Well, here we are in that strange limbo between Christmas and New Year: the seasonal festivities over, but not yet arrived at that surge of hopefulness and resolution which marks the beginning of the new calendar year.
Heavens! Where has this month gone? One minute it’s the end of September, the next it’s nearly November. A whole month seems to have slipped through my fingers. October is my birthday month, so that was one distraction. As has been our custom for the last few years, we went out to lunch, rather than dinner, because we like the benefit of daylight for a drive through the autumn countryside, which is so lovely at this time of year. By evening it is growing dark in these northern climes in October. And the countryside was indeed looking lovely – gold and scarlet and amber on the trees, the sea deep blue and surprisingly calm, the cliff faces at Auchmithie glistening in the sunlight, with their striations of red sandstone and jasper and quartz. We didn’t climb down the steep slope to the beach because after lunch quite a cold wind had blown in, but it is an interesting beach for collectors of pebbles – as our children always were. When they were young we used to polish stones in a grinder and sometimes make them into pendants. The whole beach is pebble and you can find some treasures. Apparently there are amethysts, though we’ve never found one. It was on this beach that barrels submerged in pits were first used to make ‘smokies’, now known (erroneously) as Arbroath smokies. They should be Auchmithie smokies. As usual I had melon balls in ginger wine, followed by the But ’n’ Ben’s famous smokie pancake. David started with mussels in white wine, then fish and chips, which is fish in what is probably the lightest, fine batter in the world. We were, alas, far too full to manage any of the wonderful cakes to follow, though the lime cheesecake is superb.
The publishing business is undergoing such seismic changes these days that it’s hard to keep up. I never though I would feel sorry for those sitting in the grand London offices of the international publishing houses, but I do have some sympathy with them now. The ground is constantly shifting under their feet and they must spend much of their time wondering what is going to hit them next.
This may be quite a short newsletter as there are nine people in the house, including five children (youngest two months old), so things are fairly hectic!
I’ve done a new online interview, which can be read at this link:
I have a confession to make.
For a start, here are a few thoughts on some of the books I’ve been reading this last month, not including research books. There’s been a feast of women novelists of the first half of the twentieth century: Elizabeth Bowen, The House in Paris, Rebecca West, The Fountain Overflows, Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway, and Rose Macaulay, The Towers of Trebizond.