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Inspirational Perthshire


Virginia Crow (author of Day's
Dying Glory) at Innerpeffray
Library
I’m not sure what it was about my last holiday that made it so special. Whether it was because it was intertwined with the Day’s Dying Glory book launch event at Innerpeffray Library, or because I needed a rest from all my responsibilities, or that it was just an amazing place to stay…I really loved last week’s holiday!

The cottage was The Old Post Office on Dunalistair Estate and we had booked it from Saturday to Saturday. The road to the cottage was bumpy and bendy which, being a non-driver, I didn’t mind a bit. In fact, it seemed to add to the whole experience. Once at the cottage, I realised what an astonishing view we would have for the next 7 days. The cottage looked out across an open field, over Dunalistair Water and to Schiehallion beyond. On clear days, you could see the whole mountain which stood quite close to the cottage. Once every day, however, the mountain top would be covered by mist that would make you thankful you weren’t climbing the imposing natural structure!

The view from the front door
The wildlife was a treat! We get the chaffinches and siskins at home but watching the red squirrels stealing the bird food was stunning for me. The only time I’ve seen red squirrels that close before is at the Highland Wildlife Park and it seems to lose a little something when they are not 100% wild. The strange little acrobats that the squirrels would perform were so hilarious and so adorable, I could watch them for hours.

While I maintain that pheasants are some of the most stupid birds in existence, their beauty and grandeur cannot be denied. I miss waking up to the sound of pheasants barking outside my window. It’s quite a magical sound!

Orlando, our spaniel, went mad for the deer! When we would walk him along the path through the field, he would see one or two roe deer running away and scream his head off while pulling on the lead with all his might…and can he be strong when he really wants to!!

Writers all take their inspiration from different things. It could be a cup of tea made the wrong way, an overheard conversation on the street, and painting in the window of a shop. For me, and I think many others, nature gives a wealth of inspiration. Therefore, I found my holiday in Perthshire food for my creativeness.

But the one thing that really charged me up creatively was Thornfield Hall. Along the track from where we were staying, was the old Dunalistair house, or Mount Alexander – only, it was a stripped shell of a house. Most of the roof had gone, all the glass in the windows had gone, and there were even trees growing from the rooms inside. The moment I saw it from the driveway, I instantly thought of Thornfield Hall from Jane Eyre – after the fire.

"Thornfield Hall"
One of the most enjoyable, and inspirational, things about the house was that I never saw anyone else there. It was on a working estate and I saw a couple of cars going up the track towards it but all the time we were around the house, we had the place completely to ourselves. Alone with our thoughts, the creation of stories in my mind was on overload.

There were several other inspirational moments during the holiday. The sheer age and pure history of Fortingall Yew – a living tree that is 2000-3000 years old – really called out to my imagination when I considered just how much this tree had witnessed in its drawn-out life. There’s an epic there…waiting to be written. Anyone want to take up the challenge?

On the Friday – the last day of the holiday – we went to Killiecrankie. As we stood beneath the viaduct, a train went overhead. We heard it rattling along the track above us. In the few seconds that I had available to make a wish, I couldn’t think of anything that I wanted to wish for. That, I told myself, was a sign of true contentment. At the last second, I remembered that this was only a holiday, and I made my wish. I’ll see if it comes true.

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