Scottish Golf Tourism Week 2019

Scottish Golf Tourism Week  2019 (SGTW) has just finished.

Based at the Fairmont Hotel in St Andrews, SGTW brings together leading golf tour companies and a variety of suppliers of golf products to talk golf and do business.

For suppliers like us, the days are very much intensive speed dating.

Woodside Hotel

(The above photo is my wife and I at the gala dinner, not speed dating!)

You have a pitch and you hope the tour operator is interested in what you have to offer.

It was this face to face approach I enjoyed the most.

Some people think in the social media age that it’s easy to get your message across.

A few Google ads, some well written Facebook content, some snappy Instagram photos, funny tweets and the world is your oyster.

The problem is, everyone is doing this.

It’s very hard to get your unique selling point across.

As we all say, people do business with people.

There’s simply no substitute for getting to know people.

That can’t happen in 15 minutes, but it’s a start. A first date, if you like, and hopefully the start of a mutually beneficial relationship.

SGTW was also fun.

As a first timer, I didn’t realise how much fun it would be.

But, this is golf, arguably the most sociable sport in the world, and the whole atmosphere about the event was supportive, inclusive and often very very funny.

One tour operator, if you were there and you’re reading this, you’ll know who I’m talking about, should really have been on stage at the gala dinner awards night.

I don’t think we talked any business at all during our session!

But, like, with all the other representatives there, we now have a relationship we can build.

Relations between suppliers, on the face of it, competitors, was first class too.

It was great to mix with professional people who appreciate that all of us in Scotland are in this together and there’s plenty of business for everyone if we do the right thing.

We’re just delighted to put Aberdour on the map.

It took me til about my fifth appointment to work out one of our issues is people just didn’t know where Aberdour is!

I really didn’t want to use the cliche “hidden gem” but I started using it because it’s just true.

Aberdour Hidden Gem








Thanks to the organisers who put together this great event. Not just on the days of the conference but in all the weeks and months helping us prepare and have the best experience we could.

The Fairmont hotel was excellent too. A superb venue for a high profile event such as this and their staff were first class too.

I can’t wait til next year’s event!


Aberdour Festival 2019

On the 26th of July the 36th Aberdour Festival kicks off. It truly is a remarkable ten days. Flicking through the programme, there is an incredibly diverse number of sporting, musical and cultural events on and there really is something for everyone. Some people buy Glastonbury tickets regardless of the acts involved as they just like the vibe and hanging out with friends. A lot of the fun of the Aberdour Festival is that; taking time off work to stay up a bit later or just being naughty and having a drink in the afternoon!

The Festival committee do an amazing job and we’re more than happy to help out. My own contribution is, with our own small committee, putting together the Donkey Brae Run, on Sunday 28 July. The 7 mile run is a 550 strong sell out. We expect around another 100 runners for the 2 mile run and about 300 for the fun run. With the Village Market Day on straight after it, Donkey Brae day, as I call it, is, IMHO, the best day of the year in this part of Fife.

The Festival at the Woodside kicks off on Friday 26 July with an exhibition of photographs by Fraser Simpson.  Fraser was a leading member of the International Cave Divers Association and many of the photos on exhibition are incredible shots of his challenges around the world. The exhibition has been organised by Fraser’s good friend (and friend of the Woodside!) Douglas Kelso, who put together the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park. Expect a highly professional display honouring the work of a remarkable man. Prints will be on sale with all proceeds going to the Maggie’s Centre Fraser attended.

On the evening of Monday 29 July there is a comedy night at the hotel. We’ve been looking to host comedy events for some time so hopefully there is an audience for us. The Festival committee have a strong bill of four very funny comics and this is a night we’re looking forward to a great deal.

The next night, Tuesday 30 July sees Aberdeenshire folksinger, Iona Fyfe take the stage. Winner of Scots Singer of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2018, Iona now has an international reputation.

On Wednesday 31 July, we’re delighted to host Fife’s own Coaltown Daisies. With their love of country and Americana Vivienne and Lynzy are a perfect fit for a night at The Woodside.

After this, we’re going to take it easy and enjoy a bit of the Festival ourselves! I’m looking forward to hearing Stuart Cosgrove talk about American soul on Friday 2 August. Stuart’s soul trilogy is incredibly researched and written. Each book is a thriller in its own right. His knowledge of 60s American society, quite apart from soul music, is exceptional and his ability to recall facts and anecdotes of the period, with a very Scottish sense of humour, makes for a great evening for music fans.

Hope to see you about.

Tickets for all the official Festival events are available in various locations in Aberdour and for our own Coaltown Daisies gig at the hotel online here.

Blue Nile gather of fans

Blue Nile Gathering 26 -28 April 2019

Blue Nile Gathering Woodside Hotel Aberdour

Last weekend was pretty special.

The hotel was full, we had live music. Lots of food and drink were consumed.

Nothing that special about that, you may think.

Except everyone at the hotel were fans of The Blue Nile.

The Blue Nile, in case you don’t know, were a Scottish band who produced four wonderful albums; A Walk Across the Rooftops, Hats, Peace at Last and High between 1984 and 2014.

They only made four albums, in those years, which was one of the things which set the band apart from their contemporaries.

Each album was memorable and a product of the highest musical craftsmanship.

Each live performance was a triumph of, as one critic famously put it, a “shared private experience”.

For those of us about in those years, The Blue Nile’s music, above all others, was the soundtrack to our loves, losses, successes and failures. We all know who Tinseltown in the Rain reminds us of, where we were when we heard The Downtown Lights for the first time. How Family Life brought us to tears. Some of us even went to Toledo because The Blue Nile made a song about the place.

If you’ve never heard the band’s music, get yourself a glass of wine or a cup of tea and allow yourself half an hour to watch this magical film…

Even though the band no longer record or play live together, the fans have this eternal music. The fans also realise that they have a lot in common. People who like The Blue Nile tend to have fine taste in other music, in films, in books and art.

So, in 2019, it should be no surprise that there is a vibrant online Blue Nile community. The Facebook Page “The Blue Nile – The Music of Paul Buchanan, PJ Moore and Robert Bell” allows fans to share memorabilia, videos, anecdotes, sightings and selfies of band members amid rich discussion.

Members of the group have had a couple of Gatherings, allowing people to actually meet up and share their musical stories, forming lasting friendships. When Geno, one of the Page’s admins, suggested having a Gathering in Aberdour, I was absolutely thrilled.

Aberdour is a good venue because while we’re out of the central belt, providing a ‘holiday’ experience, we’re still pretty accessible. One couple came from Leeds, another from Durham, one from Ireland and Nicole travelled from Gothenburg too.

Myself and a lovely guy called Ross started The Aberdour Gathering at about 0840 on Friday 26/4 with a game of golf. Ross showed me that he doesn’t spend all his time listening to The Blue Nile, he actually spends a fair amount of time on the golf course. My local knowledge was no match for Ross’s single handicap acumen but it was clear to me that if Ross’s patter was typical of the group, I was in for a fun weekend.

Come 2pm and the Nilers started arriving. A crowd of people everywhere. At the bar. I was on the wrong side for a few hours pouring the gins, the pints and the wines. No half measures! The warmth and the friendliness was tangible. The old hotel came to life. In my short time here it has never seen such a happy bunch of people. I longed for a member of staff to arrive so I could join in!

Scottish legend Karen Matheson was booked to play at night. Karen had played a barnstorming public show the night before so i knew how good Friday night would be. But, to accommodate the Nilers I had to move the Dalgety Bay folk club to the local village hall. That meant schmoozing the council caretakers, setting up tables and chairs and a temporary bar too, hoping all would go well.

Gathering of the Blue Nile fans

If Karen and her band were brilliant on the Thursday night, they stepped up another gear on the Friday. Karen’s set was a marvellous collection of gaelic, traditional Scottish songs and covers of contemporary classics. Covering The Blue Nile’s Peace at Last was not just brave, it was highly thoughtful and ecstatically received. The Nilers partied on, the bar rocking to the sounds of Mark, a top drawer acoustic performer.

Saturday saw the sun shine and the Nilers walk around the village. There was the chance to complete The Blue Nile treasure trail. At least there was until someone uplifted the final card from the train station bench.

I’m not a local, I’m from Glasgow, but I’ve lived in Aberdour for 22 years and it was great to hear how much the Nilers enjoyed walking round the beaches and the clifftops. Taking the most amazing photos and clearly enjoying each other’s company. What I enjoyed most was blethering about The Blue Nile but then moving on to effortlessly discuss any number of issues in a friendly, intelligent way. The Facebook Page is notable for its tolerance and humour and these guys in the flesh were exactly the same.

Saturday night saw another performance, this time from the Americana artist Amber Cross. Amber had a family health issue to contend with but honoured her commitment and made several new fans with her Natalie Merchantesque sound. The equipment was left for what i was told by geno would be an open mic session of high quality. He wasn’t wrong. David asked me what Neil Young song I’d like to hear and off the bat he sung a brilliant version of Old Man. Ross, whom I’d last seen tearing a strip off me at golf, did superb Danny Wilson songs, Mary’s Prayer and Never Gonna Be the Same. Robert pitched in with Cannonball. And Mark sung Paul Buchanan’s Mid Air. The great man himself would have applauded.

Sunday morning’s breakfast saw more hilarity and bonhomie before the group went their separate ways. A few had a hair of the dog in Edinburgh.

Aberdour 2 will take place in September and wonderful though Aberdour 1 was, I get the feeling the September one will be even better. I’ll have my thinking cap on for ways I can add to the experience and I know Geno is working hard at it too. The bottom line though is, it isn’t rocket science to make a weekend with these great people, who know how to enjoy themselves, work. It’s obvious that their love for The Blue Nile reflects their overall love for the good things in life; family, friends and good times. No more shout. No more fight.

Haste ye back.