Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Out of practice

It's been so long since last I wrote anything here, I'm worried I may be a little rusty. No, I haven't been moping around mourning Chiswick - well, I've been sad, and every so often I look down at the kitchen floor and he isn't there, but that's not the reason for my silence.

Mostly I've been away from the internet, and partly I've just been enjoying doing bugger all.

Everyone else has already given their commentary on Harrogate, so there's not much I can really add. There was drinking, though not as much as last year. There was talking toot until the wee small hours (if five in the morning can be called wee small). There were panels and discussions and pretending to be knowledgeable and well read when inside I was panicking like mad that I didn't know the name of the famous author to whom I was talking, let alone the titles of any of their books. And there was the unexpected but rather nice surprise of being recognised and greeted by people I'd only fleetingly met last year. I wish I could do that - remember people - but my brain just doesn't hold useful information like names for more than a few nanoseconds.

Sad, but perhaps the highlight of the whole weekend for me was when looking for my seat on the York to Edinburgh train I discovered that I'd been given a first class ticket. I hadn't paid for one, or requested an upgrade. It just arrived through the post that way. I bought it months ago and never realised. And it was my birthday.

Actually, no. That wasn't the highlight. Agent Phil's ape impression wins that prize. And watching Simon Kernick blacken the teeth of all the author photos in the programme with a truly childish glee.

Since departing Harrogate - first class, with a swanky picnic and wine to make the journey smoother - I have mostly been taking it easy in Sutherland. Or at least trying to take it easy. That can be a challenge when surrounded by screaming children. Yes, two years on from the great JulieD adventure, and it was time once more to make my way to Altnaharra, there to spend a week with the ever expanding family.

The Horse Doctor wisely pleaded not being married to me, and kept away, but children notwithstanding, this wasn't too bad a holiday. My parents had engaged the services of a cook, going by the name of Patrick, who provided breakfast and supper, along with a platter of cold meats, salads and floury buns for the making of lunch pieces. Most days (indeed all but one) involved a visit to the beach: Balnakiel on Tueday; Torrisdale on Wednesday; Coldbackie on Thursday (though I missed out on that one); Port Vasgo on Friday, and then Port Vasgo again on Saturday. Thursday was the only day when Ben Clebrig awoke from his slumbers, but I managed to avoid the climb - pleading instead that I needed to get some of the rewriting done on Natural Causes. A small group of the older children headed upwards, whilst the younger ones were taken once more to the sea, and I had this view to myself for the day.

It's actually quite hard to get any work done when you're in such a beautiful place. But I managed.

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Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Nice to see you back James. Indeed, beautiful place.

July 31, 2007 6:49 pm  

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