I’ve been longing to share this post with you all! Since returning from holiday three weeks ago a barrage of birthdays, weddings and novel edits have kept me from collecting my thoughts on my recent island adventure. I planned to write a post for each island but decided to compile everything into one, long post instead. A hectic summer does not a regular blogger make.

 

Grab a cup of tea (it’s a long one) and let me tell you a tale of three Scottish islands…

Edinburgh. A city for old souls. The haunt of writers and ghosts of writers. Streets built upon the bones of something older, an open book where chapter titles are written with invisible ink.

 

Three days here was a dream. I watched, slowed to the pace of a curious wanderer. Forgot the things I’ve seen a thousand times. I let one of those blank chapters fall open in my hands and noted down what I saw.

 

Here is the fruit – one blustery September in Edinburgh, seen through the eyes of an autumn-souled writer.

On Friday I visited St Andrews with a picnic and hopes for a final summer day out. Here are the thoughts I scribbled afterwards in my writer’s notebook.

 

The wind blows mutinously from the off, closing the Tay Bridge. Finally we reach St Andrews, where it whistles down dingy closes and tuneless cackles, “Game’s up! Autumn is here!”

 

I ignore it and find warmth by the sea. A pungent fug of rotting weed and salt. The tide is stripped back, a seal lolls on a rock. The houses lining the coast look like they contain mysteries – consulting detectives, vanishing people and cats guarding ancestral secrets.

At the end of June I spent a week on the island of Jersey, a paradise that is neither England nor France but a world all of its own. Below are some of my impressions of the island, taken from my writer’s notebook.

Today the sun feels like it will shine every day. I’m sitting by the window, books are piled next to me on the desk and around my feet too. Coffee cups clatter in saucers from the café below. Up here I can see the elegant old lady make her regular Saturday trip around the town. Immaculate shoes and hair, the May sun does not tempt her into t-shirt and trainers, she is a dark rose in her black, pressed coat and hair of perfumed steel.

Ben Ledi. The hill of fire, hill of God. Snow falling as the mist closed in, the path melting before my eyes, walking blindly into an obscure hinterland. I lower my eyes from the cold. It is Easter Sunday, winter at the height of Spring. Easter is not kept in this pagan place. Shapes move in the fog; guardian angels protecting the slope; the fae, come to steal my shadow from beneath me.

 

At the summit a grave is marked by two ravens. A raven is not a raven but a link, from this world to the next, wherever that may be. They guard the cross, consulting with another, communing with bone and stone. How long have they traveled in the other kingdom, and what knowledge did they bring back?

There is a place I go where I know I can escape the snares of self-doubt that entangle an aspiring writer’s mind, a place of mountains and lochs, where the kingdom of imagination appears before my eyes in the parting of light and thunderclouds, where the mundane and the magical sit side by side, where silver men walk out of the cold loch and a car journey becomes a mad ride on horseback through outlaw country.

 

Back in April I was in need of this mystical place. Unable to imbue even a wet spark of alchemy into what I had spent months writing, I wanted  more than anything to swap my desk and the uncooperative characters in my head for the distraction of wild, Easter hills coated with mist and snow, endless lochs and the comforts of fire, feasting and fresh air. Without thinking twice Mhor 84 came to mind, a curious motel off the A84 that I first encountered while exploring Rob Roy country a couple of years ago.

DIARY

AN ISLAND DIARY

Isle of Rum, Scotland

spring twenty-nineteen

- Places-

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A WRITER’S DAY IN EDINBURGH

Edinburgh, Scotland

autumn. twenty-eighteen

- Places -

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AN AFTERNOON IN ST ANDREWS

St Andrews, Fife

autumn. twenty-eighteen

- Places -

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A WEEK EXPLORING JERSEY, CHANNEL ISLANDS

Isle of Jersey, Channel Islands

summer. twenty-eighteen

- Places -

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Notes to Spring

Blairgowrie, Perthshire

spring. twenty-eighteen

- Places -

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The Hill of God -

Travels in Rob Roy Country

Balquhidder, Lomond & The Trossachs

spring. twenty-seventeen

- Places -

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Motel In The Mountains

Balquhidder, Lomond & The Trossachs

autumn. twenty-seventeen

- Places -

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