Stones for Advent – small winter gems of writing

Looking down the croft and across the loch to Trotternish ridge

As I mentioned here on Nov 26th, I’ll be taking part in Writing Our Way Home’s  river of stones writing month in January. It was something I very much enjoyed doing last January and I’m looking forward to it.

But aside from that, I’ve also decided to do a collection of Advent stones and I’m publishing them daily on Twitter. I’m also going to post them here a week or so at a time. I may alter them slightly for the blog versions as I don’t have to be restricted to 140 characters but they’ll be mostly the same in both places. They won’t be of a particularly religious nature – although various festivals of light may be implied/referred to, but, I hope, they convey some of the sense of anticipation, of wonder, of light overcoming dark that a northern December inevitably brings. The ‘stones’ are meant to be a written record of a moment of stillness and observation – of mindfulness – experienced on that day.

So here goes – below are days 1 to 6 of my Advent stones. They can also be seen daily on Twitter with the hashtag #smallstone.

winter garden

One: Sun just up. Air crackles cold. A V-skein of greylags pass above, backed by the snow-topped Cuillin. Ravens line a roof ridge cawing complaints to the gannets opposite.

Two: Robin hopped in front of me on the hail-strewn pavement. I looked him in the eye, spirits lifted. Cheery wee bird.

Three: A Christmas baby. A scan of her in her liquid world. I anticipate my granddaughter’s birth – impatient to meet my little stranger.

Four: My  Magnificat – Love and loss; labour and rest; friends foes; ease challenge; children elders; sickness health; home and travel; want and plenty. A rich life lived and wisdom gained. Why me? Why not? Who knows? But I am grateful.

Five: Clouds, like smoke from a volcano, emerge from the top of Fingal’s Seat. Slats of light behind the hill. All that remains of the day.

Six: No fear of falling. No sense of a chill. Embracing the novelty, the season, the joy in the moment. Children and snow.


The sky falls on Skye

Strange noises in the night – like a sliding door opening and closing – turned out to be snow avalanching off the roof. We awoke to our most substantial fall so far this winter. Six to ten inches depending where you place your wellies.  The track has been ploughed, but a wall of snow means the car is trapped. We’re officially snowed in. I took some photos around the garden. I hope you enjoy them.

Time Out and a good use for the CSR…

On the cliffs at Flamborough

October Holidays

I’m a lucky girl. I get two weeks half-term break from school in October. This is my second week of leisure and I’m loving the time off.

For the first week me and the husband went to Yorkshire and stayed in a holiday cottage in the Wolds. We stayed in a wee place called Helperthorpe  just on the southern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. Yorkshire is one of my favourite areas south of the border. It’s so refreshing to spend time in a totally different landscape from the one you’re used to. Yes, even a beautiful place like Skye just becomes normal when you live here.

York Castle - Clifford's Tower

We had trips to Filey, Scarborough, Whitby and Bridlington – all lovely old-fashioned seaside towns. We also went to Flamborough Head – spectacular but must have the grimmest public toilets in the universe! – and to the RSPB reserve at Bempton – where we saw a stoat in a crack on the cliff face as well as lots of seabirds. One of the highlights was a visit to York and a fish and chip lunch at Betty’s Tearooms – delicious! Husband was in his element visiting the steam railway at Goathland in the village where the TV series ‘Heartbeat’ was filmed.

Steam train at Goathland

And I loved the old advertisements on the station walls – see below –

Cigarette ad at the station


Ah -the good old days - when smoking was good for you!

It was the husband’s birthday while we were away and I took him out for a meal at the Bluebell Inn in Weaverthorpe – (within walking distance of the cottage we were staying in –what a novelty for us!). He says it was one of the best meals he’s ever had – I must say it was scrumptious – and we had a lovely waitress who made the evening feel really special. yes there’s a food theme running through this holiday!

The Bluebell Inn

Now we’re back home and I’m getting some writing done – both on the novel and on the blog. And after nice quality time with the husband, it’s good to also have quality time to write. Last term at school was so exhausting that the writing had all but stopped.

I’ve prepared lots of posts for the blog – to post over the coming weeks – you’ve been warned! And I’ve also begun to make – slow – progress with the novel once more.

I’m not a huge fan of winter – or at least of the 60 mile drive to school in the winter – but I do like the long dark evenings and wild weather if I’m indoors and can be at my desk writing – without feeling guilty about the neglected garden or that I should be out walking.

There’s already snow on the high ground and more migrating greylag geese join the natives on the croft fields each day – and the swifts have gone. The deer are back on lower ground and liable to jump out onto the road anytime, anywhere. The loch is grey and turbulent; the night sky –spectacular. Yes, it’s time to tether all outdoor objects that can’t be put under cover – the first winter gale can’t be far off. Time, too, to put the survival kit in the boot of the car – just in case the car (or I) break down on the moor – where there’s no mobile signal and few passing motorists.

And once school goes back the children will be full of Halloween, bonfire night and whisper it – Christmas.

Keep warm – burn a copy of the Comprehensive Spending Review!