Monday, July 19, 2021

Two books and a trip to the seaside.

With Frome festival now fading, as all excitements do, into the realms of memory, the highlight for me this week was a trip to Teignmouth with my writer friend Hazel Stewart, for our postponed 'writer's weekend', thwarted by the first lockdown. Staying at an excellent B&B right beside the sea, we talked-n-walked up and down the esplanade, admired the artworks there, took the ferry across the estuary to Shaldon, sampled local ice-creams (top tip: Kerry's salted caramel) treated ourselves to an Italian meal in a restaurant garden, and even did a little en plein air writing.  
We didn't manage to catch the museum open but learned that Teignmouth was invaded by the French army in 1690, the last invasion of English soil by a foreign power. And the town has a strong writerly connection throughout the ages: Fanny Burney visited in 1773 and wrote of 'the rural beauties', and the admirable qualities of the town's women who, while their menfolk are working in the Newfoundland fishery for most of the year, 'do all the laborious business.. the rowing and towing of boats, and go out fishing... they wear no shoes or stockings notwithstanding the hard pebbles all along the beach.. Yet I never saw cleaner cottages nor healthier, finer children.' Among other diarists and writers the best known is probably John Keats, who stayed in the town for three months in 1818 and amended his initial impression of 'a slipshod county' enough to write Here all summer could I stay...  With solid blue sky above dense blue sea, on a promenade rimmed with flowers,  Hazel & I felt pretty much the same. 

This was the week that temperatures leapt into the 30°s and, equally sizzlingly exciting for me, the first proof copy of my new book arrived.  Deja Lu is a collection of 37 contemporary short stories, mostly previously published in anthologies & magazines or broadcast on radio, and the fabulous cover image is a section from one of the paintings of David Moss exhibited at the Silk Mill last month. Currently this is the only existing copy, but when a few essential 
small corrections are made, this will be available to all fiction fans, hopefully with appropriate celebrations... 
Still on the subject of words, Frome's fabulous book emporium Hunting Raven Books came up with another brilliant idea last week: to raise enough donations locally to fund 200 copies of Marcus Rashford's book You Are a Champion which they would distribute in & around Frome to 'young readers who might otherwise miss out.' So prompt & generous was the local response that this was raised within a few days to 500 copies - it's probably not too late to join in if you click here. There's a review from Goodreads here.

And now, with Freedom Day threatening us all, stay safe out there...

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