Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 51 – There’s a World Out There

The Woman’s Weekly magazine arrived this morning with the papers and it features an interview with Romantic Novelists’ Association’s President, Katie Fforde, on how she’s coping with the lockdown.

I first met Katie and her husband at the lovely autumn conference which used to happen in Pitlochry. Hugh Rae, sadly now the late, used to inveigle promising and rising stars he’d encountered at the Swanwick Writers’ School to come along and she was one such.

I see from the interview that Katie’s stellar success might be down in part to her thinking time walking the family dog. I don’t have a Wolfhound or its replacement a King Charles Spaniel, so possibly that’s where I went wrong. Possibly, there are other reasons.

Yesterday, was a trip to the local butcher’s shop, Mathieson’s (or Coq & Bull), where I took advice from the owner’s son as, after six weeks of a meal every day, I’m out of ideas. Glasgow Fillet was the result and very good it was, too.

Curiously, on the way back I met one of the organisers of the Edinburgh Christian Aid Book Sale and heard a lot of the goss attaching. She looked much more relaxed than she would have done had the sale been in full swing. Even more curiously, I encounterd two King Charles Spaniels. Owned by some neighbours, these little escape merchants needed to be coralled and their owners alerted. (We are listening PM & FM).

Writing, cooking, jigsaw, chocolate (woops), and the next GH, A Quiet Gentleman, help one hour slide into the next. Scrabble although DH won as he again managed to go out and earn the BONUS! Steward’s Enquiry needed I feel.

Any favourite menus I might give a try? Who did you encounter before they were famous in their field?

Christian Aid Week



Lockdown diary – 2020 – 48 – Another Day gone by

After the Night Before

A lively Skype call with some of the younger members of the family yesterday afternoon cheered this household up no end. Mutual interest in trains – wooden, plastic, clockwork – can still be a connection even when the ‘track’ is less than a foot long.

Enjoyed someone’s phone photo, on social media yesterday, of the fox going down the steps into Waverley Station. Deer have been sighted in the local cricket ground. The Skype call featured both a giraffe and a hippo…

Hats off to the unsung domestic heroes looking after the young, the very old, the very ill, the vulnerable and the confused. Thinking of you all.

Jigsaw looking good. A Civil Contract absorbing, entertaining, exasperating in equal measures. Joined the DH to watch Scotland’s rugby victory over the French in a past season.

Today being Sunday, Mayfied Salisbury Parish Church has posted its online worship. Here

Two major issues are highlighted in the intimations following the service. Firstly, this is Christian Aid Week. A week when many from the church community would have been working very hard to raise funds for the worldwide organisation. Many in Edinburgh would have been working at or buying from the Book Sale in St Andrew’s and St George’s.

Book Sale books

Christian Aid are seeking our donations online, here

Secondly, the intimations feature a wishlist for the homeless folk being put up in The Old Waverley Hotel. It’s from the Bethany Care Shelter. You can read about this initiative and find a donate button here


Round Robin – September – Reading

So, this month we’re considering how one encourages reading in our children – or, indeed – in anyone.

Carrots and Sticks

There are carrots and there are sticks.







I’ve said in other places that I cannot remember a time when I couldn’t read. I know my parents both read and when my mum was blighted by cataract, her very first project after the operation to remove the first one, was a temporary library ticket round the corner here: she stayed with us while she needed drops in her eye. Her mother lived with her in her last three years and was re-reading the Victorian classics in the weeks before she began to fade away.

So, in my own case, example and opportunity were there from the beginning.


Like my mum. I read bedtime stories to my children and was gratified when the oldest child used to sit out of sight on the stairs to listen in (too cool to join in by then) and by the middle one telling me in the morning that the house floated away. “I finished the book after you stopped reading, Mum.”



A – was it a stick was it a carrot ploy? – was that if they wanted to join us in the posh sitting-room at coffee after meals, then they had to bring and read their book.


All my children read and frequently ask for books or give books at present times.






Other groups?

I’m in a book group. I read books I wouldn’t have chosen for myself which is a Good Thing. I take books to parties or supper invitations; and as a weekend guest. I think in the pile of chocolates and bottles of wine, they stand out. I NEVER ask if people read them, however. I always include a book in Christmas Goodie bags. I offer my read and unlikely to be re-read paperbacks to specific places. Occasionally I’ll do a charity coffee morning and ask folk to ‘bring a book, buy a book’ – an idea that has been used again by guests for their own charities.

Christian Aid Scottish Book Sale October


I help every year with Edinburgh’s massive Christian Aid book sale. This year, 2018, over one hundred thousand pounds has been raised to help displaced people. The sale offers a huge selection of books at great prices to avid readers and reluctant readers alike. Its next event is the companion Scottish Books; Art; jewellery and coffee sale. Thursday 25th – Saturday 27th October in St Andrew’s and St George’s 13 George Street, Edinburgh.

There you have it. The message in my own case is basically total immersion. Did anyone else walk a three year-old to school who asked whether thiamine was a good thing? He’d seen the word on the corn flakes’ packet!

Courting the Countess is an Edinburgh regency using the beauty and the beast tale in an inversion. Romance, murder and regency mayhem to lift you out of your mundane.

If you prefer contemporary, how about Anne Stormont’s new book, Settlement?

To discover what my fellow robins think, go here:

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1ly

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/

A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/

Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com