My last story was set in Venice, this lovely story takes the reader to the fictional Scottish Island of Mure. Fiona McKenzie ran away from home after her mother's death in search of a new life in London. She works as a paralegal, commutes in the crowded tube daily and returns to her small bedsit.
Her life revolves around her bedsit, the Tube, Netflix, TV dinners and Tinder - which could not be further removed from the Scottish Legend of the Selkie, pale skinned creatures that leave the sea to guide the lost.
"If you're a man and you take the Selkie as a lover and you want to keep her,
you hide her seal skin so that she can never go back to the sea gain."
It had been whispered that her mother's fair skin had come from the sea where deep green hills meet bright white sand at the very northern tip of the world - the fictional Island of Mure. It is here that her family farm is worked by her brothers and father; and where home and hearth provides them sustenance.
"The farmhouse was old and rambling...its dark pathways leading to rooms
where here and there...the large kitchen was at the back of the house with
views of the bay... heavy flagstones warmed by the large aga."
Fiona was asked to return to the Island of Mure by her boss who is representing a client who is contesting the positioning of a large windfarm. It was thought, that being a local, she would have some influence on the council.
On her return, memories of her childhood bubble up, her oneness with her birth place and the finding of her mother's worn recipe book has her questioning her current trajectory.
"Memories crashing in from everywhere, all at once, like the huge rolling waves that attacked the shore, the crystal winds that swept down from the Arctic."
She is in love with her boss, the cold but handsome Joel, who doesn't notice her until her pale skin takes on a transluscency in the cold air of Mure.
Part fo Fiona's job discription is to revitalise the dying economy of Mure. Particularly since so many of its young people leave for the mainland. The wealthy client - Colton Rogers - is keen to give back to the community so Fiona is instructed to start a pop up restaurant - Cafe by the Sea - to get the locals onside.
"Pie after pie, great piles of aotcakes, jugs of churned cream, lobsters, herrings
and cured salmon...whisky, gin and pots tea, scotch eggs and ploughman's lunches"
are served up to the reader.
The Viking Festival of Samhain which celebrates the harvest and the change of seasons, the saving of a beached whale, getting lost in the rolling mist of the dark hills, being betrayed by her lover - Joel - are some of the challenges faced by Fiona.
By the end of this charming story, the Island of Mure has worked its magic. As Fiona McKenzie drifts off to sleep after an energetic day her late mother whispers to her in her dreams.
"She shines like the brightest moon, she dives for fish and steers lost sailors
home; because we are Selkies and that is what we do."
500gm self-raising flour
50gm cold butter
1 cup of buttermilk
Enough yogurt to make the dough sticky.
Combine the the flour and butter until it looks like bread crumbs
Combine the wet ingredients.
Place the dough on a floured surface and roll out until about 1 inch or 2 cm thick.
Cut in to any shape you like.
Either in scone shape for individual servings or as a rounded
cake that can be cut in to slices.
The dough can be made savoury with the addition of a cup of
cheddar cheese; or sweet with the addition of raisins or blueberries
and 1/4 cup of caster sugar.
Bake at 320 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
I have made this quick and easy bread several times and I have never been disappointed.