Our break started with fellow Gollancz author Alex Bell’s small but perfectly formed launch party for her first novel, The Ninth Circle. As well as fine food, fine wine and fine company, this featured the largest chocolate fountain I’ve ever seen. Then off, happy but slightly hung-over, to Wales.
Portmeirion was as marvellous as ever. Our cottage, Dolphin, is on the cliff that blocks off the tiny valley where the main village is built, so from the front we overlooked the village square (where they set out the giant chessboard in The Prisoner), and from the rear, we could see the estuary and the hills above Harlech on the far side.
I converted the dressing table in the bedroom to a writing desk for the duration. This room has seven windows, all with slightly different views; from where I sat I could see down into the hotel proper (where we ventured en masse for a grand meal one night), and out over the famous white sands (which due to the phase of the moon were covered by water much of the time). Despite the view, and the distractions of having my friends around, I finished the current draft of Consorts of Heaven on Thursday afternoon.
On Friday I ventured out, with Beloved and our good friend S. We drove as far west as we could before ending up in the Irish Sea, then found a sandy beach and paddled in said sea, which was remarkably cold. After a pub lunch on a balcony overlooking the beach to get the circulation back into our legs (and stomachs) we went on a mission to find a holy well I’ve tried to find before. This time we were successful, and I was duly entranced – there’s something magical about water emerging from earth.
We drove back through Snowdonia where, for once, the top of Snowdon wasn’t in cloud. However, this meant we got a far-too-good view of the new, massive cafe at the summit. I’ve got to say that if you’re going to built an ugly man-made structure on a beautiful natural feature, and you feel obliged, as the designers evidently did, to make it large enough to be seen from space, you could at least paint it a neutral colour, rather than stark white.
On my return I spent a while tidying up CoH, then sent it off to my agent and first readers. While I wait for feedback, I’ve decided to give myself a few days off writing, though this is not the rest it could be, as it’s time I’m spending cleaning the house, sorting the garden, filling in my tax return etc. Even more depressingly, the day-job has gone from bad to worse. I rather wish I was back in the Village.