About Me

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On the bright side of the road
Lover of words. Usually found with a book or a pen in my hand.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Spot the Seashells?

I'm back!  Returned safe and sound!  Not quite back to normality yet (no return to the day-job till Tuesday) and still very much in holiday mode, even though I've come back to an avalanche of laundry, the house to clean, garden to weed, bills to pay, etc, etc.

I had a great trip and thoroughly enjoyed my camping experience, even though I only slept for a total of four hours on the first night for fear that the tent would blow away!  The second night was much better as I was exhausted and not even a hurricane would have awakened me from my slumber.  And now I sit here, at my computer, yearning to get back to my novel but with one niggling question.  Where were all the seashells?

It has been some years since I visited the Isle of Wight and I'm really pleased that I decided to pay a brief visit while working on my novel.  You see, my title is The Book of Shells and one of my main characters is an avid collector of seashells.  Such a lovely and rewarding hobby.  And yet, I found just one seashell during my visit (that is, excluding ones found for sale in gift shops).  So where are all the seashells?  Did my character collect them all thus leaving none for modern day visitors?  All the beaches I visited comprised sand, pebbles and shingle.  The Book of Shingle?  or The Book of Pebbles?  Mmm - not quite the same, is it?

On the plus side, the library at Newport had quite a healthy collection of local history books and I have pages of notes that will help me with the background.

But the seashells?  It's a conundrum I shall have to solve.  So it's back to plotting before I can really get into the writing.  Wish me luck.

NB - If anyone has any ideas on how to get around the absence of seashells, I'd be interested to hear.  One kind person has offered:  The Book of Shell-Suits - I'm relieved to say that I didn't see one single shell-suit on the island either!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Pitcher Perfect

With not long to go till the happy Island of Wight event and with a change in the weather, I couldn't wait any longer and decided to camp in the back garden.  My excuse was that I needed to try pitching the tent alone and to ensure that my new sleeping bag was warm enough.  The reality was that I just couldn't wait!

So, on the Friday evening when I got home from work I set about erecting the tent despite continuous interruptions from family who couldn't seem capable of coping alone:  'Mum, I can't find the tomato ketchup - can you help me?' or 'Mum, I think the computer's on fire' (well not quite that, but there were strong enough reasons to make me traipse back into the house, diverted from the task in hand).

It was getting dark by the time I'd finished and I couldn't wait to get into my sleeping bag and read by torchlight.  I had visions of spending a peaceful night in solitude... I lasted until 2.30 am!  Something snuffling around the tent perimeter awoke me and as I lay there pondering on what the large creature (I couldn't see it, but it just had to be large) could be, cold fear started to take hold.  'Right, pull yourself together,' I thought, but unable to return to the sleepy Land of Nod I decided to pop back into the house for the loo.  As I opened the zip from the bedroom into the lounge (it's only a small tent but I like to pretend it is a grand affair) my sleepy eyes in the semi-darkness made out a pair of large men's shoes facing me.  To say I froze would probably be an understatement - I think I started to jabber away in fear before realising they were my husband's old trainers that I'd borrowed to walk across the grass the night before.

I made it back to the house in one piece and gazed in trepidation at the tent looming in the dark.  I'd given it a go and proved I was a perfect pitcher - no point in labouring the point after all, so I spent the rest of the night in my cosy bed - away from predators.


Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Island of Wight

It's a long time since I visited the Isle of Wight and as this is the location for my novel-in-progress I think it's about time I revisited to refresh my memory.

I've booked a few days off work after Easter (and thanks to all the lovely Bank Holidays this is giving me a whoppping eleven days off work!) and have decided to spend a couple of days on the Isle immersing myself in the air that is 'worth sixpence a pint', according to Tennyson.  I have decided to (a) dump family and friends so as to allow total devotion to my research and (b) camp to allow total disconnection from my usual life.  I am sure that this total change and immersion in surroundings will do wonders for me-and-my-novel and I hope to return refreshed, brimming with ideas and a notebook filled with jottings and plans.

So while I am filled with excitement at making my plans (off to buy a new sleeping bag tomorrow), I'm not shirking working on the novel.  A draft and synopsis are in place and I am now working on detailed chapter plans - on schedule to complete the first three chapters by the end of June.

The Island of Wight is a very special place for me, which is perhaps why I have chosen it as the location for my novel.  It was the place we took our children for our first family holiday and my young son used to say with wonder in his eyes:  'We're going to the Island of Wight' to anyone who asked where we were going for our holiday.   So for me, it will never be simply an Isle - it is the magical Island of Wight.