A Swashbuckling Adventure, Through Hospital Windows

St Nicolas Kirk through a hospital window

The start of the title is a bit of a lie. In fact it’s a total fabrication. There’s no derring-dos on the high seas recounted here. I do have crutches, so am a bit peg-legged and I like to think there’s an (imaginary) parrot on my shoulder. I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, so my body has basically been trying to kill me. I’m now on medication to stop those efforts, but I have to be checked once a week in case the drug makes its own attempts to kill me. So there are elements of a thriller genre at work in my life.

During my month of cannulas, needles, tests and scary procedures I sought beauty where I could find it. Through the hospital windows. I woke the first morning to a beautiful pink sunrise and a rather wonderful view of St Nicholas Kirk steeple, the church that features in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. Despite the fact that I wrote of truly terrible events involving that steeple, I found it somewhat comforting to see it there. I felt a connection to the place. It lit up in the evening sun too.

hospital windows

But I was soon moved. This was something that was being done due to Covid. Constant rearranging of patients between wards. Decisions made by ‘bed managers’, not medics. It didn’t make any sense to me, and the medical staff were pretty unimpressed by it too.

However, I saw through many different windows. This next ward had the worst view, just a small box of buildings, but the best bed. Air mattresses are magical things; lying in them is a little bit like being hugged as they inflate and deflate to maximise your comfort.

hospital windows 2

I was soon off to sparkling chimney sunrises and sunsets:

shiny chimneys through the hospital windows
chimneys

Then, finally, the last of the hospital windows. At first I was quite annoyed about this move. Diagnosed and treated, just awaiting final tests, I was shunted away to what felt like a far flung area of the hospital, and I no longer had my own room. I posted a somewhat morose quote from Lord of the Rings about the sunrise that morning on Instagram.

red sky

But, it really worked out very well. The other three ladies I was with were lovely. There was kindness and understanding between us all and we shared frequent laughing conversations, our room being referred to as the party room by the nurses.

And it had a swashbuckling sea view… just.

sea view from the hospital window

While I was in, a rather wonderful review went up on The Rose and the Thistle blog. Reading the opening line cheered me up instantly! “Before I go any further, I just have to say, this is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Yes, it is written in one of my favorite time periods, and yes it takes place in one of my favorite places in all the world, but when you combine that with the almost poetic style of Sinclair’s writing—sigh!” See the whole review here.

Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, features an often overlooked event in history, the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, and a love story.

Amazon

Waterstones

Barnes and Noble

GoodReads

Finding Loudon Wood Stone Circle

Loudon Wood Stone Circle

Loudon Wood Stone Circle is so deep in the woods that it is almost impossible to find. There are many little paths that look like they might lead into it from the main track, but the one that actually does? Virtually hidden. I succeeded in finding it again recently. And it was wonderful.

Continue reading

Timeless Woodland Pictures from the Time of Lockdown

Misty woods during lockdown in Scotland.

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

Continue reading

Woodpeckers, Windows and Small Business!

Three little woodpeckers. Fighting in a tree. That’s what I encountered on my daily walk today. Turn up the sound and you can hear them, along with a distant pheasant.

#AWindowOnScotland is a nice little tag on Twitter at the moment. Lots of lovely views from Scottish windows. Mine:

window, no woodpeckers

Talking of Twitter, and good things, I’m collaborating in a great initiative to help small businesses, especially ones that have fallen through the gaps of governmental help. I’ll be retweeting lots of wonderful products and services between 9-10pm GMT tomorrow, Friday 17th April on the tag #CelebsForSmallBiz (yes, that is Mrs Fitz from Outlander!)

celebsforsmallbiz

The Evening Express have published a wee article on the next book, Fireflies and Chocolate here.

Meanwhile, The Mermaid and the Bear sits among the primroses, flowers that I ate while researching medieval foods for it! See research article.

The Mermaid and the Bear in the primroses

Now free on Kindle Unlimited.  Also available in paperback. Book info page here.

Stay safe and well. Look after yourselves. For me, this involves sitting in the sun, eating chocolate and listening to those woodpeckers!

The Lost City of Lenabo Woods

Demolished building in Lenabo Woods

Just like everyone else at the moment during the Corona Virus Crisis, I am not able to gallivant around filling my phone with pictures of interesting places. However, during my daily scroll to find #goodthings to post on Instagram and Twitter, I found photos of Lenabo Woods taken in 2017. I had meant to blog about the site back then, but didn’t get round to it.

So, take my hand, virtually, hygienically, and we’ll walk through what was once the setting of Britain’s most northerly airship base.

Continue reading

Social Distancing and Kindle Unlimited

Social distancing at Fraserburgh beach

It feels like the world has changed dramatically since I last blogged at the end of February. I very much hope you are all safe and well. My pneumonia experience last year has left me with a damaged lung, so I am social distancing. Being at home. Writing. Editing. Actually getting round to cleaning the cooker!

Continue reading

Aikey Brae: the North Wind Doth Blow

Aikey Brae Recumbent Stone Circle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The dense block of pine trees that partially encircled the stones on Aikey Brae has been felled, leaving the site feeling like a windswept wasteland.

I knew it had happened but it was still a shock when I visited the circle at the weekend.

Continue reading
post

Oh, to wander in the woods…

snowy woods in Scotland

That is my favourite bit of path in the woods by my house. It’s also the most productive. When I get stuck with a storyline or a finicky little plot detail that just won’t iron out, that’s where I go, and solutions become clear. Big epiphanies about characters and back stories happen there too. Maybe it’s because it’s a timeless landscape. Or maybe I just feel relaxed and at peace there.

Just now though, I am recovering from flu and can’t walk in the woods. Soon, I tell myself. Soon. I can sit up and write so I may really need to go there soon!

I’ve been deeply touched by how much thought people have been putting into their reviews of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR.

Local Quine Kate the Quiet Knitter’s review “This wonderful magical tale then takes a deviation towards the darkness and from here Sinclair’s research and writing really shines. Her portrayal of 16th century Scotland is entrancing, and the details of the witch-hunts taking place in that time are fascinating.”

On the Mum, Write NOW blog “Overall the characters are lovable, I found it interesting that their lives intertwined slightly with Shakespeare and also touched on LGBT culture and attitudes at that time. It really felt that there was a depth of historical knowledge informing the narrative which I always enjoy.”

And the Wee Writing Lassie wrote about the book and asked me 7 impertinent questions! “Another inclusive detail in Ailish’s novel is the fact that her heroine – Isobell – is a plus sized woman, and this is never treated like a problem, or something about her that needs to be fixed, by the narrative. All body type inclusion, yeah!”

Amazon

Waterstones

GoodReads

The same path, though the other end and other direction, in the woods, in summer:

green woods

Gnarly Roots and Carbolic Soap at Aden Country Park

Gnarly tree at Aden Country Park

Aden Country Park in Aberdeenshire is a wonderful place to visit, though I have to admit that when I lived near it I took it a bit for granted. In fact I became a little disenchanted by some aspects of the place.

But it’s beautiful. From the ruined mansion house…

Continue reading