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by on Monday, January 31st, 2011

April 20th

Safely back at home from a couple of excursions. Firstly a great tour amongst old friends around the Great Lakes. It was like heading back for a recap on winter.

But the hearts were warm and the sap was rising. Big Yeller, head bucket down at the maple syrup farm where being sappy is a good thing

This place has to be on your bucket list.


Who is this syrupticious Scotsman?

If you think that bears like honey…….


Jiminy Crockett, Davie Crockett’s less celerated younger brother who didn’t die at the Alamo and failed to kill himself a bear until nearly five, a Crocket family shame from which he never really recovered.


The best and also he rudest named ski resort in Michigan.


No, it actually is actually called that, actually.

Another place name non-starter in Scotland…..

Niagara Falls Canada. not much you can say really

The American Falls by all means a mighty set if not so overshadowed by the Canadian ones

Ah, a lovely trout finning in a crystal stream

Only trouble is that the stream runs through…..

……..this sporting superstore outside Toronto.

Goodbye to the great folks of the Great Lakes,  it’s been ice to see you all.



7th April 2011

This is Susie Malcolm, an imposter on Jim’s blog, with some news about some radio shows this week.

Just heard that there’s a one-hour special on Jim this week on Thistle & Shamrock, which is broadcast all over the USA. Hope you can catch it. Hurray!

For listeners in Scotland, Sparkling Flash features on Radio Scotland’s Take the Floor with Robbie Shepherd this coming weekend (April 9 and 10, 2011). Hurray!



21st 0f March 2011

Here are some snaps from a visit to St Andrews with my dad a couple of weeks ago

The ruined cathedral, destroyed during the Reformation and cannibalised to found surrounding buildings.

It was the largest in Scotland.


Pater posing in a university courtyard where William and Katey perfected their posh accents.

A must visit for staunch royalists like ourselves (aye right).


One of many beautiful uni buildings along the sea front, crocus-tastic in spring.


Part of St Andrews Castle, a Reformation flash point and site of much mediaeval skullduggery.


The easiest and yet also the most intimidating shot in golf. The first fairway at the Old Course.

Grown men crumble with so much history nagging at their quivering swing


Bonny bandstand behind the Royal and Ancient Golf Club where the rules of golf are decreed from high. Prince Andrew is currently the captain.

For an audience, speak to his ex-wife. Bring your checkbook.


Chariots of Fire beach, kite surfers too far away.


Arty shot near the cathedral


Late afternoon in the historic Fife village of Falkland.


Facade of Falkland palace, playground of the Stewart kings.


Speaking of which, here is James VI with his mom Mary  looking on.


An interesting antique shop in Falkland run by a very distant relative of mine. Too distant for any discount.


Im off for a tour starting near Chicago on Thursday the 23rd. See concert page for details.


March 16th, 2011

The glorious 15th turned out to be usual anti climax. Since there had been some snow I sloped off to Glenshee.

The drive there is simply gorgeous darling.

Tasty sheep

Up into a winter wonderland…

Glenshee ski resort

The roof of Scotland looking over to the Cairngorms

Time to start zooming

Top of Glas Maol which sounds like a baddie in Star Wars

A corrie, Oh Flower of Scotland….

Snow was actually pretty rough despite the promises

Star Warsey landscape

Leaving Glenshee ski resort which is just into Aberdeenshire
(don’t tell)

A bit late leaving so no snaps on the way back.


March 15th, 2011

The Glorious 15th – start of the 2011 trout fishing season

These are a few of my favourite things...

The Ides of March fortell of much fishing ahead. The fish are out there. I’ve seen ’em

Although it is possible to fish for trout somewhere in Scotland every day of the
year, it is only legal to do so in my neck of the woods from the 15th
of March. The weather on the 15th of March is always awful and this year is no
exception – it’s cold and wet and ‘orrible. I fish almost entirely with dry
flies (see above) which float down the river imitating the real
hatching insects, commonly known as mayflies. Trout intercept mayflies
like passing boats in a sushi bar. It is a style of fishing which
works best in low wind (rare in March). If March is fair the dryfly
fishing can be spectacular in Scotland. So every lull in the wind is a
real window of opportunity, and the forecast must watched like a hawk.
Happy Days!



March 1st, 2011


I am not long back from a tour on the West Coast of the United States.

I have had lovely moist weather the last couple of times but this time

it was unfortunately very dry. As the East Coast got blessed with

heaps of lovely ice and snow the West baked in unseasonable sunshine.

I travelled up from dull Santa Monica all the way to boring old Seattle.

Here’s Santa Monica Pier at sunset, far too orangey for my tastes:



Sunset in California



My tours usually begin around Burns Night, this time I did a Burns

Supper at Atascadero near San Luis Obispo. There was more tartan than

the battle of Culloden. In my time off I was forced to trudge along

the beach with my host Alan Cameron.

He made me gather mussels, and then eat them:



Make mine mussels on the rocks



My acommodation had no wireless, infact it had no wires:


Is there a bathroom en suite?



With nothing better to do I fell back on that old Scottish pastime

golf otherwise known as a ‘good walk spoiled’.



Golf - ye cannae whack it (you can't beat it)


The bunkers were gigantic and even tidal ( see balls in foreground)



"Sand iron please"


A stickler for the rules, Alan Cameron made me play it where it lay

"Sand iron please"


Since I couldn’t find a Macdonalds, I reluctantly ate calamari in Morro Bay.

The view was very distracting, the island reminding me that I was

missing a Mcmuffin.

Calamari costs a few squids.


Further up the coast I watched some so-called dudes deciding that

surfing was both pointless and immature:


And what’s more very hard to photograph;


At this point the tour was going so badly I was reduced to busking:

"Roll up, roll up"



Then it was up amongst the dreaded Redwoods, those annoyingly tall

trees that completely ruin the view

Which way to go? I'm stumped.




Past odd bespoke dwellings that were simply trying too hard

Living here must be a hollow experience.


Through the occasional completely in-the-way tree:

This part of the road had to be taken at speed.


And up the Oregon coast which is in dire need of some concrete and


Still no parking lot here. It's ridiculous.


The weather closed in at Bend in Oregon, and without snow chains I had

no choice but to snowboard my way to freedom. The snow was all soft

and powdery, not like the manly rock hard icy stuff we get back in


I sloped off here for some snowboarding.



Up in Olympia, Washington I came across a building that had surely

been architecturally plagiarised from that one in – er – Washington.

Roundy, but also pointy.



What a view: four-wheel drive, spacious interior, metallic finish,

spoilt by the tall buildings of Seattle in the background


‘Wake me up before you go go’. leaving Vashon Island where they are

too tight to build a bridge to the mainland.

We had a Ferry good night on Vashon.


Seriously though folks, I had a fantastic trip in a truly wonderful

part of the world. I would like to thank all those whose hospitality

and generosity made it possible, and I look forward to having the

privilege of getting out west again, hopefully next year.











January 1st, 2011


Hello folks,

A Happy New Year and welcome to my new website. It has been all hard hats and theodolites in here for the last few months. But with a great deal of help from my wife Susie and most of all a great deal of expertise and patience from Chris Merle in Tucson Arizona, I’m ready to face the world wide er world. Any suggestions for tweaks or improvements will be gratefully received.

The year started with the usual scramble to finish a recording project – my tenth solo effort, Sparkling Flash. Actually it was less painful than most, mainly because I buckled down earlier to what feels awfully like cramming for an exam. I suppose in a way it is an exam – and once you’re finished the critics grade your efforts. I’ve always enjoyed performing much more than recording so the next few months are going to be something of a relief as I tour my way up the west coast of the States in January and February. I’m looking forward to some close-to-home gigs early in March, too (Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow).

We have had quite a spectacular winter here, with lots of snow that caused lots of problems for people who had to try to get about it in. But for me it was, more than anything, absolutely beautiful.

The older I get the more enchanted I become with sights brought by the turning seasons. The highlight has been getting out to Glenshee on my snowboard although I’m nursing a number of sore bits as a result.

When the snow finally melted, the river Tay got really huge. Here is a pic of the flood markings on the old bridge at Perth on January 16th, when the height of the river was eighteen feet up from the summer low.

Just before the snow arrived at the end of November I had a very enjoyable highlight to 2010. I performed with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Glasgow, who orchestrated two of my songs, Lochanside and Battle of Waterloo. What a feeling to sing with the orchestra. It was fantastic. Unfortunately due to ultra strict Musicians Union rules there was no recording of the event. Still, it wasn’t just a dream. I’ve got the musical scores to prove it really happened.

2011 is going to be a busy year and I hope to do what I’ve failed to do previously and keep up a blog throughout. Sounds like a new year’s resolution to me. My record with them is fairly shabby.