The relaxing sound of the waves. The soft crush of the sand beneath your feet.
It’s no wonder that a walk along the beach is just what a writer needs to clear their heads of daily tasks, relax them, and release their imagination. Many studies have shown that a walk on the beach lowers stress and blood pressure, boosts mood and has many positive effects on mental health. All things that can also boost creativity for writers.
The beach is also inspiring for us authors. Anything could be buried in the sand, or wash up on the shore. Any kind of horror could be lurking in the darker depths of the sea, or treasure waiting to be discovered on the seabed. Romance authors could even find inspiration for characters who don’t mind a bit of sand in hard to reach places… “Meredith did drop her dress and her inhibitions, afterwards gently plucking a dainty shell from her bottom.”
I have just remembered why I don’t write romance.
Anyway, I have some big news to share with you… after 21 years living in England, I have finally moved back to Scotland!! Ayrshire on the west coast is now my home. I can let the full Scottishness back into my accent, and my daughter can develop her own twang, so she may finally be able to understand what I’m saying in the home videos of my childhood!
I grew up in Wick, in Caithness, near John O’ Groats in the far north of Scotland. A small town filled with decent, good-hearted, funny and hard-working people, my family included. Wick and the highlands have become the setting in quite a few of my recent short stories, enough to fill a book… more on that coming soon in 2020!
The majority of my family are Scottish. My dad had also spent part of his childhood growing up in Wick and we had attended the same secondary school, Wick High School. My grandparents ran a tearoom in Strathpeffer and over the years the rest of us became spread out across the highlands. The A9 north from Inverness is basically the trunk of my family tree, with each of us settled on the branches along the way (minus the few who smuggled themselves south of the border).
Wick has grown over the years that I have been away. What I remember as fields is now a retail park. The Caithness Glass factory that fascinated me as a child is closed down long ago. The ‘forest’ next to it that my friends and I used to play in as children is now mostly fenced off.
I have been back up nearly every single year since I left as a 16 year old in 1999, sometimes two or three times, on 1,500 mile road trips. Sadly, in the name of progress, my primary school has been knocked down (North Primary School) and my high school is currently empty, a modern one built behind it.
But the memories and friendships I have from my childhood are still strong, and now I’m living a bit closer my road trips will not take as long! Importantly, I can still visit the beaches I played on as a child. Reiss Beach in particular is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to. And you could still find me having a dip in the North Sea (even the Trinkie) as late as October and November!!
Wick and the surrounding area has a strong heritage, from the iron ages, to the Norse pagan period. It’s believed Wick was originally named from the Norse word vik, meaning bay. A Viking town then with an enormous sense of history, adventure, mystery and wonder in its beaches, forests and ruins. Endless inspiration for stories and characters. Enough to fill a book… but again, more on that coming soon in 2020!