This is the website of Neil McDougall, a musician/blogger/podcaster/bookie from Ayrshire.

Neil’s Antipodean Adventure 8: In Which Adam Is Not George Michael

So, when last we spoke, I’d just got back from Sydney, with blistered feet, a scuff on my head and a sore back.  By this point, I was about halfway through my time in Australia, and even though I was ostensibly based in Perth for the trip, I’d hardly spent any time there, between Sydney and the jaunt to Kalbarri.

That was about to change, though.

(more…)

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on October 22, 2016 at 8:43 pm, filed under Uncategorized. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Neil’s Antipodean Adventure 6: So Manly He Headbutts Barstools

So, we got back to the house from Kalbarri in the late afternoon of the 30th of March, but Gordon and I didn’t have a great deal of time to sit about and bask in the post-glamping afterglow, as we were off to Sydney on the red-eye out of Perth on the evening of the 31st.  The evening after we got back from Kalbarri, we did go out with two friends of Gordon and Nancy, JR and Jeanette, to the Cambridge Forum, a food court with lots of different types of cuisine on offer, mostly Asian.  I had a Thai green curry.  It was nice.

(more…)

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on September 27, 2016 at 9:15 pm, filed under life, travel, Uncategorized. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Neil’s Antipodean Adventure 4: Cougar On A Quad Bike

Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to Part 4 of my ongoing series of blogs recapping my holiday to Australia during March and April this year.

When last we spoke, I had ended my second full day in Australia with a belly full of Chinese food and the prospect of an early start the next day, as this holday had another holiday within it – we were heading 6 hours’ drive north to the holiday town of Kalbarri, and we had an early start.

The holiday wasn’t just myself, Gordon, Nancy and Rachael, in case you were wondering.  For one thing, Rachael wasn’t coming.  She was busy with her work and uni prep.  Additionally, the three of us were just one portion of the crew that was going to Kalbarri – the whole party was 15 people – Me, Gordon and Nancy, the Strouds (Peter and Martina), the McGuinnesses (Joe and Caroline, Joe and Caroline’s son Calum, Calum’s partner Ellie and their daughter Ayla) and the D’Cruzes (Clive and Liz, their kids Phoebe and Alex and Phoebe’s friend Renee).  A full team.

Naturally, this amount of folk needed a bit more gear than a couple of cheap tents and a disposable BBQ – we were definitely glamping rather than camping.  We had to tow a big trailer behind my uncle’s Land Rover (a Discovery, very comfy and powerful – just the ticket for a 6+ hour trek in the Aussie sun) which contained all manner of equipment – gas BBQ stove things, three (!!) fridges, a microwave, pergolas, some camping chairs, tables, an espresso machine (!!!!!), water dispenser bottle things, cutlery, plates, basically all the comforts of home.  Like I said, we definitely weren’t roughing it.

So, we were all up for about 5:30 AM, showered, coffee’d and a light breakfast, and we huckled the fully-loaded trailer out of my uncle’s garage (and this was a big trailer – you probably could’ve fit a small car in it, easily), hooked it up to the back of the Disco and set off just as the sun was beginning to peek out from the horizon.

The drive up was pretty hassle free – we met up with a couple of other members of the convoy north of Perth, and we were meeting Peter and Martina there, as they were driving six hours south from Exmouth, where Peter was doing his podiatrist thing as he does every so often up in that neck of the woods (his main practice is in Fremantle – http://www.fccpodiatry.com.au/ if you need your feet seen to in Freo).  We made a pit stop in Jurien Bay for bacon rolls and coffee, then another one a few hours later in Northampton, one of the oldest settlements in Western Australia.

Soon enough, we were rolling into the Kalbarri Tudor Holiday Park.  There was a bit of a kerfuffle about what campsite pitches we had we were supposed to have all of the pitches that were booked in one contiguous set, but due to it being the Easter holiday weekend, I guess things got a bit mixed up with how busy it was, and eventually a compromise was reached – the main multi-pergola setup where all the eating, drinking, entertaining and the majority of the tents would go would be one set of campsites, and Gordon, Nancy and I would have our tents on another pitch across the road from the main area, in a pitch that had a seperate private toilet/shower block.  You can see a panoramic photo of the main ‘glamping’ bit in the photos below.

After a fair amount of work, we got the campsites set up and settled in for the first evening of merriment with a feast of curry.  Apparently this is a bit of a tradition on these camping trips – every family group makes a curry in advance and it’s the first night’s meal to save a lot of prep after the graft involved in setting up the campsite.  It, like all the food we had in Kalbarri, was lovely.  Sitting in the warm Australian evening, munching a curry with family and a bunch of new friends, getting progressively drunker and talking all sorts of nonsense.  Great way to kick things off.

The next day was a pretty lazy one – we visited Chinaman’s Beach, drove into the bush to attempt to find some fishing spot that some of the lads had heard about, but abandoned our search (but not before coming across a bit of a ‘shanty town’ type of arrangement, and getting directions off a woman driving a pink quad bike, with a small dog in a front basket and ‘COUGAR’ reg plates, I shit you not) and headed back to the campsite to indulge in more food and alcohol for the remainder of the evening.

The next day saw me do something that I’d had no plans to do, but I’m exceedingly glad I did it – I went on an aerial tour of the Murchison River Gorges and the Coastal Cliffs.  Six of us, including the pilot, piled into a small Cessna single-prop aircraft and we set off into the air above the magnificent landscape of Kalbarri National Park.  Well, we almost didn’t set off – during the takeoff roll, a bird flew into the path of the plane, but thankfully, the Kalbarri airfield has a runway capable of dealing with much larger aircraft, so after a dab of brakes, the bird cleared off out of the way, the pilot throttled up again and we were up with no further hassle.  Naturally, I brought my camera with me, and some of my favourite pictures of the aerial tour accompany this post.

After this it was back to the campsite for more food, beer, wine and banter.  This was the standard MO most nights.

This post is getting long, so I’ll cut it off here.  Join me again soon, when I’ll wrap up my time in Kalbarri.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on September 17, 2016 at 9:00 pm, filed under Uncategorized. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Neil’s Antipodean Adventure 3: A Spate of Touristyness

Welcome once again, dear friends, to another instalment of my trip report of my month Down Under.

When last we left our hero, that being me, I’d hit the sack at my uncle’s house in Yokine, North Perth for the first time.  The 20+ hours of travel combined with a few James Squires definitively knocked me out that evening, and I slept like the proverbial log, even in the late-Aussie-summer evening warmth.

The next morning I woke up pretty early, got myself a coffee and a banana and sat outside in the back garden of the house, next to the pool, soaking up the morning sunshine and enjoying the warmth after a pretty grotty Scottish winter.  It was a moment of peace before all the activity of the next month – taking it all in, soaking in the fact that I was on the other side of the world, sitting in a place I’d only seen in photographs from trips taken by other members of my family.  After all the times my uncle and aunt had said ‘when’s Neil coming down?’, I was finally there, sat by the pool, sipping a coffee and letting my feet cool on the dew covered Astroturf lawn.

After breakfast and properly unpacking my bags, my aunt Nancy and I headed off to King’s Park to take in my first bit of Perth tourism.  We walked around some of the walking trails, visited the ANZAC war memorial, I took a bunch of photos (including a couple of nice ones of the Perth skyline – see below for photos) – it was cool.  The first spate of touristyness of the trip.

After King’s Park, we headed to a mall in Innaloo to pick up a few bits & bobs I needed – some proper toothpaste and toothbrushes (the cheap ‘travel’ stuff I bought for the trip was really bad.  You get what you pay for), a SIM card and data for my phone, stuff like that.  Nothing majorly sexy.

The SIM card was a bit of a FAIL though – I thought my phone would’ve been able to run the Optus SIM I bought, and I couldn’t get the phone unlocked, so I was stuck to Wifi for data, as there was no way I was going to pay O2’s exorbitant roaming rates.  I really should’ve switched to Three when I got my 6S+.  A solution to the problem would eventually present itself, but not for a couple of weeks, but we’ll get to that later.

That night, we sat out under the pergola in the garden’s BBQ area and ate dinner, along with my aunt & uncle’s friends Phil, Donna and their daughters.  The scran was great, the chat was good, the company was nice.  All in all, a nice way to wind up the first day in Australia.

The next day, I indulged in some more blatant touristyness by visiting Hillarys Boat Harbour and the Aquarium of Western Australia, or AQWA, with my younger cousin Rachael.  I took my camera with me (a Sony RX100 Mark I for those wondering – amazing travel camera, although I would’ve stumped up for the Mark III if I was more flush with cash) and got some pretty good shots, some of which are below.  The one with the schoolkids pointing up at the massive ray is one of my favourite photos of the whole trip.  After AQWA, Rachael and I ambled around the nearby mall waiting for Nancy, who was doing….something in a shop in the mall – I can’t remember what, exactly, and I suppose it’s not really important.  After the three of us reconvened we went to Dome for a drink, where I made a bit of a whoopsie.

I had ordered an iced coffee, thinking it’d be like the iced coffee we get here, made with crushed ice, blended, all that sort of stuff.  What I didn’t count on was the blob of ice cream, so when I stuck my spoon in to give it a stir, there was a bit of spillage.  Not the whole thing, but enough to make a bit of a splashy mess. facepalm

After we left Hilary’s, we headed to Kosmic, a music shop in Osborne Park, to buy strings for a guitar I was borrowing.  I didn’t fancy spending an entire month without picking up some sort of instrument, so a wee bit of acoustic janglyness was the perfect thing to keep me from getting guitar-homesick, and would be coming with me to Kalbarri, where we were headed the next day.  But we’ll talk more about Kalbarri in the next part…

That evening we went to Northbridge for dinner, meeting my Uncle’s pal Adam and his wife and daughter, Arlene and Erica.  We ate at the Good Fortune Roast Duck House, one of the many Asian eateries in Northbridge, and the food here was excellent.  It’s always a good sign if a Chinese restaurant has a load of Chinese folk eating at it, and this one did, and it had a good reputation – currently sitting as the #51 rated restaurant in Perth on Tripadvisor.  I can attest to the quality of the grub – it was fantastic, especially the Salt & Pepper Squid (first time ever trying squid – yet another first for me on this trip, and it wouldn’t be the last first either).  We had a bit of everything – duck, chicken, pork, the squid.  Best o’ gear, as we say in my neck of the woods.  Two thumbs up for the Good Fortune.  If/when I’m back in Perth in a few years’ time, I’ll definitely fancy hitting it again.

We got back and turned in early, because we had to be up at about 5:00AM the next day, to ready ourselves for the six-hour drive north, to the first of my two holdays within this holiday – six days of camping in Kalbarri.

But we’ll save that for the next episode.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on September 14, 2016 at 8:40 pm, filed under Uncategorized. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



STRAYA! A preamble ramble type thing

It’s been a while since I properly wrote something on here.  How are you?  I apologise in advance for the general scattyness of this piece, it’s mostly me getting my thoughts down on ‘paper’ and getting a bit of discussion/feedback going from friends/followers who have more travel experience than myself.

So, let’s get to the point.  Next year, I’m going to go to Australia for a month.  Mostly in and around Perth, but I’m also planning to nip across the subcontinent for 4-5 days to see the sights of Sydney.

Here’s the real head trip – it’ll be the first time I’ll have been abroad since 1992 and my first ever air travel experience (the first and previous time I was abroad, I went to France via Holland and Belgium on a ferry).  No better way to acclimatise myself to air travel than to spend 20+ hours in planes, right?  Just as well I don’t have a fear of flying – far from it.  Hell, I used to harbour ambitions of being a fighter pilot as a kid.  Then I discovered that I needed glasses, and as it turns out, I don’t really do well with the whole military discipline thing, so that wouldn’t’ve worked out all that well anyway…

Anyway, I digress.  Australia.
(more…)

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on May 11, 2015 at 9:01 pm, filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Gradoberg

So, last night, at ICW’s show at the ABC in Glasgow, this happened.

That mashup of the Goldberg theme and the version of ‘Like A Prayer’ that Grado uses for his entrance was put together a few months ago after I had a daft idea sparked by Grado meeting Bill Goldberg in Las Vegas, and there’s my daft wee idea playing a part in over a thousand folk losing their shit.  Mental.

So, if you’re here, you probably fancy a wee cheeky download of the mashup, aye?  Well, fill yer boots!

And if you liked that, please do me a favour and go here and download my band’s debut EP.  And give us a wee ‘Like’ on Facebook while you’re at it.

(In case anyone’s interested in the technical side of it, short story is that I used Propellerheads Reason, with the default Orchestral sound bank that comes with it providing most of the sounds.)

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on July 28, 2014 at 9:26 am, filed under Uncategorized. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



My videogaming History

I originally posted this over on ScrewAttack.com, but I thought I’d repost it here, seeing as this is my main blog and all.

Hello, G1s, I’m NeiloMac, a jack-of-all-trades geek from the wintery climes of south-west Scotland.

I’m not sure what prompted me to sign up for a ScrewAttack account, but I thought it’d be fun to start writing about my current thoughts on videogames, as many of you are already doing. I probably won’t be writing anything Earth-shatteringly out-of-the-box, but I hope what I do write is a fun read nonetheless.

Before I start harping on about my opinions, I thought it’d be an interesting excersise to think back over my videogaming life for the past 20+ years.

(more…)

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on November 19, 2009 at 1:16 am, filed under gaming, musings, tech, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Bah, I had to miss Dream Theater.

Gah. Need to vent. Going to go through the whole situation so you can understand.

So, a few months ago, my new friend Fiona and I started planning to go see Dream Theater in Wolverhampton once the tour date was announced. I, with my last pay from Ladbrokes (I was let go at the end of August – company was overspent on staffing and contract cutbacks and outright non-renewals across the board) I bought two train tickets. Fiona’s bought the gig tickets, but the hotel’s not booked (Fiona’s job – she spent £40 ish on the gig tickets, I spent £90 ish on the train fare, so a hotel room should’ve balanced it out nicely), but I’m thinking ‘we’ve got time.’

September passes, and every so often I quiz Fee about the hotel situation. September ends, still no hotel. I’m getting a bit concerned at this point. It’s around this point I start to get the feeling that Fee’s getting a bit more distant with me – I’m pretty good at reading the vibes people give off in conversation, even over the net it seems. Remember the timing of this, it’s important later.

So, we’re into October and the gig’s rapidly approaching, still no Hotel, so I badger Fiona about it, as I know she has the money to pay for it, so what’s the hold up? Then she springs something on me that I had kinda thought might be the situation in the back of my mind: she’d landed herself a boyfriend, a co-worker, who she’d been seeing on the quiet for the last month, pretty much about the same time I started to feel things were changing in the way Fee and I were interacting with each other. Now the reason for the lack of hotel bookage is a bit more evident: you get a new romance and some other things tend to go out the window, it’s understandable to a degree. However, she’s left it so long that the hotel I was hoping we could’ve got was booked out. And to cap it all her new beau isn’t too chuffed about the prospect of his new girlfriend trotting off to spend the night in a hotel in england with a guy who’s fancied her recently. Again, understandable.

So, Fee explores the prospect of her boyfriend coming along, which doesn’t overly appeal to me, due to the inevitable gooseberry factor. Turns out the boyfriend can’t get the time off work, so we decide that the best thing to avoid unpleasantness is to do seperate hotel rooms rather than splitting a hotel room as previously planned. Through all this, I’m getting a bad feeling about the whole situation deep in my gut. I could sense that the situation could be awkward due to the spectre of Fee’s new fella hanging over everything. I tossed the whole thing around my brain for a few days and decided to go with what my instincts were telling me, and cancelled going to the concert. I e-mailed Fee to tell her, and sent the train tickets back to Virgin with all the necessary details to get my ninety quid back.

Fee’s not happy about the situation, and I get the feeling that she thought I shouldn’t have sent the train tickets back and gave her her ticket so that she could go. Fuck. That. I bought the tickets with my own money and if I want to cancel them, tear them up, fold them into a paper aeroplane or wipe my arse with them, that’s my right. I’m not complaining about what she did with the gig tickets. They were her property…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Fast forward to last night, and in the middle of a game of Mortal Kombat: Deception on my trusty Xbox, my mobile rings. On comes a male voice I don’t recognise. The following conversation isn’t exactly verbatim, but it’s as close as I can get it from memory.

“Is that Neil? Neil o Mac?” (Neilomac is my nickname on the mikeportnoy.com forum, where Fee and I first started talking to each other).

“Yes,” I reply.

(In a sarcastic tone) “Where would you really like to be right now?”

(Thinking it might be someone from the MP.com or VoicesUK forum, or even a UKMGer) “Err…Wolverhampton? Who is this?”

“Ahh, you go and leave her in the lurch…you left her in the lurch!” (And something about the train tickets too, I think)

“Who is this? Who am I talking to?” (I’ve got a pretty good idea who it is by this time, but I want to be sure)

He kept rambling on, so I just thought ‘fuck this’ and hung up on him, then turned my phone off. Later that night, I switched my phone back on to see if the offender, who I assume was Fee’s boyfriend, decided to leave any messages. Predictably, he did. More of the same, with added “I managed to get time off work after all, so we’re down here, and you’re not, nanny nanny poo poo.” and calling me a fanny. The words ‘pot’, ‘kettle’ and ‘black’ spring to mind. As well as ‘fucking douchebag of epic proportions’.

Really, how was he expecting me to react? All “Waaahh, they went to DT! Boohoohooo!” All it did was reinforce in my mind that I made the right choice. I don’t appreciate being insulted by an insecure, smart-mouthed cock monkey though. If I was as much of a prick as him, I’d probably have phoned back and ripped him a new one. 😛

So, yeah, I missed what sounded like a killer DT set, but I get the feeling I might not’ve enjoyed it as much as I should’ve had I went with Fee. Bah, had I known this would happen I would’ve went with my pal Steven instead.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on October 27, 2005 at 12:32 pm, filed under life, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



« Previous Entries