Category Archives: Fife

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

Reading and Travelling for Inspiration and Renewal

Renewal

This summer and autumn are all about having a refreshing pause for healing and renewal of mind, body and spirit. My two main interests in life are writing and gardening and I found myself with a strained wrist back in the spring ~ possibly RSI ( but who can see a doctor these days?)

What did I need? A break from the garden and sitting at my PC.

What better way to do it than to read and to travel now the world has opened up a bit and while it is safe to do so?

The Extraordinary Island of Iona

In my next blog posts I will share with you posts about my journeys and book reviews of those I’ve picked up and enjoyed along the way.

Book Reviews

I’ve read some gripping and sometimes unusual yarns this summer including:

  • Songbirds by Christy Lefteri
  • The Stationery Shop of Tehran by Marjan Kamali
  • The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea
  • Interleaved Lives by Roderick Hart
  • Travels with Epicurus by Daniel Klein

I will share reviews of these books with you over the coming weeks. As I have often said, ‘in order to enrich the quality of your own writing it is vital to read a variety of books, helping you to hone your own skills. Meanwhile you will also enjoy being absorbed in the literary world in which you hope to share just a small part when you publish your own novels.

Islands of Inspiration

It may be a coincidence, but we have been visiting some new and some very familiar islands this summer:

  • Sifnos and Tinos ~ beautiful Greek islands.
  • Iona ~ a favourite of mine over the years for spiritual renewal and refreshment. An extra special place.
  • The Island of May ~ A fortunate recent trip to an island in the Forth estuary, renowned for its seabirds, especially puffins at this time of the year.
  • Alderney, Channel Islands UK ~ An island close to my heart and the original inspiration for my writing novels.
  • Guernsey and Jersey

There may be more.

My aim is to share the experiences with you and how they have inspired me in my life and more particularly in my writing.

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Filed under Alderney, Book reading, Book reviews, Channel Islands, Fife, Scotland, Writing

Looking Back before Moving Forward to 2022

Before turning a new page, I look back on 2021 and I am pleased to say I did make progress with my writing life in a positive way.

What did I achieve in 2021 to be thankful for?

A. I published a little book of encouragement Search for the Pearl Inside Yourself for young people struggling through this pandemic. I wrote the bones of it and gathered quotations and photos before I took voluntary redundancy from teaching at Barnfield Further Education College in Luton, Bedfordshire over seven years ago. I dusted it off, updated and improved it, had it edited and proof read and finally organised a print run in June 2021.

Hoping to make a difference:

I am still giving away copies to those who need it. If you know a young person struggling at this time then please get in touch: contact Diana Jackson

The e book is available on Kindle too.

B. My continued support for authors on their journey into writing and publishing seemed to flourish too. It was lovely to focus on others rather than myself.

C. I met a lovely group of new authors on Twitter (I’m @Riduna) who were happy for me to dip in and out of their boundless enthusiastic responses, when I felt able to do so. Thanks to Cheryl Burman and all her friends who worked so hard to set up a Christmas on line bookshop. I have always enjoyed the mutual support of other authors I’ve ‘met’ on Twitter, but this took it to a new level.

D. I also met a group of local Fife authors from East Neuk for some uplifting Zoom events and an early Christmas meal, where we met in person down in Anstruther; just before the warnings of get togethers was highlighted on the news. To be part of this select, welcoming group of authors is heart warming. I had forgotten the joys of being in a writing group and had been longing for this to happen since leaving Bedfordshire, where I was a founder member of Ampthill Writers (then known as the Albion Writers after the pub where we used to meet) I have even joined them on line on a couple of occasions too.

E. I have a couple more personal writing projects I have been working on; those I could pick up and stir that creativity from within in a very gentle way, but more about those in my next blog.

In all honesty

… it was a tough year, as it was for many, but I can be thankful and look forward with hope to 2022!

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Filed under Author Diana Jackson, Bedfordshire, Blogs, Events, Fife, Social Media Networking, Writing