A novel about modern day piracy.

October 3, 2010

An armed pirate gang, led by the cunning and ruthless Henry Kaduna are attacking and robbing ships off the port of Lagos in Nigeria. During one particularly brutal incident, an officer’s wife is raped and the ships master murdered.

Interpol, at the request of the UN become involved and Inspector Martin Ellis is sent to track down the leader of the pirate gang. But he has to work under cover, as the corrupt local police chief Godwin Azubikas, cannot be trusted. Due to the constraints imposed working without police assistance, Ellis initially finds progress on the case slow and struggles to obtain leads. Meanwhile the pirate becomes more audacious, earning vast sums of money from the ships he attacks.

The pirate has carved himself a life of luxury from the proceeds of his nefarious activities, visiting the best restaurants in Lagos and gambling at the local casino. He has also become involved with the lovely English croupier Leslie Granby and plans to use her as cover, when he eventually leaves Nigeria. This may be sooner rather than later, as he feels the heat from the local police chief, and suspects there may be someone else closing in on him.

After a narrow escape the pirate decides the time has come to leave Nigeria, but at the last moment he learns of a ship with fortune in bank notes on board. He decides to make this his final mission. But when the pirate and his accomplices attack the ship they get more than they had bargained for, as this is a Russian ship and the crew are armed.

A fast-moving and authentic tale of modern-day piracy based on the authors own experiences of piracy in West Africa in the 1980s.

Available to buy on KINDLE at:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Moon-Archie-Coulter-ebook/dp/B00ENPVWZA/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1388671532&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=shadow+on+the+moon+archie+coulter     Price: GBP 1.53
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A visitors veiw of Glasgow hotels.

May 6, 2014

Over the past 6 years myself and my wife have visited Glasgow many times as our son was at university there. We stayed in most of the major hotels in that city and surrounding area. Here are my thoughts on these hotels.

Premier Travel Inn George Square Times visited 10

This is one of the best Travel inns I have stayed in and we stayed there many times. The rooms were always large clean and quiet. The bar area is small but quite a nice area to sit and relax, the buffet breakfast was to a good standard. The hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of George square,Buchannnan and Sauchiehall streets. There are many good restaurants and bars also within walking distance. There is an NCP car park across from the hotel and the hotel give a 10% discount on the cost of parking there.

Premier Travel Inn Charing Cross. Times visited 01

We only stayed there once as the George Sq. Travel inn was full. It is right next to the M8 but we did not notice any noise from the motorway. The room was clean and tidy but noticeably smaller than other travel inns. The breakfast was good.

Premier Travel Inn Bearsden Times visited 01

We only stayed here once. It’s a nice location with plenty car parking at the back of the hotel. A good pub/restaurant attached to the hotel where we had a very good dinner. Breakfast was also served here the next morning. It’s a quiet location and the rooms were of a good size clean and tidy. It’s a long way from the centre of Glasgow but would be great to use to explore places like the Trossachs.

Travel Lodge Paisley Times visited 03

This is the least favourite of the hotels we stayed at. The rooms and the hotel was a bit run down when we stayed there. Also on the Saturday night we were woken up by a drunk from a wedding party staying there trying to get into the room next door. When we last stayed there three years ago there was no facility for breakfast, though the hotel did provide snack boxes for breakfast. There is plenty of car parking space at the front of the hotel. There were a couple of decent restaurants across the road from the hotel.

Hilton Glasgow Central. Times visited 05

This was our favourite and we stayed there quite a few times. Easily accessed from junction 16 of the M8. You just drive round the front of the hotel and down into the large two level car park beneath the hotel. A short elevator ride brings you to the very impressive reception area. The rooms were of reasonable size and always clean and tidy. However the bathrooms all looked a bit dated. Very impressive views of the M8 and the city from the rooms. The bar area and breakfast area were all refurbished but in my opinion did not improve the atmosphere in these places. This hotel is a tower block there are only 4 elevators so in the morning when you want to leave this can be a problem. There was an excellent fitness centre and swimming pool in the basement of the hotel.

Hilton Grosvenor Times visited 02

This is a very nicely appointed hotel with a particularly nice bar. The rooms were of a good size and had a luxurious feel to them. The breakfast buffet was very good. There is an NCP car park across the road from the reception. The hotel is located within walking distance of some of Glasgow’s best restaurants and bars in Byers road.

Hilton Strathclyde. Times visited 01

This hotel is located on the outskirts of Bellshill about 15 miles from the centre of Glasgow. The hotel its self is quite good with nice sized quiet rooms. The food in the restaurant was quite good, we had dinner there one night. There was ample car parking outside. The pool and fitness centre were very good. The big disadvantage with this hotel is the distance to Glasgow.

Menzies Hotel Times visited 01

The rooms at this hotel were fine. The food in the restaurant and breakfast buffet in the morning was good. The swimming pool and fitness centre were very good.There is also quite a nice bar. Car parking was across the street from the hotel. It’s conveniently located in the centre of Glasgow but a taxi is required to go to the various restaurants.

Crown Plaza Hotel Times visited 01

This hotel is located next to the SEC so convenient for events there. We thought the room was a little small but this was compensated for by great views over Glasgow and the Clyde.It had a nice bar and the breakfast buffet in the morning was fine. Taxis once again required to go to the various restaurants and night life in Glasgow.

Marriot Hotel Times visited 02

The rooms at this hotel were quite good. The breakfast buffet in the morning was good. There is also quite a nice bar. There was ample car parking behind the hotel. It’s conveniently located in the centre of Glasgow but a taxi is required to go to the various restaurants Etc.

I hope the above information is of some use for travellers wishing to stay in Glasgow.

Archie


Worlds greatest Canals

January 3, 2014

During my time at sea in the merchant navy and also working as a ship surveyor for the last 18 months, I have been fortunate enough to travel through 3 of the worlds greatest man-made canals. Panama, Suez and the Welland canal.

I have been through Panama about 35 times and never get bored with that trip which usually takes about 12 hours.
Starting from the Atlantic side, the ship goes through the Gatun locks, three massive locks to the Gatun Lake 26.5 meters above sea level. Then a trip through the Gatun lake down to the Galliard cut. This was quite an engineering achievement to blast down through the continental divide to a depth of 40′. All the rubble was transported away in a specially made railway and used to make a dam which is seen at the Gatun locks. This dam stopped the flow of the Chagres’s river and flooded the area which is now Gatun lake. When the ship arrives at the Pacific side it enters the Pedro Miguel Lock. This is just one chamber and this leads to Miraflores lake which like Gatun lake is man made. At the end of this small lake is the Miraflores locks. Two locks which lead to the Pacific ocean. Panama is very lush and green what ever time of year you go through it is 47.9 miles long.

I have been through the Suez Canal three times. This canal which starts at Suez at the top of the Red sea and goes to Port Said on the Mediterranean is all at sea level so no need for locks.
There is not so much to see traveling through this canal except a lot of sand on either side of the canal. Though there has been more greenification of the land near the canal over the last 20 years of so. The canal is 100.8 miles long and the trip takes about 12 hours.

 

1 Welland Sum R

Welland canal in summer.

The Welland Canal which joins Lake Ontario and Lake Erie is quite an amazing place to visit and not so many passenger ships go here if any. This starts at Port Weller on the edge of Lake Ontario and goes to Port Colbourne on the edge of Lake Erie. The Welland Canal has eight locks to raise the ships up to the level of Lake Erie which is 100 meters higher than Lake Ontario. The canal is 27 miles long and the trip takes about 11 hours. In summer time there is much lush greenery here but in winter it is rather desolate.

Of the three canals. I would have to say my favourite and the greatest engineering achievement of them all, is the Panama canal. If you are going for a cruise try and get one that goes though Panama. Its amazing.


Travel to the USA.

January 2, 2014

I travelled to the USA for the first time in many years recently. It was quite a job !

Firstly you must have either a Visa in your passport (which I had) or an ESTA temporary visa which can be obtained on the internet.

I was flying into Philadelphia then traveling on to Jacksonville. All travellers to the US when changing planes before a final destination have to claim their baggage before proceeding to the next plane.

No one told me this when I checked in! Also I can’t remember any announcement on the plane about this.

Once you leave the plane you will have a big wait to pass through US border control. At Philadelphia there were a dozen desks but it takes five minutes to process each person as they have to check your finger prints and do a retina scan. It took me about 25 mins to pass through immigration and I was near the front of the queue.

You then pick up your bag and go through US customs. Just round the corner from customs is a big shute where the cases are slid down to be taken to your next flight. That part was well organised and my case made the connecting flight OK.

Next it was quite a long walk to the inevitable security which was a slow process. Then a long walk to the flight to Jacksonville.

Boarding was finished by the time I arrived at the gate and everyone was sat down on their seats ready for the plane to leave. Really….. Too close for comfort for me !

So when you book flights to the USA make sure you have an absolute minimum of two hours to make your connection.


Adicted to texting

December 21, 2012

It seems the whole world is adicted to texting these days.  Dont get me wrong I can see its a usefull tool as you can contact someone quickly without the need to phone them up and have  a conversation. Great.  But why should people feel compelled to answer thier TEXTS immeadiately they recieve them, even if they are walking in the street. Or even more worrying… Whilst driving a car. 

Yesterday I saw a woman turning left into a small road using here right hand on the wheel whilst looking down and texting with her left hand. An incredibly stupid thing to do in my opinion as when driving you need your full attention on actually driving. Like many more people these days it would seem she is addicted to texting.

NB: A woman just got two years in jail here in the UK for killing a pedestrian whilst driving and texting at the same time.


Reclining seats on planes.

December 18, 2012

I have been doing a lot of flying lately and one thing continues to bug me!  It’s the habit of virtually everyone in the seat in front to ram their seat right back just after the meal has been served. This action  takes up such a huge chunk of my already extremely cramped space. Also, when I put my seat back it does not compensate for my loss of space !!

There is no point complaining to the cabin crew as they will tell you….. “They are well within their rights to put tier seat back.”

I don’t think when planes were designed they were thinking too much about the 6′ 4″  people(Such as me) traveling on their planes when they came up with the idea of seats being re-clinable.


The Lebanese racetrack

September 8, 2011

 

 

The wide roads outside Beirut for the most part dont have any lane markings. So the traffic all compete to see who can be the fastest driver and take the most risks, just zig zgs all over the roads.  Its fascinating to watch. Mind you I always have my safety belt tightly fastened unlike a lot of the other drivers and passengers.

 

High speed race in both direction

The roads over the mountains are very twisty as they have to rise to a height of over 100o meters. So there are lots of short straights ansd sharp bends on this smooth wide road .

 

High speed cornering

More high speed cornering

 

The traffic for the most part all seems to be taking part in one huge race  in both directions with no central reservation barrier.  All the traffic is very close to the vehicle up ahead and when overtaking pass very close to traffic coming in the other direction. There is very little margin for error.

 

High speed conversation

 
These guys are talking to each other as the cars carreer along at 60 MPH.  Just look how close the car I am traveling in is to them.  Our tour guide told me not to worry as Lebanese are very good drivers and rarely have accidents. 

Baalbek Lebanon

September 2, 2011

Roman ruins at Baalbek

There is much to see at these ruins in quite a small area, which is easy to walk round.

Walls on top of walls

 Originally built as temples by the Romans the area was transformed into a citadel when the conquered by the Arabs in 748 AD. This is quite evident when you look at the different blocks that form the walls.  On top of the original walls, later construction is provided with loopholes for archers to fire arrows through while remaining concealed and protected.

Jupiter temple

There is only 6 columns remaining of the temple of Jupiter but the sheer size of these makes it easy to imagine how large the temple originally was and what a feat of construction it was to build this in the 1st century AD

Gargoyle

On top of these columns where placed gargoyles which were transformed into fountains out of the mouths of the gargoyle when it rained.

Baccus temple

The most outstanding part of this site is the Bacchus temple built in the second centuary AD.  This is almost completely preserved except for the roof. Amazing when you think of all  the earthquakes this area has suffered in the last 2000 years.

Inside Baccus temple

 

Close to the exit from the site is a small but very interesting museum. I found the photo gallery from the beginning of the 20th centuary particularly interesting.