Re-starting Monday

The website has been on holiday.

We took a summer break from releasing podcasts at but we have not been idle.

We have recorded quite a few fascinating chats and the first will be an absolute cracker.

The new podcasts start on Monday 1st September.

We'll hear from Scott Donaldson who spent almost three months in a kayak, paddling 1300 miles across the Tasmanian Sea from Australia to New Zealand - almost.

Just 34 miles from the coast Scott had to call for helicopter rescue.

How did he feel about doing that?  How can he live with his decision?

Use your RSS reader to subscribe to the feed at or find us here on iTunes and subscribe.

Why Can't I Buy Volume 3 As A Download Yet?

Download in 2015
Every once in a while I get asked why Volume 3, Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown is not yet available as a download.  The question came up again recently on Twitter.

We have no plans to release Volume 3 as a download until 2015 at the earliest, and there are a couple of reasons.

The main one is this:- if we make it instantly available as a download, physical kayak stores won't stock it as a DVD.  Apparently we'd take away their Unique Selling Point - which is to say, if the customer wants this product today they go to the store and buy it rather than waiting for the DVD by mail.

We sell a lot of DVDs through kayak shops and we want to support them, both in Europe and especially in the US where they account for a larger percentage of our sales.  

What's more, many homes outside cities still struggle to download large video files. Without getting into technicalities, it is difficult to compress sea kayaking video (where every pixel is changing from frame to frame) to produce a file that's small enough to download and yet still looks good when screened.

Incidentally, our US distributor is not a big DVD distributor - he's a kayak gear representative.  That shows you where we're aiming our films.

I'm currently investigating combined Download / Streaming sales through site such as VHX and Reelhouse as an alternative download option. 
They work well for one-watch films which sell at under $10 but I'm not yet convinced they're right for our more expensive multi-viewing films which are really like video text-books.

I've investigated iTunes and it's still designed for mass market films. We'd have to go through a third party who charge a small fortune to place any film on iTunes and we would make a hefty loss on the volumes we sell. (Free podcasts are different - see our

Yet things change.  Technology and habits may soon render the above explanations obsolete, even for our low-volume 'niche' films.  DVDs may die. All films may be streamed or Downloaded.  
But for the moment at least, with our highly specialised, niche, low volume product, we're supporting our stockists.
In time Volume 3 will be released as a download.  Quite how to do it is another matter.  

Perhaps we'll release the four films as four separate downloads.  Perhaps we'll string them all together into one long video file.  Perhaps I'll bundle all four into a Zip file and sell that as a combined Download.  I'll sort that out in 2015.

Scottish Kayaking Pioneer

Simon & Campbell
I'm fascinated by the early days of Scottish sea kayaking and last week I had the chance to meet one of the pioneers.

Campbell Semple is now eighty years old and he invited us to his summer house on Loch Sunart.

Since we live on the same loch, we could have just paddled across, but we wanted to take our wee dog Maggie.

So instead we tackled the 2 hour walk-in to the cluster of buildings which make up his retreat at Drumbuie.

A former eminent surgeon Campbell has devised and installed wind, solar and hydro power in his homestead.

People spend working weeks there, helping to run the place while Campbell feeds them.

Liz walking in with Maggie
He recorded an interview with me about the early days of Scottish sea kayaking and, in return, I managed to get his radio working again.

I also showed him how to listen to BBC Radio Three and Radio Four on his Mac. Did I mention Drumbuie also has satellite broadband?

We had a great couple of days, ate well, and enjoyed the walk in and out.

You'll be able to hear the interview with Campbell at which resume on 1st September.

Earlier I had been able to put Campbell in touch with one of his kayaking comtemporaries Hamish Gow who gave me the footage we used a couple of years ago in a shrt film - the trailer is below. Funny how it all comes together in the end.

New Website - Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

Websites have changed in the last few years.

Drop down menus and animating photo albums are so out of fashion.  

The emphasis now is on simple, minimalist presentation, particularly the all important home page.

The text must be brief and clearly understandable.  

All the vital information should be there.  And it can be long.  People just keep scrolling down to find new material.  Only when you click away from this home page do you enter the more complex areas of a site.  This is clearly a result of more people using iPads and other tablets.

I have rebuilt the website along these lines and added a few of my own design cues, such as placing the text in key places on top of images.

The buying pages, for DVDs and Downloads, are clearer too with drop down menus for the different postage options instead of separate PayPal links.  

I hope it all works!

If you find anything wrong with the site - spelling, links or technical - then I'd appreciate you letting me know.  

Chim Chim Cheree

Evenings are getting cooler and soon we'll want to light the log burner.

So it's chimney sweeping time.

With a flue liner it's fairly easy to do, and because we do it each year, we don't have too much soot and stuff to clear out.

Maggie is clearly impressed.  Oh, and I'm going to have to practice my cock-a-nee accent.  We were singing this all yesterday afternoon.

Remote House in Highlands For Sale £125k

It's only six miles from our house but over a very large hill road which is often closed by snow in winter.

This is one of those "ooh wouldn't it be lovely" houses, in which people fantasise themselves living.  They envisage walking around in chunky sweaters in front of roaring fires.

The bit about the fires is accurate at least as this place runs on solid fuel and electricity comes from a generator.

This really is one of those rather 'out there' places.  Which is why Glenhurich Croft is up for sale at £125,000 with MacPhee Estate Agents in Fort William.  Fancy it?  Neighbour...

RNLI Kayak Safety Video

In the news today - two kayakers rescued off North Berwick when people on the shore saw they were in difficulties.  Rescue services emphasised the need for kayakers to be able to raise the alarm.

For over a year now the RNLI has been releasing occasional YouTube videos presented by well known paddlers and aimed at sea kayakers.  It also has a page dedicated to paddlers.

Last month the latest went live fronted by Olly Sanders and is about carrying a means of calling for help. The message is similar to the free Sea Kayak Safety Video we made with HM Coastguard and the RNLI although as you can see we took a different approach.

Because it's Monday, and you'll want to take a decent break from the new working week, I've put both videos below for you to enjoy.  

A Video About Us Shooting Video For The Adventure Show

Last year I shot a feature in Spain for The Adventure Show with Cameron McNeish.  

It was part of the Wild Weekend series in which we try to pack as much adventure as possible into a long weekend. 

On our visit to the Costa Blanca we did a great hike on day one, then on day two tackled a rather steep via ferretta.

These features are genuinely shot over one weekend - there's no TV trickery. 

What's more, there are no helicopters or behind the scenes helpers - we carry all our own kit.  

In my case that usually means hiking kit and mountain gear.  

Except in this case our leader brought along a friend to keep an eye on me. It was my first time on a via ferrata and Jaime's job was to make sure I was clipped on at all times while filming.

This being Spain, a friend came along as well, so our compact team of three had swollen to five.  Fortunately Jaime brought a GoPro camera and made a short video of us making a longer video.  I saw it when it was published and I've only just found it again.  I look ridiculous in that helmet.