Tag Archives: inspiration for writing

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

“Where there’s life there’s hope, and need of vittles.” ~ JR Tolkein

Download from quotefancy.com for wallpaper

I love this quote. It is almost a Pooh~ism!

As a writer I am always stirred by the generosity of spirit of people I meet in terms of giving time, effort and finances to support those in need. I also find stories of resilience and fortitude of folks heartwarming ~ how people are brought to rock bottom by their circumstances, often through no fault or action of their own, find the courage to rise up once more.

I particularly love the work of Emmaus, with so many wonderful stories of how the organisation has changed people’s lives by providing a purpose, work and community life and the chance to give something back.

This is what Micheal wrote:

“”Without Emmaus, I don’t think I would be around right now and it has given me a lifeline to a better future. I was first homeless at the age of seven with my mother and continued to be homeless on-and-off for nearly 20 years before finding Emmaus.”

To read Micheal’s full story please click on this link. Micheal’s Story

Unfortunately the virus has stalled a great deal of the usual work of Emmaus ~ their workshops, shops and delivery to name three areas, but the organisation has continued to support those in great need throughout. Emmaus is a UK wide organisation. There is almost certainly one near where you live. https://emmaus.org.uk/

It is people like Michael’s who inspired me to write Dot’s story in MISSING Past and Present. 

~ not only to write about the tragedy of circumstances that led to Dot’s homelessness, but also the network of support for her, once she was mentally at a point when she could accept help, because to do this and to ask takes a great deal of courage.

That is so apparent in the current crisis. People like to be independent and do not wish to be reliant on others, but once the step is taken it is such a relief to know that support is close by; overwhelming even.

Even closer to home I am sure you have noticed that there’s so much community spirit. It is certainly the case around here but I’m sure there are similar stories in the rest of the UK and even around the world, inspired by the needs provoked by Covid 19.

Locally there’s KSS, Kinghorn Support Squad, which if you read quickly looks like KISS ~ a lovely name. This support group was set up by our Provost about three years ago for those casual volunteers who did not want to join a group on a regular basis, but were happy to help out whenever they could. Examples of this was setting up and dismantling the furniture for the village show and also as Marshalls for the Black Rock Race.

Through this crisis this group have been stalwarts, available for food and medication drops and delivering letters and postcards explaining where folks can ask for help or arrange deliveries if they need it. In fact many, many more have volunteered to be part of KSS to become paet of the steering group, street coordinators and on hand to sort out local Foodbank drops if necessary. It is often the street coordinators who keep in touch with people locally and sort out any needs as they arise; a network ensuring that no person is missed or forgotten.

The church and the Lunch Club for the elderly have also been involved, as they always have, in ensuring everyone is safe and has someone to talk to and to help them.

In our neighbouring town of Burntisland BEAT has been established and their remit is quite wide, including  dog walking, providing toys for children in need and also food drops, organised through a central hub rather than the satellite approach of Kinghorn.

Each  way has been developed with the needs of the local communities in mind and show a resilience and caring attitude which prevails, whatever the circumstances.

The Kirkcaldy Foodbank continues with its support and although in the first few weeks the need grew exponentially and the provisions sourced from local supermarkets on a regular basis was scarce, they have continued to be the back bone in ensuring that no person locally goes hungry or lacks essential toiletries. In fact there has been a huge drive to give the Foodbank extra support through this time, both in terms of food and donations of money.

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the need, like a vast almost impenetrable chasm, but Michael and Dot’s stories are uplifting and ensure that we are left with an overriding sense of HOPE.

 

 

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