Well, I’ve taken the plunge. I’m doing #NaNoWriMo again this year. So committed to it, in fact, I’ve added a widget to the sidebar of my blog with the NaNo shield.
Will I be a winner this year? Who knows? I’m going to do my best.
Last year, I wrote my novel The Secret of Hillcrest House. While the finished product was less than 50,000 words, I did write every day so I still consider myself a winner.
The working title for this project is Second Chances. And here’s the short synopsis (subject to change, of course)…
Torn away from her first love, Jared Martin, in a family move to another country when she was a teenager, Katherine Murphy is devastated. Soon after her return to Aberdeen to attend University, she discovers Jared seemingly in a relationship with someone else. However; destiny has someone else in mind for Katherine – Colin Whithorn. They fall in love, marry and open a new and used bookshop. Their marriage comes to an abrupt end during the London bombings on July 7, 2005 when Colin is in the city on a buying trip for their store.
Devastated, she builds a wall around her heart determined not to let anyone in again who can hurt her – that is, until five years later when Jared walks into her shop. Despite him being her first love, he must tear down the barrier she’s created to protect herself. Given a second chance of a life with him, Katherine couldn’t be happier until another cruel twist of fate strikes and the helicopter he’s on returning from his job on an oil rig ditches in the North Sea. Will he survive the ordeal? Will they have a third chance at happiness? Or will Katherine have her heart broken yet again?
With the Nazis poised to invade Guernsey in 1940, feisty student Lydia Le Page returns from England on the day the island is devastated by the first bombing of the war on British soil.
Trapped on the German occupied island, two men enter Lydia’s life: Martin Martell, the handsome but mysterious rector and Major Otto Kruger, the ruthless German Kommandant who falls under her spell.
When Martin disappears, Lydia discovers a secret from her past that threatens her future. Will she be able to keep it from the enemy? And will she choose love or duty?
Occupying Love is a story of love, loss and the identity that makes us who we are.
‘So you’ve met the handsome new rector, you lucky girl.’ Maggie’s eyes twinkled. ‘What did you think of him?’
‘He’s good looking, I’ll give you that. I gather you haven’t been introduced?’
‘I’ve had the odd glimpse since he replaced old man Ozanne, but believe me, tongues are wagging. Some folks say he’s a double agent put here by the Jerries, and that he daubed “V for Victory” on the prison walls. Isn’t it exciting?’
‘Exciting he may be,’ Lydia kept her voice casual, ‘but he’s not really my type.’
‘You mean you fancy him?’
‘I mean nothing of the sort, Maggie. He’s a rector, not a movie star – don’t you think of anything but the opposite sex?’
‘Not very often, to be frank. I think of food, of course, seeing as there’s never enough to go round, and going out after the curfew, and being able to buy whatever I like in the shops. What else is there to occupy my mind?’
‘You could help with the Sunday school at Torteval. The lady who leads it has gone to England.’
‘Me? Help with the Sunday school? You do make me laugh. There’s hardly any kids left on the island and those that are here wouldn’t gain much from me. Or much that would do them any good. I think all that book–learning’s gone to your brain. You need to relax a bit more.’ Maggie winked. ‘There’s a picture on at the Regal tonight. Do you want to come with me?’
Lydia pulled a face. ‘It’s German, with English subtitles. Are you still sure you want to go?’
I got my first break writing in a football magazine when I was 15 and have been writing ever since. An NCTJ qualified journalist, I spent my early years on the Blackpool Evening Gazette and Lytham St Annes Express in Lancashire. I then helped to set up a family PR and publishing company on the Fylde Coast and freelanced for national newspapers and magazines, including Woman.
My debut novel Baggy Pants and Bootees was released as an e-book in February 2014 by a small publishing house based in Britain and Germany. A time-slip novel set between World War Two and the ‘swinging sixties, it was published as a paperback in August 2014.
Born in Guernsey, I have always wanted to write a novel set in the Occupation of the Channel Islands, after hearing so many stories about life under German rule from my grandparents, whose home was requisitioned by the enemy. Occupying Love is the result.
After spending several years in the Midlands I now live in Lancashire with my husband of 45 years. We have two daughters and two granddaughters who we spend lots of time with.
A member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association I am currently working on a sequel to Baggy Pants and Bootees.
This morning was a first. Don got pulled aside going through security. They swabbed his hands (backs and palms) and his shoes before placing the swab in the machine to be analyzed. An episode of Border Security played out before my eyes. Me, I passed through with no problems at all.
We stopped at Beardmore for breakfast. We’ve eaten here before. It seems our flights always leave from gates beyond this point so when you’re lugging a heavy pack on your back, it’s a welcome stop – not to mention, the food is good.
On our walk to our departure gate, we got a good look back at the hotel. We’d intentionally left our curtains open so we could see our room when we were out and about. This was the first chance I had to get a photo.
My plan was to read on the plane on our return flight. Not to be. My iPad was SO dead, even plugged in, it wouldn’t turn on. The seats in the departure lounge weren’t the best for plane watching but fantastic for charging devices. I had my phone and my iPad both plugged in.
While they charged, I took my Canon DSLR for a walk.
Enough charge now in the phone to take selfies. We’re not looking overly happy here, but then the vacation was well and truly over by now and by the end of the day, we’d be back to reality.
Albeit blurry, we’re finally looking happy. A glass of champagne in hand!
Since I couldn’t read on my iPad, I watched movies instead.
When we landed in Montreal, I had the opportunity to get a picture or two out of the plane window. This Air Canada was at the gate next to us.
It seemed to take forever to get the headcount of the remaining passengers correct. Only those deplaning in Montreal were allowed off. People stretching their legs and milling in the aisles made it impossible for the flight attendants to get an accurate count.
In Toronto, we couldn’t get off the plane straight away because of the bag log in the customs hall. It was still bad when we arrived but when we finally got to the checkpoint, like good Canadians, we declared our 100 gms of fudge we purchased on the Royal Yacht Britannia (indicated on our landing card), the remaining tin of Pringles we’d purchased so we could use the toilet at one of the roadside services, and our bottle of whisky each.
Usually, we have to wait for our luggage at the carousel. Not this time. It waited for us… and had been removed and placed on the floor. That was a first.
Cleared past the last checkpoint and out into the arrivals hall where we made our way to the post where we phoned for the hotel shuttle to come and collect us.
I had a gift card for Montanas, so after we checked into the hotel, we walked over there for supper. They had a large group in so we’d have a wait for our meal. I wasn’t super hungry after everything they fed us on the plane. We had drinks and waited for them to take our food order. Even though it took them longer to do that than we wanted, our meals were brought to us before the estimated time. Amazing what can happen when you get into the queue.
I can’t wait to go back to the UK. Now the question remains… what time of year? Next year? What part(s) do we want to visit?
Our last full day in Scotland… 🙁 So sad. After we checked out of the hotel and packing our suitcases so we thought they were of reasonably equal weight, and as few packages as possible once we dropped off the rental car, we struck out.
I knew we’d forfeit some diesel but we’d be between a quarter tank and empty if we took the most direct route. With our experiences with rental cars on this trip, I didn’t want to run out and be stuck waiting for roadside assistance to come with a jerry can to give us a drop.
I remember seeing this tower on the cliff on my first trip to Scotland in 1993 when I took the bus from Glasgow to Aberdeen. Back then I was petrified to drive so close to a big city on my own.
I stopped at many laybys (parking areas) along the A90 between Dundee and Perth where we switched onto the A9 after a brief stint on the M90.
We were both to the point where we needed toilets so when we saw the signs for Dunblane (which were clearly posted WC – aka water closet) along with the Historic Scotland signage for Dunblane Cathedral, we decided to make that our ‘port of call’.
Following the signs for the “WC” we drove into the village. Said signs became more and more obscure. A public car park was located off a narrow street near the cathedral – still used as a working church. No matter how bad I need the loo, I couldn’t pass up this photo op.
We walked back to where the signs for the public toilets pointed. The council office which was closed on Sundays. ACK! I spotted an older woman across the street so approached her and asked where the public bathrooms were. “There are no public toilets in Dunblane anymore,” she replied.
Panic! We both needed a toilet badly.
“But, go up the street to the cathedral and off to the left. Use the toilets there.”
If I didn’t have to go so bad, I would have hugged and kissed her. We strode up to the hall but chose the wrong entrance so had to navigate through the church crowd who had gathered after Sunday service. We didn’t make the same error when we left.
We dropped Monty off at the convenient Europcar rental return (across the road from the hotel) with his proper paperwork. A bit more complicated than on previous car rental returns but we got through and sent on our way. The collision damage waiver (CDW) and roadside assistance looked after our woes from earlier.
We arrived back at the airport hotel before the 2:00 pm check-in time but our room was ready and off we went. 8th floor and a view of the planes landing on one side and the M8 motorway on the other.
Before we both crashed and burned, we went for a walk around the airport complex past the Holiday Inn Express, the Europcar rental return (no sign of Monty) and back to the hotel.
We had a meal in the bar at the hotel where we’ve had excellent service in the past. This time not so much but the food was good.
After returning to our room, I took advantage of the twilight and got some more photos.
Leaving tomorrow would be hard. Since leaving Broughty Ferry I tried to come up with every excuse I could think of to stay.
We double-checked the weight of our bags so come morning when we had to put our last night/morning things away we knew, what suitcase to put them in.
Breakfast tomorrow at Beardmore (hopefully, still in business) then people and plane watch while we wait to board.
Since we weren’t meeting the family until 7:30, we had the entire day to get to the distillery and back and have some time to freshen up before catching the bus over to Carnoustie. Responsible thing to do. And this way we could both drink and not have to worry about driving afterwards.
I wanted to avoid driving through Aberdeen so we headed cross-country at Stonehaven. Once I got up into familiar territory, I no longer needed Satnav Sally. I followed my heart – after a stop at the public toilets in Alford.
We encountered roadworks after we left Craigellachie, near the junction of the A941 and B9102. Another side road comes in just south of the junction so the traffic lights controlling things were odd to say the least. We sat there for quite some time before getting a green light.
Two bottles of 18 year-old Cardhu purchased (£69.00 each), we used their toilets and started back towards Broughty Ferry.
Curious to know if anything else had been done with Wardhouse Mansion since our last visit, we came home by way of Keith and Huntly so I could go through Kennethmont for a look.
We stopped at a petrol station in Keith to get a bottle of water (I know it sounds strange when we’re having to look for toilets all of the time) because we were thirsty. While I waited in the car, I shut the engine off. No need to idle. Well, Monty decided not to recognize the keyfob! He wouldn’t start! So here we are stuck in Keith with a car that won’t start and we have to be back in time to get to Carnoustie for 7:30! Would the vacation end on a downer (more than usual) like it started?
Eventually, Monty saw things our way and he started. Phew! After 27 hours for a flat tyre, I shuddered to think how long it would be for this before we got help.
Nothing new on the mansion restoration at Wardhouse. Wanting to avoid Aberdeen again, we got off the A96 at Kintore and went across country and found ourselves on the B974 Cairn O’Mount. Narrow road, lots of potholes along the edge. A wonderful viewpoint that we didn’t have time to stop to enjoy. Besides the weather wasn’t conducive to stopping.
This archway in Fettercairn is amazing! It’s plenty wide on its own, but the road is narrow and the curbs twist and turn making it extremely difficult to navigate.
We made it back to the hotel about 5:30 – plenty of time to freshen up and get ready to go meet the kin. So, since we were taking advantage of public transit, we stopped in the bar downstairs for a drink before heading out to catch the bus.
Our reservation was for 7:30 at The Aboukir Hotel. Don and I arrived first followed about half a large glass of red wine later by the rest of the gang.
It was hilarious how the Canadians all sat on one side of the table and the Scots on the other. It wasn’t planned. It was just the way we sat down. I wanted to be on the end because I’m left-handed and we were the first to get there.
It’s really hard to get good photos of everyone all at once.
Lorraine was the first to go to the ladies. When she came back, she wasted no time telling Lise and me about the heated toilet seat! That brought on peels of laughter.
I went next and she was right. It was warm! It also had bidet functions built in. Now how’s that for up-market?
Lise went last and took her phone in with her. She came back with a photograph of the control panel for it. More laughs!
After a wonderful night catching up with everyone, the time came to call it a day.
We parted company outside the hotel – some of us on foot, some of us via public transit.
When we returned to the hotel in Broughty Ferry, we put our things in our room and went to the bar for a nightcap.
Our wonderful holiday quickly coming to an end – our last full day would be tomorrow – driving back to Glasgow, returning the rental car and getting ready for our flight home on Monday.
I booked our return train tickets long before we went to Scotland. When I knew the train and our seats, I immediately contacted my friend, Chris Longmuir, with the carriage and seat numbers so she could book a seat with us.
The bus stop was close to the hotel, so we walked there and boarded the #5 and told the driver we were going to the Dundee Railway Station. Two return tickets in hand, we settled in for the ride.
When we reached the Nethergate (Stop 1), the driver exited his driving compartment and told us this was the best stop for the train station. We were both impressed that he remembered us and our destination.
A short walk to the train station and we redeemed our tickets at one of the self-serve kiosks before heading to the platform to await our Virgin East Coast train to Edinburgh.
Anxious and excited to spend the day in the city with Chris, it was hard to settle on the train. We chatted about publishing print books and ebooks and changes that needed to be made or which version of the document to use. I’d done it before and had no problems but the current (I’ll call it WIP) gave me grief… hence the request for advice.
The Edinburgh train crossed over the Forth Bridge. This has been on my bucket list for a long time. The bridge looks like it was constructed from a Meccano set.
The train windows were dirty so that didn’t help the picture. In the background, you can see the current Forth Road Bridge and the new, still under construction, crossing.
Before we left the station, we stopped at the bathrooms. 30p to use the toilets but they were clean and the attendant made sure the lines of patiently waiting customers moved smoothly.
I had booked us on a tour of “The Real Mary King’s Close” for about an hour after we arrived in Edinburgh. The printed ticket confirmation said we needed to be there about 30 minutes before the tour started.
Having taken the train into Edinburgh Waverley on more than one occasion, I didn’t realize there was a way from there to the Royal Mile that didn’t require walking up a steep hill. Chris took us on an alternate route, although a bit longer and out of the way, required less effort and on reasonably level ground.
After we checked in at the ticket office and were told we had plenty of time, we decided to look in the nearby whisky shop to see if they stocked 18 year-old Cardhu. They did stock a 21 year-old. For a mere £350.00 we could buy it. On this day, the Bank of Canada exchange rate from UK pounds to CAN dollars was $1.7059 so a bottle of whisky would have cost us $597.00!!! Yikes!!! We knew we could get the age we wanted from the distillery and we had free time on the next day (not meeting my cousins until 7:30 for dinner) so decided rather than traipse around Edinburgh all day looking for what we wanted, we’d wait and make a distillery run on Saturday.
While Chris picked up a few Christmas presents in the shop, I went out and took a few pictures.
How appropriate… Writers’ Court. Chris and I are both writers – just different genres.
And, no the Tattoo Office has nothing to do with marking your skin (permanently or temporarily with henna).
Because Mary King’s Close is under the City Chambers, you’re not permitted to take photographs. *sigh*
Our guide, Paula, was a hoot! Knowledgeable, friendly, and funny. Even though I don’t have photographs of my own to remember the tour, I do have a guidebook and a few other mementos.
Back on Princes Street, we waited at the bus for the #22 that would take us to Ocean Terminal (a waterfront mall and ticket office for the Royal Yacht Britannia).
There’s the #29 headed in the opposite direction.
When our bus arrived, we bought two day passes which would also get us on the trams.
The tour of the Royal Yacht Britanniais completely self-guided. You’re provided with an audio guide (looks like an overgrown cellphone) which is available in a number of languages. They also have a guide in Braille for visually impaired visitors.
We had a late lunch/snack in the Royal Deck Tea Room. I had coffee and fruit scones, Don had chocolate cake, and Chris had a bowl of Carrot and something soup.
Here in the Verge Inn, you have the chance to take “Corgi selfies” (see the wee guy on the left of the photo) or take selfies wearing these hats. No, the beer isn’t real. It’s resin coloured to look like beer with a light foam head on top.
After departing the yacht and Ocean Terminal, we boarded the #22 and returned to Princes St where our next adventure began… a ride on the Edinburgh trams!
We had to walk to one of the stations in the middle of Princes St so that Chris could buy a ticket. Her Angus council bus pass didn’t count for nowt here. Now that we were all legal, we boarded the next tram and rode it to Murrayfield Stadium. Out here the main railway line and the tram line aren’t too far apart.
On our way back to the city centre, Don struck up a conversation with a guy stood near where Chris and I sat. Said guy was reading a Stephen Booth novel. Don told him that Chris also wrote crime fiction (embarrassing her) but she pulled our her stash of book postcards and gave them to him.
The tram ride was another thing crossed off a bucket list (not mine). My next thing was a pint at the Oxford Bar, Ian Rankin’s local. Seeing how Chris was with us I hoped he wouldn’t think I was a pyscho Canadian stalker… LOL!
By now, it was getting later in the day. The next train back to Dundee that stopped in the town Chris lives in departed from Edinburgh Waverley at 7:30. We still needed to get a bite to eat to get us through until tomorrow.
I settled for a photo so I could say, “I’ve been there” but I’ll definitely be back again and have an IPA or something before leaving.
Over supper, still thinking we had to be back at Waverley for the 7:30 train, I checked our tickets. We were locked in to a Virgin East Coast return or pay a fee to change it.
Chris checked her train schedule that she carries with her and luckily for us, that happened to be the 8:30 train. We could have stopped for a quick drink before stopping in at TGI Fridays on Castle Street. Oh well. It did give us some more time for evening photo ops.
When I visited with my cousin, Eric, a few days ago, he mentioned climbing to the top of the Scott Monument with his father back in the day. He claims they carved their initials in the wall at the top level. Must climb up sometime (oh my aching knees) and see if they’re still visible.
When we arrived back at the railway station, we still had some time before we needed to be at the platform. Where else does a writer go but a bookstore?
And look who I found! Fellow loveahappyending author, Sheryl Browne, and her novel The Rest of My Life. She’s in some pretty good company there with Stuart MacBride and Kathy Reichs.
All too soon, our wonderful day came to an end. We were getting off the train in Dundee and Chris was carrying on up the line to her stop. At least the turnstiles in Dundee were open so I got to keep our tickets as souvenirs.
It finally started to rain and drizzled as we made our way back up to Nethergate and a bus stop to catch our return bus to Broughty Ferry.
After we returned to the hotel and deposited our things in the room, we went to the bar for a drink. Whilst chatting with the young barman, we found out that he’d come to Canada on a hockey scholarship. Then we narrowed it down to Ontario (most people wouldn’t have a clue where our city is in the grand scheme of things). Come to find out, he stayed in Cornwall! That’s only a little over an hour away from us. And he played some hockey in Brockville, too.
Tomorrow, in addition to supper with the clan, we have a “side trip” to the distillery. Another adventure.
Jeff, our host at Duncan House, and his black lab joined the group of folks in the dining room. He apologized profusely for not remembering me (actually, putting the name with the face). With the number of people who stay in his wonderful Georgian B&B, I’m not surprised, nor was I offended.
After a hearty breakfast, including porridge, we set out. Shortly before we left home for Scotland, we received an email telling us that Craigmillar Castle would be closed until Sept 20th. The picture of the property included in the Historic Scotland email intrigued me and it being after the 20th, and the castle being close to (if not in the ‘burbs of Edinburgh) so en route to Broughty Ferry, the satnav was programmed to take us there.
I ended up driving Monty further into the city than I wanted thanks to roadworks (as in a humungous hole) in Craigmillar Castle Road. So I had to drive by that end of the road, follow the diversion signs … AND ignore Satnav Sally.
Two school buses (not like our North American ones) parked back to back on opposite sides of the car park. No way on earth Monty would fit between their snouts.
I parked sort of on the edge of the road and we strode to the ticket office/gift shop. “One concession (aka senior), one adult and toilets,” was the buzz phrase of the day. He stamped our “zero charge” receipt with the combination we needed to gain access to the facilities and off we went.
My favourite place! I’ll even do the spiral stairs to get there… 😉
Years later, the windows have been filled in but the fireplace remains.
The school children were amazed that in two different towers of the castle there were bathrooms. One group called over to the other, “we’ve got a loo!” and the other replied “So do we! We have a loo, too!”
The view from the castle ramparts is amazing. The clear weather made it easy to see and recognize North Berwick Law (we’d seen it last year on our way to Dunbar and on the train to Edinburgh).
Driving towards Craigmillar Castle, we had spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat but no place to pull over for a photo op. I was chuffed to bits to get this view from Craigmillar’s ramparts.
As we approached the Forth Road Bridge, the first of many signs for Scotland’s Secret Bunker popped up. It had been a possibility on previous trips and we happened to have the time, so decided to make it a reality this trip. Canada has the Diefenbunker (which we’ve visited) so we needed to compare the two locations.
Imagine a Cold War Shelter capable of running the country from under an innocuous farm house? Now that the cold war threat is over (or is it) things aren’t so secret anymore.
Unfortunately, the roads leading to it aren’t so smooth, so again the buzz phrase when we bought our tickets was “One concession, one adult and toilets” but this time I added “and not necessarily in that order”.
Finally, we reached our destination for the night. When I booked, I thought we’d get the same room as last year but this time we got one on the ground floor at the front of the hotel (corner of Queen Street and Claypotts/Westfield Road). Finally, a place where we didn’t have to lug everything up at least one flight of stairs!
Tomorrow morning, we’re catching the train in Dundee to Edinburgh where we’ll spend the day with our good friend (fellow author and crime writer), Chris Longmuir.
Release Date: Kindle: 15 January 2016 / Paperback 14 October 2016
Publisher: Choc Lit
Celebrating the Paperback release of Linn B Halton’s wonderfulbook
A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love
Life isn’t all love and cupcakes …
Katie has had her fair share of bad luck, but when she finally realises her dream of opening a bakery it seems things can only get better.
But the reality of running a business hits Katie hard and whilst her partner, Steve, tries to help she begins to sense that the situation is driving them further apart. Could Katie be set to lose her relationship and her dream job?
Then, one winter’s day, a man walks into her shop – and, in the space of that moment, the course of Katie’s life is changed.
But nobody finds happiness in the blink of an eye. Sometimes it takes two Christmases, three birthdays and a whole lot of cake to get there …
Previously released as Sweet Occasions by the author. Revised and edited by Choc Lit December 2015.
Grandma Grace peers at me with interest over the top of her glasses, taking the box from my hands and placing it on the side. She wraps her arms around as much of me as she can reach, being at least a foot shorter, and gives me a fierce hug.
‘Thank you, my dear, but the only present I wanted was to see you standing here in one piece. It’s such a long journey and the weather! That rain is relentless, so many places are flooded. To think of you at the side of the road worried me to death and I will admit to saying a few little prayers as one hour turned into two, then three …’
She raises her eyebrow sternly, but it’s a brief moment before those twinkly blue eyes are full of love and laughter again.
‘My boy is here and that’s all that counts.’
‘Grandma, I haven’t been a boy for many years,’ I retort, softly, as she releases me with a tender pat on my back. She might be in her twilight years but her spirit is strong and her mind as sharp as ever. We all thought she’d fade away when Pop died, but the truth is he’s the one who would have faded if she had gone first.
‘You will always be a boy to me. Now, tell me more about this guardian angel of yours.’
While the tea is brewing and the cake is sliced, I hang around the kitchen as I did when I was growing up. Grandma Grace was always easy to talk to; she seemed to understand even when the words wouldn’t come. Her instincts filled in the gaps at times when even I couldn’t make sense of what was going on inside my head. After this failed relationship I began to despair of ever finding someone special.
‘You can’t hurry love,’ she’d told me. ‘It takes time to find your soulmate and in the process you change and grow. That’s why young love often withers, as Pop would have said. Two people either change and grow together, or they grow apart. Love is about sustaining what comes after that first hormonal rush.’
‘But that wasn’t the case for the two of you,’ I remember pointing out.
‘There has to be an exception to every rule,’ she’d replied, with a wicked smile. ‘We were lucky. Fate was kind to us. But with hindsight, we were too young and naive to understand that until much later in life. Don’t fret, Adam, there’s a wonderful young woman out there for you when the time is right.’
Sadly, when I reached that point it too turned out to be yet another huge failure. This time the consequences had been more painful than I could ever have imagined. Kelly was everything I thought I wanted in a woman and, after adjusting to the shock of an unplanned pregnancy, she was a fantastic mother. With hindsight I can see now that parenthood came too early in our relationship, we hardly knew each other. Suddenly I was a family man and yet, surprisingly, the role seemed to come naturally to me. I loved Sunday mornings the best. When a little head would appear on the pillow next to me at some unearthly hour and a warm little hand would wind its way around my neck.
“I’m a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, and writing. Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache…”
An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Linn’s novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award. Linn writes chick lit, women’s contemporary fiction and psychic romance for Choc Lit, Harper Impulse and Endeavour Press.
Twitter: @LinnBHalton FB: Linn B Halton Author
We decided that when we left Temple Sowerby this morning, we would attempt to visit The Devils Porridge Museum in Eastriggs one more time. We weren’t far away and had plenty of time before we needed to arrive at Duncan House in Kelso.
My computer scared me bad. I mean scared me real BAD. When I shut down my laptop this morning, Windows 10 decided it needed to download and install updates. You can prevent it from happening, but I didn’t know how at the time. I chose install and restart. Except it didn’t restart. It went through the motions and it looked like the days of DOS or a Linux system starting up. We’re talking command line code happening… until it froze.
I froze in panic! The computer had to be turned off at some point for travelling, so pressed the power button until it shut down. I turned it back on and the same thing happened all over again. Visions of taking it in to the store I bought it from when I got home flashed through my mind. No computer until then? Whatever would I do? Sure I had my iPad and hubby had his laptop but still, you develop a relationship with your own computer. You know its quirks and idiosyncrasies (at least I thought I did).
After checking out of The Kings Arms Hotel and leaving some of my books’ postcards at the hotel – gal checking me out of the hotel asked if I knew the author – I said yes, it’s me. Well, that prolonged the process because we had to talk about writing and reading and what not. She told me there’s a book club in Temple Sowerby. So maybe one of these days, they’ll read one (and maybe all) of mine.
On to Eastriggs and the museum. We arrived there about 10:15 to a reasonably empty car park. Yay!
Robbie Brodie (I think that’s his name), gave us an overview of the original munitions plant that occupied the land between Eastriggs and Gretna.
On the upper level of the museum, they have an area set aside for research, and another for “selfies”. Here, clothing from the era is available to try on and take your picture in – including an army helmet!
I rather like my chapeau even if I don’t look best pleased in the photo. Note to self… try to find something similar when I get home.
Before leaving the museum, I did namedrop. As in my crime writer friend’s name – Chris Longmuir and her historical novel, Devil’s Porridge, set at the actual munitions factory here.
I wanted to visit Hermitage Castle, one of the many properties under the care of Historic Scotland. It happened to be on our route to Kelso (more or less).
After leaving the castle, I got my fill once again of narrow roads with passing places – and cattle grids. I really don’t mind these roads although they’re much better when the visibility is better. You don’t want to end up having to back up to a passing place if you don’t have to. I drove and put hubby to work taking pictures out the windscreen.
The Waverly Route Heritage Association has preserved a section of track and we spotted this passenger carriage on our right. Despite passing place etiquette not allowing for such things as photo ops, the traffic was so light, I couldn’t resist.
Once through Jedburgh, it didn’t take long before we found ourselves at Duncan House in Kelso. This is the third time we’ve stayed there and since the first time, have said ‘next time we’ll stay for more than one night’. So far it hasn’t happened.
Call it premonition, but the night before I looked up an email from our host (from the previous year) to check the combination for the lock box. If I hadn’t, we might not have been able to get in, although I carried printed confirmations of all of our accommodations and other pre-booked events with me.
The first thing I did when I got up to our room (same room we’ve had each time, too) was pull out the laptop and its power supply. Plugged in, I powered up. A huge wave of relief washed over me when the lock screen came up. Not sure what crawled up the computer’s butt in the morning but at least now I could say ,”It’s alive!”
Knowing the computer survived, we walked down to Kelso Abbey. On the way, a woman outside one of the shops approached us with bags to collect gently used clothes. I had something else in mind for them. After accepting them, we continued on to the abbey, poked around the ruins there and through the cemetery on the other side of the street.
This cute gallery in the shape of a boat stands on Abbey Row across the street from the graveyard.
After a wander around the town, we made our way to The Waggon Inn where we had a delicious meal.
Paused for a selfie on the way back to Duncan House after our meal.
Tomorrow we head north to Broughty Ferry and back to the same hotel we stayed in last year.
Temple Sowerby was our final destination today. Barring traffic slowdowns due to incidents and/or roadworks, we could make the trip in just over three hours. In reality, that doesn’t happen.
One of my acquisitions yesterday – a companion for “Robbie” Raven. His name is “Phil” Flyer. So far they get along well. A few more days of these close quarters, as in the jute bag, will tell if they’ll remain friendly towards each other.
The first leg of today’s journey was a short jaunt up the road to visit my cousin and his wife in Dragonby.
I first met Eric in 2013. Here’s a picture from that visit…
I think we’re like fine wine… improved with age. What do you think?
We had a lovely visit before it became time to move on to Temple Sowerby and the King’s Arms Hotel.
Once we set up hubby’s CPAP machine, returned the bottle of distilled water to the boot of the car (one less thing for tomorrow morning), we went down to the bar for a pint where we chatted with a couple of the locals.
The conversation turned to fishing (one of them brought his newest fishing rod in to show to his friend) and they told us the fishing was bad this year compared to others. The one put it down to the flooding in late 2015/early 2016 (same floods mentioned in my earlier post about Brougham Castle) ruining the river.
The hotel’s key rings are huge! It seems like they’re made from newel posts. You certainly won’t lose them. I should have used my DSLR to take a picture rather than my phone, but that would have required effort.
My Scottish roots and writing by Melanie Robertson-King