Category Archives: YouCaxton

Oxford Literary Festival

Oxford Literary Festival runs from 16-24 March, events include conversation with Will Hutton, Sharron Davies and Chris Patten among a long list of names. This year’s festival will have a new hub in Blackwell Hall, Weston Library, Broad Street

(Image: Oxford High Street, David Nicholls, Flickr)
Visit: Festival website 
Visit: Pocket guide

Of Peats and Puts – the Back 9
Andrew Brown

Published: Oct 2023
Hardback: 148 pages
Price: £19.50
ISBN: 9781915972118
Available on The Great British Bookshop

Paperback: 148 pages
Price: £10.00
ISBN: 9781915972187
Available on Amazon

Of Peats and Putts - The Back 9
by Andrew Brown

The author returns to his native Scotland following excursions to the rest of the United Kingdom, Ireland and, more recently, nine continental European countries. In this charming second Scottish volume, he reviews how whisky and golf have fared in Scotland in the intervening five years and finds that there have been plenty of developments. Twenty new distilleries have opened and golf has also undergone something of a renaissance.

There is so much to review about Scotland’s two gifts to the world that a trilogy is barely sufficient to do them both justice. This second volume focuses on Scotland’s east coast and the final volume will explore the west coast and the islands. This second volume again features a mix of large and long-established distilleries as well as small recentlyopened ones, while the author’s golfing choices combine some old favourites with less well-known venues. He continues to marvel at the enormous variety of both whisky and golfing offerings and a developing preference for visiting the entrepreneurial start-up distilleries and ‘hidden-gem’ golf courses will be the focus of his fourth book.

Reviews of Peats and Putts...

Charles Maclean, Whisky Writer and Master of the Quaich
It is astonishing that until now nobody has sought to bring together Scotland’s two greatest gifts to the world – whisky and golf.
This little book is a personal journey of discovery. In ten chapters, each devoted to a region or county – from Sutherland in the north to East Lothian in the south and Islay in the West - Andrew Brown reviews a golf course and a locally made malt whisky.
As he travels from one place to the next he ponders how and why these two products developed in Scotland and what it is about the country, its landscape and people, which connects them. As he writes: “Both whisky and golf are more than just a drink and a sport; both can be seen as metaphors for the vagaries of life itself.” Indeed!

Golf Quarterly Review June 2018
This is a delightful, well-written little book – part travel guide, part history, part personal philosophy, and part unwitting nationalist tract (what better way, after all, to celebrate Scottish distinctiveness than through writing about its two most famous exports?). It takes the form of a tour of nine regions of the country, in search of the author’s favourite distilleries and favourite golf courses along the way.
I can imagine peripatetic golfers with a fondness for an evening dram, or whisky aficionados with a set of clubs in the boot of their car, packing this little volume and reading up on pleasures planned for the following day. It will be equally enjoyable, though, with a glass of single malt to hand in the privacy of your own home.
What gives the journey special significance is the author’s playful exploration of the similarities and connections between whisky and golf. Andrew Brown, a native Scot who spent most of his career in the food industry south of the border, suggests that location, history and architecture are crucial to the two experiences. History, for instance, is an important part of the narrative that accompanies both playing and drinking. Just as we like to know the origins, ownership and social impact of a particular whisky brand (notwithstanding the marketing hype), so hearing about how and when a golf club was founded, who played there and who designed and changed it invariably enriches a round of golf.
Perhaps design is the most striking common factor given the simple, limited and seemingly unpromising ingredients that course architects and whisky manufacturers both start with. All golf courses are hewn out of sand and soil, while the essential elements of any whisky are also the same: only malted barley, water and yeast are permitted in anything that calls itself Scotch. What produces so many different and unique variations of the spirit is everything from the distilling process to the local landscape, whether it be the taste of the water, the quality of the soil, or the extent of the annual rainfall. In the case of golf it’s the eye and skill to use nature to best effect.
Each chapter describes the idiosyncrasies of a favourite course and distillery. The golf choices are far from predictable – Brora rather than Dornoch in Sutherland, Kilspindie rather than Gullane, Luffness New or Muirfield in East Lothian, the Eden rather than the Old Course in Fife. These reflect not just a conscious decision to stay away from Championship venues but those the author considers best meet his three criteria for selection: a tough but enjoyable (and affordable) test for all levels of golfer, delightful surroundings and a welcoming clubhouse. There is an equally diverse spread of distilleries, old and new, large and small, ranging from multinational owned enterprises such as Glenmorangie to independent Edradour in Perthshire (20,000 cases of which went down off the island of Eriskay in 1941, inspiring Compton Mackenzie’s wonderful book Whisky Galore).
Wisely, the author does not take prior knowledge for granted though spelling out a three-shotter for golfers or mash tuns for devoted whisky drinkers may mildly irritate some. I liked his many diversions - musings on what makes a good golf hole and a good malt, for example, thumbnail sketches of important golf designers like James Braid and Harry Colt, and reflections on the history and practise of naming golf holes. There are plenty of surprises (at least to this non-expert whisky drinker). Did you know that eight of the world’s top ten whisky brands are Indian, while the country that consumes the most whisky on a per capital basis is France (the United States being second and the UK third)?
Tim Dickson
Golf Quarterly

Simon Marquis, Cornwall
Of Peats and Putts will appeal to anyone who enjoys golf and/or malt whisky. Andrew Brown is an enthusiastic amateur of both and his enjoyment shines through this delightful scamper across nine of Scotland’s finest golf holes, and a rather more leisurely trundle around nine of its distilleries. The real pleasure of this short volume though is the author’s drawing of nice parallels between these twin pleasures and life itself. Golf has its ups and downs as do our lives, some of them at least, perhaps smoothed away by a late evening dram or two!
The book is a pleasure in itself. I eagerly await volume two.

James Holder - Author of The Great War's Sporting Casualties
Andrew Brown's second book, Mashies and Mash Tuns, has all the same charm as his first book. He describes the golf courses highlighted in his book leaving you wanting to play them and writes about whiskey in a way which, because of my own aversion to whisky (and whiskey), leaves me regretting I cannot taste them.
And not content with just writing about golf courses and distilleries, he expresses in no uncertain terms how he thinks golf should be played, views I share but views which I fear too many golfers choose to ignore.

A series of still life photographs using a technique known as Painting With Light.
Paul Knight

Paul Knight

My first passion as a teenager was photographing the parks of central London at dusk when most people had left for the day.
I then discovered the Lake District through a friend and together we toured the Lakes with our 5x4 and medium format cameras; this quickly became the course I would follow.
After living in Windermere over a period of two years I found my new direction in the Ancient sites of this country, and Egypt as well as producing pictures for album and book covers. However, when I was asked to submit some images to illustrate an album of Schumann’s Dichterliebe, I read the poems from Lyrisches Intermezzo and I realised that landscapes were not going to represent how I felt about the piece.
Published:December 2020
Hardback:110 pages
Size:265 x 265 mm

£25.00 (+ £3.50 postage)
Number of copies:

I decided to move away from landscape photography and instead create a collection that captured the essence of nature and the spirit of mystery. This requires control of every element within the image, creating new dynamics and relationships of the usually familiar.
This series of still life photographs use a technique known as Painting With Light.
It involves long camera exposures and a moving light source to create a soft painterly quality which is reminiscent of the paintings from the Dutch Golden Age of Art and can be seen in still life studies, landscapes and portraiture of that period.
As someone who ordinarily, never purchases photography books, the cover image drew me in. It is a captivating collection of art work, be it in the form of photographs. It is hard to believe, such is the skill of the photographer, that these are in fact, photographs. It is a truly beautiful book. Noticing something new each time you visit it, it is a book you could come back to time and time again, and never tire of.

An ideal purchase for any keen photographer, or gift for any lover of art.

Julie Taylor

Presumed Dead
James Holder

Bored with his job, with no real prospects and barely a penny to his name, the last thing Wally Mortimer needed was a letter from a solicitor delivered to his home one Saturday morning. But instead of a letter threatening legal action for one of his many unpaid bills, things are about to change for Wally - the letter tells him that he has inherited the estate of George Hart, a wealthy benefactor unknown to him.
Assured that the letter is genuine, he turns to his family to see if they can tell him anything about his benefactor. But the only lead they can give him is one from his grandmother whose fading memory remembers a George Hart who died more than 60 years ago.
So, who is George Hart, Wally’s benefactor? Is it just a coincidence that his grandmother once knew someone with the same name? If not, who is he and why did he leave his estate to Wally? Wally’s attempts to find an answer lead literally to a dead end. It is not until he finds a notebook at the chateau he has inherited that he discovers who George Hart was and uncovers secrets about his family unknown to them, secrets never meant to be discovered.
Published: September 2021
Hardback: 212 pages
Price: £9.99
ISBN: 97819144424076
Available from Amazon

James Holder was born in Somerset and, after reading law at Cambridge University, practised as a solicitor; he now works as a consultant.
He and his wife have four children and two grandchildren and live in Oxfordshire.
Also by James Holder...
The Great War’s Sporting Casualties

The Vines of de Gressier – Book 2 of the de Gressier Quartet
C. S. Bunker

The Vines of de Gressier
Book 2 of the de Gressier Quartet

When the German army occupies Bordeaux in August 1940, the lives of Juliette Guégan, David Daunier and Dominique Hilaire are again thrown into flux; but it is the arrival at Château de Gressier of Leutnant Heinrik Klugman, a pilot in the Luftwaffe, which twists the kaleidoscope of their lives and sends them in different directions.

Once again, war creates a series of moral and ethical dilemmas to be navigated. Should you put the lives of your family at risk to work with the Resistance? Should you find comfort in the arms of your best friend’s son? How do you fight collaboration and corruption when it pervades the reputation of the very institution you have sworn to uphold? Should there be a penalty for going to the bed of your family’s enemy? Should love deny differences in age and race?

Published: March 2021
Paperback: 406 pages
Price: £15.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425821

Available on Amazon

For Australia and USA, please order from
Set against the vineyards of Bordeaux and South Africa, and the battlefields of the Eastern Front, The Vines of de Gressier continues as a story of love, betrayal, corruption and, above all, human resilience.

With much-loved characters from The Lands of de Gressier, C.S. Bunker has written another well-researched page-turner, with clever plots and sub-plots, all interwoven with people and events of history. Another must-read!

The Secret, the Sword and the Seal
Fran Norton

On a bleak November day in the year of Our Lord, 1307, Eve de Clavering rode away from the Staffordshire Castle of Heleigh into an uncertain future. Wracked by grief at losing her young husband, Thomas de Audley, Eve carries a guilty secret, one which will affect the rest of her life. When she arrives back in Essex, the home of her dominating father, Sir John de Clavering, Eve discovers her future has already been decided. No time for grief, Eve reluctantly meets Sir Thomas de Ufford, the second son of a kinsman to the Earl of Suffolk. Infuriated by her father's insensitive behaviour, it sparks a rift between father and daughter which will never be resolved. However, against all odds, Eve discovers an ally in her second husband but will the chance of happiness be overshadowed by her secret? Meantime, Thomas introduces her to court life where she meets the powerful and colourful characters surrounding the Edward II and his queen Isabella of France, but Eve hates the hypocrisy and underlying tensions. In 1314, Thomas joins the knights and earls of the king to face the Scots at the fateful Battle of Bannockburn where the English suffer an ignominious defeat and where the king even loses the Great Seal of State.
Published:September 2020
Paperback:227 pages

£9.99 (+ £2 postage)

Number of copies:

Available from Amazon
Once again Eve finds herself a widow but this time, she has three young sons to protect. A proposal of marriage from James de Audley throws her into a quandary, beset by guilt, Eve refuses. How will she overcome her emotions and will she now seize the chance to marry her girlhood love? When her brother-in-law, Hugh de Audley escapes from Nottingham Castle, Eve finds herself in danger as the king's treacherous favourite, Hugh Despenser the Younger, sends troops to search her home at Stratton. Set against the dysfunctional reign of Edward II, Eve's destiny unfolds against a backdrop of civil wars, through a time of desperate poverty and the unending struggle with the Scots, in a period of history which is filled with treachery, intrigue, and controversy. Come, let us accompany Eve through the years of her eventful life; meet the four men who play a intrinsic role in her destiny and watch, as the terrible fate of a king's favourites unfolds. These are the years of 'The Secret, the Sword and the Seal'.

Books by Fran Norton...
The Twisted Legacy of Maud de Braose

Isolde, Lady de Audley: The Mortimer Myth

The Secret, The Sword and the Seal

Reader Reviews...

Policeman’s Prose
Tim Grace

Policeman's Prose
Tim Grace

This is a collection of poems written over the last forty-five years: from childhood memories to life in Cyprus as a teenager in the 1970’s, to policing in London during the 1980s and 1990s and time with Customs and Excise.
Tim is still in law enforcement.
His current role is as an investigator with The Illegal Money Lending Team.
He writes about mums and dads and daughters and discusses the question what is love? Homelessness is close to his heart, as the poem about the YMCA and The Tramp illustrates. Then there are his beloved pets, Captain and Brenda, both immortalised in verse.
The author shares his raw emotions about Depression and thoughts of suicide and talks about tragedies such as Dunblane and the Twin Tower attacks.
Published: May 2020
Paperback: 56 pages
Price: £4.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425227

£4.99 (+ £2 P&P)
Number of copies:

Available from Amazon

Tim was born in Germany and lived in Aden and Cyprus before settling down as a Metropolitan policeman in 1979. After twenty years' service he was medically retired. Later he joined Customs & Excise looking at counterfeit goods. He became an expert on the subject and lectured around the world to his counterparts.
In 2011 he reconnected with his childhood sweetheart Michelle and they married. They moved in together in 2013 when Tim moved to Birmingham where they currently live. He has one son and two married daughters, two sons-in-law, three granddaughters and a grandson on his way.
Reader Reviews...

Self-Publishing – Birmingham and West Midlands


YouCaxton will be starting a monthly book clinic in Birmingham from February 2014. This will provide local writers with the opportunity to discuss their projects in person with one of our editorial staff.  We are particularly interested in hearing from writers of books with connections to the West Midlands Region.