Algy wanted to watch the angry sea, but he found that it was impossible for a fluffy bird to withstand the force of the wind, so he wedged himself down tightly into a nook between the rocks, while the waves pounded and crashed and roared all around him.

[Algy apologises for the very jerky nature of this GIF, and he would like to reassure you that the rocks did not in fact move!

Owing to the somewhat challenging conditions for photography, Algy’s assistant was not able to photograph a proper image sequence, nor hold the camera still, and tripods were out of the question without massive sandbags…so this is just a rough slide show to convey some impression of the beginning of the storm.]


Another day, another storm…

When Storm Henry started to batter the west coast of Scotland, Algy took cover behind a large rock, to avoid being blasted across the country to Aberdeen, and watched the waves crashing in across the rocks that lined the edge of the normally sheltered Sound. As each new wave reached the rocks, a terrific explosion of spray shot all the way across the shore, drenching everything with droplets of salty water – including his assistant’s camera…

Algy had had quite enough of the outside world for the time being, and although the wind had died down for a wee while, there was nasty, cold sleet falling non-stop out of the dismally grey sky. So – as electriticy supplies had been restored to the local area – Algy asked his assistant if he could please spend the day in her cosy, warm house, and check the proof of the new colour paperback version of his latest book The Tree with a Golden Heart.

Some of Algy’s friends have received a complimentary greyscale copy of this paperback from the first test print run – that is, a paperback with small, black and white images at the head of each chapter. If you are one of those friends, and would like a copy with large colour pictures at the head of each chapter, please be sure to let Algy know! He will be very happy to send you one 🙂

All copies of the paperback edition of The Tree with a Golden Heart on sale at Amazon and other bookshops should be in colour.

You can preview the first chapter of the book on Algy’s own web site at, where you can also buy a signed copy direct from Algy 🙂

Storm Gertrude had officially passed over, but in Algy’s opinion the weather was not exactly improving. The human households around his home had been without power for 15 hours, while sleet, hail and snow was driving in from the ocean and across the hillsides on severe gale force winds from the north-west. It was not a fit day out for man nor beast. And for those who were not enjoying this storm, another one just like it was arriving on Monday…

Birds don’t require electricity, of course, but even birds like to keep warm and fluffy, and that was becoming increasingly difficult.

Keep your heads down, everybody… here comes another blast!

Conditions in the West Highlands of Scotland were a wee bit stormy, to say the least, and likely to continue that way for many more days…

Algy flew down to the Sound, which was more sheltered than the exposed coast by his home, but found that – even there – everything was being flattened by the wind… including him!

Colour Reissue of “The Tree with a Golden Heart” paperback

The first short print run of Algy’s new book “The Tree with a Golden Heart” was published with small greyscale illustrations. After much thought, Algy has decided that this really won’t do, and the paperback is therefore being reissued in colour, to match the first book “A Surprisingly Fluffy Bird”.

The colour version is not yet available to buy – Algy will let you know when it is ready 🙂  If you buy from a company like Amazon at present, you will still receive the greyscale version. The price will rise by £1 (GBP) when the book goes into colour.

If you have bought or received a greyscale copy and would prefer colour, please send Algy a message and he will see what he can do 🙂

If you have received a review copy in greyscale, please note that the illustrations will be in colour in all editions as soon as the reissue is printed and the greyscale version will no longer be available to buy.

Algy does still have some copies of the greyscale version for anyone who would like one – just send him a message. In the future this version will be a collector’s item, as fewer than 70 copies have been printed and distributed!

Any questions or comments?

25th January is Burns Night, so Algy borrowed a volume of Robert Burns’ verse from his assistant, and settled down to read it. There wasn’t a dry spot to be found anywhere, as it had done nothing but rain and rain and rain for days on end, so as Algy was not a great fan of Burns in any case, he flicked through the volume as quickly as he could…

The famous poet wrote in 18th century Scots, a language which is no’ very easy to understand unless you speak it 🙂 And his life and work have little to do with the Scottish Highlands, as Burns was very much a Lowland person and poet. But Algy felt that he ought to do his duty nevertheless, and as he turned the pages he was relieved to come upon a familiar verse, which in fact the poet did not write himself, but merely recorded from an older tradition. Algy has provided his own translation beneath the original, because he knows that although this is sung all over the world, few people actually know what it means. Perhaps if they did, they would not sing it at New Year, because it really doesn’t fit 🙂

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
[Repeat chorus]

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fitt,
Sin’ auld lang syne.
[Repeat chorus]

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.
[Repeat chorus]

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie-waught,
For auld lang syne.
[Repeat chorus]

Algy’s translation:
Should old acquaintance be forgotten,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgotten,
And the old days long ago!

For old times’ sake, my dear,
For old times’ sake,
We’ll drink a cup to friendship now,
[2, 3]
For old times’ sake.

And surely you’ll pay for your pint mug!
And surely I’ll pay for mine!
And we’ll drink a cup to friendship now,
For old times’ sake.

We two have run about the hillsides,
And plucked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
Since the old days long ago.

We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning sun till dinner time;
But broad seas have roared between us
Since the old days long ago.

And there’s a hand my trusty comrade!
And give me a hand of yours!
And we’ll take a hearty good-will swig,
For old times’ sake.

Algy’s learned notes on the translation 🙂

[1] “Auld lang syne”… “lang syne” is a compound which means all of: the years of long ago, old times, and memories of the past. “Auld” simply means old. So although the phrase “Auld lang syne” is repeated for the purpose of rhyme, the sense varies slightly according to its place in the song, owing to the richness of the meaning.

[2] Although the “cup o’ kindness” is usually tranlsated literally, that isn’t really quite accurate, and it’s unlikely that “kindness” as we now understand it in English is what was intended – it probably means something like a drink to their friendship.

[3] How should “yet” be translated in “we’ll tak a cup of kindness yet”? It’s usually just repeated as it is, but Algy feels this isn’t right at all. The meaning in Scots would either be something like “now as before” or “at the present time”, and either could apply here – take your choice!

[4] Algy is never quite sure about the translation of “pou’d the gowans fine”, so he has left it ambiguous. It’s usually translated as “plucked the daisies fine”, with the intended sense of “plucked the fine daisies”, but in Scots the word “fine” is also used as an adverb to mean to do something well. For example “I mind it fine” means “I remember it well”.

[5] Algy sees a pun in the phrase “ right gude-willie-waught” which is often missed, especially when the first hypen is omitted. A “willie-waught” is a hearty swig, for example of ale. By using a hypen after “gude” (meaning good) in addition, the idea of goodwill is joined with the compound noun “willie-waught”, so it’s both a “very hearty swig” and a “goodwill swig” at the same time.

After so much rain, Algy found that the ground was a wee bit damp for the tail feathers, so he jumped up into a bush and turned to face the sun. The burn rushed and tumbled over the trailing branches in the water beneath him, then swept round the bend to continue its sinuous path through the peat bog to the sea. Algy knew that the sun was about to disappear again, as there was a large mass of cloud sweeping in from the Atlantic, but for a few wonderful moments, the world was bathed in light and colour and the Blue Burn was truly blue 🙂

Algy hopes you will all get a wee bit of sunshine this weekend, and he sends extra special fluffy hugs to those of his friends facing blizzards in the eastern USA, to help you keep warm xoxo

Something peculiar had happened to the West Highlands… it looked as though somebody had been playing with their paintbox! After 24 hours of rain, the sun came out for a short while, and the landscape was immediately transformed.

Although it was blowing a gale, Algy hurried down to the burn, to watch the water surging through the low, twiggy branches of the bushes that trailed over it. The burn gurgled and foamed as it rushed along past him with enormous energy, evidently eager to return to the sea. Algy marvelled at the amazing capacity of the peat bogs to drain all the water away, and he lay back happily on last year’s bracken, listening to the burn and soaking up the rare winter sunshine while it lasted…

Although the sun was still setting in the mid-afternoon, Algy’s spirits were high: the two months of perpetual gloom were over at last, and every day now there was a little more light, and the light was a little bit brighter.

Algy knew that it would probably be cold, wet and windy for many more months to come – if not all year round – but in the northern lands the return of the daylight was more significant. The dreadful darkness of winter was ending!

So Algy dedicates this post to those of his friends who live in the lands on the dark side of the 56th parallel north. It’s over, friends! Help is on the way 🙂