I don’t like labels – LGBTQ+, my sexuality/gender and J Rowling.

Hello my little demons,

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about the LGBTQ+ community and my own sexuality/gender , I have always had a “it’s your life, your business” kind of attitude towards everyone.

If you want kids. If you don’t want kids. If you don’t want to get married. If you’re happy being single. You like to watch cartoons. If you’re a model. If you’re a stripper. Have a weird fettish. If you’re a stay at home mum. If you like to collect Pokemon cards (ahem). Want to live on a boat. Want to move country. If you are gay. If you were born in the wrong body/gender. If you prefer the pronouns ‘they/them’.

I have no say over how someone wants to live their lives. I have no say over someone’s gender or sexual orientation. I have no say over the individual’s struggles. I personally do not understand why there is such a big deal over it (and that wasn’t an open invitation to tell me, so please, keep your negative comments to yourselves!). As far as I am concerned, if you are happy – then I am happy. As long as you’re not being violent, racist, sexist or otherwise shaming someone else, for what EVER reason. And, yes, I also am aware of the biological side of things, but this isn’t a post about explaining how it IS possible! I just want everyone to live their most authentic/true/happy life!

Okay, I will admit, there was a time when I was a teen that I hated gay people. Mostly gay men. Why? I have no idea. It was a social norm, I guess. Everyone else around me either hated, disliked or would avoid gay men, so I learnt to do the same, I looked up to the adults in my life and learnt it from them. It was expected of me to be a woman, get married, get a house, have kids (I want to point out my mum was never like that, this is more of a ‘community’ or social norm – my mum has always been interested in me just being happy and healthy). Until, one day, I found out a very good friend of mine at college was gay. I was immediately ashamed. Not because he was gay. But I was ashamed that I had EVER hated gay men. This guy was the NICEST person you would ever meet, he was funny, smart, and was an absolutely joy to be around.

It got me thinking about gay men and lesbians, and I realise now that I had never had an issue with lesbians (I have heard they don’t like being called gay, as the word ‘lesbian’ was shunned in media/films and they’d be referred to as ‘gay’ instead – so, if I ever say ‘gay’ and refer to a lesbian, I apologise!) and I realise how bad that was. I hated gay men, but never thought negatively towards lesbians. Why? Media. Gay men were always seen as ‘wrong’ yet lesbians were okay because they were seen as a sexual item, for men’s entertainment. And, don’t get me started on my thoughts on how women are perceived as objects! That’s a rant for another day!

My own sexuality/gender

Fast forward a few years and I started to question my own sexuality. Not because I knew something was wrong, not in the conventional “having to hide in the closet” sort of deal that most people have had to go through. But I started to realise that I wasn’t just attracted to men, I was also attracted to women. And started to think I was bisexual. I have never really felt the need to officially come out though (hi, mum and dad!)

Now, over the years I have had this in mind and started to educate myself in the LGBTQ+ community, watching as the letters in the acronym grew (I will refer to it as LGBT+ or LGBTQ+ periodically in my blogs, posts and other ramblings, but please be aware that I mean no disrespect if I miss a letter!) and attempting to learn along the way. Not only learn about the community, but also question my own sexuality and gender.

I then started to educate myself in what ‘demisexual’ and ‘pansexual’ was. If you don’t know, demisexuality is a branch of asexuality where a person only feels sexually attracted to a person when they have a deep connection with them on an emotional/intelligent level. Pansexuality is basically similar to bisexuality but openly agrees that there are more than two genders (hi, to my gender-fluid and non-binary friends!) And, when I heard someone refer to themselves as demi-pansexual, and learnt what it meant… I immediately went… THAT’S ME! (I never understood why people can have one-night stands).

Recently, however, I had to further educate myself in what it means to be pansexual. I have in the past told people that I am pansexual (or part of my sexuality) because I openly didn’t mind if I became involved with someone in the trans community. BUT, I recently found out that THAT isn’t what it means to be pan, in fact, that is extremely offensive to a trans person because that is implying that they are NOT that gender. For example, if I were to meet a trans man and say to him I would date him because I am pansexual, I am implying they are NOT a man. Because, whether they have transitioned or not THEY ARE A MAN. For me, my pansexuality means that I recognise there are more than two genders; that I also include gender-fluid and non-binary people.

On top of that, I also started to think about my own gender. Mostly after coming across a few videos about non-binary and gender-fluid. I have always been referred to as ‘she/her’. A woman. Or a girl (although I hate that as it implies I am a child) – I also recently started to refer to myself as ‘Ms’ instead of ‘Miss’. But, most people will know that I have never been girly. I hate having my hair done. I hate wearing dresses. I’ve never been into the same things that girls my age (when I was a child) was into. Everyone called me ‘a tomboy’. That’s still true. I am. But, it’s led me to realise that what does that mean about my gender? Am I female? Who just likes cars, bikes and drinks whisky? Or am I actually a man? Or am I non-binary? Or gender-fluid? I told someone at university once that I was more ‘gender-fluid’ than a woman, and it fits more, so I consider myself that more than anything. I cannot detach myself from womanhood completely, but I also cannot personally identify as a woman as it doesn’t quite ‘feel right’.

HOWEVER, I also recently had a think about all these labels; demi-pansexual, bisexuality, gender-fluid and I’ve come to the realisation that labels are for other people, not for me. I only really worry about these labels because it’s a way of explaining to others who I am. When the conversation of sexuality comes up and people wrongly assume “when you get a boyfriend” I feel the need to explain. When someone wrongly assumes that I must like girly things because I was born female, I feel the need to explain. These labels aren’t for me, they’re for others, because others cannot understand who I am outside of what the stereotypical majority are. And, because the majority of the world doesn’t actually understand what demisexuality or pansexuality is, I am also having to explain what they are, and I don’t really have a connection to the words, only the meaning behind them.

So, for clarification; I am Penny. I go by the pronouns ‘she/her/they/them’, and unless I openly say I am attracted to you, my sexuality isn’t any of your business.

I don’t like labels.

Being an Ally & adding in the LGBTQ+ community into my writing

Supporting the LGBT+ (and yes, that also includes transmen/transwomen too!), doesn’t mean you have to be LGBT+ yourself. You can be an LGBT+ ally! I’m looking at you straight cis men/women!

And, they also need you! Regardless of your gender identity or sexual orientation! We need to add to the discourse to educate ourselves and end the stigma. Although, I consider myself part of the LGBTQ+ community, I try to stand up for people, I actively engage in educating myself and I am open to understanding different view-points. I am not going to say that I am 100% right, there is still a lot I need to learn, and there is a lot that I will probably get wrong. Just like my previous view on gay men and what it means to be pansexual, and there are a lot of people out there that have a viewpoint and openly express that opinion. I just want to say to those people; it’s okay having an opinion, but it’s not okay spouting off hate and misinformed ideas at people trying to shove this opinion on them when it can be damaging. Not only is it damaging to those you are talking about (trans, gay, lesbian, etc), but it can enforce ideas in the general public and you are indirectly causing damage. Let’s learn to have healthy conversations, ask questions, don’t enforce your ideas, look up research (real peer-reviewed research, not news reports!) and question your ideologies. Just because the majority of the people, the ‘social norm’, thinks it’s one thing, doesn’t mean it’s true. Heck, the whole world thought everything revolved around the Earth and when Galileo suggested everything revolved around the sun, he was sentenced to life imprisonment! I will just leave that thought with you.

Alongside my self-discovery of both my own gender/sexuality and educating myself on LGBTQ+ topics, I also try to add these elements into my writing. I mean, yes, I try to add topics that revolve around certain issues – such as my book ‘I Fell In Love with a Psychopath’ which talks about psychopathy and trying to bring about the idea that psychopathy as not overtly bad (because not all psychopaths are mass-murders, they can be model citizens and a part of the community!), as well as the idea of adding in topics about being gay, lesbian, trans, gender-fluid, mental health issues, and many more.

I recently decided to write a story about a girl with Selective Mustism, it’s a true story, in a way, although the characters are made up, the experiences in it are very true and what I have both experienced and still experience, it’s going to be called ‘The Girl Who Whispered’.

I also will be adding in MANY topics into my book Rose Garden Sanatorium, which, I cannot say too much as I do not want to give anything away just yet – and also because I haven’t finished writing it, so things might change (again!).

But I don’t want to just add in a character just to make them ‘fit’ in the story to keep everyone happy. I don’t want a story that is supposed to be about demons, supernatural, the underworld, and randomly add in a new character that is a lesbian and she have no real point to the story. I will add in a few, because of course, the real world obviously have them, but not MAKE them fit just because. The story will have gender-fluid, gay, and demi-sexual characters because it fits with the story – with the plot… I feel like I am both contradicting myself and not making sense… Read the book/s (when it’s finally done) and it’ll make sense.

The J Rowling Fiasco

I feel the need to add a small section about this, as this is probably where my recent interest in educating myself in the trans community was really sparked. J Rowling. And, you’ll notice that I say “J Rowling” here and not “J. K. Rowling” because the “K” was added onto her books to make it “look better” – she doesn’t actually have a middle name!

Recently, say in the last year or so, J Rowling has done and said a lot of things that publicly shuns the trans community. I won’t go into detail, as again, it is very long and not the point of this post. If you want to know more, I encourage you to research it and form your own opinion. This section is merely to tell you why I no longer can support J Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise – and believe me… it’s been a VERY difficult decision for me!

You might have come across that I would mention that a lot of my writing work has stemmed from Harry Potter. I have always been interested in reading and writing my own stories, from the age of about eight. But my interest in books came back when I was in my teens and I came across Harry Potter. I had a troubled childhood, as I had Selective Mutism (read more about this here) and Harry Potter was one of my ‘escapisms’ (along with Dragon Ball Z). So, after my mum gave me that first book, I was hooked. I would wait eagerly for the next book to come out. I would wait eagerly for them to come out on film (although, I wasn’t as interested in the films as I was the books). I would write fan-fiction. I would day-dream about being in the world of Harry Potter and away from my horrific life. I went to the Harry Potter studios in London. Dreamed of going to the studios in Orlando, Florida. Collected different editions of the books. Even collected different languages. Got loads of clothes, trinkets, notepads. I even got a damn tattoo of the Hogwarts castle on my left arm!

But when I heard that J Rowling has been publicly supporting transphobes and making her own comments on the community… I was torn. At first I believed that she was just misinformed, that she isn’t educating herself and being as someone with such a public following and power in the community, should. She made some comments that made sense about looking after children’s welfare, but as many in the trans community have explained, are just not accurate. I was torn because I felt like J Rowling was just speaking out wrongly, she wasn’t actively being transphobic, just voicing her (inaccurate and very wrong) opinion, and although she was going about it the wrong way, there wasn’t really much wrong with having an opinion and starting a discourse (although, her ‘research’ was very inaccurate and not actually sourcing credible, reliable and peer-reviewed sources!)

UNTIL I heard that she was writing a story about a ‘man in a dress’ that goes around killing people. And THAT was when I put my foot down and said ‘NOPE!’ to J Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise. I looked this up and true enough, her newest book is based around a ‘man in a dress’, who kills people: here’s the wiki page for it (bare in mind, this book was done under her alias Robert Galbraith). And yes, there is a small bit on the wiki page that says “the transphobia accusations were baseless and slanderous, noting that Dennis Creed is investigated along with a dozen other suspects” and “people who have not read the book were making wrong assumptions based on a single review.” A small bit of research also found her other book ‘The Silkworm’ (under the same alias) also has a transgender character ‘Pippa Midgley’ who tries to attack a character with a knife (here’s the wiki page). And okay, I will have to admit, I haven’t read either of these books, so I cannot comment on the context or the full story on these characters, nor will I be interested in buying these books and letting any more of my money go to support a transphobe, so there may be something I am missing here. I also will note that Wikipedia isn’t the best source, but without actually plagiarizing the books, it was my way of showing you some truth about these books at least. But, add this with everything else she has done to build a picture.

Yes, there have been more incidents too, which a few men and women in the trans community (and allies) have explained. But, forgive me for not going into detail about everything! This post isn’t to discuss everything surrounding J Rowling’s transphobia, it’s about why I currently cannot support the woman and the Harry Potter franchise. Like I said, I encourage you to go out there, do your own research on both sides, speak to people, and form your own opinion, but be willing to be open.

Either way, I was hurt. Upset. And extremely disgusted that not only the woman I looked up to, a writer myself wanting to be LIKE HER, but my whole childhood now feels like it has been a lie. My writing has been influenced by her; the realism in my books is taken from Harry Potter. Even the book sizes are deliberately EXACTLY the same size as hers.

Now, the reason why I am writing this, is because I feel the need to OPENLY disagree with her PUBLICALLY. I need to OPENLY support the trans community PUBLICALLY. And I hope this encourages others to do the same! Now you know where I stand. Let’s stand up together for trans rights and LGBTQ+!

Like I said before, this is my own opinion, and just my way to explain why I cannot support J Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise. I haven’t gone into detail about other research I have done – including watching videos of trans YouTubers (I recommend checking Samantha Lux and Jammi Dodger) – and I still have a lot of research to do too. My opinion may change slightly – but either way, I support the trans community!

NB: I have purposefully removed the ability to comment on this blog post to avoid any negative, hateful, hurtful and violent comments.

~~~

I’ve included a few links for help with LGBT+ and mental health and people you should check out:

Mindline Trans+ (part of Mind, the mental health charity) is an emotional and mental health support helpline in the UK for anyone identifying as transgender, non-binary, genderfluid…
mindlinetrans.org.uk

Scottish Trans is an Equality Network project to improve gender identify and gender reassignment equality, rights and inclusion in Scotland:
www.scottishtrans.org

Samantha Lux’s YouTube Channel – an (absolutely beautiful) transwoman who talks about her struggles with her transition, being trans and other transgender issues:
www.youtube.com/user/samproductions516

Jammi Dodger’s (Jamie Raines) YouTube Channel – a (yes, he’s pretty handsome too!) transman who talks about his struggles with his transition, being trans and transgender issues: www.youtube.com/user/MrPinocchio17

~~~

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Ender’s Love – Chapter 3

Click here to read Chapter 1 if you haven’t read it already

Note: May contain strong language!

~~~

Chapter 3

“Alex!” said a loud voice next to me, making me jump. It was my work colleague, Stella, as she sidled next to me in her office chair. “Drinks after work?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I replied, unable to control the frown that had involuntarily creeped on my face.

Stella and I weren’t really friends, she was just some girl I worked with. I hadn’t been working at the company for long, but I was conscious that I should make a bit of an effort to be a little friendlier with people. I didn’t have many friends in Scotland, it was always something I struggled with. Although, I wasn’t entirely sure about Stella. She seemed nice. Well, nice to me. But she had a habit of being a little bitchy about the other girls and I worried she was like that with me, behind my back.

It was only a day after the incident at Da Vinci’s, and I knew I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t help but think constantly about that guy I had met. I realised I didn’t even catch his name nor did I even introduce myself properly. It was terribly rude of me. I was too flustered though. But I was proud of myself for actually approaching him, even though I’d never see him again. There were plenty of fish in the sea, as they say. Maybe I would find someone, one day, who was just as handsome, kind, caring and I could settle down and live happily ever after? A best friend who I loved, and he loved me. I had images of waking up in the morning to him cooking breakfast for me, cuddling up on the sofa while watching a scary film, going on little trips away at the weekends somewhere fun, getting a cat and maybe even one day having kids.

“Oh, please come! Not many people are coming now. It’s just going to be me and that girl with the big nose. What’s her name? Julie or something? We’re going to that cocktail bar. It’s two for one on Thursdays,” she said, fluttering her eyelashes like that was going to flatter ,e. It might work on every guy she met, but she seemed to have a habit of doing it the girls too. I groaned.

“Okay, but I can’t stay out for long, I have university work to do,” I said, trying desperately not to get annoyed with her lack of remorse over the kind girl that had started around the same time as me. I had noticed she had a bit of a big nose, but she was actually a lovely girl and her name was Judith. But I had no energy to correct Stella.

“University work?” she asked, frowning at me like I had just sprouted another head.

“Yes, I go to unveristy.” I sighed in annoyance. I had told her this before, I had told everyone at work. I had to constantly remind them. Especially when I would get my supervisor asking me to gin for extra shifts to help out with a backlog of work and I had to constantly remind her that I couldn’t because I had classes. She would always look at me like I was lying to her to avoid going into work, but the truth was, I actually needed the money. I studied part-time and worked part-time around my classes and although I was working in Administration, which was mostly just boring data entry in a small team, it wasn’t a well-paid job when you lived on your own in Glasgow.

“Which one?” she asked.

“Strathclyde.”

“You go to Strathclyde?”

“Yes,” I said, trying not to groan again. Although, I couldn’t be bothered to muster a fake smile. I was too tired.

“Oh, that’s cool! What do you do? You doing a degree or something?”

“A master’s degree,” I corrected. I could have told her what subject it was, but I doubted she would remember anyway.

“Oh, that’s right!” She nodded as if she had just remembered, but I doubted she did. “So, you coming?”

“Sure.” I shrugged, having a feeling that if I didn’t say yes, she wouldn’t leave me alone. Besides, maybe a drink was what I needed? I had already decided to have a night off doing any university work. I was going to work on my book, but I realised that maybe I needed a night off from that too?

***

Later that day, after my shift at work was done, I found myself sat in a loud pub. It was one of those chain pubs; with the same drink menu, served the same cheap food, and had the same two-for-one deals. Drinks were usually served in cheap, plastic pitches rather than nice fancy glasses. It was a pub popular with those who wanted a cheap night out to get drunk, or a cheap pub meal with the kids.

There was a large TV on a wall at the back, which was playing the highlights of some big game that was on earlier in the day. Huddled around it was a load of loud Scottish men either laughing at their mates in a drunken state or yelling at the TV screen. In the centre of the pub on the left, was a large bar with loads of people milling about trying to grab the attenion of the bar staff and get another round of drinks. The rest of the pub was littered with cheap wooden tables and chairs for those who were finishing up their late dinners of cheap steak and chips or a bland chicken tikka masala.

I wasn’t particularly happy with my predicament; it was too loud, the tables were sticky and I was constantly getting eyed up by guys who looked like they were fresh out of school and barely legal to drink. This also wasn’t the place Stella had promised.

Stella had decided to go to a different place to the one she had first suggested, although I wasn’t sure why. But if I had to guess, it was the guys that were there as she kept looking around at them like a lioness stalking prey.

“So, what’s your bachelor’s degree in?” Stella shouted acorss the table at me, huffing at something that clearly upset her. Either that or I was too boring for her. Judith never showed up, so it was just me and her, and I was starting to feel a little awkward with it being just the two of us. I had even contemplated finding an excuse to leave.

“The one I’ve completed?”

“What?” she asked across the table, clearly not being able to hear me properly above the noise.

“The degree I’m doing at university?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she replied. “What’s it in? I did a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism,” she whittled on, and I realised she wasn’t really interested in knowing what I was doing or had done at all, she just wanted to find something to talk about herself. Plus, she had already forgotten I was doing a master’s degree, not a bachelor’s. “Passed it last year, but I found it so hard! I actually had to learn Spanish too, which was stupid! I didn’t want to learn another language! I just wanted to go into Tourism. I love going on holiday, figured I’d do it as a career, you know.”

I nodded politely as I drank my glass of white wine. Although, it tasted a little like oak and I wasn’t too keen on it. Regardless, I persevered; the alcohol would help me cope with the girl better.

“All that work too; eassays upon essays!” she continued to moan. “So, don’t feel bad if you have to quit, you know, it’s really hard work!”

“I’ve done a bachelor’s degree already,” I said before I realised what I was doing. Her comment annoyed me and I took it personally.

“What?” she called across the table. Clearly, I didn’t speak loud enough. Truth was, I hated shouting; the idea of shouting across a table just to be heard was frustrating.

I opened my mouth to repeat what I said when I caught sight of someone in the bar. I gasped. Luckily no one could hear me—not that I really cared what Stella thought. But, standing at the bar, I caught a glimpse of that handsome guy from Da Vinchi’s again. My stomach did a summersault when I saw him. He was even more handsome than I remembered. He wasn’t in a suit this time, he was in a black t-shirt, leather jacket and dark blue jeans. He looked dark and mysterious and I think I fell in love with him right there on the spot… I was a sucker for a handsome guy in black, especially leather. I noticed he looked a little annoyed or tired maybe, as a blonde girl was holding onto his arm and trying to speak something in his ear.

I smiled as he bought a glass up to his lips and took a sip. It looked like it was whisky again. I wondered if it was Dalwhinnie.

“He’s gorgeous,” said a voice next to me.

I jumped and looked round to notice Stella had moved to sit next to me, she had obviously noticed I hadn’t replied to her and had instead been watching the guy at the bar. She was staring holes into him as well, which made me feel a little annoyed. I had no idea who the guy was, he might have been as ass for all I knew, but I hated both men and women staring at the opposite sex like they were pieces of meat in a butcher’s shop. Stella might be a lot prettier than I was, with her long blonde hair and her long fluttering eyelashes, but she wasn’t pretty on the inside, as I recently found out.

“Way out of your league, honey,” she said in my ear.

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at her, mostly because she was right; he was.

“I wouldn’t drool either, that girl looks like she’s his date for the night, I bet she’d happily scratch your eyes out for him.”

I looked round at Stella, giving her an annoyed yet confused look. What a weird thing to say. But as soon as I did, Stella’s eyes went wide.

“What’s wrong?”

“He just looked round at me and gave me a horrible look,” Stella said, looking away from him and taking a large swig of her alco-pop she had bought.

I looked round at him again to see what she was referring to, although having already missed the look, I was still curious. He was now frowning heavily at the girl next to him and saying something to her which I wished I could hear. Her hand had fallen from his arm and they were instead crossed. I couldn’t see her face, she had her back to me, but I could his and he looked pissed about something.

Suddenly the girl snatched up her purse from the bar table and swung round, looking upset about something as she wandered out of the bar, a hand up to her face as she looked like she was wiping tears away from her eyes. I watched her curiously as she stormed right for the bar door and disappeared out into the street beyond. I felt like running after her and making sure she was okay, but I just couldn’t bring myself to leave.

“Fuck,” Stella suddenly muttered next to me and I sensed her straighten up. I looked round at her as she was staring wide-eyed at the bar, at someone. Rather than asking her what was up, I followed her gaze just at the same time a tall figure came into focus beside me.

~~~

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
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Here are some links to my other works:

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper
Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue
No one likes you! – A short story.

6 Months in the Highlands – Thanks, COVID-19!

In one of my previous posts (here’s the link), I talk about moving to the Highlands. It was just a small ‘travel’ post really, with a few pictures, intended to be a precursor to future travel posts.

But it didn’t quite work out the way I planned.

And… I *might* be moving again!

Pre-Covid-19

On Feburary 24th, I had my first day at my new job – but it was in London. I travelled down to London from the southern part of Scotland where I had been temporarily living. I got to the hotel, realised it was the wrong one, so ordered a taxi to the correct one, and the next day was my induction training.

My induction training lasted two days; Monday and Tuesday, although I didn’t see much of London in that time, so no cool photos to show you guys (sorry!). By Tuesday evening, I was on a flight to Inverness.

Wednesday morning, I started my first day in the office.

I took with me, one medium/large suitcase, my laptop bag and a work laptop bag (which I collected from the induction day).

I have been living out of that suitcase for 6 months!

For the first few weeks, I had planned to get settled at work and get a feel for the area. Once I knew the best area to live, public transport routes (currently car/bike-less, don’t judge!) and how much I could possible afford, I was going to find a nice place to rent.

A few weeks in, I started looking at places, I viewed two flats, and contacted a lot more for other potentials…

Then Covid-19 hit.

Post-Covid-19

For the first few weeks before the UK was put into official lockdown, I was given the option to work from home, the last week before lockdown, I did. I found it cool and novel – I’ve always wanted a remotely working job!

Then lockdown officially started 23rd March. Shops started to shut (except for essential shops). People weren’t allowed out except for 1 hour exercise (this wasn’t set in stone, apparently, but it was ‘advised’ to limit to an hour). We had to have letters to say we were keyworkers if we got stopped by police.

I was classed as a keyworker, but was lucky that I had a company laptop so I could work from ‘home’. And, I was equally lucky that the host of the Airbnb I had booked was more than happy for me to stay with her until lockdown lifted. I pay her a small fee a month, instead of booking continuously through Airbnb – and it works out a lot cheaper.

The novelty of working from home wore off quickly. Especially since I couldn’t go anywhere! I was inside for work. I was inside on days off. Summer came, and I was inside for that too. The only time I could go out was for walks/exercise or shopping. That was the only time I could see bits of Inverness; the area I was really looking forward to exploring! When lockdown restrictions eased a little, I started to go a little further afield. Which is the next section…

University of the Highlands and Islands

This is something that is pretty close to where I have been living for the past six months. When I first moved, pre-Covid-19, I would walk through the grounds to get to the office. Post-Covid-19, I would either walk through to get to Tesco to do my shopping, or just go for a walk to get my hourly exercise.

Although it’s not exactly a destination to pack your bags to go see (unless you’re starting a course there!), it certainly is a lovely place to walk around when the sun is shining!

Culloden Woods and Battlefield

I went to Culloden Woods/Forest a few times, it was suggested to me by a colleague from work. I had no idea what to expect, I couldn’t find any information on it. But, to do something different to my usual walk around the University grounds, I went here on a day off instead.

First time I went, I was happily exploring; following the path, taking in the sights, smells and sounds, and I came across a sign that said ‘Culloden Battlefield Trail’. It didn’t tell me how far it was to the Culloden Battlefield, but I at least figured the walk might be intersting, even if I didn’t walk all the way there. But, I did end up walking all the way to the battlefield!

And, I was glad I went, as although I was only there for a little bit, it was a really interesting site. It’s the site where the Jacobite Rising came to and end in 1745. There is a visitor centre (which was closed due to the lockdown) which holds a cafe, museum and shop, there is an old cottage (Leanach Cottage), clan gravestones and memorial cairn (be careful not to walk on the grass on this bit, there are real remains there – I found that out afterwards and felt really guilty!) and then there is the battlefield itself with the different flags to represent the two sides of the battle, and there are markers dotted around with more information.

Second time I went, I visited more of the woods and forest, this time around it was really foggy and I got some really interesting shots in the fog.

Long walk to North Kessock

I add emphasis on the ‘long walk’ here, because I was out for six hours! I walked all the way from Cradlehall/Westhill, through Inverness City Centre, over the Kessock Bridge and into North Kessock and Craigton… then back again. I was sore for a few days afterwards.

Again, I got some really interesting shots. North Kessock is a lovely little place, right on the edge of Beauly Firth, I found a lovely little swing seat on the edge by some woods, there was a fog coming in which hid part of the Kessock Bridge. I saw a few sights walking through Inverness too.

Inverness Castle and the Islands

When lockdown started to ease, and the shops started to open, I decided to go back into Inverness to do some shopping. But the main part of my walk into Inverness was to see Inverness Castle! No trip to Inverness is complete without at least seeing the Castle!

Unfortunately, the Castle was closed, but not because of Covid, but because it’s undergoing some renovations, so I wasn’t able to go inside. When I get back to the UK after my contract abroad, and if I get my old job back in Inverness, I am looking forward to seeing it again, hopefully go inside this time!

As well as Inverness Castle, I also had a wander along the River Ness. A little further down is what’s called ‘The Islands’ or ‘Ness Islands’, which, as the name suggests, is a colletion of islands on the River Ness. There are a few bridges across them so you can walk along them, and they have a few trees and lights up along them (which I can only imagine look nice in the evening).

Motorbike Ride to Nairnshire

One day, I had the pleasure of catching up with an old friend from college. He was coming up for a tour of Scotland on his motorbike and decided to pop in to see me. He brought his spare motorbike helmet and we took a trip out to see Nairn, an area I had hoped to see when I first moved up, pre-Covid-19. And yes, I am aware there is still a Covid risk, but luckily he had already had Covid and had the anti-bodies. There was no risk of spreading.

We went to Fort George to begin with, it was closed, but we were still able to walk on the pebble beach and around the old Fort. We then got back on the bike and headed to Nairn Beach, where we wandered about, sat and caught up, had lunch and then headed back. We stopped at Sueno’s Stone – a 9th Century Picto-Scottish standing stone, Clava cairns and the viaduct close by.

My next adventure

I can’t talk too much about my next adventure. I have mentioned it a few times, so it’s not exactly a secret. But I don’t want to dedicate a whole blog post to it just yet, as it hasn’t been officially confirmed.

However, I will say; I was recently given the opportunity to go to anther country, with the company I work for!

At the moment there are a few issues with Covid-19; the borders being closed and, I have a few issues with my visa. But when things have been sorted, if I am still able to go, I will give you more updates!

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Author Interview – Havelah McLat

So, I thought I’d do something different on my blog. I thought I’d interview a few authors and artists! Of course, shock-horror, this isn’t a new thing… lots of people do this… even non-authors! But, it’s new to me and… I will admit, I’m a little scared!

To start this adventure off… I reached out to Twitterverse (here’s my profile) to see if any of my fellow authors wanted to be test subjects… I mean, interviewees, and I got a few replies, which I am very grateful for! So, here is my first Author Interview with Havelah McLat!

If you like this post, please do like, comment and share. And don’t forget to follow my website for updates on future posts!

About Havelah McLat

Havelah is a young author and artist from Ohio, USA. She is a multi-genre author with three collections of young children’s stories already under her belt, along with a published short story and flash fiction. Here is her website: havelahmclat.com.

All three of her young children’s books are free (you can find them on her website), and I had the privilege to read her most recent book ‘The Promise’ (I wrote a small review below), which is Christian children’s book. She also has two other children’s books which are fantasy.

Havelah is also a beautiful artist, which you can see her work on her website. Certainly, my favourite is this:

Shared with the permission of Havelah.

Review of ‘The Promise’

When I first started reading ‘The Promise’, I will admit, I was a little sceptical at first, it is based heavily in Christianity and I am the least religious person ever (I even start blog posts with ‘hello, my little demons’, which you will notice I removed from this one out of respect). However, I do love learning about religious history and hearing other’s interpretations, and I actually enjoyed reading this story!

Without giving too much away, Havelah tells the story of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection through the eyes of three young kids, but they are Jewish and Roman/Christian. I feel the main take-away from this story is tolerance and love, which you will understand when you read it.

However, the story did have a few grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, making it a little difficult to read, but it certainly has all the makings of a great story and a talented writer!

Interview with Havelah

What got you into writing?

Okay, I started writing about nine and half years ago. I asked my older sister to write a story about us as fairies. Then I was into fairies, which still I am, and she wrote one. At that point, I grew interested in writing my own stories. She inspired me to write. I wrote my first fairy story a year later and from there I continue to grow in writing.

Where do you get your ideas?

During my first year as a newbie writer, I used copying other peoples’ stories. I would use Disney Fairies characters, and Barbie movies, but now I realized they helped me to find my writing style. So, I started not using the characters but using the inspiration. Sometimes I get ideas from movies, musics and books. I learned that using other peoples’ stories like copycating is wrong. But it is not wrong that they inspired you and helped you find writing style.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

To be honest I didn’t see myself as a writer till later in my life. Before then I would draw pictures and fairy characters. When I watched my sister write a story, I wanted to be a writer. I felt writing stories gives me the opportunity to share my creativity and imagination.

Do you have a schedule when writing? Or do you try to fit it in when you can?

I don’t really have the schedule when it comes to writing. However, I do have a goal when I want to finish it. Other than that, I write when I feel like it.

How long does it take you to write a book?

That depends on the story. Before I started writing longer stories I used to write short stories under 1k or 2k. It will take a day or week. I learned writing a story takes time.

What’s the main theme in your most recent book, “The Promise”?

In this one I want the reader to know that we don’t have to earn our way to heaven, or have to be religious. More about building a relationship with Him and knowing Him because He loves us. God has given us a gift to believe Him. He is not forcing it but it is up to us to accept the gift or not.

Do you prefer writing fantasy or Christian books?

I like writing fantasy because it is really fun to do. I love writing fairy stories and creating their world and their adventures. However I am open to try different genres. Fantasy genre is probably my favorite thing to write.

How do you deal with criticism? 

I have my moments. I just have to remind myself that every story I write isn’t for everyone. One person may not like it because it isn’t for them and the other loves it. Plus I learned taking criticism can be a good thing if they share both sides. Positive and negative. I guess every writer handles this situation differently.

Which one of your works is your favorite?

Haha, I have to say it is Key to a Journey A Retelling of a Classic (Anastasia story) Why? Because I had so much fun writing it because I got to write Anastasia (inspired by the animated movie and the Broadway musical) in a fairy world. 

Are you working on anything at the moment?

I’m working on a crossworlds fantasy novel Transport of Troubles. The inspiration started two and half years ago. I wrote the story last summer but I wasn’t too happy with it. A year later I decided to rewrite it in a longer story. I’m really happy with this story. I am in the second draft. I hope one of these days it will be in the reader’s hands. 

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A big thanks to Havelah for being my first test subject on this new blog post. Please do give her website a look havelahmclat.com. And watch this space for more interviews with other talented authors soon! 🙂