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  • a new outlook

    The new study is at the front of the house, and I’m only just getting used to the view. The old one (which was so small and packed that I once referred to it as the origami bookbox) looked out over the back garden bounded on one side by the hedge – a sparrow high-rise tenement – and on the other by the side of the utility room , the greenhouse and the fence. It was very sunny, enclosed, focussed, green and domestic.

    The new one is at the front, facing North, and overlooks the street. It also overlooks the high stone wall which is all you can see downstairs into the neighbours’ front gardens and windows, so I feel much more part of the bustle of village life, especially now while the construction work is going on.

    But it also overlooks the orchard, the last of the many for which the village used to be famous in the days of the Glasgow Boys, who would take houses here and paint, and try to get acquainted with the girls at Denovan’s art school at Craigmill. One of these was the famous country diary lady, Edith Holden, who studied there for a while, and refers to a holiday there in the summer of her famous book. The trees on this side of the house are taller and different birds hang out in them, and in the winter you can see beyond them to the Ochils in the distance – a very different perspective.


  • the new novel

    We went to the Crannog on Loch Tay on Saturday to do some research for the new novel. What you can see is a reproduction of a real Iron Age Crannog further up the loch, and there is a chance to see the building,and learn about the methods of construction and try out some Iron Age skills like spinning or making a fire or turning a lathe. They hold festivals and story-telling sessions there and it was really interesting in spite of the very patronising guide. And the weather was fabulous. Even more remarkable considering the appalling rain and wind we’ve had before and after. I have not seen such wonderful leaf colours in years. I love Perthshire. If it wasn’t such a long commute to Kilsyth I would up sticks and go there now.
    All this made a very welcome break in the major tidying up that has been going on in this house. Naomi has been sorting and organising all the stuff she brought home from university, and I’ve been doing a clear-out of surplus books, clothes I’ll never wear and hobbies I’m not up to any more. It as very dusty but the house is fit to live in again. Meanwhile Katherine has been doing the same in her house, as Lucy is just on the point of becoming mobile, and now I am houseworked out. It is good to be back at work, and thinking about the aesthetics of traditional singing, and the authenticity of reconstructive archaeology.


  • after the gap

    Blimey it’s a long time since I posted. It isn’t that I haven’t been working, though – at least it isn’t only that!
    We had family shenanigans, as some of us went to see Bruce Springsteen in Cardiff ( and yes, they were as impressed as all the people who have written in to Radio 2 were) and we all went to a silver wedding celebration. This involved mixing Granny, a five-month old baby, a lot of relations who don’t see each other very often, and someone’s new significant other – a recipe for trouble if ever you heard it! Actually, no. In fact it was all very enjoyable, though it felt like a very long journey home.
    Then there was all the catching up with the NHS. Don’t know why it is, but when you get one appointment you often find you have several all in a bunch. Like buses.
    But I have been working very hard on the revisions for Saracen Women, which are almost complete. I have discovered the temptations of cut and paste, which gives you the illusion of easy editing, but in fact just encourages you to think in terms of cool little pieces instead of a smooth flow and careful construction. It’s beginning to iron out, and I am beginning to feel pleased with it.
    Lúcháir is up and running now, though I have been rather slack at posting (same reasons, lame excuses). However, I am just going to remedy that one.


  • too much stuff

    This house is full of stuff. We have junk everywhere. Our papers now clutter three rooms and today I have community council work all over the sitting room floor and the kitchen table as well. We have Dom’s spiderman toys. We have half of Naomi’s stuff – and where we will put the rest when she finally comes home I don’t know. And we are both exploding out of our work spaces. I have had so many schemes for rationalising and de-cluttering, but I have reached the limit. I am going to have to get rid of books. There is no alternative.
    If it isn’t hurting, it’s not working.
    I put this on facebook, and SallyE got back to me saying there’s a good jumble sale in October. I wonder if I can persuade her to take things now?



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