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 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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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!
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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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.
The White House, May 2007. My first trip to Washington D.C. came as part of a fantastic three-week tour that took in New York City, Nashville, Lynchburg County and Memphis. After the amazing assault on the senses that was The Big Apple, D.C. felt like a sleepy little backwater town in comparison. With its wide spotless streets, melting pot architecture, world-class museums and sleepy, unpopulated cafes, I found myself instantly wishing I’d allowed for another day or two. Staying with a friend in an apartment on 16th Street (location! location! location!), it was barely a ten-minute meander down to The White House. On arrival I was met by a modest gaggle of loitering tourists, a crazy man wandering around with a box on his head that read Me For President! and a pacing sniper on the roof looking like he was ready for action. In the wave of excitement that hit me, I foolishly approached a couple of meathead cops (crew cuts, square jaws, dead behind the eyes) to enquire if Mr. Bush was currently in residence. “Why are you asking this sir?” “Don’tcha watch the news sir?” “What is your current address in this city sir?” They were still at it when I lost interest and walked off.