Monday, August 1, 2011

Back again and it’s like I never left

Not even a tan for my troubles either, Scotland and Orkney in particular where we spent most of our time wasn’t overly warm and sunny (Orkney was cold enough to demand not just jumpers but also hats gloves and scarves) unfortunate then that I forgot my coat. I realised that I was sans coat half an hour up the motorway when it had been raining (torrentially) for 40 minutes. I swore a lot until finding an old wax jacket at the back of the car, despite looking like a tramp as I modelled a garment tastefully held (mostly) together by gaffer tape I sort of managed to stay warm and dry – so holiday saved.

It has basically been a books and whisky tour of – I would say Scotland, but actually I mean the A9 and Orkney (with a little sojourn on the A68). The A9 turns out to be an awesome road if you like Whisky; we visited Blair Athol, Dalwhinnie, Glenmorangie, and Old Pultney which leaves plenty for the next trip. I bought enough whisky to eclipse my book buying habit (and somewhat dread my credit card bill – is it any defence to say the Scottish one lead me astray?) between us we managed to acquire 18 bottles of malt and 2 bottles of gin. I swear that’s not all for me, and the more I think about it the less I look forward to that bill, I must not get carried away again.

Book wise I managed a quick visit to the Main Street Trading Company in Newton St Boswells which remains one of my favourite bookshops ever, even more bookish as it followed a visit to Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford (where I pinched tiny wild strawberries from the garden and wished I could live there forever – it’s beautiful and the strawberries were good). The borders seem to take bookshops seriously, there is a Borders book trail (leaflet sadly lost) which had at least 2 shops new to me on it. There was no time to visit them this trip, but next time... It’s right and proper that there is some fuss about these places though. Each and every one of them that I’ve visited so far has been excellent and a trip round the lot would make for a damn fine day out.

Orkney has some decent book shops too, Stromness has the Legendry Stromness Books and Prints (doesn’t sell prints) it’s a tiny shop a few hundred yards from the house George Mackay Brown lived in (fan girl moment) with far more books in it than seems feasible with hindsight, they also have little snippets of text taped to the shelves as well which sort of suggest what you’re browsing. My favourite would have been ‘The fluttering kilt connection’ if it hadn’t have been for another which read ‘keep away from children’. Kirkwall has the Orcadian bookshop which is good for books about Orkney and a really good second hand shop. I didn’t see its name but if you’re ever up that way it’s a couple of doors down from the library and looks like it might not be a bookshop at all from a distance, but it is and it’s entirely worth a visit.

I have more of this holiday stuff but more to the point I have quite a lot of laundry and some whisky to be stored out of harms way. Pictures of big piles of books to follow.


  1. I am so glad to have you back. I have missed you terribly! Xxx

  2. Welcome back! I envy you all those marvellous bookstores, and I'm looking forward to hearing about your loot from them.

  3. Welcome Back.

    Look forward to the pictures of the books and the whisky!

  4. It's not so bad being back after all, nice to be blogging again and once the washing is done all will be well. Pictures of books and whisky to follow!

  5. Welcome back, sounds like you had a lovely time. Looking forward to book photos.