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A week on the Isle of Arran

Morning everyone! I've just got back from a fantastic week on the Isle of Arran, climbing Goatfell, exploring Machrie Moor, writing poems and tasting whisky named after the poet Robert Burns. I was accompanied by Alex Boyd, one of my favourite artists, and we took the opportunity to film me reading poems from The Shipwrecked House in a variety of historical locations across the island.

The first of these was the King's Cave, in which Robert the Bruce is reputed to have lived. Not many people know that my gran was Scottish, and I only found out the next day that I'm descended from the Bruce. As my mum added 'I think everybody is'. Still, it was nice to feel an extra link to this very special place. I chose to read 'Wipe the Blade Clean on the Grass', as the Korrigan mentioned in the poem, a Breton mythic creature, has a predilection for caves. Ideally I should have read it on Machrie Moor on my previous day's visit as according to Thorbjørn Campbell, the author of Arran: a History, the Gaelic name for the area, Sliabh nan Carraigean might be derived from Korrigans (who do have a predilection for stone alignments in Brittany, such as Carnac), making the translation of the moor 'The Moor of the Stone-Ghosts' (p.30).

The next day we filmed two videos, the first was on one of the Giants' Graves, one of two Neolithic chambered tombs. I chose to read 'Rusty Sea' because we could see a storm in the distance and it felt fitting to have a non-location specific apocalyptic poem in such a special place.

Last but not least, we went down to King's Cross Point (I've seen it spelled in a variety of ways so apologies for my own inconsistency with it!) where we filmed 'Fest Noz' over a boat-shaped Viking's Grave. Heather has been such a constant on my walks across the island that it felt right to read it. As Alex filmed we could hear the storm coming our way so I must admit that we ran away straightaway afterwards.

Just in case you didn't sense my obsession with the place, I'll leave you with some pictures of Machrie Moor...

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