Monday, 16 August 2010

Going on Your Holidays

One of the many great things about holidays is that you see places like this and think to yourself, "I could live there; that would be brilliant!" before you go home and decide that you're quite happy living where you already do. (It's in Granville old town, Normandy, built around 100 years ago.)

This year we set off in the little Renault Clio to Picardie and Normandy. We got the ferry, stayed at a fabulous little hotel right on the Somme estuary (Les Tourelles) opposite the bird sanctuary - those gulls can make a noise - then off down the autoroute to a farmhouse at the other end of Normandy to meet up with all 14 of the Randell family, complete with six children and teenagers. Here, we ate, drank, played an advanced form of tig called budge, swam, mopped the floor, had a quiz and went cycling down an old railway line on converted bogies. On the way back, we stayed in Honfleur and awarded ourselves a day out in Deauville and Trouville, places I've wanted to visit for as long as I've known they existed. Hercule Poirot has much to answer for.

I took masses of stuff to do: books to read, books to write, knitting kit, swimming stuff. I even packed four bottles of ink (Diamine in Lavender, Marine, Hope Pink and Vermillion, assuming that I would be writing so much that I'd need to fill up. I didn't.

I did finish a pair of socks though, and knitted matching scarves for the three girls' teddy bears. As seen here. (Patrick the Panda wasn't present for the modelling session.)

Anyway, I found that after twelve days of not having to worry about much except for remembering to drive on the right and wondering which ice cream to choose, the benefits of holiday time began to flow my way.
I've now got an ending for a book. I was struggling with it. I wanted something that wouldn't just wibble away into futility after spending all these months seeing if I could make the beginning and the middle interesting. Suffice to say that I'm quite content with it. Then I had an idea for the series, at least another six outline stories for the next few books. (Got to get a publisher for the first one yet, so let's not get too carried away. But that's not the point.)

Holidays are there to clear out all the rubbish from your head that builds up while you're working, to allow your adrenaline levels to fall. For the last several years, all my holidays have been spent worrying about all the work that was piling up for me when I got back. This time, now that I'm working at a reasonable, steady rate, I've had the most constructive break in ages. I did this by relaxing, apart from the occasional four hour drive in torrents of Norman rain, and giving myself time for all the thinking I'd already done to unravel itself into clarity. The lesson for me is that if I want to be a bit creative, I mustn't allow my work rate to get silly every again, so when I go away I'm looking forward to the life I'll come back to. That way, I can calm down and tick over nicely, then interesting ideas might happen all by themselves.

As for the ice creams, they included caramel with salter butter, violet, blackcurrant, dark chocolate sorbet, dark cherry sorbet, fromage frais and Deauvillaise: vanilla with chocolate chips and crystallised orange peel marinated in Grand Marnier. Oh yes.

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