, avoid busy times, try to go during the week or early morning/late afternoon/evening. The surrounding roads for miles around now have double yellow lines, every driveway has a sign asking people not to turn/park. There is an area that can hold around eight considerately parked cars, a short walk away from the steps down to the Devil’s Pulpit (See info later re how to locate the steps).

  1. Limited parking for approximately 8 cars
  2. Access to the top of the glen beside wall
  3. Location of the top of the steps down to the glen
Finnich Glen information

Once you have successfully parked (and you may have to wait for a space), walk along the A809 until you reach a wall on your left. There is a gate in this wall that is probably locked, at the end of the wall is a space that you can climb through

Next, find the steps! You can either use What3Words app, type in ‘ratty.access.airtime’ or follow the edge of the gorge until you happen across them, don’t go too close, the 70 foot drop is almost vertical, the going is tricky underfoot and the edge is, edgy.

It’s a long way down, those specks at the bottom are people

About the steps…

They are potentially slippery, and to say the least, uneven. Flip-flops are not a great choice. There are ropes to hang on to beside the steps most of the way. If you suffer from vertigo you won’t find this part heaps of fun.

The Devil’s Pulpit

The descent, and the glen itself, are worth it. Emerald green walls, water that appears red, this place feels magical.

What is it about people who leave litter?

Most of us wouldn’t consider dropping litter around the countryside, none of us want to live in a slum, do we. It’s a bugbear of mine wherever it is, but I have no clue what would make a person choose to leave their litter in a place such as this, don’t be that person.

Finally, stay safe, have a great time, take a towel, you need to get wet if you’re going to venture around the glen.

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DIETS DO NOT WORK – Let’s be honest

As an individual and as a content writer, this has been a bug bear of mine for years so I am just going to put this out there. Diets are probably the biggest cause of obesity. Let that sit there for a minute or two.

Yet again we approach the new year with a plethora of January publications offering diets with the promise of making us slim, toned, or happy. By promoting diets, they are totally missing the point and exacerbating the problem.

What about obesity?

Maybe it’s greed, maybe there are psychological triggers that cause people to overeat, but we seem to steadfastly ignore the causes. People overeat for myriad reasons best explained by the field of psychology, but those reasons are what we should be looking at if we are to help people achieve a healthy life.

The problem with diets

Magazines that constantly resort to mindless articles showing size 6 models in bikinis alongside a temporary regime restricting calorie intake, need to review what they are doing. And therein lies the problem, a diet is temporary. If you go ON a diet, by definition, you will come OFF it. Suddenly restricting calorie intake will ultimately make your clever body adapt to the reduction in calories, its single aim is your survival. While a diet causes one’s mind to be yet more focused on food, or lack thereof, the body makes all necessary adjustments to survive i.e. it will decrease the rate of metabolism to conserve energy. Going on a diet may cause you to temporarily lose weight, and then you come off your diet.

What happens next is a predictable downward spiral of yo-yo dieting. Your newly decreased metabolism means that calories are burned less efficiently, food eaten isn’t used for energy in the same way. As you begin to eat ‘normally’ your body will not metabolise the increased intake of calories, but will conserve it. People desperately believe they have to ‘get back on’ their diet to lose the new weight gain. And so it goes on.

The solution is to resolve what triggers excess eating and adopt lifelong, healthy eating habits, moderation, and exercise, but that doesn’t sell magazines.

Quality Content Production

Why am I talking about this? I am not a big reader of magazines, but I do receive ‘second hand’ mags. Every year I am dismayed by the unwillingness to tackle the real issues behind obesity. It is certainly more complex to analyse and address what drives people to overeat, but that is not an adequate excuse to ignore them and continue with the ‘sticking plaster’ solution of showing people what they ‘should’ look like and convincing them to follow the path of obsessing about food intake.

Journalists, editors, content writers et al, how about it? How about digging a bit deeper and supporting your audience to look inward, to analyse the triggers that cause them to overeat, to value themselves highly enough to be able to lead a healthy, sustainable lifestyle? It’s going to be harder, it will take more knowledge and research but it is surely a more ethical approach that is healthier for your readers.

The reality is, the diet industry is worth billions, this male dominated world, targeted towards women, has no interest in increasing awareness that diets are bad. There is money to be made, books to be sold, ‘diet’ food to be marketed, good health to be destroyed.

Our responsibility

It’s time to change, the NHS is overwhelmed with the current pandemic, valuable resources being spent on obesity related illness are badly needed elsewhere. We need to be more accountable and responsible for the content we produce, lives depend on it.

As a reader, I choose to ignore it. As a content writer, I choose integrity, I write content for companies and causes that are worthy and I believe in. As a person, I choose kindness, we have a responsibility to each other and to the planet we are lucky enough to inhabit.

I wish you a happy and healthy year ahead.

Image credit: Dan Gould on Unsplash
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Customer Loyalty

Here we are at another Friday evening, the wine is open, my working week is beginning to wind down. Allow me to tell you about what happened to me this week.

Introducing my parents

I went to visit my parents. Throughout lockdown I have followed the rules, they are in the vulnerable category and I have done everything in my power to protect them. We have graduated from daily calls (My mother is now adept at video calling), to parking alongside each other in an outdoor space, to sitting distanced in a back garden, to standing in doorways, to actually sitting in the same room. I have yet to touch them but it is a small sacrifice to know I am keeping them safe.

Loyalty

‘Anyhoo’, that’s not my point. This week’s visit was timed around the arrival of their new bed. Again, this bed held within the promise of more comfort and more sleep. As a panacea to increasing age and ailments, this bed mattered. This bed was being delivered by the same company from which they have bought the majority of their beds, and other furniture for the past 50 years. Once again, my parents traveled all the way to my father’s birth town to make their purchase. Why? You may ask. Why? I asked.

How do you create customer loyalty?

Our daily lives are infiltrated with every marketing trick in the book, attention grabbing headlines, catchy subject lines, sales, banner re targeting, adverts, discounts, constant sales, offers…constant noise. Customer loyalty is the holy grail, what must we do to make it happen?

And here’s the thing

My father has remained loyal to this particular furniture shop because, just after the war, in 1945, 75 years ago, this company sent out a quarter of tea and two pounds of sugar to all their customers, two of whom, were my father’s parents. It was enough.

Why so loyal?

75 years of loyalty, thousands of pounds of custom, for a quarter of tea and two pounds of sugar. In my father’s words, ‘You couldn’t get it, I have no idea how they did it, but they did, and I have never forgotten it’.

How About A Return to Values that Matter?

I’m just going to leave that there. Enjoy your weekend.

Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash
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World Environment Day

We build and we mine
Burn forests, cut trees
We take lives for sport
And poison the bees

We pollute our oceans
Destroy every reef
We haul fish and dolphins
Leave our nets in the deep

We shoot elephant and rhino
For their tusks and their horn
We cage bears for their bile
Traffic wildlife just born

We fill air with pollution
Dump litter in streets
Don't care for solutions
Just our own selfish 'needs'

On World environment Day
look what we've done
We have to do better
You, me, everyone

#WorldEnvironmentDay

Image credit: John Cameron on Unsplash
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What do YOU want from the post Covid-19 world?

In unprecedented circumstances, we adapted. We worked from home, we managed virtual communication, we sought fewer luxuries, we focused on our health and scheduled exercise into our daily lives. We realised that we could manage without driving to the shop on every whim. We dropped our litter into our bins at home, not in our streets.

We as a society began to recognise and appreciate those who matter: NHS workers, carers, refuse collectors, food store employees, charitable organisations. We learned that the highest paid footballers and celebrities were of little importance or benefit to society, instead we refocused on those who make a difference.

With our heads less full and our noses lifted from the grindstone we noticed the world around us, our parents, our children, birdsong, fresh air. We paid attention to each other and to the very best traits of human nature, for example, Captain Tom. We found time, we looked after each other.

Getting Back To Normal

And now the rhetoric refers to ‘getting back to normal’ in order to benefit the economy.

I have no yearning to ‘return to normal’. Normal, is unacceptable, normal harms and destroys, and only benefits ‘the few’.

This is what normal looks like:

  • Species become extinct at a rate of somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate (WWF)
  • Air pollution causes 9% of deaths globally
  • Around 75% of the population survives on less than $10 a day
  • 1% of the human population own 44% of global wealth
  • Each year, 14 BILLION pounds of plastic is dumped into our oceans
  • One person every 40 seconds chooses to end their life
  • We torture and kill animals and call it medicine, or entertainment
  • We kill our fellow human beings, daily, fighting for land, resources, for differences of opinion, because people in positions of power failed to communicate

Shaping your future

Think of all the ways your life has been impacted positively during the coronavirus pandemic. What would you like to retain? As master of your own destiny, what would your choices be?

  • Work from home more
  • Drive electric or hybrid cars
  • Support wildlife
  • Support the people who have a positive impact on our lives
  • Lobby for change
  • Vote people with integrity into power
  • Look out for each other
  • Stand up for what’s right, even when it doesn’t affect you directly

We must be better than this if we are to survive with any reasonable quality of life. Let’s not forget the lessons of 2020

View of the ocean sunrise looking into our future
Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”

― R.J. Palacio, Wonder

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I Can Sing a Rainbow

A little known fact about me is, I learned to speak in Bolton, ‘up North’. By the time I was six and we moved ‘down South’ my own mother could barely understand me.

New Beginnings

One of the first days at my new primary school was an eye opener, for them more than me. The teacher asked the class to recite the rainbow, as I proudly bellowed out ‘I can sing a rainbow’ in my strong northern singing voice, the rest of the class, turned to stare in unison as they recited a completely different version. I soon found myself the centre of unwelcome attention. My nonplussed teacher asked me to explain, so I sung her my rendition of ‘I can sing a rainbow’. Ignoring the fact that my version of the rainbow was scientifically inaccurate, she fetched Mrs Unwin with her guitar. Proudly, I taught Mrs Unwin, who arranged a guitar accompaniment as I sang.

Painted picture of a rainbow, red, yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue My Words Work For You copywriting
I can sing a rainbow…Incorrectly!

The very next day in assembly, Mrs Unwin taught the whole school my version of the rainbow. And so the south was introduced to the rainbow song. But here’s the thing…

You know when the wrong words to a song get stuck in your head and become the words that you sing every time? Well I, at the age of six, always sang

Listen with your ears, Listen with your eyes

(Nicola’s version)

And that, is what I taught Mrs Unwin, and that is what Mrs Unwin taught the whole school. Oops! I knew it should be ‘look with your eyes’, but that wasn’t what was stuck in my head, so that wasn’t what came out of my mouth.

Have you ever stopped to think it just doesn’t make sense?

Importance of Passing on Accurate Information

So why am I telling you this? Now more than ever we are ‘informed’ by social media. People read a message, interpret it their own way, then re-tell it in a way that makes sense in their heads. The crucial part is, many of us are guilty of accepting it as truth without question. For a growing population Facebook is fast becoming a replacement for News at 10.

Reinventing the lyrics of I Can Sing a Rainbow’ is of limited consequence. Passing on misonformation in these anxious times, is quite another matter. As a content writer, I have a responsibility to check everything I write and every source I use for accuracy, my reputation and that of my clients depends on it.

Work hard to seek out the truth, not the truth that you want to believe.

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Repurpose Existing Content

Can you recall how searching for something on the internet used to be? Random results, but far fewer of them.

And now? Reams of results, abundant ads, oodles of organisations clamouring for your click. How does your content compete?

Write Purposeful and Relevant Content

Worldwide, internet users are carrying out over 3.5 billion searches every single minute.. 40,000 searches per second. Rather than adding to the treacle sea that is Google, we need to be making the data we put out taste the sweetest. Content needs to be relevant, purposeful and should motivate and inspire action.

Three Rules of Content Generation

  1. Know your audience: Who they are, what they want, how they look for it
  2. Provide a solution: Answer questions, solve problems, add value
  3. Keep it short: Searchers don’t have the time or inclination to wade through waffle
Laptop content writer producing purposeful content
Produce Purposeful Content

My Words Work For You services

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Burns Night – A Reply From The Lassies

I am not asked to be an after-dinner speaker often, but as Burns Night approached, the phone rang…

The Chairman of Royston & District Round Table used his charm. I remember the daunting feeling of not really knowing where to begin, so I thought I would dig out my speech and share it online should other lassies find themselves in a similar position.

Traditionally, the ‘Reply From The Lassies’ is in response to the toast to the lassies from the laddies. It is supposed to be humorous and entertaining, no pressure there then.

A Reply To The Laddies On Behalf Of The Lassies

Ladies, Gentlemen, Tablers, 41 Club… I thank you for the opportunity to reply on behalf of the lassies. Thank you Graham for your kind words.


So, it would appear this reply is an excellent opportunity to focus on the vices and lack of morality of the laddies, but I have been told we are keeping the speeches short, so I can’t be mentioning all of them.

I thought I might focus on the similarities between Robbie Burns and the guys of Royston Round Table. Now let’s see, Robbie, unusually for his day, viewed ladies as equals, yet he was a bit of a womaniser, he liked his drink and had his fair share of debauchery…


Re the drinking…
Let me tell you, I’ve been tangled up in the odd Sunday evening ‘business meeting’ at the pub. I can confirm the drinking bit, and the debauchery bit. It is utterly pointless asking any of these guys for ‘just a water’, you take your life in your hands by getting involved.

Re the debauchery, I have also witnessed some impressive erections…
There was the time the guys offered to erect the market stall for me. A plethora of poles everywhere, a lot of head scratching and in response to my helpful suggestion of marking the poles for future use their reply was a resounding, ‘Where’s the fun in that?’

Continuing the theme of erections…
The Round Table camping weekend. Each new family arrives, tired, in the knowledge that they have the ordeal of erecting their tent. The guys rally forth, bringing chairs, wine, and Pringles and form a helpful semi-circle to watch the entertainment. Helpful hints from the circle are usually forthcoming.

We love our Tablers, and wouldn’t have them any other way (mostly) But, in support of the poor, long-suffering lassies who love their laddies, vices and all, I’d like to share this little story with you.

Ladies – I received chain letter recently, unlike most chain letters, this one looked promising, so I kept it.

It read ‘This letter was started by a woman like yourself in the hope of bringing relief to other tired and discontented women. Just bundle up your husband or boyfriend and send him to the woman whose name appears at the top of the list. Then, add your name to the bottom of the list and send a copy of this letter to five of your friends who are equally tired and discontented. When your name comes to the top of the list, you will receive 3,125 men – at least one of them is bound to be better than the one you gave up.

Ladies, please charge your glasses…
On behalf of the lassies I would like to thank you, members of Round Table and 41 club, for organising a splendid evening and a chance to bring us all together in friendship. Please charge your glasses..
Ladies, may I ask you to raise your glasses and join me in a toast to the Laddies

If you should feel the need to hire me as an after-dinner speaker or content writer, please contact me

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Let Children Resolve Conflict, The World Would Be A Better Place

Every side is ‘right’, in their mind

Years ago, a fight broke out in my sitting room. I raced in to see my two warring toddlers, pulling at the toy they both passionately believed should be theirs. In each of their heads, they were in the right.

Ordinarily, I would have told them off, removed the toy, talked about what things are worth fighting over and what things are not, then found a way to reach a compromise. I’m not sure why, but that day, that isn’t what happened. That day, I sat on the floor with arms outstretched and said,

Oh dear, what are YOU going to do to sort this out?

Mummy Dunklin

That was the moment that changed the future of our family life.

Conflict resolution, a life lesson to save the world

From the safety of my embrace, both children looked at each other and set about the task of resolving the problem, anger and tears forgotten. They fully understood ‘sorting it out’ was their responsibility. The potential to hold on to resentment years down the line disappeared. Henceforth, that was the way we rolled.

If we stop children fighting?

We end up with adults who lack the emotional maturity to deal with opinions they disagree with or behaviour they don’t like. Instead of being able to discuss their feelings directly with the person involved, resentment and anger build up unchecked, a ticking bomb inside that fuels irrational and disproportionate response. They are unable to address the problem at the time, or in the future. To them, it’s easier to stay at war than face the problem. Hence, families, friends and nations ‘fall out’, damage is done, potentially forever.

Angry woman sitting alone unable to resolve conflict
Anger, it damages you more than them
Image credit: Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash

The explosion, the war, the consequences are never worth it. Lives are ruined or lost as people refuse to talk, sulk, act in anger and continue to believe only they have the moral high ground. If only they had sat down and talked.

Let children learn how to deal with challenges, or life will be tough

Children cannot develop this vital life skill if they aren’t given the opportunity to deal with challenging circumstances. They need to learn to listen and understand that the opinions of others have value, and may also be right. When subjected to hurtful behaviour, children (and adults) should have the opportunity to address it in a rational way. That can’t happen if someone else has waded in and stopped the disagreement. Negotiation, debate and resolution allow the processes of understanding and healing.

Doesn’t affect you?

As onlookers we can all do something, if conflict involves family members or friends, we can enable them to appreciate there is another way of looking at every situation. Staying silently out of the firing line is an easy option, but it doesn’t resolve anything.

With politicians and their inflammatory, dangerous actions, we can protest, object, lobby for change, or preferrably, not vote for these people in the first place. The world would be a far better place if it was run by people who have emotional maturity and the courage to sit down and resolve the conflict.

Dove in flight in Lisbon, Portugal
Photo by Sunyu on Unsplash

Thank you

I would like to thank my children for inspiring the post. They grew up to be fine young adults who go through life able to get along with others around them, both making the world a better place.

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SMARTER Business Targets

Happy New Year!

Where Are We Now?

Here we are, new year, new decade, new climate…same planet. We have little control of any of those things, time only moves forward, and we don’t deserve to ruin another planet, even if we could survive on one. The land we fight over, build on and devastate will be there long after we have killed each other and everything else on it.

Business Goals for 2020

There are things we can do, in fact must do, if we are to retain any of the control we seem to crave. It isn’t enough to be SMART, SMART has brought us to this point, we need to be SMARTER, much smarter. Whoever you are, business or individual, we are all responsible.

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic

Time-Constrained

Environmentally Friendly/Ethical

Responsible

Businesses have a far greater impact, and therefore responsibility. More and more people are making ethical choices, Apps like Goodonyou, Buycott and GoodGuide will have people voting with their feet, and rightly so. Be a business customers walk towards, not away from.

Woman running to top of mountain photo by Mauro Paillex
Photo by Mauro Paillex on Unsplash

Wishing you all, a responsible and ethical new year.

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