Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Last Man in Europe . . .

Good Evening Dear Friends!

Well, here I am, back from my travels and sequestered once again within the homely grange of Myrtle House with tales to tell of the seclusion and isolation us poor starving writers - that's me -  have to face in order to feed the ravenous cravings of our fans - that's you, in case there was any kind of silly misunderstanding!

The long-awaited trip to Jura has been and gone, seemingly in a flash, and left me somewhat adrift but with a finished product in the form of my short-story "The Maelstrom".  I could make lots of fuss about it and liken it to gestation and pregnancy and giving birth but, let's face it, it would be rather ridiculous and could invite rather unsavoury comments about the state of my waistline . . . strangely enough though, completing it does feel rather strange; I suppose I've had it inside me since November or so last year, knowing where it was going but not exactly how . . . anyhow, whilst sat in the Music Room in Jura entranced by the view ( see the pic above) I managed to pull it all together and the birth was relatively easy!

It's fate is another matter; I believe the Diurach's will be wanting to inspect it with a view to publishing it on their website; I also want to do an e-version of it for download which one hopes will be available from the Myrtle House site sooner rather than later . . . whilst reading it out loud I suddenly imagined it on Radio 4 as an afternoon short story . . . Hmmm, you never know!

Jura is without doubt an intriguing place to visit; as an 'island off an island off an island' it is obviously remote in one sense but it is the absence of small, everyday things that make it seem so distant. The Long Road - as the one and only road on the island is known - isn't that long; about 32.5 miles or so from the port Feolin Ferry to where it ends at the farmhouse at Kinauchdrach and is single track for all of its distance, thankfully with many passing places although the traffic is not what you would call heavy. One thing I did enjoy about driving there, and on it's big sister Islay, was the fact that everyone - drivers and pedestrians alike - waves to you as you pass, rather nice I thought!

The Lodge where I stayed was in Craighouse which is the biggest settlement on the island and boasts not only a hotel and a bistro but a general stores and a telephone box - one of three I saw on Jura. A building from the original distillery built in 1810, it has a bizarre and fantastically eclectic interior by someone named Bambi Sloan - appropriately enough as Jura comes from the Norse for Deer Island and the population of 5,000 easily outnumbers the human one of 180!

I found myself unexpectedly sharing the Lodge with two Norwegian journalist who - judging by their expressions - were equally surprised and I worried that this would affect the creative process; when I write I like to have peace and solitude and need to 'set up camp' as it were in a chosen location which could lead to issues if others were there wanting to use the same space . . . I commandeered the Music Room which overlooks the Bay of Small Isles and sat in the bay window hopefully not looking too unfriendly and managed to press on with the job. The Norwegians spent much time in the distillery and associated tasks so I saw little of them but was relieved when they left on Thursday morning, leaving me to spend the day in full creative spurt as it were!

And so the deed was done and, waving to passing traffic,pedestrians and deer, I made my way back here; I will have a sort though the photos I managed to take and post a few if any of you are interested . . . in the meantime life goes on and a search for further literary prizes begins - I quite fancy Iceland next, what do you think?

I hope you have a week full of joy, love and happiness

'til next time

Be Seeing You !


  1. Glad to hear all went well and you enjoyed your experience. Hurry with the pics x