Book Launch!

Launch flyer

This coming week will see the launch of ‘From the Mountains to the Sea’ which contains some of my poetry illustrated by Les Dunford’s photographs. Both the poems and photographs have been inspired by the landscape in this beautiful corner of Scotland . About half the poems have been published in poetry magazines and online on Poetry Scotland’s Open Mouse and the StAnza map of Scotland, but the rest are ‘out there’ for the first time.

As I wrote in an earlier blog, profits from this collection will go to Versus Arthritis  (formerly known as Arthritis Research UK). This body is conducting research into fibromyalgia which my husband Les has been living with for around twenty five years. I hope that the publication of the book will help to raise the profile of this condition.

We know of many who have had to cope with chronic pain, chronic fatigue and yet because there are no outward signs of this condition seem to be very fit and healthy. There is no give away limp or pale face to indicate a health problem. In fact, because pressure for longer than a short time on any part of the body causes pain, walking is far more comfortable than sitting still or lying down. Being out in the fresh air each day and walking can give the impression of being fighting fit!

Mind over matter, thinking positively about what is possible, not dwelling on what can’t be done is the best way of coping. There are times when depression inevitably sets in and it’s a struggle to even continue doing minor everyday chores, but keeping busy, not giving in has more effect than saying goodbye cruel  world.


Inspired by the Landscape

Although we have travelled to very many places in the UK over the years and further afield – even to the other side of the world in New Zealand – as I look through my collection of poems there are far more inspired by this corner of Dumfries & Galloway than anywhere else.

Here we have the sea and so many different types of coastline where we enjoy sandy beaches, clifftops carpeted with nature’s own patchwork of spring squill, thyme, saxifrage , bluebells, celandines and then there are miles of merse, salt marsh or inks as they’re known locally. Here in winter, we get huge flocks of geese grazing.

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A version of the following poem was published in an anthology ‘Singing Over the Bones’ in 2010 to celebrate Wigtown Women’s Walk.

Salt Marsh Defined

 They call it merse, salt marsh, inks

where there’s the boardwalk and a stone

marking the two Margarets’ death.

That  black sulphurous layer

they call merse, salt marsh, inks.


A feeding ground for Greenland’s geese;

land for grazing Galloway cattle;

where granite marks the deaths

of one eighteen, one sixty three,

they call it merse, salt marsh, inks.


Margarets Wilson and McLaughlin

Eleventh May 1685.

Now we hear the cries of birds,

shiver in cold sun, remember them

by the merse, salt marsh, inks.


The martyrs’ stake marks the spot

So we remember how

By the merse, salt marsh, inks

These women stood defiant,

Proud of their covenanters’ vow.


The Martyrs’ stake commemorative stone was surrounded by sea after an unusually high tide.