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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

First Impressions by Gabrielle Barnby

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Today I welcome a good friend, Gaby Barnby to the Quoyloo Quill. Gabrielle Barnby lives in Orkney and writes short stories, poetry and full length fiction. She has run creative writing workshops for may years, encouraging new writers and supporting creative discovery. She is the author of three books and her work has been included in numerous anthologies and magazines. Here she describes her first impressions of moving to Orkney. First Impressions - Orkney We came from the airport to the town directly, although neither airport nor town accurately described either place by my southern standards. An airport was a vast sprawling, moving-floored shopping mall with shuttle buses and crowds of people from all nations, a city unto itself with flocks of aeroplanes gathering people up like a bird gathers worms. Not a simple strip of tarmac seemingly laid at random in a field with a building that was as homely as a school foyer for a terminal and a free of charge car park. And the town? Well, th

Bright Lights by Dr Sunil Angris

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  This month I am pleased to welcome Stromness Writing Group member Dr Sunil Angris to the Quoyloo Quill. For those who don't know Dr Angris, he is a semi-retired medical doctor living in Holm, having moved to Orkney in 2019 after many years of holidaying here. He wrote extensively for the medical press while a GP in England and had regular columns as car correspondent for the magazines 'GP' and 'Pulse'. Now that he is semi-retired, he has more time to give to his creative writing, mainly poetry and short stories. Other hobbies include walking, music and sport. This is a piece Dr Angris contributed to the successful 'Bright Horizons' online foy in 2020 . For me, “Bright Horizons” began a train of thought leading straight to these islands. The sequence goes thus - “ I fell in love with Orkney for many reasons but chief among them was that the light and the horizons here aren’t bright!  Words conventionally used to describe the opposite of bright include “dark

Walking in Circles by Jeanne Bouza Rose

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   I am delighted to welcome Orkney based, international artist Jeanne Bouza Rose to the Quoyloo Quill. Here, she shares with us her thoughts and experiences of lockdown, the American elections and what keeps her art fresh. Walking in Circles ….Jeanne Bouza Rose   I was late getting the old body going again this morning.  With each glance out the window, I thought, no need to rush.  It is throwing down the rain and the wind is whipping it around.  It is another day when raindrops hit the face like pointy icicles.  My feet dragged. I would have moved faster if I saw the sun, or if the dog became desperate. Finally, I simply summoned the courage to brave the elements and stick to this one habit—circling the stones. Luckily, there was a bit of sun in the back garden, but unluckily an ominous grey-blue sky out the front path. But I put one foot in front of another and kept walking to the car.  My dog and I would head to the Ring of Brodgar, the UK’s third largest stone circle and henge, no

Orkney storyteller Fran Flett Hollinrake shares the story of Triduana and the Miracle of Papay

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A big thank you to Orkney storyteller Fran Flett Hollinrake, who I am delighted to welcome to the blog. Fran shares with us the story of Triduana and her personal experience with the saint. The Miracle of Papay   It has been my pleasure and privilege over the last 10 years to look after the splendid 12 th -century St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. Killed in c1117, Magnus was canonised in around 1135, and the cathedral bearing his name was founded two years later. In the Middle Ages, Magnus’s shrine was an important site of pilgrimage in Northern Europe - thousands of pilgrims a year made their way to Kirkwall to venerate his remains and ask for his intercession. Although the Reformation in 1560 put an end to saints, relics and veneration, Magnus is still regarded as the ‘patron saint’ of Orkney, and his bones were discovered in 1919, buried within a pillar of the choir.   But Magnus is not the only saint to have been accorded reverence in these islands. There was also his nephew

A Ghost Story for winter - The Witch O' Ward Hill

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                                                                                                       The Witch O' Ward Hill                                                                                                                      by Babs Stevenson                If the skuas dinnae get you, the carlin will. 'Cheers'. Edward set the pint in front of the aged local. 'Slainte', the man grunted. Edward took his seat and gulped a mouthful of the barman's best. He was prepared to nod in awe at the farmer's stories from an island childhood, but only as long as his pint lasted. Outside the weather was changing. The sun was bobbing through the clouds like a coy schoolgirl flirting behind her geography jotter. Sunshine, even in June, was rarer than spotting a great crested albatross on the islands, or so it seemed to Edward. Its arrival was not to be spurned. It was day four of Edward's week long break and so far he'd spen

The Girl from the Workhouse - Lynn Johnson explains how her grandmother (and Stromness Writing Group) set her on the road to being an author

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  First of all, thank you Babs for inviting me on to your blog to speak about writing. I never set out to be a writer. In my youth – a long time ago now, I wrote stories of The Faraway Tree that Enid Blyton didn’t know about, and even illustrated them. I thought it was brilliant! At work I progressed to writing policy documents and stodgy reports for council meetings and was so busy, writing for pleasure was never in my mind. When I took early retirement and made the move to Orkney, one of the first things I did was go to Stromness Library and ask if there was a writing group somewhere in Orkney. That was in 2005. Joining Stromness Writing Group provided the key to unlocking my creativity. I started writing short pieces, stories mainly. I was never any good at poetry. It was during the first year with the Group that I wrote a short story, based loosely on my Grandma, that became the basis for The Girl from the Workhouse published earlier this year, as part of a two-book deal, by Her