• Belting back, belting on
    Now is the time of Beltane, the Gaelic festival held midway between the spring equinox and summer solstice to celebrate the beginning of summer. Trees are bursting into leaf, birds gather twigs and preen, flowers paint the world with colour. We have something wonderful to celebrate too. There is a new baby in our lives. […]
  • Dancing mirrily
    A few nights ago, we saw a stunning display of the Mirrie Dancers, otherwise known as the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis. ‘Mirrie’ is not the local dialect version of ‘merry’, but rather stems from the Norn word ‘mirr’, which means to shimmer, or to tingle. Norn was the language spoken in Orkney and Shetland […]
  • “Daddy, my daddy”
    Roberta, the oldest of the three Railway Children, runs towards the bearded man getting off the train and into his arms. Surely no one can watch this scene, the only one everyone remembers from the 1970 film, without a twist to the heartstrings, a spasm of the tear ducts – whether due to empathy, or […]
  • Happy Yuletide!
    Today at my home in the East Mainland of Orkney, the sun rose at 9.03 and set at 15.15. It is the shortest day of the year – the Winter Solstice, and the first day of the ancient twelve-day Yule Festival (the origin of the ‘The twelve days of Christmas’).  I would have liked to […]
  • Kristallnacht – the night of broken glass
    84 years ago, on 29th September 1938, Richard and Edith Landauer and their three children fled Germany for London. Their youngest, my father Robert, was eleven years old. Ten days later, on 9th November 1938, attacks were made by the SA and by members of the public against Jews, Jewish property and synagogues. Broken glass littered the […]
  • Writing in two languages
    The Society of Authors, of which I am a member, hosts regular meetings for local and special interest groups. I run the Scottish Islands online group, and we were recently addressed by Donald E. Meek. Donald was Professor of Scottish and Gaelic studies at the University of Edinburgh, before he retired and went back to […]
  • Orla and the selkie
    At the start of August my brother came to stay, bringing his young dog Orla. Orla is of the breed ‘working golden retriever’, with a smaller frame, shorter coat and darker colour than the more usual family pet. Her name means ‘golden princess’. My urge to be swimming in the sea comes to a head […]
  • Submitting!
    What a curious term ‘submitting’ is, to describe the collaborative project of author, agent and publisher, as they come together with a common aim of preparing a book for the delight of the reading public. But submission is the stage I am now at in my writing journey.  In my previous books, published by Jessica […]
  • The safehouse
    I picked up my old copy of Michel Faber’s The Fahrenheit Twins recently. The first story in the collection intrigued me, all over again. It’s called ‘The Safehouse’, and in it the narrator tells of a full day in his life as a rough sleeper, from waking one morning to waking the next day. The tone is […]