On the 14th of June I head off for two weeks in Scotland and the UK. I am keeping remarkably calm (considering my usual frenzy in such cases) and am very happily anticipating this small (though it feels huge to me) journey.
It is first of all a gathering of a number of people who belong to our now thirteen years and going strong discussion group of the books written by D.E. Stevenson, about whom I’ve written before on this blog. In 2007 we celebrated our tenth anniversary by meeting in Boston where many of her manuscripts and papers are housed in the special collections library of Boston University. They did a very nice display for us, and we had a great time together. But that was more of a weekend, and more tightly organized. Much more is happening this time. We arrive and depart at different times, and are staying, for the most part, at Holland House at the University of Edinburgh. We will visit homes in the New Town which were connected with her family (famous engineers, especially for the lighthouses they constructed around Scotland, and Robert Louis Stevenson, her father’s first cousin). We will take a day trip to North Berwick where her family went for holiday in August when she was growing up, and where one of her books is set, and we’ll see nearby Tantallon Castle. One day there is a tea in Edinburgh hosted by Persephone books, a London based publishing house which recently reissued Miss Buncle’s Book, one of Stevenson’s most delightful. One of her great-granddaughters works for them and will be there.
Another day we are travelling to Moffat, a border town I visited in 1998 when Paul, Andy and I spent a month in the UK. Stevenson’s granddaughter Wendy will meet us that day and we hope to visit several places connected to her life and work. About halfway through the trip our group is breaking up into several smaller ones and heading off in different directions. I’m not sure if everyone is exactly settled on where they are going. Some are going to Skye. Some will already have been in Orkney. Some are visiting relatives, or traveling to London to meet with other Dessies (as we call ourselves) . Two friends and I are going off with a DES friend who lives in Somerset. We are going by way of the Lake District and stopping to see Beatrix Potter’s farm in Sawry. From her home in the Quantock hills we are hoping to visit Bath, and possibly even London. On the last day there I will fly back to Edinburgh from Bristol and leave for home the next morning. I am sorry my daughter Alice who came to the Boston meeting with me will not be able to come to Scotland, but this is too much time for her to be away from her home and family! I’ll try to take a lot of pictures and be able to share some experiences with her and with you when I return.
I’ve included a picture of a charm bracelet I made for the 2007 meeting. A number of Dessies made their own, filled with charms which connect to her life and books.