LonCon & ShamroKon Pictures

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I thought before I head off on another trip I ought to share some photos from LonCon and Shamrokon and short of time, I have put them in public albums on Facebook, so take a look if you’re of a mind to do so. I will probably get around to descriptions and tagging at some point or else will find some minions to do it for me as I realise I just cannot keep up with everything lately. Volunteers?

And vote: HELSINKI in 2017!

I’m off to finish a Powerpoint presentation.

Powerscourt and Glendalough

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The Beckett Bridge and a reflected light, so it looks like Patrick McGoohan is being pursued down the Liffey by that big bubble…

Lovely day out with Debi in the fantastically opulent gardens of the Powerscourt Estate and then the remnants of the monastery in Glendalough. A bunch of my own peculliar style photographs can be found in a public Facebook album (it’s just easier than uploading them all here).

It’s just sinking in that I will not be going home to Dundee after this con, but instead to NY so I am feeling a bereft. Maybe it’s just as well that I don’t have a lot to do at Shamrokon. And even less as my publisher’s pup is unwell so we can’t meet for dinner tonight, alas. Hope she gets better!

Holidays in Dundee

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It’s the darkest portion of the year, so most of us find ways to surround ourselves with light and sparkle and family and fun. We did our best and there has been much laughter, silliness and a lot of good food. My sweetie made a fabulous Christmas dinner, we had crackers, prezzies and a whole lot of fun and only one brief bit of vomiting. That’s a win.

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Orkney: Skara Brae

I didn’t get a picture of the seal who was bobbing up and down in the waves, but it was a sunny blustery day and I found Skara Brae very inspiring as well as fascinating. We had a lovely day there, including lunch in the café (mmmm, salmon). I was less interested in the manor house, but even there I found things to interest me (but that will have to wait as I chose so many of the site today). Thanks to Mary and Amy for a wonderful trip.

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A reconstruction of House 7 to give a sense of what the homes would look like.

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You may not think of stone as a warm hearth but the houses were large and cozy, and on a wind-whistling day like we had, warm.

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Spacious, too!

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Museums have embraced the idea of narrative as an organising principle. The walk shows how far apart in time many “old” events are — and how much beyond them Skara Brae is.

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Yep, older than Stonehenge.

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The sea has claimed some of the settlement (and rising ocean levels threaten more), but you get a sense of the organisation of it here.

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The turf protects the stones from the elements; the preservation efforts fight a slow losing battle.

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There’s such a beauty in the graceful curves.

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No wonder my imagination tries to bring it all back to life.

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Imagine this as your front garden with seals and seabirds.

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All the houses follow the same model but each one shows a variation on the theme.

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Four rainbows that day: a natural phenomenon that nonetheless delights.

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The stone shelves were used for storing food but also for displaying objects that meant something to the folks who lived there.

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In the distance Skaill House, where the modern people lived.

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How you know you’re not in America; people are trusted to be sensible.

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We were lucky with the weather; although cold and blustery it stayed dry — not bad for late October in the north.

Orkney: Maeshowe & John Rae

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The wonderful mesolithic mound, raided by vikings and other adventurers, but still containing treasures.

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A brisk day indeed, but we were prepared. Of course by the end of the day it was clear a storm was on its way. A wild night of wind!

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Maeshowe is one of the greatest treasure troves of runes; bored vikings + a long storm = a fantastic collection of runes and a dragon.

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Of course you can’t take photos inside, as our guide Sarah reminded us, so you’ll have to imagine it – or go to maeshowe.co.uk and see how the winter solstice light shines through the entrance.

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All the cats in Stromness seemed to be ginger; maybe there’s a single ginger matriarch a few generations back…

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John Rae’s Close, commemorating the Arcadian explorer, whose effigy can be found in St Magus Cathedral. Vilified by Lady Franklin and celebrities like Charles Dickens, Rae has been proved right by history.

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The Stromness Museum featured an exhibit of Rae’s artifacts on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his birth including this bear claw crown. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Rae met the Inuit and other first people with respect.

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Rae learned from the Inuit of the failure of Franklin’s foray to find the Northwest Passage; his wife didn’t appreciate the news or its source and fought to send numerous expeditions to ‘prove’ his discovery all of which came to nought of course.

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I had to share this one just for the initials 😉 From a bootlegger ship that went down; ‘spirits’ that were poisonous to drink but sold during Prohibition causing blindness and even death.

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Stromness is a lovely town with houses jumbled close together for warmth and protection against the wind. Be sure to lunch at Julia’s Café when you get off the ferry.

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We drove to Orphir to see the area where Rae grew up, which he described as a boy’s paradise of hunting, fishing and rambling. A rainbow showed us it was truly golden.

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Dramatic skies; the weather was about to change for the worse, but it was lovely nonetheless.

More on John Rae

Maeshowe Official Site

Be sure to drop by A Knife & A Quill to read my Allan’s latest review

Caird Park

Just a ten minute walk from our city street, abundant nature and history:

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My Gypsy Ways: Hudson

I have a new publication (yes, another — don’t look at me like that!) “Guide Me Soft” — a piece of flash fiction over at Shotgun Honey, a terrific site and I’m really pleased to be featured there. Some nice comments have really made my day. Most writing goes off into a vacuum. Sometimes you wonder if anybody anywhere reads anything you ever wrote (she says, weeping at her lack of ratings & reviews for the new titles), so it’s especially nice to be part of a site with regular and opinionated readers. And yes, it’s inspired by a Fall song (what? you’re not surprised).

I figured I should give a little peek into the itinerant life I’m leading and I have so many pictures already, I figured I would break it down. So first up some pictures from Hudson, which serves as my mailing address, thanks to the kindness of my brother who also cooks lots of really good meals (and we know how important that is!). He has a cute dog, too. On the side of Blue Hill, with the Berkshires to the east and if you climb up the hill, the Catskills to the west. Lovely countryside: there’s a pair of hawks who hunt on the hill, too, up by the peach orchard.

And if you can’t get enough of me, there’s interviews with me over at Mr. B’s and over at Luca’s site in support of the charity anthology Off the Record 2: At the Movies. I can’t emphasise enough that it’s a really good cause (literacy) and an amazing collection of writers — well worth your money! Click the picture to buy.