Tarlair and the Halcyon Days of Summer

Tarlair outdoor swimming pool

Tarlair now

I recently explored Tarlair Art Deco open air swimming pool with my husband and children. Despite having fallen into serious disrepair over the years, it retains a certain beauty, and is evocative – for me anyway – of times past.

Tarlair in memory

It was the scene of many halcyon days one summer. I was fifteen, and due to head off to dance school in London that September. I recall lying on the grass in the sun, messing around in the boating pool, buying sweets from the shop and chatting with friends. The hazy, golden hue of these bright points in memory is augmented by the nature of other events from that time.

A Dark Summer

That same summer, there was a face off with an old school bully. There was an abusive incident with a particularly disgusting family member. He was much respected, and I didn’t think I would be believed, so I didn’t tell anyone what had happened. An older boy grabbed me on a bus and kissed and bit my neck. Actually that last event is not a dark memory. Non-consensual and unexpected as it was, I found it rather exciting at the time.

There were other daily disappointments, but it can be bitter to dwell too deeply. Some things are over when they’re finally over, and they are now.

Tarlair as seen from the cliffs above today


But Tarlair remains bright, both as it is now, and as it appears in my nostalgic image of the past. Four girls on the brink of being women laughed together and talked of their hopes for the future. We swam in the water of the North Sea with all our clothes on, and got changed in the only one of our homes that was free from adult disapproval. We ate chocolate in an abandoned campervan. White Russians were enjoyed in a local nightclub where no one questioned our age; hangovers were revelled in the next day by the pool.

None of our lives turned out quite how we envisaged. We trailed away from those teenage maps we drew for ourselves that summer. We’ve all tasted despair but known great joy too. Maybe we couldn’t have had one without the other.


Tarlair is being restored. I look forward to making new memories there soon.

Friends of Tarlair Facebook Page

Restoration of iconic Tarlair Pool from the Press and Journal

Below: looking out to the wider ocean through the Needle’s Eye, a rock formation beside Tarlair.

through the Needle's Eye

My Books, set mostly in Aberdeenshire

The latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, features Romans, Celts, romance, a neurodivergent main character and the Battle of Mons Graupius. 

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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

More titles

books on pink

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

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen and is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here


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

Writer’s Tip Jar

Working Girl: a WordPress Prompt Goes Dark

wordpress prompt

What jobs have you had?

A WordPress Prompt

Well, WordPress prompt, when I was fifteen, I took over my ballet teacher’s school for a few months before going to college.

Despite being far too young for such a responsibility, I loved it, and it paid for all the dancewear and equipment I needed for my studies.

ballet teacher: wordpress prompt

In my second year of dance school, I got a job in a shop in Covent Garden. It was a very nice shop. I had more money. No more choosing between food and decent pointe shoes.

shop assistant: wordpress prompt

But here is where things go a bit darker than the WordPress prompt probably intended. I knew really, that working both Saturday and Sunday, after a hard week of dance training, was a bit foolhardy. My sensible friend, Suzette, who would have counselled against this, had returned to Mauritius. More about Suzette and dance training here

So, I became exhausted. There was dance injury after dance injury. I developed a chest infection that lasted five months.

The shop sacked me for being ill. This left me even more vulnerable than I had already been, at seventeen, alone in London.

There was a violent predator.

There was an incident from which I was lucky to escape with my life.

Fast forward to the present, skipping several other jobs…

writer: wordpress prompt

And my writing is influenced by my past. This is most evident in my contemporary work. There is a dark event in TENDU, the first book of the forthcoming series A Dancer’s Journey, that I knew how to write because of my own experience. Not that it’s exactly the same, of course. In fact, it’s quite different. Fiction has to be more dramatic than reality, and more interesting. Far more interesting…

And have an infinitely more exciting setting…

These books have dark moments, but they are actually quite fun, overall, I think. And naughty. Like life, if you’re lucky!

Update: Release Dates (2023)

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Page with blurbs and quotes

Diabolical reading

More on the series

My Books

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

Set in 1st century Scotland, and featuring the cliffs and caves of Cullykhan Bay, 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.

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.

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

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


See my About Page here


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

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