Time Well Spent

The lack of activity on my blog is, I’m glad to say, primarily due to the fact that I’ve been writing. Yep, you read right, I’ve been boosting the word count and piling up the pages. And no, before you ask, my LPoW is not yet finished, but it is beginning to fill out pretty well. Even better, I’ve finally settled into my writing groove and am enjoying that liberating sense of timelessness that comes from losing yourself in something you love.

But you know what they say: all work and no play …

IMG_2696A fortnight ago, Mr D and I loaded up Happy with champagne, chocolate, walking shoes and my parents, and headed north in convoy with our friends F and L in their campervan, Sunny. Findhorn-bound, we stopped off half-way to picnic in the sunshine and kick start the holiday with leftover quiche and cold potatoes.

Two hours later, we tumbled out of our campers and set up home in an old fisherman’s cottage with a free-standing bath. We were joined by more friends the following night and, when Sunday dawned and promised to live up to its name with regards to the weather, we spilled out onto the beach.

Friends and food at the seaside: the very essence of bliss. There were games and laughter; a curious seal; ebullient dogs; bird-watching; paddling – swimming even! We took photographs (including a rare one of me with my best friend), traded stories, told jokes, and sat side-by-side watching the sea as it kept on coming. The world was huge, time limitless, and as the sun began to pack up for the day, we followed suit and headed back to the cottage, a weave of arms and rolled up trousers and sun hats and dogs.

IMG_2716The rest of the week was quieter: opera in Elgin town hall; pummelled by rain on Burghead promenade; Berghaus bargains in a Nairn charity shop; fresh vegetables bought from the side of a path through the Findhorn Foundation; huge plates of Buckie fish; and the impish greens of the Northern Lights.

On our penultimate day, B and G visited with strawberries and truffles and told us of Pluscarden Abbey, the place where B told me she had gone when I was in hospital, to ask the monks to include me in their prayers. We arranged to meet her there later, where we listened to the Gregorian chanting of the monks during Vespers, the last wisp of sunshine trickling through the stained glass, fragments of blue and pink and green scattered across their hooded heads.

A quiet calm accompanied us on the journey home in Happy.

Amongst friends: music, camping, laughter and faux fur

There’s been little writing since my last blog and I make no excuses for it. Here’s why.

Lossiemouth: Picture endless sea and disappearing horizons and the flirtatious laugh of your best friend. Imagine stepping out of your campervan into a weekend community of shared smiles and cuppas, charity shops, fish suppers and home-made ginger bread – the lingering taste of salt on your lips, your fingers sugar-sticky. Feel the warmth of a faux fur coat given with a rib-squeezing hug; guitars and harmonies, fiddles, borrowed hot showers, the dance of rain and the barbequed smell of summer.

Ullapool: Picture a midge-riddled road-side stopover – reservoir sunset and the neck-tingling early morning sighting of a sea eagle, the moment where time paused in the shadow of a 7ft wingspan. Imagine parking on the edge of the sea; morning dog walkers, wagging tails and reflections of moored boats settling in the wake of the inbound ferry. Taste the home-grown berries for sale by the roadside, money deposited in a ‘trust box’, the coolness of ice-cream against your tongue.

Perth: Picture birthday cards from loved ones, bacon rolls in the garden, lavender and a contented cat lolling in the sunshine. Imagine your lover on stage, your friends cheering, a small girl blindly steering her pushchair back and forth, guitars and hats and motorbikes, coleslaw and over-cooked sausages. See the lightening split the sky, momentarily dividing the old bricked flats from the newly glassed shop, causing the old man on the bench to run for cover.

Dumfries & Galloway: Picture ancient burial chambers, guarded by standing stones – stoic sentries casting long shadows in the early evening sun, a starless night in the Dark Skies National Park! Imagine discussing your Longer Piece of Writing with a published and respected author while trying to contain the pleasure her words of praise and encouragement bring. Smell the freshly baked scones, bronzed crusts splitting with ease, a slick of melted butter coating your plate; the musty smell of yellowed paper in the second hand book shop, the incense burning amongst the Buddhas, kaftans and turquoise of the neighbouring nook-like store.

Glasgow: Picture two people arriving at the gates of Kelvingrove Park, tired and dishevelled and ten minutes too late to hear the daily bandstand music in celebration of the Commonwealth Games. Imagine the splash of colour and laughter of children in the play park, the queues and barriers blocking access to the museum, aching feet and anoraks. Hear the sigh of the water in the fountain as a penny breaks its surface, the bustle of the leaves and creak of the bark, branch bending under the couple’s combined weight.

Edinburgh: Picture the smile that splits the face of old and much-missed friends after a time too long – the heart-felt, arms thrown hugs that remind you of darkened pubs and cheap beer, dancing, air guitar and hungover happiness. Imagine street-side cafes and Fringe shows and fliers and the sensory overload of a capital city high on creative energy. Gossip and fizz. Talk of hearts and hair and handbags; laughter and a sense of belonging.

And now? Back to the writing.