‘When Cancer Meets Comedy’

Tim Blott Main Image

Introducing ‘Tim Blott’. Photograph by Court Jeremiah.

I’d like to introduce you to the Stella’ Tim Blott.
Tim: Some days he’s that Typical Scot’, some days he’s a Tour Guide and some days he’s an every-day comedian.
Tim is a Veteran with the MacBackpackers Tours company, clocking up’ 20years.
Tim first and fore-mostly is a very likeable fella’.

Rewind time just three weeks ago, I met Tim. Twice in a week actually – lucky me – I was headed into the Highlands for a project and so it happened I hopped on the MacBackpackers Tours Bus for the trip up. Departing from Edinburgh- there he was at the pick-up point helping-out. Then again, in the enchanting ‘Lochside Hostel’ of Loch Ness. Both times I was welcomed into his arms with a BIG hug and a BIG smile. I love a good hug – and Tim offers them like they’re going out of fashion’. In Loch Ness, Tim pulled me aside – he had an idea that he couldn’t contain! He wanted to raise money for Cancer by doing a stand-up comedy show. I don’t remember every detail… but what I do remember is the hope in his eyes, filling up before me with SUCH feeling.
In just seconds, I could feel my veins filling up too- with all the hope and passion I could see before me.

Tim came to Edinburgh this week where we conversed more formally; about what his plan was for how cancer AND comedy could come together.
The talk itself, was accidental – it so happened – that I was walking across a room with visions of hot chocolates dancing in my head and a direction in my feet- headed straight for the Urn.
Tim was walking into that room too, when I heard: “Court! How are you?!”.
Immediate hugs, some light chit-chat to follow and then we got talking…

“You know, Tim…” I said, “I don’t actually know your last name?”. “It’s ‘Blott’, B.L.O.T.T” he told me. “Ah yes, is that a Scottish name?” – “No, it’s an English name, from the North East of England” he went on to tell me how his father’s family were ‘way-back’ English from the hills. Whereas “My Mother’s side – they are from Ballater and Glenbrown, so they’re Scots!” We jokingly-concluded he was a typical ‘mixed-breed’.

Tour Guiding with MacBackpackers: he’s been doing it for 20 years“What made you decide to get into this?” – “I got into this by total accident, I was working as bar-man in Milne’s Bar in Hanover Street…” he responded, “Part of New Town?”, “Aye, going back about 21years…I served a guy, a Kiwi (from New Zealand). He had a guitar! So I asked him “Do you play guitar?” and he said “Ah yeah, I like to play guitar but there’s a music night down at the ‘Canongate’, every Sunday night there that I’m involved with, come along’ if you like live-music!”, well I loved music – so I went on down – there was a Backpacker Open Mic’ Session and while I was playing – there was this guy Scott, speaking to a guy called Jed – who had been employed to start a Tour Company. Well he asked Scott “Do you know any Scottish guys here, that are outgoing, quite entertaining, that would make a good Tour Guide?” and Scott went – “him” pointing a finger at me, and that’s how I got into it!” he said with a big grin.
And the rest is history?”
, exclaiming he said: “THE REST IS HISTORY, COURT!”.

Quirky Tim

Life’s never boring with Tim around. Photograph by Court Jeremiah.

Musician/Bar Man turned Tour Guide!
“I couldn’t believe someone was going to pay me to drive around a beautiful country and talk about my favourite subject matter which was Scotland, and its history! I thought – “What?!” This is amazing!”
“This obviously goes into the category of your Favourite Things To-Do Tim, what else do you love?” I asked. “EVERYTHING” he said to me. “EVERYTHING, I’m passionate about everything – I love history, knowledge, learning, playing music, singing, I love reciting crazy Scottish poems that no-one understands, I LOVE – MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE- IS MAKING PEOPLE LAUGH!”

“Let’s talk about the Cancer-side of things now… What cancer do you have?” I carefully asked.
“I was diagnosed with Cancer of the Thyroid.” He told me, about what it entailed and the substantialness.
“It’s a VERY scary thing, when someone points the finger and says ‘CANCER’, it’s not very nice” – he then spoke of his luck with having such a great support system and having found it early.
“When did you find out you had cancer?” – “Ah, Middle of July.” Tim confirmed – “Quite recently actually then…” – “Yeah I mean, often people think yeah-nah, not me, couldn’t happen to me. It’s fresh – but you can either let it get to you, or you can make the best of it.”

Tim has been “receiving amazing treatment from NHS” (National Health System) –  he felt compelled to give something back: “That’s where the crazy idea of ‘Timmy’s Big Comedy Night’ came from.”
With hands outstretched, I joked back “Timmy On Tour at The Rock” – “Hey, I like that!” he gasped, I couldn’t take all the credit – I reminded Tim that he had said it to me in the Highlands.

“The best reason I’m doing this, is so that people put their hands in their pockets and put their money where it should be going – to helping people, especially people less fortunate than me. Helping the network of support like ‘Maggies’ who support the families of cancer patients…”


’Maggie’s’ is special because originally a cancer-patient: Maggie Keswick-Jencks, realised back in 1993, that although there was all this “physical help” for patients, there wasn’t really any help for the emotional side of things – either the sufferers OR their family or friends, a foundation was made, today there’s 20 odd Centres across the UK to help with that- for FREE!”  He mentioned that they are funded through people raising funds like he hoped to do.
“The volunteers are so beautiful there, so kind and so caring.”

“The thing Court, about Cancer and going through treatment is, that you feel so humbled- SO, SO humbled.” He said regarding all the support and generosity he’s receiving. “I think, some of the worst situations bring forth the best from people: sheer humanity’”. Tim sat across from me quite perplexed, but he then leant forth to me with his hopes in his eyes still. Tears accompanied: “Exactly. EXACTLY”.

Timmy Castle Image

“It’s time to take action guys!”. Photograph by Court Jeremiah.

Said in serious softness: “I felt COMPELLED to fight cancer- by getting off my ass’ to help do something about it! Not being that person saying I want to do it, I want to do it, I want to do it.” “I just thought: get off your ass and just do it!”

The Show is being held October 7th at the Castle Rock Hostel at 7.30pm, which’ll feature music too.

“Ultimately, what is your goal for this show Timmy?” – “I’d like to get at least 2,000 pounds in donations together for ‘Maggies’, if we could get something like 10,000 pounds… – well that would be just super’!”.

“I’m just willing to be the ‘World’s Biggest Idiot’ if it means that people put their hands in their pockets for some donations to help.”

Any donation: BIG or small, would be so appreciated. CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

selfie time

But wait… It’s ‘selfie time’! Court & Tim at the Rock’

Tim is still that Typical Scot, he’s still a Tour Guide and he’s still your every-day Comedian. Cancer or no Cancer – those things won’t change, what sets Tim apart is a tremendous amount of heart.
I am a better person for having met Tim.
So please, LET’S HELP HIM MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

court jeremiahWritten by Court Jeremiah.
STH Blog Writer/Photographer.
www.courtjeremiah.com
@courtredhanded_
General Note: All opinions stated in this Blog are entirely those of the Author. Images photographed by Court Jeremiah are not to be taken or used without permission.

‘WHEN CANCER MEETS COMEDY’ BLOG NOTE: UPDATES IN THE WEEKS TO COME ABOUT TIM’S PROGRESS AND HOW MUCH MONEY WAS RAISED FROM THIS CHARITY EVENT.

Chasing a little simplicity solitude? Go to Scotland!

Loch Ness

Loch Ness, Photo by Court Jeremiah

When travelling it’s so easy to get absolutely-caught-up in these big and majestic cities, they pull us in and entice our low energy levels with ‘all the things’ to run around and do: a frantic visual of -hopping on the train, getting off the bus, running from one location to another – because heck’ we only have 8 hours in a day and this city has 50 odd things see… familiar?
But that’s what it’s like in big cities! And not always just as a traveller. I too was needing a moment away from the ‘hustle and bustle’ of my beautiful home city of Edinburgh. And- even more so, that craziness of life.
Each year on this planet seems to speed by faster and faster, and we barely keep up – it’s simple: “Time stops for no one”.

‘Attempting to Stop Time’. Image by Court Jeremiah.

Amongst that velocity, sometimes we just find ourselves needing a little healthy solitude and simplicity, am I right? I’m not saying I AM capable of slowing down life for us all (wouldn’t that be a super-power), or that there is only one PERFECT place to get back to that simplicity, but what I am saying is- I’m over here totally in love with Scotland and I know

where we can find one of them. Under the umbrella of Scotland’s Top Hostels there’s a family beneath of places to stay for that escape to the Highlands and away from all the bustle.
This week I decided to check out Loch Ness & one of our hostels ‘Lochside’.

 

I took a seat on the legendary MacBackpackers Tours for the trip up and during: leader Dave said to me “It’s really fucking’ cold all year either way in Loch Ness, but it is something you’ll never forget.” He continued to say how often it is overlooked by travellers as a place to stay and check out, opposed to big name places like Skye. He educated us all on the history and the legends. Also, about the language of Scottish Gaelic, how it’s not used as much these days,

but is still very evident in the Highlands and Loch Ness.
Here’s a few words I found valuable for my time in Loch Ness, best to learn:
Glen means ‘Valley’.
Inver means ‘The Mouth of a River’
– and Loch meaning ‘Lake’ or ‘Sea Inlet’. Okay got it? Great!

Putting the words into context – Loch Ness is 23miles long and resides within the borders of the Great Glen – the Loch begins in the North – Highland’s Capital of Inverness and finishes in the South in the township of Invermoriston. The Loch encompasses a very large body of water that connects to the ocean via canals, and because of the huge amount, the water struggles to heat and sits in the 4-6 degree celsius zone. It’s stunning to take in visually! But also beneath the water’s surface- one of the most talked about legends of all time, made it’s way into history in 1933 – with the first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster. Although the legend has had life amongst locals since the 6th century A.D.  No secret here that I am a legend/myth lover so I was especially excited to be sleeping “uncomfortably close to the monster”!

Those Loch Monster theories.

At the foot of the Loch, nestled amongst the ‘Scot’s Pine Trees’ is the baby of the STH family: the ‘Lochside Hostel’ previously known as the Loch Ness Youth Hostel, it was taken the wings of STH just last year. Early this year it was brought to life under the stealth management of Bruce Johnston and has resulted in becoming an ideal place to stay while in Loch Ness.

Candice and Fabian at Lochside

Candice and Fabian at Lochside

Taking some time aside I spoke with Bruce.
If you don’t know him, Bruce hails from South Africa but has been living in the UK for the last 5 years. It seems he came over for a short time and never left. What happened? He fell in love with Scotland and settled into the golden trimmings of Edinburgh’s Castle Rock Hostel. Under his belt (if he wore belts), he has an abundance of knowledge & experience on hostels and Loch Ness.

How would you describe the atmosphere at the hostel? “3 words really – easy words: Chilled, social and relaxing.” – that’s perfect for us!
What is your personal favourite thing to do in Loch Ness area? “Honestly, I love the Loch itself here, it’s just

massive, driving around it and viewing it from different angles and heights is incredible.” Bruce as I touched on- is very experienced – incredibly so in the city life, so I still couldn’t help but wonder –
Why did you come here? “I spent 5 years in Edinburgh, and although it’s beautiful, I wanted to get away from the busyness for a while, the Highlands was always somewhere I wanted to go and that’s why I’m here.”

Bruce Johnston (pictured middle) back in the Reception days at Castle Rock.

Stephen, another kick-ass staff member of ‘Lochside’ – loves hikes and has a deep love of the area and Scotland. But, he’s also not a Scot’… I asked why he came here to Scotland he replied- “I travelled for a few months back in 2011 all over, but I found I kept coming back, so I purchased a one way ticket and never left”

Special stuff, boys! Maybe “there’s something in the water”? Oh wait… Nessie!

Loch Ness & Surrounds to-do-

Loch Ness & Surrounds Map from ‘VisitSouthLochNess’. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

One of the best things about Loch Ness is its location and with a strong focus on nature and the simplicity we’re chasing- here’s my top list of things to do!
Hiking! If you’re that hiking-addict or just wanting to give it a go, this place rocks for it. Loch Ness is in the heart of hiking territory, the centre of The Great Glen Way and totally giving you that ‘back to nature’ fix.
Here’s a couple to get you going –
Lochside to Forte Augustus is a 3-5hour hike depending on fitness levels or, the Invermoriston track from Lochside roughly a 2hour walk . You’ll be surrounded by waterfalls, the whistles of robins, and the thick wet moss-covered forest.
Cruise along the Loch Ness by boat, it’s an experience and light on the wallet – a cheap 14.50 pounds – ‘Cruise Lochness’ is a good one to take.

Drumnadrochit (there’s an art to saying it) – it’s only a 15-20minutes drive North of Lochside and has two awesome places to check out – the ‘Nessie Land’ museum and Loch Ness’ own 800  year old ‘Urqhuart Castle’: right at the edge of where the Nessie Sightings have taken place for over 200.
-To the West, a 15minute drive away is one of the largest pinewood forests found in Scotland (Glen Affric) with ‘views for days’. Plus there’s Lochs, Otters, Deer and Woodland birds.
Ben Nevis – the biggest mountain you’ll find in the British Isles (1,343 metres high!) is just over an hour away.

-Further North about an hour is Castle Territory – Castle Stuart, Cawdor Castle, Aldourie Castle. –
Regardless it’s just a 1 hour drive to places such as Skye, Fort William and Inverness, so check out these Highland townships.

The ‘Lochside Hostel’ is a seasonal hostel that operates over the warmer months, it has exactly what you need and everything that any good hostel should have: very good beds, hot showers, USB ports and common areas. It’s location is it’s best feature- right at the foot of the Loch and Loch Territory but also features amazing views from inside and out on the deck, a cosy fireplace and even a tartan pool-table. I received comments from travellers such as “It’s social but not overwhelming”,  “Completely surrounded by nature and located ridiculously close to everything great in the area.”

How to get to the Lochside Hostel –
‘Lochside’ is in Glenmoriston, along Loch Ness.
Inverness international Airport and the Inverness Train Station are both close. From the Station: 45minutes and the Airport: 1hour.
By Bus: You want to catch the CityLink bus, departing roughly every 30mins. CLICK HERE for times.
By Car: Travelling to ‘Lochside’ from Inverness by car is as short as 30mins.
NOTE: Throughout the months of April-October the buses run often but less frequent in the other months.

Chilling at ‘Lochside’ is Amy & Candice, Image by Court Jeremiah.

The Lochside Hostel – 3 C’s – Closeness, Cabin Feels and Cosiness. Definitely worth a visiwift for its 2018 debut in the April – It’ll be showing off new wooden beds and a jetty for you to jump into the Loch. But don’t forget there is a monster in there and it’s 4-6 degrees, haha!
It may be cold in Scotland, yes, BUT- it was just last week that The Rough Guide announced Scotland as the Winner of the Most Beautiful Country on The Planet, so that is saying something!
Because I love my legends- my ‘top two’ to do in Loch Ness is to go Nessie Land museum and cruise out on the Loch with your binoculars.
Embrace your own Nessie expedition and  ‘Lochside’ is where it all begins.

The mossy landscape of Loch Ness

The mossy landscape of Loch Ness

That simplicity and healthy-solitude? Did I get it? TICK. Cheers for that Loch Ness.

Call me a Wizard (or…crazy) – but I swear life slowed down this week!

Written by Court Jeremiah.
STH Blog Writer.
www.courtjeremiah.com
@Courtredhanded_

 

Please note: All opinions stated in this Blog are entirely those of the Author. Images taken by Court Jeremiah are not to be taken or used without permission, including Feature Image.

Isle of Skye’s Prehistoric Gem

Imagine for a moment you could go back in time… as far back as even 170 odd million years to when the mighty dinosaurs still ruled this earth.
The dinosaurs were powerful, they were fearless and without a doubt- the champions of a world we will never fully understand.
They’ve gone now but have since left their marks in the forms of bones and GIGANTIC footprints.

It might not be Thursday but let’s have some Throwbacks to the days of watching Jurassic Park at home on the television, watching in amazement as the prehistoric beasts came to life in front of us and the characters fighting for their lives against them. Maybe you were once a tiny human who walked around ‘roaring’ at the top of your lungs to anyone near, in hopes you’d terrify them. Those were the days!
Dinosaurs are still awesome, and guess what? The dinosaur fun doesn’t have to end in your childhood.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park

Back in 2015 a small group of researchers from Edinburgh University were led by a palaeontologist named Steve Brusatte to find dinosaur remains in Duntulm in the Highlands of Scotland. Even though their chances of finding dinosaur bones were small (almost as small as the country itself) they did happen to find something else, which was, in my opinion – pretty damn cool: very well preserved fossilized footprints. The footprints preserved by sedimentary layers in rocks and belonged to Sauropods (a breed of dinosaur which weighed more than 10 tonnes!). The researchers were very excited, and for good reason! Not long after the discovery, these prints were concluded as some of the very best dinosaur tracks found in the world! National Geographic called it “the largest dinosaur site ever found in Scotland”. In the Isle of Skye footprints have been found in areas such as Staffin Beach & Duntulm. The prehistoric footprint collection has seen travellers & locals nickname the area– ‘Dinosaur Isle’ or ‘Jurassic Island’.

I hope you’re making a trip up to the Isle of Skye! The beaches on their own are uniquely beautiful – some parts sandy, some salty and some have plenty of green mossy rocks. Make stops along the way to gaze into the rock pools. All that beauty aside… you must remember – you’ll literally be going on a dinosaur hunt, which means you also get to refer to yourself as Dinosaur Hunter (hashtags and all) . I promise you’ll smile to yourself cause’ you’ll actually be walking in the footprints of dinosaurs and embracing your own Jurassic story.
Many visitors to the say that the experience will have you questioning your part in the evolutionary experience. Just imagine comparing your feet or your hands to these larger than life prints.


The footprints are there, but it must be said #dinosaurhunter, that they can be as tricky to find them as the dinosaurs themselves- many travellers have visited and left the area having not found them. Instagram tags barely make up 300 images; partly for this reason.
Challenge accepted- I hear you say, that’s what I want to hear!

Now.. here are my Top-Tips to get the most out of your search..

Isle of Skye, Staffin Beach, Dinosaur Footprint.

  1. Stream the very first ‘Jurassic Park’ movie ever made – circa 1993. And watch it the night before! Get those adventure feels flowing, and hey if you’re keen – do 2,3 & Jurassic World too!
  2. Get up early to check them out! Low tide is the best time.
    Investigate the low tide times of the site you’re visiting prior. The central township of Portree has a tourist information centre which identify these times and/or looking it up online. Depending on which location you are going to visit & what time of the year- start times could be 4am or later.
  3. Wear some non-slip Gumboots/Galoshes/Wellies, no time for wet feet when we are Dinosaur Hunters.
  4. Check out the quirky Staffin Dinosaur Museum where the team there have a wealth of knowledge and offer priceless guidance to finding the coveted footprints.
  5. Get an epic shot of yourself in your best dinosaur pose next to a footprint!
    The seemingly common ‘Millenial’ question these days is: “if it isn’t on social media did it actually happen?” – might as well make it a great one!
  6. Someone once told me “every misadventure leads to a great story” – maybe you don’t find them straight away, maybe you lose a gumboot or fall in the water? – but those things MAKE A STORY when you tell the grandkids about that epic time you followed some clues and went dinosaur hunting.

Have fun ticking this prehistoric little beauty’ off your bucket-list.

And if you’re chasing a place to stay while you get you’re ‘dinosaur hunting’ on… look no further than Scotland’s Top Hostels local Skye Backpackers – Only a short drive to the dinosaur sites. CLICK HERE.

Written by – Court Jeremiah.
@Courtredhanded_
STH Blogger.