Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Hello! Remember me?

My how you’ve all grown. Last time I saw you you were only so big… etc. Sorry for the unexplained leave of absence—I did fully intend to drop by and do a quick post before we went away, but somehow in the stampede of packing and washing and shopping (for hot water bottles— hard to obtain in July—thermal socks, wine boxes, chocolate rations, torch batteries, more chocolate rations and camping gas) I didn’t have time. And I suppose, more importantly, with the rain lashing down against the window and the wind stripping the baby apples off the trees, neither did I have anything to say beyond ‘why didn’t we book a villa in France like sensible people’?

Anyway, here I am after not one summer excursion but two. Holiday (if you can call it that) number one was spent in Northumberland, where the skies and the beaches are huge and dramatic, story-book castles loom large around every corner. (As a longstanding, diehard fan of Michelle Styles’s books I was deeply excited to be visiting the bleak, grandiose setting of such favourites as An Impulsive Debutante, A Question of Impropriety and Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife.) The ancient Teletubby dome tent withstood bracing winds and one short, intense thunderstorm but otherwise the sun shone and the children were in their element, reverting to savages alongside their cousins, not bothering to change their clothes and subsisting on a diet of bacon rolls, crab sandwiches and mini-bounty bars.

One day we brushed the sand out of our hair and ventured into Alnwick where the castle, with its outrageously over-ornamented interiors, brilliant waterpark gardens and mad treehouse kept us all enthralled for hours, and Barter Books which was my idea of earthly paradise and made me seriously consider the possibility of hiding somewhere in the depths of the old waiting room in the hope of getting locked in overnight. (Probably slightly more comfortable than the Teletubby hill tent…) Other highlights of the week included lots of windswept beach games, taking refuge in the Grace Darling museum during a particularly heavy downpour and trekking along the coast to Dunstanburgh Castle, from where the view was glorious.

(Also getting up early enough one morning to catch a beautiful sunrise...

...And sitting out every evening and watching it set again...)

By the end of the week the weather was turning chillier and wetter, which at least made it slightly easier to tear ourselves away and return to real life (and the end of holiday compensations of a hot bath and a blissful bed.) However, there was barely time to dry out the tent and sort through the washing before we packed up again and headed off to Wales to join some friends who had set up camp on the shores of Lake Bala with their extensive collection of watersports kit. These are the same friends as mentioned here—they of the gorgeous boys with the cool accessories, and it was v exciting for the daughters to be generously given free rein with their canoes, boats, windsurfs and wetsuits (Daughter #3 looked adorable in hers—like a mini cat woman. I, of course, stayed firmly on dry land in the role of coast guard and towel monitor, in the certain knowledge that I would look like a giant walrus.) Returned home with a carful of exhausted, elated children (I include the lovely husband in this, as at some point shortly after entering the Paddleworks shop he regressed to the age of about 17 and is now obsessing about what kayak he’s going to buy) all comparing capsize catastrophes, blisters and wetsuit chafe marks like badges of seafaring honour.

So, now we're home again, and with no further exciting excursions planned for the next couple of weeks the children have quickly reverted to lounging in front of the television in their pyjamas and squabbling over the computer, which is why I have chosen to retreat to the sanctuary of my bedroom with my laptop and a pot of tea. A quick glance at the internet (the only kind of surfing I’m interested in) reveals that my September release—Spanish Aristocrat, Forced Bride is already available on Amazon. How can this be when I haven’t even received my author copies yet? (Sorry to anyone who's waiting for one) Anyway, it reminds me that I fully intend to get my lazy ass into gear and organize some kind of contest over the next week or so, and also blog a bit more about the book itself and the characters...

Just as soon as I've made inroads into my washing pile, and hopefully excavated my brain from beneath a heap of sandy, mouldering towels in the bottom of a rucksack somewhere. In the meantime, hope everyone else is having a nice summer holiday-- what's everyone been up to?


Anonymous said...

...just waiting for you to come home and blog again! Welcome back sweetie. Also I've been cultivating a very dubious crush on Rob Pattinson and obsession with all things Twilight...
x Abby
p.s. my verification word is mingin, is that some sort of personal slur?!

India said...

Snurk at mingin. I often think that aliens give us messages via the medium of word verification, so maybe it's time for a shower??

Missed you too, honey. And the RP love isn't dubious at all, but the natural reaction of a perfectly sane and healthy woman. Wallow.


Michelle Styles said...

Love the pictures.

I will not say anything about Rob Pattinson. I personally prefered Edward Cullen in the books.
Have just discovered Rupert Friend. He of the razor sharp cheek bones who played Wickham in P&P as well Albert in the YOung Victoria.

Jane said...

Beautiful pics. Wish I was there. Just trying to keep cool here.

India said...

Oh yes Michelle, Rupert Friend is nice (although I'm hampered in my ability to really fancy him by the knowledge that he's Kiera's boyfriend, though I don't know why that should put me off) Watched Young Victoria the other day and thought it was lovely.

Jane, don't knock the trying to keep cool. It has to beat trying to keep dry, which is what we seem to have spent a lot of the holidays doing, although heat is very trying after a while (as far as I can remember anyway!!)

Trenda Plunkett said...

Positively lovely pictures, India! I am green with envy. My two darlings headed back to school last Thursday, little man trotting off to second grade, whilst my young miss is now a grand fifth grader with the piles of homework to show for it! Today was little man's annual eye exam. He began wearing glasses last August, and bless him, he is near-sighted like his Mommy. He selected a pair of perfectly adorable frames for his new prescription. I must remember to email a pic...how is it he is cuter today than when I first set eyes on him seven years ago?

I am now on the wrong side of thirty-five, having grumbled my way into my 36th birthday last Saturday. Fortunately, my children did not insist on a cake with a depressing showing of candles!

I'm looking forward to reading your latest masterpiece. Try not get to lost beneath all the washing! ;-)


Brigitte said...

Just love those pictures you posted. We really love the UK with all the quaint villages and lovely beaches to take walks on. Post more of Northumberland pics if you can. That's a place we'd like to visit. Maybe next year...

This year we're in the US and it's HOT. A real scorcher. But won't complain as I've seen on the net that weather at home is not so good. At least the garden will have survived our absence...

Trenda said...


OMG! You will never believe what my lovely hubby is contemplating...a trip to England! Yippee! I have longed to visit England since I was a little girl, but I have never even been outside the States...well, except for a mini visit to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls years ago...It would just be the two of us, as the prospect of traveling over the pond with our two travel-phobic children is unnerving in the extreme. We are thinking sometime this fall...[sighs wistfully] Fingers crossed he doesn't change his mind!



India said...

Trenda, can't believe that you're already beginning autumn over there and that school is back in. But HOW COOL that you might be coming to the UK!!!!!! I'm keeping everything crossed that the plans come together and it really happens-- come and do a little bit of exploring on your own and then bring the kids in a couple more years. (Before you're way too old!!! ha ha...Happy belated birthday!)

Oooh, and Brigitte, you might be coming over here too-- that's fantastic news. Northumberland is just beautiful, I'd definitely recommend a trip there. As usual we were rubbish at remembering to take photos, but think big beaches, dramatic castles and stunning, stormy skies and you're just about there. The weather is inclined to be chilly because of the coastal wind, but it moves quickly across those great big skies so that one minute you're sheltering from a downpour and the next you're peeling of layers as the sun breaks through and everything is golden and shimmering with raindrops. Lovely.
Hope you're having a nice time in the US-- whereabouts are you?

Brigitte said...

Hi, we're back. Had a fabulous 3 weeks in the US. Flew to Miami then drove all the way up to Washington DC. Culturally very interesting as we had some lazy days on the beach, as well as insight into American history with visits to Philadelphia, Gettysburg, Monticello and Mt Vernon (all related to independance or civil war)

We love visiting the UK, but have never been north of The Cotswolds. I love mediaeval castles, rolling hills and big stormy skies, where you can see the clouds riding the wind.

As daughter has been quite a pain on the US trip, will most probably put her into UK riding camp next summer. We can take her and then continue up to Scotland, visiting Northumberland on the way. Any suggestions as to where I could send her? Have heard of Camp Beaumont, but don't know if they have a good reputation.
Will be grateful for any advice.

Anonymous said...

I confess to being VERY biased - I come from Alnwick and spent most of my pre-uni days on the fabulous beaches. Thrilled that you enjoyed the landscape - it is SO different. Not even the Vikings and the Scots could win out.
There is a lot to be said for feral children - even if they do have windburn as opposed to sunburn- I am sure they have the BEST time.
And Barter Books is a top destination! LOL.

India said...

Oh wow, Nina, lucky you! Do you stil have family there? (And how could you bear to leave?!)