What I learned at DyslexiFest

12 Oct

This was supposed supposed to be a proper reblog, where the original post appears below, and you can read the first part of it right here, but I’m currently away from my laptop and it turns out not to be so easy on a phone. I’m doing my best, OK?

Anyway, the point of this pseudo-reblog is that I’ve just written a wee piece for Dyslexia Scotland’s blog, A Life Less Ordinary, about four things I learnt at DyslexiFest.

DyslexiFest (which I find ironically hard to spell) was a “celebration of all things dyslexic” that was held in Glasgow last weekend. Don’t think there’s anything to celebrate about dyslexia? Read my previous posts on the subject (here and here) or just have a read of the Dyslexia Scotland blog.

Anyway, you can read about it the event here: #DyslexiFest

Meanwhile, I will think fondly of my laptop sitting obediently on my desk. But with a smartphone (and, importantly, a charger) in my bag, I’m sure I will find plenty of ways to amuse myself while pretending I’m working.

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The Gate of Desire Ajar

21 Sep

There’s a poem on the wall next to platform 10 in Glasgow Central station. posted up there to mark the relaunch of the Caledonian Sleeper service (unfortunately with sharply increased prices, meaning that I will be unlikely ever to sample its comforts). It’s by Alfred Cochrane, an English cricketer and I was rather taken by it, so I looked for it on the web, naturally, and couldn’t find it – well, not apart from a couple of references in old issues of the Oban Times.

It is called “Northward Bound”, apparently (or
“Northward Bound Once Again”), and it beautifully sums up the call of the Highlands, which even the least energetic among us (i.e. me) feel the power of. It has a rather poignant, bittersweet beginning, but works its way up to a much more uplifting ending.

I think it deserves to be more widely known, so as it’s not online, I’m going to put it there. (Don’t worry, it’s out of copyright – just.)

And in case you have difficulty reading from the photos, or you’re using text-to-speech, here’s the full text:

Does your heart still beat with the old excitement
As you wait where the Scotch expresses are?
Does it answer still to the old indictment
Of a fond delight in a sleeping car,
As it did when the rush through the autumn night
Meant the gate of desire ajar?

Or has the enchanting task grown tougher?
Has the arrow beyond you flown?
The hill that was once rough enough grown roughter,
The steepest climb you’ve ever known?
For the forest abhors a veteran duffer,
Sorely beaten and blown.

Ah, the years, the years, they are rusty and mothy;
The flesh it is weak, that once was strong.
But the brown burn over the stone falls frothy;
The music it sings is a siren song
And the pony’ll take you as far as the bothy,
And that’ll help you along.

See! From the tops the mist is stealing!
Out with the stalking glass for a spy!
Round Craig an Eran an eagle is wheeling,
Black on the blue September sky.
A fig for the years! Why, youth and healing
At the end of your journey lie.

Alfred Cochrane

I like pretty women, I like good wine

3 Sep

And extra marks to the person who gets that obscure song reference.*

The title alludes to the fact that my piece on Albanian wine has been published in Wine Tourist Magazine, so you can make yourself very jealous reading about what I did with my summer / educate yourself about Albanian wine varieties and history (delete as appropriate).

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How to (try to) get published

15 Aug

I’ve got a book coming out at the end of this month that I had been meaning to write and release for ages, but I got a little push a few months back when a friend from church asked me how she would go about getting her almost-finished novel published.

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By popular request – a post in Albanian (postim ne shqip)

25 Jul

(Ok, readers who don’t speak Albanian, just skip to the next post – this one’s for the Albanians who don’t speak English.)

Te dashur lexues shqiptarë, ja një postim në shqip me në fund. Do të më falni për gabimet në shkrimin.

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An Albanian Summer

23 Jul

I’m on holiday this month, but as a self-employed writer it’s very much a busman’s holiday, of course. I’ve been researching an article on Albanian vineyards, working on part two of The Sarcophagus Scroll (called Daughters of Fire, since you asked), and editing a booklet called How to Get Published, which will be available free to newsletter subscribers in September.

But I have also found time to have fun and enjoy the beauty of Albania (as if touring vineyards wasn’t fun!). So here’s a nice photo post for you.

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Drowning in a tsundoku

12 Jun

There is a word in Japanese, they tell me, that means letting books pile up without reading them: tsundoku. I don’t speak Japanese, but it sounds appropriate, reminding me both of sudoku, something stressful and time-consuming, and tsunami, which is what happens when your to-read pile becomes unstable.

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Pester Power

20 May

You may have seen my earlier post on reducing my use of plastic personally. However, that’s only half the story. Businesses and organisations have to play their role, too. If there’s no plastic-free option available, then you can’t choose it.

So I’ve been utilising the still-useful skill of letter writing to try and encourage companies I use to join me on this quest. Below are some letters (OK, emails) I have sent, and the responses I got. Continue reading

Let’s play Hyndland bingo!

26 Apr

It probably says a lot about the neighbourhood of Anniesland, in Glasgow, that after spending a month here I am writing a post about Hyndland. Anniesland is a bit betwixt and between, both in a literal sense (its main landmark is Anniesland Cross, a major junction between roads that run west out of Glasgow and south to the Black Hole and the Death Star (as I like to call Govan and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital) and also in terms of character. It’s kind of west end but not posh, a bit down at heel but not cheap, not that far the city centre, but not actually close. Continue reading

Fulvia and Florence, a Formidable Pair

8 Apr

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that when I announce that I’ve got an article in a magazine, I usually provide a tasteful, cropped photo of the article – an image that shows enough to help you find it in the magazine and hopefully want to read more, but not enough to upset the people at the magazine who deal with copyright and fair usage.

This time is a bit unusual because, although I currently have an article in two magazines, I don’t have a copy of either of them. I moved home almost a year ago, but while I thought I had updated my address with all my contacts while I was still having my post forwarded, in fact I obviously didn’t, and the magazines are probably confusing the person at my old house, or sitting in a forlorn corner of a sorting office. It makes me wonder what else I may be missing…😕 Continue reading