Sunday, July 24, 2011

Edinburgh; Closes and Vennels.

Leith 1698-ish; As you can see, there's an alleyway between the back of the old houses, out to the road. To the rest of the world, it's an 'arched alleyway'

To Scots, it's a 'close' or 'vennel'.

I can still hear the cries of "Where will I put ma' bike?"

"Aye, stick it in the vennel."

We even played football, one player each side, with the close as our entire football pitch. If the ball was kicked past us, out into the open, it was a goal.

We took it real serious.

It caused real vibration in the houses to either side, mind you. I remember getting chased up to the 'back field' to play many times.

Anyway.... closes and vennels.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Quotes from the book (2 of 3)

Leith 1698.

In contrast to the quiet streets of the town, the dock was even more crowded than usual. Dockers and some ship's crew milled around on the quayside like partners in some disorganised dance. The difference today was the crowd of passengers, mostly men, who were standing in orderly queues, waiting to be boarded. In comparison to the dock officials, the passengers were a pathetic sight, soaked to the skin from the recent rain. The men who had donned hats for the heavy shower, had removed them, but the women's bonnets drooped dejectedly. Their baggage lay waterlogged in puddles at their feet.

"Looks like the expedition ships are finally gettin' ready tae sail!" Jamie ambled closer.

"It's about time." Gordon nibbled at the hard apple core. "They've been loading the ships for weeks."

Activity increased as they neared the quayside, harbour officials strutted and postured. Orders from both the docks and on board ship were barked across the morning.

"They'll leave on tonight's tide, maybe tomorrow's." Jamie threw his apple core high into the air, landing into the brown chocolate suspension that was Leith harbour.

(Excerpt from "Opportunities; Jamie Leith in Darien, published by IFWG Publishing this month.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Leith 1698; Quotes from the book......

Leith, 1698.
The wet narrow cobbled streets were deserted, the pessimists lingered inside, expecting more rain. The sandstone walls on either side seemed to lean inwards, their irregular tan and grey shapes sometimes peeping out from behind cracked plaster. A door opened to his left, and an old woman peered out, holding her shawl tight across her chest.

"Brr." Jamie shivered, always on the lookout for more sympathy. "Mornin; Mrs Dewar!"

"Ah 'mind it warm in July." she groused, and walked back inside.

"Chilly." Jamie answered to the closing door. "Downright bloody chilly."

(Except from Opportunities; Jamie Leith in Darien, by Ian Hall, published this month by IFWG Publishing.)

I found this old picture, and couldn't help it; it's EXACTLY as I envisaged Leith in 1698. It was like I was looking through Jamie's eyes. I got huge goosebumps!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Brest; The shelter for the First Jacobite Rebellion, 1708.

Brest, France, around the year 1708, prepares for the first Jacobite Rebellion.

Thirty ships with 6000+ French, Irish and some Scottish soldiers gather under the protective cover of the ramparts of Chateaux de Brest.

The ships were mostly privateers, but they were led by the french Admiral Gace in his flagship, the 78 gun, Mars.

King James VIII was on board the flagship, and on March 6th, 1708, the fleet sailed to land an invasion fleet at Burntisland, Fife.

The plan had been prepared by many spies for years, and it only took one young man (King James VIII) to set one foot on Scottish soil, and the Brittish crown was his.

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