GREETINGS FROM SCOTLAND!
From Stephen Keeler
How good it is to be able to 'talk' to you all again. So much has happened since last Christmas. It's not easy to know where to start.
I have moved house. You perhaps remember that I used to live in a cosy little house in west London. I lived there for 28 years. Lucy, my lovely daughter, was born there 22 years ago, and it was the first and only house I had owned together with my late wife.
Lu grew up. That's what children do. They grow up, and one day you look at them and suddenly realise they are adults. Lucy is now in her fourth and final year at St Andrews University, in Scotland, where she is preparing for final exams, and writing her dissertation. She graduates in June next year. Last September she also got the job of Head of Outside Broadcast at St Andrews Radio. She loves working in radio.
Meanwhile, back in October I moved from London to a tiny fishing village on the far north-west coast of Scotland, called Ullapool. I have bought an eco-house. It is newly-built and is one of a block of four which all have under-floor central heating, and solar panels on the roof. I have three bedrooms, a large living and dining area and a huge kitchen with panorama windows. The view from my house is spectacular.
I look out over the loch (Loch Broom) and the mountains, which right now, are covered in thick snow.
I have a sauna and a large spa bath, two bathrooms, three loos and a small utility room. Outside, there's a spacious terrace where I hope we can have parties in the summer.
Even though I have three teaching degrees and other academic qualifications from English colleges and universities, I am not allowed to teach in Scottish state schools. So I hope to do a little private teaching and a lot more writing. I have joined the organising group for the annual Ullapool Book Festival (check out the website, it's a great event!), and I also belong to a group of published writers which meets monthly in different villages around the region.
It's as different as it could be from living in London, and I do miss London enormously. But I intend to visit from time-to-time and also to continue travelling abroad. I'll be travelling by the time this blog is posted so I probably won't be able to respond to any of your comments, unfortunately. I'll be in London and Marrakech in the New Year, and I hope to get to Sweden, Norway and Finland during the summer.
One day, maybe, I'll be able to blog for a little longer with you. Meanwhile, I have posted a couple of photos you might find interesting.
With my warmest best wishes to all of you for a great 2011.
Our Christmas decorations!