Speyside Memories + A Speyside Odyssey by Norman Matheson #NaturalHistory #Autobiographical #Art

I must admit to having reservations when I was asked if I’d like to read ‘Speyside Memories: Boyhood and Beyond on River and Hill’ and ‘A Speyside Odyssey: A Natural History of The Atlantic Salmon’ but I was most pleasantly surprised and found both books very engaging. Many thanks to Alison Williams for the review copies. They are both beautifully presented.

‘Speyside Memories’ is filled with wonderful watercolours and cartoons by the author, along with descriptions of colourful, quirky local characters whose idiosyncrasies provided much fun for the youngsters—gamekeeper Eck Elder was one such. 

The kenspeckle Eck Elder, an archetypal Scottish gamekeeper who might be spied covering ground on East Cromdale shortly after first light, was another source of mild ridicule. Eck was from the borders and retained the strong accent of his youth. His complaint, ‘flaks as big as pat lids’ (flakes as big as pot lids) in deploring a severe snow storm was but one of his colourful pronouncements that invited imitation.

‘Speyside Memories’ is a collection of well written and descriptive short anecdotes of Dr Matheson’s life, from his boyhood during WWII, through to adulthood as a consultant surgeon and skilful fisherman, and ranging from humorous to moving. The author’s love of the area is apparent throughout and the incredibly picturesque landscape is depicted wonderfully in words and images.

IMG_0103 copyIn upper Banffshire the rowans were red and the late harvest had been gathered in. Stubble fields lay bare and three well-built rucks stood proud like burly sentinels in the small corn yard. Which tells that this tale is from the past. It comes from a time when I was but a boy, not yet conscious of man’s inhumanity to man and hardly aware of the devastating blitzkrieg that was sweeping through Europe.

One of my favourite stories is that of ‘A Pearl from Head of Wood,’ the name given to the neck of the long Wood Pool, which, judging by the watercolour painted by the author, would be an idyllic place to spend some time. Forty years ago pearlers were active in the area and when a perfect freshwater pearl was found and brought to Dr Matheson’s attention, the fact it was found in Head of Wood gave it extra significance. These days freshwater mussels are a legally protected species. A lovely story of how the pearl, made into a ring, finally found a home.


Another favourite is ‘A Man From Skye’ which concerns Dr Matheson’s paternal grandfather’s unusual life. He left the island aged thirteen for the mainland where he became a shepherd, eventually marrying and fathering thirteen children. On the occasion of his grandfather’s death Dr Matheson, then aged ten, and his family travelled by horse and sledge through the night during severe winter weather, there being no other form of transport available due to the deep snow. elegant-1769669_640 copy

‘A Speyside Odyssey’ includes much more than the life cycle of the Atlantic salmon, although that is fascinating in itself. The journey the salmon must go through is hazardous in the extreme, taking them through the small streams that flow eventually into the river Spey, leading them on to the ocean where they feast on the abundance of available food, gathering strength for the long and risky journey back to where they began in order to spawn. Dr Matheson has an obvious regard for the tenacity of the fish, along with the natural world in its entirety.

‘A Speyside Odyssey’ (with a foreword from Prince Charles) is filled with gorgeous illustrations of the flora and fauna, in addition to much of the natural history of the area—details of the landscape through the seasons, the birds, animals and wild flowers and, as with the previous book, all beautifully described in words and images. Both books are easy, captivating reads. 

IMG_0107 copyWhen the day broke the pool was quiet but for the occasional splashy flop of a kelt. At the neck of the pool a dipper perched, pertly bobbing and intermittently diving, using its wings as oars in its submerged insect gathering. The light blanket of mist shrouding the distant hilltops would curl away in the warmth of what promised to be a fine spring day. A light downstream wind gently ruffled the surface of the water.

elegant-1769669_640 copy

Norman Matheson, a retired surgeon, has been captivated by nature since his boyhood in upper Speyside. As a lifelong salmon fisherman, he is known throughout the Spey and Aberdeenshire Dee. He has published extensively. As an artist, he has illustrated children’s picture books and the illustrations in this book are his work. He was awarded an MBE for voluntary work in the visual arts.  

Dr Matheson has donated the proceeds from ‘A Speyside Oddysey’ to the Atlantic Salmon Trust

The trust was founded in 1967 to raise awareness of the plight of the salmon and was one of the first organisations to be devoted to the welfare of a single species.

Because of its Honorary Scientific Advisory Panel which includes the finest scientists in the field, the trust has been able to influence politicians and regulators in Britain and further afield.

The trust has supported many research projects with an emphasis on best practice for fishery managers and anglers.

Its ultimate aim is working to see naturally-generated stocks of wild salmon and sea trout reach sustainable levels of abundance.

More information about the trust and its work can be found here:


The books may be purchased from Hive Books | Waterstones | Amazon | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

#BlogTourPromo ~ Gold Digger by Gillian Godden #GanglandFiction #TuesdayBookBlog @GGodden @rararesources @BoldwoodBooks

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Gold Digger, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.

Gold Digger

Today the spotlight is on Gillian Godden and her book, Gold Digger.

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A Visit to Wightwick Manor and Gardens #NationalTrust #VictorianManor #ArtsandCrafts

Wightwick Manor was built in the late 1800s for Theodore and Flora Manders, and inherited by their son Geoffrey, a paint manufacturer and Liberal MP, in 1900. In the 1930s Geoffrey Maunder somehow persuaded the National Trust to take on a house that was only 50 years old. He and his seccond wife beccame live in curators.

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#MiniBlitz #Extract ~ Sun, Sea and Summer Vibes by Zoe Allison #Romance @zoeallisonauth1 @rararesources

Hope you enjoy this extract from Sun, Sea and Summer Vibes on the final day of the mini blitz organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.

Sun Sea and Summer Vibes

After attending Cameron’s residency, Isla has gone off with a cocky pop singer named Zac. Nina was about to walk home to her hotel alone, when Cameron finds her and insists on walking her back—much to her surprise when they don’t seem to get on.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow #HistoricalFiction

The prequel to the Pattern of Shadows series, A Hundred Tiny Threads explores the lives of Winifred Duffy and Bill Howarth up to the beginning of their lives together. 

Winifred lives with her mother, the very unpleasant Ethel, and her much nicer and long suffering father, and works in the family’s grocery shop. Winifred is an innocent, leading a very sheltered life ruled by her mother. Until the day Honora O’Reilly enters her life with her independence and talk of a better life for women, persuading Winifred to join the Suffragette movement. That, and meeting Conal, Honora’s brother, changed Winifred’s life in ways she could never have envisioned.

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The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday by @KileyDunbar #ContemporaryFiction #Romance

51j-9N6SA8SAuthor: Kiley Dunbar

Published: May 2021 by Hera

Category: Contemporary Fiction, Rom Com, Book Review


The Borrow-a-Bookshop Bookshop Café invites literature lovers to run their very own bookshop … for a fortnight.

Spend your days talking books with customers in your own charming bookshop and serving up delicious cream teas in the cosy café.

Bookworms, what are you waiting for? Your holiday is going to be LIT(erary).

Apply to: The Borrow-a-Bookshop Bookshop Café, Down-a-long, Clove Lore, Devon.

What a wonderful premise for a story. To run a bookshop and cafe and live in a beautiful little village for two weeks….if only! I realised immediately Clove Lore was based on Clovelly, a beautiful place on the Devon coast with it’s steep cobbled main street, lovely cottages and harbour, just as it’s described in the book.

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#BlogTour #Promo ~ Dark Water Sacrifice by Zach Lamb #DarkFiction #Thriller @Zach_LambAuthor @rararesources

Dark Water Sacrifice

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the noir thriller, Dark Water Sacrifice, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources. 

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#GuestPost from Joy Wood #Author of Getting Away With Murder @joywoodauthor @rararesources

I’m delighted to welcome Joy Wood with her post ‘You’ve Got To Be In It To Win It’ for my stop on the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.

Getting Away With Murder

Over to you, Joy…

All of my life, I’ve loved words. I can remember as far back as being at infant school, probably about seven or eight, and we’d been asked to do a poem in “our best handwriting”. The teacher told us that there would be a competition and the best three poems would be read out to the class. I was fortunate to be one of those three, and while I can still see myself stood at the front and all my classmates sat at their desks, I have no idea what I wrote about. But it must have kick-started something in me as I always loved words and English language all the way through school.

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Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot) #Audiobook #MurderMystery #TuesdayBookBlog

41W9EDvOf5LAuthor: Agatha Christie

Published: April 2007 by HarperCollins

Performed by Hugh Fraser

Category: Crime, Mystery, Murder, Book Review


Unpleasant things are going on in an exclusive school for girls – things like murder… Late one night, two teachers investigate a mysterious flashing light in the sports pavilion, while the rest of the school sleeps. There, among the lacrosse sticks, they stumble upon the body of the unpopular games mistress – shot through the heart from point blank range. The school is thrown into chaos when the ‘cat’ strikes again. Unfortunately, schoolgirl Julia Upjohn knows too much. In particular, she knows that without Hercule Poirot’s help, she will be the next victim.

The setting for Cat Among the Pigeons is Meadowbank, an exclusive school for girls, run with precision by the inimitable Miss Bulstrode. An eclectic mix of students, including a princess from the Middle East, arrive for the summer term. The staff, old and new, are introduced to the reader as they welcome the girls, chat among themselves or just observe with their own thoughts. There’s also a new gardener, a young, good looking gardener who is not quite what he seems.

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