Glenfinnan Monument, July 2015. The scattered village of Glenfinnan lies in the Lochaber area of The Scottish Highlands, a twenty-five minute drive from the town of Fort William. It was here that Prince Charles Edward Stuart (better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) started the Jacobite rising in 1745. Today you can check out The Glenfinnan Monument, right on the spot where old Charlie kicked off his ill-fated campaign. A kilted highlander tops the imposing column, complimented beautifully by a beguiling backdrop of misty mountains.
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El Tajo Gorge, February 2017. I felt like Ronda really had a lot to live up to! After all, I’d arrived on the back of some breathtaking trips around Southern Spain, including the gorgeous little town of Antequera (read here) and the breathtaking natural beauty of Camino Del Rey (see here). Thankfully though, Ronda’s reputation as “the most beautiful city in Andalusia” has not been exaggerated! Set dramatically atop the deep El Tajo Gorge, it’s an absolutely stunning place, even on a grey February morning like this complete with sheet-gray sky and lurking black clouds.
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Village Overview, April 2015. “Wow!” was pretty much all I could say as I gazed out across the Thai town of Sangkhlaburi for the first time. It was a sticky, overcast afternoon and I’d not long finished checking into my cabin at P. Guesthouse, with its phenomenal views over the Khao Laem Reservoir. Located in northwest Thailand, a mere 24 kilometres from the border of Myanmar, Sangkhlaburi is an enchanting backwater locale of mystical ruins, enchanting temples and off the beaten track nature trails. The perfect place to kick back, gather one’s thoughts and surmise that sometimes, life can be f****ing amazing!
Nuestra Señora del Rosario Church, December 2016. You won’t find much online love for the Costa del Sol town of Fuengirola. With a murky reputation as the archetypal Brits-abroad-in-the-sun setting, I’d admittedly been wondering if I should even bother with it. But… ever the completest… I was still curious how it measured up to its sister towns Benalmádena (surprisingly pretty) and Torremolinos (largely uninspiring). Arriving at the central train station from Malaga City, I was soon greeted by the town’s handsome main square, Plaza de la Constitución. Exchanging a chirpy “buenos días” with a somewhat inappropriate balloon-selling Mickey mouse, I ducked inside the square’s pretty church to watch the old Spanish folk go about their daily prayers.
Early Days, September 2003. The tiny, rural hamlet of Sweethope lies deep in the heart of The Scottish Borders, about an hour southeast of Edinburgh, two hours north of Newcastle. My mum, dad, brother, dog Inde and I moved there in 2003, just the latest location in The Thomas Family Scotland Roadshow. Surrounded by rolling fields, scattered farms and the nearby peak of Sweethope Hill, this secret little corner of the world would play a crucial part in my life over the following twelve years. I’ll never forget the summer I spent here after my trip to India, sat atop the hill every day with Inde reading Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend. Sweethope was also the base for an amazing summer romance (see my short story Car Crash Girl Part II), not to mention my sister’s wedding and the scene of many wonderful Christmases. Sadly, Inde passed on in late 2006, but it wasn’t too long before another Brittany called Solo arrived to claim Sweethope as his own.
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Town Walk, October 2016. A visit to the south of Spain invariably conjures up daydreams of blue skies, golden sands, rolling waves and mouth-watering bowls of tapas; accompanied perhaps by a blood-red glass of Tinto (wine) or a cheeky caña (little beer). Equally, balmy images of pristine whitewashed villages also reign supreme. And while there’s plenty of these communities to choose from; you’d be hard pushed to find a place whiter, or indeed more washed than the gorgeous little village of Frigiliana. Located on the side of a mountain seven kilometers north of the town of Nerja, you can take the bus from the town centre. But if you happen to visit on a Sunday, as I did, you’ll need to stump up twelve Euros for a taxi. In any case it’s totally worth it, especially when you catch that first glimpse of the town through the trees.
It’s been two years since I launched Leighton Literature one smoggy Beijing morning. Back then I was blessed with an abundance of free time, access to an amazing American-style diner and that incomparable enthusiasm one has towards a new and exciting project. My goals were simple; to share my experiences of a life predominantly spent on the road and to trumpet the music and films that have most influenced me along the way.