A new pop-up shop has opened in Portree, selling all sorts of interesting items made by local people, including my books.
Every time we travel along the M6 I notice the turn for Carnforth and say,’ We should go and have a look at the station.’ Finally we did! The main reason for going is of course the central role that the station buffet played in the film, ‘Brief Encounter,’ but also because the film’s themes of love and loss chime with those in my latest historical novel, ‘Had we never loved so blindly,’.The volunteers who organise the displays have used fittings from the old station which capture a convincing 1940s ambience.
Here are some pictures of a Skye terrier puppy, an endangered breed which is fortunately increasing in numbers. Like all terriers they are tough and resilient. One of them features as a character in my latest novel which I’m currently revising. It’s set during the First World War and has the working title, ‘A Summer Project’. The most famous Skye terrier is ‘Greyfriars Bobby’ who is commemorated by a statue in Edinburgh and has featured in two films.
Now that everywhere is opening up again I’ve been having an enjoyable time travelling to craft fairs on the Isle of Skye and the mainland. These include Dornie, by the iconic seat of the MacRae clan at Eilean Donan castle, picturesque Plockton, Glendale in North west Skye and Minginish,near the Talisker Distillery. It’s been a delight to meet so many friendly people and sample delicious home made baking.
Really excited to share this with you – my first Eventbrite online Book launch! There’s a button to book tickets at the further down on this post, and I hope to see you there.
The inspiration for my novel came from this postcard. It was sent from Glasgow, to my mother in 1942, with a very brief address, ‘Kyle of Lochalsh, Ross-shire’. She was working at the hotel there which had been requisitioned by the Royal Navy and transformed into HMS Trelawney. The card came from her brother who had left his job as a fisherman on the Isle of Skye to sign up as a merchant seaman. Merchant sailors were the unsung heroes of the Second World War who kept Britain supplied with essential imports. John Norman, one of the central characters in my book, like my uncle, joined the merchant navy. Before signing on, he met Felicity, the upper-class daughter of a retired tea planter. This encounter was a prickly one but as their paths crossed in wartime a tentative friendship developed. While John Norman was involved in dangerous convoy duties Felicity was recruited to work at the secret code breaking centre of Bletchley Park. The impact of the War is refracted through the prism of their different perspectives. Can they navigate the dangers of war and overcome the differences between them?
As the title suggests, this is a novel about a relationship between a mismatched couple. Felicity, the daughter of a retired tea planter, is on holiday on the Isle of Skye in 1937 when she meets John Norman, a young fisherman. Their first encounter is a prickly one but when they later bump into each other during a London air raid, a tentative friendship begins. As a merchant seaman, John Norman is caught up in perilous convoy duties while Felicity finds a role at Bletchley Park. Their long-distance relationship falls prey to doubts and misunderstandings that have fateful consequences, not only for them but into the future.
Do you know the beautiful song by Robert Burns, ‘Ae Fond Kiss’?
‘Ae fond kiss and then we sever
Ae fareweel, and then for ever,
Deep in heartwrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and hopes I’ll wage thee.’
I’m using a line from the 4th verse – ‘Had we never loved so blindly’ as the title of my third historical novel, set during the Second World War. It should be published late this year.
Events at Fort William and Edinburgh
As part of Book Week Scotland in November 2019 I gave a talk at Fort William Library and enjoyed some lovely cakes. This was followed by another talk at the Pentlands Book Festival in Edinburgh where I spoke about the influence of myths and legends on my writing. The Waters of Leith made a welcome break from the busy streets. This was followed by an enjoyable session at Dingwall library after driving through beautiful countryside.