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Andrew Greig speaks with Doug Johnstone about historical fiction, his fascination with Scottish culture in its many guises, nearly dying of a brain cyst, the death of ambition and relief of being an ‘onlooker not a player’ and coming full-circle back to making music.

'I lived for a year in Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland. Orkney is experiencing a cultural renaissance fuelled to a large degree by British people’s fascination with their preliterate past. The secrets of the time before a word of English was spoken.'

Donny O'Rourke takes in the ‘simmer dim’ in Orkney, a land of subtle greens and long histories, for the midsummer solstice festival of Litha.

Hugh Thomson splashes down in London’s famous Serpentine, where hardy and mostly convivial outdoor swimmers share a unisex changing room and run a regular gauntlet of swans.

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