March at home on Islay

March was a wild wet month on Islay. We had lots of wind, rain and cancelled ferries, but also a few gloriously sunny days. The first day of spring lived up to its name and was warm enough to have the French windows open all day. Now, at the end of the month, the daffodils are in full bloom and snowdrops are reduced to clumps of leaves. If I can find the time I’m going to split the larger clumps to help their spread across the garden.

A clear night on the 17th gave the UK its best sighting of the Aurora borealis since 2004. We failed to see the wonderful array of colours that appear on some of the Islay photographs, but apparently the camera is able to detect far more than the naked eye. Even so, we were delighted to watch bands of white light, flickering and shimmering all around us.

Instead of school visits I did a ‘Slate Voices’ session for a group of retired people at the Port Mor Lunch Club – I concentrated on Belnahua, illustrating poems with a video presentation. Some of the audience had memories of the slate quarrying on Islay and I sold 6 copies of the book.

I wasn’t able to attend the StAnza Poetry Festival in St Andrews, but was delighted to have one of my poems featured there. ‘The Postie’s Washing Line’ written on Eigg appeared on one of eight postcards produced for the Festival. It was also included in a digital installation and in a shop window in the town.

It is one of the poems due to feature in ‘Waymarks’, my forthcoming collection from Cinnamon Press.…


Visitors, including a 4-year old, made for a lively week that ran over into April. Cancelled ferries made their arrival uncertain, but they appeared on time, although somewhat shaken by a very rough crossing. However, the wildlife put on a special show for them. We had gannets, dolphins and a Great Northern diver in the bay, red deer by the roadside, and an otter demonstrating its diving technique in the sea outside our cabin.

Doreen, who I first met on an Arvon Course told us about their trip to follow the migration of the Grey Wales. The details of this amazing adventure, undertaken with a 2 year old, from Baja in Mexico to the Arctic can be found on The Huffington Post –

Work on ‘The Snake Wand’ continues. Becky, from ‘Chocolates and Charms’, the lovely gift shop on Tiree, ordered another 15 copies of ‘Cry at Midnight’, their first 15 having been sold. I am now eagerly awaiting the arrival of ‘Clickfinger’ in a couple of month’s time.