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Armchair Travels #1 – Leicester to Fort William

Me – wondering if I can swim over to Castle Stalker

Most of January 2020 was spent planning a six week writing/research trip to Scotland. Then Covid-19 struck and it became clear that we’d have to put our plans on hold. The first casualty was the Braemar Highland Games organised for the day before Dave’s 70th birthday. They refunded our money without a quibble. Sadly, our lunch at the Fife Arms, Braemar celebrating Dave’s BIG BIRTHDAY had to be cancelled, too.

our caravan wearing its ‘bra to protect from stone chips en route

The master plan had been to set off for Kendal on August 8th and wake up on the shores of Loch Lomond at Malarochy on August 11th – our 47th wedding anniversary. However, to quote Rabbie Burns – the well laid plans of mice and men gang aff a gley. Everything went pear/shaped and we had to cancel all our bookings. So, rather than put all that planning to waste, I thought I’d take you on a virtual tour of Scotland. In this post we’ll be travelling from Lockdown Leicester via Kendal to Loch Lomond.

So, make yourself comfortable and journey to Bonnie Scotland without leaving your favourite armchair.

I always know I’m home when I see this sign
Fancy spending the night in an old gunpowder quarry?

First stop – the Caravan and Motorhome Club site in Kendal built on the site of a 19th century gunpowder mill. Sounds horrendous, right? Wrong. It is a haven of peace and tranquility with a river running through it. There are lots of parking bays surrounded by woodland and you hardly notice the other campers because there is so much space and you park in tree-covered bays. I’d love to spend a week there writing and visiting the surrounding towns but, inevitably, Kendal is a stopping off point on the way north.

Two years ago we unexpectedly met Sharyn Farnaby and husband Rod on the campsite. Sharyn was one of the proofreaders of Take Me, I’m Yours so I was able to share the cover with her. (I’ve since changed the cover but you can read an extract of Take Me, I’m Yours/share and download here.

Although we weren’t able to wake up to a view of Bonnie Loch Lomond on August 11th, we derived great pleasure from reading the 200+ comments from friends and followers on Facebook. Forty seven years together – how did that happen? Loving’ the hairstyle, Dave, by the way.

Much as we love Loch Lomond it is another stopping off point on the way to the highlands and our all-time favourite campsite -Bioran Dhub- overlooking Castle Stalker. The thrill of waking up to a view of the castle every morning (see below) is spine chilling. If you ever rock up in Fort William check out Castle Stalker’s website and book yourself on a guided tour. Monty Python fans might recognise Stalker which featured as Castle Argh in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Visiting Castle Stalker a few years ago inspired me to write Girl in the Castle which is one of my best selling novels. Check it out here to read an extract/share/buy.

Over recent years, while staying near Fort William, we’d been keen to discover the exact location where some of SKYFALL had been filmed. Previously, it had been a closely guarded secret and we’d travelled the length of Glen Etive trying the find where the iconic shots had been taken. Last summer we found the GPS coordinates and set off bright and early to get ahead of the crowds.

Here is Dave standing by THE VERY STONE where Bond and M had posed a couple of years earlier. Dave has an electric screwdriver for raising and lowering the caravan wheels, not a Walther PPK. But a boy can dream, can’t he?

If you ever find yourself staying near Fort William, consider taking the Scotrail train to Mallaig. It crosses the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct (aka the Harry Potter Bridge) and follows the same route at the Jacobite Express for a fraction of the price. The train is only in Mallaig for a couple hours, so buy the best fish and chips you’ll ever taste and eat them sitting on the harbour wall as you watch the boats going in and out.

What next from Lizzie Lamb?

I’ve finished my sixth romance – Penhaligon”s Highland Bride – and I hope to publish it very soon. You’ll be the first to know when I do.

2015 – My Year in photos #2

1-Latest Gary poster.jpg

 

With three novels under my belt we headed to Bonnie Scotland in July to research number four. No rest for the wicked, eh? Having just watched the Outlander Series (based on the novels by Diane Gabaldon), I was interested to visit some of the locations where filming had taken place.

Then it was on to Ballachulish and a tour of Castle Stalker by the owner. The castle in my next novel, Castle Tèarmannair, is loosely based on Castle Stalker (see below). Check out the fabulous tour buses designed by Gary Walker.

 In September Bongo Man was 65 and we celebrated in style.


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We are real nerds and the highlight of that summer was having a pair of Jays take up residence in our garden. They disappeared from September until November but have now returned to delight us every morning with their antics and are becoming much tamer.

In October managed a week away in the Cotswolds and I was able to give a copy of Scotch on the Rocks to Maggie. We’ve been friends since 1978  when we met at an Open University summer school and the book is dedicated to her. Her only complaint about my writing is that there aren’t enough murders in my books. No wonder the Kelpie is laughing.

In October I became a member of Carole Matthew’s Chocolate Lovers’ Club team and hosted an evening with my girlfriends to celebrate the launch of her latest book – the Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas. I received free copies which I distributed to my book club, a tiara, chocs and an advent calendar. I also received an advance copy of  The Chocolate Lover’s Wedding – Carole knows how to do things in style. #myguru

Tall Dark and Kilted received its 100th review in December and I felt that was worthy of celebration. And, out of the blue, I had a wonderful shout out in the Scottish Daily Record – the icing on the cake this year. I’ll be writing a blog post about that in 2016.

Looking back over the second half of the year I realise that I’ve been promoting more than I’ve been writing and I’ll have to rectify that. But it hasn’t all been about books and writing . . .  I’ve also spent time with my family, have welcomed a great nephew – Leonidas Daniel Alexander – into the world and had a wonderful Christmas with Bongo Man and Jasper.

In between doing all of the above I have managed to find time to create a newsletter! Do subscribe to it while you’re on this page . . . I hope to host giveaways, sneak previews of my new novel – including cover reveals  – and the odd chapter or two. I’d love you to be part of it.

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So, what does 2016 hold for me? 

 I’ve been asked to give a talk on self-publishing to third year creative writing students at De Montfort University and I’m very thrilled about that.

Kilworth poster V3 (1)

 I’m also co-hosting two charity events with Adrienne Vaughan: one in February and another in June And, of course, I have a  novel to write – I’m currently on 12k words; only another 90k to go. Simples.

 Do let me know how 2015 panned out for you and what 2016 holds in store. Be Healthy and Happy and – as they say in Scotland – LANG MAY YER LUM REEK.2016-01-01 12.24.24

 

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