Scotland Outdoors

Back in March 2022 I was invited to talk with Helen Needham of BBC Radio Scotland about place, about time, and my approach to the landscape. We took a walk up an often over-looked hill in Aberdeenshire that has been the focus and the start-point of my writing about landscape and how it shapes us. In this episode you can join us as we explore the hill and its histories, and listen to the conversation that resulted.

Download the podcast here.

Or you can listen to it on BBC Radio Sounds.

On Gallow’s Down

I had to share the latest post on The Clearing by Nicola Chester, introducing a what looks to be a really interesting and thought provoking series of responses to the themes of her book On Gallow’s Down, which I haven’t read but now must, having read Nicola’s introduction. This feels particularly important right now, encompassing themes that have been the preoccupations of my own work: belonging without exclusion, the meaning of home and place, and our relationship with the landscape and the natural world. I hope you’ll check it out, with some wonderful writers engaging with this series.

Place, Protest and Belonging – Nicola Chester.

A Dream of Stones

I drove to Calanais in the rain, looking for the stones. I found them there, standing tall in the mist, like a distant dream I had once dreamt but long forgotten, a silent memory. Did they walk this way those thousands of years ago? What gods and spirits did they dream of; what lost stories did they tell? Where do they dream now, long buried in the ground? Across Loch Ròg to Kirkibost the sleeping woman lies, and the Shining One waits in the west. Too many stories wait here, commodified even now: unreal place, resting in its unknown truth.

Wind and Tide

I looped round Harris before another storm blew through, chasing echoes from the past: old saints and their stories; old places filled with memory, fleeting shadows from another time. Losgaintir shone with a cold brilliance against its ancient hills. Time slept, dreaming the ocean, its voice lost to the wind without echo or meaning. I drove back through a landscape of splintered rock as old as the earth, leaving the beach and its impossible confluence behind.

Good Company

It was so great to be a part of the launch event for Echtrai Edition One hosted by Helen Needham last night and to hear the wonderful writing of the other contributors. ‘My Father’s Hands’ by Jeff Young is a tender portrait of a father, a husband and an honest working man: a beautiful piece of writing with universal resonance. If you haven’t read Jeff’s book Ghost Town published by Little Toller yet, then you must.

So many other wonderful contributors in this volume of new writing including poet and artist Alec Finlay and writer and editor Jon Woolcott of Little Toller; the weird and wonderful prose of novelist David Gladwin; the poetry of David Wheatley and the American composer Akira Rabelais; writing by the editors, artist Emily Hesse and academic Martyn Hudson; liminal travels on the Inca trail by travel and nature writer Louise Kenward; a haunting piece about the relics of a city in childhood memory and a never-built ‘garden city’ by Italian writer, gallery owner and antique dealer Belinda Guerriero; the wonderful artwork of Guy Dickinson, poet and artist Camilla Nelson, and the ethereal incantations of the journal’s founder and creative director Baz Nichols under his pen-name Bran Graeme Nairne, along with many other equally compelling writers and their work.

If you couldn’t make the launch which sold out, you can order a copy through AnMór Studio in the links embedded in this post.