Little did I suspect last October when my lovely cousin announced that she was marrying her gorgeous boyfriend on a beach on the West coast of Scotland (not just any beach, but more of that later...) in May that I'd still be writing The Book That Would Not Die. If I had I would have given some thought to my outfit well in advance instead of leaving it until the day before we left, when I'd been up for four nights in a row until 3am. This is not a good start to any shopping trip, much less one which involves searching for an outfit that combines wedding chic (silk, high heels) with Scottish beachwear practicality (goretex, polar fleece, wellies) In the end - having caught sight of my haggard reflection in the fitting room mirror in Jigsaw - I rushed to Boots to spend silly money on Chanel foundation before heading home to peer despondently into the depths of my wardrobe for something to go with my wellies and goretex.
Because of an unfortunate combination of school exams, Very Important Meetings at work and the grimness of an eight hour drive with children we'd decided a while ago that it was best to leave them and spouses at home, and for the brothers and I to do the trip Old Skool, squabbling on the back seat of my stepmother's car all the way up to Arisaig. This is where, every summer of my childhood, we met up with my cousins to go feral, sleep in a mildewed 1930s showman's caravan and wear the same clothes every day for two weeks. (Clothes which subsequently appeared on the next child down in the photographs the following year.) The beach my cousin walked along to marry her man was the one on which we used to dune surf, find exquisite shells brought in on the gulf stream and build sand boats, and even though it's been nearly 30 years since I was last there it's as beautiful as ever. And as empty. Apart from the farmer who used to drive his cows across the beach, I can't remember ever coming across another living soul for the entire time we were there, which is odd because I've since read that Ewan McGregor used to spend his summers there too. Humph. I never saw him. (Probably just as well, given the wearing-the-same-clothes-for-two-weeks thing.)
Anyway, after the past few frantic weeks it was pretty much the perfect place to be (total perfection would have been achieved with the addition of a couple of degrees on the temperature, and maybe Ewan McGregor striding over the dunes...) My cousin made a ravishing bride, wrapped in plaid with sprigs of gorse in her hair, and there was something timeless and deeply moving about the ceremony on the shore - Walter Scott meets Richard Curtis. Luckily there was a brisk wind, which meant that I could pretend that the tears streaming down my cheeks (the Chanel spray-paint durable foundation was a wise investment after all) were a result of extreme weather rather than extreme soppiness. Expect a wedding on a beach to appear in a book sometime soon.
I'm now looking forward to getting to know my children well enough to pick them out in a crowd again, and making inroads into the ironing pile while thinking about the next book. It's been in my head for most of the time I've been working on this one, and it's quite a departure from anything I've done before. Can't wait to get started. I'm sure it'll flow from my fingers and be finished in a month