The Clootie Well on the Black Isle

Bring your cloots! And let’s go make a wish at the Clootie Well on the Black Isle.

The Black Isle

The Black Isle is a peninsula near Inverness in The Highlands of Scotland. The towns and villages of the ‘Isle’ boast many excellent museums, hotels and shops. There are castles too, making the quick drive over the Kessock Bridge well worthwhile. Dismantled oil rigs can sometimes be seen on the Cromarty Firth side, as can dolphins.

Cromarty

Searching for the Clootie Well

Inland there are older places, special places.

We take a wrong turn while searching for the clootie well, an ancient, possibly Celtic, shrine, and then spend some time wandering among trees.

pines near the clootie well

Ah Ha! We’re on the right track now.

cloots showing the way to the clootie well

People hang cloots (cloths) beside the well and in the surrounding woodland to ask for wishes or healing. As the cloot disintegrates, healing occurs or wishes come true.

hillside of the clootie well

It’s an unusual but peaceful place. Despite the modernity of many of the hanging items, the well feels timeless. The number and variety of cloots is impressive. They extend right down the hill to the roadside.

Let’s hang our cloots now, in imagination.

Let’s make our wishes.

And may they all come true!

the clootie well

In SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, Morragh ties a cloth above a sacred spring.

Excerpt

I tear a small piece of fabric from the bottom of my dress and tie it to a smaller branch of the tree above to thank the spirit. She needs it not, but it is a mark to me, a sign of my reverence, and a reminder of the blessing received on this day.

The Romans called it the edge of the world

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 neurodiverse 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.

Ailish Sinclair stares out to sea

See my About Page here

Writer’s Tip Jar

An Explosive Loch for the New Year

an explosive loch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The loch seemed to look explosive yesterday when I walked down to its banks.

I do like the pink and blue colours of January. It’s so mild, too. Not a hint of frost or ice left.

In the woods:

trees by the explosive loch

And, just before sunrise, at the beach:

beach at sunrise

Sisters has a lovely new review from Ashley over on the Adventures in Literature Blog.

Told in first-person, all from Morragh’s perspective, be prepared to experience everything as she does. From her awakening out of muteness, to her embracing of her role as the spiritual leader of their tribe and eventually to her transition to the next stage. I will admit the final chapters had me emotional.See the whole review here.

Read my books for free

All my novels are on Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s lending service, and that always has a 30 day free trial, though some people are being offered 3 months for free just now. See all the books here. Also in paperback.

kindle unlimited

Newsletter

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

My About Page

Ailish's feet

See it here.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Walking on Balmedie Beach in my Slippers

Balmedie Beach, walking on the beach

On the way home from a hospital visit in 2020, I stopped at Balmedie beach.

Balmedie Beach

I crossed the boardwalk slowly, being careful not to catch my slippers in the gaps between wood. My foot is a lot better, though I still can’t wear proper shoes or put my heel right down on the ground, but I was determined to walk on the beach.

Continue reading “Walking on Balmedie Beach in my Slippers”

Winter Deepens in Scotland: frosty and pink

winter deepens

Winter deepens. The sky and loch are pink.

Walking is crunchy through the frozen mud.

winter deepens

I want the Solstice to come. I need more light. My body doesn’t like the extreme cold. It threatens to turn monstrous. And it’s -7 here today.

But it’s beautiful. And the beach is pink too.

Books for the Deepening Winter

My historical novels all involve little-known dark historical events, romance and a little magic…

  • SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD opens on a snowy winter solstice.
  • THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR has 6 chapters of medieval Christmas.
  • FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE features Christmas in Colonial Pennsylvania.

They’re all available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Signed copies from me

Novels by Ailish Sinclair

Newsletter

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

Writer’s Tip Jar

Shadows and Light at the Beach

shadows and light at st combs beach in Aberdeenshire

We know extremes of light and dark in Scotland. At the height of summer, it never gets properly dark. Around the time of the winter solstice, it barely gets light. But just now, the low sun illuminates spaces and objects from an angle that highlights both shadows and light. Oh, the photo-taking opportunities!

A river runs into the sea at St. Combs beach in Aberdeenshire.

river at the beach

White frothy waves crash against grey rocks.

waves crash at St Combs beach. Shadows and light.

Glorious rocks and sand and sky.

rocks and shadows and light at the beach

The break in the clouds is brief. The sand darkens under a blue and white patchwork sky.

clouds and shadows at the beach

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 neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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

Newletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Shipwrecks of the Aberdeenshire Coast

Let’s begin by walking barefoot along the sands between St Combs and Scotstown. There do be many shipwrecks to see there. Aye, aye, me hearties! Prepare yersels for the photos.

Shipwrecks

shifting sands uncover a shipwreck

I don’t know the name or date of this first wreck. It’s wooden and relatively small and sometimes entirely covered by the shifting sands that it, no doubt, fell victim to. It’s well bedecked with seaweed.

part of a shipwreck - Ailish Sinclair, author

Close by is a large metallic boat. It’s usually more submerged than this. I *think* it’s the HMS Erne. She ran aground in 1915 and broke her back.

shipwrecks: another victim of the shifting sands

We get to go right up to it.

Barnacles

barnacles on a shipwreck - Ailish Sinclair, author

And touch the barnacles.

shipwrecks in aberdeenshire

And wonder if that’s a treasure chest…

The Excelsior of Laurwig

A bit further on, between Rattray Head and Scotstown, lies a much more well documented ship: the Excelsior of Laurwig, a Norwegian barque that was wrecked in 1881. It’s rather impressive.

Shipwrecks: The Excelsior of Laurwig, a Norwegian barque wrecked in 1881 - Ailish Sinclair, author
shipwrecks
Shipwrecks: Excelsior of Laurwig, wrecked in 1881 - Ailish Sinclair, writer

There is another, somewhat different, wreck on this bit of coastline, sometimes to be seen wedged into the sand:

some wrecks that get stuck in the sand are not boats!

Now, let’s head to Cruden Bay and see if we can find any more shipwrecks.

bridge to shipwrecks?

Trip, trap, trip. trap, across the bridge. To find…

shipwrecks?

Is it a shipwreck? I’m not sure. It may be part of a defense from WW2. Not very boat shaped!

But it’s a great beach on which to finish our walk.

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 neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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

Newsletter

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

Writer’s Tip Jar

Blue Skies, Crashing Waves and Ballet Terms

crashing waves and ballet terms

Writing

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

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.

Read my books for free

Back in the world of books, all my novels are on Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s lending service, and that has a 30 day free trial, though some people are being offered 3 months for free just now. See all the books here.

kindle unlimited

A Swashbuckling Adventure Through Hospital Windows

St Nicolas Kirk through a hospital window

This hospital windows post was originally written in 2020. I am a lot better now.

Diagnosis and Drugs

The start of the post 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.

Finding Beauty through Hospital Windows

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

Strange Covid Times

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, it meant that I got to see through many different windows. This next ward – oncology – 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

The Party Room

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

Review

While I was in hospital, 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.

Mermaid on Amazon

I later wrote an article on living with chronic illness

Doctors and Deadlines: Writing with Chronic Illness on Women Writers, Women’s Books. 

My Latest Novel

Bullet points about SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

From the provocative opening scene to the later dramatic and devastating events of the story, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is a book that will continually surprise, delight, and sometimes shock the reader. The novel features the beautiful hill of Bennachie, and the stone circles of Aberdeenshire, along with the cliffs and caves of Cullykhan Bay.

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.” See the whole review here.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Read the article Aberdeenshire in Roman times takes centre stage in author’s latest book from AberdeenLive.

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here

Newsletter

Come through the castle door to sign up to my occasional emails for exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. It’s a more intimate space than the blog.

castle door

Writer’s Tip Jar

The Sea Wears Wonderful Colours

peering through the grasses to the sea

A mellow walk on the beach. A moment to catch our breath.

through the grasses to the sea

We start high up on the dunes and push our way through the long grasses, side-stepping to avoid the many large snails that live there, and then we walk out on to the sand.

the sea

There we stare out over the wonderful, wonderful sea, that is showing green today. We stand and breathe the sweet sea air, and feel the gentle breeze on our faces.

darker skies over the sea

It doesn’t stay bright and gentle for long. As is so often the way in Scotland, the weather is subject to swift change. By the time we leave the beach, the wind, a breeze no more, is swirling dark clouds over Tiger Hill, the largest dune on the skyline.

clouds gather over the ebach

The star of today’s little blog has been: Fraserburgh beach!

I needed that breath of sea air today.

Let’s end on an, albeit metaphorical, oceanic quote from SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD.

Quote from SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

My books:

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 neurodiverse 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 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

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

feet

See my About 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

A Map of Witches and some Autumn Beauty

Map of Witches

Map of Witches

The Map of Witches is a new 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, and is 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.

Autumn Beauty

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

Blue and gold after the map of witches

The wonderful 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.

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 neurodiverse 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

Writer’s Tip Jar