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Blog and Newsletters

One month writing in a castle

Right after I decided to start a blog, I went to Scotland for a month-long writing fellowship at a castle and discovered that writing a blog was pretty hard when I had to walk for 45 minutes to get to the nearest internet. So I am back home now and promise to make up for my false start.
It has taken me a long time to understand the relationship between England, Scotland, and Wales. They are three "kingdoms" united, hence the over arching term, the United Kingdom. I noticed that Scotland, while under the UK government, maintains a very clear identity. My trips to Wales have illustrated the same dynamic.
Scotland is the northern most kingdom and always threatens to have the wildest weather. For the first two weeks of the fellowhsip, all six writers doubted the warnings of horrible weather in Scotland. The days were sunny with brilliant eye-popping blue skies. When we went out walking (no one had a car) we were sweating by the time we returned to the castle.It was not until the 3rd week that the cold rains arrived on a brisk northern wind. Then we hunkered down indoors, drinking tea and soups, and all gravitated toward the orange glow of an electric fireplace.
Writing fellowships are a gift to writers where we are provided housing, food, and even a once a week laundry service. Not all fellowships are exactly the same and since this is the only one I've ever been on, I can't offer a compare and contrast commentary. But I woke up every day feeling enormously grateful.
The first tidbit that I want to share about the region was that we were only 3 miles from Rosslyn Chapel. For anyone who hasn't read The DaVinci Code (there must be someone out there), Rossslyn Chapel played a prominent role in the final scenes of the book. Once we learned that Rosslyn Chapel was so close to us, we hiked off to the mysterious destination. The chapel remains the holiest place in Scotland for the modern templars and the Freemason, or so says Andrew Sinclair, the author of a 1991 article that one of the writers had saved. The chapel has an amazing interweave of Celtic myth, Christianity, and Eastern mysticism. But the docent of the chapel informed us if we were looking for the holy grail, it is not a jeweled cup, but instead, it is the giver of life and the fruits of the earth.
The most fascinating part of the chapel for me had to be the various carvings of "The Green Men". These are male faces with abundant plant life coming out of their mouths, which looks better than it sounds. The Green Men are the epitome of fertility and life giving crops. Another very intriguing carving in the chapel portrays Indian corn and cacti, which is all very well until you understand that the chapel was constructed prior to Columbus coming to the new world. The Norsemen had already reached beyond Greenland at that time (15th Century) as these images of North American plants seem to indicate.
But what was our life like for one month in the Castle? And did we write? That is a blog for next time.
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