Thursday, August 28, 2008

Panic Stations at Kings Cross Station

I thought I'd organised everything so well - the clothes; the relevant bits of paper; the tablets and the taxi. All went well until we got off the first train at Waterloo. I went to my wallet to get out my gate pass to go through the automatic ticket barrier, and it had disappeared. Had I dropped the ticket together with my discount card when I hunted out the tickets for the conductor on the previous train? Or had I dropped them in the station forecourt when I took the change from the taxi driver? Whatever. They weren't in the right place. While I was hunting for them, M took off at speed, , leaving me behind, despite the weighty suitcase he was dragging behind him. I couldn't even see in which direction he'd gone. With only forty minutes in hand to get to Kings Cross, I rushed through the barrier showing the main ticket and eventually found an irate M at the underground platform. I was convinced I'd lost the pass and card but the main problem would have been having to pay the difference, if necessary. I didn't think they'd refuse me access to the train and I was right.

Once ensconced on the Glasgow train and having had a much needed cuppa, I went to my holdall to get out a book, and lo and behjold, there was the pass and the card. Relief all round. But it took a while to convince M that I was not a disorganised ditherer.

The rest of the journey was totally relaxed. We bought sandwiches and tea, read and looked out of the window. I was too late too take a shot of a part of Hadrian's Wall at Berwick upon Tweed, but made a mental note to do that on the return journey. Similarly, I missed a shot of the impressive entry into Newcastle and the Tyne, but caught the rock rising up from the station at Edinburgh. Newcastle was a far bigger town than I'd envisaged and I took a photo of the station itself, and also the tower that we saw as the train pulled out.

Uncharacteristically, on Friday morning, M wanted to buy a cheap teeshirt and pair of trousers he'd spotted the previous evening. After we'd taken them back to the hotel, we walked to George Square which is a bit like Trafalgar Square, though not so impressive. There we got on an open topped bus for a tour of Glasgow. This was very successful, and we got on and off a couple of times - that's the benefit of these on/off bus tours. I was frustrated that I'd left the camera back in the hotel, and after the walking we'd done already, I didn't want to go back for it. So I have no photos of Glasgow. I was particularly sorry because we crossed the Clyde to get to the Science Centre and afterwards, we went up the Glasgow Tower with a panoramic view of the city. From there, we walked along the towpath towards Glasgow Harbour. We didn't see the Tall Ship because a bus came along and we ran for it. From there to the Transport Museum, which M thoroughly enjoyed (the Science Centre was more geared up for children). Our walking had tired us out, but I would have liked to have done the tour again another day, with more emphasis on some of the other museums. We didn't have another chance though. That night we dined with our friends and others, and various things were happening over the next couple of days, including the wedding itself.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hidden treasures unzipped

I'm patting myself on the back because it's 10.30 p.m. and I've finished the packing. So we can go to bed early (ish) before our trip to rain sodden Scotland.

I looked around for a suitable hold all for the train - all my last minute things will go in there - contact lens, makeup etc - and at M's suggestion found the bag I used to use for Guildford Writers. When I cleared it out, I made some interesting discoveries - a purse I thought I'd lost with £15 in it. It was my spare - for going places where I didn't want to take too much money or credit cards - and I replaced about a year and half ago. Come to think of it, I think I even reported it missing, because there was one, now outdated, credit card in it for emergencies. That's the problem with bags and cases that have lots of zip pockets. You put things in for safe keeping and promptly forget you've done it. There was also a pair of sunglasses I'd also thought I'd lost. And a short story I was going to read out at some time. It was the first story I'd ever written and I'd managed to expand it to 1,300 words. At the time (I remember) I wondered how I could ever write something longer than that. I couldn't imagine I would write a novel of 115,000 words.

Anyway it's now loaded up with tickets and itinerary, a book (about a girl searching for her lost mother - sounds familiar) and some writing stuff. (Maybe I'll carry on with Innocent Bystanders.) I've also put my 'fascinator' in there to save it being squashed in the suitcase. And an umbrella. Scotland, here we come.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Washing days and honeymoon nights

I have been catching up with office work and washing - the two items which always accumulate in great piles and double in size if I look away for five minutes. In this particular case, since we are going away again, the process will be repeated very soon. We managed to find time for a walk to our local pub, yesterday, The Fox, where we had a substantial roast dinner. It took longer to walk home, and when we arrived, we were both so full, we immediately fell asleep. I hope the outfit I bought for the forthcoming wedding will still fit me.

In between the office work, I finished A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. As I said, it was very readable, and the sort of book that you decide to read just one more chapter before going to bed, washing up, etc. and then carry on and read more. Nevertheless, I felt there was a bit of a plateau somewhere after the middle, where basically things were going on, but they were more of the same. I felt that the climax could have been reached sooner. It will certainly stay in my mind, though. Which is more than I could say for On Chesil Beach by Ian McKewan, which I read about three weeks ago. To my shame, when the Reading Circle came to my house on Thursday last, I could barely remember anything about it. I suppose you could sum it up in a sentence - a honeymoon couple whose first night together turns out to be anything but marital bliss. The question is, should the sentence have been expanded into a novella. I suppose that’s the difference between a ‘literary’ novel and a ‘good read’. In the case of the former, (in this particular case, at least) the author has decided to put a situation under the microscope and examine it forensically. Despite the fact that I had forgotten much of it, it was summed up by someone at the group, saying there was ‘too much information.’ Yes, to be honest, I don’t want to read about someone’s honeymoon night in detail. That probably would apply equally if things had gone right instead of badly wrong.

In the meantime, sales of Tainted Tree are ticking over nicely and now, A Bottle of Plonk is on sale in the USA and anywhere else that uses, with its new cover and new title, Have Wine Will Travel. It’s also available from the American publisher, Virtual Tales, at the same price - 9.95 US dollars. Of course, you can still get the original version from us at Goldenford Publishers Ltd.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Away days

Four days away, and I’m trying to get back into my normal routine. We’ve been to Herefordshire and Shropshire, partly to visit the ProdigalD & family and then to meet up with my friends from office life in London, many years ago - well, in another life, really.

We stayed for three days in a delightful B & B called The Old Cow Shed, literally converted from an old barn. We arrived on Monday evening and went out for a meal at a very nice local pub, The Three Horseshoes. There was a certain challenge in finding our way back along the country roads, but we managed it. We had stayed at The Cow Shed two years ago, when we last visited, and something must have remained in the memory.

The photos show the front of The Old Cow Shed and the garden with a view of local oasthouses.

The ProdigalD and her OH are working very hard on their bookselling business, so we didn’t see them till Saturday morning, when we arrived laden with late birthday presents for GD2, (though, of course, she had received just one at the correct time). She very quickly embarked on creating things with beads (I was told what to buy; I know nothing about these things.) Later that day, we all took GD2 to a birthday party near Malvern and the PD and OH entertained us to a cream tea, once we'd dropped her off. We had been looking for a tea place like that on our route to Herefordshire, on the A219 and A217, but instead we had found ourselves in a pub garden with large indelicate mugs of tea, and a rather gooey chocolate cake, which I ate on principle rather than with any enthusiasm. Anyway the scone and jam which I had at Malvern was exactly as required (M had cream with his.)

The weather held up enough for us all to take a long country walk on Sunday - which no doubt helped to get rid of the cream tea calories. It was rather grey a lot of the time though - this has been the most depressing summer - and in the late evenings at the B & B, I was reading Mark Haddon’s A Spot of Bother which I think is supposed to be funny, but which I also found rather sad, although very readable. I hope there’s a happy ending to it, because that and the weather made me feel rather depressed. However, Mark Haddon certainly has a knack of portraying the way people feel - a wonderful skill. Alas, I identified rather too often with the father going off the rails.

We left the family on Sunday night; they had work to get on with on the following day, and drove up to the bustling market town of Ludlow to meet up with my friends. We got excellent directions to the car park from a couple of friendly locals, and had lunch and chat at The Feathers, a rather old fashioned hotel, with very modern plumbing, but alas, no smoked salmon sandwich, although it was on the menu.

Leaving there at 3.30 pm, M drove at a great pace home, with only one break, in about four hours. And now I’m exhausted. Doing nothing, including doing nothing but sitting in a car, is so tiring.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

It depends on your point of view

There are dramatic events on The Archers, at the moment. The most dramatic episode, I missed completely, because my brother in law was with us at the time, and then I missed the repeat on Sunday morning because we were preparing to go to Irene’s book launch. As we are visiting my daughter in the next few days, I will miss more episodes. I shall have to read about it when I get back.

The book launch was very good. I was on the till for a while, but got plenty of time to socialise and chat. Sales were good, as was the food, and I understand my pizza was enjoyed. Recipe available for anyone who wants to try it.

We had a summer meeting of Guildford Writers at Jennifer’s house; we’ll be returning to the Guildford Institute in September. I read out a further extract of the novel in progress. I haven’t quite finished copying in the stuff I wrote on holiday, but the novel’s now over 40,000 words. I found I had a viewpoint problem in the latest piece, which was a continuation of an earlier extract with the same problem. I think we have gone overboard as far as Point of View is concerned. In 19th century novels, no-one worried about point of view. They were quite content to have the omniscient voice narrating the events - and I have to say, I quite like returning briefly to that voice. In this particular case, I have three of my main characters - the boy who runs away from home and his estranged parents - all in a room together. |Because I have been in all their heads at different times, I find I can’t decide which head to be in - and I’m not sure it matters all that much. Nevertheless, I will go back and have another look at it.

I had a busy day yesterday - first getting out some important letters; then to the hairdresser to have a trim. My usual lady, who enjoyed Tainted Tree so much, wasn’t there, but my hair had suddenly become a mess, and I couldn’t wait. I also wanted it looking respectable for a wedding in a couple of weeks. I left there and went straight to Sainsbury’s, where I bought more than I needed, so that I could get a 5p petrol voucher. Not perishables, of course, but things like dishwasher tablets, and tins. I came home and had my lunch, put away the shopping and hung the washing in the utility room, (not trusting the weather) before rushing off to Guildford to meet my sister in law. We had decided to go to see Mamma Mia, knowing it was too girly for our respective other halves. Great fun and it was good to see s-i-l. It’s such a long time since I’ve been to the films - and I enjoyed the spectacle and seeing in on the wide screen. Then I got home, to find M had taken himself to the local pub for a meal. He’d gone on his bicycle and I joined him with the car. Nice not to have to think about cooking. Finally, I did two hours of bookkeeping when I got home - and it still isn’t finished.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Books in the USA, bikes at Sainsbury's

In case anyone is wondering about my tagging efforts, I have to admit that I only tried about half a dozen Myspace friends to blog their ‘15 things about me.’ I was intending to ask Irene and Jan (apologies both - feel free to do it anyway, if you like.) I was a bit half-hearted about asking people, and in the end, only Kathleen Heady responded and put her things on the blog. Kathleen, is like me, a Virtual Tales author, though unlike me, she writes fantasy, as do several of the VT writers. Thank you Kathleen.

In the meantime, Dave from Virtual Tales tells me that Have Wine Will Travel is now on Amazon and available to be purchased in paperback in America. Alternatively, if you order now from Virtual Tales, you’ll get a 40% discount. Have Wine is to be featured in an advertising campaign in September, too, which I hope will be beneficial. Either way, it’s worth a look, just for it’s fabulous cover. So my American readers will now have a chance to buy it without paying postage from the UK.

Popping in to Sainsbury’s yesterday (I ran out of potatoes and my brother in law was coming for dinner last night.) I found that numerous bikers were pulling in to the bike spaces. I went along the rows examining the bikes and found they were all Harley Davidsons and spotted a couple of elderly devotees with tattooed arms and heavy chains round their necks. Somehow a convention of bikers at Sainsbury’s seemed rather uncool. But then, who am I to judge?

By coincidence, one of my characters in A Bottle of Plonk/Have Wine will Travel has a Harley. My little knowledge of men with motor-bikes tells me that if they loved them when they were twenty, they still love them when they’re forty, and in fact my nephew came from London to the Tainted Tree book launch on one, leaving his wife and son to come in the car.

My neighbour came over this evening to tell me how much he was enjoying Tainted Tree. I was very happy to hear this. He is the second man to tell me that he’s enjoying it. My cousin’s husband also told me this a couple of weeks ago. I never knew if it would appeal to a man, and I can’t judge by M, because he hasn’t read it and is unlikely too. He prefers non-fiction. So I’m thrilled to know that two men have actually enjoyed it and have made a point of telling me so.

Tomorrow is the Darshan book launch and I’ve made a pizza as a contribution to Irene’s party.
She hopes to have it in the garden, so after a mixed day today, we’re hoping for sunshine.