At the conference in July, mention was made again that there was still no Scottish Chapter of the RNA and I already knew a few writers who were keen to meet up north of the border. We also noticed an increased number of Scottish based writers coming to the conferences who perhaps didn't have the support of a local writing group of any kind. However, one of the problems up here is the sheer distance between many of the areas - stretching from the Dumfries area and Borders up to the wilds of Inverness and Orkney.
Then Jean Fullerton, who is the Chapter liaison person, suggested we might start a Facebook group first. A light bulb went on and shortly after returning from the conference, I set up the FB group for the Scottish Chapter of the RNA. At least that way we could find out who all the members were and what part of the country they lived in. Even if meetings were few and far between, we could interact and support each other online.
|Scones and cakes|
Most of us were surprised and delighted to find the numbers so high, reaching almost thirty on the last count, and soon talk turned to where and when we might try a first real meeting. So to make it a special event, on Saturday seventeen of us met for a posh Afternoon Tea at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, right next to Waverley station for ease of travel. It began with tiny bowls of delicious soup, followed by stands of finger sandwiches and amazing little savoury bites, finishing with the scones (plus jams and clotted cream) and exquisite wee cakes.
The luxury surroundings made our event that little bit out of the ordinary and I'm sure the hotel's Palm Court will feature in more than one romantic novel in future! You can imagine the level of chatter as we all got to know one another and it took me a while to realise the soothing background music at the beginning was being played by a harpist on a little balcony.
As always, not everyone in the group could manage to an event on the same day but it was a great turnout and a fabulous day. Jean even travelled up from London to join us at this first meeting and was delighted to see so many men in kilts, as Scotland was playing at Murrayfield.
Future meetings will be a little more down to earth and informal but what a memorable start to the Scottish Chapter. A few members already have great ideas for the group so I expect this is only the beginning of an exciting journey!