Edinburgh here I come

12 January 2015

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Marie de Guise, Corneille de Lyon, c1537. Photo: National Galleries of Scotland.

Ooh la la, or maybe that should be och aye the noo? It’s okay, simmer down, I’m born and bred Scottish so I’m allowed to say that. Even if I somehow managed to grow up without the slightest trace of a Scottish accent and so say it in a weird sort of west country accent when I attempt it. Oh dear. What I wouldn’t give for a lovely soft Scottish accent like the one that my friend Alison is blessed with. I could sit and listen to her say the word ‘murder’ for HOURS.

Anyway, I’m feeling a bit inordinately excited right now as I have recently booked the first of my research trips for this coming year (the second one is going to be Paris and the Loire valley so that I can visit some places associated with Marie’s life in her own country) and it means that I get to go to Edinburgh again, which is always a supreme treat. To my shame, although I was born and raised in Scotland (I wasn’t joking about being Scottish), I’d never actually set foot in my own capital city until about six years ago when, heavily pregnant, I went up for a day trip while we were on holiday in the Lake District. I went back for another day trip a couple of years ago, specifically to see the Mary Queen of Scots exhibition (which was A KNOCKOUT) and Holyroodhouse Palace but haven’t been back since, much to my sorrow as I rather love it there.

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Holyroodhouse Palace. Photo: Melanie Clegg.

I’ve also been sad about the fact that two day trips just aren’t enough to get to know the city properly, but that’s all about to change as I’m heading up there at the start of March for five whole days of Edinburgh goodness and I absolutely can’t wait.

Of course, my main reason for going up there is to do some essential research and take photos for my books about Marie de Guise (for those who missed all the fuss – I am writing a novel series AND biography about her this year) and I am really looking forward to visiting some places associated with both Mary and her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots. Obviously, I’ll be visiting Edinburgh Castle, where Marie died of dropsy in June 1560, but I’ll also be revisiting Holyroodhouse, where she was crowned as well as Stirling Castle, Falkland Palace and Linlithgow Palace, where she gave birth to her daughter in December 1542.

It’s already gearing up to being an amazing trip and of course I simply can’t wait to share my experiences and photographs with you all. I’ll be posting highlights to my Instagram and Facebook accounts while I’m there, of course, so make sure you’re following if you want to see what I’m up to – I’m also looking forward to doing a creepy ghost walk, some shopping and treating myself to some nice cocktails while I’m there.

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Wedding portrait of James V and Marie de Guise, unknown artist, 1538. Photo: Blair Castle, Perthshire.

Ooh and best of all? I’ve booked myself on to the fabled Caledonian Sleeper train from London to Scotland for the journeys there and back – it leaves at around midnight and gets into Edinburgh at just after seven in the morning, which is amazing. I remember taking sleeper trains from Aberdeen to London and back as a little girl and have been desperate to do it again as an adult. I’ve been jokingly calling the Caledonian sleeper train the ‘Hogwarts Express’, but now feel rather hoist with my own petard as the ScotRail website turned out to be so esoteric and difficult to navigate that it might well have been designed by the Ministry of Magic to be as incomprehensible as possible to Muggles.

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Set against the infamous Jack the Ripper murders of autumn 1888 and based on the author’s own family history, From Whitechapel is a dark and sumptuous tale of bittersweet love, friendship, loss and redemption and is available NOW from Amazon UK, Amazon US and Burning Eye.

‘Frothy, light hearted, gorgeous. The perfect summer read.’ Minette, my young adult novel of 17th century posh doom and intrigue is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US and is CHEAP AS CHIPS as we like to say in dear old Blighty.

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