Those who know me from Social media will probably realise that I have moved. A big move. Massive. After 30 years in one house I have moved to the Scottish Highlands. To Wester Ross. It has been described as Britain’s last great wilderness, and with good reason. Moving here is not just another country, it is another life and a very different one. The language is almost the same. Almost, but not quite. One has to think more about it. No one asks where you live, it is where are you staying, as if you are just passing through.
Hospitality is generous, tea, cake or biscuits are often offered as a matter of course. Which means I need to brush up on my baking skills.
Okay, I doubt I will EVER bake anything this good!
The Scottish Highlands from a writer’s point of view
I travel through this land with my writer’s hat on. The landscape feels old. Continue reading →
Nourishment for the Soul (but no escaping literature)
Today I am calm, relaxed. I wanted to share that with you.
I have just returned from a few days touring the Highlands. The North Coast 500 to be exact. And what has this to do with writing, you may ask? Well, it does us all good to get away from the desk occasionally, to be inspired by new locations, different ways of life.
It’s the end of March. The Vernal Equinox is past. We can properly talk about Spring.
Of course, by the time this blog is published, it may be snowing again, but we don’t have a crystal ball here in the Libertà hive. So…
Instead, to gladden hearts and look forward to lighter, brighter days, we asked each hive member to give us a flavour of the things she most looks forward to with the coming of Spring. Violets rather than snow? Continue reading →
Liz: Moving is a two-way problem. Either you’re upsizing, in which case you don’t have enough furniture, or downsizing, in which case you have too much of everything.
My Old Man said Follow the Van…
Sarah: To make things worse, I moved twice within twelve months (I know, madness, but we had A Plan… more of that later).
Liz: Aargh! I have just downsized from a five bedroom, four reception house to a two bedroom flat. I had too much of everything and what I’d have liked to have kept was mostly the wrong size. Where on earth do you start!
Sarah: I know exactly what you mean! We had a dream of moving to the west coast of Scotland but we had no property in mind when we moved out of our old house, so no idea what we would need to keep. All I knew was that we would not need muchContinue reading →
Bonfire night and Halloween will be over by the time you read this. [And yes, I do know that the proper spelling is Hallowe’en, but the internet doesn’t cope well with apostrophes, so I’ve had to use the non-apostrophe spelling variant.]
Bonfire night, for all its somewhat gory associations, is at least a British tradition.
But Halloween? That Trick Or Treat abomination that seems to be everywhere? Rant time.
Apologies for the tongue-in-cheek title to this post. I’m guessing that if I had headed it “Stirling Castle and James V”, quite a few of our readers would have said, “Who he?”
He is James V, King of Scots. Yes, he was the father of the rather better-known Mary, Queen of Scots.
James V and Stirling Castle had quite a relationship. (And did you know that the mound on which the castle sits is actually an extinct volcano?)
Both these images represent James V. In the statue, he has a long flowing beard, like an Old Testament prophet, ready to usher in a golden age for Scotland. In the portrait, he has his normal neat beard and gorgeous clothes.
He didn’t make it to prophet status. James died when he was just 30, leaving one legitimate child (Mary), who was only 6 days old. James also left at least 9 illegitimate children, so he was definitely neither saint nor prophet 😉 Continue reading →
A few days ago, on 4th September 2017 to be exact, the Queen opened the #3 crossing of the River Forth, at Queensferry. The date was chosen, I assume, because it was 53 years to the day since she had opened the #2 crossing, the original Forth Road Bridge, back in 1964 (shown below with the Queensferry Crossing beyond).
The Queen did not, of course, open the original Forth Bridge; that was done by her great-grandfather, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) in 1890. Continue reading →
Monday 25th January is Burns Night, celebrating Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. Traditionally, Scots and others celebrate with a Burns Supper and many will have already taken place, over the weekend. I believe Sophie (Englishwoman of this parish) may even have been seen at one of them.
Robert Burns (1759-1796) was not only a poet, he was also an exciseman, operating on the borders with England. Hardy smugglers used to cross from England to Scotland via the Solway Firth, because the excisemen would be waiting on the land route to levy their duties. If you could nip across the Firth – by the ford – you could probably avoid duty altogether.
Of course, if you were caught in the Solway quicksands, you might not see Scotland again. Ever.
England is that grey strip across the sands & quicksands of the Solway Firth