What a week! Rain like nothing I’ve ever seen before – and it took me nearly an hour to travel 3 miles home last night. Then found out part of the cause of the traffic chaos (beside the rain) was the fact that both our Unis had an open day yesterday. Bath sort of teeters on the edge of gridlock. All it takes is one brewery lorry unloading and blocking the road and hey! we’re all stuck in the same place for long periods of time. And it’s not only what happens in the city. Several years ago there was a very bad crash on a raised section of the M5 south of Bristol. It took a huge amount of time to clear the road for traffic and as a consequence we had a total shutdown of the road system. Not just us, but nearby cities such as Wells. I can remember taking forever to get from the hospital to the bus station, only to find no buses running because they were stuck on the perimeter of the city on their way in. It felt just like war had broken out; people pushing and shoving, really stressed out because they just wanted to get home. Think I made it home by seven that time. Bath does suffer, it’s not a city which sits well with cars and with many of the big Georgian houses being converted to flats, we now have a situation where some areas are totally clogged with parked cars. Luckily I live on the perimeter near green fields and woods, something which is always good to come home to after a travel battle.
This week has had its lighter moments, however, like yesterday morning, when I arrived at Bath Bus Station to find a large group of young women waiting for the National Express en route to Ascot and Ladies Day. On a miserably grey morning, their colourful clothes, hats, fascinators and skyscraper heels plus lots of excited chatter – oh and a couple of large wicker picnic baskets – made me wish I was going with them.
Next week holiday – a break from work and my current novel. It’s nearly there. The cover has been sorted and is ready, the book has been laid out and returned to me for a final check. I’ve finished but my editor has a copy and am waiting for her to come back with her observations. Once we’re both happy it can be returned to the publisher for sending off to the printers. And then that very special moment I, and no doubt many of my fellow writers look forward to – receiving the book in the post. Looking at it you realise that all those evenings when you sat in front of the PC until almost midnight, all those times you looked at it and said to yourself, is this going to work as a book? Will anyone want to read it? All that angst, well it was worth it because here you are with your finished product. For me that is such a special feeling.
Anyway, while I’m away I’m going to be thinking about book 5. I’ve already got an idea marinating, but it needs a bit more thinking about before I actually start putting down some thoughts. At the moment I’m calling it The Other Side of Morning which is the title of a track by the 90’s Scottish band Del Amitri. All my books, with the exception of Love Lies and Promises have had their titles taken from songs and I find its something that works well for me. It may only end up as a working title but if I like it enough (as I did with Between Today and Yesterday [an Alan Price song]) then I’ll hang on to it.
So bye for now – off for a coffee and the rest of Graham Norton and then to bed! Catch you all at the end of next week. Have left you with a shot of our apartment block, the two velux windows in the roof on the far right of the picture – that’s where we’ll be.
I’ve been trying so hard to fit everything in and it hasn’t worked. But now I’ve finally finished all the amendments to my book’s PDF and life can perhaps get back to normal. It’s been a very intense period, wanting to get the checking done, eager to get the whole thing off your hands and nearer to publication. At least when you’re writing you are the one in the driving seat. Currently someone else is pulling the strings! On opening up the PDF my first thoughts were that it’s surprising what you don’t notice when you’re reading a document with double line spacing. Now, looking at something which is to all intents and purposes an electronic book (or how your book will eventually look), it opens your eyes to things and you wonder how you missed them in the first place! However, that’s all behind me now. All done and dusted – phew! what hard work , but I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I love writing!
On the home front, this weekend has been a bit of a mouse-fest. This wet summer has meant the field behind the house is teaming with wildlife and the cats are capitalising on it. The poor old hawk hovering over the long grass doesn’t appear to be faring too well, though. He’s probably quite dismayed at the number of cats sitting on my neighbour’s fence which appears to be a favourite feline vantage point for surveying potential victims.
I don’t mind dead bodies, I can cope with that – it’s the live ones I’m not very happy about and worse than that, the ones which are brought in secretly and actually live in the house until my feline charges realise they are there. Max is the worst culprit. He’ll bring in a catch and abandon it straight away, wandering off to find his food bowl in the kitchen. The mouse/vole/shrew will either scuttle to safety (preferably somewhere dark and out of sight) or just sit there totally perplexed. If we are there then we can repatriate it. However, if we’re not, we end up with both an unknown and unwanted lodger. Days later I’ll find Max poking a paw in some corner or sitting in one place for a long time concentrating his feline gaze under an item of furniture. The poor thing normally surfaces quite quickly and I can despatch it back to the field. Its freedom is probably only going to be short lived though as one of the other cats is bound to catch it! Not much of a life if you’re a mouse!
So here we are at last – journey’s end. I can’t believe I’ve finished the manuscript, it’s been edited and now everything has gone off to the publisher. Mind you there’s still a fair way to go before the whole thing is available to the public. Jane Dixon-Smith my cover designer now has to liaise with James at Authors on Line. James has to set the book up and let Jane know how many pagesthere will be, Then Jane will load the cover into the template he sends her. Once completed this all goes back to James and cover and book go to the printers. I then receive a draft copy for final checks and if I’m happy then we can publish!
If the truth be known I feel I’m in a bit of a vacuum at the moment. My baby has gone; a project I’ve spent so much blood,sweat and tears ove during the past 18 months. When the trilogy was finished and published I had a few scenes already down for this book, but had no idea how it would develop. I had the core of the story but knew in order to make it into a complete book, other characters had to come in with their own stories which would in some way tie in to the main thread of the journey. Some of the old characters have been left out as there was no way they needed to be involved on this occasion. However, I think Between Today and Yesterday finishes in a way which means a fifth book is possible. And from the fragments which I’m currently collecting, it will be as unputdownable as all the others and those are not my words!
Written 8.30am Friday 8th June on arrival at the office.
To say it’s wet this morning is an understatement. I really hoped by the time I left the house the weather would have finished venting its spleen on the UK, but not so. With difficulty I managed to control my umbrella aware that one gust could have me airborne like a modern day Mary Poppins floating over the valley. The footpath that connects our road with the A4 gave me a false sense of security. It was sheltered and quiet, but I knew when I reached the main road not only would the wind and rain be back, but I would be at the mercy of every passing car and lorry ploughing through a virtual lake of surface water. I’m not sure whether they just don’t see the water, or whether they’re up for a challenge – let’s soak a pedestrian on our way to work. Whatever passes through their minds, by the time I got to the bus stop I was well and truly soaked, not only from traffic spray but from the fact that water runs off my lovely waterproof mac straight into my trousers! Our bus stop has no shelter, despite many pleas to First Bus and the local Council, therefore I was anticipating an even wetter wait, but then, just as I got there, a bus pulled up. The driver, long blond hair and the chiselled features of a young Sean Bean became my knight in shining armour. I don’t usually catch this particular bus as it goes through the village picking up the world and his dog. My usual bus runs a good five minutes later but because it uses the bypass, is quicker and arrives in the city in good time for my connection to the hospital. However this morning I was just glad to get on board the first vehicle that came by and out of the monsoon, umbrella and me dripping nicely over the floor of the bus!
It’s Monday today, although it actually feels like Sunday. I get thoroughly disoreientated over Bank Holiday weekends now I only work part time. By the time I finish work completely, I’ll be totally confused!
The week started off well. Tuesday morning enter one plumber and assistant to tear out old leaking boiler and replace it with a brand new one. In the fitting of this we lose our hot water tank and cold water tank in the roof. Everything comes straight off the mains now, that’s how a combi boiler works apparently.
Wednesday I leave for work around 10 am. Floorboards are up and I’m hopeful when they nail them back down neither of the cats is beneath them!
Thursday morning we can have a shower, everything up and running and is so powerful that it has the potential to blow you through the window and out into the garden. It will obviously need adjustment and some getting used to.
Friday evening I arrive home to find a utilities van outside the house. They’ve hit a snag. The main gas pipe into the house is not sufficient in circumference to feed the new boiler. It’s registering 14 when the minimum is 18. ~We are told they will return on Sunday to did up the road and put in a new pipe. Am glad we have no street party booked otherwise there would have been total chaos.
Sunday a crew of four arrive, dig two holes, fit pipe and leave. Holes are surrounded by large plastic barriers waiting for another crew to come and fill in properly and tarmac. From other examples I’ve seen in the past, we could be looking at weeks with these mole hills! Our problem is sorted, gas now registering 21 – woo hoo! Well within the limits. Neighbour opposite is away, although car left on drive. Am hoping he’s gone for a week because the utilites men have partially blocked his driveway with their orange plastic barriers. He will not be pleased if he returns.
Monday (today) plumber has returned to commission boiler. Heating must be run to achieve this. I’m wilting! Radiators are so hot you can’t touch them! At least it looks good for winter says she trying to be positive.
Tomorrow is the last day of the Jubilee Holiday and am hoping this will be quiet and totally non-eventful!