Showing posts from July, 2016

Striking a blow for bagpipes

I’m always wary of coincidences. It’s always particularly annoying in a movie or drama, when you suspect the author just needs to speed things along.

However, a hilarious coincidence happened to me the other day, which had me in bits, to the amusement of passers-by.
There I was in Morpeth. Long story short, my husband Rob had a day conference in Leeds, so we extended the trip to spend some time in the Northumberland borders en route back to the Scottish Borders.
Rob headed south on the train and I went into town. First stop was Information, and then I came upon a sign that made me boggle. The Morpeth Bagpipe Museum.
In itself, this is not as incongruous as it sounds, for there is a long and proud tradition of piping in the North-East. What was personally amusing is that my daughter, Lauren, is writing a dissertation on the significance of musical instruments in the marginalia of Books of Hours, and has a chapter on ... bagpipes.
Now bagpipes are interesting for a number of reasons, not lea…

Writing on a sunny afternoon

I love working outside on a warm day, but glare is a problem.

Introducing Shadow Box Mark II, a revamped version of my personalised laptop anti-glare device, which I pimped up for today’s heat wave. Glaringly obvious bit of DIY, but it works!
Yes, even in Scotland, the temperature is over 20 degrees.
What you’ll need
Several different rolls of sticky tape ScissorsA shoebox that is slightly larger than your PCA patient partner who must promise not to laugh. First, deconstruct the panels and then simply reassemble and stick into place around the laptop (making sure that any flexes/memory cards etc also fit!).
Fetch long cold drink.
Insert laptop and off you go.
Of course, you’ll have to change out of that sparkly top – those dazzling sequins are not helpful.
And has anyone else struggled with using a mouse on an ornate cast iron garden table? A problem for another day.

My husband was rather envious of my super-sophisticated creation, so he made his own. He’s dubbed it the ViewTube.

Actually, he…

Ten reasons to take your laptop on holiday

I don’t care if it’s not PC, as it were, but I’ve decided I like having my laptop with me on vacation.

In the past, I just used to pack an A4 pad, some printouts and a pen, and hoped for the best. However, I never did anything useful, I’m afraid to say.
This year, I’ve been parcelling up the old Acer and recharger and shoving them in my hand luggage. Then off I go. It’s not been obsessive and I haven’t been tempted to do hours and hours a day, but just a bit of dabbling. I have say, it’s been great.
Here’s why: I don’t lose the thread of whatever I’m working on.I hate typing on a tablet.It keeps me sane during inevitable delays at airports, stations, ferries, car hire desks etc.I feel liberated to tackle those knotty plot problems because I’m not distracted by the usual domestic nonsense.I don’t fret about the weather, for I can always edit a quick chapter while waiting the sun to come out. Especially useful in Wales, as you can see.Taking the laptop means I have all my notes,…

Seasonal beauty in the Scottish Borders

It’s always fun chatting to taxi drivers on one’s travels. Recently in Leeds, I had a great conversation with a local chap – about the weather. Despite recent events, it's possibly the most popular topic in the UK.
‘Sad to say, you don’t get seasons here any more,’ he said, bemoaning warm, wet winters and coolish summers. ‘They’re all the same, these days.’
I didn’t like to disagree, but this is not the case in the Scottish Borders. We moved into Lindores, 19 Fenwick Park, last summer. A year later, there are clear divisions as the months go by.
Of course, I’m not saying that every day in autumn is filled with crisp, golden sunshine, or that it snows every day in winter. However, the archetypal patterns remain. To prove my point, here’s a brief photojournal of our year in the Borders, with shots of Melrose, Kelso, Jedburgh, Dryburgh, Selkirk, Hawick and Bedrule. Names to conjure with. With their Buchanesque qualities, they make it an inspiring and wonderfully uncluttered place to liv…