dorothystewartblog

about writing and life and God

Day Ten: Going home

Home! After a 365 mile solo drive (if you don’t count Jesus) from the borders of Scotland down through England to Cambridge, then a sharp left turn till you almost hit the far eastern coast. Home. Whew.

And glad.

Sometimes, to paraphrase T.S.Eliot, it is necessary to take a wander back through the past and check it out and discover what it means now. And then look at where you are now and discover just how good it is – and recognise it for what it is: in my case, that where I am now is home.

Home means lots of different things to different people. I have a nomadic streak and I love new places and overnight billets – lovely hotels in locations like at Annandale Water. Waking up to beauty fills me with delight.

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View from my balcony at Annandale Water this morning

But home: that is something deeper, richer. Long ago, I put my roots down in the rich soil of Somerset, letting them go down deep – which made the pulling up when my husband died in 1994 and I had to move the more painful. I haven’t had the courage to ‘settle’ properly anywhere since then.

But driving into Westmoreland this morning, past the sign that said ‘Welcome to England’, I realised I have lived in England for 38 years. More than half my life. More than anywhere else. England is home, and Suffolk, and the town where I live, and the street, and the little house on that street with my cat waiting for me and the friend who was feeding her for me, and my church this evening, and … This all constitutes home.

And I’m glad. And grateful. And it’s time to let my little roots unfurl and go down into the welcoming soil of Suffolk. And, to mix the metaphor, it’s time for some nesting – nice things for the house to make it more ‘home’. Nice things for the garden… maybe some herbs… salads, tomatoes… food!

Home. Welcome home. At last.

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Day Four: One down…

Relaxing with a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive at my sister’s. First talk delivered: one down, two to go.

This afternoon I was the guest of Wick Salvation Army’s Home League. What a lovely group…

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Wick Salvation Army

but…

But? How can there be a but? They were lovely!

But they kept asking me when the next book in The Mizpah Ring trilogy will be out! And I haven’t finished writing it yet! Part of the plan for this trip was to get some on-the-ground research done, and then go home and write…

So now I want to be in two places at once: here, doing research and giving talks and selling books – and back home getting down to writing! Oh, how I want to be writing!

 

 

 

 

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Day One: On the Road Again

It’s been a long day. I left home just after 9 a.m. and I arrived here at 5.30 ish. Yes, I had three stops (to rest the ancient arthritic knee!) but I have covered 346 miles. And I’m only half-way. This little island is bigger than it looks!

It’s a long haul to get out of East Anglia but once past King’s Lynn, there are fields of daffodils to alleviate the boredom of the flatness and heavy traffic – blocks of different yellows from vivid egg-yolk to creamy-white.

My sat-nav took me up the A1 – horrid from start to finish. I will not come home this way! I had to resort to McDonald’s for my first stop – still the coffee was hot and the loos clean! My second stop was a Little Chef at Markham Moor with delightful young staff.

But once I turned off the A1 at Scotch Corner onto the A66, the first opportunity to stop was at the wonderful Mainsgill Farm – an  amazing farm-shop emporium with more cake than I have ever seen in one place, and a roomy cafe/restaurant with friendly cheerful staff.

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entrance

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tea and scone!

The drive along the A66 was spectacular – rank upon rank of craggy hills darkening into blue in the distance. And the fields close to the road were lush soft green velvet with mummy sheep and lots of little lambs. Real aaah! factor!

And at last, as I was tiring, into Scotland and the last twenty or so miles to Annandale Water service station and the Day’s Inn hotel where I’d booked myself in for the night. Delightful friendly lady manager welcomed me and sorted out breakfast for tomorrow. Then she gave me two keys: one for my door – the other for my balcony! And yes, I have a little blacony overlooking Annandale Water itself – and it is lovely!

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view from my room

So now I can relax and watch tv and have a good night’s sleep in preparation for tomorrow’s 340 miles drive!

 

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Planning a book trip

I’m off on the road again in a few days. Only ten days this time – a weekend at either end mainly taken up with travelling – but I’m booked to give three talks on the new book, The Mizpah Ring, up in my home town of Wick.

Today I’m at that lose-endish stage – too soon to pack, too close to launch into anything much. The excitement/anticipation is building nicely and I’m wondering should I do a daily trip blog like last time? It helped me process the experiences of each day and I printed it out when I got home so I had a lovely record of the places I’d been and the people I’d spent time with.

There were so many highlights last time – from spectacular scenery, hunting haggis in the rain, reunions with friends after far too many years… I’m hoping this time will be just as good. I’m planning to check out some of the locations I’m using in the new book. Wick was a very interesting place during the second world war with a large air base for Coastal Command and the war in Norway. My sister and I are planning some recce trips for authentic background.

I shall be driving (665 miles each way) because I need to bring books with me for sale. Last time I had sold out before the end of my trip so this time I’ll take more than I think I’ll need. I have a solid order for both When the Boats Come Home and Mizpah Ring from one rather special retail outlet: the last shop on the mainland of the UK- right at the end of the road at John O’Groats! If you’re ever there, do drop in for a browse. Their range of Scots-interest books is second to none.

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Harbour at John O’Groats

I’m hoping the weather will be reasonable – especially for the drive. But I was horrified to overhear a snippet of conversation this morning which concluded: ‘Oh yes,snow. The mountains are full of it.’ I hope they were talking about Switzerland!

Anyway, planning. The packing list looks like:

  • Smart outfit for talks
  • Comfortable,warm clothes and walking shoes for trips out with my sister
  • Books – to sell – and promotional postcards to give away – and a decent ‘signing’ pen!
  • Books – to read at all those solo stops along the road!
  • Notebooks and pens
  • iPad and charger for Facebook and soothing sudoku etc
  • Camera and usb cable
  • Laptop for emails and blog
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Kindle and charger – in case I run out of reading material
  • Diary, and address book (for sending post cards)

and much more besides!

I’ll pack tomorrow!

 

 

 

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Day Twenty-three: On the road again

I love my sat nav. In cities it is an absolute boon. So this morning it took me safely through Aberdeen to Bridge of Don for coffee with yet another lovely friend I haven’t seen for (whoops!) we think 47 years! But we recognised each other and it was great to catch up on the years with laughter and happy memories. And then it guided me through Aberdeen and out onto the road to Dundee.

A perfectly timed stop for a sandwich (and a chunky KitKat) gave me the energy for the last talk of the tour.

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In full flow!

Once more organised by my friend and fellow member of the Association of Christian Writers, Wendy Jones, at the Priory, I had an attentive and responsive audience drawn from the City Church Dundee.

Having sold out of copies of my novel, When the Boats Come Home, in Wick, we needed to call on Mark and Iain of the CLC Bookshop in Dundee for further supplies – which didn’t last long!

And so, a couple of hours later, I was drinking tea at my friends’ home in Tayport – the last talk of the tour over and the road for Halesworth and home beckoning. It’s been good. It’s been tiring. Time tomorrow maybe to reflect on lessons learnt. For next time?

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Day Sixteen: Wick: Raising the bar

Last planned book talk on the tour delivered to a lovely, responsive, appreciative audience at Wick Salvation Army Home League today.

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I’m so delighted they were able to fit me in.

But now I’m wanting to be back at home to get stuck into serious work on the next book so I’ve something else to share with them!

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I’ve had a wonderful time. People are interested in books that connect with them and are happy to purchase copies. It makes all the work that went into the book so worthwhile – and it makes me want to make the next one at least as good, at least as interesting, at least as connecting with them, at least as enjoyable…

In fact, I think they’ve raised the bar. And so there’s a real challenge.

But where there’s a challenge to do something that God calls us to do, there’s power available to do it. Just one of the many texts reassuring us of this is in Hebrews 13:21: ‘Now may the God of peace… equip you with everything good for doing His will’. ‘Everything good’. That will do nicely!

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Day Four: Dundee, Where the book tour really starts

Today I stood at a lectern in a church I wrote about in my book, When the Boats Come Home. I must have done the research about the real-life evangelist Jock Troup and his time in Dundee several years ago, written that piece (the beginning of Chapter 48) at least two years ago. And never dreamed I would ever be invited to speak there.

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And today, there I was. In the Steeple Church, Dundee.

The church interior has changed a lot since Jock Troup’s day. Comfy chairs now face towards the side where there is a long platform, lectern with microphone, and all the benefits of 21st century technology. But I was standing within the self-same walls that heard him preach and how I longed to speak with the same fire – and the same results!

He was part of the 1921 Fishermen’s Revival that spread up the east coast of Britain, changing lives and towns and villages. Revival is something churches and individuals talk about and long for today. In my research I discovered that the forerunner of revival is prayer – praying communities that refuse to give up even where there seems to be no sign of harvest.

We say we long for revival. I wonder are we willing to put in the hours and months and years of prayer that underpinned earlier revivals? Or are we infected by the instant gratification of modern consumer society and give up way too soon?

‘Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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Before the book tour

Only a few days to go before I set off on my longest solo trip ever. It is a little daunting but God says ‘Don’t worry. I go ahead of you’ and other comforting things so I’m holding onto trust as best I can. The trip is 24 days long, visiting places mentioned in my new novel, When the Boats Come Home, giving talks and readings to churches, church groups, bookshops and libraries. I’m driving, and it will be a 1500 mile round-trip – not counting any detours, extra bits or days out!

When the Boats Come Home cover

I start in Edinburgh, go on to Dundee, then head on up to Wick. Then I retrace my steps to Inverness, go across to Aberdeenshire, back to Dundee, and then home.

One of the delights of this planned trip is going to be meeting up with lots of old friends and new. When my mother was alive, I used to nip up to Wick quite often to visit but then spend all the available time with her so my friends from home got neglected. I’m hoping to remedy that this time! The first week of my trip I’ll be staying with friends from my university days… Will we recognise each other? How much will we have changed? I’m looking forward to hearing their stories of how their lives have turned out.

Thanks to Facebook and the Association of Christian Writers (and the Christian Authors, Booksellers and Publishers page) , I’ve ‘met’ lots of new friends and this trip is going to allow me to meet some of them for real.

So yes, daunting and exciting. I haven’t started packing yet – haven’t even started writing the packing list!

I’ll be taking my laptop etc with me and plan to take pics and write the blog as I go so you’ll be very welcome to keep me company as I travel along. And I’d welcome your prayers too! Not just for me as I travel and speak, but that God will use this trip to spread the good news of His amazing transforming love.

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