Books · Holidays · Inspiration · Reading

A ‘peedie peek’ at Reading Around Orkney.

A recent visit to Orkney has given me the motivation to write a new blog post. I’ll admit, it’s been a while in coming, as there has been a lot going on in my life, but here we go, back to blogging and it’s bringing a smile to my face. I hope it will inspire you and make you smile too.

At the Brough of Birsay, Orkney

In preparation for our holiday, I read a few books by George Mackay Brown including Greenvoe, Hawkfall and Winter Tales. As we explored the coast at Marwick Head on our first day, I began to get an inkling of how the land and seascapes would have been such a wonderful inspiration to the author. Nature, oh my, the nature. If I hadn’t been a bit of a twitcher before, I certainly am now and as for my love of identifying plants and insects well, my Seek app has never been so busy.

Yesnaby Castle Sea Stack

Like all true bibliophiles, there was no way I’d miss the opportunity to pop into the local bookshops. In Kirkwall, I came away from the lovely ‘Orcadian Bookshop’ with a little stash including ‘Orkney Folk Tales’ by Tom Muir. A trip to the Twitter famous Orkney Library (@OrkneyLibrary) followed and what a welcoming library it is too.

Stromness had me popping into the treasure trove that is Stromness Books and Prints and to the Orkney Cats Shop – it’s worth taking a look into the back room full of books. (I must give my apologies here to those bookshops I have missed, indeed some just because I didn’t get the days they were open correct.)

There is obviously so much to see and do in Orkney. Having done a good bit of research before I visited, I had already realised that I’d never be able to do everything but we did have a good go!

We took the time to stop and drink in the atmosphere. Picnics on the beaches, enjoying Orkney ice cream, beremeal ginger biscuits, local cheese and of course, reading. Appropriately enough I had with me ‘Orkney’ by Amy Sackville. There can surely be no better place to read this wonderful, atmospheric novel than on the islands?

A few years ago I read Victoria Whitworth’s ‘Swimming with Seals’ so, faced with a day of perfect sand, sea and sunshine on the Bay of Skaill beach, there was nothing else for it. I had to swim. Jumping the incoming waves as they tumbled shorewards had me laughing out loud. Childhood memories flooded back with the soothing sounds of the ocean. And we did see a seal.

Life on Orkney is a wonderful mix of the old and the new. I do feel that, during my Orkney adventure my reading choices reflected this and, I have to say, I enjoyed reading the very upbeat and fiercely proud, Orcadian newspaper.

Suffice to say I was ‘blown away’ by my visit to Orkney. Yes, it was windy but I was filled with a sense of calmness. If I look back now, I think of cliff tops and stunning vistas. I have come away rejuvenated, hopeful and with some exciting new reading material.

Part two to come – Betty’s Reading Room

I am reading: Orkney Folk Tales by Tom Muir

peedie – small, little

bees · Hope · Inspiration · Reading

Chunks of Positivity

I’ve heard people say ‘Monday washday, Friday fishday’ or similar versions all my life. Now, I am a person of routine. I like a routine, I like knowing what I’m going to do when I get up in the morning.

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A sunflower from our garden – photo from this blog – four years ago already.

With that in mind, I’m not the only one in our family who looks forward to January for the start of the new series of ‘Death in Paradise’! All those bright colours on our screens in the midst of winter, heaven. Not only that, it means on a Thursday night at 9pm I sit on the couch with a cuppa and know I’ll have an hour of escapism and sunshine and probably a laugh or two.

That’s not to say I can’t change or adapt but there’s a real security in a routine and more, there’s the possibility to get things done, to achieve. Timetables, there’s a reason we have them and it’s been hard having that taken away from so many of us.

So, even if I’ve have had to make a new timetable for these days, I’ll give it a good go and try to stick to it.

In saying that, last week’s routine went slightly to pot (still made the Thursday night slot though!) but hey, tomorrow’s always another day.

Exciting news for me is that I’ve signed up to take an online course about beekeeping run by our local beekeeping association – watch this space! With that in mind, and my love for collecting collective nouns, here’s a link sent on by Rae Cowie – thanks, Rae!

Summer visitors!

Looking for a great idea for a gift, can be tricky at times like these, hope you don’t mind me saying but we’ve loved the gift vouchers we’ve been given for Kiva over the years – it is definitely the gift that keeps on giving. Big shout out to all at Book Moon for starting us off on this.

My final link for today is from The Novel Points of View Blog with practical advice on keeping going, a little at a time. I’m going to try not to say my favourite line here -‘chunk it’ – ah well, had to be done!

If you’ve got to the bottom of this post, thank you and sending warmest wishes to you and yours for staying safe and healthy.

I’m reading ‘Muriel Spark, The Biography’ by Martin Stannard, ‘The Boy with the Butterfly Mind’ by Victoria Williamson and ‘A Poem for Every Night of the Year’ edited by Allie Esiri.

I’m listening to the Feel Better Live More podcast with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee talking to Joe Wicks about positivity.

Picture Book Review

Head over to my Picture Book Review Pages for great recommendations.

Latest Review – ‘My Nana’s Garden’ by Dawn Casey and Jessica Courtney-Tickle

Reading · stories · Writing

Short stories and Teapots

I was lucky enough to do a reading of a story I had written for children at the Aberdeen Booked! festival.

Of course I was nervous, who isn’t, but once I started I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Reading aloud is one of my favourite  things to do. The joy of sharing a story is such a treat.

Anyway, at the end a lady spoke to me and told me she had enjoyed my story and was herself re-reading Anne of Green Gables.

Now I know my writing and I know I have a long, long way to go but to even have ‘Anne with an e’ mentioned in the same conversation as my story – well – I’m still happily living off the buzz!

thumb_IMG_1391_1024For my birthday I was given this beautiful book by a lovely friend. Picking out stories I am amazed at how dark some of them actually are – even Cupid has a bad name.

I’m constantly told the stories I write are too ‘nice’ and I did wonder if I should channel some of the darkness of HCA into my stories but then I realised I’d it’s probably just not my thing.

The funny coincidence is, when I started this blog and my ‘Cup of Tea’ books section, I knew I wanted to include the story of The Teapot.



I think it fits very well with this blog. It does make me remember that the stories we write for children are so often read by adults.


‘One is one thing and then becomes quite another.’

‘It is a blessing to forget oneself in others.’

(Hans Christian Andersen, ‘The Teapot’)





Great to see the bees back in the garden on a bumper year for the Rhododendrons.

Books · Libraries · Reading

Time for Reading

On the way to the recycling bin in our house I found myself reading the sports pages of the newspaper; an article all about ‘Match of the Day’. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m not interested in football or indeed the world around me at large. It’s just that I surprised even myself, did I really want to read this article?

Well, yes, why not? I’ve always read everything I could get my hands on, the back of a cereal packet is the classic example (and I do!).


I’ve realised I may sit in a room by myself but I am never alone when I have a book with me. Yes, there are the characters but there’s more, so much more.

When I read I am part of a world. One of so many people on this planet who share a love of reading.

I have six books on the go at the moment – thank you Aberdeen Libraries!

I only have to think of Bookshops and Libraries to know there are so many others out there who love books too.

Then there’s the times we share a book; the magic of reading out loud to a little one on your knee or a class full of children eager to know what happens next.

The memories created when listening to audiobooks in the car, laughing and recalling the story together years later (Horrid Henry and the injection scene springs to mind!).

What a treat it is to attend events during the Scottish Book Trust Book Week or meet friends at Book Festivals and Book Groups.

Of course there is also the joy when a book is adapted to TV or film and the discussions thereafter.thumb_IMG_1133_1024

Then there’s my favourite; recommending a book to someone and they love it too.

It’s a world of books, let’s hope it stays that way.




bees · Books · Inspiration · Knitting · Libraries · Reading


Funny how little things link together throughout your life.

At the weekend I had a day of ‘connections’.

I was lucky enough to attend a writing course run by David Gray on behalf of the SCBWI.

What a treat, to take part in a writing course and be surrounded by books! The course took place in the fantastic setting of Dunfermline Carnegie Library, which, linked with the new museum, galleries, reading room, cafe and much more, looks out over Dunfermline Abbey.

Wonderful view from the Carnegie Library

Afterwards we had a look at the super  ‘Blooming Marvellous’ family friendly gardening exhibition and it even had knitted flowers!


I grew up hearing the story of Andrew Carnegie and love the way his gift has just kept on giving. Dunfermline was the world’s first library to be funded by Andrew Carnegie and it opened in 1883.

The library was busy, even on a rainy day, and I’ll definitely be back to spend more time in Dunfermline.

So many things I love all together in one place; writing, reading, gardening, art, museums, knitting (and a cup of tea!) – truly a day of connections.


Bee on the raspberries


Books · Nature · Reading · walking

Restful Reading

Reading something you enjoy for just 6 minutes a day can reduce your stress levels by two thirds.


So I thought of a couple of suggestions, hope you enjoy them!

  • Read my blog post about Balancing Life  with the Five Ways to Better Wellbeing.




  • Take a moment to read a poem.




Forget-Me-Nots planted from seed last year!