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Iona’s Love Lost

White Heart Deer


Iona lives in a tiny, white washed cottage by the shores of the Irish Sea. It may not be much to look at, but on a cold and wintery morning there is a good smell of potato cakes and a warm peat fire burning.

An open window and tiny clothes

Iona lives alone in her cosy cottage, but this was not always the case. Many years ago she had a husband, a strong and handsome creature with large arms to hold her safe and warm against the raging storms that rolled in from the sea. But the happy couple had a secret, a secret so great that only the strong of heart should read on. You see, the storms were not the only thing to have rolled in from the sea. On the night that Iona met her husband to be, he had appeared before her, walking out of the ocean and shedding his seal skin. Iona’s love was indeed a selkie and the pair fell deeply in love. Iona hid his skin in a chest and kept the key around her neck, for if a selkie ever finds his sealy clothes he will return straight back to the waves. But alas, one morning whilst hanging out the linen, she left the key by her bed. On her return her selkie love had disappeared back into the dark ocean forever and Iona was left all alone.

Now you will find Iona walking along the shore, day after day, hoping that one day her love will return.

Iona the White Heart Deer

The Right Place at the Right Time

White Heart Deer

The Right Place at the Right Time

If you go down into the village and turn this way but not that way, then turn right at the old post you will find a door.

There are many ancient grand houses around these parts, most surrounded by tall, stonewalls. And in these walls there are always doors.

But this particular door is special, as it hasn’t been opened in over one hundred years.


Well, I say it hasn’t been opened in one hundred years, that is, until the day before yesterday.

If you are like me you will no doubt enjoy a nice walk, and the lure of the warm autumnal sunshine was too much to resist that particular day. So, I abandoned my deadlines, downed my pens and paintbrushes and gave in to the urge. I walked past hedgerows groaning with fruit and berries, then along the side of the ancient graveyard until I came to that door.

There was something about the haziness of the day, something about the changing season in the air that made me linger by that door. That’s when I heard it…a sad but beautiful song floating out from behind the wall.

The handle of the door was rusted and the hinges where a tangle of ivy but it opened easily when I pushed a little. And there she was, the beautiful white hart Elspeth sitting making lace in her garden. 

Antique lace

She didn’t notice me at first, she just carried on humming her sweet, sad tune until a branch under my boot made her look. I sat down on the bench next to her, admiring her soft, white fur in the golden light. She told me of her love, a grand white hart named Bernard of Perigord. He was the biggest and strongest of all the white harts in the forest but had been shot down one fine October afternoon by a hunter. As French legend goes, any person who takes the life of a white hart is doomed to a life of unrequited love, and that hunter did indeed die a lonely and bitter soul. However, poor Elspeth was also sentenced to a life of loneliness without her beloved Bernard. She packed her bobbins and her lace making pins and ran far, far way from France until she found somewhere with a wall high enough to keep her safe from hunters herself!

So every year, on the anniversary of her dear Bernard’s falling, she sits and sings in her garden. I count myself very lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to discover such a secret.

Elspeth the White Heart on a vintage chair