Loch Morlich: big blog, little blog

The Cairngorm mountains beyond Loch Morlich

Beautiful Loch Morlich, Cairngorms beyond, still with patches of snow in June.

Little Blog Written by Loch Morlich

This blog was originally sent from holiday in June 2019. I was completely depleted by my autoimmune conditions, at that point undiagnosed, and spent most of the holiday lying in bed reading books.

books in bed

Honesty in Writing

It seems strange, looking back on it now, that I tried to keep my health problems a secret. Only happy pictures got posted on socials, such as ones of Aviemore Stone Circle and Reindeer in the Cairngorms. The gargantuan effort it took to get to these places, or how I hardly left the car, did not get mentioned.

I didn’t want it to be true. I wanted to ‘snap out of it’. Because I didn’t want that to be the way of me.

I still don’t, of course, and it is generally better now, flare ups aside. I guess I’m becoming more open and accepting of the situation, and I like to write honestly everywhere, not just in my books.

Big Blog

From bed I shared the news of my guest post on the official tourism site for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire: 10 Mystical and Magical Places in Aberdeenshire. Below is Pitsligo Castle, one of the sites featured in that post.

Castle door

Ducks by Loch Morlich

On the pictured morning I walked very slowly from the car to the loch, and it was wonderful to be out among such beauty. I was on the banks of Loch Morlich before the ducks were up! And probably back in bed before they were too…

Ducks by Loch Morlich

My Latest Historical Novel

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance.

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the press release here

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

About Page

Ailish Sinclair in a stone circle

See my About Page here

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Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include some exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

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A Small Blue Ball of Pain

sisters
oorange tulip behind barbed wire
Tulip behind barbed wire

Originally posted May 2022 in the midst of an autoimmune flare-up.

Small Blue Ball

I am a small blue ball of pain.

Curled up.

Can’t eat. Can’t sleep. Can’t write.

Life on hold.

Wondering what went wrong. Why I am here again.

bluebells, small blue ball

A pause by the bluebell woods on the way back from hospital. A biopsy may provide answers to the mystery of me and my strange body, who knows?

The flowers smell sweet. I breathe them in.

lilac. small blue ball.

Pink

An easing comes. A moving on from the small blue ball. A sort of ‘pinkening’. Lilac flowers are taken in from the garden, and I sit in a delicately scented cloud of beauty.

Then, a few steps, and I am outside.

Camelia. Small blue ball.

It is glorious. Painful still, but better. I can envision being well again.

The sunshine. The breeze. I love it all.

pink bench and blossom
Blossom caught in the pink bench.

Writing

Thoughts of writing come. I left my poor characters in the middle of the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. War. A situation far worse than my own. I must release them from it soon.

Cover Reveal

Before all this, before I became ill again, a cover was designed. My own photos of stones from Aikey Brae Stone Circle were used.

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD cover

The main character in the book is neurodivergent.

As am I.

Illness makes me open, bared and true. Pain peels back layers of politeness and hesitancy and doubt. I just say things. And, I just am.

I still hope for a summer release, a later one obviously, maybe early autumn. My body will have its say in the matter. But it will come…

Update: Sisters at the Edge of the World came out in September 2022

Ethereal and spellbinding... says the Historical Novel Society of SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

When Morragh speaks to another person for the very first time, she has no idea that he is an invader in her land…

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide/Barnes & Noble

See the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Newsletter and Updates

Sign up to the mailing list for news about my life and writing, and some exclusive photos. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

My About Page

Ailish's feet

Read about little old me here!

Writer’s Tip Jar

A Loch Through the Seasons: mist, sunsets and snow

loch at sunset
misty Aberdeenshire loch

Clouds of mist swirl over the surface of the loch.

The picture above was taken after an unexpectedly hot day led to unexpectedly beautiful conditions. Well, not completely unexpected. It’s always beautiful, always different.

Summer Loch

Summer brings lush green foliage and colour to the loch*. It’s not very deep so swimming can be warm, though muddy.

summer Aberdeenshire loch

Autumn

That glassy ‘stand and stare’ stillness can happen at any time of year, but it most commonly occurs in Autumn. Sunsets are pink, silver or even purple. Whatever the sky is doing is intensified in reflection.

sunset

The Loch in Winter

Scottish winters are fierce. One year layer upon layer of ice and snow built up so thick that people and dogs ran about on top of the loch. I watched a fox run right across from one side to the other. It was at once surreal and yet so very real, unconnected from civilisation as it feels up there in the woods. No TV, no computers, just life and joy and fun on a natural huge flat screen among the trees.

snowy Aberdeenshire loch

I hope I will be well enough to walk up there soon. And what will await? A liquid mirror? Slow moving ripples? The slightest change in airflow is made visible by water. If there’s blue in the sky, there will be blue in the loch. Maybe there’ll be whooping swans with their yellow beaks, or an otter leaping about on the banks. I love the sound of otters giggling in the evening… I miss it.

whooper swans flying up from the loch
Whooper swans over the loch

* I freely admit to having overused the word ‘loch’ in this post. The word ‘lake’ is not a suitable substitute. If you don’t come from Scotland you can have no idea how very wrong that notion is. And while we’re at it, let’s make sure you’re saying/thinking the word right. The ‘ch’ sound is like a Scottish wildcat (something I once saw up by the large expanse of water, but no one believes me) hissing in the back of your throat. There you are, got it.

fun on the loch
Boating days…

The books:

Ailish's books

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

And coming soon…

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD cover

Set in 1st century Northern Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is a tale of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, divided loyalties and, ultimately, love. More…

Writing Update

I am back editing the manuscript now. My poor characters have moved on from the battle scene at last! Though the phrase ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ springs to mind…

My About Page

Mailing List

When I’m Away From the Keyboard…

Book covers of A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair: celebratory dance.

Every so often I step away from the keyboard and take a day off. Not because I want to. I resist and avoid and cling to my desk in a desperate fashion. Friends persuade and entice me outside. And it is always good, always nourishing and refreshing. There’s a planned outing later this week, and I can just picture my characters’ reactions when they realise I’m not there…

Sharp-witted Justin notices first. He looks up, listens and checks again. “She’s gone out!”

Every character sags with relief. They go back to bed and sleep in till lunchtime. Later, they shuffle downstairs to get tea and food, and they sit in silence in the great hall of the castle.

People who usually snipe and gripe at each other, pass the sugar without word. Two of them exchange a wry smile, for without my omniscient presence to keep them busy, they can sense what’s coming; not the details, but the shadow of something bad ahead, something they would avoid if they could. But like my day out, it cannot be avoided. It has to happen.

A Dancer's Journey

They head to bed early, exhausted by the hours of doing nothing, tired from the rest and relaxation.

No arguments. No sex. No laughter.

How boring! These people need me. Maybe I shouldn’t step away from the keyboard after all…

The desk of Scottish author Ailish Sinclair when she's not stepping away from the keyboard (so, most days)...

They didn’t get left alone for long, those poor characters. I soon pulled them all back into the drama and the story.

And that story will be out later in 2023, in the form of a contemporary three-book series called A Dancer’s Journey. As you can see from my editor’s comment below, Justin and the others were completely justified in being relieved that I was gone.

Update: the whole series is out now!

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Series on Goodreads

Page with blurbs and quotes

Dance and Despair: Writing What You Know on Women Writers, Women[‘s] Books.

More on the series:

My Historical Novels

I put the characters through the proverbial wringer in these too!

Historical Fiction from Ailish Sinclair. Witches, kidnapping, Romans and romance.
  • SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD opens on a snowy winter solstice in 1st century Scotland. The main character is neurodivergent, and has been non-verbal until that first scene of the book.
  • If you like castles, Scotland, history, witches, stone circles and Christmas done medieval-style, you might like THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. There’s also a love story.
  • FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children of 18th century Aberdeen, and is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

All novels are available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Newsletter and Updates

Sign up to the mailing list for news about my life and writing, and some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

My About Page

Ailish's feet

Read all about little old me here!

Writer’s Tip Jar

The Space Between Dunes

dunes silhouetted

Between the dunes. There’s just the sea breeze and me.

looking through the dunes at the sea

I’m looking out across the ocean. Walking down through the coarse grasses, feeling their roughness with my fingertips. As people must have done for as long as people have existed.

18th century.

16th century.

When the Romans were here.

Before.

sea

Then there’s listening. The incoming tide, the waves pulling back from the beach. It feels like a healing sound. I wish it could be prescribed to everyone as needed.

The light is silvery over the dunes now.

No health concerns. No book stuff.

Just me. And the sea.

silvery light over the dunes

I sometimes write more sensible things! Do sign up for my occasional newsletters if you would like to be kept abreast of these.

dunes silhouetted

Beach featured: Fraserburgh.

About Page

Ailish among the stones

See the Page here

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Woodland Pictures from the Time of Lockdown

misty woodland pictures

These woodland pictures were originally posted in 2020 during lockdown.

Lost in Writing

I am lost in writing. I am in the Iron Age. Second draft. Rough edges. Rough middle. Super-rough ending. Full of raw emotion. The manuscript is ragged with it, as am I.

2022 edit: the book is out now

Misty Woodland Pictures

I revel in timeless pictures and misty woods. And lockdown has not kept those from me. I know I am lucky in this, and hope you are all finding some beauty too.

woodland pictures

There’s been tree felling here, so soon after Aikey. The wider world is strange and changed, and the immediate world mimics it in metaphor.

Whoops.

This post seems to be approaching a pretentious overuse of literary devices, especially alliteration… Things may be odd, but there’s no excuse for that!

Scots pines in lockdown: woodland pictures

Scots Pines. Sturdy and strong. Oops.

hazel trees on the skyline: woodland pictures

I love the gnarly nature of the hazel trees. It could have been worse. I could have added the word ‘nutty’. But just for a moment, I am going to give in to this curious compulsion…

mists over trees: misty woodland pictures

There have been many misty mornings. And with that one terrible sentence, it is gone…

Wild Scottish cherry blossom.

The gean trees (wild Scottish cherry) are blossoming.

sunset sky during lockdown

Sunsets are wonderful. And the moon is too.

A woodland quote from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR:

Sisters at the Edge of the World (mentioned above)

The Romans called it the edge of the world

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the press release here

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

About Page

Ailish Sinclair in a tree...

Read all about little old me here

Writer’s Tip Jar

Witches’ Brooms in the Trees

Looking for witches' brooms in the woods

The witches’ brooms of this post are actually deformities in trees, often caused by a fungus. I rather like them, both their appearance and their name, probably because of interests like this. However, none are to be found on the gnarly, wizened hazel trees by the loch.

We have to venture deeper into the wood, and gaze up at the high branches of the birches, for that.

Witches’ Brooms

There they are!

witches' brooms on birch trees

They are often mistaken for nests.

Witches’ Knickers

No witches’ knickers today. And that’s good, as those are just plastic bags caught in trees or on fences, and not photogenic at all.

Historical Novel Society Review

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

SISTERS has been reviewed for the Historical Novel Society here.

“The setting is ethereal and spellbinding as our main characters walk a fine line between what has been and what is to come. A beautiful tale of ancient wonders and kindred souls.”

Most highlighted bit of the book:

quote from SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Ailish Sinclair

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Newsletter and Updates

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include some exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Balgorkar Stone Circle and Castle Fraser

Balgorkar Stone Circle
On the way to Balgorkar Stone Circle

This post details a day in 2014 when we set off to find Balgorkar Stone Circle and visited two castles and another circle too.

We headed off to look for the stones. But first there was a quick stop at Fraserburgh beach where the haar (Scottish word for mist that rolls in off the sea) hung low and filtered the sunlight in a silvery way. A seagull flew by as I took the photo.

Balgorkar Stone Circle

Inland we travelled, to bright sunshine and summer colours and the stones of Castle Fraser.

To the left in the picture below (click to see larger image) are two standing stones and to the right, in the distance by the trees, is Balgorkar Stone Circle (also known as Castle Fraser Stone Circle). The stones were visible from the road, so quite easily found.

standing stones and a Balgorkar stone circle

Up the side of the field we walked.

Balgorkar Stone Circle in Aberdeenshire

I thought we’d have to just view the stones from there, but no, some naughty person had trampled a pathway through the crop, so we did no further damage by walking it.

illicit path to Balgorkar stone circle

The recumbent and flankers, dark against the field:

Balgorkar stone circle

Castle Fraser

Next we visited Castle Fraser where I was meant to be doing research for writing on heraldry, historic dates and architecture. This took the form of running about taking photos:

Castle Fraser

I loved the rooftop and later wrote about it here.

turrets

Kildrummy Castle

Then, after picnicking, with only half the day gone, we decided to head to ruinous Kildrummy Castle, a few miles further on.

more serendipity at Kildrummy Castle - Ailish Sinclair, author

There in the reception was an old friend who I hadn’t seen for years. There was hugging and much talking. Other people got fed up waiting to be served… We kept saying it was amazing. My friend is currently doing a PhD in history, so some of our conversation became spontaneous research.

We finally moved on to look around:

great hall

I do appreciate the use of the adverb ‘treacherously’ there; without it we might think Osbourne the Blacksmith to have merely made a mistake or had an unfortunate accident such as tripping with a pot of molten metal or dropping a freshly forged sword.

window

Broomend of Crichie Stone Circle

The day ended with a visit to Broomend of Crichie stone circle, Pictish stone placed in the middle.

Broomend of Crichie

This blog post is ending in a rather unrelated way, with some ballet. It’s beautiful and romantic and only two minutes long. It’s Scottish Ballet performing at the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.

Historical Fiction featuring a castle and a stone circle!

Sisters at the Edge of the World

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

“Ethereal and spellbinding…” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair, and a harp

Taking place mainly in a castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

About Page

feet

See my About Page here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include some exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Drinnie’s Wood: Rapunzel Tower and Stone Circle

tower in Drinnie's Wood

The Tower in Drinnie’s Wood

Rapunzel’s Tower appears over the trees in Drinnie’s Wood, dark and mysterious, a fairytale setting at the top of a hill. No hair is let down in answer to my call. Maybe the newly installed CCTV reveals me to be neither prince nor abusive mother figure, so I am ignored? Or maybe the words on the council sign are true, and the Drinnie’s Wood Observatory really is only open May-September.

Onwards and upwards. And downwards. Up the wrong path and back again. Up another, almost identical, path and… ta-da!

The Elusive Loudon Wood Stone Circle

Loudon Wood Stone Circle by Drinnie's Wood

It evaded me for years, this place. The entry to the narrow path is hidden by low hanging pine branches, and it wasn’t until the advent of Google Earth that I finally pinpointed its exact location.

I do like the white tree that stands opposite the large recumbent stone:

Loudon Wood by Drinnie's Wood

Most stone circles in Aberdeenshire are imbued with a  deep peacefulness. This one seems alive somehow, buzzing with an undercurrent of ancient energy, like a radio still tuned to the past. Carved stone:

stones in Drinnie's Wood

Back to the Future

Back to the present and a newly planted wind turbine, another tower I would like to look inside; see the inviting steps and door at the bottom? Surprisingly large, up close – diagonal was the only way to get the whole thing in shot – and surprisingly quiet, whoosh-whooshing us gently into the future.

a modern tower by Drinnie's Wood

Also see:

Finding Loudon Wood Stone Circle

The Alligators and Follies of Pitfour Estate

Latest book

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

About Page

feet

See the Page here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails. They’re a more intimate space than the blog and always include some exclusive photos.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Fairy-Tale Fun in Gardens

Fairytale fun: there be gragons
The two-tonne dragon head in Castle Fraser’s secret garden

In between dark and romantic writing sessions, I’ve been taking little breaks of fairy-tale fun, in memory, and in the garden which is just entering its pink phase.

fairytale fun in the pink garden

The dragon pictured at the top of this post is located in Castle Fraser’s secret garden, which also contains this rather lovely little castle:

Fairytale fun: a wooden castle

And a hobbit-style door…

Fairytale fun: hobbit door in Castle Fraser's secret garden

Castle Fraser itself:

Castle Fraser
Castle Fraser

Then, of course, there’s the playful garden at Brodie Castle.

Brodie Castle
Brodie Castle

It features a huge white rabbit. I used lots of pictures of this garden for the cover reveal of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, here in this Alice in Wonderland themed post, almost four years ago now. There’s unicorns to be found there too.

huge white rabbit: fairytale fun

But it’s time for me to head back down to my own darker fairy tale again. I pass the knight in the medieval hall at Drum Castle as I leave bright places behind.

a knight gets dressed

Down the secret stairway I go…

the secret stairway in a castle - Ailish Sinclair, author

The candles snuff out as I enter the dungeon. Yes, it’s the same one that features in Mermaid. It’s still there in the modern day, in my contemporary work.

castle dungeon quote: not quite so much fairytale fun

So, I type away at my desk, lost in the dramatic events of the story once more.

Meanwhile, back out in the garden, where lighter fairy-tale fun still exists, Frogbert waits patiently to be kissed.

Fairytale fun with a frog prince.

Newsletter

Sign up to the mailing list for news about my life and writing, and some exclusive photos. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair. "Ethereal and spellbinding..." says The Historical Novel Society

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance…

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the press release here

Read the article New Novel Highlights Roman History in North East from Grampian Online.

THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story. There’s 6 chapters of medieval Christmas too.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 600 children and young people who were kidnapped from Aberdeen during the 1740s and sold into indentured servitude in the American Colonies. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s proper derring-dos on the high seas… and there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

My About Page

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

Read my bio and see all the social links and articles here.

Writer’s Tip Jar