Monday, 30 June 2014

Day 8: The End of the Road

Our plan to spend our final morning on another (more accessible) beach is scuppered by the heavy sea mist that rolls in overnight. So we spend the time chilling out (a necessary part of a holiday that is often missed in the rush to fit as much sight-seeing as possible into the available time).

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Day 7: Now We Are Six!

Today we see a new side of Geoffrey. To the clergyman and the steam buff, we must now add mountain goat. As Margaret is again working, we decide to take a 'gentle stroll' on the hill behind the house. We listen to advice, don sensible shoes and head upwards, taking increasingly frequent stops 'to admire the view' as the slope steepens. But it is worth it for the vista from the top - the nearby Loch in one direction and the sea and Inner Hebrides in the other are jewel-like in the sunshine.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Day 6: Of Monuments and Steam

We start the day at Morar Station awaiting the Jacobite steam train on its journey from Fort William to Mallaig. David Bailey Pearson (DBP) positions herself atop a five-bar gate overlooking the line. I choose a much less adventurous position on the platform.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Day 5: Father's Day

It is as though the mist has never existed! We finally believe we are surrounded by mountains, both on the mainland and on the islands and after church we lounge on the balcony, where the sounds of the sheep are drowned out by the birds and the only decision we have to take is whether to face the sea or the mountains.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Day 4: Blue Skye and Mountains

The mountains are still hidden and the islands are mostly being bashful, but Skye is visible as we jump in the car and head for the ferry. Sheila and I find the short journey across the Sound invigorating, bracing even (although Margaret tells us it's just a gentle breeze). When we retire from our prime viewing point in the bow to a more sheltered position, we are swiftly replaced by a family of four - who stick it out for just a few minutes before disappearing inside - such lightweights!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Day 3: They're Out There Somewhere!

Margaret and Geoffrey assure us the view from their lounge window includes Skye Eigg and Rum. We believe them because our sister, like us, has been brought up to be truthful - and our brother-in-law is a clergyman - but it's hard to credit when all that can be seen is mist rolling in.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Day 2: The Road to the Isles

At 5.15am blue skies and sunshine augur well for our road trip. Our plan to leave "really early" has evolved into "be on the road by eight" and then to "maybe seven would be better to avoid rush hour. In the event, we eat a full English, courtesy of Sheila's husband Simeon; hit the Co-op for cash-back (15p no longer the sole contents of my purse) and make it to the M42 by 7.50am. Belting up the M1 a short while later, we do the sums and estimate we will be there in around eight hours.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Travels With My Niece's Aunt

Recently, my sister Margaret moved to Mallaig, on the north-west coast of Scotland. Earlier this month my other sister, Sheila, and I drove up to visit her. This would be the longest period the three of us had spent all together since we were children.

Being without a laptop and an internet connection is an unusual experience for me these days. I surprised myself by reverting to a notebook and pen, finding words flowing much more easily without the option of continual editing and retyping. Over the next week, I'll publish the results (after just a little bit of editing).

Day 1

Monday, 9 June 2014

Elizabeth Chats With...Jane Wenham-Jones

[This month's guest is a funny lady who is also a talented writer. She was a guest speaker at my first Swanwick Summer School back in 2006; three things stuck in my mind about that evening: multi-coloured hair; the glass of red wine she sipped throughout her talk; and the fact that we all left the hall with tears of laughter running down our cheeks. I am delighted to be chatting with Jane Wenham-Jones.]

Hello Jane and welcome. Let's start by going back a few years: what was your favourite subject at school  and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?

Monday, 2 June 2014

Crossing Qalandiya by Daniela Norris and Shireen Anabtawi

Crossing Qalandiya, book cover
The early bonds of friendship were forged between Daniela Norris and Shireen Anabtawi before they had time to realise they were, or should be, ‘enemies’. Daniela is Israeli while Shireen is Palestinian. While they could meet in a neutral setting like a party in Geneva, where they were both working at the time, it would not be possible for them to spend time together when they returned to their respective homelands.