Well here I am almost in the ancestral lands of Blackadder – just a little down the road in Northumberland, near the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne, where the air is nippy and autumn is really getting going. I’m visiting Kelly Smith, whose company Bywater Books has published The Raven’s Heart in the USA and UK this month. Kelly is the partner of crime writer Val McDermid, but sadly Val went to the states on a book tour yesterday, so I missed meeting her this time around.
It’s been a great afternoon, eating a lunch of pie and gravy and mushy peas in a little local pub, wandering along the beach (accompanied by Kelly’s dog), writing the book jacket blurb for one of Bywater’s new release books, having a long luxurious bath, Taco dinner (to make up for missing my regular Mullum Taco Friday at Sarah Armstrong’s house), and then down to another little local pub for the hotly contested pub quiz, to which I was able to contribute I think two answers out of about 45 questions.
I’m a little slowed down by having a head cold, but popping some pills every few hours always helps and it’s nice to be in a little old village and far from city speediness. I spent the past two days in Cambridge at the Scott Polar Research Institute – a great chance to browse through a library devoted to all things polar, and to chat to a researcher or two about my work and theirs, in preparation for finishing my doctorate over the coming months. What I managed to see of Cambridge was very pretty and I just wanted to be a young student starting life in one of those gorgeous colleges… all fresh faced and with fully operational memory and eyesight. I was reminded of my age and failing memory when I got back to my b and b for my second night to find I had made a mistake with my booking and had been chucked out – I was certain I’d booked two nights, but in fact had only booked one and had to scramble around and find somewhere else to stay at short notice.
It’s just a short sojourn in Northumberland before I head back to London tomorrow and fling myself into the Historical Novel Society Conference over the weekend. Highlight likely to be the fancy dress banquet (complete with minstrels and jesters).
So long from the land of epic breakfasts and tea. xxx