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Monthly Archives: August 2013

On Long Walks

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Walking Tours“In these days of increasing rapid artificial locomotion, may I be permitted to say a word in favour of a very worthy and valuable old friend of mine, Mr. Long Walk?

I am afraid that this good gentleman is in danger of getting neglected, if not forgotten.  We live in days of water trips and land trips, excursions by sea, road and rail – bicycles and tricycles, tram cars and motor cars… but in my humble opinion, good honest walking exercise for health beats all other kinds of locomotion into a cocked hat.” – T. Thatcher, “A Plea for a Long Walk”, the Publishers’ Circular, 1902

New Book Release: The Price of Freedom

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POF1 - Amazon Optimal PixelAt last, I can announce it!  My first published book, pre-Regency fiction called “The Price of Freedom” is out!  Available on Amazon worldwide, and ready to read and enjoy in the Kindle e-book format!

It’s been a long process, and one fraught with delays, hiccups, a lot of homework, and the unsexy side of writing.  It’s my first baby – the story that started me writing several years ago, and has been the friend I honed my writing chops on.  It’s hard to let go of that baby and let the wider world into its life, and allow it to take on a life of its own, but so it is.

As you know, self-published books are dependent on word-of mouth marketing.  I would really appreciate your help!  If anyone would like to interview me, review the book, and / or write a great review on Amazon, that would be amazing!  If you know anyone remotely interested in literary fiction, Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer (my style has been compared to both of those writers by editors & other writers), historical fiction, Regency or Pre-Regency era, please pass the word on to them!

Here’s a review, from Sue Moorcroft (Author, tutor):

“She was tall and willowy, and had a way of coming into a room like a welcomed summer breeze, drawing all eyes to herself.” – What a great description! It’s the kind of thing I wish I’d written. It really conjures up an image for the reader.

“…his death at such a ripe old age could not conveniently be avoided I suppose…” – A great snippet of dialogue. It’s exactly this kind of sly humour, that Jane Austen did so well, that earns for Regency fiction the tag, ‘comedy of manners’.

So… pass the word, download the book, grap a cuppa and curl up for a good read!

Skara Brae

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Skara Brae

Skara Brae

Skara Brae is probably the single most famous Neolithic settlement uncovered in the world.  It gives us the most complete picture of everyday life in that period of time, and has quite a few surprises:  Indoor running water?  Dressers and beds?  Yep.  They had storage rooms, and even toys for the kids.  There are some objects that they can’t figure out, but that just makes it all the more tantalizing.

Originally much farther from the shoreline, over the centuries erosion has eaten away at the land; Skara Brae will itself eventually succumb to the pounding Atlantic waves.

I was there in 1989 for the first time, and again in 2002; the first time I was there I was with a group of friends and we were given a private tour by the uncle of one of my friends, who just happened to work there.  It was an amazing way to see this prehistoric site, tourist-free and (back then) largely untainted by tourism.  In 2002 it was a different matter altogether; a tourist shop had sprung up, and we had to time our viewing between bus-loads of day-tourists from the South (Scotland).  Also on that second visit, the Atlantic winds were so strong we were literally leaning into the wind at 45° angles; if it had had a sudden lull, we would have been flung into the sunken dwellings; needless to say it was more of a nerve-wracking event than the first time around.

Skara Brae stone objectsIf you get a chance to go, do so; take at least a fortnight on Mainland Orkney; it is known as the Archaeologist’s treasure trove, and for good reason – just about any stone you turn over has some kind of historical significance there, and there are many sites to take in:  Maeshowe, Ness of Brodgar and the Ring of Brodgar, and chambered cairns to name a few, and even more modern sites such as Churchill Barrier, and sunken World War 2 vessels (some portions are visible in low tide) in the stretch of water between Scotland and the isles, the Pentland Firth, known as “The Sailor’s Nightmare”… there are several currents that flow and mix into this bottleneck, not only making for treacherous sailing but it can also make even the hardiest sailor lose his lunch.  Word to the wise:  When heading out of Thurso with the ferry to the Mainland (the largest island in the Orkney group), a) don’t eat yet (it usually leaves around lunch time, and believe me, you won’t keep it long if you eat…), and b) as soon as you get on the ferry head to the dining room and get a window-side table.  This is because they will not only fill up fast, but once you’re out of the relatively calm / wind-sheltered bay into the open Strait, you’ll be glad for a ring-side view from a wind-sheltered, spray-sheltered spot.

On Repetition

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History Repeats“History does not always repeat itself.  Sometimes it just yells, ‘Can’t you remember anything I told you?’ and lets fly with a club.”    – John W. Campbell

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Atlantic Iron Age Souterrains

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Day 8, 1.149 - Souterrain, Loch Eriboll, 21 July 2012  A Souterrain is a type of underground construction mainly associated with the Atlantic Iron Age.  Built near settlements, they were used as storage for food or for protection through hiding from raiders.  After being dug out they were lined with flat stones, with staircases down into their depths.  Of those excavated throughout the UK and Ireland, artefacts are rare, indicating that they were merely in use temporarily.  Some are very small, while others resemble passageways; my guess is that it would depend on the size required by the settlement, and how much time they had to prepare it.

Day 8, 1.141 - Souterrain, Loch Eriboll, 21 July 2012I came across a souterrain along Loch Eriboll in 2012, as I was in the area doing research for a novel I’m working on.  In these photos you can see that, if you were walking out there at night or dusk, they could be very treacherous.  My husband crawled down inside to take a picture back out; it was roomy enough for him to stand once inside (in this particular souterrain even the ceiling was lined with large stone slabs), though the narrow stone stairs and proportions in general indicated a much shorter population than modern humans.  you can see from the photo of myself how overgrown the bracken and heather is; it was nearly completely hidden; we were looking for it based on a geological map’s markings, but if we hadn’t known it was there, it would have gone completely unnoticed.

On Discoveries

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Eureka“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka (I’ve found it)’, but ‘that’s funny…’.”

Isaac Asimov

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