My Amazon Author Page

Find my Amazon author page via this link

"A Scottish Wind in the Willows on high end skunk."

"I enjoy Kate's stories..."
"A fun and spooky read..."

"The characters are so involving and
loveable that you do want them to really exist. It does read like you've
stumbled across someone's long lost diary from and alternate timeline/universe.
I quickly got into the story and loved every second of reading it...
total gem of a read by an author who deserves a lot more recognition."


Tuesday, 31 March 2015

This week's free download is...

St Kilda
Sea Penguin Part Two.  Here is the link.

Part Two in the Sea Penguin Selections series; adapted from Sea Penguin blog, with art work by BW Nicol. 
Features the characters and more from Sea Penguin: Part One, all still muddling through and clinging on to life on the rapidly-crumbling cliff edge. Episodes include Tuppy being trapped in the belly of a killer whale; a trip in a time machine to rescue some sheep from a prison ship/slaughterhouse; a disastrous bathe in a sewage-spouting jacuzzi; and numerous discussions by the fire about life and death and the relative merits of differing brands of fish fingers. Everything is made just about tolerable by the ingestion of numerous steaming mugs of Madeira, opium, sausages, and bags of salty snax. 

Monday, 30 March 2015

Led Zeppelin - Over The Hills And Far Away - Madison Square Garden 1973 ...

Today's Walk....

Over the hills and far away....
Well I walked for a mile or two nearby, at least.  Everything still very brown, apart from moss and the occasional daffodil, and the wind was absolutely freezing.  Far in the distance to the west/north west I could see that it was snowing on the mountains.
Quite a few well-grown lambs in the fields, which given recent weather must have been born in sheds I imagine.  I also saw three magpies by the farm.  Magpies are birds that I used to only associate with Edinburgh and 'the south', but this year for the first time ever, I've seen several in this area, mainly in gardens. Curious to see them today in the wider countryside.   No idea why they've moved north, and no idea if it's a Good Sign, or not.
It feels good to walk.  I'm grateful that I CAN walk.  So glad to put one foot in front of the other, and breathe without effort, and move myself along, and look, and listen, and feel the weather, good or bad, like the other living creatures I see around me.
I have aches and pains, and arthritic knees, and a dodgy foot, and bad eyesight, and I'm horribly aware of my own mortality and frailty as a human being.  I hope there will come a time when I can remove the word 'horribly', and simply be aware.
Our existence here is temporary.  We're merely passing through.
Or are we?  Do our souls survive in some form, after our bodies return to dust?  Is there a pattern and a meaning somewhere?  I don't know.
Meanwhile I appreciate every step, and every breath.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Tuppence attempts to contact Uncle Funkle using the power of his own mind...

...while in the sweat lodge.

'One tap for yes, two for no...' droned Tuppence. 'Are you there Uncle Funkle....will you talk to me? Can you bring me some sweets? Not Werther's Originals or Pan Drops.'
'We've got to get him out of there Val, ' I said. 'I know you said the longer the better but it's been weeks and weeks.  It's affecting his brain.'
'Nonsense,' snapped Val,' It's the fever itself that's affecting his brain.  Nothing to do with the sweat lodge and being on his own all the time and surviving on a diet of goji berry tea and nettle and dandelion ermmmmmm......nettle and dandelion......ummmmmmm.......'
'Stew?' I suggested.
'No.  Definitely not that. It's much too...basic a name.  Besides, it's raw.'
'Salad then.'
'No. Too blunt.  Too ordinary.  Too suburban.  Smacks of clumsily-cut under-ripe tomatoes, limp lettuce, and own-brand salad cream out of a bottle.  If my online customers thought I was selling 'salad' they'd desert me in droves - and they'd be right.  The bastards.'
'What if you used Kraft thousand island and added some bacon sprinkles?'
'Don't be disingenuous.  You know perfectly well what type of stuff I sell. It's all high-end organic health foods aimed at the discerning and eco-conscious middle-earner.'
'Oh well.  Who cares what you call it.  It's basically weeds, and he needs more than that to keep body and soul together.  He needs a square meal Val.  He needs sausage and chips and some bakewell tart and custard.  Followed by a pot of tea and some banana cake, and then an egg and bacon sandwich for supper.'   And so do I, I thought.  My stomach was beginning to rumble.  It was over an hour since breakfast and I'd only had mushrooms on toast, three rashers of smoked back, two rounds of black pudding and a pickled egg.  Preceded by a large bowl of Ricicles and followed by five oatcakes thickly-spread with butter and three fruit marmalade.
'Tuppy, he's got Brain Fever.  You can't let him out mid-cure, and you can't start feeding him sausages.  It could be fatal.  Look at him Tuppy.  He's raving.'
We both bent down and stared through the flap.
'Uncle Funkle....are you there, Uncle Funkle....' Tuppence continued, leaning back in his chair with half-closed eyes. 'Help me Uncle Funkle...I need to escape...even if it is only to somewhere else inside my Own Head...'
Is he raving?  I wondered.  Or is he just bored out of his mind?  It was impossible to tell without talking to him directly, and I wasn't going to risk that in case he really did have Brain Fever.   Either way I had to Do Something before matters took a turn for the worse.
Or did I?  Why should I act?  Why was Tuppence MY responsibility?  Why couldn't someone else do the difficult bits for me?
Perhaps I should just turn my back, and leave him to Val and her weeds health foods.
But I knew I couldn't abandon him.  I'd have to have a sit down, and a think, and make a decision.  I'd have to let him out, basically.  But how would he react?  He was unpredictable at the best of times.
And who on earth was Uncle Funkle?  and why did he circumnavigate the Wintry Isles?  I was about to find out.

more later

*Paperback edition of similar stories now available on Amazon.*


Thursday, 26 March 2015

Today's Walk - by the river

Wild garlic really coming through now


More 'prayer flags'

A forest of pussy willows - sprouting from trees pushed over and chewed by beavers

I walked a convenient circuit by the local river on my way home from the shops.  Freezing cold with intermittent sleet, but there was a rainbow for a while, and the occasional patch of blue sky.  I saw a flock of about twenty oystercatchers, all very vocal and active, three goosanders - two females with a drake in magnificent breeding plumage - and a beautiful yellowhammer.  And a wren.  I usually see dippers, but they were not around today.
Everything is starting to green up at last and in a week or two the Somme/Mordor-like feel will be all but a memory.
I wonder what this summer will bring?  For starters I hope to get a new camera with a decent zoom next month, and I look forward to attempting some better photographs. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Today's Walk

Horse chestnut tree, coming into bud.

Beavers have had a go at the saplings by the water

A dank and silent pool, that always reminds me of the one at the entrance to Moria, in Lord of the Rings

Finally it feels like Spring is, well, not quite here, but definitely On Its Way.  The snowdrops are over and suddenly daffodils are everywhere.  I went over to my regular haunt - Loch Clunie - with my binoculars, hoping to see an osprey. The male has returned to Loch of the Lowes which is just a few miles further along the road, and you just never know.  I was also keeping an eye out for kites, which I'm seeing more frequently these days.
Not today though.  I did see a number of buzzards, three whooper swans, two mute swans, and some long-tailed tits, and that was about it except for the usual pheasants, crows, and mallard ducks.  And a solitary lapwing flying over the road as I drove loch-wards - I think there might have been another sitting in a field, in fact I'm fairly sure of it, and I do hope they are a pair and will nest.
I had a look for frog spawn -  again, nothing.  It is a bit early for it here.
It's still bitterly cold when the sun goes in and the wind blows, but at least the days are longer and there is some warmth around.  
I feel that my brain is still in winter-mode.  Not just my brain - my whole system.
Perhaps I need a de-tox or something.
Or perhaps I should just wait, and see how I feel as the year unfolds...

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

This week's free download.... Sea Penguin Part One.

I started writing that in 2008 - seven years ago.  Seven.  Years.  Ago.  So, I feel a little shame-faced about still promoting it. Especially since it's not my best work. In fact,  I'll go as far as to say I'm a wee bit on the mortified side.  That last sentence is horrible by the way - revoltingly home-spun Scottish, in the worst hand-knitted-granny kind of way.  
But there it is - people have bought it and enjoyed it over the years, and I'm glad.  I just wish I'd provided them with something better.
I like to tell myself I'm planning a new and improved Sea Penguin - a supremely satisfying masterwork that will be so complete and so polished and so packed with philosophical allegories that it will make my entire life seem.... worthwhile.
But I'm not.

Friday, 20 March 2015

I haven't forgotten about Tuppence, by the way.  He's fine.  The sweat lodge did him a power of good....

More on all that,  later............

Today's Walk - in my own garden

(No pics - I can't stretch to that today.  I might post a couple tomorrow.)
Energy levels still not up to scratch post-flu, so I pottered in the garden and got up to speed with my digging and pruning.  Most of it, anyway.
My garden isn't very private, so people tend to stop and chat over the fence as they pass.  This always surprises me, as I'm not much of a chatter.  Or so I like to think.  And I always feel that I look really unprepossessing, and not at all like someone anyone else might want to chat to.  So it's quite nice to be proved wrong.
People do like a garden.  I'm equally surprised - pleasantly - when anyone says they like mine.  It's run on an absolute shoestring, and it isn't tidy.  There are no expensive or showy plants, except when the big poppies come out.  And, my vegetables aren't that spectacular, except for the marrows.  I always feel that I'd be as well nipping to Tesco.  It'd be a lot less bother.  But people's comments encourage me, and I do like the sensation of having contact with the earth and growing things.  I also love seeing the reactions of birds and other garden residents, such as toads and bees. There used to be hedgehogs, and one of the great pleasures of being outside on a summer night was hearing them rustling among  the beans and lettuce; but they're much rarer now.  I did notice droppings by the marrow plants last autumn, and I've left a large pile of vegetation around the compost bin behind the shed in case one is hibernating there.  It would be a good spot.  I haven't yet lifted the lid of the bin to see if the resident toad's there.  I'll leave it for a week or two yet.
You learn a lot from being around plants and creatures.  Someone said today, a garden gives you Hope, and so it does.  Plants sprout again from the earth after bitter, bitter cold and months of darkness. It's a cliche but it really is like a miracle.  It demonstrates a kind of sense of the eternal return, or at least allows you a space in which you can believe in its possibility, and in balance, and the necessity of balance.
The garden's a good place to be when you've no energy for walking.
But walking's better.  Next week, with luck.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Today's Walk - inside my Own Head

I haven't been outside for a couple of days, except to post a letter, as I've been feeling very ill with a fluey cold.  After one day's respite the weather has continued to be awful again anyway - chilly, steady rain, low skies, interspersed with bouts of 'wind'.  (Which reminds me - I need to summon up the strenf to rescue Tuppence from the ersatz sweat lodge sometime soon.)
Everything is muddy and wintry and Somme-like, still.  Few signs of Spring - certainly nothing much to indicate that the world is coming alive again.
I've been feeling so feeble I've barely read a thing.  However, I did finish one of my last charity shop buys - 'Hello',  Leslie Phillips' autobiography, which I expected to find interesting. I always enjoy his films. However, the book doesn't go into nearly enough detail for my liking.  About anything, really. Which is quite infuriating.  I shouldn't complain though.  I suppose he's had such a long career he would have needed to write several volumes in order to do it all justice, and I'm sure he probably couldn't be bothered.  I get the feeling too that he's probably held back a lot in order to preserve other people's secrets and dignity - and possibly his own.  There is a recent documentary about him on Youtube, I think, if you care to seek it out.
I still haven't finished my second charity shop buy - James Shapiro's '1599 - A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare'.  I tend to read last thing at night, generally, and two or three lines of '1599' and I'm off to sleep.    It's tremendously well-researched (edifying springs to mind) but not sufficiently gripping to keep me awake at 1 a.m..
Which is all to the good as far as I'm concerned.
I listened to a programme about dark matter on Radio Four this morning.  I think it was In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg.  Apparently (and think I sort of knew this before I heard the programme) dark matter is what holds the universe together, only nobody knows what it is.  They aren't even sure what it isn't.  They only know that it's there because it affects other things.  I got quite excited, listening, because that makes complete sense to me.  Or at least it gives me the feeling that it would, if only I sat down and thought about it for a while.  It could even explain human nature and the concept of Good and Evil.  It's the concept of Shadow writ large. And it's not an abstract concept - it really does seem to be that way, in the nature of the energies of which we are a part.   There is some kind of interactive dynamic, between dark and light,  and the one, so it would appear, I think, really cannot exist without the other.  Besides the obvious analogies there's a whole philosophical treatise to be written about that - to add to the hundreds if not thousands already in progress.  Nobody can have completed one because nobody yet knows what the subject really is.
I find it tremendously exciting to learn more about the Universe as I hurtle grave-wards. Perhaps I am going to return to the place 'from whence I came', i.e. Somewhere Out There, and will be recycled as a dark matter 'atom' (not that anyone knows if there are such things in dark matter).  Or perhaps I'll be a bubble in the Soup Dragon's cauldron.
I must read more about it.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Today's Walk - Hermitage to Rumbling Bridge

Half way between the two

Approaching Rumbling Bridge - spray from the waterfall looks like smoke

A rainbow appeared above the falls

I've blogged this one before (last February I think).  We didn't actually bother walking past the main Hermitage falls today because with it being a Sunday it was very busy - instead, we followed the quieter, upper path up river and then across the grassy half-mile-or-so expanse that leads to Rumbling Bridge.  It's very pleasant on a sunny day but it does get busy on weekends.  By busy, I mean you might pass a dozen or so people during your walk, if you head to Rumbling Bridge.  Round the Hermitage itself, it gets almost crowded.  They even have an ice-cream/burger van there in the summer season.
On a week day, however, you're very likely to have the place to yourself.
As I mentioned last year,  Rumbling Bridge is the site of Millais' painting The Sound of Many Waters, which is now on display, as far as I know, in Fyvie Castle.
Perthshire's a pretty good place for waterfalls.  I'd say Rumbling Bridge is one of the best - more spectacular than the more popular Hermitage, and well worth a visit if you like that kind of thing.
Rumbling Bridge falls from the viewpoint - taken last February

Monday, 2 March 2015

Today's Walk - by the river

The river near my house is not attractive at the moment.  Its banks are muddy and strewn with countless plastic fertiliser sacks and other debris washed downstream in the floods which occur after every thaw.  Ribbons of plastic hang like wind-blasted prayer flags from surprisingly high overhanging branches.  However, it's convenient for a walk when I'm not inclined to think about where I'm going.  I just wander along, and look for my favourites - dippers.  I generally see goosanders, wagtails, herons, and buzzards too.  None of these was visible today.  I did however see and hear a pair of tree-creepers fairly close to, their creamy breast feathers gleaming in the sun as they climbed up and around an alder, which was delightful.  Birds are starting to sing out a little more now, as the breeding season starts, and I saw two wrens, and a little robin in a blackthorn hedge.  He turned his little head and scrutinised me with a beady little eye.
The place will come alive from next month with catkins, wild garlic, blackthorn, hawthorn, bluebells, cow parsley, comfrey, butterbur and later (and not so pleasingly) Himalayan Balsam.  And of course, all the marvellous creatures that depend upon them.
Including me.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Today's Walk - Mordor

Yes I know there are snowdrops aplenty but somehow their frail prettiness just makes the surrounding muddy ghastliness even more muddily ghastly and Mordor-like.   I trudged along for about half a mile, with the growing expectation that at any moment I might see a dead hand protruding from the mud, or a bloated corpse floating downstream or jammed under a tree-trunk, and then thought sod it, and turned back, went home, put the telly on (Carry On at your Convenience - very edifying) and baked a ginger cake.
When will it start turning green, for God's sake?
Not the cake - the world.  The world near where I live, i.e. the one that matters.  Hereabouts, in other words.  Don't call me small-minded - I feel bad enough already.
Wildlife seen included two goosanders on the river, a wren, and a heron sitting hunched, alone and miserable, in the middle of a horridly muddy field.
Thoughts:  about the terrible and seemingly, probably, unavoidable damage one does as one slips and slides and stumbles and pushes one's way through life.  It's impossible not to be aware of at least some of it.