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Writing Compost

composter dalek 2-1234In spite of having to do the backstroke to get through the rain-saturated streets of our neighbourhood and, in spite of the sponge of clay that is our back garden, the season is fast approaching when I’ll be thinking seed trays and compost and getting my hands dirty. I might have mentioned once or twice that I’m an avid veg gardener. I might have even mentioned the sexy stories I’ve written which take place in veg gardens. The truth is that gardening is one of the topics I’m almost as enthusiastic about as I am writing.  That’s not terribly surprising since the two are so philosophically compatible.

My husband and I inherited our first composter from the people who owned our house before us. We were suspicious of it at first and more than a little intimidated by it, and with good reason. It looked like a Rubbermaid Dalek casting a long menacing shadow across our back lawn. (Germinate! Germinate!) We’d heard that if we put egg shells and fruit and veg peels, cardboard and tea and coffee grounds in the top that in a few months, we could open the little door at the bottom and the myriad resident worms and micro beasts would have magically transformed all that garbage into rich luscious soil. Then all we’d have to do was shovel that organic loveliness out into our garden.

At first we had our doubts. Then one day we took the plunge, slid open the door and there it was, all dark and rich and soft and warm, and smelling vaguely of citrus. We filled a couple of planters. We were planning to put in geraniums, but never got around to it. Several weeks later I noticed there were tomato plants coming up in the compost we had excavated. My mother used to call plants that came up where they weren’t planted volunteer and, sure enough, we had eight volunteer tomato plants, the result of seed not broken down in our strange compost-making dalek.

Forgetting all about the planned geraniums, we nurtured our eight seedlings along and, at the end of the summer, they yielded up their yummy fruit. The next year we actually dug a bed and planted corn and beans and squash.  After that there was no looking back. Our one lone composter has long since been joined by two others, and twice a year we open the doors at the bottom and marvel at what an army of invertebrates can make from our kitchen waste.

Harvest 25 AugIMG00569-20130825-1722Each time we shovel bucket after bucketful of rich, loamy soil from our composters and spread it in anticipation of the veg we’ll be planting in May, I think about how much writing is like composting. There are times when my efforts truly seem inspired. Those are the fabulously heady times all writers live for and hope for; when every word shines the moment we write it down.

I would love it if everything I wrote would come forth fully formed and beautiful like Venus on the Half Shell, but more often than not my words are more like used teabags on an egg shell. More often than not, what I write is kitchen rubbish, the remnants of experiences already spent, the detritus of half-formed ideas and fantasies that aren’t quite what I planned when they appeared so perfectly shaped in my imagination. Somehow they’ve turned to apple cores and coffee grounds by the time I manage to get them into words.

My husband takes his lunch to the office, and he brings home his fruit peels and apple cores because he knows what they’ll become. He even convinced the lady who works at the office canteen to save the coffee grounds for him because he knows what the worms will magic them into in a few months’ time. It’s true, what we dig out of our composters is just soil. Oh, but it’s so rich, so fertile, so completely loaded with potential. We can almost taste the wonderfully succulent corn and tomatoes and runner beans we’ll grow in that rich compost in a few months’ time

Writing is no different. On the written page, the coffee grounds and apple cores of my everyday existence, the remnants of half formed thoughts, the grandiose ideas that didn’t quite have the magic on paper that they did in my minds’ eye will become compost, no matter how much they may seem like rubbish. I know nothing can happen until I write those words down, no fermentation, no agitation, no digestion, no chemistry.

But once the ideas are words on the written page, the real process begins. I turn them and twist them and break them down and reform them until they become the rich luscious medium of story, until they are just the right consistency to grow organically what my imagination couldn’t quite birth into the world in one shining Eureka moment. It takes longer than Venus on the Half Writing imageShell, and it involves some hard work and some getting my hands dirty, and a whole lot of patience.  But the end result is succulent and full bodied, organic and living.  And my fingerprints, my dirty mucky fingerprints are all over it. It’s intimately and deeply my own, seeded in the compost of what I put down in a hurry, raised up in the richness of what I then cultivate with sustained, deliberate, sometimes desperate, effort and a little inspiration. The result is achingly slow magic that lives and breathes in ways I could have never conceived in a less messy, less composty sort of way.




The Joy of Writing Neurotica

A Neurotic, and Timely, Romp Through the Archives

I’m biting my fingernails. I don’t know if I should tell you this or not. I don’t know what you’ll think of me if I do. I’ve racked my brain for hours, and I’ve lost sleep over trying to decide if I should share my secret. But then I wonder if you already know. Some of my close friends know because I confided in them, though they might possibly have already figured it out. Most of them are okay with it. Really. At least I think so …Most of them understand and are even empathetic. At least I hope so …

Okay, I’m just going to take a deep breath and tell you! Here goes!

I’m very, very neurotic. There. I said it. It’s the truth. I’m neurotic, and most writers are! No wait, that’s such a blanket statement. Please, if you’re a writer who isn’t neurotic, please don’t take it personally. I really didn’t mean to insult you or anything, and I hope you’ll forgive me and like me anyway.

My neuroses are many, but I have two biggies. The first is guilt. I feel guilty for watching three episodes of The Tudors on an evening when the Work in Progress is waiting untouched on the computer. Just because I wrote all day long doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have written a few more hours. Being a member of the international guild of neurotic writers means I always feel guilty, and if I don’t, then I feel guilty for not feeling guilty. I feel guilty for not writing enough. I feel guilty for writing too much and not keeping up with the housework. I feel guilty for needing too much sleep when I’m sure I should be writing. I feel guilty for not being able to sleep when I do go to bed. And since I can’t sleep shouldn’t I be up writing? Or cleaning house?

Writing imageMy other biggie is that I worry. I worry all the time. I feel guilty if I’m not worrying because surely I’ve missed something important or I’d be worrying. I worry that someone won’t like what I’ve written, and if they don’t like my baby, I worry that maybe they’re right not to like my baby and maybe my baby really is ugly and I just can’t see it. And if they don’t like my baby, maybe they don’t like me either. I worry about sales, I worry about promos. I worry about deadlines, I worry about rewrites. I worry about what will happen if I wake up in the morning and can’t think of a single word to write. I worry if my tomato plants will get blight this year, and I worry about the strange noise that comes out of our water heater periodically. My husband says I worry over just about everything. Still, I worry that I’ve missed something.

Guilt and worry. Those are the biggies. There are others. Lots of others. I’m afraid of loud noises too, and I don’t like rubber bands, but those are fairly innocuous compared to guilt and worry.

So now that you’ve heard my confession, here’s the part where when life gives me lemons I make lemonade. I write neurotica! That’s it. You heard me right. I write neurotica. It’s sort of a ‘physician heal thyself ‘tactic, really. It’s a case of me projecting all my lovely neuroses onto my characters and watching the crazy, twitchy, unbalanced fun unfold. Come on now, I can’t be the only writer who does this, am I? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing anyone. Really! I believe you if you say you don’t do that. I even believe you if you say you don’t have any neuroses to project onto your characters. However, if you are neurotic and you’re not really using your neuroses on your characters at the moment, can I borrow them? I’ve got this new story in mind …

It’s true though, I can create the most realistic, multi-layered guilt complexes in my characters. And angst, oh how I can write angst! And every time one of my characters wrings her hands and walks the floor in the middle of a sleepless night. I nail it. And every time my character feels guilty for not being open and honest and carefree and at home in her own skin, boy, do I nail it. My characters are my therapy, poor things, and in some strange way they make me feel better about myself. They make me feel a little less neurotic. They exist in my head, and yet they often give me insights into my own unpristine psyche that I would otherwise miss. How do they do that? Is it only because of my projection? I feel sort of guilty for being so mean to them sometimes. But then I worry that maybe I’m just being too soft and sentimental about the whole thing.


The Story Behind Amy Kernahan’s Amazing Travelogue — Orion is Upside Down


It was my pleasure to be a part of the wonderful Guildford Writer’s Group for several years and getting to know the very talented writer, Amy Kernahan, was one of the highlights of that experience. At the time, Amy was writing her wonderful travelogue, Orion is Upside Down, so once a fortnight the whole group got to experience Amy’s amazing pilgrimage, with her father, to Antarctica. I couldn’t be more pleased to introduce you to Amy and the story behind Orion is Upside Down. Welcome, Amy!

Amy Kernahan Orion is Upside DownAntarctica was once the very essence of inaccessibility.  One of its poles (the Pole of Inaccessibility) is named so.  Did you know that Antarctica is home to more than one pole?  It’s home to more than one Pole as well, assuming Arctowski Base s occupied.  Several years have passed now since I visited, but the Polish research station on King George Island is still going.

The working research station may or may not be on the itinerary, but Antarctica is now firmly on the tourist trail and sojourns there are as common in print as they are becoming in actuality.  So why is my journey, made only shortly after the first so-called ‘cruises’ to the White Continent, and my journaling of it any different? What qualifies me?  To my knowledge, no Antarctic chronicler in print has ever seen their own island home reflected in the islands of the sub-Antarctic.  But for the Gulf Stream, the Outer Hebrides, where I was born and raised, would, like South Georgia, be permanently robed in glaciers.  As it is, they are a twin to the Falklands.  Thus I have an affinity with the land itself.

Antarctica is more than the penguins.

Antarctica is more than history.

The Nordnorge

The Nordnorge

Been and gone is what is called is called the Golden Age.  (But who’s to say the best is not to come?)  Sir Ernest Shackleton, in whose Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition’s wake the bark of my journey sails is an archetypal giant of polar exploration.  But alongside my awe of Shackleton, I have the simple affection of a shared heritage with Thomas MacLeod, Able Seaman on board Endurance, Shackleton’s ship.  Shackleton, known for bestowing nicknames upon his crew called him ‘Stornoway’ after his wee… my wee… our wee home town.

So there are my credentials: Antarctica herself and one of her lesser-sung heroes are a part of what I call ‘home.’

Out of whose womb

Out of whose womb

The Peregrinatio is the ancient Celtic search for one’s true home.  Orion is Upside Down chronicles mine.


This sea story from the bottom of the earth takes the reader on a philosophical voyage through many realms, religious and secular, mathematical and poetic, natural and mechanical. Something akin to a Scottish Bill Bryson, Amy Kernahan, who was born and grew up on the Isle of Lewis, the largest of the chain of islands off the northwest coast of Scotland, sets out with her travelling companion, her father, to journey in the Antarctic and follow her dreams of seeing, and even standing in, the places where Sir Ernest Shackleton had been.

Casting Shackleton in the role of Virgil to her Dante, she follows his trail through the ice fields around the Antarctic Peninsula, a vision here on earth as hellish as the frozen  Lake Cocytus at the centre of Dante’s Inferno. Along the way, the might of the sea, and the glories of the Antarctic set Amy pondering themes of Judeo-Christianity, seeing Antarctica as a remnant of Eden, unpopulated by both mankind and sin. The mathematics of nature reveals itself to her, and she is awed by the prophetic soul of Coleridge and his Ancient Mariner.

Paradise Bay

Paradise Bay

Amy has set out on her journey believing it to be a pilgrimage to Shackleton’s grave, but as she sojourns beneath striking southern skies where even the familiar is alien, she realises that she is on another more spiritual pilgrimage, called by the ancient Christians of her homeland peregrinatio, the search for what they called ‘the place of one’s resurrection’ or true home. The outcome, although perhaps not surprising, is not quite as clear cut as it might have been.

Polarising Filters Kick Butt

Polarising Filters Kick Butt


We were surrounded by giants.  Nootaikok, the Inuit god of icebergs, and his court.  Tradition describes him as ‘large and very friendly.’  I wondered which space-time continuum that was in.  Certainly not this one.  I had mourned the results of his handiwork since I was six years old.  Nordnorge lay motionless, like one prepared for martyrdom, unarmed before the executioner, yet daring to bring her petition to a god not renowned for mercy, whatever tradition might say.

Shackleton's Grave

Shackleton’s Grave

Of course, the couple of hours of outward inactivity were taken up with the crew’s preparations for landing, out of sight down in the car deck, but standing out on deck beneath the lifeboat that had offered so little shelter as we rounded Cape Horn, in the stillness that seemed to be as much a part of the place as the mountains and the water were, it was easy to imagine that the ship was holding parley with the god of the ice, bargaining for the safety of her passengers.  Nootaikok acquiesced and the landing began, but the little boats, that the previous evening had gambolled around like puppies, seemed subdued.  They waited patiently for their charges under the lee of Nordnorge’s hull, huddling in to the mother-ship for protection.

Be careful, she warned them.  If your propellers hit the ice

Ice littered the bay.  As well as the bergs, many of them level with the ship’s superstructure, the water teemed with brash ice, up to three feet exposed, and the comically named ‘bergy bits’ that filled the taxonomic gap between brash and true bergs, anything over fifteen feet.  And then there were the infamous growlers, barely visible submerged ice that lurked just beneath the surface, like the submarines of some hostile alien power.

South Georgia Rainbow

South Georgia Rainbow

The ice here is glacial, ancient.  I have heard people say of Titanic, ‘How could crashing into ice sink a ship?’ No one would doubt that crashing into a rock could sink a ship.  Glacial ice, the stuff icebergs are made of, is harder than rock.  It is not frozen water, it is compressed snow, the ice at and below the surface the oldest, the hardest, compressed over aeons by the mass of hundreds of feet of snow-becoming-ice above it as it makes its slow, unrelenting journey to the sea, gouging its path out of the rock, tearing away the surface as though it were topsoil.  Anyone who doubts its destructive power need only look at the fjords of Norway, their sheer cliffs dropping to the sea – ice did that.  Destruction that creates.

Stromness Warning

Stromness Warning

Tomas helped us ashore again, but he didn’t need to hold the Polar Cirkle boat’s nose quite as firmly as he had at Deception Island; she was making no attempt to bolt.

‘Welcome to Neko Harbour,’ he called out.  ‘Our first landing on the Antarctic mainland.’

Close to our landing point stood a little wooden hut, painted bright red to make it stand out against the natural white, a white so bright it seemed almost unnatural.  The hut was a refuge erected by the Argentineans in 1949.  And what a refuge it must have been to anyone who had run the gauntlet of ice that guarded the Harbour.  But now, like the crumbling remains of the station at Whalers’ Bay, it was home only to penguins and seals.

Thou rash intruder

Thou rash intruder

The Harbour is named after a Norwegian factory ship which operated there between 1911 and 1924.  Looking out into the bay I tried to picture her (tried because I didn’t really know what a factory ship looked like) lying there surrounded by the ice, which tolerated her with disinterest as it did now another Norwegian vessel.  Nordnorge looked suddenly small, disappearing behind one of the aquatic white mountains that patrolled the bay.

Thou rash intruder on our realm below.[i]

They stood at the gates of Dis, the threshold to the nether-hell, Dante and his guide.  No way to go but onward, for no-one can retreat out of Hell.  You can’t go back the way you’ve come.  If you do, you may leave Hell, but Hell will not leave you.

And as the demons at the gate appraised them with scorn, ‘Thou with us shalt stay,’ they say to Virgil.


But did Shackleton, man of words and eloquence and frustrated poet himself, Virgil now to a reluctant Dante, ever think that perhaps he would?

The guide turns to his charge.

‘Have no fear, no matter what they do to me.  I’ve been here before.’

Top of hill Paradise

Top of hill Paradise

Is that why we journey through Hell?  So that once we’ve been there and know the way, we can guide another through?

The paradox of Antarctica began to manifest itself.  A place that could be Eden, unsullied, un-fallen, could just as easily be Hell.

Or vice versa.

This terrifying place, with its monstrous inhabitants, was equally the last haven of peace and innocence.  But we were banished from Eden.

This is the ice’s world, and we really have no business being here.

About Amy Kernahan

Amy was born and brought up on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, but she’s now an ‘economic migrant’ to the South East of England, where she work as an assembly, integration and test engineer for a company building small satellites in Guildford, Surrey.  That’s the ones up in space, not the dishes on the sides of buildings.

A fascination with technology led her to choose a career path that she believed would bring her to its cutting edge, gaining along the way a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Glasgow and studying for a time at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse. But the reality is somewhat different and whoever said the space industry is glamorous has never worked in it!

When she’s not writing or hidden away in a big white scrupulously clean laboratory wearing a silly hat and static-deflecting overalls, Amy does milage.  She is now saying ‘never again’ to another marathon, but her year wouldn’t be complete without her trips to Cardiff and Liverpool to run in those cities’ half-marathons.  And she likes to trek the long-distance paths of around a hundred miles, five to six days walking.  In a world where we can hop on a plane and be almost anywhere within twenty-four hours, Amy likes to travel in the most primal, human way she can.  Ironic, perhaps, for someone who spent four years of her life learning to design aeroplanes.

But Amy’s first love has always been the sea.  You don’t get much more primal than that.

Find Amy Here:  www.amykernahan.co.uk

Get your Copy of Orion is Upside Down Here:

Links to Amazon:










[i] Dante, Inferno VIII, 90 tr Dorothy L. Sayers


Inspiration and Hero-Worship in Bath

It’s been ages since I was last in Bath, and upon our return Wednesday afternoon I very quickly remembered why I love the place so much. For this visit to Bath, we had Raymond’s sister, brother-in-law and niece with us. It was their first time.

We had a plan. Raymond would play tour guide while I wrote. I was feeling a bit panicked for having had a week with very little writing — lots of fun with the rels, but very little writing — so I promised I’d write at least part of the time then reward myself with a bit of Bath on the side.

So, being the well- behaved writer that I am, Wednesday afternoon, I bade everyone a fond farewell as they all headed  off to take the open-bus tour. Then I hung out in the hotel gardens and lounge drinking tea and writing like a crazy woman. I joined the happy gathering in the evening for fisherman’s pie and a pint of Abby Ale at Sam Weller’s Pub. I figured I’d earned it after finishing off 3K on the WIP for my day’s efforts. In fact I was pleased enough that I went on the tour of the Roman Baths with the rest of the gang the next morning. I love the Roman Baths. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen them, and every time I do they excite me and inspire me.  How amazing is it that something as simple as water can so powerfully draw for so many people to one tiny place for so many centuries?  It’s taken the water that now fills those ancient Roman baths ten thousand years from the time it fell as rainwater in the Mendip Hills and percolated down through the layers of rock to make its way back up to the hot springs below the baths. That’s some seriously vintage water!

After a picnic lunch near the River Avon, complete with fresh cherries and French school children having a water fight, I said good-bye to my compadres and headed back to the Lansdown Grove Hotel for another close encounter with Stacie and Harris and another two thousand words written on The Exhibition. That evening I joined the crew in front of the Pump Room to listen to a little opera from the street buskers, which got us all in the mood for a nice Italian dinner later.

Friday, before we took the train home, we visited the Jane Austen Centre a little bit of a pilgrimage, for me, to honour one of the literary goddesses of all time and definitely one of my heroines.

The Jane Austen Centre is a quiet little place off Queen’s Square, not far from where Jane stayed when she was in Bath. What I remember most about the visit was hearing that Jane delighted in Bath when she went there as a young woman, and out of that delight came Northanger Abby. But later when she returned in her late twenties she found the place shallow and depressing, as evidenced in Persuasion.

Though much of Bath looks like it might have looked in Jane’s day, things have changed considerably since then. Now it’s easy for me to find inspiration walking the streets between the honeyed sandstone buildings of Georgean Bath. It’s easy to be inspired painlessly and happily in the far-less stratified hodge-podge of tourists and locals scurrying about in the bright June sunlight. And, for me,  it’s impossible to walk where Jane Austen walked and not be awed by the stunning creative force that came from one small, seemingly powerless woman, whose novels didn’t even bare the name of their author until after her death.

KD Grace proudly puts her claim to authorship front and centre on everything she’s ever written, as does Grace Marshall. My name, my creativity, my essence. I wrote it! I claim it! I can’t imagine what it would be like to have been such a creative person as Jane Austen was in a time in which women had very little control over their own destinies.  I’m only saying that it’s good to be reminded that nothing comes without a price, and that price is no less dear because I wasn’t the one who had to pay it. Having said that, I’m pretty sure every writer suffers for her art. I believe that whole-heartedly. Most of us suffer in ways that mean nothing to anyone but us, in ways that are quite often neurotic and unnecessary (at least I do).

I hope at this point, you’ll pardon my groupie-ism and hero-worship, but really, how could I go to Bath and not be at least a little bit star struck.

Thank you, Miss Jane Austen for writing the human heart in such a moving way in a time when it wasn’t cool to do so, and especially in a time when it wasn’t cool for a woman to do so. My efforts to write the human heart often feel bumbling and less then eloquent, but they’re sincere and full of hope, hope your words helped inspire.

On a less serious note. Near the end of our tour at the Jane Austen Centre there was a place with regency costumes for visitors to try on and take piccies in. I have to say, Raymond makes a far more striking Darcy than I do Elizabeth.


A View from Above

Back before I started work on the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy, back when I thought there was only going to be one novel, I struggled hard to move forward and couldn’t figure why it wasn’t working. And then I got a glimpse, just a little glimpse, but enough, of the whole picture, and I understood that the story I was trying to tell was a trilogy and not a one-off. The story I needed to write, was way too big for one novel.

I was reminded again how important that view of the overall picture can be when my good friend, Melanie Frazier, sent me a link to a breath-taking photo of the Lake District taken from the International Space Station, and I was deeply moved by such a view of a place I love, of a place that inspired and figured strongly, into each of the three Lakeland Heatwave novels, almost as if it were another character in its own right.

The lake District image taken from the International space Station behbysjcaaayk3t-large


The photo was tweeted by Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield from on board the International Space Station. Commander Hadfield is a flight engineer currently on Expedition 34 on the station and has gained popularity on Twitter by sharing stunning photos of space and his views of Earth as the International Space Station orbits roughly 200 miles above the planet, moving at over 17,000 miles per hour.

How could such a ‘snapshot’ of one of my very favourite places not get me thinking about writers and the way we view our stories. I’ve always been an advocate of what I like to call snapshot writing. Snapshot writing is giving the reader snippets of detail, of experience, of a fleshed-out moment so full, so rich that the reader can feel it, taste it, revel in it. A snapshot can say so much about an event, often way more than words can. So for me one of the most powerful tools in my writing tool box is to create a snapshot with words, to write a moment so vividly that readers are instantly transported to the place and time. Commander Hadfield’s amazing snapshot from space has done just that for me.

Imagine my delight when I realised that I could not only see the whole of the Lakeland Heatwave trilogy in that snapshot, but I could see all the snapshots, all the intricately woven stories of my own adventures on the fells, of my own explorations and uncoverings of Lakeland one footstep at a time.

castlerigg_Stone_Circle1 How could I not wonder what Alfred Wainwright would have thought if he could see his beloved Lakeland in such a view from above? His incredibly detailed drawings and descriptions of the Lakeland Fells are among the most accurate, most lovely, most poetic ever recorded. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat in the Twa Dogs Inn in Keswick, the night before climbing a fell I’d never walked before, drinking Cumberland Ale while reading through Wainwright’s notes and studying the maps and drawings from his Pictorial Guides of the Lakeland Fells. The beauty in the minute detail of his work is now reflected in a stunning overview from space. How could anyone not be moved by that?

More than just the love of Lakeland, which I could go on and on about, and frequently do, is the sense of place such a snapshot from space gives. (I’ve added links with lots of pictures to show you the up-close-and personal of what you can see from a distance from the ISS photo. Enjoy!) I can look at that shot and see Ullswater and Derwent Water. I can see snow-capped Helvellyn and Skafell Pike, the highest peak in England. I can see the Borrowdale Valley, the Newlands Horseshoe, Honister Pass – all the places my characters in the Lakeland trilogy frequent – all the places I’ve frequented, and I couldn’t not share it. So if you look closely at the picture, the highest snow-covered point in the lower right — that’s Helvellyn. Its iconic Striding Edge put me to the test in one of the most adrenaline-laced, exquisite walks I’ve ever done in the Lake District.

And if you look to the left and slightly lower, at the last snow-covered range in the picture, that high point is Scafell Pike, the highest point in England and another walk I’m proud to say I’ve had the pleasure of doing.

But now, if you look in between those two ranges and slightly north, settled, almost centred, in between the two is a dark spot, roughly oval in shape with jagged edges. That’s Derwent Water with Keswick on the northeast shore invisible to the naked eye from so far above. To the south of the lake, where the fells begin again, is the Borrowdale Valley. And slightly to the left, you can just make out the irregular U-shape of the Newland’s Horseshoe, all of the above frequented by my characters in the Lakeland trilogy, frequented by me. The Newland’s Horseshoe is the place where both Marie Warren and I first ‘got lost’ in the mist. The Borrowdale Valley and the Newlands Horseshoe are the places that inspired the trilogy, the places where heather clings to steep cliffs, where deserted slate quarries make for slippery descents, where the views are breath-taking and where it can all disappear into the mist in a heartbeat.

I’m so glad it was clear the day Commander Hadfield took this picture. I can’t stop looking at it. I love the fact that I’m somehow connected to that place and all the stories it evokes – not just mine, but everyone else’s – all those poets and walkers and writers and photographers and artists – past, present and yet to come — who have found Lakeland as powerful and as moving as I have. I’m connected to all of them, and by that connection, to all of those who read the writings and look at the works of art inspired by that tiny, rugged piece of land that’s just as exquisite when seen from 200 miles above as it is when explored slowly, painstakingly, one footstep at a time.

Surely there is no other place in this whole world quite like Lakeland … no other so exquisitely lovely, no other so charming, no other that calls so insistently across a gulf of distance. All who truly love Lakeland are exiles when they are away from it.

Alfred Wainwright

© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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