Welcome to Peter Caton books
Last week my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful, if often wet holiday in Scotland; two nights on the Isle of Arran, two nights on the Island of Gigha and two nights in Oban – and two new ‘tidal islands’. Being islands off islands they wouldn’t have qualified for my book No Boat Required and we found that one of them would now come under the ‘nearly tidal’ category.
The remote community owned island of Gigha is off the west coast of the Kintyre peninsula, between the mainland and Islay. It’s 7 miles long by about 1½ miles wide, has a population of 31 and with many white sand beaches is a truly wonderful island.
Off the north west corner is Eilean Garbh, which many photos show connected to the main island by a strip of white sand. One photo even accidentally found its way into a holiday brochure for a Caribbean island and no one noticed that it was actually in Scotland. With just two days on Gigha we had to ignore the weather, so having walked down paths from the island’s only road, we arrived soaked through. It was then that we found that this is no longer a tidal island. Marram grass has grown up across the centre of the sandy tombolo that linked Garbh to Gigha, leaving beautiful white sand beaches either side (they look whiter when dry).
We walked across to Garbh but the ascent to its summit is steep and I didn’t need too much persuasion that to climb the slippery ladder fixed to the rocks was a risk best not taken. Returning to the Gigha Hotel for dry clothes and warm lunch we learned that the marram grass became established some years ago and the spot is now known as the Twin Beaches. Beautiful even in pouring rain, this must be an idyllic spot when the sun shines. We will return one day.
On mentioning No Boat Required to a lady in the craft centre we were told that Gigha does still have its own tidal island; Eilean a Chui in Ardminish Bay. We could see it from our hotel bedroom window. With long Scottish evenings we could visit after dinner, by which time the rain was lighter, but still wet enough to keep the midges away. There’s a short rocky causeway by a tiny harbour but it was easier to walk across the sand. The island, which is accessible most of the time (Gigha’s tidal range is remarkable small) is quite small (but bigger that it appears on the photo) and a true tidal island to add to my list.
Should anyone get the opportunity to visit Gigha we can thoroughly recommend this little known but beautiful Scottish island.
I would have liked to post some photos of Gigha taken in better weather but the cloud didn’t lift for our entire stay, so just to show that the sun did shine in Scotland here’s one of Holy Island off Arran.
In Essex Coast Walk I asked if it is walking that makes people interesting or that interesting people choose to walk.
Today on the sea wall between Leigh on Sea and Benfleet I met another interesting walker. Jim, originally from Galway, has completed many long walks, a day at a time, either travelling from London by train and bus, or basing himself in a B&B and taking public transport to and from each day’s walking.
He posts videos of the walks and some music on a YouTube channel – Huggie Huggie2love – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhhR9khVLC8
Worth a look.
We came second to the Residents Association, who defending a huge majority again won by a long way. But I beat not only Lib Dem, UKIP & Labour, but got 21% more votes than the Conservative candidate, in one of the most Tory & Brexit supporting areas of London. Second place is the Green Party’s best ever result in Barking Dagenham & Havering. People are starting to understand that we simply must act to minimise climate change.
Following the sad death of Councillor Clarence Barrett I’m honoured to be standing for the Green Party in the Cranham by-election on 9th May. Here’s a copy of a letter to local residents:
Dear Cranham Resident
I would like to introduce myself as your Green Party candidate for the Cranham by-election.
I’ve lived in Cranham for 55 years, attended The Bell & Coopers Coborn schools, work part time in my small business based in Purfleet and am an author of local walking and travel books. As member of Upminster Methodist Church I’ve run or helped with youth clubs for more than 30 years.
As I’ve talked to Cranham residents several issues have been repeatedly raised and I’d like to take this opportunity to set out how I would deal with these.
Green Spaces – We value our green spaces and the countryside that adjoins Cranham but time and time again see these under threat. Until recently it seemed that we were able to stop the most harmful developments but now the Council have taken part of Upminster Park and want to build on the miniature golf course. I spent many hours on the pitch & putt as a child, took my children there and one day hope to take grandchildren. The facility is financially viable but has been deliberately run down by the Council. I submitted my personal objection to its sale and another on behalf of the local Green Party, and would fight to save this and all our valued green spaces.
Climate Change & The Environment – It has been heartening to talk to so many people who care about what is happening to our planet. Many watched David Attenborough’s recent programme and fear for the world’s future. We simply have to act. Individuals, companies, local authorities and governments can all make a difference and we must all do so. If elected I would aim to have a Climate Emergency declared in Havering with appropriate action taken to reduce our impact on climate change.
Crime & Policing – There is understandably much concern at the spate of street attacks, often on children. Action must be taken but the government’s huge cuts in police numbers are having a real impact. Whilst Havering Council have limited say in policing, Green Party policy is for greater community involvement with our police service. Too many officers are being diverted to major events in London. We must also look at the causes of crime and be proactive in working to provide role models, youth facilities and to divert those who may be led into offending.
Parking – Whilst the Green Party seeks to encourage use of public transport, cycling and walking, we appreciate that there is a need for some people to be able to drive to our town centres and that increased car parking charges will have a negative impact on our high street traders. High parking charges will result in more people driving longer distance to out of town centres, with a greater environmental impact. I would therefore fight to reverse the parking charge increases and ensure that there are reasonable initial free periods
Save Our Trees – It seems that long established trees are being treated with reckless indifference. Where simply trimming or removing a branch would suffice, whole trees are being cut down by the Council’s contractors, often with no consultation with local residents. Our trees are vital in helping to limit climate change and a crucial part of the beauty and character of our towns. We should be planting more trees and unless there is very good reason, keeping all of our beautiful mature trees.
Consultation & The Council – Many people have expressed dissatisfaction or even anger that we have a Conservative led council as a result of ‘independent’ councillors either switching to, or supporting the Tories. I can assure everyone that I would put the interests of Cranham first and that if you elected me as a Green Party councillor you would get a Green Party councillor. Living in the ward and active in the community, including on social media, I would be accessible to all residents and would seek the views of the people of Cranham before voting on matters affecting our town.
The Green Party – Whilst the environment is at the forefront, The Green Party has a broad spectrum of policies, promoting social justice, equality, grassroots democracy and a fairer society. Green councillors across the country have been successful in working closely with local residents and holding councils to account. The Green Party has stood at every Cranham Ward election since 2002 and I have been the candidate for the last three elections. Often behind the scenes, we have been actively campaigning on local issues such as air quality, the Lower Thames Crossing and the pitch & putt.
Time for a Change – Talking to residents, many agree that it is time for a change and that we should elect a councillor who lives in the ward and fully engages with the people of Cranham. I would be honoured to represent you and to put the people of Cranham and our environment first.
No one likes visiting the dentist. I’m fortunate that Mr Anand is a very nice chap with good sense of humour, and an excellent dentist. Even so I’d have preferred not to have made six visits in the last five weeks.
I suspect it goes back to the standard of dentistry and dental education in my 1960s childhood and that teeth filled then have always been vulnerable. My parents took me to their dentist, Mr Blaney, widely known locally as Butcher Blaney. His stark surgery, grinding drill and gruff chairside manner were understandably scary to a young child. Like too many dentists he seemed to delight in waving the syringe in front of the patient, so they could see exactly how long that needle is. I wasn’t an easy patient. On one occasion I threatened to get him with my chemistry set. After that he refused to treat me.
At school we had a yearly visit from a dentist and following one of these my parents received a letter saying that treatment was required. An appointment was made at the local clinic with Mr Wight the school dentist. What a nice chap he was. For several years he kept my teeth in order but then he left. His successor was a small but formidable lady, who scared the children. She soon left and rumour had it that the dental nurse, a lovely lady who knew everyone, had a part in it. Mr Wright came back but on leaving school I was no longer eligible to attend his surgery.
After trying a couple of dentists near to my work, neither of whom inspired confidence, I signed up with Mr Hall in Romford. What a lovely chap he was too. He kept everything pretty much in order, other than a failed attempt at root canal treatment when the tooth had to go. When the adjacent tooth needed the same treatment he suggested a specialist, his referral letter describing the ‘spectacular failure’ of treatment in its neighbour.
Then one day Mr Hall told me the news I’d been dreading. He was to retire. He was the only dentist I really trusted and was gentle (well as gentle as one can be when armed with needles, drills and pliers). He had told me there was no excuse for dentists not to be. I wonder if he ever met Mr Blaney? He had great confidence in Mr Anand, his successor and assured me that I’d be in good hands.
Fortunately Mr Hall was right and Mr Anand has now cared for my teeth for more than ten years. I visit every 6 months or so, occasionally he finds a hole or a filling to replace, but we’ve had no major dramas. He always tell me that my teeth are very clean so I feel like I’ve been a good boy. My check up in February was fine and it was the usual ‘see you in 6 months’. Then it all started to go wrong.
A year or so ago Mr Anand did an x-ray and said that the tooth that the specialist had dealt with was resting in very little bone and would soon fall out. Apparently root canal doesn’t last for ever. At the check up I proudly showed him it was still there but was told its days were numbered.
They were indeed. The next week it started to hurt. I went back for antibiotics but before they took effect the tooth started to wobble. A strange feeling that I hadn’t had since baby teeth many years ago. So back to Mr Anand. It would have to come out. Out came the pliers and with a quick pull so did the tooth. But that wasn’t all. This was only the tooth. The root was still to come. More injections, much tugging and twisting with the pliers, quite a lot of pain and eventually it was all out. See you in six months.
Alas it was not to be. A few days later I was eating a Kit Kat and became aware of something hard in my mouth. A tooth had broken. Back to Mr Anand. Apparently Kit Kats from the fridge are quite hard so it wasn’t a surprise. The tooth was heavily filled and the filling would have to come out to be replaced. Those dreaded words ‘book a 45 minute appointment’. A temporary filling in place I did as asked and booked to return in two weeks.
Two weeks though was a long time to wait to see my mate Mr Anand but not to worry, another problem arose. A sharp piece of bone had appeared in my gum where the extraction had been. Mr Anand had looked at it the week before, said it was not unusual. He could numb it up and remove it but it would sort itself out in time. With a choice of needle or nothing, I obviously decided to wait. But now it was rubbing on my tongue and hurting. Back to Mr Anand. This was an appointment I wasn’t looking forward to. I feared it would give him an opportunity to use some of those strange but sharp looking tools that sit around the surgery waiting for unusual cases. I sat in the chair with trepidation. A minute later it was done. Simply pulled out with tweezers and no pain. Phew. But I’d be back next week.
Today was the 45 minute appointment. We greeted like friends. I told Mr Anand about Butcher Blaney and the chemistry set. I didn’t let on that I now have three whole labs of equipment that might be turned on any medical professional who pained me. I’d once asked Mr Anand why anyone would want to be a dentist. He replied that he sometimes wondered that too! Today though he told me how much he enjoyed the job and how rewarding it was. He would get the chance to use a full array of tools today. The 45 minute job was done in 25. See you in 6 months. Three hours later the numbness is subsiding and much as I like to see Mr Anand I hope it will really be six months before we meet again.
Next time I could perhaps do as the lady in a story told by the much missed cricket commentator Brian Johnston. As she sat down in the chair the lady grasped a delicate part of the dentist’s anatomy. ‘Excuse me madam, you’re holding my testicles’ exclaimed the dentist. ‘I know’ replied the lady ‘we’re not going to hurt each other are we?’
Peter Caton 19/3/19
My next book is well underway. I’ve walked on Dartmoor since my father took me at the age of five and it’s one of my most favourite places. Whilst some people have a great knowledge of the moor, many others don’t venture beyond the ‘honeypots’ like Haytor, Postbridge and Dartmeet. There is so much more to see, from natural features, prehistoric remains, industrial archaeology and wonderful views, and the book will aim to show people where they can walk to discover some of Dartmoor’s lesser known spots. Like 50 Walks on the Essex Coast it will be a walking guide, but it will contain much more information and background than conventional walking guides, making it I hope a unique book on Dartmoor.
I’ve started documenting the walks and background but it won’t be until late next year that the book is ready for publication. Meanwhile I shall be enjoying many walks on what many consider to be England’s last wilderness.
Thanks to David Attenborough and Blue Planet we are at last realising the effect on our planet and its wildlife of the huge amount of plastic that we use and often discard in our daily lives.
A friend of mine, Gemma Andrews, has decided to do what she can to stop using plastics and has set up a blog with many ideas to help others to the same.
It’s well worth following: https://alifewithlessplast.wixsite.com/alifewithlessplastic/home/
Suffolk Coast Walk continues to sell steadily and can be found in most Suffolk bookshops – or buy post free from Swan Books through the link on my book page. With just a handful of copies left I’m having it reprinted and 1000 more copies will be with Matador very shortly. I’ve made a few minor corrections, so thanks to readers who’ve contacted me to point them out.
Remote Stations – Available Early August
There has been a slight delay in printing but Remote Stations, which describes my visits to 40 of Britain’s loneliest railway stations, will be available early August. Just £9.99 it includes more than 175 colour and black & white photos, both recent and historical.
Pre order now with free delivery from https://www.swanbooks.co.uk/product-page/remote-stations-peter-caton
Or use link on Remote Stations book page.