ScottishLaird tour season has well and truly kicked off with 6 tours in 8 days!

Today I gave a tour for six lairds and ladies – a couple from Aberdeen, another from down south with lovely pooch Oliver and the last all the way over from Australia.

Oliver and people had stayed at Sandra and Michael’s at the Watermill and gave great reviews, particularly for the ever-popular big breakfast that is Michael’s speciality.

Then, given their itineraries, we recommended The George in Inveraray, The Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, The Colintraive Hotel and Inver Cottage! I always feel lucky to have so many great places to recommend in such an isolated spot.

For more information about tours and where to stay and go near us, please click here.

The tartan Dunans Rising puts Dunans Castle in the Herald after our recent order of 6 rolls from @ButeFabric

Delighted to be contributing to the £100K of orders of tartan at Bute Fabric which has given rise to stories in the Herald among others.

Here’s the link

And of course the picture is the tartan, as seen on Lairds, teddies and other wonderful merchandise at the ScottishLaird website


All the codes are in for Groupon promotions to Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark for the #ScottishLaird project

One of the major jobs needing done for every promotion we do with groupon is the generation and insertion of several thousand codes – now of course we automate this as much as possible, but the final task of loading the codes into the database is mine. It takes a while, maybe ten minutes a thousand codes and with this promo we had 8,000, so a good hour and a half with distractions, but its done now for the wonderful Nordic nations – time for a cup of tea and a Borders Biscuit.

And the image? Well, that’s the file with all the Danish codes formatted into a SQL query ready for copy and paste into phpmyadmin.

Final, final draft of the #DunansCastle Conservation Plan is now exporting, and next is the Consultation Survey!

What with slight adjustments for a different format, some shenanigans with the style sheets and taking-over some entries in the index, its been slow work on the book today, but as you’ll see from the image the design of the structure for the consultation form is well-advanced (a well spent lunchtime!). The book will be published soon via Print-on-Demand service Lulu and as soon as it does we need to have the survey up and running.

The idea is that we will use the Lulu service to create proofs which will help us ensure colour and typography all work within the format we have chosen. Thence onto creating a small short-run edition of hardbacks with a Scottish Print firm we have yet to choose.


If you have ever wondered about the size of the task we’re facing here at Dunans, well, here’s a clue – the indicative costs for Castle and Bridge.


We knew the budget would be big, but not even I was prepared for some of these figures, though they are very rough. They’re based on pounds per metre squared, rule-of-thumb calculations on professional fees, and the type of VAT chargeable. We don’t yet have an accurate survey of the castle – still too dangerous inside I am afraid – but as soon as we do, I am expecting the detail on these figures to resolve.

Obviously with regard to the castle we’re looking at the Accommodation & Event option as our favoured route as this is the most sustainable. Frankly I am gobsmacked at the Victorian Restoration (Like-for-like) price – although this does include lime plaster with horse hair and lath and no plasterboard. You can see where that’s going. Consolidation as a Ruin is the cheapest option, but unfortunately, there’s little or no way of sustaining the borrowing on a roofless shell – albeit a very beautiful one.

The cost for the repair of the bridge is also significant, but at least with the prospect of funding via Historic Scotland, Heritage Lottery and others this might be achievable in the relatively short-term – particularly with the bicentenary coming up next year.

Does this leave you wanting to know more? Well the Conservation Plan for Dunans will be published very shortly (ISBN 978-1-910326-01-5), and you’ll be able to read a great deal more about the site, its history and our plans then… in the meantime, I am going off to write a business plan or three!

Cover finalised for the Conservation Plan of @DunansCastle, including Barcode, ISBN, blurb and fabulous panorama

Sometimes the simplest design is the most beguiling. In this case a panorama taken one  early summer morning from the bridge towards the castle. With title, strap and author on the cover;  title, author and Dunans Castle Ltd. logo on the spine; and blurb and barcode on the back, everything is pared back to the minimum.

The thinking is that the Conservation Plan represents the foundation point from which we are restoring and therefore should display the bridge and castle at their barest – although of course in a picturesque way – reflecting its “quite breathtaking … impact.” (Davies)

But aside from all the design niceties, we’re very, very grateful for the CreativIndieCovers website for the great free online barcode generator – just wonderful how the market throws up truly innovative answers to the questions one asks i.e. where can I generate a barcode free online? And before you ask why one should be able to generate a barcode artwork for free, the answer is that because the standard for deriving barcodes from ISBNs is free, and if I’d had to I’d have coded it myself – and also offered it free once I had.

Three days of comparative dry, lots of raking, shovelling and digging, and we now have access at Dunans!

Today and yesterday we continued the consolidation of the drive at Dunans. The constant rain of the last 6 months has meant that we had not so much a track but a series of large ponds. The result, I hope you’ll agree is a vast improvement.

The contractor? Don’t be silly, that’s me and my mother with the blisters. Actually, more my blisters as I’ve not had the chance to wield a rake in anger since early last year. Thanks Ma, great job!

Sunny tour @DunansCastle for twenty Lairds from Finland!

A great morning spent with a group of Lairds from Finland, photographed by Jean Donaldson (Powan Media Ltd.) and guided by the Laird himself, seen above describing the general programme of works needed to restore the bridge into proper fettle!

They have promised to come back in five years and inspect the completed restoration!

#WorkinProgress on the #DunansCastle Conservation Plan book – a gallery of rather lovely rogues!

We’re really enjoying putting together the picture library for the book, which includes, naturally enough, a selection of photos taken of Lairds and Ladies while on tours in the grounds. We’ve included all of them on one page, and here’s the result. You’ll see all sorts of activity, but my favourite are the trio of Ladies with champagne about to have their picnic sometime last summer (and yes, I did quaff too!).

Its looking like the book, Conservation Plan for Dunans, will be published in the next month or so. More details to be announced soon!

Misty, Moisty Tree Tops at Dunans Castle

The view from the cabin in the woods where the ScottishLaird team work.