Category Archives: Scotland

Islands of Inspiration (3) ~ Iona

I first visited the Scottish western island of Iona, off the coast of Mull, in my 30’s on a pilgrimage with Aylesbury, St Mary’s. It was an incredible Easter experience and we stayed at the Abbey for a week ~ the likes of which I have never enjoyed since. See my original post in my series:

Pilgrims, Paths and Personal Journeys

This was my fifth trip to the island in all and we were visiting with two friends from here in Kinghorn, Fife.

How the island helped me in Mind, Body and Spirit

Staying in a pod, the only accommodation we could get, in the shadow on Dun I (Dun eeh) was as close to nature as we were going to get because Iona can feel like the end of the earth. And yet, to worship with the community at Iona Abbey, which we did both mornings, makes you truly grounded because addressing the suffering of the natural world and its people is at the heart of everything the community believes in.

You retreat from life in order to raise your awareness and live it in a more fruitful and fulfilling way.

We walked as much as we could, despite the rain, enjoying the wild north end of the island with its craggy shoreline and white sandy bays. We talked so much too; such a pleasure to be away with friends and to spend quality time with them. (and our visiting chickens!)

How I was inspired by the island of Iona

Like Tinos and Sifnos, the beauty of Iona could not help but stir my emotions and inspire me to describe the world around me in a deeper way. I was reminded of the social issues which drove me to write ‘MISSING, Past and Present’; homelessness, racial tension and injustice, and yet I have always been driven by the dichotomy of these issues – the positive relationships between refugee and foster carer, discovering mindfulness whilst wandering the lanes without a permanent home and racist attitudes that can just slip in unawares.

Above all, Iona made me think about the direction my writing would go in. So many projects begun but unfinished, mainly due to the events of the last two years. I have a glimmer of a direction now ~ watch this space …

Iona will always be close to my heart – a place where

‘the air between this world and the next is thin.’ ~ St Coumba

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Filed under MISSING Past and Present, Scotland, 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

Book Review of the Month ~ Secrets of the Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford

Today I am reviving my monthly book review, but this time I will post it on my blog before adding it to my rolling reviews on my Book of the Month Page.

Why did I choose this book?

I was drawn to Secrets of the Sea because:

  • I have visited Harris, Lewis and Uist and was drawn to the landscape; wild and rugged in contrast to the great expanse of machair, with wild flowers almost hidden by flowing grasses, a reflection of the sea and long sandy beaches.
  • I enjoy historical fiction and yet …
  • I also love reading novels in parallel time scales. I love the way they are woven to overlap and yet they are two stories in one, bringing history into the present day.
  • I have been inspired by local folklore in Scotland and Selkies intrigue me!

Did you feel empathy with any particular character?

Oh yes. Ruth’s struggles to shed her past memories. Memories are a bit like witness statements ~ it’s surprising how inaccurate they can be, especially those from childhood, and yet Ruth has resilience and a good man watching out for her.

Is there a lasting thought or memory of the book which remains with you?

Oh yes. I want to know more about the research and history behind the theory of where Selkies come from and I yearn to visit the islands again, especially Harris, North Uist and Benbecula, which we visited only briefly. I need more time to explore and absorb the essence of those places.

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Filed under Book reading, Book reviews, Scotland