The lock-down has had some positives for me – with no golf and unable to ride motorcycles, I have been confined to the keyboard such that the sequel has made significant progress. Once south of Edinburgh, I have been forced to make up my mind about the route home to Allendale. A continuing fixation with abandoned railways meant that defunct railway lines more or less determined where I should go next – Lauder, Melrose and Newcastleton has been the result. I have played Lauder and Melrose on many occasions but Newcastleton will remain a mystery until the Scottish lock-down eases. In the meantime, this design for a new business card gives some indication of the likely cover design:
A short promotional video is now available on Youtube:
Created with Adobe Spark, it is also available for use on Twitter and Instagram.
If, like me, you blagged your way through English at school using Letts study notes to save you the effort of actually ploughing through your Shakespeare or Jane Austen set-text, you will probably be tempted to pick up this handsome little paperback, flick it open at the chapter for your local area, scan read it to see if you recognise anyone, and put it back on the shelf. Please let me assure you; that would be a big mistake. This book deserves to be read in its entirety.
Admittedly, I did start at page 103 with Robin’s arrival on Mull, but then this is not a whodunnit, so why wouldn’t I? It rapidly dawns on the reader this is not a gazeeter of off-the-beaten-track golf courses, nor just another travelogue. Combining stories of local characters, history, social comment and even elements of autobiography, this delightful book will carry you along from Craignure (or wherever you choose to start) to Tobermory, then over the Sound of Mull to Kilchoan and onwards to Durness, where on completion, you’ll jump back to Allendale and find your way from there to your original departure point. Oh yes, and he plays and writes about golf on some of Scotland’s less-well-known courses, describing his experiences in a way that the longer handicapper will surely relate to.
In truth, it is difficult to say more about this book without resorting to either unnecessary hyperbole or outright pleading on behalf of the author, so let pictures paint a few words; they say never to judge a book by its cover, but maybe this is an exception. Admittedly the front cover carries a typical golf-in-the-highlands photo of the Sgurr of Eigg as seen from the third green at Traigh Golf Club near Arisaig – nothing at all wrong with that, since you ask; but flip over and look at the picture strip accompanying the synopsis on the back. There’s the Sphinx, a 1960s racing car, and Killin Railway Station in the age of steam alongside the more orthodox golf pics. Flick through the chapter heads and see the little quotes that accompany the title…Jacques Brel, da Vinci, Bob Dylan, Dickens. Now you’re starting to get a glimpse of where Robin Down will be taking you as you follow him on his golfing journey.
“Golf in the Wild” is quirky, no doubt about it, and a right good read for golfer and non-golfer alike. Don’t put it back on that shelf.
I have received a variety of generous comments and reviews from both friends and complete strangers. Some can be found on Amazon, where the book will soon be available to order. However, out of them all, this one from Tom is my favourite – Golf in the Wild as a test of character.
A quick internet search seems to reveal that Mr Down has written nothing before which makes it even more extraordinary. What I am really enjoying is all the golfing, literary and musical avenues it opens up, some previously visited, and some completely new. It even made me look at motor sport in a new way, previously one of my few sporting blind spots………Anyway thank you for introducing me to the book, I am going to order a few and spread the word. It may well become a litmus test of character, those who get it will go up in my regard and those that don’t may head in the other direction.
Purchase a copy and take the litmus test.
Killin News – October Edition
“This book exists because of Killin. It was here in 2005 that the idea of solitary golf in wild places was first born.” ( Chapter 4 Killin)
This is a newly published book and as a non-golfer I found it a surprisingly enjoyable and easy read. Written with humour and candour, it should appeal to a much wider audience than just the golfing fraternity. With descriptions of wonderful ‘wild’ courses, on which the golfer can test his or her skills (or lack of them!), the book encourages you to take the journey and to step off the well publicised golfing route map. It could even tempt the non-golfing household to enjoy the delights of a touring holiday in north Northumberland and Scotland and may just persuade others to abandon the hassle of airports and their annual golfing jaunt to Turkey, Portugal or other such popular destinations.
This book is much more than about playing golf. It takes you on a journey through time, wonderful landscapes, the fascinating history of the places where the courses are located, the author’s life and the various characters in his family, and his passion for fast cars and those who were lucky (or unlucky) enough to race them. The golfing journey begins at Allendale, Northumberland and ends at Durness, in Sutherland, having taken you on a route north via courses such as Selkirk, Bishopshire, Killin – to which a whole chapter is devoted, Craignure, Traigh and Gairloch. A great tour to undertake even without the golf clubs and the book will, hopefully, encourage new visitors to all the destinations that are mentioned.
It is a book you can dip in and out of and should inspire every reader to do a bit of exploring. Copies, priced at £8.99, are available in Killin at The Old Mill and at Killin Golf Club or may be bought directly from www.golfinthewild.co.uk. Gillean Ford
I have had a few bad dreams recently – 1000 books are delivered to my front door, I open the first box, scan the pages and to my horror, all the print is overflowing the right margin. The images are either too faint to see or so dark everything looks like night – I desparately tear the boxes apart looking for just one that might be right. In the event, the 1000 books turned up in 42 boxes (41 x 24 and 1 x16 for the mathematically inclined) and after two days hard searching I have yet to find anything wrong, or at least nothing glaring. For this I have to thank my various editors and the skilled advice and guidance provided by The Choir Press, a truly professional organisation. So begins the next interesting task – promotion, marketing and selling.
It has been a fascinating voyage of discovery – for instance, until yesterday I did not appreciate there something called the Legal Deposit. This is the obligation on publishers to send one copy of each of their publications to the British Library. In addition another five must go to the Agency for The Legal Deposit Libraries – this covering The Bodleian Library, Oxford, The University Library, Cambridge, The National Library of Scotland, The Library of Trinity College, Dublin and The National Library of Wales. Odd to think that these august bodies now all contain works by yours truly.
Another worry was the exact dimensions of 1000 books – where would they all go? In the event they squeeze into a relatively confined space, mostly under our dining room table. We don’t expect to be wining and dining for some time!
Publication date moves ever closer. The final edits have been applied and now I await a digital proof before going to press. A late decision was inclusion of an inside cover image with descriptive text to add interest to the opening page. This has also provided space for a generous review from my good friend Norman Harris of The Times:
“Small is clearly beautiful to the author, and so is remote. He has a passion and curiosity for these special golfing terrains and the way local landscapes and history have shaped them. His odyssey should strike a chord with a small army of kindred souls.”
Norman Harris – THE TIMES
This is the latest version of the cover – there have been seven previous versions. The various iterations have all revolved around the text on the front page – the font type, size and positioning. There has even been a version with vertical text to compliment the flag stick – I was rightly persuaded to drop that idea. If this is final, publication just now awaits a final round of professional editing.
A recent post on northumbrian : light indicates a target publication date of April 2014 – I am into the third round of editing before finalising the page count which, in turn, determines the spine thickness. Once I know this, it will be time to complete the cover design. By degrees, it is getting closer to being complete. The northumbrian : light post featured some text from the book and this image of my grandfather, standing on Egyptian sands as the distinctive smell of burnt castor oil fills the air.
Having finally bitten the bullet and subscribed to InDesign CC, the formatting of the book is slowly taking shape. Starting with a blank sheet of paper is quite a daunting prospect – it seems like it should be easy – the page size is pre-defined, there is guidance on fonts and margins but there is still much to decide. It has taken me three days to get this far – the chapter heading is intended to echo a golf flag and there must be space for all the various course names and quotes, all of which vary in size e.g. Selkirk & Innerleithen. Then there are header and footer/page number options, line spacing, font sizes, footnotes, dropcaps etc etc. The challenge is to be original but professional – it has to “look right”. Hopefully it does.