Escaped for a few much-needed dolittle days to one of my favourite places for walking, and thinking and visiting friends who run excellent guesthouses - Ullapool, on the north west coast of Bonnie Scotland. And my goodness it showed off all its bonnieness to us while home got rained upon big time.
One of the highlights was a trip over to Handa Island to see the puffins - how anyone could remain sad when faced with these comic birds who behave like demented wind-up toys, is beyond me. I think puffins must have been the inspiration for Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
You will have to take my word for it that there were puffins. My new Blackberry wasn't clever enough to take close-ups, although it was doing most other things with abandon. There were also great skua, Arctic skua, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, pippets, skylarks, and lots more, not forgetting views to live for.
The old crofters' cottages are now tumbles of stone in the ferns, covered in fabulous lichen growth.
Goodness knows - old floats, now rusted? Giant chocolate truffles? (Thanks to Julia B for the idea). Or just something amazing and photogenic on a beach near Achiltiebuie? finally, we always stop off at Culloden to pay our respects to the clan MacLean - all my men, husband and sons together, are MacLeans. There is a marvellous new visitors' centre there - stunning contemporary architecture echoing the line of the hills behind.
Writing news: Riptide have accepted the three short memoir pieces mentioned below. Had a short story commission for a rather nice anthology - more on that later. And a good writing workshop this afternoon at one of my old schools, Brighton and Hove High, where a group of girls stay behind to write after school. Now that's dedication.