Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 138 and 139 – Nae Birling

Ready to go

I took this picture in Granton-on-Spey as we were awaiting the start of a Strathspey Ball. Alas the 2020 Ball is yet another victim of the Covid-19 outbreak and this year, there’ll be nae birling.

However, folk are trying their best to have socially distanced fun and celebrations. We’ve been to a couple of distanced 70ths and the celebration online of the Edinburgh International Festival.

In addition, we had a great morning yesterday with family – outdoors. The weather was very much onside. Is it going to be quite as much fun into the Autumn and Winter?

Courting the Countess continues to be free – go here

A Debt for Rosalie is now off the shelves, but still available from the DC Thomson shop:


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 137 – Freebie

My publishers Lume Books are offering Courting the Countess FREE for a limited time. Go here

Good news, too, from my editor at DCThomson where the serial proposal has found favour. Heads down now…

DH won the scrabble but lost at croquet. The latter is regarded as good because of handicap issues.

Finished The Black Sheep. Another delightful GH. Picked up The Convenient Marriage next. Baked a cake as we’re having friends to afternoon tea in the garden. Are you listening rain Gods – in the Garden! Had another browse through the local Waterstone’s. It might be years before this ceases to be a treat.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 136 – Come in…

So, the DH did go round, but I stayed home. If things stay good, there may be a resumption of short services from September. As we’re seeing, though, in other parts of the country, things don’t necessarily stay good.

Saddened by the news from Beirut. The devastation is hard to comprehend.

Also sorry for the poor folk who rely on the Rest and Be Thankful route.

Pleased to see that the Royal Lyceum and Pitlochry Festival Theatres were assisted by the special fund for Arts organisations.

Watched Dr Michael Mosely begin his project helping people who’ve gained weight during the lockdown to lose it again. Lots of alarming stats and yet more making of resolutions.

Sent a submission off to a publishing house. Fingers crossed.



Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 135 – The Storm Arrives

A strong wind and driving rain kept most of us indoors yesterday. Reminding, if reminding is needed, what it feels like to be locked-down. Measures have just been re-introduced in Aberdeen.

DH made some phone calls with startling results in at least one case where a ‘hidden’ heart attack was reported. Adult children have returned home from their extended stays in the countryside. He wisely cancelled a planned croquet match.

We had a Zoom clash last night, but resolved it when DH downloaded the app to his phone. Do I even understand what that means? Not necessarily, but it was good to be able to join in my Book Group chat. If our present way of living continues, I need to buy another camera. Installing said camera would necessitate tidying my study…

Shopped locally at Mathieson’s where the chaps are very smart in ‘uniform’ black shirts and striped navy/white aprons.

We don’t have any direct association with any teens who received results yesterday. I do feel for all these youngsters and their parents.

Local church opens tonight for 5-minute peace. Does one dare?


Lockdown diary – 2020 – 134 – Calm Before the Storm

Water lily

Starting the week saw several of the Lockdown norms and quite nice weather. DH finished weeding and reorganising his borders. Great family contact over the phone. Good Zoom meeting of the badminton group. Only six of us could make it this time, but a few e-mailed their news later – so we all feel updated.

The Black Sheep,which is the next GH discovered lurking in the basement shelving, is an interesting read. It has so much of GH’s usual touches but to my mind is ‘prosy’. I was surprised to discover it’s very late, 1966, as I would have said it was a ‘prentice piece. Very readable, though, and with one or two great characters.

Started writing a Scottish Regency. Possibly looking out the photographs I took of George Square for my friend stirred the coals. Whatever, I’m back there in imagination and trying out the voices. Also, I now know what a round gown is – and, more importantly – what it isn’t. Susan Karsten writing on Vanessa Riley’s blog.

Anyone else being driven batty by hotmail’s sudden impulse to correct both one’s spelling (good-ish) and one’s choice of construction (utterly unacceptable)?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 133 – 19 weeks

Travel plans are modest for most of us this year.

Yesterday, I didn’t leave the house but did make a couple of phone calls to catch up with folk we haven’t been able to see yet. Everything seems to be much as usual and excitement is building among the young who will be starting nursery/school/college soon – if it all works out…

After a television dearth while re-writing and editing the most recent story, I returned to it last night. Death in Paradise continues to entertain.One of the channels I normally watch (wall-to-wall Midsommer Murders) has been moved. May have to write another book.

On that subject, and while I wait to hear about a submission, I found myself in George Square circa 1819 this morning. Ah well. the housework can wait, can’t it?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 132 – And On

Greyfriars Bobby – a capital landmark

It’s Sunday and online worship continues to be the norm for most although I did meet a friend last night who was hopeful of attending Mass in her own Church today.

Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church is again offering music and reflections for all here

The church building will be open for quiet reflections on Wednesday evenings between 6.30 and 8pm from 5th August.

Delighted to see Tommy’s return to Mathieson’s yesterday: the world begins to right itself.

Finished The Grand Sophy. I have 20 of the 26 GH regencies. The Infamous Army is one I have failed to enjoy or read all the way through, but if life continues as at present, I may have to make the effort. There was a GH question in the Guardian Quiz yesterday. We scored 7 – nearly respectable.

Now the wip is finished and while I await advice about the serial, I’ve been reading through some of the short stories I have started and left hanging. One or two of them fill me with, if not excitement, hope. Am also dissecting what the writing and editing of the wip involved.

Writers – how do you beguile the time between submission and commission?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 131 – And it’s August

I don’t have any teacakes in the house. Reading the article in The Scotsman this morning about how losing weight is one thing some of us could do to help with fighting Coronovirus should we catch it, I have to be glad. The shelf life of a box of teacakes in this house is short.

Yesterday saw the submission of version three of the wip and – Drumroll! it caught the editor’s eye.

This morning saw the updating of all the house’s calendars to 1st August. What will I fret about now? Really sorry to see the number of new virus cases creeping up again and very sorry for all the people deprived of their religious festival and its social side. Two of my writer friends are again in lockdown with all that means. Nature triumphing.

DH played a croquet friendly yesterday. We did have the lawns booked for our annual family party, but of course, wasn’t to be. Did some REAL shopping and bought a bundle of birthday cards, a pressie and some soap for me. Am now wandering around wafting ‘minted fennel with nettle’. Delightful. Exposed our surplus garlic on the garden wall for any takers: a whole bulb arrives weekly from Hellofresh and I’ll never use it all.

Any absurdities in your ‘virus annals’?



Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 129 – 130 – Phasing

Devil Baby, Melbourne Festival 2011

Getting our feet clear of the virus is no easy matter. Melbourne is one place where it has raised its might again, but there are so many worldwide. Vigilance is incumbent on us all.

However, when the DH and I made our first trip to a PLACE – The Queen’s Gallery – to view their exhibition of Indian art, we were the only people in the building wearing face masks as far as I could see. Their FAQs indicate they’re only required in certain parts of each building.


The exhibition, Eastern Encounters, was as fascinating as they often are and the absence of crowds of visitors made it so much easier to see the detailed and colourful paintings. Many of them are in groups and tell a story.

Online events are continuing and at the invitation of Nancy Jardine, I joined Ocelot Press’s cocktail hour yesterday to mark the launch of Doorways to the Past, a collection of short stories. Available at 99p – a snip.

Met a friend in that popular cemetery. She’s been locked down in France and is now home. DH played bridge online in a ‘join any table’ mode. He enjoyed it although found the absence of chat a little isolating.

I finished the third version of the WIP and have sent it off this morning. Phew! Did I say I enjoyed editing. Can I edit that comment?

Have started The Grand Sophy and enjoyed the first chapter more than any first chapter for a long time. What a talented and ‘fun’ writer Ms Heyer was.

What about your adventures? Been to a place?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 126,127,128 – Expanding Horizons

Charles Street

So, intervals are creeping into this diary, however, thngs have been going forward. Sunday saw DH and I in front stall seats chez nous to hear David Greig, Artisitic Director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre address its patrons, and to watch the short scenes the Lyceum have commissioned and filmed called Shakespeare in Isolation. They were all good, but as a granny, my favourites were the two involving children. From Coriolanus, Valeria has taken up quilting which, she says, is hers and no one can take it from her – the lockdown has separated her from the little boy she so often looked after – heartbreaking – and Peaseblossom who represents the home schooling mum (of the elves) trying to broker peace between her warring parents (Titania and Oberon) – by zoom – brilliantly funny.

Monday it rained, and rained, and…

Not to waste a day, I devoted a lot of it to The Nonesuch which might be about to replace Frederica as my favourite GH.

I also helped a writer friend with some Edinburgh research – hence the pic of Charles Street, above. Here’s another of the house in George Square where I settled some characters in the early nineteenth century.

The Menzieses’ House

Yesterday, was the actual expanding horizon as we crossed the Forth and visited in Clackmannanshire. Driving along Glen Devon is so beautiful and our friend’s garden was looking fabulous.

I won a resounding scrabble victory although to be fair DH sat with 5/6 vowels on his tray for most of the game. I caught up with some of the National Theatre shorts and was mesmerised by Peter Mullen’s performance as the alternating jackdaw/human/pigeon. Well done to him and to writer, Douglas Maxwell.

Horrified by the accident to a No 24 bus on the cobbles in the New Town. So pleased noone was hurt.