Laudable Vices – my new malt whisky blog

A little off-topic this one but I know there are many members of some of the on-line Dunnett discussion groups who will recognise the term “Laudable Vices”. We’ve often discussed malt whisky because Dorothy and Alastair were both very fond of a dram and experts on the subject, and it’s kicked off many entertaining off-topic threads.

So I hope some of you will drop by a new malt whisky blog – Discover Whisky – that my good friend Mike and I have been working on. Mike is a fan of Speyside malts while I am more of a islands enthusiast so we should have some interesting discussions and hopefully connect up with a few people on the way. We’ve already got some comments from people on Islay and I’m dreaming of going back there.

We’ll be doing a series of tastings (such an onerous task!) over the next few months and hopefully developing it all into a useful resource and discussion area for enthusiasts. Please come and join us and if you like what you find then please mention us or link to the site from your blogs or journal entries so others can do the same.


Canoe Boys on the radio

Following up the earlier post about Alastair Dunnett’s book The Canoe Boys, there is to be a 3 part documentary on Radio Scotland about that epic trip. It starts on Wednesday 14th Nov at 11.30am. There is a feature on the Radio Scotland website which has a number of audio and video segments so you can get a flavour of it and it looks as if there will be a podcast available.

Third Unicorn Tapestry unveiled at Stirling Castle

Any of you who were with us on the DDRA weekend trip to Stirling Castle a few years ago will remember the wonderful Unicorn Tapestries, which we were able to see on the looms and about which we heard a talk the previous day from one of the superbly skilled weavers who are undertaking their construction and who had just finished work on the first in the series – The Unicorn in Captivity.

These recreations of the original Renaissance tapestries – The Hunt of the Unicorn – which belonged to James V and which are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in new York, have a direct link to the time period of our favourite books as well as being delightful to look at.

Now the third in the series of seven – The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle – has been unveiled and will be on display in the castle’s restored Chapel Royal. If you are visiting Scotland on holiday or live nearby then a trip to see them is highly recommended.

BBC News Article

Sophie Younger Conservation – includes photos of the first two tapestries

Historic Scotland article

Metropolitan Museum of Art feature on the original tapestries

New Yorker article on photographing the original tapestries

New edition of Canoe Boys published

I was delighted to hear from one of my fellow DDRA committee members that Alastair Dunnett’s book The Canoe Boys has appeared in a new edition. I hadn’t realised that the previous edition had run out, as it was still on the shelves the last time I’d checked for it. Which rather shows how easily, even after 21 years in the book trade, you can lose touch with things once you’re no longer working with them day to day.

Canoe Boys really is a classic. Alastair had a lovely writing style and the descriptions of pre-war West of Scotland life and the people that he and Seumas Adam encountered on their voyage north are truely evocative of a culture which has largely passed into history. At that time the sea was still the main means of communication for much of the west coast – roads were poor and slow going – and apart from the Clyde puffers the areas were pretty much isolated away from the Oban and Fort William railheads. You can get a real sense of the feelings he had for the area and the positive attitudes he would take into his work at the Scottish Office and later as editor of The Scotsman. The book now has an introduction and extra notes by his son Ninian and we must hope that it stays in print for many more years. Though I’ve long had a copy of the previous edition I’ll be buying a copy of this one too.

Published by In Pinn,
ISBN-13: 978-1903238998