One of my earliest memories is of my thoughtful looking father, with his fountain pen, filling up reams of paper in his illegible, spidery scrawl. He was a man of few words verbally, but his extensive lexicon spewed out onto paper as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I also remember his joy (controlled joy) at having a book published, a feeling I related to strongly when my children’s book The MacCousins was to be published.

The MacCousins

The MacCousins

I grew up in Central Scotland but my family had a familial attachment to Lochaber in the NW Highlands. Glenfinnan to be precise. Its lure pulled us there every at every available opportunity, so much so that it became my home after I graduated from college in Edinburgh. Then I took up my first teaching post, got married and raised a family.

Although many years have passed since then, the Highlands remain my constant and where my soul is. It is a place I return to annually to do my duties as Dancing Steward at the Glenfinnan Highland Gathering, a role I have done for many years and a place I wanted to incorporate in my book.

My teaching career took me from a highland Primary school to being one of the first teachers gaining the (then) new Postgraduate qualification in Special Educational Needs. In the early 90s, following the Warnock Report.

I rose to the dizzy heights of Principal Teacher Support for Learning in a Perthshire school. Our large, experienced team also serviced the feeder primary schools. It was a challenging and exciting time in education, but also very satisfying and where my love of encouraging children’s literacy was embedded.

I was widowed at 47 and everything was put into perspective. Not that I needed any reminder, but the importance of family became paramount. I was fortunate to have two sons who were starting on their respective ladders of life.

Roll on the years and we find ourselves in 2020. Like most people I assume, the utter joy of grandchildren has appeared and swept us off our feet. I say “our” to include my lovely husband to whom I have now been married for over 10 years. He is an Englishman, which I only mention because, along with retirement and wanting to be nearer the little golden nuggets called grandchildren, provided the reasons to move and Yorkshire is where we settled, very happily.

Now the current chapter in life’s story has begun. We love our home and proximity to the family. Most of all we enjoy time to do the things we want to do and for me, this culminated in the completion of my book - The MacCousins, where I incorporated my love of my grandchildren, my life of the Highlands and my love of rhyme and rhythm to promote interest in children to read.

Mairi Illsley author of The MacCousins