Category Archives: BlahBlahBlah

Let Me Count the Ways – Why I Love Sapphire in the Snow by Carol Townend

You know that moment when you start reading a book and you feel that the characters are going to be with you for a long time?  Yes, that.  So I must introduce you to Edmund and Beatrice because you must read their story! 

England, 1066 – Edmund of Lindsay is a Saxon and Beatrice Giffard, a Norman – a potentially explosive combination when William the Conqueror becomes William I of England.  Edmund is the illegitimate half-brother of the Thegn (Lord), and Beatrice is travelling to England with her cousin, a rich spoiled Lady.

Once Beatrice arrives with her cousin the Lady Anne from Normandy (who is to marry Edmund’s half brother) escorted by the villain of the piece Phillip de Brionne, all is about to go to hell in a handbasket.  I’m not doing Phillip a disservice either; he is a nasty piece of work and is only really interested in taking the land belonging to the Lindsay family.  He kills Anne’s fiancé to get it.  Mind you, he wouldn’t mind Keeping Anne on, and frankly neither would she.  Anne does have a few good points though, and does make you smile.

What I love about this book is the breathtaking sweetness that it has woven into it, and the youth and inexperience of the hero and heroine is tested in these harsh times.  Beatrice responds to Edmund even at their first meeting, before the slaughter.  Her innate kindness allows her to care for Edmund when is badly injured – despite him being considered an enemy, and despite their not even being able to communicate properly until they learn they can both speak Latin.  Edmund understands that Beatrice is a girl that he can cherish, even if she does not.

Have I not sold this to you yet?  Pfft.  It is fantastically researched; you learn all kind of facts and even languages.  I love the secondary characters in this novel too…oh, and the cover.  But wait,  there is one more thing to know – a moment that remains in my memory – Edmund and Beatrice standing in the snow from the title, not knowing what the future will bring for them, perhaps no future at all.  Except for the message behind a sapphire ring (no I am not sniffling right now). 

Well I’m off to read it again, and I hope you’ll be there with me cheering them on.  Go on, you know you want to.

I wrote this blog for a competition, and despite them not letting us know I assume it didn’t place in it.  However, I always intended to use it – so here it is!  I’m going to back review some of my favourite books in the future and next up will be a post on the author Laurie McBain.  Have you read her books – if not, why not?!

You can check my other blog posts for previous entries on Mary Stewart and Madeleine Brent.


Filed under BlahBlahBlah, Books, Vintage

The Sunshine Award

The Sunshine Award

I have to thank both the lovely Shehanne and Lindsay for gifting me this latest award.  More excellent writery peeps – please do go visit their blogs and not to mention that – go and buy their books!

The Sunshine Award is a sunny flower that bloggers give to other “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”.  Apparently.  Well, it’s not very sunny here – so every little helps! ;-)

‘The Sunshine Award’ comes with a few simple rules:

(1) Thank the person who gave you the award in your blog post.

(2) Do the Q&A below.

(3) Pass on the award to 10 – 12 deserving and inspiring bloggers, inform them and link to their blogs.

Well cool, I am already ahead of myself with the thanking part.  Now on to the questions…

Favourite Colour:

I have two – purple and turquoise and usually end up buying clothes and or decorating in both colours!

Favourite Animal:

Oh, I’m a total zoo keeper (though not in Incy’s league) and love all animals – but am deeply fond of rats.  Had fancy rats as pets for years, and have 3 currently.

Favourite Number:

4.  Just because, ok?

Favourite Non-Alcoholic Drink:

Diet Coke – more correctly it is probably my poison and is doubtless very bad for me, as it is my own personal rocket fuel despite having no sugar.  Can’t drink the sugary stuff after giving it up about 25 years ago.  When I’m at the Castle though, tea is my tipple.  At the day job I have Peppermint tea every day.

Facebook or Twitter:

Twitter all the way!  I’m just not as keen on Facebook, and chat far more with so many diverse people over on Twitter.  Plus there’s the #TVD Tuesday gang!

Your Passion:

I cannot claim just one – books, writing, history, art, people…pretty, shiny distracting things.  You’ll have to come over and check out my bookshelves to get some idea of my passions.  Or possibly my Pinterest.

Getting Or Giving Presents:

Both, really.  I love surprises more than presents – the last surprise I got was an art postcard of Judith Beheading Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder from a Gallery in Glasgow I haven’t been to yet – and I was thrilled.

Judith Beheading Holofernes

I love to find usual/special things to give people too.  Really hate it when people say, I just want some money for my birthday/Christmas etc.  Meh.

Favourite Day:

Any day that makes me happy, and the world seems to be turning ok.  Especially days that have historic houses and art in them.

Favourite Flowers:

I do have a bit of a thing for old fashioned roses, but love any flowers that are scented.

I know I’m supposed to pass this award on, but a) most of the people that would do it have already been tagged and b) the rest of them would probably hunt me down with flaming torches and pitchforks if I tried.  But I do love you all, honest.



Filed under Awards, BlahBlahBlah

So Many Updates, Literally So Little Time

I know.  Bad blogger.  But bloggers should never apologise…just get on with it!

So what’s been happening?

  • Despite living an insanely busy lifestyle, I still manage to squeeze in castle/house visits, and fun research trips (sometimes sleep too) and perusing junk shops for pretty/interesting vintage things.  In the last year I’ve been to Lickleyhead Castle’s open day (private) and Cawdor Castle to see what The Antiques Roadshow was up to!  Next, I plan to go to Traquair Castle on a bit of an art trip (for me).  I’ve just recently been to Edinburgh too, mostly for research (though still fun) and for some shopping.  Sadly, the tours to Mary King’s Close were full up until the evening, which is when we were leaving, so we hope to go to those another time.  Highlights included the Portrait Gallery and Greyfriars Kirkyard.  
  • I’ve been playing with my ‘new’ Canon DSLR and familiarising myself with the new techniques I need for it – have been up at dawn for some stone circle pictures with the sunrise.  I sadly don’t feel I can share my most precious pictures on my blog any more after some were stolen by others to use on their own websites (hope you enjoy the curses they go with them).
  • I am still at the Castle – and we have just opened for the season again!  Time flies and all that.  This year I will also be doing two art tours (gasp) as well as their being all kinds of lovely things on offer this year like Stargazing, Collections tours and the return of the Steam and Vintage Fair and Jousting.  We have new things on display too!
  • Study wise, all being well I am about to complete and officially be half way through my honours degree in History of Art.  Hurrah.  The even more hard work will hopefully come then for next year, which as a part time student will takes extra aeons to complete.
  • Writing has become really encouraging and my lovely critique partners continue to advise where I’m going right and wrong.  I really want to send off some manuscripts this year, but time is not my friend.  Pinterest is however, but that’s another story.

Oh, and first blog rule – we never talk about the day job here.  Which is just as well.


Filed under BlahBlahBlah

Our First Wombat Friday!

Those of you that follow Stephanie’s the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood, or Kirsty’s The Kissed Mouth will already have seen the new(ish) Friday tradition of Wombat Friday.

Wombat + Pre-Raphaelites + cake = Wombat Friday.

As my wombat Top only arrived today, and we don’t have our Pre-Raphaelite collection with us – not to mention being sadly sans cake – he would like me to tell you he says hi, and he enjoyed his Mac Cheese lunch very much!

Top is of course, named after Rossetti’s own real pet wombat.  He’ll be back soon with cake, but in the meantime I’ll have to introduce him to Mariana at Aberdeen Art Gallery.

Happy Wombat Friday!

Wombat Friday

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Filed under Art, BlahBlahBlah

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I’ve been cursed honoured to receive the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by not one, but two lovely bloggers – Incy Black and Michelle Smart.  Thank you ladies!  Please check out their blogs folks.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

The Rules

  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • State 7 things about yourself.
  • Nominate other bloggers for this award and link to them.

Now I’m going to be a tad revolutionary here and not tag anyone new, simply because I don’t think I could think up anyone.  If you want to take this on, please feel free – leave me a comment about your post and I’ll link back to it.

But on to the 7 things about me.  Sorry about that.

  1. I’m an aspiring writer – my main focus is on writing historical novels, but I also intend to write non-fiction history books.  I mention this first as it goes some way to explain why Incy and Michelle know of me and tagged me – they both being writers, but with contracts already.  Not that I’m bitter or anything… :twisted:
  2. I’m a bit of a bad blogger these days due to having a lot of commitments.  Not only do I attempt to write, I also study History of Art and manage that around a full time job.  Did I mention I do photography too?  I just got my first DSLR camera back in July 2012 and am attempting to become more professional.  Whether that translates into my doing it professionally is another thing entirely!
  3. Most people think I’m insane to take on the work for items 1-2.  It’s ok, I have chocolate.  I may also option Gin.
  4. I haunt historical houses, castles, ruins and any other old things – including museums.  I am a history/history of art anorak – which helps when you write about it, it has to be said.  See - Pinterest (obsession).
  5. Two different people have randomly told be that I have a) Pre-Raphaelite hair and b) Victorian hands.  I do not see this as A Bad Thing.
  6. Hmm, er… did I mention I get very attached to the historical figures I research?  Prince Rupert I salute you, to name but one.  Hot history guys are your friends people.
  7. Did I mention that the 7 things about me would be random?  Oh well, now you know.

See – bet you wished you hadn’t asked now…

Normal blog service [intermittent] will now resume. /ends


Filed under Awards, BlahBlahBlah

Diamond Jubilee Beacon at the Castle!

We were honoured to be able to light one of the official beacons for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at the castle, so after skipping out early on the evening’s concert (on tv of course) it was over for a small private gathering with lovely munchies and the beacon itself!

It was cold (before beacon), but a good time was had by all.



Patriotic munchies

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The Castle Season Begins Again

Well, hello!  It’s that time of year again already – it almost feels impossible, but Castle Fraser opens again for the 2012 season tomorrow 1 April.

I know that there are lots of fabulous events already planned this year, and next week we have our annual Easter Egg Trail, so watch this space for more!  You can keep up with the latest news on the NTS website as well as the Castle’s own official Facebook page.  I will try and post up posters as soon as I have them, and if my scanner is talking to me anytime soon.

Another exciting thing is that the final private room of the house is now going to be open to the public as our new exhibition room!  Come and see it – it is in the round tower, and has been a family bedroom (check out the lovely wallpaper which is still visible) as well as a luggage and store room in its’ life.

I hope we’ll see you soon.

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Filed under BlahBlahBlah, Places to go

Picture Perfect, A Review

I’d been thinking about having one of my photos made up into a big print for a while now, so when the offer came to have one made up into a canvas print it made perfect sense to try it.

The only problem was to decide which picture I was going to choose.  You wouldn’t believe just how long I can stare at photos, seriously.  In the end, I focused on my castle pictures.  I have always wanted to have something of the castle on display permanently.

So I chose an unusual view of the castle to be sent off to be made into one of the professional canvas prints.  That was after I’d tweaked the colours a little, and sharpened the view of the house.

So here is the final product, which I’m very proud of.  It only took a few days for the print to arrive, and it’s really nice.  Very well made, and packaged and with the appropriate equipment to hang it up straight away.  Apologies for my picture, which isn’t doing it justice at all.  My version is the 30x40cm one.

You can find out more here about trying online canvas printing for yourself.  I’m just looking for ideas on where to hang it now!

Let me know what you think of my canvas picture.  I might even get some more made for myself or even as presents…


Filed under BlahBlahBlah, Photos

Castle Events – October and December

I can’t believe it’s that time of the year again, and we are winding down to the end of season at the castle.

It’s not exactly been great for weather during the Summer here, but we have had some sunny days, and the annual Steam and Vintage fair, not to mention the Jousting in August had pretty decent weather and went really well.

The leaves are now falling and turning red and gold on the estate, and my thermals will no doubt be soon making a re-appearance, but we do still have some events left to go.

Please see the thumbnails below for our October Halloween weekend, and our fairytale-style Christmas event in December.  Fingers crossed that snow does not stop play this year!

We have some Christmas goodies in our shop (stop saying boo you lot!) as well as our other lovely things, second hand books are still available too if you want to contribute.

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Filed under BlahBlahBlah, Places to go

Exam Doodle

Inspired by news of Claire’s The Doodologist I have created a special doodle.  This doodle displays exam stress as you’ve probably already noticed.  This marks my further slip into the wibbly wobbly world of insanity :wink:  I blame Claire – of course.

Those of you that are scratching your heads in confusion, may – I repeat may – understand after viewing my previous doodles


Filed under BlahBlahBlah, Cartoon