When I was still a student at Edinburgh University, a friend 

asked me what I would like to do in my life. Write, and

travel, I said. 

Early travels - in the Scottish Highlands

I studied English and French Literature, with 

excursions into psychology, philosophy and Islamic History. 

After completing a Post Graduate Teaching Certificate I 

embarked on the two things I really wanted to do, travelling 

and writing.

Sunset, Crete

An account of my time in India, A New Notebook, has been 

(although my travels there were before the time of emails) 

and other pieces of writing from that time are included in 

the blog as  Carnets - From Quetta to Tehran and Part 2. 

After months spent travelling in Asia I returned to Europe 

and lived in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, in the incomparable 

Schwarzwald. I had various jobs there which included

working in a laundry, a factory, and modelling for life 

drawing classes at Freiburg's Art College – all jobs ideally 

suited to writing, I found.

In my kitchen in Freiburg, Germany 1

Freiburg kitchen 2

In the 1990s I travelled in Europe and the USA with the musician

John Renbourn. My journal was my sketch book and most of these 

sketches found their way into a book I published about our travels

Every Shade of Blue.

You can find the post about its publication here.

On the rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Some of our later travels – in this century! - I’ve written about on

these posts – driving to France, and arrival in France. And our last 

trip together, though we did not know then it would be our last, was

to the north coast of England.

In the 1990s I completed  two further teaching courses, a 

CELTA/RSA in Edinburgh, to teach English as a Second 

Language, and a course at the Centre International d’Études 

Pédagogiques in Sèvres, France, to teach French.

When I wasn't teaching I travelled and wrote. Sometimes I 

managed to combine all 3, as in Albania at the turn of the 

century, where I also worked for an NGO. Tirana Papers is a 

record of this time.

Abseiling near Kruje, Albania

I've also been fortunate enough to spend time at Writers' 

Residencies in Europe, in France, Switzerland and Serbia.

Vineyards, Lac Leman, Swiss Alps

A Sleeping Sentry at the Gate of Time, a short story, was my first published work, appearing in Chapman magazine, in 1980. 

Since then, poems, stories, articles and reviews have 

appeared in various print magazines and journals


New Writing Scotland, An Anthology of Scottish Women 

Writers, Crannog, The Lady, & Times Literary 


Publications in other countries, or in 

translation include Ljubljana Tales (Poland), Pilvax  

Magazine (Hungary), La Traductiere (France), Tirana 

Observer (Albania), and Orizont Literar 

Contemporan & Euphorion (Romania).

Poems have also appeared on transport systems – in 

Glasgow's Underground, and on Edinburgh's buses.

Online publications can be found through links in the Work 

on the Web page, and details of book publications on the 

Books page.

The name, Rivertrain, comes from a train ride through 

Slovenia, from Bled in the north, via Ljubljana, to the border 

with Croatia, near Zagreb. The traintrack often ran alongside 

the river Sava, curving and twisting, following the river's 


Church on the island in Lake Bled, Slovenia

River Sava, Slovenia, from the River Train

Beautiful Piran, on Slovenia's coast

The blog is a place for what the French term récits, which 

covers just about every kind of non-fiction writing. 

Sometimes it can be an excerpt from or a pointer to, 

published work, sometimes it is lifted straight from a 

journal, and might relate to travel, both literal and 

metaphorical, to ideas, and to the works of other writers, 

artists, travellers and photographers. I particularly like the 

way that a blog encourages images. 

Bright-eyed Camargue bull

Decades ago, when I was just starting out writing, and 

travelling, photographs were rare, though I do like the few 

grainy, blurred images that survive. Nowadays of course, 

with digital cameras, there is such opportunity to capture 

sunlight and scenery, people  and poses, in clear detail.

Bagpipe player, Neseber, Bulgaria

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