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Ann's diary » Archives » October 2008 » The joys of slumming it

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Friday, October 3rd 2008 : "The joys of slumming it"

Not that I am slumming it, of course. Not at all. Elderhostel has found me some lovely city hotels and on Tuesday, after the event in Athol, thanks to the friends of the library, I stayed in the Clamber Hill Inn in Petersham; that was simply gorgeous - a huge old house in the middle of trees with polished wood floors, rugs and open fires, even in the bedrooms. Deni and Mark were great hosts and the food was stunning - if you go, make sure you ask for the sour cream and raspberry pancakes for breakfast! You can check the Inn out at

But that's what my friend Sandy said when she saw I was catching the T back to Boston from Porter Square in Cambridge: 'You're slumming it then? Not taking a taxi?' We'd just had lunch. I was on my way back from the event in Athol and from signing stock in Kate's Mystery Bookstore. Sandy and I have been friends for years, since she wrote an article on British crime writers and came to chat to me.

It was raining and perhaps a taxi would have made sense but I like public transport. There's always the possibility of unintended adventure. It can pose a challenge, especially if you have lots of luggage - and despite the earlier post, I haven't managed to do the travelling light thing this trip. The New York subway is scary. It seems to have a completely random system involving letters and numbers, no maps on the trains, no intelligible announcements. And below ground the platforms look like the set of a horror movie. But the passengers are so cool... The Boston T is OK, with friendly staff and Washington, where I am now, has a clean and efficient metro.

I've done proper trains too this trip - most recently the commuter rail out to Fitchburg to go to Athol and the long distance train - as in nearly 8 hours - from Boston to Washington. Perhaps because I'm on my own I like the chance encounters, the overheard conversations, the social contact. Waiting in South Station, Boston yesterday, Senator John Kerry appeared, surrounded by aides and press people. He looked tired but just as he does on the television, set up his stand on the concourse and made a speech. I'd never have heard that if I'd been in a car.

Monday is Baltimore. I plan to arrive in time for the dress rehearsal (Dress rehearsal? Does that mean costumes? Fabulous!) of Brought to Book, which will take place in Central Library Baltimore at 6.30 on Tuesday. If you're in town early for Bouchercon, do join us!

Posted by Ann at 09:17 PM GMT

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