The Offpeak Day Return of the King

A bit of an oddity for this week’s second blog. (And anybody thinking ‘the blogger’s a bit of an oddity anyway’ is toast.) Last week’s trip to Galloway – see the previous post – provided me with lots of inspiration of all sorts, and, thanks primarily to Wigtown, also provided me with lots more books […]

Dead Admirals Society Dons a Kilt

Apologies for the ‘radio silence’ last week. Regular followers of this blog will know that I sometimes take myself off to Landmark Trust cottages to brainstorm new novels or just to chill, and I spent last week at the tiny but perfectly formed Glenmalloch Lodge in Galloway. The upside of this was that even by […]

The Ghosts of Swarbacks Minn

My fourth and final post about the naval heritage I visited during our recent holiday in Shetland… By complete coincidence (honest!), our rented cottage looked out directly over Busta Voe, at the head of the Swarbacks Minn anchorage. During World War I, this was the base of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron, responsible for enforcing the […]

The Submarine and the Bus Stop

Number two in my short series of posts based on last week’s holiday in Shetland… Unst is an absolute must for visitors. As Britain’s most northerly inhabited island, it racks up the superlatives literally every few hundred yards, the further north you go – the most northerly roads, the most northerly shop (splendidly named ‘The […]

The Hollanders’ Graves

Last week, we had a terrific holiday in the sun-drenched beach resorts of… Shetland. OK, it’s a fair cop, the temperatures never reached double figures in the week we were there, and were driven down further by the constant northerly wind (reaching gale force at times, e.g. on our return ferry voyage to Aberdeen). But […]

Dead Admirals Society in the Highlands

Sometimes, one comes across dead admirals in unexpected ways and unexpected places. This was definitely the case during our recent road trip back from Orkney, where we’d been during the Jutland commemorations. On our journey north, my ‘significant other’ – the ‘LadyQJ’ of my Twitter feed – spotted a sign for a pottery whose products […]

Highways and Byways of the Seventeenth Century: the Artist’s Daughter

Sir Anthony van Dyck is rightly regarded as one of the towering figures of European art. However, he had only one legitimate child, Justina, or Justiniana, and tragically, he died just days after his daughter was born, on 1 December 1641. She was baptised on the 9th, the very day of her father’s death, at St […]

The Holy Grail? Somebody Left It on the Throne of Doom

We spent last week enjoying some ‘R&R’ at Rosslyn Castle, just outside Edinburgh. This is a Landmark Trust property, and regular readers of this blog will know that I/we are big fans of Landmarks, having notched up fifteen of them to date; indeed, I’ll be off to another one in just a few weeks time, […]

Homage to Caledonia

And so it belongs to the ages: the most momentous event in the history of the United Kingdom, and certainly of Scotland, for many decades. If you can be certain of one thing at this very moment, it’s that the first versions of the history of the Scottish independence referendum are already being written. As […]

Arfur Minute

A confession: I very nearly became an Arthurian. Before you all run off into the hills, screaming hysterically, bear with me for a few minutes. Remember that I originally come from Carmarthenshire – Caer Myrddin, the fort of Merlin, right? So the Arthurian myths and legends were all around me from pretty much as far back as […]