Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Young Author

    I chose this weeks poem just because I thought the title was apt. However, the English, poet and writer Samuel Johnson's words tell us a young author's troublesome journey in search of his fame and fortune.

The Young Author

When first the peasant, long inclined to roam
Forsakes his rural sports and peaceful home
Pleased with the scene the smiling ocean yields
He scorns the verdant meads and flowery fields
Then dances jocund over the watery way
While the breeze whispers, and the streamers play
Unbounded prospects in his bosom roll
And future millions lift his rising soul
In blissful dreams he digs the golden mine
And raptured sees the new-found ruby shine
Joys insincere, thick clouds invade the skies
Loud roar the billows, high the waves arise
Sickening with fear, he longs to view the shore
And vows to trust the faithless deep no more
So the Young Author, panting after fame
And the long honours of a lasting name
Intrusts his happiness to human kind
More false, more cruel, than the seas, or wind
'Toil on, dull crowd' (in ecstasies he cries)
'For wealth or title, perishable prize
While I those transitory blessings scorn
Secure of praise from ages yet unborn'
This thought once formed, all counsel comes too late
He flies to press, and hurries on his fate
Swiftly he sees the imagined laurels spread
And feels the unfading wreath surround his head
Warned by another's fate, vain youth, be wise,
Those dreams were Settle's once, and Ogilby's
The pamphlet spreads, incessant hisses rise
To some retreat the baffled writer flies
Where no sour critics snarl, no sneers molest
Safe from the tart lampoon, and stinging jest
There begs of Heaven a less distinguished lot
Glad to be hid, and proud to be forgot 

 Samuel Johnson 1709-1784

Thursday, 14 September 2017


St Andrews University
    The other week one of my close friends was recollecting about her son when he was sitting a math's exam for the first time at high school. He asked her if he could have a calculator and she accused him of trying to cheat, because as far as she was concerned his brain should be doing the work. In denial he explained that he was one of the only boys in his class that didn't have one.
    Of course mothers know that when kids say, 'they're the only kid that doesn't have one,' this isn't always the case. However, when she checked with the school she found out that the kids were being encouraged to use them and that he had in fact been using one provided by the school.

    Feeling slightly guilty at doubting her son she went straight out and bought him one. She explained to me that still to this day, thirty-years on, she carries the guilt.    

The Quad, St Andrews University

    Now, children grow up with calculators, iPads and the rest. I never really thought about how the whole thing of calculators and computing came about until the other day. When I read about the Scottish, mathematician, physicist and astronomer, John Napier who died four hundred years ago.

    His invention of logarithms and a type of abacus called 'Napier's Bones' opened up a whole new way of tackling mathematical calculations. His abacus was the forerunner to a calculator and helped in the development of the "slide-rule"or "slipstick" I believe you call it in the US.

    Napier went to the University of St Andrews at an early age, however he only stayed for a short time. Like many inventors, what I've read about him demonstrates he had a certain amount of foresight. He became better known for his mathematical achievements including introduction of the decimal point in calculations.

    Although, his other creations included a type of 'burning mirror' to be used by ships in war and a chariot that fired shots also to be used in warfare, I'm sure inspired other inventors. Of course, his inspiration for both the latter items mentioned, could have been gotten from Archimedes and Leonardo da Vinci. It doesn't really matter though, because I'm sure he got his calculations correct.

St Salvators clock, the college itself is where Napier studied

Sunday, 10 September 2017


        Love can give us much pleasure, however it can also tear us apart. The classic poem I'm featuring today is by Scottish born poet and playwright, Joanna Baillie, describes the way in which love effects us all.

To Cupid

Child, with many a childish wile
Timid look, and blushing smile
Downy wings to steal thy way
Gilded bow, and quiver gay
Who in thy simple mien would trace
The tyrant of the human race?

Who is he whose flinty heart
Hath not felt the flying dart?
Who is he that from the wound
Hath not pain and pleasure found?
Who is he that hath not shed
Curse and blessing on thy head?

Joanna Baillie 1783-1851

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Incredible Journey

    This month I'm celebrating the fifth year of my blog and I really can't believe it. Four hundred and sixty-three posts on, I've learned lots and of course, I'm still learning every day. My early posts didn't contain any pictures and that was because I had no idea how to even insert them. At least I can manage to do that now. Although, I have to admit there have been a few hiccups along the way.

   In the early days I used to worry that no-one was going to read my blog, but now it's all about retaining the readers and increasing the number of visitors. That's why I believe it's very important to vary the content as much as I can. Something, that isn't always easy, however I do love writing my blog as much as I love writing books. Both can be challenging, still what would life be without challenges?

    Many of my popular posts can be found down the side-bar of my blog, of course there are too many to view and I've included a few more links below from over the years that I hope you will also enjoy as others have.

    I am now looking to show case other authors regularly, with a new Q &A feature. The first author to be featured is the wonderful indie author, writer of women's fiction Tina-Marie Miller. I am superbly excited by this, not just because it will be my first in this category, but because Tina-Marie is promising us a little teaser. I'm not going to say anymore, you'll be able to find out all about Tina-Marie by dropping by, September 24.

    I hope that I can show case others in the months to come, so if you're an author I follow on Facebook, or Twitter and you want to be featured, DM me and we can hopefully work together. There is no reason to be shy and the feature is free of charge.

    Over the last five years I've had an incredible journey. With a consistent, constantly increasing number of visitors to this site and three published books under my belt. A journey that I'm glad I bought the ticket for.

    A HUGE THANK YOU TO YOU ALL FOR YOUR CONTINUING SUPPORT. A virtual hug is coming your way.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Village Green

    Whether it's a cot mobile, a musical bear, or musical toy giraffe, young children are lulled to sleep with tunes that have done so for hundreds of years. One such song is, Twinkle, twinkle, little star, the words of this song were written by English poet and author, Jane Taylor and I am today featuring one of her poems today in my classic poetry post.

    The words of the featured poem truly evoke a picture in the mind's eye and I believe that you can nearly hear the noise of the playful children too.


ON the cheerful village green
  Skirted round with houses small
All the boys and girls are seen
  Playing there with hoop and ball
Now they frolic hand in hand
  Making many a merry chain
Then they form a warlike band
  Marching over the level plain
Now ascends the worsted ball
  High it rises in the air
Or, against the cottage wall
  Up and down it bounces there
Then the hoop, with even pace
  Runs before the merry throngs
Joy is seen in every face
  Joy is heard in cheerful songs
 Rich array, and mansions proud
  Gilded toys, and costly fare
Would not make the little crowd
  Half so happy as they are
Then, contented with my state
  Where true pleasure may be seen
Let me envy not the great
  On a cheerful village green

Jane Taylor (1783-1824)

Thursday, 31 August 2017

By yon Bonnie banks and By yon Bonnie Braes

    The skirl of the bagpipes welcomed guests to, Duck Bay, on the southern shores of Loch Lomond at the weekend and as a proud Scot my skin tingled on hearing the piper's lament. The tear's welled up into my eyes and my blood rushed through my veins as though in acknowledgement of the pride I feel to be Scottish.

    It was a day that initially made me want to cuddle up on the sofa with a good book, however, I was in dire need of some exercise. We jumped into the car with no real idea where we were heading and finally arrived in one of the most beautiful locations in Scotland.

     The sky was blue and the wind whipped the black, rain laden clouds, quickly over. Allowing the partakers of water-sports to have some fun and parent swans to take their signet for a leisurely swim. I quickly started snapping some photographs of the loch and if on cue, the piper began to play an old, folk-lore favourite, Loch Lomond.  A traditional song that is still being played and sung all over the world, the lyricist unfortunately remains unknown.

        I wish I could include a sound track to accompany my pictures. But, that's impossible and I certainly wouldn't share my untuneful, singing voice. Therefore, if you just sing, "You'll take the high road and I'll take the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore you." Get the idea?

Sunday, 27 August 2017

The Mountain Castle

    My classic poetry post has been very popular amongst readers and because of this I've decided to do a few more. Today we're celebrating the life and works of German poet and writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, with his poem, the Mountain Castle. The poem itself demonstrates the poet's imagination at work.

 The Mountain Castle

There stands on yonder high mountain

A castle built of yore

Where once lurked horse and horseman

In rear of gate and of door

Now door and gate are in ashes

And all around is so still

And over the fallen ruins

I clamber just as I will

Below once lay a cellar

With costly wines well stored

No more the glad maid with her pitcher

Descends there to draw from the hoard

No longer the goblet she places

Before the guests at the feast

The flask at the meal so hallowed

No longer she fills for the priest

No more for the eager squire

The draught in the passage is poured

No more for the flying present

Receives she the flying reward

For all the roof and the rafters

They all long since have been burned

And stairs and passage and chapel

To rubbish and ruins are turned

Yet when with lute and with flagon

When day was smiling and bright

I've watched my mistress climbing

To gain this perilous height

Then rapture joyous and radiant

The silence so desolate brake

And all, as in days long vanished

Once more to enjoyment awoke

As if for guests of high station

The largest rooms were prepared

As if from those times so precious

A couple thither had fared

As if there stood in his chapel

The priest in his sacred dress

And asked, 'Would ye twain be united?'

And we, with a smile, answered, 'Yes!'

And songs that breathed a deep feeling

That touched the heart's innermost chord

The music-fraught mouth of sweet echo

Instead of the many, outpoured

And when at eve all was hidden

In silence unbroken and deep

The glowing sun then looked upwards

And gazed on the summit so steep

And squire and maiden then glittered

As bright and gay as a lord

She seized the time for her present

And he to give her reward

                              Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
                        28 August 1749 - 22 March 1832