Friday 26 August 2016

Summer Suns are a Glowin' with Jane Bwye

I'm delighted to say that the sky is blue as I post this addition to my 'Summer Suns and how they affect your writing' theme. 

Though, if I'm totally honest, there are also some white scudding clouds out there but the day is predicted to be 'quite nice' for my part of north-east Scotland. 

I'm always thankful to have any blinks of sun but my guest today will tell us about her sunny experiences over her lifetime which are very different from mine. Jane Bwye, my Crooked Cat publishing friend, is a very welcome return visitor and she's here to tell us about her summer suns and what adds to or slows down her writing production.

Hello again, Jane. I do love this photo that you've sent today, you look so relaxed andset to enjoy the day! Tell us please about your summers..
Jane Bwye- courtesy of Jane Bwye

This summer, Nancy – or any summer? For fifty-five years my life was one continual summer – in Africa. There, my writing output was spasmodic at best. But I can put the blame for that squarely on my family. I can never do anything by halves, and my family has always been my number one priority.
When we moved to the UK sixteen years ago, a place with four seasons, it took time to become used to the changes, and I absolutely hated the drawing in of the days. I was continuously tired and depressed and had to do something to stop the rot – so allowed myself to wallow in nostalgia. The task of writing BREATH OF AFRICA spilled over many seasons and provided me with a steep learning curve. The book’s success gave me momentum, and I’ve written three since then.
Now, it’s summer again. Although I hail from Africa, I really don’t like the hot humidity around me. Bathed in a stupor of sweat, I cower in the shade and raise my cheeks towards the slightest whiff of a breeze. Aches and pains distract my mind, and it is an effort to do anything at all.
So, no – I don’t feel like writing. I haven’t recovered from the supreme effort of birthing my latest book, GRASS SHOOTS. It’s the sequel to BREATH OF AFRICA, and will be published by our great publishers, Crooked Cat next year.
But, to get back to your question, I honestly don’t think my output has anything to do with the seasons. It has more to do with that intangible thing, the muse. And when family make an appearance, as always, writing takes a back seat. We’ve had two summer visitors this year: my eldest daughter from Australia, and my youngest son from Kenya. We’ve had a lightning wedding to celebrate (that could provide material for another story…) and I’m still reeling from all the excitement.
Hope I’m learning at long last how to take it easy – to spell myself and not try and accomplish too many things all at once. The mind and the body – with the consequent medications – are just not working as before. What did Scarlet O’Hara say in GONE WITH THE WIND? I must learn to think about things “tomorrow”. A difficult lesson for one who has been used to living life to the full.
But in summertime, with nature surrounding me, the one thing I love to do is read…

I love to read outside, too, Jane but the shading of my eyes needs to be prefect! My sun hat has a huge brim and has been on the go since I bought it in 1995 - so that shows how often it gets used during my Scottish summers. 

I feel so in tune with some of what you've said there, Jane, especially about the 'muse' having a lot to do with writing production. My family also gets my priority time at the expense of writing progress and it's too easy to blame that for my lack of focus and poor time management. 

Thanks for popping in today, Jane. Best wishes with your new book when it launches and please come back and tell us more about it nearer the time. I'll be in the queue to get a copy having really enjoyed reading Breath of Africa. 

Find Jane at the places below.

Sunday 21 August 2016

Sunday Snippet!

Yesterday, Saturday 20th August, I posted my usual every second Saturday blog post at Writing Wranglers and Warriors Blog.  

I had to post it really early for me, as in just after midnight and just into the new day of the 20th. This was because I was currently still baby sitting but more because I was heading out around 8.45 a.m. to go to the FOCUS Craft and Design Fair at Inverurie to sell/sign my novels and knew I'd be too tired to publish my 'Wranglers'  post at that time.

The Fair at Inverurie was excellent, a steady stream of browsers and some were buyers. There is no way I can predict how many novels I might sell at any of my 'Fairs', or which of my titles will be popular, but yesterday it was a tie between Topaz Eyes and The Taexali Game - though I'm delighted to have sold 15 novels in all.

One of the best moments was when a return customer came to my table with a friend and immediately thanked me for the excellent reads she'd bought on another occasion. She declared she'd enjoyed them so much she was buying the third of my mysteries because she loved my writing. Her declaration was encouragingly loud enough that I do believe she 'sold' a book to my next customer. I thank that lady very much for her faith in my writing!

Today is a writing day, along with many other domestic tasks, so I'll just add a tiny snippet that's presently in my 'out-takes' but might find itself somehow resurrected in the final draft of this WIP that is destined to eventually be a family saga.

What is below is unedited. At this point the main character, Margaret, is in Aberdeen, Scotland and it's  the year 1850.
Frank Holl- Slaves of the Needle "The Seamstresses"

The few coins that jingled in her pocket were just enough. Jamie desperately needed better nourishment, but a simple fish stew was the best she would manage till Mrs. Milne paid her the next day.

Her forefinger rubbed mindlessly against her thumb. The harsh soap she’d used to clean her laundry pile had roughened her skin so much a rasp would not have been sharper. The lanolin she’d worked in after the laundry tasks had done very little, yet, and there was only the tiniest slither still left in the pot. Just one more thing that needed refilling. It was a vicious circle. The only lanolin preparation she could afford stank to high heaven, but it was the best she knew of for softening skin quickly. When she got back to the tiny room she shared with Maisie and her two little girls she’d work in some more. After they’d eaten the meagre supper she was about to provide her hands would have softened out a bit for the fine sewing that lay in her work basket. Rough skin was an abomination when stitching silk underclothing.

Her delicate stitching was what earned the most money. Her rough work for the drapery was the bread and butter, the laundry Maisie took in supplemented their meagre fare but Margaret’s wages for Mrs. Milne’s delicate work paid their rent.

Her fingers drew out her few coins, savouring the feel of them before she handed over the cash in exchange for fish. Not even complete fish. She saved a little each time by asking for the poorly filleted fish-bits rather than whole pieces. It took longer to prepare the meal, bone picking a tedious job, but the stockpile of farthings she’d secreted away was her ticket on that train out of Aberdeen.

Two more days and she’d be gone.

“Nobody makes a meal out of nothing like you do, Margaret.”
Maisie was going to miss her cooking, she knew it, but her mind was made up. Home was calling her, if Fife could even be called that.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay on in Aberdeen a bit longer?”
Maisie’s plea was thready, her voice constricted as she hefted her five month old daughter into her arms from the box bed that was the sleeping cot for five of them. Maisie slept at one end with her two girls, while Margaret top-to-toed with her son at the other end.
Margaret was truly grateful that she’d met Maisie soon after she’d arrived at the Aberdeen Joint Railway station from Peterhead.

She’d only been in Aberdeen once before on her arrival from Dundee, with her brand new husband Alex, but those circumstances had been quite different.

After their marriage, she and Alex had stayed in Dundee for a few months. Back then, Alex had been working for his uncle, a tailor who had only daughters. That had worked fine for him till he’d brought her to live in his uncle’s house. She was already pregnant.

Untenable. They’d had to leave after a great fall out between uncle and nephew. Their destination was Peterhead though they’d had to stay overnight in the city of Aberdeen. Trailing alongside Alexander as he wended their way to the lodging house he knew about, having frequented it a few times before, was entirely different from arriving unaccompanied, with a fractious not quite two year old.


Monday 15 August 2016

Summer Suns are a Glowin’ with #Nancy Jardine

Today is my Summer Suns are a Glowin’ Monday Moments slot with myself- Nancy Jardine

During this short series, I’ve had some author guests sharing their typical summer distractions, things which secrete them away from their writing, or in some cases they’ve shared how they cope with writing during lovely summer days.

I’ve never cracked the technique of writing outside using my laptop and it’s extremely rare when I put pen to paper – or in my case a pencil, more natural to me since I’m an ex- primary teacher. I can never get myself in the correct amount of shade to write even when I wear my rather large sunhat. I can only cope with attempting to write for a short time before I up sticks and retreat inside.

However, being outside always reminds me of garden jobs that are overdue and since I’m the gardener the responsibility is mine. Today is a beautiful day, if a little windy. My photography isn’t up to scratch but I do try with my little Coolpix point to and press the shutter camera. There is some nice colour dotted around my front garden this year but in the words of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- I have “a pretty little wilderness’ going on in my side garden which is too embarrassing to photograph. My angelica has taken a battering during the recent high winds in July and August and what should be a tall stately plant is a poor looking bowed over mess just now.

But back to my writing. I do it inside at the desk by my dining room window. Sneaking a look outside happens often and it’s especially drawing when the magpies appear or when the woodpigeons and blackbirds frighten off the little birds, generally wrens and robins.  

And then there are my lovely grand children who pop in from next door to brighten up my day and to check on the fairy house and garden.  

Distractions are plenty but what I’m aiming for these days is better discipline to keep my writing on track. 

Today I'm aiming for adding a new chunk to my WIP and trying not to edit out too much of what I've already written over the day. I really want my Books 4 and 5 of my Celtic Fervour Series to be really the absolute best I can make them.

What more can I say?  

Here's a little from the 'Dump' section of my work in progress:

A rush of pure hatred mixed with an unbidden fear almost had her snapping the soggy debris beneath her leather-clad feet as she sidled to the nearby mature beech. In the forest gloom, her thoughts were as murky as the wood around her. Alban elued was upon them, though she doubted there would be much to the ceremony around the fireside of her family when she returned to them. It was her habit to welcome this happy time, when the daylight shared an equal time with the dark and the last of the crops were gathered in but presently the forest god, Cernunnos, favoured neither her, nor her family.
The summer warmth of Lugh was only a memory. An early chill had rapidly descended since dawn causing a cascade of colourful leaf drop to glide down. The red gold of the leaves might have been appealing had the day been a fair one but Cernunnos was demonstrating his ire at the deeds of men in his precious territory. The mush of the soggy leaves was treacherous underfoot.
Reining in her anxiety, she snatched a breath before the cries of her answering crossbill call acknowledged she understood how many of the enemy needed to be dealt with. Hunkering down behind the trunk, she drew her bratt tighter around her head, her fingers numb and clumsy as she tucked in her wayward side plaits. The measure was poor protection for her shivering body, the relentless pelt of hail stinging her cheeks like she imagined a branding tine would do, though she had yet to experience that. Knowing observation was all that was required of her for the moment, she knelt down on one knee finding a better balance point, her woollen braccae sodden. The softest of plops hit the wet tree roots beneath her as she scanned the vicinity, melted hail trickling down from her chin. No part of her was dry but she could do nothing about that state. Not until much later and after her turn at surveillance was over.
After a long interval, her breathing shallow to suppress the complaints her aching muscles wanted to scream out, the faint bird-chat of Colm and Feargus was just discernible on her left before the signal came to move on. She couldn’t see Colm, only his spear, the tip of which nudged a gentle indication towards the edge of the forest. Progressively, and with great caution, she edged from tree to tree, winding her way through the wood which clad the foothills of Drumgoodrum. She knew by the responses from Colm and Feargus that the fourth warrior of their scouting party, Nith, was the only one of them who had the Roman soldiers in view.


Sunday 7 August 2016

5 *****Stars for The Taexali game!

Good morning Sunday! 

I just noticed this wonderful, totally honest, 5 star review for The Taexali Game on Amazon.

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Being a fan of Simon Scarrow & Bernard Cornwell's historical novels, I loved Nancy Jardine's Celtic Fervour series. When I started this novel I will admit that it was a slight struggle for the first couple of chapters as the writer very cleverly introduced the concept of the ultimate role playing interactive simulation game. However, once the teenagers were transported back in time to the Roman attempt to take control of the North East of Scotland, then I was immediately hooked. As usual, Nancy's characterisation is fantastic and the action never stops. You are gripped and have read the next chapter.

Although this is sort of aimed at teenagers I would recommend this for all lovers of historical novels - just persevere with it if you are an old fart like me and some of this first chapter(s) goes over your head!

Thank you Mr. Peacock.


Saturday 6 August 2016

One more step at Dunadd Fort

It's my every second Saturday post at the Writing Wranglers and Warriors Blog today. 

Since I'm writing about my visit to Dunadd Fort earlier this week, I'm REBLOGGING the information that I wrote here. Photographs may differ! 

"In the footsteps of Kings

Early this week, I enjoyed a fabulous tour of a large swathe of Scotland on my way to attend a wedding on the west coast of Scotland. To get to my hotel at Lochgilphead, I had to drive about 240 miles across Scotland through some fabulous countryside. There is no direct route there because the Grampian Mountains get in the way! Because of the distance involved going to the wedding meant a 3 day trip. (Black dot to the right my home in Aberdeenshire; black dot to bottom left Lochgilphead; red dot Crear Wedding Venue on the coast of the Argyll Peninsula)
original image via website
Of course it was just too tempting to not look into what I could do regarding sightseeing on the trip. I’ve been to the Argyll and Kintyre peninsula before but not specifically to see any ancient heritage sights. A little bit of research and I was happy dancing.

Dunadd Fort near Lochgilphead
Dunadd!  One of the most important sites in Scottish and northern Irish history.

Dunadd Fort was the ancient stronghold of the kings of Dal Riata from approximately AD 500 to AD 800, though the site has been used since the Iron Ages. Dunadd, meaning fort on the River Add, was only about 4 miles from my hotel. At about 175 feet high, there was a short climb involved but it was possible to squeeze in a quick jaunt between an early breakfast and a pick up at 1 p.m by the coach taking my husband and I to the wedding at Crear on the west coast of the Argyll Peninsula.

The pathway is well signposted
The rocky outcrop of Dunadd Fort rises from the flat valley which is now partially reclaimed farmland but otherwise bogland of - the Moine Mhor – meaning the ‘Great Moss’. It sits near the River Add and it’s possible that at one time it may have been an island. Dunadd was the royal centre of the kingdom of Dal Riata (also written as Dalriada), Dal Riata in Gaelic meaning Reiti’s Share or Reiti’s Tribe.

We learn from medieval text entries for AD 683 in The Annals of Ulster that the kings from Ireland, known as the ‘Scotti’ came to Dunadd and colonised the area- not a long sail since there are only around 11 miles between northern Ireland and the coast of Argyll. (NB the entries were recorded in The Annals of Ulster much later than AD 683 and are thought to have been copied from earlier original annals) The Scotti people were Gaels. They became the Kings of the Scots, gave the name to Scotland and gave it its Gaelic culture. The kingdom of Dal Riata stretched northwards to Ardnamurchan, south to the island of Arran and the Mull of Kintyre and westwards to Northern Ireland. The kings who lived at Dunadd were well-connected and had good contact with important individuals and peoples around Europe. The nearby sea, ships and sailors played a key role.
Remnants of the ramparts

When at its most popular, Dunadd Fort was surrounded by stone ramparts, possibly as many as four lines of fortifications.  Entry to the fort was via a natural cleft in the rock. There would have been wooden gates controlling access and inside the walls there were a number of houses and workshops.
A failed selfie in high wind

Dunadd was an important trade centre, iron and gold being smelted on site. The ‘raw’ gold probably came from Ireland and the product was fashioned into impressive elaborate jewellery. The smelted iron was formed into weapons. Wine and herbs were brought in from southern Europe. Traces of rare minerals from the far east have been found which were used to make dyes for scribes to use in colouring ecclesiastical manuscripts- on nearby Iona and other monasteries.  

The 'citadel' / king's mead house was above here
Climbing a little higher than the workshops level there was another set of ramparts below the summit where it’s thought an important stone ‘citadel’ was built on the flattened peak. This was the great hall, or mead house, of the king where important business was conducted and where feasting was likely in good times.

The inauguration stone
Just below the summit on a natural outcrop lies the inauguration stone of the kings of Dal Riata. The footprint carved deep into the rock is an impressive sign of Scottish kingship. During the coronation ceremony, when the new king placed his foot into the imprint he was not only pledging to do his utmost for his people of Dal Riata but was also pledging to be the ‘keeper of the land’ itself. 

Wow! My right foot hovering but guess what? It really does fit and it's only a size 5. 
Kings of Dal Riata from King Aedan mac Gabrain AD 574 - 608 ( probably the first Christian king) to Kenneth MacAlpin AD 834 - 859 were invested at Dunadd. Keneth MacAlpin is credited with the honour and achievement of uniting the kingdoms of both the Scots and the Picts at time of great pressure from maurauding Vikings.

King Aedan mac Gabrain would have been a familiar figure to St. Columba and his monks on the island of Iona which isn’t so far away.  By the time of Aedan’s accession, his inauguration ceremony would have been part pagan (his being married to the land) and part Christian (when he would have been blessed by the Abbot of Iona).

In Gaelic folklore it was the hero, Ossian, who leapt to Dunadd from Rhudle Hill one kilometre away. His foot gouged out the footprint, his knee on landing carved out the basin and his outstretched fingerprints possibly made the ogham script that is carved alongside on the stone.
The Well
Nancy Jardine

Dunadd lost its importance after the unification of the Scots and the Picts when the site of the kings moved to Scone, in Perthshire.

I’m extremely glad that I made the effort to spend the couple of hours at Dunadd and I didn’t have to rush too much to get changed into my glad rags for the wedding!



Friday 5 August 2016

Are Summer Suns A-Glowin' with Jill Barry?

Another Friday has dawned!

Unfortunately, not in summery fashion for me in north-east Scotland but there's hope that the sun will break through...tomorrow, but that isn't stopping me from continuing my summer writing theme. 

Today, I've got Jill Barry to join us and tell us how summer can affect her outpourings. Jill's a fairly new Crooked Cat author, the publisher having recently published her mystery thriller -The House Sitter - though Jill's not new to being published.    

Welcome to my blog, Jill. Please tell us what the summer suns do for you- a glowin' or not? 

Thank you, Nancy, for inviting me round. Summer sun is something we don’t see too much of here in South Wales but we do have our moments. Like many other places in the UK, we enjoyed scorching weather in mid July though inevitably, it didn’t suit everyone. I’m not a winter person so look forward to heading to Australia on 1st November 2016. In Melbourne, it’ll be spring, which everyone tells me means wearing ‘layers.’ I’ll be packing a wedding outfit so hope the Australian sun shines on my son and his lovely bride.

Writing outside isn’t something I often indulge in. We live on the outskirts of a city, fortunately surrounded by trees and green hills. Our garden is still a work in progress but I might venture out and scribble on a notepad sometimes. Mainly I write, whether the sun’s shining or not, at my pc. I’m a touch typist so can gallop towards my target word count, provided the Muse is around and I’m not tempted by visits to social media sites.
Photo courtesy of Jill Barry -
The photograph I took a year ago is a delightful example of a seaside town council ignoring formal floral displays, though I love all flowers, especially when they brighten urban areas.

At time of writing, I’ve just submitted my seventh pocket novel to my D C Thomson editor. This one is set in the 1960s as was my last one and I do find it refreshing, not having to worry about mobile phones and easy access to information. In real life of course, we’d very much miss some if not all aspects of modern technology!

Nancy says: I totally agree, Jill but we do need that great escape from technology sometimes, these days.  

A little more about Jill Barry...
she enjoys cooking, reading and watching as much tennis as she can get away with. She was born in South Wales, spent her married years in Wiltshire and returned to her homeland fifteen years ago, though she has moved twice since, now almost back to her roots. Moving must have kick started her love of writing and, after some short story acceptances, she tackled her first novel (still ‘in the drawer’) and had several erotic romances published by Xcite Books. 
Having completed an online course run by Sally Quilford, she decided to change genres, this resulting in numerous novellas, pocket novels and full-length works. Why another change of genre? Jill loves Mid Wales for its timelessness and magnificent scenery and has lived in a village similar to the fictitious one where much of The House Sitter action happens. A friend’s house move triggered the plot and Crooked Cat liked the novel enough to publish it. Jill is contemplating another dark novel, but alongside writing romance – a combination that she says suits her personality!

You can find Jill at the following places: 

Jill's Crooked Cat novel...

The House Sitter

Thank you for contributing to my summer writing theme, Jill. I wish you the very best for all of your writing projects.


Thursday 4 August 2016

When Only Cupcakes Will Do by Daisy James

Today, I'm delighted to have a brand new guest to my blog - Daisy James.

Daisy has a new release today named When Only Cupcakes Will Do. I'm not the best person to resist a lovely cake, or sweet treat, so it's extremely tempting to have Daisy sharing her newest novel with us.

Hello and welcome, Daisy. Please make us drool (assuming there are other readers of this blog as sweet toothed and as undisciplined as I am)...

Daisy says:
“When life gives you lemons, make lemon drizzle cake!”

I’m an avid baker. One of the best parts of researching my brand new novel - When Only Cupcakes Will Do - was experimenting with new recipes and exotic ingredients. A rainy afternoon spent in the kitchen, elbows deep in flour and sugar, brings back many happy childhood memories of doing exactly the same thing with my grandma during the school holidays. My sister and I would stand on a little wooden stool mixing, stirring and beating - and then came the best bit - being allowed to lick the bowl. Are we even allowed to do that nowadays?

Whenever I indulge in a baking session in my own kitchen now, the fragrance of warm caramel and melted chocolate sends my thoughts zooming back to those carefree times of butterfly buns and jam tarts made from left-over pastry from my grandma’s apple pies that she made with fruit from the garden.

For When Only Cupcakes Will Do I tested out a more contemporary selection of cupcakes such as coconut flavoured sponge with chunks of dried pineapple topped with rum-infused buttercream, raspberry cakes with prosecco icing and edible petals and blackcurrant sponges with vodka-tinged toppings. I also experimented with a twist on the carrot cake recipe and made beetroot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting - a sort of red velvet version. I wasn’t sure about those, but they still disappeared within minutes of coming out of the oven. There’s never a shortage of willing samplers in my house!

As the main character, Lucie Bradshaw, is an Italian pastry chef by profession I also had to create a number of Italian desserts, so I called in the experts - my friends Gino and Kate. My favourite was Cannoli - a thin, crispy shell made by wrapping the biscuit around a broom handle - crammed to bursting with sweetened ricotta cheese which can be flavoured with whatever takes your fancy. I added fresh cherries and white chocolate chips to mine.
Courtesy of Daisy James

If I haven’t already whet your appetite here’s a lemon drizzle cake that’s just come out of the oven.
Fancy a slice?

Nancy Says: Absolutely! Not too big though, since I have plenty of other takers like my grand kids who are running around my feet today. 

About the Novel:

The delightfully heartwarming romantic comedy from Daisy James!
When life gives you lemons, make lemon-drizzle cupcakes…

Lucie thought that proposing to her boyfriend in Tiffany’s would be the best day of her life. Until he said no. In just a few seconds, her whole world is turned upside-down! And when she accidentally switches cocoa powder for chilli powder at work, she finds herself out of a job, too…

Baking has always made life better in the past, but can Lucie really bake her way to happiness? Starting her own company, selling cupcakes out of an old ice cream van might just be the second chance that Lucie needs!

Of course, she never expected to find love along the way…

Buy the book from Amazon: 

Find Daisy James at:

Thank you for popping in Daisy. Please come again - with or without your delicious cakes! Best wishes with sales of your new When Only Cupcakes Will Do, it sounds like a winner.


Wednesday 3 August 2016

Versatile west coast of Scotland!

Yesterday, I did a tiny post about visiting Dunadd, the seat of the Kings of Dal Riata.  

I mentioned getting ready to go to a wedding after my trip up the craggy outcrop of Dunadd. Here’s a little more about the wedding…Dunadd information is still to follow when I research my facts a bit more.

The wedding, the bride being the daughter of my one of best friends when I was at Secondary school, was a fantastic event at an establishment named Crear Weddings. The Crear Weddings facility is situated near Kilberry on the west coast of Scotland on the beautiful Argyll peninsula (the bit of peninsula that’s north of the Kintyre Peninsula and above the words 'GREAT CUMBRAE' on the map above). The ceremony was beautiful and on a clear day the guests would have been looking out to the Paps of Jura as the bride and groom took their vows in front of a panoramic window. Sadly, by lunchtime the typical Scottish mist and light rain had descended so the mountains of Jura were only occasionally a vague silhouette.

Below is what I imagined it should be like...
The Paps of Jura - courtesy of

We feasted exceedingly well. We drank a number of toasts followed by some very energetic Ceilidh dancing, the band being wonderfully versatile. I watched some brand new Ceilidh dances that were incredibly good fun to do - though I didn’t dance nearly as many as I would have liked to.   

Midnight saw us saying our farewells and soon my OH and I were being driven along the B 8024 in a very large 56 seater coach on a very narrow single track road between the venue and our hotel in Lochgilphead. It was pitch dark, the rainfall quite heavy but not seriously so. We were sitting in the front seats near the driver and were chatting away with him after the bulk of the travellers had been disgorged at their accommodation not far from Crear. I can tell you that driving along that B 8024 road in a very large vehicle isn't for the fainthearted as it wends its way up and down tortuous valleys where the tiniest misjudgement could send the vehicle tumbling down into one of the many trickling riverbeds and gorges. It wouldn’t be an immense drop but the winding burns and streams are heavily shrouded with trees and bushes precariously growing on the steep slopes.

Let’s just say I didn’t fancy ending upside down anywhere along that stretch of road. Now, after midnight, the B 8024 isn’t exactly a bustling hive of activity for vehicles. The coach driver went into one of the multitudes of ‘Passing Places’ to allow a car to overtake- probably other wedding guests. That was the only vehicle we encountered on the whole journey.

The rain hissed and slashed even more persistently as we continued on the trek which took over an hour. I was slightly bemused when it seemed that the driver was flashing his lights on some of the bends but not on others which were much more awkward.

I jokingly said to the driver that his lights were like lightning flashes.

“It is lightning!” he answered.

The lightning continued at very short and regular intervals for about a half hour of the journey. The noise of thunder was drowned out by the engine noises and was I glad. I’m not afraid of thunder and lightning but I was seriously pleased that I wasn’t the one driving on that dark and very narrow stretch. I say a huge thank you to the bride Shona, and her lovely husband Ben, for arranging the transport for me and my husband.

The lightning show was still happening when I sank down into my hotel bed at around 1.30 a.m. but since I fell fast sleep I’ve no idea if it continued or for how long.

After a surprisingly refreshing sleep, we headed home on the long trail to Aberdeenshire, a drive of around 6 hours excluding stops. 


Tuesday 2 August 2016

If the shoe fits...

Tuesday Tales...

No, I'm not going to be dealing in fiction just yet. Today, I visited the iron age (and later) hill Fort of Dunadd near Kilmartin, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. This hillfort was believed to be the home of the kings of Dal Riata. 

It's possible that the rocky crag I visited today may have at one time been an island. It is situated near the River Add from which it takes its name, the land around now reclaimed from a formerly boggy moss, named the Moine Mhor or 'Great Moss' in Scottish Gaelic.

Originally inhabited during the iron ages, the site was later used by the Kings of Dal Riata.  

And this is where my title comes in. If the shoe fits...

There are unique stone carvings below the upper enclosure (it took a little imagination to picture that ) one of which is a very clear footprint. This footprint and nearby 'basin' are thought to have formed part of the coronation ritual of the Kings of Dal Riata. When the foot of the new king was inserted he was not only pledging to be king of his men but also the protector of the landscape around him.

My foot fit perfectly so, at an average woman's size 5 shoe, I'm wondering just how small the kings were back then...and the size of their feet!
Failed selfie at the entrance gates near the summit.

I've no time to do more just now since I'm about to get ready to attend a wedding near Lochgilphead but I'll write more about Dunadd very soon.


Monday 1 August 2016

#Monday Moments to Lochgilphead

Monday Moments! 

Thsi is why my Summer Suns are not a glowin' with writing today!

I’m off to Lochgilphead, Argyll and Bute, today to attend a wedding. The Tuesday wedding will be held at a nearby wedding venue named Crear Weddings and this is situated on the west coast. Updates may come on that later.

I’ve been to Lochgilphead before but haven’t focused on what I could see around the area as I’ve not spent time in any Lochgilphead hotels. The Stag Inn is our port of call for the next couple of days so during the few hours that I might have for sightseeing I’ve earmarked a couple of places to visit.

Our journey from Aberdeenshire will be quite a long one and will take us a good few hours since we’re travelling mostly on the scenic routes. We’ll head down to Stonehaven on the east coast to pick up the A90 for a short stretch to Kirriemuir where we’ll begin to head west on the A926. After Blairgowrie it’ll be on to Crieff via the A822 and A85 Crianlarich. Traveelling south west we’ll head on to Inverary via the A819. From Inverary we’ll be taking the A83 to Lochgilphead. That might sound an easy journey but single carriageway roads at this time of year can be slow if there’s caravan and tour buses using the routes- which is very likely.

Apologies for the map quality of marking on it. I'm in a hurry and the program wouldn't work for me but ...later.. I'll try to improve on it. 

You might say why can’t we just head down more directly south west - and it’s a great question - but the Grampian Mountains get in the way. They get in the way now just as they got in the way when the Ancient Romans were investigating the country for General Agricola back around AD 80 - 84!

Lochgilphead, Ceann Loch Gilb, has less than 2,500 residents but it’s quite a thriving town with a number of facilities since it’s the administrative centre for the area (Argyll and Bute).  The village lies at the end of Loch Gilb, which is a branch of the larger Loch Fyne, the Crinan Canal being close by.

So what do I want to see?
Ø      I want to visit Dunadd Fort if possible to see the seat of Royal Kings of the late Iron Ages and pre-Viking influence. It’s believed to have been the capital of the Kingdom of Dal Riata.

Ø      Keills Chapel, 12th century, has some beautiful Celtic standing stones. Visiting these might be difficult since our primary purpose is the wedding but I can hope!

I’ve got to go now…