Tag Archives: Black Isle Brewery

Jocktoberfest 2015… Beer…burgers and Brodman?!

Brodman at Jocktoberfest 2015

For anyone who has been following my blog since it began you will know that Jocktoberfest is one of the highlights of our year since we relocated to Scotland. This year was even more special than normal!

Since making the move up here in 2012 not only have I become a published author but I’ve also returned to one of my passions – music! My singing career was temporarily put on hold many years a go when I was diagnosed with a little known condition called Myasthenia Gravis but thanks to amazing doctors my condition is controlled which has meant a return to singing.

Lisa (Aka Lizzi)

A couple of years ago I met a very talented guitarist called Scott via a friend and it turned out our musical tastes were quite similar. We began to have jam sessions and it felt so good to be performing again. It turned out that Scott’s family are not only awesome but they are a multi-talented bunch! And so our third member was added in the shape of Scott’s son Ross. Ross plays guitar, violin, drums, keyboard…I think you get the picture!



After a few successful local gigs we decided to take a chance and ask about getting on the Jocktoberfest artists list for 2015. It was a long shot and we were absolutely astounded when Steve at 2010 Management offered us a half hour slot on the Hayloft stage! Once we scraped ourselves up of the floor we began to prepare!

Car park warm up

This past weekend was the culmination of months of practice, fun, laughs and song changes. We began  writing our own material too and had the opportunity to perform one of our own songs ‘You Never Knew Me At All’ which got a fantastic reaction! In fact we got some wonderful comments on our performance as a whole from the audience when we came off stage and it made us keen to come back and do it all again but with our own songs! Hint, hint Jocktoberfest!

Sound check – Thanks Stephen Bull!

As always the atmosphere was electric! So many smiling faces and lots of laughter. The smell of food tantalised our nostrils from the moment we walked in and the pizza and burgers were of course sampled more than once!

One of the most exciting things about the festival is waiting to hear what theme the minds at the Black Isle Brewery come up with. This years theme of Weeds Wildlife and Wings afforded people the opportunity to go ‘wild’ with their costumes. Pun intended! From Flamingos to Flower Pot People…from Adam and Eve to bumble bees the costumes were awesome! I can’t wait until next year now! I’m thinking pirates maybe? I could rock an eye patch and parrot!

Obviously the beer was as delicious as ever. I’m not normally a beer drinker but when it comes around to Jocktoberfest you can usually find a pint of Blonde in my hand! Well what else would I drink…I am a blonde after all!

The beer

The festival gives everyone a chance to discover new music and fantastic talent. As ever this year was no disappointment. My camera was crammed with photos of our own set and then packed up when I wanted to snap pics of other bands! Aaargh! *smacks head in frustration* Thankfully other folks have taken plenty! I’ve loved viewing them on Facebook and the Inverness Gigs website!


We jigged to the traditional sounds of Ho-Ro, stamped our feet to Hoodja, giggled along with Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 and Spring Break! I think the lyric “Digger, digger, digger and a dumper truck” will be my fave for years to come! Strutted our funky stuff to the Leonard Jones Potential, and rocked out to The Broken Ravens and Woodenbox. And this only names a fraction of the AMAZING music that was on offer! Sorry to those I haven’t mentioned but you were ALL awesome!! And it was absolute honour to be on the list as a performer with such fantastic bands and musicians.

Seriously, if you haven’t attended this wonderful event yet keep an eye out for tickets going on sale next year! You really don’t want to miss it!

Anyhoo, if you would like to check Brodman out on Facebook you can do so here!


Jocktoberfest 2014 – Rain, Red Kites and Ray Bans… An author’s weekend off!





Blue skies

My Facebook author page is here.

This was our THIRD visit to Jocktoberfest since relocating to Scotland in 2012 and we were rather giddy in the weeks leading up to the event. I say giddy…that could possibly be an understatement! I’ve spent the last few months editing several books and publishing my fourth contemporary romance novel Bridge of Hope and so this was going to be a escape for a wee while before the whole process started again! All of my books take place in the Highlands and it was so good to be back there!

After spending a rather romantic Thursday at a superb B & B in Inverness we set off to the Black Isle with great excitement. You see, this festival has led us to the discovery of some amazing music. Every year we find a new favourite band! Our first Jocktoberfest back in 2012 was where we discovered The Lafontaines, Washington Irving, Toby Michaels and the Rolling Damned and the magnificently talented mind blowing Esperi. Knowing that Esperi was going to be performing again was simply the cherry on top of the chocolate frosting on top of the worlds best cake…EVER!

The inclement weather of the few days prior to the event made us a tad nervous. No one like to put up a tent in the pouring rain after all! But thankfully we arrived to bright sunshine and erected our little blue tent with big smiles. And who could complain at the setting?

View from our tent

The thing that never ceases to amaze me about Jocktoberfest is how friendly everyone is. Within five minutes of sitting down when the venue opened on Friday – me in my Sons’s of Anarchy T-shirt and hubby in his Washington Irving one – a lovely young woman began chatting to us about our taste in TV and music! And she even said “Hi” and chatted again when we saw her later in the weekend. I love the fact that the event brings people of all ages and musical tastes together and that the atmosphere is buzzing from the get go. We have never encountered trouble and come away each year looking forward to the next time.

It was great to see Dr. Wook of The Whiskeys performing on Friday evening and we hope all is well with his wife as she was about to give birth at any second! The evening was lively and Tweed had us jigging around with silly grins on our faces.

The weather overnight on Friday was sooo cold! But we still woke with determination to make the most of the festivities on Saturday. We donned our checked shirts and cowboy hats and went down to the Wild West themed venue wondering what other crazy costumes we would encounter! We were NOT disappointed! Surrounded by horses, cowboys, Mexicans and even cacti – yes you read it right – we wandered around clutching our favourite beer – a Blonde for the blonde and a Red Kite for the Hombre 😉 And we sat to enjoy our first act of the day.


I’m not going to review each individual band as I’m no reviewer and I know little about music other than what I like but all I will say is that we hardly stood still the whole time. There was a lot of smiling and joining in when the bands requested audience participation. But one of the highlights for me was a band called Gabbro.  I honestly never thought I would see the day when a spontaneous Ceilidh would break out at four in the afternoon when I was surrounded by cowboys/girls! You couldn’t help but tap your feet and clap along to this lively bunch of talented people. Absolutely loved them and I’m sure we will be hearing much more from them in the future.

Afternoon Ceilidh

The other thing we love about Jocktoberfest is the way that the bands seem to be like a family! You will spot a bass player from one band standing in for another…a drummer will pop up somewhere you didn’t expect and so on. It’s fantastic that there is a willingness to support each other. Just how it should be.

Now I will have to wax lyrical about one particular artist. I may be his number one fan 😉 Esperi was back at Jocktoberfest! Woohooo! AND I got to have my photo taken with him! I may have fangirled a little. We met Chris at our very first Jocktoberfest and were completely wowed by his unique way of producing music. Add that to his multifaceted talent and you have a recipe for amazing music. I was so excited when he finished his set with my all time fave Esperi song ‘Silo the Fire’. I absolutely LOVE the way the song builds and builds until the crescendo of Chris drumming live to a track of sounds he has looped from all manner of items – kids toys to a Melodica (if that’s what you call the thingy with the keys and the long tube!) This guy is lovely and after chatting to him he may just be making an appearance in one of my upcoming books. His new CD became the soundtrack to our journey home 🙂


At lunch time on Saturday we went back to the tent to chill for a while and let some of the yummy beer soak in. We sat outside the tent eating our noodles and listening to ‘Hallelujah’ by Jeff Buckley being played a couple of tents away on someones portable MP3. See we even had music at the camp site!

Now I will briefly chat about our new favourite bands for this year. It happens every year like I said before. This year was no different. We discovered the fabulous Verona. Wow! Heart meltingly good tunes. Great stage presence. A band to watch for sure.

This year we were also BLOWN AWAY by Red Kites and I don’t just mean the delicious Black Isle beer – oh my word! The guitarist was AMAZING! Such a massive amount of talent and enthusiasm. His grin was infectious. The band were all VERY talented and musically – wow – like I said, I’m no reviewer but I will most definitely be buying some of this bands music without a doubt. My phone battery had died by this time so I will update with pics when hubs gets home as I think he took some. 

Now you may be wondering why Ray Bans are mentioned in the title of this blog? Well… During Saturday evening we went to sit on one the straw bales in the Dutch barn and were approached by the people who had been sitting there before. They asked if we had seen a pair of sunglasses when we had sat down. Unfortunately we hadn’t. We had a good search of the area but the glasses were nowhere to be seen. The friends walked away looking very dejected. In a bid not to give up, hubs and I began rummaging through the piles of straw and my foot caught something. Hubs bent to see what it was and it turned out to be the lost glasses! He went running after the friends and handed over them over to their rightful owner. The reaction he got almost knocked him off his feet! To say they were happy would be an understatement!  He was enveloped in a bear hug and thanked over and over. The woman kissed him and then rushed over to apologise to me 😀 I got hugs too. We realised why the poor guy had been so gutted about losing them when it turned out what brand they were. So we made a couple of new friends too!

The weather wasn’t the best we had experienced at the festival but sadly no one can book the good stuff where that’s concerned. And in any case the weather didn’t spoil our fun! The beer was scrummy the staff were fantastic (as they always are) and the only thing that we were sad about was the lack of the Churros cart!

If you haven’t been to Jocktoberfest then you really should give it a go next year. It is well worth sleeping in a tent for!

It's all about the beer 

Simply CAN NOT WAIT for next year! Well done Black Isle Brewery and Jocktoberfest!

My facebook page can be found here.



Belladrum & Gairloch…All in the name of research…again…well mostly ;-)

On Thursday August 1st we set out for our favourite spot, The Scottish Highlands.  The reason for this journey was threefold:

  1. It was our annual family holiday
  2. It was the Tartan Heart Festival at Belladrum
  3. We were visiting the places that feature in my second novel ‘Through the Glass’ which is released on August 30th

It was a two tent adventure!  We used a small tent for the festival and then our larger tent was erected for our trip to research the Gairloch and Sheildaig areas.  I will share a few pics of both events.

Board and lodgings for Belladrum

Board and lodgings for Belladrum

Tent City!

Tent City!

Now being a communication junkie and also having the task of promoting two books you can imagine my frustration at having very limited internet access and a constantly dying phone battery!  But…I was determined to continue as normally as possible and so it was an interesting venture into the world of internet hotspots and sitting in the car whilst the phone charged enough for me to check in!  My debut novel Bridge Over the Atlantic has been reduced for the month of August and so I was hell bent on getting the news out there somehow.

When we arrived at Belladrum on Thursday it was in the midst of a pretty torrential downpour and pitching a tent in these conditions is an experience to say the least!  Once we were all sorted, however, the kettle was on and we set about deciding on a plan of action for the three days we would be there.  And there comes a point where you are so drenched you can’t really get any wetter!

The following morning saw a break in the clouds and we all laughed as an enormous cheer and thunderous round of applause erupted throughout the whole camp, as the sun began to peek through the grey.  The day ahead suddenly became more exciting!  There were some fantastic bands playing.

The Lafontaines were absolutely awesome.  How these guys are not topping every single music chart is beyond me.  They’re talented musicians and have the unique factor of a Scottish rapper.  Kerr Okan hails from Motherwell and has an amazing way with words.  His poetry and the bands overall talent made this an exciting gig to be present for.

The Lafontaines

The Lafontaines

I experienced a bit of a dream come true.  One of my musical heroes is Dougie Maclean.  Sadly he was playing at the same time as Twin Atlantic but we gave them a miss to enjoy a sing along with Dougie.  He was wonderful.  I mentioned one of his most famous songs, ‘Caledonia’, in Bridge Over the Atlantic and was delighted when he sang it.  It was a very emotional experience hearing the audience sing the heartfelt words at the tops of their voices.  The whole gig was great fun as Dougie tutored the crowd in singing the guitar solos and backing vocals.  Wonderful!



Washington Irving were as brilliant this time as when we saw them at the Black Isle Brewery’s Jocktoberfest last year.  We bought their CD this time and have listened to it lots since.  The Peatbog Faeries had everyone jigging along and thankfully their performance on the garden stage was blessed with bright sunshine!

Toby Michael’s Rolling Damned are another favourite of ours and their performance this year was excellent.  Toby is a born entertainer and arrived with a bright red painted face!  Their rendition of ‘A Little Bit of What You Fancy’ had everyone singing at the tops of their voices!  

Toby Michael's Rolling Damned

Toby Michael’s Rolling Damned

James are a band that I was a huge fan of back in the 1990’s and Tim Booth’s voice still has the capacity to send shivers down my spine.  Hearing everyone chant the words to ‘Sit Down’ really took me back in time and I left the gig with a rosy glow.  The fireworks were spectacular!



Other bands we saw and enjoyed: The Whiskey’s, Nina Nesbit (she sang The Proclaimers ‘500 Miles’ which is one of my all time favourite songs and another I nention in Bridge Over the Atlantic.  The Elephant Sessions – their fiddle player bears a strong resemblance to a young Tom Cruise (in my opinion!) They were great fun!  And the Noisettes who really had the crowd in the palm of their hand!  Amazing stage presence.  The selection of food available was fantastic and the toilet facilities were kept clean.  The Black Isle Brewery tent was our favourite place to drink!

Nina Nesbit

Nina Nesbit

After we left Belladrum, still buzzing from the wonderful atmosphere and the fantastic experience, we set off north to Gairloch.  And what a stunning place it is.  Photos really don’t do it justice at all.  Being there was simply something else.  The views…wow!  The larger tent, complete with kitchen area dontcha know, was set up on the most stunning site we had ever stayed on.

Our home from home

Our home from home

We took a drive to Sheildaig where Through the Glass is set.  Being there made me feel very emotional indeed.  I could imagine Jim walking down the main street with his dog Jasper in tow.

I will post some photos here…these photos are ones that I think Jim would have taken himself had he been real





Jim's fave spot (Through the Glass - coming August 30th)

Jim’s fave spot (Through the Glass – coming August 30th)

View from Gairloch

View from Gairloch

If you would like to read Bridge Over the Atlantic whilst it is reduced in price please head over to my Facebook page for more details (click ‘like’ whilst you are there for updates!)

Thanks for reading!

Beer, Bands & Bratwurst – Save The Planet, Drink Organic!

Around three years ago we visited The Black Isle, a stunning peninsula on the eastern side of the Scottish Highlands.  We immediately fell in love (nothing new there as far as our ever increasing love of Scotland goes) and spent a couple of subsequent holidays touring the area and getting to know our way around.   Whilst we were there the first time we came across the Black Isle Brewery and it’s wonderful beer and opted for a brewery tour.  This took all of ten minutes as, at the time, the business was relatively new.  Nowadays the delicious organic Black Isle beer is exported all over Europe and even further afield and the brewery itself has tripled!  It’s well worth a look.

Last year we heard about a festival organised by the Black Isle Brewery called ‘Jocktoberfest’ the tag line being Beer, Bands & Bratwurst.  We desperately wanted to go but simply lived too far away to make the journey.  This year, however, was a different story!

We booked our tickets as soon as they became available and were excited to finally be going to ‘Jocktoberfest’.  Camping, live music, excellent beer and good food!  What more could we have asked for?!  Good weather?  Well we even got that!

We set off on Friday 7th Sept on our mini adventure.  We drove through the undulating mountain scenery of The Cairngorms with its purple, greys and greens against a bright blue black drop.  The excitement was building!

We arrived on the makeshift campsite at 7.10pm to set up our small tent.  Said tent had been purchased prior to the occasion by hubby as, and I quote ‘the size is more appropriate for festival camping trips.’  The tent we usually take on holiday is somewhat larger and has an east and west wing along with a central hallway dontcha know!

The brewery is on a fully working organic farm and so the barns had been put to excellent use housing bars, food and live music.  When we got down to the event centre the site was already buzzing and the sound of the Peatbog Faeries was lilting through the sound system and over the breeze.  At 9.30pm a ceilidh launched into full swing, which would have been wonderful had I not been hampered by a broken toe!  We did the next best thing; we headed for the beer barn.

Puddleduck , who was not partaking of the delights on offer in the beer barn, I hasten to add, had been a little trepidacious  about the trip but her eyes lit up when she saw the number of other sproglets who had also accompanied their parents.  She quickly made friends and disappeared into the kids Hay Barn to play.  She returned with several new adornments to her face, arm and hand!  Yup, she’d been face-painted!!  Once we had eaten and drunk (not too much) we retired to our little tent for coffee and sleep.

The next morning we were greeted with bright sunshine, men playing rugby with loo rolls and the smell of bacon cooking.  We had a lazy morning before going down to the barns for a fun filled afternoon.  Live music was already blasting out of the PA system and we were bombarded with the mouth-watering aromas of churros and chocolate dip, bratwurst and a hog roast.

After watching a few bands we had a little bite to eat and a bit of respite back at the tent and then around mid-afternoon we ventured down to the barns once again for the evening festivities.  The atmosphere was already electric and the barns were strung with twinkling fairy lights.  The stage had come alive with colour and we had the opportunity to listen to some bands we had previously never heard of.  We were not disappointed and came home with a couple of extra CD’s for our already vast collection!

Esperi was AMAZING!!!  I have never before witnessed ayone playing a bass with a bow, a ratchett, a kids whirly tube and other bizarre items but WOW!!!  He is one to watch.  Bought his CD and it’s just beautiful.  Easy Tigers were nice and mellow – loved them too.  Toby Michaels and his Rolling Damned RRROCKED!!

The event was a huge success.  It was our first time at “festival” camping as a family and there were a few eye-openers along the way.  The lack of wash facilities and limited number of toilets on the makeshift site was unfortunate but understandable given the nature of the place.  We were inventive and it didn’t hamper our enjoyment in the slightest.  I think the whole experience was a learning curve; the lessons of which we will remember when we attend next year’s ‘Jocktoberfest’ event.  And I have to say we are already excited about that!!

Our love affair with our new home just goes on and on.  Long may it last.