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Highlands and Islands by guest author David Munro

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Thanks to Scottish author David Munro for this great blog piece. David would love to visit Orkney and I hope he'll be able to come up some time. David's current novel Georgina is the fourth in his Time Jigsaw series. A love and admiration for Scotland’s picturesque northern landscapes did not materialise until my mid-twenties. Born and brought up in Scotland’s capital city and at one time staying in the Royal Mile, the country’s Highlands and Islands were almost unknown to this lowlander. Family holidays tended to be in a warmer climate in England and beyond. A school trip at fourteen years of age to the West Highland town of Mallaig and Kyleakin on Skye was my sole experience to a land north of Edinburgh. However, in May 1981 all was about to change. The company I worked for was a well-known brewer and offered me the chance to further my business career. Being in a rut, I jumped at the chance and relocated to Aberdeen. My area for work would be the Grampian Region. This

Chess and Islands - A contemplation by chess guru Jim Stevenson

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For my latest blog, chess instructor, and member of the Hammersmith Chess Club, Celtic Tigers and the Scottish seniors' chess team, Jim Stevenson, has kindly sent an entertaining contemplation on his island travels to compete in tournament chess, memories of old masters and exciting news about new ones. Jim writes: Barbara invited me to write a short piece touching on the theme of chess and islands. My meandering tournament chess travels have taken me to several delightful island locations over the years. Whether that be in one of my favourite sunny getaway destinations, for example Malta, where we played in a grand, but faded old hotel which perhaps had seen better days, and whose claim to fame was having featured in one of the earlier James Bond movies. Or perhaps in one of the more unusual locations for an international chess event; Stornoway on the island of Lewis, where the famous Norse chess pieces were discovered.  I've even played a round of the Scottish championships i

Book Review by Award winning Ayrshire author, Gail McPartland

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  In this month's blog, award winning Ayrshire author, Gail McPartland had written a review of   The Dalliances of Monsieur D'Haricot , by yours truly.                                                               A secret operation in 1930's Paris functioning beneath the surface brings a whole new meaning to the underground.                                                                               If you like steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, and a little bit of history then this book is for you. Coupled with humourous lines throughout, this book is a must read. Magic biscuits, melting characters, a talking crab - Marina, who has to be my favourite, the whole story is totally bizarre. A secret operation in 1930's Paris functioning beneath the surface brings a whole new meaning to the underground. The weirdest modes of transport - the trans reality interface connector, sparks the imagination.This book is completly bonkers and will leave you wondering what the he

In a Jam - thanks to Penny Park

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  Previously on the blog.... This year's raspberries are looking good and ripe for eating. The garden is a little wild, thanks to one thing or another, but anyone passing please feel free to pick the fruit you fancy before the blackbirds have their share. The wonderful Penny Park, as well as being a magnificent wood carver, has already made delicious jam from them (thank you Penny) and a crumble may well be heading for the Old Post Office

Beside the Ocean of Time

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  Earlier this year I accepted a challenge to write a new, short piece every day for a month. This is one of the pieces I came up with. I really love this little seahorse. With family and friends having been unable to visit Orkney for some time, I have been sending them quiz photos of out of the way places in Orkney for them to identify. This forgotten fellow stands in a disused children’s play area near the old academy in Stromness, looking down towards the holms with a somewhat bemused grin. For health and safety reasons, the area has been fenced off, which is understandable, but a shame, because he/she looks as though it is in need of a hug. A small gesture to show it the thanks it deserves for keeping the now not so young members of the community entertained for many years. It would, of course, be easy to draw analogies from this, but from the look, I don’t think this seahorse is purely reminiscing. Like young Thorfinn Ragnarson in the book Beside the Ocean of Time by George Mac

The Bard and the Bhoys by John McGill

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My thanks to Quoyloo legend John McGill, teacher, writer and raconteur, for bringing his wry humour to the blog with a tale of mischief from George Mackay Brown. The Bard and the Bhoys        Alas, poor Babs. In an act of kindness to the  rookie blogger, she gives him leave to expatiate on  any topic that takes his fancy. In case that might be  a bit daunting, she offers a short list of possibilities, all of them quite enticing, finishing with ‘ even Celtic FC, if you must  ’                                                                     Well, here’s the bad news, Babs – I must . This is a story about Glasgow Celtic. It is also a story about our famous Stromness poet, dramatist and storyteller, George Mackay Brown, to whom I send felicitations in this his centenary year. George took a highly benign interest in the fortunes of the great football club.   This, to Glaswegian like me, seemed to be quite naturally concomitant with his Roman Catholicism, but I think the football fer

Finding True North - a journey to Orkney by Dr Linda Gask

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                                                                                             This month I am grateful to Dr Linda Gask, a retired professor of primary care psychiatry now living in Orkney, who has kindly provided a fascinating and inspiring piece on her personal journey to find true north. Finding True North- a journey to Orkney by Dr Linda Gask   For most of my adult life I sought out the Western Isles to escape, rest and find peace and quiet to write. My fascination with all things ‘North’ began in childhood when travelling to Central Scotland, my mother’s home. It was a 12-hour drive then from the East of England going up the A1, forking West at Scotch Corner, turning North up the A6 and A74 then finally dropping down into Hamilton where my maternal grandfather was a miner in the coalfields of Lanarkshire until his early death. On a couple of these family holidays, we ventured as far North as Ben Nevis, Loch Ness and Glen Affric - but never into those parts of th