I mustn’t forget frost at the beach. I love the crunch of the sand.
The low winter sun shines through.
Here’s hoping we get some snow soon 🙂
Sally Cronin features a selection of books (including SISTERS), from personally recommended authors, that she believes will make wonderful gifts for friends, family and you. See her wonderful Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair here.
I wandered through the woods to the 18th century Duff House Mausoleum.
It’s about a mile away from the majestic Duff House, now an art gallery, and about two miles from the Bridge of Alvah. When I was a child the house was in quite a rough state but still open to the public. A lot of the furniture was covered in sheets, paint peeled off the walls and spooky music floated up from the lower levels.
I loved it.
I still do.
The front of Duff House Mausoleum:
And round the back…
To an effigy of a knight. Sadly it is not Robert the Bruce as once purported by the Earl who built the mausoleum. The skulls, crossbones and wheat are quite common on older graves in Aberdeenshire.
Below: the interior of the mausoleum taken through the metal door.
During autumn in Scotland the days seem to be either golden or grey, sunny or dreich. It didn’t get properly light at all on this day, but autumn added its gold regardless.
The River Deveron:
I came upon an old dog grave in the lower parts of Wrack Wood. The dogs had lovely Dickensian sounding names.
Grey and golden, the colours of the day:
Chosen Sisters, Romans and Romance
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.
There were rowan berries on the path this morning in the woods. I take this to mean that it’s really autumn now. When the rowans are all shiny and new on the trees, you know that the end of summer approaches. There’s just the tiniest hint of the next season in the air.
But once they’re on the ground? Autumn. Autumn all the way.
Rowan Berry Jam
I recall a time when I used to make jam out of rowan berries. They are poisonous raw, but after a vigorous boiling with sugar, they’re edible, though rather bitter.
I liked the bitter sweet flavour. It was fruity and earthy and somehow tasted ancient. However, I was the only one. The rest of my family screwed up their faces at the bitterness. I no longer eat refined sugar, due to medical conditions, so my rowan jam making days are over. Nothing is wasted in nature though. The birds love those little waxy berries.
And I love autumn with its mix of misty mornings and hot sunny afternoons. It’s breezy and blustery here today. The air is warm, though it rained overnight. No need to water the pots. No need to light the fire. Rowan berries pop under my feet as I walk, and the trees grow more colourful every day.
“Elizabeth is gutsy, vulnerable, rash and caring, and her quick wittedness and bravery had me cheering her on from the sidelines. Like her, we are confronted by the harsh realities of life as a slave or indentured labourer and she experiences danger and brutality as she wades in to protect her new-found friends.“
“I really loved the rich variety this novel brought – it’s not all danger and torture, there’s peace and contentment, a feeling of having found one’s place, delight, fun, celebration and true happiness too. Each phase of Isobell’s experiences are brought to life, they’re evocative and have real depth. I’ll definitely be picking up Ailish’s other books in future too.”
That’s misty Bennachie in the background of the image below, and stones from Aikey Brae on the cover. Both places feature in the novel.
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, a neurodiverse main character, and some rather complicated romance.
The book releases in paperback and kindle on September 21st 2022.
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 brings lush green foliage and colour to the loch*. It’s not very deep so swimming can be warm, though muddy.
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.
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.
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.
* 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.
Just like everyone else at the moment (originally posted 2020 during lockdown), 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.
RNAS Longside was active from 1916 to 1920. 1500 personnel were based at the station and the site boasted a swimming pool, a theatre, shops, a church and gas works. All of those buildings are long gone, but some things remain.
The above wall is thought to have been part of the officers’ mess. Memorial plaque below:
The fireplace within:
Throughout the woods, remnants of various structures are to be seen, such as these airship moorings:
Buildings swept away:
The site was known locally as RNAS Lenabo and the ships referred to as ‘Lenabo Soo’, soo being the local name for female pigs!
It’s fun to imagine the bustling community that lived at Lenabo for those four years, swimming in the pool, attending the theatre, and, of course, maintaining and operating the airships.
Well, this has been a pleasant virtual walk today (I’ll let your hand go now) and Lenabo will be a good place to explore in person again once things have calmed down.
Thanks to Reading is my Yoga for this beautiful #bookstagram picture and review of The Mermaid and the Bear: “While the first part put an almost constant smile on my face, the second part made me cry ugly tears.”
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.
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.
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!
Summer in Scotland can be cold. Sometimes it’s hot. But, whatever the weather, bluebells always herald the start of the season (photos and post from May 2021). And just look at them!
Vibrant patches of purple abound in the forest. The scent is rich and heady, luxurious even.
It calls to mind the fairy folklore of bluebell woods, but I am not spirited off to fairyland, not this time.
It gets quite floral in the garden too. Cherry blossom falls like pink snow and gathers everywhere creating a carpet of petals.
I walk the pink carpet to the pink bench.
Then I run into the bluebell woods to wait for the fairies.
Terry Tyler has written a wonderful review of FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE: “A ghastly accident of circumstance leads to her being imprisoned on an Aberdeen slave ship, taking children and young people to the tobacco plantations of North America. A round of applause to Ms Sinclair for using fiction to highlight little-known history – I knew nothing about this.“
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 in 2020. And it was wonderful.
Within the circle glade, it was peaceful. It was warm. It was calm.
There was a brief rain shower while I was there, and even that felt gentle and soft, in direct contrast to the horizontal in-the-face precipitation we often get here.
I didn’t want to leave. Surrounded by dense trees, the circle felt separate from the somewhat crazed world outside. It made me think of the person who commented on a recent Instagram post, saying that the image freed them from ‘all the bullshit’ for a moment. This was that picture:
Loudon Wood Stone Circle is like that too. Free of things that can maybe be symbolised by this beer made by a local brewery:
And there’s a nice review of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR over on Goodreads here. “The ending is gorgeous and deeply moving. I had a hard time putting the book down. Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction, love stories, tragedies, and the resilience of love, kindness, and faith.”
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.
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