'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Gowk Storm by Nancy Brysson Morrison

A 'gowk (pronounced go-k) storm' is an untimely fall of snow in early Spring, an evil or abstract obstruction of short duration- a fitting symbol for the anguished story that unfolds,. Nearly a hundred years ago three girls were born to a minister and his wife in a remote Highland manse. The rigid and patriarchial structure of those times is set against approaching womanhood and its growing awareness of life beyond the safety of home and the wild beauty of the surrounding countryside.

After the disposal by marriage of the eldest, the sisters lives reach a new level of intensity. Emmy, the middle sister, finds to her horror that she is falling love with her best friend's fiancee. The unfortunate couple become estranged and a tragic outcome seems inevitable in the brooding symbolism of this disturbing story.

Nancy Brysson Morrison wrote many award-winning books. The Gowk Storm was published in 1933. It was a Book Society Choice, went into eight impressions and was successfully dramatised. Long out of print, this remarkable book is a welcome addition to the Canongate Classics.    (back of book)

Lisbet, the youngest sister, tells the story of her older sisters tragic love affairs. Both of the girls fall in love with men deemed unacceptable matches by the rigid and prejudiced society. An atmospheric, sad story told in absolutely gorgeous language! I really enjoyed this book and would love to find more of her novels. Especially Breakers and Thea.

This book is one of the 100 best Scottish novels of all times. It is divided into 5 books with a prologue and an epilogue.

I can remember the trees in the garden at home. The manse was built in a very sheltered place, for to reach it from the road one had to walk through a wood, and it was shielded from the loch's storms by tall trees, stripped bare on one side by the wind. The garden was so full of trees they left little room for anything else. Yellow doronicums used to make a valiant show, and in autumn, amongst skeleton grey leaves, we found veined crocuses. Everything grew a little wildly in that muffled, breathless place. All the trees' strength went into their straggling height and each one seemed to be stretching upwards in an attempt to see over its neighbour's untidy head.

Book one. Chapter one.
A pale green light poured down from the wintry sky, as though this earth were lit by chance rays from some other world. Grey sheep silently ate split turnips in the brown fields. The snow had melted in the low lands, leaving everything sad dun shades, and only streaked the mountains, where it lay like the skeletons of huge prehistoric against the horizon, their detail of burn, crag and ravine lost in the immensity of their shadowed bulk. it was as though, in those transient windless seconds between dawn and daylight, the world had resolved itself again into the contours and substances that composed it before man trod on its earth and drank in its air.

This is the original book cover:
Not a lot is known about the Ms. Morrison as she was a very private person and didn't leave much behind in letters or papers. Here is a nice article about her.

This is book 10 for Read Scotland. I am so behind! Going to Scotland ought to count for at least 5 books though right?:)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Peebles and Evee!

Evee, me and Katrina
We took a day trip down to Peebles so I could meet Evee from Evee's Blog.  I've chatted on Facebook with her and Skyped once and emailed lots, but it was so great to finally see the real thing!It was so cool that 3 women who love to blog and comment on each others blogs from different parts of the world got to get together in person and become fast forever friends! I love blogging!

Peebles is in Tweeddale, south of Edinburgh in the Scottish Borders region and on the River Tweed. Don't you love that rivers name? I do! There is a gorgeous bridge over the River Tweed that is from the 15th century and cars still drive over it everyday. We did! They know how to build bridges over there, maybe we should have them come over here and give us a few pointers!

Peebles is a royal burgh, meaning it was founded by or granted a royal charter. Their coat of arms that you can see in the picture above on the plaque is three Salmon with one swimming against the flow. The motto is 'There is growth by swimming against the stream'
referring to the annual migration of salmon up the River Tweed in order to breed. The one salmon facing forwards and two facing backwards represent the fact that for every salmon that goes up the river, two come back to the sea. Checkout the lovely light poles on the bridge!

Author's John Buchan and his sister Anna (O. Douglas) lived there and part of their house still stands today. Part of it was taken down to make way for a curve in the road, but the original red front door was kept and is now on the side of the remaining part of the house along with a plaque commemorating them.

This is a picture of the original house that Evee sent me. You can see a large portion of the house was removed to widen the road. The section on the left to the other side of the tower was removed.

I loved seeing this and walking around the same town as O. Douglas did all those years ago. I think I have all of her books now, thanks to Katrina!

There is a center dedicated to John Buchan who was the more famous of the brother-sister duo. It had a function of some kind going on though while we were there and we couldn't go in.

There is a ruin of an old kirk there, Cross Kirk c. 1260. We roamed around that a while...

Not sure what this figure in the stones is all about but it's quite lovely!

 There is a lovely WWII memorial in town also..

Peebles is just a lovely quaint town with a nice High Street for shopping, but don't neglect to roam the side streets too or you'll miss some lovely sights!

view from the bridge. Always something going on at the green.

This is terrible pic of Neidpath Castle down the Tweed.
It is no longer open to the public except by arrangement. Too bad. It sits along the Tweed Walk. I would have loved to have seen it.
Thanks to Evee for a grand tour of her lovely town!

Peggy Ann

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Anyone Need to Use the Loo?

We stopped in at the Kirkcaldy library one day and I used the loo while I was there. It was downstairs in the basement and I was amazed to find an old fashioned toilet with the tank up high and a pull chain. The sink was also an old sink with lovely fixtures and it was all in immaculate condition. I had to take a picture! That started me on a loo tour! So many lovely bathrooms in Scotland I just had to take pictures. I know I'm strange:)

Without further adieu anyone want to go to the loo with me?

Kirkcaldy (kirkcaudy, silent L) Library Loo

This one is in The Captain James Lang, a pub owned by J.D. Wetherspoon. We ate dinner here in Dumbarton. The gorgeous red glittering counter tops, blue and white tile and solid wood doors. And a lovely lounge area to rest. It was immaculate and actually won a Loo of the Year award last year!

This stunning loo complete with beautiful blue and white tiles depicting Shakespeare plays was located in the People's Palace and Winter Gardens on the Glasgow Greens. The Greens is the oldest park in the city dating back to the 15th century. click on the link above to read the history of the park.

Another J.D.Wetherspoon restaurant. This one was in Inverness. Lovely solid wood and streamlined decor made me feel like I was on an ocean liner!

This sign was taped to the inside of the stall door in a public toilet in a wee parking lot in Invermoriston. I got a kick out of it. The last linemade me chuckle.

We can't forget to include some really old loo's! This one is at Argyll's Lodging and would have been used by Lady Argyll. A fancy bedpan basically. This was a closet in her bedroom.

Arygll's Lodging is in Stirling and is a 17th century town-house with a rich history. Considered one of the most important town-houses of its period in Scotland.

But I've saved the best for last. The loo James V might have used. This one was in Linlithgow Palace...

 On the Isle of Bute in Rothesay there is a gorgeous Victorian gentlemen's loo. The ladies was remodeled over the years but they have preserved the men's in all it's Victorian splendor. I did not see it but Alan Jones told me about it. You can see it and read about it here.

That's it for the loo tour. Hope you had a little fun! Did you remember to wash your hands?

Peggy Ann

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Dona Barbara by Rómulo Gallegos FREE!

University of Chicago Press Free e-book of the month.
Doña Barbara, their free e-book for July, is a classic Latin American novel and a forerunner of the magical realism of writers such as Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. The story of Doña Barbara is the epic struggle between two cousins for land and cattle on the Venezuelan prairie, and of a beautiful and mysterious woman—rumored to be a witch—with a ferocious power over men. In his new foreword, Larry McMurtry calls Doña Barbara “the Bovary of the llano”—a magnetic and memorable heroine enmeshed in an epic tale. Doña Barbara, makes perfect vacation reading in July.
Get the e-book edition of Doña Barbara free in July!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Stunning is the word that comes to mind when you round the corner and get your first glimpse of these horses! Breathtaking is another.

The Kelpies were built as a gateway to The Helix, a land transformation project to improve the connections between and around 16 communities in Falkirk District, Scotland, including the eastern end of the Forth and Clyde Canal, and to regenerate the area near where the canal joins the River Carron.

These sculptures are 30 metres/98 1/2 ft. in height and weigh 300 tonnes each. They are made of structural steel with stainless steel cladding.

The original concept was of the mythical water creatures called Kelpies, possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses, but the artist moved more towards an equine and contemporary concept to celebrate lineage of the heavy horse of Scottish industry and economy, pulling the wagons, ploughs, barges and coalships that shaped the geographical layout of the Falkirk area. Another inspiration was Carnera, a Clydesdale horse that pulled a wagon for a local soft drink company. Carnera was the world's largest working horse standing at 19 hands high. He pulled 3 ton wagons full of Irn Bru!

You can read the history of these great sculptures at The Kelpies.

This artist Andy Scott, just finished another great sculpture honoring those who lost their lives in the iron and  steel industry of Scotland. You can see it at Ravenscraig steelworks site in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire. Read about it here.

One of my favorites things I saw in Scotland!

Peggy Ann