Scotland is famous for a great many things. Haggis (I’m not describing that one in any great detail), kilts, Hadrian’s Wall, a weak national football team (sorry but it’s true!), the Loch Ness Monster, deep-fried Mars Bars (not strictly Scottish but certainly found up here), freezing winters… and Scotch whiskey. I like a bit of whiskey every now and then, and some of my favourite brands are Scottish ones. When the offer came up to visit a distillery I wasn’t going to say no.

Glenfiddich Distillery is home to one of whiskey’s most famous brands. There’s a lot of history behind this name, history that was made clear to us as we were guided around the distillery. Wherever possible local resources are used in producing the whiskey, and the distillery even went as far as to buy the land upon which a certain stream runs, in order to safeguard it. 

It’s a fifth generation family-run business, with a great deal of pride in their traditions. The steps include fermentation and ageing, using methods first put into use in the 19th century. 

A smell of honey (it’s not actually honey but it sure smells like it) hits you when stepping into the distillery. There’s also incredible heat. 

My overriding sense of the trip is one of great care and love for the craft. To learn more of the process behind one of my favourite treats was also a… err, treat.

It’s all bottled right here too. Therefore nothing leaves Glenfiddich without it meeting the approval of the distillery. The whole experience was amazing!

Having survived a loooooong day of travel, the second day of our Scottish adventure began with a brief lie-in for the adults, and for the kids… well, my nephew was up quite early, but he’s one, so he’s going to wake up whenever he wants. My daughter… well, after being sick five times in two days, she slept in.

So Day Two began in a lazy fashion. Eggs and bacon for breakfast, a couple of cups of coffee. Having unwound we then embarked upon a trip to Aviemore itself.

Aviemore is quite beautiful, and yet also surprisingly busy. The town was bustling when we went in – not perhaps that much of a surprise given the tourist nature of the place. After lunch in a local cafe we geared up for a trip on the Strathspey Railway. This is a volunteer-led heritage railway that serves three stations.

Aviemore station is also a regular mainline station – platforms 1 and 2 serve various destinations. Platform 3 (on the far right) is where we would catch the train (not literally, it’s far too heavy).

I should stress, this also is not the train.

This is the train. A beauty no? My daughter appeared to enjoy the experience – it was a gentle, sedate voyage, through some truly picturesque countryside.

Oh yeah, train heaven! 

The first stop of Boat of Garten was beautiful:

Our final stop was Broomhill:

From here it was back to Aviemore, and our home away from home, for a chilled evening!

These are eggs. They are wonderfully versatile. You can fry them, boil them, poach them, scramble them, turn them into omlettes, use them to make cakes and use them to make glazes and sauces. Great things, eggs. Of course, to cook with them there is first one key detail – they need to be real eggs. Unsurprisingly, plastic ones won’t work. My daughter’s clever little practical joke involving a toy rubber egg will be marked up as a story worth embarrassing her with when she’s older. In the meantime… well played!

Sometimes, I manage to embarass myself through saying or doing something really stupid. Tonight, I managed to do this by not noticing something.

What did I not notice? My wife and daughter, even though I had walked right past them on the way home from work.

How did I manage this remarkable feat? Well, in my defence, I present the following evidence:

  1. It was dark. I also had my hood up and so my vision was obscured.
  2. I had my headphones in and was very focused on my power walk, so I didn’t hear my wife calling me.

Nonetheless, this remarkable gaffe is one I managed to compound. My wife got my attention by phoning me, upon which I immediately turned around. I had been aware of a woman walking with their child (just not that they were my wife and child), but for some reason, in the periphary of my vision, I thought they were Chinese. I don’t know why. Upon mentioning this, the ribbing has been merciless. I don’t think I shall ever live this one down.

Originally I started writing this post all the way back in November. I wanted to prep it early, but as I wrote it and re-read it, something just didn’t feel right. It felt focused on the wrong things, so I’ve obliterated that version and started again, this time, with what really matters.


My family got bigger in 2016, with the arrival of my nephew – that’s right, I became an uncle for the first time! Their little boy is as cute as a button and my daughter is already smitten! She is very happy to have a new cousin to fuss over, and I have to admit, I am very happy too! It’s brought memories flooding back of my little girl at that age – the sleepless nights, the bath-time fun, the nappies (all I can say is WOW to some that my daughter produced), and the sleepy cuddles in daddy’s arms. It’s a remarkable journey, and a learning process, and one that doesn’t end. Nor would I have it any other way. My brother and sister-in-law are fantastic parents and my little nephew is going to be spoilt rotten!

Speaking of which, my daughter got to see The Lion King musical in February. This was a delightful moment, and one that brought back a lot of memories for me. The very first birthday present my wife got me was tickets to see it, all the way back in 2004. 12 years later, we were retracing our steps, this time with our little girl, and she loved it. Experiencing the majesty of The Lion King (see what I did there?) through her eyes was a real joy.

Thanks to the generosity of my parents, my wife and I got a trip to Birmingham in October, to go to Destination Star Trek 50, and among other things, I got to shake hands with George Takei and get my photo taken with the amazing Marina Sirtis, whilst my wife got her photo with William Shatner and got Christopher Lloyd’s autograph! I cannot thank my mum and dad enough for making this happen, and I will always be grateful for the love and kindness they show us.

What I must mention – for to do otherwise would be to do her a disservice – is a word on our beloved cat, Trinity, who left us for the rainbow bridge in October. I have never known a friendlier, happier cat – if you had a lap she would sit on it, and she loved a cuddle. Always good-natured, right to the very end, Trinity will be sorely missed.

Family keeps me grounded, as always, and in what’s been a turbulent year in many ways, family helps me keep perspective.


Without going into lengthy detail, this year has been a momentous one for Leicester City football club, who pulled off one of the biggest shocks in sporting history when they went from being nearly relegated the year before, to league champions 12 months later. It’s still a ‘pinch me so I’ll believe it’ sort of thing. Less surprising was England’s tame defeat to minnows Iceland in the European Championships – le sigh.

The Olympics were a magnificent contrast, with Team GB doing themselves proud, whilst Lewis Hamilton was narrowly beaten to the 2016 F1 title. My beloved Liverpool FC are resurgent this season – we’ll see how they go in 2017!


I don’t want to dwell too much on this, save to say that between Brexit and Trump I fear we have taken a huge stride backwards. Time will tell, and for the sake of the world I hope both succeed, but I fear we have set ourselves down a collective path of misfortune.


If I had to highlight the most surreal and unusual experience I’ve had in 2016, it would be this. Click the link, read the post, and you’ll understand why.


This year I started up something, a project that, whilst not without knocks, is one I feel is worth pursuing. The Coalition of the Brave is an attempt to take a stand against injustice, and is a group project that will hopefully continue to grow in 2017.

I also joined The Nudge Wink Report – another group site, devoted to satirical observations about life. Expect to see more posts from me on there next year!


It’s impossible to talk about 2016 without mentioning the long list of famous names who have left us this year. It seems every time you check out the news, someone else is gone. As I write this, news of George Michael’s death has recently broke, and I dread to think if 2016 has any other deaths left in it. Every one of these famous faces means something to someone, and they all left their mark on the world in remarkable ways. I’ll be charging a glass to them on New Year’s Eve.

So that’s it – 2016 in a nutshell. 2017 holds a lot of uncertainty, but if we face it together, we’ll get through it. I know it.





I’ve not been bothering to respond to the stuff over at Theology Archaeology lately, partly because he’s had little of interest to respond to, and partly because it’s pretty clear that reasoning with him is nigh impossible. However, he’s posted something recently that I felt might be worthy of replying to, entitled ‘What is a Childhood?’

We ask this question because over the years we have encountered people who declare they want their daughter or son to have a childhood. The simple answer is that the idea of childhood is a subjective human concept that allows a few people to force their views upon others and allows them to interfere with people’s parental rights.  There is no objective standard to determine if a child is receiving a childhood and there is certainly no biblical teaching on the concept of children enjoying a childhood.

I dispute this. A childhood isn’t a subjective notion – physically and mentally there are clear distinctions between adults and children – this is obvious. It is also, in my view as a father, that my daughter should have the opportunity to enjoy her childhood. Why wouldn’t any parent want their child to experience a carefree, peaceful and fun childhood?

I don’t even know where TA is going with ‘childhood is a subjective human concept that allows a few people to force their views upon others and allows them to interfere with people’s parental rights‘. What views are being forced upon parents? The idea that children shouldn’t be put to work? The idea that they deserve an education? The right of children everywhere to medical care? The right to live free from abuse and pain?

God already knew that when he gave parents their freedom to raise their children, there would be as many different concepts of what a childhood would or should be.  He also knew that every parent would not be financially capable or even possibly alive to provide one standard for what constitutes a real childhood. He did provide good instructions on how to raise one’s children which are superior to earthly concepts like the very subjective childhood ideology. Parents are to be fair, just, honest, teaching their children God’s laws correctly and so on (you can search the Bible for more of God’s ways to add to that list)

Concepts of fairness, honesty and justice are what children should indeed be taught, but this isn’t connected to the idea of a childhood, since these are things that everyone, regardless of age, should be taught and be aware of. Following God’s law – that depends on what you believe, and should not be forced upon anyone, child or not.

Those people who use their own or the western ideal as the standard only over-step their boundaries and cause more problems than they cure. Believers are not to please people but they do need to please God and follow his ways in raising their children. This may mean not providing their children with everything the neighbor or secular world wants a believer to do but then since when did the blind deceived world know better than God?

What does this even mean? Is it an unreasonable ideal to believe that children should have access to things like healthcare? What precisely is the ‘western world’ trying to impose upon anyone?

I didn’t want to write this post, but I knew eventually I’d have to. We had to say goodbye to our beloved cat, Trinity.
Trins has always been an affectionate lap cat, who enjoyed nothing more than cuddling up to anyone who would have her.

hni_0048 hni_0049

I don’t mind admitting today was emotional. For the past week we’ve pampered her, giving her the best food we can afford and all the love and affection that she has given us. It didn’t really seem real to me that we would have to say goodbye – but she was 17, which for a cat is old, and more than that, she had both kidney problems, and in the past couple of weeks, a build up of fluid in her sides and she couldn’t walk properly. The last thing we wanted for her to be in pain, so we took her back to the vet today.

She is now free from pain, and from suffering, and nothing can ever hurt her again.

Time for a difficult post. By that, I mean one that is difficult to write, because I don’t want to and yet, I feel like it needs to happen anyway. It has a purpose, and it’s been inspired by a recent ‘discussion’ I’ve been having about science. Here goes…

The author of Theology Archaeology recently put out the bold-faced lie that I cross-dress and am transgender. I don’t personally find the suggestion I am transgender offensive – but to TA, this claim is made to be insulting, for the concepts of transgenderism and homosexuality ae offensive to him. Therefore, to him, making such a statement about me plays to his audience – it is a means of discrediting my arguments without addressing them. It’s a rhetorical trick, one that’s been played many times by many people down the years, and it’s a surprisingly effective one too. Ad hominens, red herrings and the poisoning of the well – these logical fallacies continue to take place because people continue to believe them.

There’s a great sales adage – ‘people buy from people’. It sort of applies here. ‘facts and evidence aren’t what influence people – people are’.

I was going to write about the importance of honesty and accuracy. I certainly don’t take kindly to TA claiming I’ve said things I’ve never said, and when I informed him I would be purusing the matter with the relevant authorities if he did not change his post accordingly, he duly changed his post – because he knew he had no grounds with which to make his claim.

The thing is, I don’t get to be a white knight. I am no paragon of virtue. I have told lies and deceived people in the past (not, I hasten to add, regarding my discussion with TA), and these acts have caused others pain. Nor do I have any justification for these actions.

I am reminded of a moment from of all things, Doctor Who. The Doctor is confronted by a man who calls himself the Dream Lord. After a while, the Doctor figures out who this man really is, and why the Dream Lord hates him so much. ‘There’s only one person in the universe who hates me as much as you do’, he remarks. The truth? The Dream Lord is a manifestation of the Doctor, and the Doctor is riddled with self-loathing. That’s me.

Sometimes I want a do-over. I want to go back to the day I met my wife and this time, do the things I should have done but didn’t, and not do the things I shouldn’t have done but did. I hate the mistakes I made, and I hate myself for making them. I suppose in that sense, I am only human – a flawed, weak creature.

In the end though, life takes us down certain paths, and the paths I have gone down have led me to my daughter. If I were to unravel even one strand of my past, she wouldn’t be here, and that isn’t acceptable. So I will live with my pain. I will live with the anger I direct toward myself daily. I will mask it to whatever degree is necessary for her sake. My love for my daughter – and my wife – will eclipse the darkness.

Apologies for the deep post – the usual service will resume tomorrow.