I’ve now reached the extremities of Britain – Penzance in July 2018 and John O’Groats in April 2019. The dogs are playing on the sands at Dunnett Head, the most northerly promontory of Britain.
I gave a number of talks while I was down in Galloway in March. The first was at Lockerbie Library. The fine sheep sculptures are in the High Street. This was followed by a talk at the Beltie Book Shop and Café in Wigtown and I had to include a picture of the photogenic local cattle and lastly I did a book signing at WHSmith in Dumfries High Street. The antibiotics seem to be working and Steve is feeling more human now. We’ve got a big new screen which I’m enjoying using.
I had the pleasure of travelling to Stornoway on a very cold but sunny day in February 2019. Once there I was made very welcome by Euan at the museum and Rhoda from the Islands Book Trust.
I spoke about Mary MacPherson, the subject of ‘Love and Music Will Endure’ and the next day I saw the famous Lewis chessmen and the very moving exhibition about the Iolaire disaster of 1919 when two hundred returning sailors were drowned in sight of the shore.
The fern design is Victorian and was found underneath layers of paint when the breakfast room was renovated.
I enjoyed a magical weekend at the very friendly Book Festival at Tarbert, Loch Fynne, one of the less well known haunts of the miniature Asian elephant. I was involved in the ‘Saturday with the Stevensons’ event with Bella Bathurst, the lighthouse expert and Joseph Farrell who has recently written about Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa.
I greatly enjoyed taking part in the celebrations for Robert Louis Stevenson’s birthday in Edinburgh, November 2018. I spoke about how he inspired my writing at the Writers’ Museum. It’s a wonderful old building with narrow spiral staircases. The bottom floor is dedicated to RLS while the other floors are for Sir Walter Scott and Bobbie Burns.
I spoke about ‘No Safe Anchorage’ at the Penzance Literary Festival in early July after travelling by train from the North-western Celtic fringe to its counterpart in the far South- West.
The beautiful coastline reminded me of the Highlands.
On the way down I signed copies of my book at the Waterstones branch in Princes Street, Edinburgh.
I was delighted to talk about ‘No Safe Anchorage’ at a meeting of Skye U3A at the end of May. There were many interesting questions and comments from the audience despite it being a very hot day. It was a complete contrast to when I spoke about my first book, ‘Love and Music Will Endure’ on a day of storms and torrential rain. The joys of living in a place with changeable extremes of weather!
In April I spent an enjoyable evening as part of a panel in Inverness, hosted by HighlandLIT. We discussed
‘Women Writers in the Highlands’.
We were a varied group, both in age and as writers. Helen Forbes and Margaret Kirk are both accomplished writers of crime thrillers set in Inverness, Morven-May MacCallum has written a moving account of a teenager suffering from the aftermath of Lyme’s disease and my speciality is historical novels set in the Highlands. However we have Highland ancestry in common and Highland women are renowned for their toughness and resilience!
We covered a range of subjects, including how male authors expect praise for portraying “strong women”. Does this imply that strong women are unusual and therefore most women are weak?
Also debated was the issue of why Highland stereotypes are still so popular, especially the kilted, brooding Jacobite hero (red-haired of course).
There were plenty of lively observations from the audience which contributed to a memorable evening.