Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What I did on my holidays, by Kate, aged 13 (going on 30).

So I've been a bit quiet lately, but that just means I've been busy! Finishing up The Warlord, which is now (tentatively) called Impossible Things, and darting thither and yon doing exciting things.

Exciting thing number one: the Paralympics!

As I may have mentioned, I'm probably the least likely person to get caught up in excitement over a sporting tournament. Which means no one was more surprised than me when I found myself utterly obsessed with the Olympics. As soon as it was over I cried a bit, then consoled myself that there was still the Paralympics to come. And do you know, I think the Paralympics might have even been better. I mean, watching Usain Bolt break his own record in the 100m is amazing, but watching a man with no legs do the same? Astonishing. For yes, I'm adding my crush on Oscar Pistorius to my crushes on Jonny Peacock, Greg Rutherford & Jon-Allen Butterworth, not to mention my girl-crushes on Victoria Pendleton, Ellie Simmonds and Nicola Adams.

The Orbit. No, I don't know either.

Quite apart from my unseemly daydreaming about muscular hunks, ahem...I really wanted to be a part of the Games. I mean, when else am I going to get the opportunity to visit an Olympic Stadium? Especially one that's about thirty miles away? So me and my dad toddled off to the Paralympics to watch the last session of the Athletics, and it was absolutely magical. The Olympic Park was glorious, with even the weather smiling on us. Amid trees and wildflowers and little girls wearing Union Jack dresses, we listened to a capella choirs and cooed over police horses.

The Stadium was surrounded on all sides by water, which is kind of appropriate in an island nation
Inside the Stadium we saw record after record being smashed, often by the same person. Athletes with no legs running on blades, athletes in wheelchairs racing faster than most normal people can run, athletes only three feet tall breaking shot-put records. We saw one man break a high jump world record, win the gold medal and then go back for another go at breaking the record. Which he did. We stood up and cheered athletes from countries we've never visited and listened to crowds belting out the Chinese, Russian and American national anthems, often with more enthusiasm than accuracy, but I know which one I'd prefer.
The atmosphere inside the stadium was electric

We had a wonderful day. I only wish we could do it again next year!
The Paralympic cauldron

Exciting thing number two: book launch!

Ruth with that most lovely of things, a whole stand of her own book!

Exciting in a totally different way was my trip to Dublin for the long-awaited launch of Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things. I'd already read it as an ebook, but couldn't wait to get my hands on a hardback and, let's face it, it doesn't take much to get me to Dublin. So off I went, booked myself into a swanky hotel overlooking both the Wicklow Mountains and the Irish Sea, and ate lunch in a ballroom one day and a funky cafe the next, with a launch involving cheese leaves and flowered cake in the middle.

Ruth's beautiful flower cake, which tasted as good as it looked

Treachery is the story of Jenny, an ordinary girl whose brother Tom is stolen by the fae. When she tries to retrieve him, she's sucked into the dangerous and amazing world of the fae, where absolutely nothing is as it seems and nobody is trustworthy. Except for Jack, and even he's not sure if Jenny should trust him. Both Jack and Jenny have destinies and promises to fulfil, destinies both of them have to fight. After all, while Jack might know the treacherous world of the fae better than Jenny, but she knows her own mind better than anyone, and she's not going to calmly accept the fate a bunch of mad fairies throw her way. It's a fabulous book, full of twists and revelations, with two wonderfully portrayed leads and the strong underlying message that no one has to accept anyone else's idea of what they should be.
The Gutter Bookshop, in the Temple Bar district of Dublin

Exciting thing number three: actual holiday!

View from the Slipway Inn. And yes, that is the hill where Doc Martin lives.

All right, this was exciting to me more than anyone else. It seems I've been away plenty this year--my suitcases are more repacked than unpacked--but only on short, fragmented breaks that didn't give me much time to do what I really like doing, ie sit around reading and drinking whilst looking at the scenery. Therefore a week in Port Isaac was exactly what I needed.

Believe it or not, this street is also called Temple Bar!

Keen blog readers (there must be some of you) may remember me mentioning that Port Isaac is the inspiration for the Cornish fishing village of Port Trevan in the fourth Sophie Green book, Still Waters. Above is the street nicknamed Squeeze-ee-Belly Alley where Luke and Sophie stay with Maria; the cottage on the right, Jolie Brise, was the cottage I stayed in when I came up with the idea and, therefore, the cottage featuring in the story. Apparently you can still rent it, although it looks like the cherubs have gone (thank god!).

I don't believe this place was open when I wrote Still Waters, but if it had been I'd have sent Luke and Sophie there, because it's the most charming restaurant I've ever been to. Absolutely tiny, serving only 30 covers, it's incredibly atmospheric and the food--mostly seafood--is just wonderful. If you're in Port Isaac, book a table!

So...what did you do with your summer?


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