For five thousand years we have used darkness as the metaphor of our mortality. We were at the mercy of merciless death, which is darkness. When we died, they sent a beam of midwinter light in among our bones. What a tender, potent gesture. In the Christian era, we were laid in our graves to face the rising sun. We’re … Read More
How Archaeology Ruined My Englishness Forever
Here’s a story about how archaeology ruined me as an Englishman.
Nobody Expects The Orkney Haar
Surely my eyes have blown a fuse. The world is blank – not a hole (because holes are *in* something) but a total absence, a blackness filled with light. Vertigo sweeps over me. And…that strange muddled sense of depth, like when you’re drifting off to sleep in a darkened room and suddenly you can’t tell if the ceiling is a million … Read More
Why I Love Your Travel Writing
Oh, I love the way you write. Seriously. Such a thrill. I’ve read a lot of travel writing (and a lot of “How To” travel writing) online and offline — and it’s such a relief to read someone who truly gets it. I love your stuff. Here are three reasons why.
The Mystery of Lighthouse Corner
“Lighthouse Corner? Aaaaaahrr.” This was the response I’d been hoping for. From deep within a creased, twinkly-eyed, wind-ruddied face looking like an elephant wearing blusher, the wheezing voice continued. “Hoos. Lighthoos. Road, blarg, garb oot crossflarp. FLARP”. Now, I’m part Scottish. You’d think I’d have a smattering of understanding at a genetic level about how to translate accents like this … Read More
Orkney: What Do You Do?
What can you actually do in Orkney? No, forget the sightseeing. Forget the daytrips, the beach walks, the clambering up sea-stacks to watch intrepid archaeologists braving the elements while hugging filthy mugs of tea (more on that topic another time). Forget visiting. We’re talking living up there. I know of a number of people who are intending to move up … Read More
Previously on “Orkney”…
I’m heading up to Orkney in a little over a week – a place I worked as an archaeologist for a couple of months, a place that’s in my blood enough to wish I’d been born there. It’s a place where spectacles creep up on you. (No, the other kind). Every day is a different palette. But archaeology is terribly … Read More
A piece I wrote for a now-deceased online magazine (edited by the fabulous Karen Walrond) back in 2006. I’m holding the cup to my face. Anywhere else, this might look a little strange; but this is Orkney, and it’s an autumn morning with the promise of winter felt in every exposed extremity.