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Thursday, November 6th 2008 : "Stormy weather"
I knew I'd want a holiday when I got back from the US. OK, all those publishers' parties and lunches might not seem like hard work, but have you ever tried being nice to people for 3 weeks without stopping? And for a real break where else was there to go but Shetland? The end of October was a bit late for peak migration, but Tim was easily persuaded. There might just be a few good birds to see.
It wasn't just a holiday for me. The fourth book in the Shetland Quartet is set in the autumn, so I wanted to get a feel again for these wild and windy days. I took my laptop and sat in the beautiful library of the Busta House hotel to write. I was distracted by the view - the garden leading down to the water - and the noise of the gale. Some days the weather was so dreadful that I didn't leave the building, just emerging from the library at regular intervals to eat (and drink). Tim didn't see any exciting birds but the food and drink kept him happy too.
On my birthday, we checked out of the hotel and went to the ferry terminal to get the NorthLink south, only to discover that it had been cancelled. The forecast was appalling, apparently and the boat was unlikely to go the next day either. Our friends Pete and Jan Ellis offered to put us up and our last, extra two days on the islands were lovely. Friday night is Chinese food night in the Sandwick Club, so we ate takeaway and drank champagne as the storm got more and more noisy. The next evening we were invited to their neighbours' home, another impromptu party. By then there was a steady gale force 10 wind, ferocious squalls of rain and no electricity. We sat by candle light and talked and laughed until late into the night.
The weather was still dreadful when I was made a member of the Detection Club, the day after I arrived home. A great honour and I was a bit daunted running through the rain to the Middle Temple Hall to the dinner. I knew there was some sort of initiation ceremony and I was determined not to giggle. The Detection Club was founded by the great Golden Age authors - GK Chesterton was the first president, Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie were members. In fact everyone was incredibly welcoming and giggling was positively encouraged. It helped that my old friend Martin Edwards was being 'done' too and I'd met up with him and his wife Helena beforehand. Bob Barnard introduced me with some very kind words. As to the ceremony, I think that should remain secret. But it does involve a skull. And candles. And a degree of dressing up.
Posted by Ann at 04:11 PM GMT