Tag Archives: #MondayBlogs

Today is not for lengthy blogs….

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Today is National Suicide Prevention Day.

It’s not a day for wordy blogs.

It’s a day to pause, check up on those friends you’ve not reached out to in a while.

If there’s a change in a friend’s behaviour or mood, check they’re ok.

Go for a walk with them.

Go for a coffee with them.

Be there for them.

 

Who cares if one more light goes out?…. I do

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tm8LGxTLtQk

 

 

Credits to the owner of the image

Credits to the owner of the video- shared via You Tube

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What Happens Next Monday?…….

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I’ll start this week’s blog with an apology….. technically there isn’t one. A blog that is.

My creative focus has been on finishing the first draft of Book Baby 5 and I’m almost but not quite there. Another three or four productive hours should finally see it complete- albeit a few weeks later than  originally planned.

Unusual for this stage in my creative process, it’s more or less all typed as well as written and it’s not naked!  Well, it has a bare bum as I’ve not finished the back cover for the paperback edition but it has a front cover.  🙂

I already revealed it’s title a while back – Shattered Hearts – so what is there left to reveal?

The cover and the release date……..

Watch this space and my author page next week…… all will be revealed.  😉

https://www.facebook.com/coralmccallumauthor/

 

Shattered Hearts

 

 

 

What Local History Are You Missing Out On?……… A Medieval Castle Perhaps?

How often do you drive or walk past the history on your own doorstep without so much as a second glance?

I’ll confess …. maybe not quite daily but it’s a regular occurrence and it transpires I’m not the only one in the house who does so.

Less than 10 miles from our house there’s a 15th Century castle. A national tourist attraction. Do you know how many times I’ve visited it? Until today, once! (Hangs her head in shame.)

So, on a dreich Sunday afternoon, Girl Child, the Big Green Gummi Bear and I decided the time had come to visit the castle. (About 15 years ago I had taken both Boy Child and Girl Child there but neither of them remembers it!)

Newark Castle sits on the banks of the River Clyde near Port Glasgow.

It was built circa 1480 by George Maxwell and is one of the finest late-medieval buildings in Scotland. Both the Gatehouse and Towerhouse date back to that era as does the Doocot in the grounds. The rest of the castle was remodelled in 1590 by Patrick Maxwell, transforming the cramped medieval castle into an elegant Renaissance mansion. Both the north wing and east wing were remodelled and the grounds transformed.

Today, the castle stands pretty much as it did back then.

Newark Castle

 

Newark Castle is a veritable labyrinth spread over three levels. It also boasts one of only three surviving anti-clockwise staircases to be found in Scotland’s castles.   You enter via the 15th century Gatehouse which leads through to the cellars, kitchen, bakehouse and the Towerhouse cellar. There are numerous staircases giving access to the upper floors. From the Towerhouse cellar you can climb up to the roof lookout point. It’s quite a twisty climb! From the wine cellar, there is a staircase leading straight up to the great hall. A further staircase leads from the kitchen to the great hall.

The upper level has a long gallery running the length of the north wing and this is where the laird’s private chambers and, including the rooms in the east wing, the family bed chambers and guest rooms would have been. One bedroom features original wood panelling and a rare example of a wall bed.

The windows in the east wing afford a view over the grounds and the Doocot (dovecot) whish has survived from the 1480’s. Doocots were popular in the 15th century as the pigeons (doos/doves) provided a source of fresh meat during the long winter months.

Newark Castle floor plan

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The building is well worth a visit.

Equally intriguing is the history of the owners through the ages.

The land that the castle stands  on belonged originally to the Denniston family but became part of the Maxwell estate in 1402 when Elizabeth Denniston married Sir Robert Maxwell of Calderwood.

At that time, Newark was part of the barony of Finlaystone, an estate some five miles to the east. ( http://www.finlaystone.co.uk/ ) If the Denniston family had a castle it is highly likely that it formed part of the Finlaystone estate.

In 1478 George Maxwell inherited the barony of Finlaystone and within a few years was being styled as “George Maxwell of Newark and Finlaystone”. This all ties in nicely with the construction dates for the original castle buildings. It is also documented that in 1495 James IV visited Newark Castle whilst on a mission to quash disturbances in the Western Isles. (It’s likely that the laird would have had to surrender his sumptuous bed chamber in the Towerhouse to the king during his stay.)

Over time the Maxwell family became a powerful and influential family in the area. Historically, the most notable member of the family was Sir Patrick Maxwell, who was the laird of Newark Castle circa 1580. Initially, he was held up as a pillar of society, well-educated and a justice of the peace as well as being the architect behind the extensive remodelling of Newark Castle in 1590. He enjoyed the patronage of James VI. However, there were two sides to Sir Patrick. He was a wife beater, a child abuser and a murderer. He reportedly murdered two members of the Montgomerie family from Skelmorlie some twelve miles to the west of the castle. Sir Patrick also quarrelled with his son, Patrick, and was implicated in his untimely death. Undoubtedly his wife, Lady Margaret Crawford, suffered worst at his hand. She was married to him for 44 years and bore him 16 children! After years of abuse and ill-treatment she finally escaped from his clutches in 1632 and fled across the River Clyde to Dumbarton. Sir Patrick never answered to the charges raised against him as by that time he was too ill to travel to Edinburgh to face trial and it’s assumed he died shortly thereafter.

New-port Glasgow (modern day Port Glasgow) became a bustling trading post during the 1600’s. The castle’s laird, George Maxwell soon became involved in this merchant trade.

When the last Maxwell laird died in 1694, Newark Castle and its grounds were sold to another influential businessman, William Cochrane of Kilmarnock.

The 1700’s saw trade in the area continue to flourish but sadly the castle began to decline and it changed hands several times. The Cochrane’s sold it to the Hamilton family who in turn sold it in the 1820’s to a London banker, Robert Farquar. In 1825, Robert Farquar’s daughter married Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart, another well known local family from Ardgowan estate in Inverkip some eight miles west ( http://www.ardgowan.co.uk/ ) Newark Castle remained under the care of the Shaw-Stewart family until 1909 when it was entrusted to the State. Today it is curated by Historic Scotland.

During the 18th and 19th centuries the castle was leased to various tenants. The grounds too were leased out to local market gardeners. One tenant was John Orr, a ropemaker with a rather unusual side-line business. He traded in wild animals (panthers, leopards, bears etc) purchased from passing ships that arrived into the port. It is presumed that until he found a buyer for the creatures that they were kept in the castle’s cellars, giving rise to rumours that the castle was haunted as the locals reported strange howling during the night.

Newark Castle is a historical gem that in more recent times has been hidden, literally, by the Clyde’s shipbuilding industry. For much of the 20th Century it was surrounded to the west, east and south by Ferguson’s and Lamont’s Shipbuilders. As the shipbuilding industry fell into decline in the 1980’s Lamont’s closed its doors and was subsequently demolished, revealing the castle’s southern and eastern exposures to the world once more.

Today, but for how much longer, Ferguson’s still remains to the west of Newark Castle, a modern-day industrial neighbour to this discrete medieval gem.

castle and yard

 

 

If you want to discover more about Newark Castle check out the site below:

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/newark-castle/

(some images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)

 

 

And Pause……

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and sometimes you just need to bee

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and sometimes you just need to let your true colours shine

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Book Baby 5…. want a little sneaky peek?

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In reality, Book Baby 5 looks like this…..

But, it also looks a  bit like this too……

BB5

For those who missed the big title reveal back in May, it also has a name….

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It also has a front cover but I’m keeping that under wraps for just a little bit longer 😉

(Current thinking is to reveal it when I’ve set the publication date….but don’t tell anyone just yet!)

So where does this next instalment of the Silver Lake series take us?…..

Want a little taste of words yet to come?…..

Shh….don’t tell anyone….this is just between you and me 😉

Golden rays of dawn shimmered in the ripples of the still ocean. They danced a slow waltz as the gentle waves glided towards the beach. Gradually the pale golds turned to orange then to red as the sun rose over the horizon. Apart from the soft sounds of the waves lapping against the shore, the world was silent. Not even the tiny seabirds who usually danced with the waves were to be seen or heard.

Running his hand through his long blonde hair, Jake sighed. It felt good to taste salt in the air. It felt good to feel sand under his feet. It felt good to be home. His fingers tangled in the strands of his hair, knotted after a sleepless night on the band’s delayed flight out of LAX. Looking down, he realised that his hair was almost to his waist. Another indication that he’d been away from home too long. Mentally, he made a note to take a trip into town later to get his mane trimmed.

With his arms wrapped around his knees, Jake sat watching the sun make its way over the horizon, basking in its golden light. He was bone tired and couldn’t remember when he had last slept for more than a couple of hours at a time. The band’s flight had been scheduled to reach Philadelphia at ten o’clock the night before but a four-hour delay meant they hadn’t landed until almost two o’clock in the morning. There had been the usual carnage in the baggage hall but, by some miracle, all of their suitcases and guitar cases had made it safely across the country. Tired and grumpy, the sleep deprived musicians had piled into the waiting SUVs for the hundred mile drive down the Coastal Highway. After so long in each other’s company, each of them was keen to get back to JJL to collect their cars and trucks and say their “good nights”. With little more than a grunt of farewell, Jake had loaded his gear into the back of his truck. Praying that it would start at the first time of asking, he had hauled himself into the cab for the final leg of the journey home.

He’d pulled into the driveway at the beach house just after five, reached to retrieve his house keys from his battered leather book bag and found them missing. Leaving his gear in the truck, he’d crept round to the back of the house to try the back door, hoping that Lori had left it unlocked. No luck. Both the screen door and the back door were locked. Knowing it was too early to waken his sleeping family, he’d headed across the sun deck to try the patio doors. They too were locked.

Muttering to himself, he’d hauled off his ripped Converse hi-tops and socks, leaving them scattered on the deck and wandered down to the beach to watch the sun rise.

As the sky lit up before him, Jake reflected on the last few months. When he’d left Rehoboth in January, the beach had been covered in eight inches of snow. Now, in the third week in June, it looked as though it was going to be a beautiful summer’s day. This was the longest period of time that he’d spent away from home and, for the past ten weeks of the tour, his heart had been yearning for the sights and sounds of the ocean and the beach house.

Life over the past five years had become more and more demanding as Silver Lake had gone from strength to strength and Weigh Station had enjoyed a successful revival. Juggling musical commitments, recording sessions and tours for two of the planet’s biggest bands had been a logistical nightmare. He’d long since lost count of the number of shows he’d played, finding it harder and harder to remember where he was and who he was with. If it wasn’t for the journal he kept, Jake would have lost track of time and place entirely.

On the flight home, he’d been sitting between Grey and Jethro, having lost the coin toss to see who would take the middle seat. As Grey had slept soundly at the window, Jake had confided in the band’s manager that he didn’t want to even think about music until at least the fall. Understanding completely, the older man had nodded his silent agreement, noting how raw and hoarse Silver Lake’s vocalist’s voice was sounding.

Now, as he sat watching the sun rise, Jake was wondering if he would be able to sing again by fall even if he wanted to. Ghosts of a past duet with Tori from Molton were tormenting him. The last three shows had really put a strain on him and, by the end of Flyin’ High in Los Angeles, his voice was gone. A sign to take a much-needed rest perhaps he thought.

Lost in his thoughts, he sat enjoying the view and the tranquillity of the beach.

 

The familiar screech of the patio door to the sun room opening startled him back to the present. He listened closely wondering who was about to approach him.

“Daddy!”

To be continued…….

 

If you’ve missed the start of the Silver Lake series, there’s plenty of time to catch up. All three books are available worldwide, Here’s the links:

Amazon.com links –

Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VXDSC1M

Impossible Depths – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01C0GS30K

Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSQHG71

 

Amazon.co.uk links –

Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00VXDSC1M

Impossible Depths – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01C0GS30K

Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XSQHG71

 

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7 Days of Motivation…. well, some weeks you need it more than others

1- MondayHappy Tuesday, everyone! Start your day with these tuesday funny quotes3- Wednesday4 Thursday5 Friday6 Saturday7 Sunday

 

and breathe ….. whatever it is that you are going through –

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(Images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)

A Literary Companion….

“Handle a book as a bee does a flower,

Extract its sweetness

but do not damage it”

John Muir

 

Do kindles count?

 

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Watch him for yourself : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2nolCjARQQ

 

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the book being read is “The People In The Trees” by Hanya Yanagihara (available on Amazon)