End of May 2019
In summer 2019 I spent a wonderful week at Moniack Mhor, the writers' centre near Beauly. Apart from the amazing weather with almost continuous warm sunshine, glorious views towards the mountains and the calls of the cuckoos, I think we all found the few days of our tutored retreat very beneficial whatever our reasons for attending. I was able to sort out how I was going to go about the research for my new book on private waiting rooms and stations, what I should include and what I should not include and how to keep a record of it all. The tutors, Kapka Kassabova and Mallachy Tallack were wonderful and listened patiently to our ideas and without pushing themselves, quietly made suggestions to help us.
1st March 2020
I spent quite a bit of Friday at the Culloden Viaduct filming for a programme on Channel 5 about a railway journey from Inverness to Edinburgh. Pity, it had to be recorded in winter as it was cold and some snow was on the ground. Most of the questions were about my great-granduncle, Murdoch Paterson who as chief engineer to the Highland Railway, designed the viaduct and considered it to be one of his greatest. Watch this space for news of when the programme will be streamed.
Busy researching and writing my new book. More information on this in the coming months.
6th April 2020
Lockdown time! Could be difficult but I have my book to write so I am glad that I have a project to keep me busy. Problem is that there are visits I should make and I wonder how long I will have to wait before I can make them. I realise I am lucky as I have a garden and can stay outside as long as I like.
Programme now available on My5. See TV & Radio for more info
People’s Books on TV
As I look at my television screen, I am pleased to see that the world of books seems alive and well. I have sometimes wondered if there are far too many books in my house. Being a writer, I need people to buy my books. Like any other business and writing is a business, I need customers. At the moment I work on the kitchen table and around me is a large number of books which I need to check facts for the book I am writing on the private stations and waiting rooms on the Highland Railway. I hope to move my place of work soon to another room. I am going to call it The Writing Room.
As I am in danger of tripping over the books in the kitchen, I sent off for a bookcase online as we are not able to visit the shops. In ordinary times I would have looked in my local hospice shop which has a wonderful collection of things to buy. I chose something that fitted my needs, looked easy to construct and was not expensive as I will probably replace it with something more aesthetically suited to the rest of the bookcases in the room.
And so to the books on the TV screen. They make a nice neutral sort of background away from the clutter that working rooms often accumulate. Sometimes there are few pictures as well, so it is nice to have an idea of the person’s taste in art. My house is also full of paintings as my brother-in-law was an artist and I love landscape paintings. On this front I need to take care that the house does not end up looking like an art gallery – or perhaps a library!
In days gone by, grand houses could purchase, I think by the foot, artificial books so that it looked as though they were studious readers of similar sorts of books as the colour and spines all matched. Thankfully all the books I see look like real books but whether the person has read them is another matter. My last book was a coffee table sort of book on the bridges and viaducts of the Highland Railway with stories about most of them. Someone who must have done most of his reading in bed, complained to me about this to me. He will be pleased to know that he will be able to read my new book in bed.
I hope now that we have all had to embrace new technology, the New Norm will be that more events use one’s homes rather than travelling to a central place. Being a nosey journalistic sort of person, it is great to see people embracing new ways. After all many of us have friends who live in other countries. Now we have learnt how to communicate with them seeing one another and doing it cheaply.
In future I hope my Zoom events will have a nice bookish background. After all books are my lifeline!