Monday, 16 July 2012

A Wonderful Weekend, and the Season of Last Times

Am in nostalgic mood after a weekend in Penrith at the RNA Conference, where I met up with a whole  lot of truly lovely people - some of whom were old friends, others whom I was thrilled to be meeting for the first time. (That sentence is so grammatically correct it hurts.) Last year was my first so I'm still a Conference New Girl, but already it's become a highlight of my year. Where else would you be given free books and chocolate, educated, entertained, fed, motivated, inspired, hugged, and made to laugh and cry*? A ginormous thank you to all concerned for a fantastic weekend

(*yes, Julie Cohen, I'm talking to you!)

So, already feeling a bit emotionally brim-full, I've come back to a week of saying goodbye. On Thursday I'll be doing the school run for the very last time after doing the same route with daughters in varying numbers and of varying sizes since the last Millennium (September 1999, to be exact.) The Big School is within walkable distance of home, which is good news for the planet and our petrol budget, but I'm going to miss driving through the Cheshire countryside with the mist lying in veils over the fields, the cows telling us (through the medium of bovine body language) what the weather is going to be like, and the trees marking out the stages of the year (through the medium of Leaf). I'm also going to miss the school itself, and the fabulous people associated with it, who've taught each of my children to read (Number One on my list of Essential Lifeskills), taken them for their first nights away from home, looked after them when they've been sick, told them off when they've been naughty and generally made up for our parental shortcomings.

They've been pretty idyllic years. I loved the small (non-iron) uniforms and the handmade Mothers Day cards, with their unguarded, from-the-heart messages (You are the best mummy in the hole world. I love you millions). I absolutely adored the Christmas plays and summer fairs (where I campaigned tirelessly, tirelessly I tell you, to be allowed to serve Pimms alongside the traditional tea and coffee) and harvest festivals and, although I grumbled at the time, now I think I even liked sitting on a chair seat half the size of my bottom to watch them. I loved the parents evenings that consisted of smirking over the things they'd written in their 'News and Stories' book followed by a quick debrief with the teacher. I loved the way they always came out of the classroom smiling, and chatted all the way home about stuff that had happened that day. The teenage years are exciting and bring many advantages, but you need the skill of an Enigma Code-breaker and the cunning of Hercule Poirot to find out a fraction of what they used to happily impart from the back seat of the car.

Since the start of the school year in September I've found myself secretly and sadly counting down the Last Times: last Christmas play, last school trip, last Easter Bunny Drive. The past couple of weeks have brought last sports day, last Performing Arts Club play, last summer fair, and now we're down to last Monday and the final few grains of sand in the glass of the Primary Years. Must NOT weep too loudly and messily during the Leavers' Assembly and embarrass poor Daughter #3...

(Plenty of time for that when she gets to High School.)

Friday, 6 July 2012

Old Books, New Covers...

This month I'm back on the shelves with new books that are actually old friends in disguise. And what disguises they are...

SecretsChampagne Summer

Click for more info on Wicked Secrets

Champagne Summer contains 'Tamsin' and 'Sarah' (who will both be extremely thrilled at their promotion to title characters!) from At The Argentinean Billionaire's Bidding and Powerful Italian, Penniless Housekeeper. Wicked Secrets is my two Fitzroy books in one (rather beautiful) edition, and Secrets (of the non-naughty kind) sees my Taken For Revenge, Bedded for Pleasure tucked in alongside Penny Jordan's One Night in his Arms. I knew that this edition was coming out, but wasn't prepared for the arrival of a box of books one rainy morning, and seeing the 'Dear Reader' letter she'd written inside. Needed a cup of tea and half a packet of Happy Faces biscuits to get over that, I can tell you. 

It's raining here. A lot. Came downstairs this morning to find the kitchen floor under 2 inches of water and Ruby the airhead cat marooned on the sofa looking alarmed. Just as well my writing room is up in the attic, and I'm in the middle of a scene set in high summer... (which is what this is meant to be, isn't it?)