ewein2412: (harriet writing (no text))
[personal profile] ewein2412
Apparently my OWN CHILD checks my blog hopefully for new posts and is always disappointed.

So I am going to try to rectify the situation by giving you a single week’s update. A Week, a typical one (last week). Because I kind of take these events for granted, but looking at them from the angle of Not Me, some of them are pretty cool.

Tuesday: Perth

I’ve joined an impromptu wind ensemble who have been asked to entertain at a local care home. Apparently we’re called The Accidentals. (I came to this group in a roundabout way; I know the guy who organizes it because he used to run the post office down the road from us. And his mother-in-law was a big fan of my early books before her death at 90-something.) Halfway through our Tuesday afternoon practice I ran home to get my harp because WOW, “Greensleeves” on flute and clarinet sounds fantastic with a harp added into the mix! And I am also supposed to practise “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” for performance, because the audience want tunes “of Scottish interest.”

I felt rather ridiculous jogging down the Glasgow Road “with my wild harp slung behind me.” It is rather too big to go to war with.

Wednesday: Crieff

I met up with Tina, my writing buddy of twenty years, for our weekly stint of working across the table from each other in the Winter Garden of the Crieff Hydro. This is just such a gracious venue – a huge Victorian conservatory overlooking the Crieff and Loch Earn Hills (I am writing this in situ AS THE APRIL SNOW IS FALLING) - where they don’t seem to mind us hanging out all day and enjoying their free wifi. We do pay them back by purchasing breakfast and lunch each week. The drive here is familiar, as I’ve had kids in school in Crieff since 2009, and I took the back road home so I could buy daffodils and free range eggs at my two favourite roadside stands (the daffodil table sells sweet peas in the summer).

Thursday: Cumbernauld & Dunkeld

Most of the day was spent at Yay!YA, aka “Scotland’s New Book Festival for YA Fiction”. It was conceived and organized by the hugely energetic and charismatic Kirkland Ciccone, fellow Catalyst Award winner and author of Conjuring the Infinite and Endless Empress. The festival, in its second year, took place in the Cumbernauld Theatre and involved about a dozen different schools, 200 young readers, and I’m not sure how many (10? 12?) whirlwind ten-minute readings and presentations on my part and that of my fellow authors. Best question I got asked that day: “Have you ever crashed a plane?” (Answer: Not yet.)

In the evening my husband Tim and I joined the rest of our change ringing band at Dunkeld Cathedral where, on the cathedral tower’s six bells, we successfully rang a quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles in honour of the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. We do normally ring for state occasions but we’re usually not up to performance length standards – this was a real achievement for our band. We celebrated with a drink at the Perth Arms afterward.

That day finished in a mad-crazy rush of packing (and a trip to the supermarket at 10 p.m. for Tim and our son Mark) as Mark got ready for his 3-day “practice” camping trip for his Duke of Edinburgh’s Silver award .

Friday: The Tay Valley

Drove to the Glendoick garden centre in the Carse of Gowrie only to discover that I’d left my wallet in the bag I took with me to Dunkeld the night before… So returned home with no new gardening tools or rose food. Was cheered by an uplifting phone conversation with Perthshire author and storyteller Jess Smith, who’s been doing some fact-checking for me. The day increasingly improved, first with a reception organized by the Tay Landscape Partnership for their volunteers (I’d helped on a dig last summer and done some fruit-tree pruning a couple of times this spring); this event was held in the Perth Museum and featured local celebrity and singer/songwriter Dougie MacLean (American readers, you may know him as the writer of the theme music for the film Last of the Mohicans). And finally Tim and I, with Mark away in a tent on some cold mountaintop in the central Highlands, went on a dinner date.

Saturday: Birnam Wood and Dunsinane, via the Isle of May

My notion for celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (23 April 2016) was to bring Birnam Wood to Dunsinane. Since we’re here anyway. There’s a tree known as the Birnam Oak reputated to have been alive in Macbeth’s time, which happens to be about half a mile from Dunkeld Cathedral where I was ringing for our weekly practice on Saturday morning anyway, and I stopped by to salute it and pick up a couple of sticks which I carried around with me all day… Because before transporting my sticks across Perthshire, Tim and I took further advantage of our childless weekend and went by boat to the Isle of May, a scenic journey I’d been wanting to do for many years. Mainly because they promise you PUFFINS.

It was a very cold day – a bumpy hour-long crossing, including a narrow escape (for us) with a wave that drenched half the other passengers – snow was falling as we set foot on the mile-long island, which is mostly inhabited by hundreds of thousands of seabirds (and a lot of seals and bunnies). It is, in fact, a national nature reserve. Well, the puffins were mostly hiding because it was so darn cold, but WE ACTUALLY DID SEE ONE. I am kind of amazed that we saw ONE. (You’d have thought we’d have either seen NONE, or several.) This guy was surveying the grey landscape outside his burrow (THEY NEST IN BURROWS.)

We were on the island for two and a half hours which was not quite enough time to do the whole thing – I was really amazed by the power station, built next to a tiny fresh-water loch, which generated electricity from 1886 for the lighthouse built in 1816 by Robert Stevenson (Robert Louis Stevenson’s grandfather). That lighthouse replaced a coal-fired one built in 1636, part of which still stands. The modern light is solar powered. I loved this scene of 400 years’ worth of navigation lights in the Firth of Forth:

After a VERY COLD boat trip back to Anstruther on the Fife coast, we eschewed the best-fish-and-chips in Eastern Scotland in order to make it to Dunsinane, aka Dunsinnan hill fort, before sunset. We raced up the hill and PLANTED MY STICKS.

Dunsinnan is only about five miles from home, as the crow flies. After a glamorous meal of frozen pizza we collapsed into bed, sparing a thought for Mark, in a tent in the snow somewhere.

He came home on Sunday with very tired feet and took a very long hot bath.


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September 2017


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