The Journey (Far Flung Scots Book 2)

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This time, Mary is brought to the big screen as a headstrong leader played by Saoirse Ronan. The actress follows in the footsteps of Redgrave and Katharine Hepburn , both of whom performed the role of the doomed monarch with fatalistic grace.

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In movies, as in life, these versions of Mary show her as a devout Catholic whose rule was challenged by the men around her—like those on her council, her second and third husbands and even the men outside her castle. Yet for all her tenacity, Mary never gains the full loyalty of her people for various reasons, including her religion, her French first husband, her subsequent marriages and other rumors of infidelity. A Trump-like Protestant preacher John Knox David Tennant regularly speaks out against her, and his misinformation campaign eventually convinces her subjects to disown her.

Coupled with her disastrous marriage and several more betrayals of trust, the queen is forced to abdicate the throne, leading her to an untimely fate. Like sabbaths of yore in the Western Isles, there was, even on weekday mornings, a sepulchral hush. Everyone seemed to talk in whispers and the shops cried out for customers.


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Had I not known better, I might have assumed that the population had decided to pack their bags and seek their fortunes elsewhere. Yet, as several people said, even before the earthquakes struck Christchurch was not the most raucous of places. Dunedin, to which I travelled a few days later, wears its Scottish ancestry like a clansman does tartan. It was founded in by the Free Church of Scotland but its influence is now negligible. There are three others from the same cast in London, New York and Dundee.

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He is revered still not only for his pioneering vigour and vision but for the value he put on education and reading. A legacy of this is the high proportion of students in the city, of whom there are around 20, in a total population of just over , And so to Auckland where there is annual book festival.

Its growth in recent decades has been dizzying and the festival has likewise burgeoned, deservedly so. It was not unusual, for example, to see its venue, Aotea Centre, attracting a crowd of 2,, which may be normal for opera divas but can be disconcerting to humble authors. I spent five days in and around the festival, and was much taken by its warm vibe, cultural diversity and the sophistication and savvy of the audiences.

Our landmass may be modest in size but is latticed with a generous , miles of public footpaths, bridleways and byways, and exploring them is one of our favourite pastimes.


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Before the late 18th century most people walked only because they had to, or if they were on pilgrimage. Walking was the preserve of the horseless poor.

Mary Queen of Scots

With the rise of the Romantic movement came the idea of walking for pleasure, prompting such poets as Wordsworth to some of their finest words after traipsing the countryside on foot. So began the great British tradition of walking, and writing about it. Some authors have accomplished arduous hikes in far-flung lands; others have written just as engagingly about journeys much closer to home. Take Robert Louis Stevenson.

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Today, it seems no topography is too pedestrian to induce British authors to lace up their boots and take to the byways and sometimes the highways of our country. Here are my 10 favourites. Its appeal lies in the warm and witty evocation of the British countryside and its people, as observed half a century ago.

But before reaching Mediterranean shores, Lee walked through southern England , writing about his wanderings and encounters in characteristically elegiac prose. This was the era when tramps still roved the country lanes, cars were a rarity and Lee was still young and idealistic — before his initiation into the turmoil of the Spanish civil war.