Saturday, 1 September 2018

Where did August go?

Blimey. That was a busy month.

August was a a blur. It began with a second award nomination for A Murder To Die For - this time it was longlisted for The Guardian's Not The Booker Prize. Which was nice. And then I went on holiday. And, being the kind of chap that I am, I eschewed the sunny delights of Florida or Spain and instead drove the 669 miles to Cluer, a tiny village - well, actually, a collection of homes all about a mile from each other - on the Isle of South Harris in the Outer Hebrides. I couldn't fly, sadly, as I have three dogs, but I spread the drive over three days, stopping the first night in Ayrshire and the second night on the Isle of Skye prior to catching the ferry to Tarbert next morning. It meant that I had time to check out some of the best that Scotland has to offer, including the Falkirk Wheel, the Kelpies and the many lochs and Highland mountains along my route.

I have to say - with scenery like that, the drive really didn't feel so far. The ferry across The Minch from Skye to Harris was pleasant enough an made more so by the appearance of a pod of common dolphins who swam alongside us for just enough time to ensure that I missed them with my camera.

I then had a whole week of peace, tranquility and near solitude. I wrote a lot, I wandered out at night to look at the Milky Way (a fabulous treat denied most of us due to light pollution) and I watched the wildlife, which included seals, golden eagles, gannets, puffins and sea otters. The cottage itself was remote and beautiful and the view from the windows was stunning.

I did get out and about too. I visited the Callanish Stones, the Black House village at Gearannan, Luskentyre Beach, and many more beautiful spots including the harbour on the Isle of Scalpay which has a decommissioned concrete ship. I kid you not (you can read all about concrete ships here).

It is a fantastic place to visit and stay ...but I could never live there. It's too remote, too cold and the Presbyterian Church is all-powerful; you can't do anything on a Sunday - even hang your washing out - so that's one day of holiday you can't visit anywhere or buy anything. I like the idea of keeping Sunday special but not being able to do anything, even hobbies, is a step too far for me.

A farly uneventful trip home ensued, but it's been nice to get back to work. I did a couple of talks at Waterstones in Chesham and signed a few books. And I've landed a gig to interview Graham Norton live on stage at the local Wycombe Swan theatre (details here). Which is nice.

Nice to have a break but even nicer to be home, writing, and meeting my readers.

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