Category Archives: Fife Fantasy

Islands of Inspiration (4) The Isle of May in the Firth of Forth, Fife

I confess that this was my first and only visit to the Isle of May, taking the ferry from Anstruther with friends, including author Hamish Brown. We did not realise how fortunate we were, because the following day was the last day trip to the island in 2022. The warden David Steel @Steelybird, who I follow on Twitter for his amazing photos, needed to shut the whole island down due to bird flu. Tragically, this has decimated the population of sea birds up and down the east coast of the British Isles, especially on nearby Bass Rock, famous for its gannet population.

I say that this is a confession. When walking the coastal path and writing The Healing Paths of Fife we walked most of the way between the Forth Rail Bridge and St Andrews, but there were a few wee sections which were purely in my imagination, alongside some timely research, and one of these was a trip to the Isle of May.

How the island helped me in Mind, Body and Spirit

The boat trip over was a matter of mind over body as the boat rolled in the stormy waters. Hamish, however, was bobbing up and down, eating his sandwiches and pointing out various sightings of puffins, other sea birds and even seals. I was sooo relieved to be on terra firma and so was my husband!

We had brought a stick with us because we had to walk through a colony of nesting terns. The stick was not to thrash about, as it was explained to us; the birds go for the highest point and so an umbrella would do just as well. I was mighty glad not to have my head dive bombed, I can tell you.

Once we had safely navigated both of those assaults to our bodies, we set off at a pace following Hamish to a favourite spot he knew where the puffins hung out, called Bishop Cove. It was magical. They are such heart warming creatures. We sat among them watching them waddle to their burrows, peer out to sea or dive down to the water, skimming the surface in search of a place to fish. It was as if a calm had descended. We sat on the rocky ground eating out picnic, absorbing their world all around us, almost at eye level with them. They made us smile. They made us laugh. We hardly spoke as a silence crept over us. We certainly lived in the moment.

How I was inspired by the island

The Isle of May as a place of pilgrimage has always inspired me; its location at the mouth of the Firth of Forth en-route between Lindisfarne and St Andrews. One day, I believe, my writing will take on the direction of a pilgrimage in days gone by, just as it did in The Healing Paths of Fife; a personal fantasy memoir and pilgrimage describing when we first relocated from Bedfordshire to Fife including ‘meeting and talking with famous folks along the way. The lives of saints, whose unusual names have also intrigued me since moving to Scotland; St Mungo for example sounds like a perfect subject for fact/fiction. His name crops up in so many places we have visited and his birth is a legend in these parts.

Meanwhile, I am still searching for the direction my writing journey should take in the here and now; but I do believe I’m edging closer to feeling at peace in knowing the way I should take next.

On our journey home it was as still as a pond and I fell fast asleep. Unusual for me.

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Filed under Fife, Fife Fantasy, Inspiration, The Healing Paths of Fife, Writing

Volunteer Recognition Day ~ 20th April 2021

One Step Back into the World Again

On Sunday I joined my first session of socially distancing Kinghorn in Bloom; a volunteer group who work to enhance the beauty of our lovely coastal town in Fife, Scotland. It felt as if I was being liberated:

Tulips on the Kinghorn Loch Road

liberated…

from lock down, …

from loss,

from grief,

from guilt,

from a burden too heavy to carry.

Set free …

to be me again,

to serve,

to smile,

to contribute,

to enjoy the simple pleasures of flowers and plants.

Having returned from Bedford and my Mum’s cremation service I had a week of relative isolation before rejoining the world. This coincided with changes in regulations.

It’s going to take a while, but The Healing Paths of Fife are working their magic once more. Life moves on and I’m left with precious memories.

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Filed under Author Diana Jackson, Fife, Fife Fantasy, The Healing Paths of Fife

Review of ‘The Healing Paths of Fife’

A fantasy memoir ~
Diana walked along the Fife Coastal Path

REVIEW OF ‘THE HEALING PATHS OF FIFE’

on Amazon on 9th December 2019

Here is the latest review. It is 4 stars but I’m really chuffed that Ragner took the trouble to write it:

“The first thing to note about this book is its subtitle, where Diana Jackson correctly classifies it both as a fantasy and a memoir. To start with the memoir, she describes in considerable detail the several walks in which, sometimes accompanied by her husband, she explores the Fife Coastal Path. These walks are always well observed and occasionally a little scary, for example, when she cuts it fine with the incoming tide and, more so, when she undertakes the Elie Chain Walk. To quote from Fife Council website:

‘This unique scramble will take you across hazardous coastal terrain for 0.5 km.
There are 8 chains, some vertical, with up to 10 metres height gain/loss.’

There is the occasional digression from this walk, for example to Roslyn Chapel and to her previous home in Bedfordshire. But this is to be expected. No one leads life in a totally straight line.

Moving to the fantasy element, the author meets several characters from the past, the most distant being Queen Margaret, the second wife of Malcolm Canmore, who was King of Scots in the early 11th century.

These historical characters fulfill two functions. The first is straightforward, to shed light on the times in which they lived. The second is to offer advice and encouragement to the author, who is has recently been made redundant, is in the process of moving from Bedfordshire to Fife, and who is considering turning to writing full time.

When she is walking alone, it is easy to accomplish this. But when she is travelling with her husband a degree of separation is required or the he might well begin to wonder who she is talking to. The usual solution is that they become separated for a while, one being ahead of the other on their route. The most imaginative solution, is the single occasion when the author is in two places at once.

‘When I straightened I could see my other self laughing too. I walked towards the bench where she and my husband were sitting and we gazed out to sea together, across towards Pettycur Bay on the distant horizon. As we sat, we smiled, and as we smiled we merged back into one.’

This may seem unlikely, but as the author correctly points out, ‘The wonderful thing about fiction is that anything is possible.’

Of the several such meetings in the book, two are unusual for different reasons. When she encounters Robert Louis Stevenson, she gives him more advice than he gives her. At first sight this may seem odd, till we remember that she is meeting him before his writing career gets under way.

She also meets a selkie, an altogether trickier customer than Robert Louis Stevenson.

‘I strolled towards the tower and sat on a large boulder, as close to the seals as I dare, mesmerised by their antics, until suddenly I felt a damp fishy breath, as if someone had dared to creep up on me in my reverie and brush past, his face barely inches from my own. I glanced around to find a ‘man’ settling on a rock nearby, his alluring face and deep brown eyes gazing into my own. I might have been smitten by his sensuous touch or unnerved by his audacity to invade my space, if it hadn’t been for an over-riding fishy scent which made me smile.’

The selkie is a mythical creature, best known to many through that fine song, The Great Selkie o’ Suleskerry. Like any selkie worth his salt he is trying to chat her up. Where does this get him? You’ll have to read the book to find out.”

I laughed when I read about my advice to Robert Louis Stevenson. I had no idea I’d done that!

Well over £500 has been raised for local charities. It is at present for sale in aid of Kirkcaldy Foodbank on

Amazon.co.uk 

It can be ordered at Waterstones,

but the book is also available at Baker’s Field cafe and The Olympia Arcade in Kirkcaldy.

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Filed under Book reading, Book reviews, Book Shops, Fife, Fife Fantasy, The Healing Paths of Fife