June 2014 – Back to the Slate Islands

Twelve days were spent at home during which, in between gardening and writing I worked on my website with Lesley Lutomski of islaywebdesign.co.uk

Friday 13th saw Richard and I heading, once again for the slate islands. Together with co-writer Jan Fortune, her partner Adam Craig and her son, Rowan Fortune we rented Creagard, a cottage on the Isle of Luing. The weather was glorious, there wasn’t a drop of rain, and sun hats and sunscreen were necessary before venturing out.

We had Slate Voices launches in Luing ‘s Cullipool Village Hall and in Seil’s Village Hall at Ellenabeich. Bruichladdich Distillery Islay generously provided us with bottles of The Botanist Gin and Islay Barley Whisky. The addition of wine, soft drinks, dips and savoury biscuits made for a very pleasant interval. But the highlight of the week for me was reading the poems in the places that had inspired them. We shared cars on Luing, visiting Cullipool, Toberonochy and the graveside of Janet MacPhail in Kilchattan Kirkyard. On Seil we walked round Ellenabeich village and on Easdale our walk took us round the entire island.

From Luing, Richard and I drove to Oban and crossed over to the Isle of Lismore. This limestone island has a rich and interesting flora. The orchids were spectacular – Common Spotted being the most frequent but with Fragrant, Northern Marsh, Twayblade, Lesser Butterfly and a few Heath Spotted and Early Marsh Orchids as well. At low tide we walked over to the tiny island of Bernera, a wonderful day, undoubtedly the best of a very enjoyable week.

The crossing from Lismore to Bernera.

Pebbles collect in hollows in the limestone rock on Bernera’s shore.

Weed covered boulders at low tide on Bernera.

Before reaching Lismore I had offered to go into the school to talk about Cry at Midnight. It was the last week of term and the school timetable was filled with events. However, I was asked to return from 18th to 24th October for the Lismore Book Week, not just to do children’s sessions but to be involved in writing workshops. The same cottage will be made available for us and I’m greatly looking forward to interacting with other writers.

Castle Coefin, Lismore.

Achaduin Castle, Lismore.

By the time we returned to Islay there were only two days of June left. These were spent in cutting the grass, dealing with a backlog of mail, and a fortnight’s washing which consisted mainly of dirty socks. Trying to find time to write was almost impossible. This will have to be a priority in July.