European dreams

I should have been born in a warmer climate, but then I wouldn’t have been Scottish, and I rather like being Scottish – especially at present when politics here are amazingly interesting., though often also frustrating.

What I want are warmer winters, but, despite the effects of global warming, not much chance of that, so I have to content myself with forays to places where winter is akin to our summer.

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Island Voices Galore

One of the projects that’s kept me busy recently, along with finishing the first draft of my next novel, is the publication by Twinlaw Publishing (www.twinlawpublishing.co.uk) of a new book – not mine, but one by Janice Ross. Janice has been a busy lady, juggling the demands of publication with putting together her doctoral thesis on the art of blethering.

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On the eleventh day of April

What is so special about the eleventh day of April? A hint. It’s not the eleventh of April this year I’m referring to.

It’s the eleventh day of April 1868. Ring any bells? Probably not — unless you live in Japan. For on the eleventh of April 1868 the era of the Tokugawa Shogunate was brought to a close with the restoration of the Emperor Meiji.

Now, before you hit the delete button and move on to another email, consider this.

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February 14th

February 14th. St Valentine’s Day. But who was St Valentine and why do we celebrate it as a lovers’ day with red hearts, roses and sloppy cards?

St Valentine was a Catholic saint, or according to some sources one of two or three, all martyred, one of whom is said to have sent a letter to his loved one (his jailor’s daughter) from his Roman prison and signed it from your Valentine.

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You too can have one

We’re all well aware of logos, trademarks, advertising gimmicks and slogans used to promote companies, organisations and goods. We’re bombarded with them wherever we look. Some are trusted household names, a few may carry disliked baggage, others may be brash new kids on the block. But life without them is difficult to imagine.

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A multi-faceted historical mosaic

It was dark when we arrived, and as our bus whisked us from airport to hotel all we saw were the lit windows of shops and their tarpaulin-covered extensions where racks and rails of colourful goods ranged across pavements like chess pieces on a board.

The first real taste of our holiday came when after our meal we wandered outside to explore the hotel grounds. As we stepped through the automatic doors, warmth hit us, as did the sounds from the outdoor entertainment area with its stage and bar, people wearing short-sleeved t-shirts or floaty dresses and flip-flops relaxing in chairs.

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A little slice of immortality

Good news always makes a day go with a swing, puts a smile on your face, a bounce in your step. Makes your fingers dance on the keyboard. My good news this morning is that one of my short stories, Bowler and bunnet, felt and fascinator, has been shortlisted for the H G Wells Short Story Competition, the theme of which was class (to be interpreted as you wanted). http://hgwellscompetition.com/2015/09/21/junior-and-senior-category-competition-shortlists/comment-page-1/#comment-430

So happy to have achieved this as my story will now be published in their anthology. Whee!

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Fruit, fire and foundering

Reading a blog post about the role of environment in writing, prompted me to admit I’d find it difficult to write if I couldn’t recall the natural backdrop to the action of story or novel. Surroundings have always been important to me.

When young, holidays were spent on a small island in the Clyde estuary, playing on beach and rocks, and messing about in rowing boats with friends. I remember vividly the gritty feel of sand between bare toes. As we paddled in the shallows, feet looked strangely white, like jellyfish, their image fractured by dancing waves and reflected sun.

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Something important happened here

Edinburgh, capital city of Scotland, maybe a small city (the population is just under half a million)) but is one brimming with history. From medieval Old Town to elegant Georgian New Town complete with gardens and neoclassical buildings, it rolls out into Victorian and modern suburbs. Its parks and open spaces such as the Links, the Meadows, and Princes Street Gardens contrast with Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano in Holyrood Park, and the Castle which broods on it hilltop, watching over its city, protecting Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny.

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Volcanic rock and stone of destiny

Summer is festival time in Edinburgh, and last Sunday, with this year’s poor summer weather weather dry but overcast, we went off to sample the atmosphere. A stroke of luck saw us cruising a city centre street for an unlikely parking space, when a car edged out in front of us, leaving us a space to nip into smartly before someone else swung their way in.

Parking space sorted, we made for the Royal Mile. Last year we walked down it towards Holyrood House, so on Sunday we headed upwards, towards the castle.

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