Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Great Escape

    The weather throughout the world in the last couple of weeks  has been all over the place. In the UK, as temperatures plummeted in some areas to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the wintry conditions caused transport chaos, as the airports and main roads closed. Now forecasters warn that floods are imminent in locations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland due to the snow thawing and the heavy rain that's replacing the snow.

    Across the pond in the U.S.A, 13 states face a deep freeze, with the temperature in some places dropping to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday.

    Then travelling down under to Australia the temperature there has reached highs of 50 degrees centigrade, with tropical cyclones and tornadoes causing destruction.

    Whatever weather  we're trying to escape, staying indoors on some occasions is advisable. For me that's when I settle down with a good book,escaping the world about me. Because, when I read a book I experience anything I want to. I can escape from the snow, to a sun soaked beach in a few minutes and if I'm too warm, I can relax my mind in a cooler place.

    What else other than a book allows us to do this ?

One Minute the Snow

The Next a Sun Soaked Beach


Friday, 25 January 2013

Ae Fond Kiss, And Then We Sever


Visit a loch

     Today, the 25th January, is Burns' day, a day that my fellow countrymen in Scotland celebrate more than our national day, the feast day of St Andrew on the 30th November. It's a day when we kill the haggis and drink copious amounts of whisky, to toast our master bard, Robert Burns.

Visit Oban and the distillery there

    Although I am partial to a plate of haggis, neeps and tatties, I have to admit that I do not partake any amount of my national drink, but I will toast the words of our national hero. The songs and poems that he wrote in his short life of thirty seven years will be sung and recited all over the world tonight.

Speed bonny boat to the Islands of Scotland
    To celebrate this day I've included some photographs of my wonderful country. I hope if you live elsewhere in the world you will visit us one day, because your trip will be memorable just as his words are. I leave you this week with an Ae Fond Kiss.

ST Columba's Cathedral Oban


Monday, 21 January 2013

Child's Play

    In one of my first posts I told you about my mother amusing my brother and I, on our journey home from my grandmother's, with fantastical tales. Today, I want to talk about the importance of reading to our children.

    Parents nowadays have busy lives, holding down sometimes more than one job, fitting in school runs, taking little Johnny, or Jenny to after school clubs, as well as doing household chores. Therefore, trying to find the time to sit down with the kids and read to them, can seem like a chore too.

    Information is readily available advising parents of the importance of their child eating correctly and getting enough exercise. But, we don't emphasise the significance of exercising their little brain in the same way.

    It's a well known fact that just reading stories to them from an early age, helps with a child's development. Benefiting them in their life to come. Apart from the literacy skills, reading stimulates the imagination.

    Some may argue, that the electronic games that are available today do the same thing. I believe that they do have a  place, especially interactive games and books. But, if all children ever look at is in 3D, it takes away the need for their imagination. For example, when we read a fantasy book (surprisingly I would use fantasy) we all have different ideas of what the characters look like and a different perception of the world in which it takes place in. All because our imagination is a one-off.

    I think it's a shame if kids don't get the chance to experience a unique world of their own, after all it's child's play. What's your view?

Friday, 18 January 2013


    Following a fun filled December, I initially found it quite hard to get back into my daily routine this month. There always seemed to be something that sneaked into my working time that distracted me.

    I found it too easy to click out of the current novel I'm working on and do something else. Nothing in particular, but something else. As I set a daily target of words, I was starting to feel I was chasing my tail on occasions and I was feeling slightly frustrated with myself.

    Normally, if I find my mind wandering off where it shouldn't, I go for a walk, read a book, or do meditation, all of these things I find clear my mind. But unfortunately none of these things seemed to be working either.

    So what was I to do? I needed to find something that was going to focus my mind back on the work in progress. I decided to read my own novel that's about to be published and that gave me the motivation I needed to get back to the hard work that goes into writing.

    How do you stay focused?

Monday, 14 January 2013

Don't Turn a Blind Eye

    Today the NSPCC (National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children) in the UK launches a media campaign called 'Don't Wait Until You're Certain', to promote awareness of child sexual abuse in the UK.

    Recently the media in the UK has been covering a high profile child abuse case. A well known celebrity has been found to have been a sexual predator for the last sixty years. Unfortunately, allegations against him were never taken seriously and suspicions about him were never reported until he died. Therefore, he will never be brought to justice, but his victims live on with the pain and hurt that he caused them.

    A recent poll organised by the NSPCC and the government showed that only 17% of those surveyed said they would report suspicion of child abuse. This surprising result from the poll, in addition to the recent revelations is why the NSPCC has decided to launch a new campaign.

    Sexual abuse of children and young adults is unlikely to be eradicated completely, but we can do our best to help the vulnerable. So let's not tun a blind eye to it.

    Help for children and young adults can be accessed through, Childline: 0800 1111

    Help for adults concerned about a child : 0808 800 5000 or

    Donations :





Friday, 11 January 2013

End of the Road for Libraries?

    Here in the UK, the new year isn't looking a happy, or prosperous one for our public libraries. 200 of them closed their doors in 2012, and the numbers are still stacking up.

    The city of Newcastle, in the north of England is set to close 10 of the 18 they have at present and the city of York has agreed to hand 13 over to charitable organisations.

    Yes, we need to find smarter ways in which we run our libraries, but in these times of austerity even charities, who receive tax breaks, and government grants are struggling along. So how long are libraries going to survive on this type of funding?

    A good number of these closures are planned in some of the most deprived areas of the UK. Areas where the local library is a place where women can spend time alone, safely. A place where kids from underprivileged backgrounds can study, opening their lives up to a better world than they live in at present.

    Our local library, as many do, offers IT classes for pensioners. Yes, it's good to stimulate their little grey cells, but it's not just the educational side of things that's good for our elderly. It's somewhere they can go and socialise and if they live alone, this maybe the only time they have any lengthy contact with others.

    What's the answer? I have no idea, but we have to save our community before it fades into oblivion.



Sunday, 6 January 2013

Let's Deal With IT and Move ON

    Just when most of us are closing the door on the year that has finished, it seems some of us aren't quite ready to do so. The old debate of authors reviewing the books of other authors has reared it's ugly head again.

    Now as we are all perfectly aware, this all came about because of a small number of authors who thought they would manipulate reviews, by asking those on their friends and family call list to write a false review of their book.

    Naively, I could never have dreamt that this sort of thing could have gone on. But I have since discovered that although I definitely wasn't born yesterday, that I was rather gullible. That was until I joined the social networking world.

    Within a matter of days of joining the online community, I was contacted by several authors who asked that I write a review of their book. Innocently, I replied that I couldn't comply because I didn't have the time to read it. Explaining, that I wouldn't be able to give an accurate evaluation of their work. I quickly realised by some of the replies I received, that I wasn't suppose to read their novel, I was just to write a review.

    I am a reader of books and yes, if I read a book I really enjoy I am inclined to write a review. As I would if I stayed in a great hotel. But, I won't be pushed into writing a an opinion on a book I have not read. This minority who thought they would give themselves a helping hand up the ratings ladder, have unfortunately wasted it for all the rest of us.

    Are Amazon right, or wrong to go ahead with the ban? Personally I think their damned if they do and damned if they don't. The company belongs to them, they call the shots and they make the final decisions. In this life there are lots of things that we don't agree with, but someone somewhere has to have the final say and it's impossible to please everyone. So, can we deal with it and move on now.

Friday, 4 January 2013

The Missing Piece

   I dropped by my elderly neighbour on New Year's day to wish her all the best and found her putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Although in her late seventies she likes to keep active. But due to the bad weather conditions just now it's not possible for her to get out and about, so she decided it was time to give her brain a good work out.

    When I commented that it was years since I had sat down and tackled one, she offered to lend me one of her vast collection of puzzles. An offer I quickly declined, my excuse being that I didn't have the patience. But excuses don't wash with her, probably because she was once a school teacher and she asked me to justify my statement. When I started to struggle with my explanation, she laughed heartily and told me that I had myself all wrong.

    She told me to look at what I do day in and day out, the thing I would do 24/7 if I could. Of course, it's writing, and she is right, you do need to be patient when writing. Because the whole process from start to the actual publication of your work takes a long time. If you think about the time it takes to plot, write the first, second or third draft. Then there's the edits, the line edits, so on, so on.

    Although I still didn't take up the offer of taking away a jigsaw, I did come away knowing something about myself that I wasn't aware of. So the next time I hear the phrase, 'Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can, seldom found in woman, never found in man. 'I'll be reminded of my neighbours wise words, that demonstrated we writers definitely do need to possess the virtue of patience.