New Website - Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

Websites have changed in the last few years.

Drop down menus and animating photo albums are so out of fashion.  

The emphasis now is on simple, minimalist presentation, particularly the all important home page.

The text must be brief and clearly understandable.  

All the vital information should be there.  And it can be long.  People just keep scrolling down to find new material.  Only when you click away from this home page do you enter the more complex areas of a site.  This is clearly a result of more people using iPads and other tablets.

I have rebuilt the website along these lines and added a few of my own design cues, such as placing the text in key places on top of images.

The buying pages, for DVDs and Downloads, are clearer too with drop down menus for the different postage options instead of separate PayPal links.  

I hope it all works!

If you find anything wrong with the site - spelling, links or technical - then I'd appreciate you letting me know.  

Chim Chim Cheree

Evenings are getting cooler and soon we'll want to light the log burner.

So it's chimney sweeping time.

With a flue liner it's fairly easy to do, and because we do it each year, we don't have too much soot and stuff to clear out.

Maggie is clearly impressed.  Oh, and I'm going to have to practice my cock-a-nee accent.  We were singing this all yesterday afternoon.

Remote House in Highlands For Sale £125k

It's only six miles from our house but over a very large hill road which is often closed by snow in winter.

This is one of those "ooh wouldn't it be lovely" houses, in which people fantasise themselves living.  They envisage walking around in chunky sweaters in front of roaring fires.

The bit about the fires is accurate at least as this place runs on solid fuel and electricity comes from a generator.

This really is one of those rather 'out there' places.  Which is why Glenhurich Croft is up for sale at £125,000 with MacPhee Estate Agents in Fort William.  Fancy it?  Neighbour...

RNLI Kayak Safety Video

In the news today - two kayakers rescued off North Berwick when people on the shore saw they were in difficulties.  Rescue services emphasised the need for kayakers to be able to raise the alarm.

For over a year now the RNLI has been releasing occasional YouTube videos presented by well known paddlers and aimed at sea kayakers.  It also has a page dedicated to paddlers.

Last month the latest went live fronted by Olly Sanders and is about carrying a means of calling for help. The message is similar to the free Sea Kayak Safety Video we made with HM Coastguard and the RNLI although as you can see we took a different approach.

Because it's Monday, and you'll want to take a decent break from the new working week, I've put both videos below for you to enjoy.  

A Video About Us Shooting Video For The Adventure Show

Last year I shot a feature in Spain for The Adventure Show with Cameron McNeish.  

It was part of the Wild Weekend series in which we try to pack as much adventure as possible into a long weekend. 

On our visit to the Costa Blanca we did a great hike on day one, then on day two tackled a rather steep via ferretta.

These features are genuinely shot over one weekend - there's no TV trickery. 

What's more, there are no helicopters or behind the scenes helpers - we carry all our own kit.  

In my case that usually means hiking kit and mountain gear.  

Except in this case our leader brought along a friend to keep an eye on me. It was my first time on a via ferrata and Jaime's job was to make sure I was clipped on at all times while filming.

This being Spain, a friend came along as well, so our compact team of three had swollen to five.  Fortunately Jaime brought a GoPro camera and made a short video of us making a longer video.  I saw it when it was published and I've only just found it again.  I look ridiculous in that helmet.

Horace and the Rough Stuff Fellowship

Stay with me on this.  My best friend runs The Centre For Green Energy in Hexham.  He rang me last week to say, "I'm fitting a boiler for an amazing bloke - someone must do an interview with him".  

His name is Dick Phillips and it seems he was a founder of the Rough Stuff Fellowship, the Mountain Bothies Association, and pioneer of cycling and adventure tourism in Iceland.  I passed all this on to another journalist friend in the north east of England because I'm too far away.  So hopefully something will happen. 

In return I was pointed me towards the video below.  It's relatively new and features… Dick Phillips.  And it's very good.  So there you go…

Argyll Sea Kayak Trail

The long awaited Argyll Sea Kayak Trail is formally open.

The website is working and there is lots of information for paddlers.  You can see the love and care which has gone into this project on each and every page.

It's the PDF downloads which I find really impressive. 

Each section is clearly described, there's lots of tidal and safety stuff and you'd expect, and clear maps to help with parking.  The 'no trace principles' are emphasised on each page.

If you want to see what I mean, click here and take a look at the Ganavan to Arduaine section (with it's parking issues).

The involvement of local government has restricted this to just one county but it's a still wonderful that  this has come to fruition. I've updated the website to include this major development to paddling on the west coast.

Now, may I be allowed to poke a little fun?  Folks - you really need to fix your photo horizons. The image on your homepage is quite alarming!

500ml Around Highland Waters on a Pedalo

This blog covers peddling and paddling.  These four folk sort-of do both.

They're trying to cover 500 miles in a four-man pedalo.

Yesterday according to the (highly recommended) Kilchoan Diary, they left the village at the end of Ardnamurchan to round the hazardous point.

The team have done the "easy" bit, piloting their craft down the Great Glen.  

Now they have to tackle the trickier coastal waters.  Ardnamurchan would have been the first crunch point.  I expect Cape Wrath will be looming large in their minds now.  

They're raising money for two charities and you can follow their progress on their website.