It's been a bit like that for the last forty-eight hours, and it's not even as if I've crossed a time zone or anything, but I have had a whirlwind few days and have some thank yous to make...
Thank you to Bookhound first of all for chauffeuring me to and from stations to the tune of about 170 miles in two days, and 100 of them after midnight last night to meet the 1.15am into Exeter, which was delayed thanks to a gas leak at Bridgewater. There is something heart-warming about this late-night sight when I arrive at Paddington too, as long as I get on the right train that is...
Home beckons but aren't trains eerie places when they are stationary, on dark tracks in the middle of nowhere, complete silence and you are almost the only person on board. But how grateful I always am to find Bookhound waiting for me on the platform, he takes my bag(s) and copes with an instant rush of enthused chatter. It's usually Tedburn St Mary before I remember to ask how he is.
Thank you to The Biographer's Club for inviting me to take part in their 'What do Reviewers Want' panel discussion alongside the newspaper literary editors. I struggled a bit when it came to the question of my editorial policy etc as in...well...er... it's what I fancy reading, but I hope I was able to convey what I wanted to say. That whilst the review pages can give us all a good starter for ten, we now have the blogs that can give a wide range of books some legs and help them run, and hopefully the two are now working as a complement to each other rather than with any sense of opposition, as seemed to be the thinking in the early days.
Thank you to all the friends various who came to the event and especially Diana who did make it from California at the beginning of her UK visit, and who I really hope is now thoroughly enjoying her London week before some walking in the Cotswolds. How good it was to be able to introduce Diana, who had won a copy of Magnificent Obsession in the prize draw here, to Helen Rappaport the author who was also at the event.
Thank you too to Rowena who comments here and who had travelled from 'oop north to be there. Rowena gave me a box of Hummingbird Bakery cupcakes. If you want to know Can a Cupcake Save a Life then the answer is a resounding affirmative. When I eventually headed back to my room after the event, and after a busy day, and with that sense that my blood sugar might be non-existent, I savoured one over a cup of tea whilst doing that thing you should never do which is think of all the things you meant to say but didn't. Rowena it was delicious, and you will be pleased to know that I kept my hands off the other two which you asked me to share with Bookhound...I notice one has gone already and we can't blame the Gamekeper any more
Thank you to The Penn Club in Bloomsbury who, if you don't know of them, are the very best budget option accommodation in London which means I really should keep it a secret. Run by the Quakers, a central and homely location off Russell Square, the rooms are always clean and warm, lovely breakfast included and peaceful sitting rooms plus a key to the front door which all makes it feel like I have a home away from home when I am away. So much so that I woke with a jump at 4am because I heard a car outside and thought it was someone trying to steal the dogs, because no car ever goes past home at 4am. As I went to leap out of bed I realised the wall was in the way and I wasn't in Devon at all, but I was wide awake so praise by for iPads I say. I am the world's worst for feeling very homesick and very fed up in hotels, the Penn Club has proved to be the answer for my whistlestop London visits.
Thank you to Spitalfields because I had the most wonderful walk around an area of London that has changed out of all recognition since I was last living on the doorstep in Whitechapel. A real and fascinating shift in both culture and economy, and as I wandered along Brick Lane nothing seemed to bring that into finer focus than the site of a mosque and a church sitting happily side by side, and I am sure this is the mosque that had previously been used a synagogue??
I have been following the blog Spitalfield's Life for quite a while now and was delighted to read more in that recent Random Spectacular journal. This is penned by an anonymous scribe known as The Gentle Author, who is writing a post a day about living in Spitalfields and who has just this week published the book of the blog. I have ordered a copy and can't wait to read and write about it more.
Thank you to one of my oldest friends, as in years known, Gt Ormond Street student nurse life shared & bridesmaid's duties done etc. Finally I am in London on the day that she looks after her sixteen month-old granddaughter in Bloomsbury, and with a toddler in a buggy we had our passport into Coram Fields, no entry without a child, and a favoured venue for us as junior nurses charged with giving those children well enough to leave the ward some fresh air for the afternoon. There is nothing to beat those friendships which survive time and distance, and which you pick up seamlessly where you may have left off. Both of us have staggered towards nest-emptying, both of us agreed we never knew it would take so long (as in thirty years of our lives) or how hard it can be for the fledgings to support themselves and keep a roof over their heads etc these days, but of course we also had a good nostalge over tea and cake too.
Thank you to Penguin Books for the Bloggers event at Waterstones in Picadilly, twelve authors talking about their books. Cost implications mean I am able to get very few of these unless they happen to coincide with something else, so to manage two in a matter of weeks feels like something of an achievement. It was good to meet even more bloggers that I haven't met before, the both very lovely Rachel at Booksnob and Naomi at Bloomsbury Bell, and I particularly wanted to get to this event because I have always wanted to meet Nell Leyshon. It was Nell who introduce me to the work of John Caple after I wrote about her novel Black Dirt here back in 2007, so it was an absolute delight to thank her and then
talk like fury about it all. My other big reason was to talk to Penguin about a project I want to to do here with you on Robert Macfarlane's forthcoming book The Old Ways mentioned yesterday. It was so good to meet and talk with Robert, and to hear him read from the book plus I now have the project sorted and agreed, so more about that next week.
And finally, thank you to the Fire Brigade who obviously eventually sorted out the gas leak at Bridgewater and allowed the train to glide through the station, onwards and westwards and home.