Monday, July 30, 2012

Celestial music

Last night we went to a concert with a difference, celebrating the life, work and music of William Herschel, the famous astronomer. It was held at Keswick's newish Theatre by the Lake, which does exactly what it says on the tin, being a theatre right by the side of Derwentwater - and a very nice venue at that. We'd never been before but thoroughly enjoyed our comfy seats at the top of the stalls with a grandstand view of the stage.

The concert itself consisted of ten different pieces of chamber music by Herschel, his friends, relatives and contemporaries, played by The 18th Century Orchestra. They specialise in playing (hardly surprising) 18th century and Baroque music, on instruments authentic to that time, by candlelight, while wearing 18th century costume. It was different, fascinating, colourful and fun, and gave a great impression of what music concerts would have been like in the days before microphones and stage lighting. In between the pieces of music an actor took the part of John Herschel, William Herschel's son, to read out snippets about the astronomer's life, discoveries, work, and music, all in a wry style that was very amusing.

As to Herschel's music, we didn't even know he'd composed any and it soon became apparent why it doesn't get played much. You could even say it was a good job he didn't give up the day job, except that astronomy is actually a night job! Even so, it was a thoroughly entertaining evening and something completely different. Well done to the organisers of the Lake District Summer Music festival for including something so unusual in their repertoire.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Not going for a walk...

The weather wasn't too bad this morning, comparatively speaking. It was cool, cloudy, windy and with frequent showers, but compared to most of the past week that's good, so we decided to get out for a walk while it wasn't bucketing down. After a session with maps and guide books we picked the area known as 'Potter Fell', at the back of Staveley, which is reasonably close to home, reasonably free of crowds, and not too strenuous. Or muddy. Which is a bonus after all the hours of rain.

The walk starts off from the lane between Staveley and the neighbouring village (hamlet?) of Bowston, a road known as the 'back road' which is narrow, twisting, amazingly lost given that it's only about 5 miles from the 21st century bustle of Kendal, and startlingly free of parking spaces. According to our Wainwright book, there was space for one car a few yards from the start of the walk, but that was in the 1970s when the book was last updated so for all we knew it might have disappeared.

It was still there, and would have been perfect for the walk. The only problem - someone was doing construction work in a nearby field, and had put 'no parking' bollards across the parking space, presumably to leave room for trucks and equipment. And there was nowhere else to park.

It was disappointing, but hopeless. We gave up, drove into Kendal instead, had a coffee and a mooch round (me with walking boots and a rucksack) and bought a couple of cookbooks from the discount book shop. We enjoyed the stroll, but it wasn't our nice walk to Potter Fell, Potter Tarn, and the wonderfully-named tarn of Gurnal Dubs. We'll save that for another day, and hope the building work ends soon. And that it isn't bucketing down again by then...

This is what we could have seen if we'd gone: Gurnal Dubs in typical local weather conditions. It looks so atmospheric that I'm even crosser we missed it!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bold Strokes Nottingham event

I've just been made aware of the following gltb event, organised by Bold Strokes Books and taking place in early August at Waterstones book shop in Nottingham. Because I only found out about it yesterday I can't make arrangements to attend myself, but it sounds as though it's going to be quite a blast, with eleven glbt authors attending, panels etc over two whole days, and a Saturday night party at a local gay club.

Here's the event poster, or pop along to the event webpage for further information.

I can't say 'see you there' but if you do decide to go, have fun and perhaps someone could tell me what it was like?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Necessity in print!

As promised, Necessity's Door will shortly be available in print, as one of the four titles in the Riptide Rentboys anthology. The book is already available to pre-order at the Riptide website, from either Barnes & Noble or Amazon, and orders will be shipped in August (only a week or so away).

My author copies arrived in the post yesterday and I have to say the book is smart, snazzy, and well-produced, with a stunning cover - and the stories are terrific too. This is a real opportunity to get your hands (quite literally) on a print copy to place on your bookshelf and keep for posterity. Great value for $16.99 in my humble opinion!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Save a tree!

The title of this post sounds rather like one of those silly car-window stickers you can buy in holiday resorts - 'preserve wildlife - pickle a squirrel'. ;)

It isn't, though. This time I'm serious. The powers-that-be at the Lake District National Park authority have decided, for reasons best known to themselves, to cut down a large and beautiful monkey-puzzle tree in the grounds of their HQ and main Lake District visitor centre at Brockhole, on the shores of Windermere.

The tree is old, and a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike. But apparently it wasn't in the original plans for the garden at Brockhole and therefore it has to go. Even though the public like it. Even though there's nothing wrong with it physically. And even though those same powers-that-be have recently installed a tree top zipwire and boardwalk thingie that would certainly not have been in the original garden plans.

It's all very silly, not least because a garden is an organic entity that constantly grows and changes. Who's to say the original owner of the garden wouldn't have planted a monkey-puzzle himself if he'd been given a sapling or some seeds? Who decides that later changes to the garden are somehow 'wrong' and have to be ripped out? And who decides to destroy a healthy, beautiful and rare specimen on a whim?

If, like me, you'd like to add your name to the growing list of people anxious to save the tree, you can sign a petition here:

And thank you!

Friday, July 06, 2012

We've moved!

I seem to have spent the last week clambering over, around, and even in and out of cardboard boxes, and trying to decide where to stuff their contents. The good news, though, is that the move is now complete, we're settled in our new place, and apart from one broken glass and a small dent to one of the dining chairs, everything survived unscathed.

It's been a completely exhausting process, mind you, and leaving the old house was more of a wrench than I expected. Especially as two of the friendliest neighbours came round at the exact moment we were locking the door for the last time to see us off. It was lovely of them to think of it, but I was struggling to hold back the tears and managed to set all four of us off!

I'm taking it easy this week, catching my breath and trying to get myself back into a frame of mind where I can work, rather than fretting constantly about where things are, how much more unpacking there is to do, and where on earth we can store half the things we own. Moving house is not conducive to writing... but I have managed to get going again on the rewrites for Gleams of a Remoter World, and hope to do more, and chat more, next week.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

And waffling on...

I've only just noticed that the UK M/M Romance blog posted an interview with yours truly a few days ago. I'd been keeping my eyes peeled and would have dropped a line on here with the details but what with the house move and all the general rushing about I'm afraid I missed it. Mea culpa.

You can still read the interview, though, and find out a little bit more about me and my writing in the process. Just click here - and I hope you enjoy it. Blog owner Sue Brown asked me some fascinating questions; please excuse the rather waffly replies!

Following the torch

Popping in briefly to say that I've just posted over at Carrying the Torch, a blog which follows the Olympic Torch Relay around the country with a new post by a m/m author every day.

Today it's the turn of Birmingham, which just happens to be the setting for Necessity's Door. If you want to find out about some of the real-life Birmingham places I used in the book, head on over to Carrying the Torch today! There's also a new excerpt from the book.