Like reading Thackeray edited by Elmore Leonard

Anne's Letters From The Scottish Highlands

The Joy Of Travel When You're Unwell

One of my deep fears that I try not even to look at, is that I will be ill while travelling far from home.  It has all sorts of bad sides, including fear, embarrassment, pain etc.

Well it just happened. I had three days of airports, delays, long flights, hotels for what did not seem like nearly long enough, taxis, ten hour car drive.  And that is one ghost laid, not quite to rest, perhaps, but definitely quietened down a lot.

I met with such kindness!  

It began on the middle of Sunday at an airport feeling so faint I was afraid I would make an exhibition of myself by passing out in the big hall where you check in.  The man behind the punter literally sprinted to fetch a wheelchair for me, then helped me into it and tied a seat belt around . . .

Cromarty Crimes & Thrillers Weekend

Last weekend April 12-14 I attended the Cromarty Arts Trusts’ Crime & Thrillers weekend at Cromarty, Scotland.  It was an absolutely excellent event.  Cromarty is a beautiful little town on the very end of the Black Isle.  I am particularly fortunate because I live less than an hours' drive away and so was able to end my Friday afternoon’s work with the drive around this beautiful coastline.  The added pleasure on this occasion was a perfect spring evening.  The sea was blue, the sun was bright and the water shimmered as if it were the Mediterranean.  

We began our evening with an excellent dinner at the Royal Hotel, Cromarty with a wide choice of delicious food.  During the entire evening a small cast of local people put on a . . .

I Can’t Hear What You Say.

I can’t hear what you say, because what you do speaks so loud.  I am full of hope this Easter.  The weather is glorious in this part of northern Scotland.  The air is clear and cool, the sky is cloudless, the sea from my window is dark blue.  

But a hope far deeper than that wakens in me.  I am not Roman Catholic, and I have not listened to much of what the new pope, Francis 1, has said.  However I have seen what he is doing.

He walks humbly in unadorned vestments.  He does not wear the traditional scarlet slippers, perhaps because it seems he doesn’t want to walk the traditional path!  He lives with other Priests, not in a palace; he eats communally not alone.  He does not set himself apart but appears to . . .

New York and San Francisco

Just back from a wonderful trip.  All sorts of weather alarms - snow here in the Highlands - which never came and still hasn’t.  Possible snow in London which came and went before I got there.  Terrible snow on the Eastern Seaboard in America - which was very slight in New York.  I had no trouble anywhere!  Not even fog in San Francisco, or on my return through London and it was sunshine like spring for the drive north from London back home to the northern Highlands.  A cloudless evening when I got here - gorgeous!

Perhaps there is a lesson in that?  I can’t imagine I am the only one who worries too much.  “Be prepared” is an excellent watch word.  Then pack carefully, and then check again, but after that let go of it!  There . . .

New website home

Welcome to the new website.  I want to start off with a really happy thought.  I have just been asked by Barnes & Noble to recommend my ten favourite mysteries, with as many as possible fairly recently written.  They didn’t specify that they should be available in America, but I take that as a given.  This, of course, means that I shall have to obtain, and read, all the latest works I can find of my favourite authors.  And then I need to write two or three sentences on what I particularly enjoy in them.

So I am therefore obliged to read, or re-read ten really great mystery books – WITH A CLEAR CONSCIENCE!  What a gift.  Needless to say, I have already started.  I have four fairly long flights coming up before the deadline for turning in my piece.  . . .

In Canada

I have been attending an excellent conference, first in Calgary, in Canada, now in Banff, a few miles even further west, and a few thousand feet higher, and then I will go onto Vancouver, right on the west coast.

One of the events in which I took part was a reading, which gave me much cause for thought. It included a first person account of extreme grief, of the nature which consumes all thought for other people, in fact while I have pity for all loss, this seemed to me to be tipping over into neurosis. I did not hear the rest of the story, so I have no idea how it finished.

My train of thought was to wonder where natural grief becomes self absorption, destructive to others because you have shut them out of your word, effectively saying to them that . . .

Savour Each Day!

I can hardly believe another month is over. The weather is glorious, mild and sunny, but the Virginia creeper on the house already has patches of crimson. Its beauty always takes me unaware, a reminder of how brief and how precious time is, how in the fading year, one glory replaces another in rapid succession, and all gone too soon.

Note to myself – “Savour each day, don’t waste anything. Do all you can, the best you can, but don’t be in too much of a hurry to get to tomorrow – today has its gifts that won’t ever be exactly the same again.”

In the middle of the month I meant to write and say how much I had enjoyed the first ‘Bloody Scotland’ crime writers’ conference, held in Stirling. It was such a success that already next . . .

Big Dreams, Small Steps

I have just been looking at magazines and catalogues with autumn fashions. They are beautiful, elegant, colourful - and fit very elegant and slender people, which is a great incentive to loose several pounds. The big clue to losing weight is simple - eat less. I usually eat pretty wisely, just more than I need.

The last four or five days I lost a pound. Really a pretty small achievement, but I felt ridiculously encouraged by it. I am going the right way, I am in control of something! I intend to stay in control, at least most of the time.

Why on earth does that matter? Because so often we do not try something fearing we will fail. And at that point, we have made failure a certainty.

If we do try, over and over again, we might still fail, but the . . .