Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Down Under Adventures

HI there, I'm back - well just about, the jet lag, flue and a nasty cough has kept me low. But at least I am alive, which is a minor miracle considering that 'im indoors tried to kill me during our long trip in Australia. More of that later, can't let you know all the juicy bits too soon!
It has never failed to delight and amaze me that so many love my books, want to meet and talk to me and shower me with praise. This isn't false modesty, just an inherent shyness and inability to handle so much praise all at once. I consider myself to be very ordinary, despite my background and family, and as I sit in my office and write my stories and let my imagination flow, I have little idea of how many lives I am touching. It's awesome and I don't think I'll ever truly take it in, and will certainly never get too blase about it all - an author's popularity rests only on the success of the latest book - not the comfort of their laurels!
Anyway, we're back from Australia, shattered, happy, jet-lagged and dealing with all the winter colds and germs that met us on our arrival. It was a long, but successful trip, catching up with friends and family, seeing favourite places, finding new ones, eating and drinking too much and getting to know my grandsons. My eldest son hit forty this year - shame, as I can now no longer pretend I'm forty - but then I was a mere child when I had him. Or that's what I tell everyone.
His birthday fell on Melbourne Cup Day, which happened to be hot and sunny and we all went out for lunch, lost our shirts on the horse that didn't win, but had a fab time anyway.
This trip was all about getting out there to meet my readers, to talk to them and to do some research for the next book. It was fantastic to see so many eager faces at every event, and I even managed to meet one or two fans who have been sending me e-mails via my website, so that was a real bonus. Glenva was brilliant,so was her afternoon tea! Then, in Tasmania I met up with a tutor I had as a child in Devonport. I remembered only the horrid french lessons, but he was a lovely chap, and I felt a little embarrassed that I hadn't kept up the french after all his efforts - still, I know enough to order coffee, chocolate and to ask how much are those shoes. What more does a girl need?
Tasmania managed to rain on my parade, but having asked for help to do research I was inundated with names, addresses and e-mails - everyone was so very kind, and I can't thank them enough for giving up their time for me. Beryl thanks for all your phone calls and the amazing depths of knowledge you have of Tasmanian horse racing etc., and for your enormous tea - 'im indoors is still getting over it! Thanks to Merle for being such a super fan, to Tracey for giving up so much of her time and to Dianna and Tony for their hospitality.
Our journey took us from Perth to Sydney, up the coast to Buderim, then after a lovely stay with my son and his family, into the country and back down south to Sydney. Tasmania followed for ten days, then up to Melbourne and back to the UK. Eight weeks in all - my cats were delighted to see me again, even though they both resembled footballs after so long in the cattery! In fact, Bluey was so fat he could only squeek, so he and 'im indoors were put on strict diets. Neither of them like it, but I'm only being cruel to be kind - if you see what I mean.
Anyway, I have to get my own back somehow. He almost killed me during a particularly long drive in the hinterland of New South Wales! There I am looking at the scenery, day-dreaming pleasant things, when I glance at the road ahead. There's a lorry, coming straight for us. We're on the wrong side of the road, and 'im indoors is asleep. I yell. He wakes. The car slews off the road and we sit there in the ensuing cloud of dust as the lorry roars past with an angry blast of several horns and much flashing of lights. Needless to say I took over the driving, but it was a while before my pulse rate got back to normal. That's the danger of the hinterland, with a low sun, a heat haze on the tarmac and nothing to look at for miles but the slowly unwinding ribbon of road. It's all to easy to fall asleep, which is why I always take 'im indoors with me to share the driving.
It was an eventful trip, not earth-shattering, but pleasant, feeding kurrawongs on our apartment balcony, watching hawks hunting overhead, visiting stud farms and gazing at foals - super. Can't wait to get back there!

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