the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

First week in Edinburgh

We’re tuning into city vibes and finding life in Stockbridge very agreeable. We’ve stayed in the one-bedroomed flat many times before and like the locality. Step outside the front door and to the right is Raeburn Place with its many independent shop, cafes and restaurants. Turn left and there’s the Water of Leith Walkway which goes down to the sea at Leith and inland towards the Pentland Hills. We’ve discovered a route where the Water of Leith passes under the Union Canal at Slateford Aqueduct which makes a great circular walk. There’s also the chance to go along wider footpaths which were once railway or tram tracks. We followed one to reach the Colinton Tunnel where there’s a fabulous community project to decorate the tunnel with murals.

Volunteers have illustrated the words of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem From a Railway Carriage which describes a child’s first journey by train. Here’s an image of the exit to the tunnel.

I was on special look out while walking to the tunnel for a spot where it’s possible to go wild swimming. Although most of the Water of Leith is shallow, here’s an area of deeper water. Who knows – I might don my costume one day for a dip.

There’s a great stopping off point too, at Saughton Park where the cafe serves the best breakfast rolls I’ve come across.

And I mustn’t forget a shout out for the Edinburgh Botanic which we’ve visited once already and we’re looking forward to popping back regularly to watch the plants bloom as the season warms up.

There’s not much to report on the writing submission front although I’m still joining Writers’ Hour each weekday morning at eight o’clock. It’s one way to keep the new novel barrelling along.

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Summer Break

I’ve been quiet on this blog over the summer because I spend a fortnight in Edinburgh each August. This is a wonderful city and delightful to visit when the Edinburgh Fringe is in full swing and during the two weeks of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Each morning at the book festival there is a free session called 10 at 10, where on the stroke of ten o’clock a visiting author provides a short reading of their work. It was during one of these sessions that I was introduced to the fabulous short stories written by Wendy Erskine.

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by the castle with friends

Wendy’s stories are set in East Belfast where she lives and works as a teacher. They are drawn from the people and place but reflect a wider narrative around challenges associated with love, isolation and the everyday obstacles that can floor us. I was intrigued by the snippet from a short story Wendy shared so I bought the collection Sweet Home and attended a Q&A session later in the day at Golden Hare Books, located near where I stay each summer in Stockbridge.

In her introductions, Wendy explains that she hasn’t been writing for long and credits a course run by The Stinging Fly magazine as instrumental to her development as a short story writer. She also claims her only previous publishing success was having a recipe for baked banana printed in a newspaper. (The instructions involved nothing more than putting a banana in a hot oven until the skin turns brown and then eating it.)

Sweet Home is a remarkable collection of ten short stories that fizz with tension, sadness and humour. The dialogue is outstanding which makes attending a reading such a pleasure. If you’re looking to dip into a collection that shares dark themes which are illuminated through everyday interactions, then this is the one for you.

 

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