Trip Number Three (of Twelve): Aberdour, Fife

Trip Three of Twelve - Aberdour, Fife

Trip Number Three (of Twelve): Aberdour, Fife

By the first week in March, I’d already done my third trip of the year to Aberdour, Fife. I went up for one night and liked it so much I stayed a second night. Aberdour, Fife wound up on my map due to meeting the owner of a hotel John at one of my Canva workshops in Lanarkshire. He’d traveled all the way down for it as it was the closest one to his business.

Anyway John wanted to talk about an idea he had to do some workshops at his hotel so it seemed like a way of doing both in one fell swoop…Namely a trip away and a face to face chat about his concept for these masterclasses.

Aberdour Castle, Aberdour Fife

The Woodside Hotel, Aberdour

So along I went – this time last weekend to the Woodside Hotel in Aberdour. I’d known nothing about the quaint wee village north of Edinburgh – apart from the fact it had a couple of beaches (Silver Sands and Black Sands) and a castle that was featured in Outlander as well.

It’s such a quaint wee place with a good feel to it. I met Woodside owner John at their cafe McTaggarts to start off the weekend and then was taken on a walking tour of the area. We strolled down to the harbour, up over some bluffs from one of its main beaches to the other.

Across the street from the hotel is a street with big stone gates which leads to the Aberdour Golf Course.

Workshops @ the Woodside

After returning to the hotel, our discussions about John’s workshops at the Woodside began in earnest. I’ve tentatively called them Workshops @ the Woodside but they can be called anything. It’s an exciting concept of doing half and full day workshops in areas like: health and well being, personal and professional development and finally the their area is loosely called creative pursuits. Pretty much everything we discussed would fit under that heading.

John with a copy of my Essential 80s Pop Quiz Book.

John and I also talked a lot about music. He was one of the 2000 or so people that actually bought my Essential 80s Pop Quiz book that I self-published in 1998. As he couldn’t find his, I brought him a new copy and five others to do with whatever he chooses. (‘Beats throwing them in a skip eh?)

Break Before Dinner

After the walk and all the talk I was pretty beat and retired to my room, or should I say suite, for a few hours. The Rennie Suite is a lovely large room with bay windows, an ensuite bathroom that boasts a bath and a shower, and a separate small TV room off the main room.

Took the opportunity to write in my Scotland Travel Journal (available on Amazon websites around the world) and a bit of a power nap before dinner.

Clipper room, with roof from RMS Orontes, Woodside Hotel Aberdour

At 7pm went down to have dinner with John and his wife Lis (pronounced Liz) in their spectacular Clipper room – complete with a cozy fireplace and a roof that was formally on a steamliner, the RMS Orontes. Dinner was tasty and conversations a plenty. Around 9pm or so it was back up to the suite to finish streaming my latest TV binge – Northern Rescue – on Netflix. (Very good, I recommend it)

Day Two in Aberdour Fife

Went down for breakfast, and had a chat with John about music. He proceeded to whip out a large variety of cassette tapes. One was even of my good friend’s bank, Thrum. Told him to open up and read the liner notes…to see my name amongst the others. Before I knew it, it was time to consider making tracks back to Glasgow.

I loaded up my luggage in the car and came back in to return the keys, only to realise I didn’t really want to leave…

When John asked if I had to, I paused to consider it for a moment, and the answer was “no”. I could stay another day in Aberdour Fife and explore a bit more and that’s what I did.

Fife Coastal Path, Aberdour FifeThe Fife Coastal Walkway & Castle

I took myself on a long walk by the golf course until I could really go no further (without winding up in the middle of someone’s rounds) and headed back to the village. By now I’d worked up an appetite and headed back to McTaggarts for lunch. After lunch it was a scoot around the grounds of Aberdour Castle…Well as far as the gift shop where I bought a few cards. I was too cheap to pay the six pounds to enter, but I will go next time as the views of the castle from inside the gardens look spectacular.

In any event I covered a lot of Fife’s walkways this map on foot and will do more next time…

Check out more pics from my Instagram here…


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Thea Newcomb (@caligaluk) on

Enjoyed My Time in Fife

After that it was more of the same, food, bath, writing, thinking, sleep. Next morning it was a dash back to Glasgow for a meeting. I was surprised it was only an hour away (55 miles door to door).

I look forward to going back to the Woodside Hotel, Aberdour, Fife for the workshops or possibly some gigs, of which there are many cool ones.

Was great to see owners John and Lis, of the Woodside in the newspaper.

In case you missed it, here’s my Trip one – Balmaha and Trip Two to Largs.

No idea where I will go for Trip Four but watch this space. It might even be Berlin next month. Or maybe the Highlands. Who knows? Open to suggestions…If you have them, leave them in the comments below.

PS: In case you missed why I am doing all of these trips each month, it’s because I decided to as a way of celebrating my father by taking him with me on little trips. I believe it’s what he wants for me now…


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ralph (Newcomb) Says Things (@ralphsaysthings) on

Trip Number Two (of Twelve): Largs, Ayrshire

Trip Number Two Largs

Trip Number Two of Twelve - Largs AyrshireTrip # 2 (of 12): Largs, Ayrshire

It’s the last day of February 2019, and therefor time to write about my second trip of the year – an overnight stay in Largs, Ayrshire.

If you’re interested, you can read about my trip number one to Balmaha here.

To be honest, I find it a bit funny that I picked Largs to stay in – given it’s only about thirty or forty miles from where I live.

The fact of the matter is, I looked at the calendar thinking I had two weekends left in the month, when in reality I had one.

So I surfed over to and typed in the day I wanted to go away, and up Largs came. It was a bargain basement price at a B&B. It was just thirty pounds…R E S U L T.

Culzean Castle Ayrshire - by Thea Newcomb

Culzean Castle

Before my stay in Largs, it was trip down to the south of Ayrshire, to Culzean Castle near Maybole with family friends of mine.

We stopped en route in Irvine to a coffee shop/cafe called Gro. That in itself was a mixed event but probably not worth talking about here today.

So after our meal it was to the castle,…I had once been to Culzean before, on what was effectively a perfect date with someone I briefly dated in the early 2000s. So yeah, that was a long time ago now.

Our first stop was Adventure Cove so the kids could run about. Then, while they played, J and I took a walk around Swan Lake (at least I think that was the name).

Culzean Castle Ayshire - by Thea Newcomb

Lynegar Guest House

On the way back from Culzean Castle, we stopped at the accommodation to pick up my room key. It’s a cute little brick house on the corner of the main road. I hadn’t bothered to look at its location so it was unfortunate to see it was on a busy road, which inconveniently had road works right outside it. Most disappointingly for me, was that I’d forgotten my ear plugs. Rookie mistake. Thankfully I did remember to pack my Bose headphones so I was ok.

Thea Newcomb - kicking back at Lynegar Guest House Largs - Trip # 2 of 2019

The upstairs room was clean and perfectly nice. Bed was adequate. My only complaint with the room itself was the fact that the bed and its pillows felt like they had some kind of paper protectors on it. I made a mental note to bring my own pillow on my subsequent trips, just in case. Regardless of that little niggle, this place was a lot better than last month’s trip to Balmaha and it was six pounds cheaper. Win/win.

Trip number two of twelve, Lynegar Guest House Largs Ayrshire

Breath of Heaven

I didn’t sleep great, but got myself up before nine, finished packing and headed out. I’d arranged to stop into the Green Shutters Bistro for breakfast – before hopping the ferry over to Millport. I had a lovely breakfast, more than I could eat, before catching the 11:15am Ferry across the water.

Breath of Heaven, Millport, Isle of Cumbrae Scotland by Thea Newcomb

My friend Juli, a fellow American transplant, runs thee cutest shop on Millport called Breath of Heaven. It truly is a breath of fresh air. There are so many cute items in this shop! Loved so many of the books on her shelf. Picked up some lavender oil for myself (as I use it daily to help me sleep).

I also picked up Scotland the Board Game. How fun is that?

Scotland the Board Game - Largs, Ayrshire

My Scotland Travel Journal

I am truly enjoying my short breaks this year, and writing in My Scotland Travel Journal as I go.

My March trip, or at least one of them, is over to the East Coast to the Kingdom of Fife for a night. Truly looking forward to that one.

Will update again when that stay, trip number three, has passed.

For now, am enjoying working three or four days a week and traveling and creating merch and KDP low/no content on the others. It’s not a bad way to live a life. It’s certainly more work/life balance than I’ve ever had.

Buy My Scotland Travel Journal

You can pick up my first ever KDP journal on Amazon USA or Amazon UK (it’s also available on all other Amazon stores…).

As you can see from one of the pictures above, I’ve been reading one of Mitch Ablom’s books, For One More Day.

It and his other best seller, Tuesdays with Morrie, are giving me much solace at this time…

Trip Number One (of Twelve): Balmaha, Scotland

Visit to Balmaha Scotland, Trip One of Twelve

Trip Number One (of Twelve) Balmaha ScotlandTrip Number One of Twelve: Balmaha, Scotland

We are now into the fourth week of January 2019, and it is my intention to take a trip every month this year. My self-imposed rules are that it could be a night away in a B&B, a hotel or at friends, a weekend break, or even a proper holiday lasting a week or two (or more).

So really the rule is, I can travel near or far, just as long as I am away from my own place in Glasgow.

Why am I Taking a Break Every Month?

Well in case you have missed the memo, it’s been a month since my best friend, biggest fan and hero, my father, passed on. Transitioned. Croaked. Popped his clogs. Died. Whatever you want to call it. I personally seem to be partial the term transitioned. (Well, you know, because we all start as non-form, become form, and then go back to being non-form again – hence transition).

Anyway, for over twenty-five years now, every free chance I got, my trips were out to California. The trips usually lasted between three and four weeks. I went two or even three times a year – every year since 1992 when I moved here.

Every decision with regards to travel, just about, was made with him in mind. Now that visiting him is no longer a consideration, it opens up my opportunities to see the world and besides, it’s…

What He’d Have Wanted

In going through our belongs I found several letters that he wrote to me on my first ever trip abroad. I spent a semester (or more like a quarter) in London in 1987.

At that point, we had never ever been apart longer than about a night.

It was hard on both of us.

In those days, it wasn’t so easy to keep in touch. It was phone calls, usually from those quaint red phone boxes, or it was letters.

Believe it or not, while I was away in London, he actually wrote me letters and sent me a cute Easter card too.

One of the Letters from Dad

Lovely letters from my father Ralph, while I was in London in 1987
In clearing up after his passing I found a box with old cards and letters. I was delighted to discover several letters that my father wrote to me during my semester abroad in London in 1987.

Hi –

See I do write. Just not very fast or much. But you’re the one with all the new stuff. Everything is the same here. I did catch Kimmy sneaking over on breaks to use the pool.

Your mom said she heard from you and you were “starving” and she was sending you a care package. I would send you one too but I don’t know how well a peanut butter sandwich would ship.

I guess I should warn you, I know it will disturb you – but I threw away your Christmas tree today. Don’t worry we’ll get another one next January.

(page 2)
Business has been slow but that’s O.K. I’ve got – getting – of rest. I’ve kept putting off writing because I kept thinking you would call. Now that I am writing you’ll mostly call over the week-end.

I did call your sister for her birthday for you. I am supposed to call and go up to their house sometime, maybe this week-end – maybe.

I hope you got your radio working. Oh did you know U-2 made it to the cover of Newsweek?

Hope you are having a great time. I miss you but I am glad you are getting the chance to take this trip. I love you – take care of yourself.

Love, Dad

Living Life to the Full

Whenever something big (bad) happens we often say, “I’m not going to waste one more minute” or “we really need to live life to the full” – and other similar platitudes.

But after some days, weeks or months, we often revert to our previous personality (or happiness) “set point”.

In other words, those changes don’t “stick”.

But from the moment that he passed, I had a sense of liberation or freedom or something akin to relief.

I truly can go anywhere and do anything now.

The point is that I’m living as though he’s with me on these adventures.

Though I’ve lived in Scotland for the better part of thirty years, he  never visited me once. Now he can see my world – every single day (or whenever he so chooses!)

So as I sit here on a tartan duvet covered, twin bed and type words in this dated, tired room at a B&B in Balmaha, I like to imagine that Ralph’s on this journey with me. He’s sharing the experience and he’s got the tiny bed next to mine.

His #JSSAMO travel mug sits next to me on the wooden dresser.

I can only imagine what he’d say about this place…

Loch Lomond, East Side Rowardenna looking north toward Ben Lomond

Pictures and Videos of Dad Help Me So Much

I’ve got a lot photos of dad, selfies with him and videos too. I wish I did more videos, but I have quite a few, and it’s given me a lot of comfort to just be able to hear his voice. Amazing what that voice recognition can do for us as it’s often one of the things we miss most. Just being able to call the person up and hear their voice.

I have spent most of my FREE time over the past two weeks, since my return from California, scanning photos and trying to consolidate my Ralph assets (pictures, documents and videos) into one repository (an external hard drive).

Decided to bring one of my pen drives up with me and just now watched a two-minute clip where he talked about death, his own,…

It was eerily prophetic and poignant to watch. It’s hard to explain why I am doing so well with his passing, but clips like that remind me of the one important factor in all of this…

He was ready to go.

While I might have liked him to stick around a bit longer, I know, deep down, that his transition was nearly perfect.

He went when he wanted, where he wanted and how. No hospitals or nursing homes. No wires. He just drifted away – somewhat peacefully – at least not in any intense pain that I could witness.

The most surreal realisation I have of those final moments is that I was completely oblivious of what was happening. Seriously as he took his last breaths, I had no idea they were his last breaths.

I believe that too is how he’d have wanted it to be.

Ignorance is bliss.

In many ways it was just that. Bliss.

He was there for my birth. I was there for his death. It was as it should be. That gives me much peace and closure.

Balmaha - views of Loch Lomond Scotland from the hills

Next Month I’ll Do Better

This B&B  was a last minute booking just a few days ago, as I realised the month’s end would soon be upon us. I had to book fast if I was to keep up with my intention of traveling every month.

The place I picked was fine – say if you’re doing the West Highland Way, but not exactly luxurious. I think the word that comes to mind is adequate. And cheap. Cheap but not too cheerful. At least the scenery mostly makes up for what the accommodation lacks…

As I plan to go away ever month this year, they’ll not all be five star, so I am sure it’ll be mixed.

For February though, I think I’ll do more of a pampering trip. Perhaps it should be Stobo Castle or the Isle of Arran. Both have been on my radar for years.

On my Facebook page, I put out a post asking “where I should go?” and some good suggestions, near and far, have been shared…York is now on the list. A few people recommended Fife. The Hague was recommended. ‘Been talking about a trip to Iceland in May or maybe Rome to celebrate my friends’ 50th birthdays. That will be great! Dad would be pleased. Sorry, is pleased.

Gorgeous view from Rowardennan.

The world literally is my oyster.

Oh the places I will go. Wonder where February will take me…Watch this space to find out.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to recommend somewhere to travel for Trip two in the comments below.

Or if you’ve lost someone dear, a parent, a friend, a partner whomever, tell me what’s been helping you process things. Thanks.