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

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 rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Dunes and Trees and Intense Writing

A break from intense writing - dunes

Back in the dunes again. Below the big sky. Between intense writing sessions.

The Intense Writing

Near the end of Fouetté, there’s a moment when Aleks is going to speak to a troubled character who needs help and counselling. He assures Amalphia that he can do this. My editor made a comment there at the side of the manuscript: “Can you, Aleks? Really?”

The events of the book that I’m working on now (a new series, hopefully coming later this year) were in the editor’s mind at that moment. And the answer to her question was, and is: no. Aleks couldn’t fix things. The troubled character’s actions and problems are giving me, and everyone in the story, including himself, an enormous amount of difficulty.

I find myself lying awake worrying about it all, like I haven’t done since the early stages of writing Cabriole. But I love him, that dear character, and it will all be okay in the end…

dunes - intense writing

Trees

There’s been a lot of rain, so I’ve been squelching through mud again as I try to get various elements of that story straight in my head.

walking in the woods between intense writing sessions

But there’s also been sunshine, and pink skies, and I know that really, all is well.

pink skies over intense writing
A storm-damaged tree against the sunset.

A Dancer’s Journey

A Dancer's Journey by Ailish Sinclair

Read the series that’s been shocking people! It’s available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

Review snippets:

Deanne Patterson on Tendu: It broke my heart and then healed it and made it sing. Full review here.

Molly H on Cabriole: It’s truly one of the best books I’ve ever read and made me feel SO MANY FEELINGS. Full review here – some spoilers.

Tom Williams on Fouetté: I galloped through it, loving every moment. Full review here – some spoilers, especially if you haven’t read Cabriole.

Tendu by Ailish Sinclair

About Page

Ailish Sinclair

See the page here

Newsletter, Updates and ARCs

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

Reviewers can apply for Advance Reader Copies of future books 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

Writer’s Tip Jar

Blue Mind and Bare Feet on Pink Rocks

Blue MInd at New Aberdour Beach in Aberdeenshire

The term ‘blue mind’ describes the mild meditative state that we enter when in or close to natural bodies of water. It was coined by marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols. He wrote a book on the subject and did a Ted Talk too:

So ‘blue mind’ in mind, and encouraged by my wee trip to Rosehearty Harbour, I ventured out again. Travelling slightly further this time, I arrived at New Aberdour beach where everything was blue, blue, blue…

blue mind over the rockpools

Blue Mind to Pink Rocks

Feet bare, I sat on the pink rocks and stared out to sea.

blue mind, bare feet and pink rocks

I saw stones and pools and pink, lots of pink everywhere.

I used the transition from blue to pink in this post to symbolise levels of pain.

stones in a rock pool crevice

But in this context, the blue of ‘blue mind’ was not pain. It was perfect.

So I stared out over the rock pools.

And breathed in the blue of the sea.

blue mind and rockpools

And, hopefully, now, healing comes…

A coastal quote from SISTERS

I am just looking at the soft shapes of land, and the hard shapes of rock, as they drop away into the sea. No in-between places up on top here. No beach, no marsh. Here the space between life and death is painted clear. You could be walking on grass one moment and dead on the rocks the next. This is a place of instant transition from one state to another.

Cullykhan Bay

There’s more ‘blue mind’ photos in the older post Going Coastal.

Sisters at the Edge of the World

Set in 1st century Northern Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is a story of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, divided loyalties and, ultimately, love. It features a neurodivergent main character, the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes, and some rather complicated romance!

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

Ailish among the stones

Read about little old me here

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 like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Where the River Ugie Meets the North Sea

The River Ugie flowing into the North Sea
River Ugie

It’s a beautiful place. The River Ugie (pronouned yoo-ghee) winds its way through Aden Park and Strichen and ends its journey in Peterhead where it flows into the North Sea.

There’s a foot bridge across the river. This little gull was quite friendly.

gull on foot bridge over the River Ugie

Up through the dunes we go…

Dunes at Peterhead

And down onto the beach.

beach at Peterhead

The skies are bright between rain showers.

surf at Peterhead beach

We walk back along the riverside as the clouds gather once more.

River Ugie

Cabriole: Dancing in the City

Cabriole: Dancing in the City by Ailish Sinclair

Hold on to your hats. Clutch your pearls.

Amalphia is back, and her choices are as shocking as ever in this dark and witty sequel.

After a traumatic year at the castle, Amalphia Treadwell travels back to London to start her professional life, putting dark and difficult things firmly behind her. Or so she believes…

There are no cliffhanger endings in this series; each book completes a story, but then there is more. So much more.

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Series on Goodreads

A Dancer's Journey by Ailish Sinclair

Articles

About Page

feet

See the Page here

Newsletter, Updates and ARCs

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

Reviewers can apply for Advance Reader Copies of future books here.

Sea and sky at Peterhead

Ballet Terms and Crashing Waves

crashing waves and ballet terms

Below is a post from this time last year when I was wrestling with those tricksy ballet terms. TENDU is finally out, the release of the more notorious title draws near, and I’m busy with the next series. So, despite autoimmunity being flared, I’m happy.

Cabriole by Ailish Sinclair, ballet terms
Notoriety included… out November 24th

Writing Ballet Terms: October 2022

I took a little walk on St Combs beach. It was beautiful and blustery and entirely free from ballet terms. I needed to get away from them for a bit. There’s too many in TENDU, and in the current edit, I am removing, changing or explaining them so as not to confuse the reader. It’s not the most fun. It feels a little like dumbing down, though I know it’s not really. I just have to be less technically specific, and more generally descriptive. I’d much rather be working on all the relationship nuances, but of course, I am doing that too.

The Beach

St Combs beach, crashing waves and ballet terms

It was great to just stand and stare across the ocean and breathe in all that fresh sea air.

blue skies and ballet terms

I made a little TikTok of the sea too, if you would like to hear the waves and see the movement.

Ballet Terms

So goodbye port de bras and grand jeté. Arabesque penchée, I have tried to save (describe) you:

We worked on arabesque penchée. Standing on one leg, the other high behind, fingertips almost touching the floor, the world seemed to stand still around me in a perfect moment of balance and extension.

But back to the beach. Away from the ballet terms. And breathe.

waves and ballet terms

More Posts with Dance Content

red leotard #ballet

TENDU: Dancing in the Castle

Tendu by Ailish Sinclair

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

Dark, witty, steamy and fun, Tendu is a compelling and seductive story of love, dance and obsession.

Amazon UK

Amazon worldwide

Newsletter

Keep up to date with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always contains some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

About Page

Ailish Sinclair romps in the loch

My About Page

Writer’s Tip Jar

New Aberdour Beach: caves, folklore and a heroine

view out to sea from a cave at New Aberdour beach

A high speed wind was hurtling through the sea cave at New Aberdour beach as I took the photo above. I nearly blew over. But it was worth it to capture that combination of dark and light and blue and black. That tunnel of transition from enclosed space to open sea.

The beach is never busy, being a bit far from main roads and civilisation. I do recommend seeking it out if you are ever in Northern Aberdeenshire. It has sandy bits for summer picnics and sunbathing. There are stony bits that noisily orchestrate the retreat of the waves.

Then there’s the magnificent caves:

Some entrances are almost hidden…

entrance to the cave above at New Aberdour beach

This next one I always avoid. I once overheard a highly respected educational psychologist, who I knew from my time working in schools, emotionally blackmailing a small child to defecate in there. Such memories are off-putting, plus, the roof is rather head-bangingly low…

the pooping cave at New Aberdour beach

But New Aberdour beach as a whole is lovely. Apart from the car park, there is no sign of the modern day, you could be meandering through any time, any era.

rock pools at New Aberdour beach

Folklore

Some specific points in history and local folklore are marked. St. Drostan is said to have landed at New Aberdour in 580AD. His well:

St Drostan's Well

The Heroine of New Aberdour Beach

And the heroic actions of one Jane Whyte, who rescued fifteen men from a shipwreck in 1886, are commemorated in the remains of her little cottage:

Jayne Whyte memorial at New Aberdour beach

When the tide is out the rockpools display all manner of sea life from minnows to sea slugs, starfish, pipefish and anemones. Tide allowing again, you can walk for miles round bay after bay. Do watch the sea though, there’s no mobile phone reception down there if you get stranded. Sometimes you catch sight of dolphins and whales.

I sound like a guidebook, a representative of Scottish tourism… but I’m not.

I’ve visited this place at times of trauma and felt negativity drain away into the pink rocks. I’ve lain on the sand reading books during hot relaxing summers while my children explored the pools and searched for cowrie shells. And I’ve introduced all my friends to the beach. So memories of New Aberdour are mixed up with those of my favourite people.

I write about the beach. Of course I do 🙂

Isobell rides her horse there in the THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR:

Excerpt:

“We walked along grassy clifftops and looked out at the sea, a sea that was some days brilliant blue, others stormy grey; green and pink stones showed in the shallows by the craggy bays. We saw dolphins. We saw seals. I waved and called out to my brown-eyed friends.

The wind swept us clean, leaving the taste of salt on our lips and our manes wild and unkempt. We only went down onto the sandy beaches; I would risk some things, but not Selkie feet on rocky shores. We found places where waves crashed so high they shot out of the very land itself. They roared in celebration of their watery power; I instinctively hugged tight to my horse’s neck then as she reared up with the waves in some Kelpie joy of her own.”

Excerpt from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR by Ailish Sinclair
rocky shore and sea

I love the beach.

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Waters of Philorth, an Aberdeenshire nature reserve

Philorth River, Waters of Philorth

The Waters of Philorth is a small nature reserve near Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire.

History

The sheltered terrain of the reserve was created by the dunes, which in turn were inadvertently created by man during WW2. Large coils of barbed wire and concrete blocks were laid along the coastline to deter enemy invaders. Over time sand built up on them, plants grew, and the River Philorth changed course.

waters of philorth

Wildlife of the Waters of Philorth

Wildlife flourishes at Philorth today. There’s a rather nice PDF about it on the council website here.

Let’s walk along beside the river. There’s a gull fishing.

A gull fishing at the waters of philorth

I love the tall grasses.

philorth reeds

The scenery grows more and more beach-like as we progress along the riverside path.

philorth sands
washed up fishing net at the waters of philorth
washed up fishing net
limpet
limpet

Beach

We finally reach the sea, and the town of Fraserburgh is visible in the distance.

Fraserburgh and the sea

We return by the higher dune path through the Waters of Philorth as dark clouds gather above us.

dune path through the waters of philorth

And a Castle!

Exiting onto the main road, leaving just in time to miss the sudden and heavy rainfall, we get a brief glimpse of Cairnbulg Castle through the trees. Read about it on the website of Lady Saltoun, Chief of the name and arms of Fraser.

Cairnbulg Castle

Chosen Sisters, Romans and Romance

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

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

Review from Terry Tyler: “It’s a fabulous story, a real page-turner and so well written. It made me think about the passage and circle of time, of the constancy of the land on which we live and the transient nature of human life. Loved it.

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

Witchcraft and a Handsome Laird

The Mermaid and the Bear cover

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.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Tonya Ulynn Brown: “Before I go any further, I just have to say, this is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read…

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

Kidnapping, Slavery and Friendship

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

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!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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

ballet feet of Ailish Sinclair

See my about page here

Writer’s Tip Jar

A Map of Witches and the Beauty of Autumn

Map of Witches

Map of Witches

The Map of Witches is a wonderful resource from the University of Edinburgh, utilising the extensive data collected in their Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database. See it here.

It’s a visual and clickable map of over 3000 people accused of witchcraft in Scotland. It’s both fascinating and terrible as this subject always is. My three quines from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR are included (see Isobell’s entry above) as are a disturbing Witch Pricker’s Journey and various other stories. You can choose to view a modern map or a historical one, the latter suiting it better, I think.

The Beauty of Autumn

After peering into the dark, I need to look at beauty, so here’s some golden blue autumnal goodness:

Blue and gold after the map of witches

The gold of the harvest.

rockpool

Pink shimmering rockpools at New Aberdour beach.

New Aberdour Beach and a map of witches

A dark cave, blue reflected within.

a dark cave and a map of witches

And the path up to St Drostan’s well, shining in the sunlight:

St Drostan's well and a map of witches

Newsletter

Keep up to date with all my news, witchy and otherwise, by signing up to the mailing list. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always contains some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Contemporary Fiction

A Dancer's Journey Series by Ailish Sinclair

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

My dance background and love of history and spicy stories are what inspired this heady mix of contemporary romance and ballet set in a castle. Readers of my historical fiction will recognise the castle and stone circle that feature in these books.

There are no cliffhanger endings in this series; each book completes a story, but then there is more. So much more. Read all the blurbs here

Historical Fiction

Books by Ailish Sinclair

These novels combine little-known dark events with love stories and a hint of magic.

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Writer’s Tip Jar

Five Go on an Island Adventure: Islay

Arriving on Islay

We arrived in the dark. On a boat. It missed the pier and had to spin round and go back out to sea before trying again. It was all very exciting.

Port Askaig

ferry arrival in Islay

So, the five of us – four humans, 1 canine – went to bed in a lovely old house and awoke to sunshine and a eucalyptus tree.

window view

We ate breakfast. We unpacked. Then we ran about on Islay’s golden beaches…

Kilchoman beach on the island of  Islay

And had our cares blasted away by the wind on rocky shores.

Salago, Islay

There was much fireside sitting and eating and laughing and talk.

jam tarts

Kildalton

History was explored. The Kildalton High Cross and church:

Kildalton Cross, Islay
snowdrops

Finlaggan

The Seat of the Lordship of the Isles at Finlaggan in the soft island rain:

standing stone at Finlaggan, Islay
grave
16595908336_d7f677c656_z
Finlaggan, Islay

Leaving Islay

view of Islay

Then, refreshed and de-stressed, it was back on the ferry to the mainland, though the view there is of Jura:

We passed Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe:

16621265122_8eec0f6aba_z

And walked between weather-battered oak trees on our way home.

Strone Hill

There’s more (oh, so many more!) photos on Twitter and Instagram.

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my (roughly monthly) newsletter. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always includes some exclusive photos.

My Books

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, my latest novel, 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

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

Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'

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.

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 by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

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!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from the Historical Novel Society

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here