Christmas celebration

P1000012The Far North of England has mercifully (and for once) missed the worst of the snow and ice. This meant that for the first time ever, Other Half and I were able to drive up to Gretna Green on Sunday for the famous Crime & Publishment Christmas meal.

Much to my annoyance, the last two years I’ve had to miss it. Last year we both had a nasty bout of flu (at the same time!) and the year before that, we’d only just dried out after Storm Desmond, and then we got snowed in. Sigh. Even bigger sigh as it was pretty much the only snow we got all winter, and it happened just a few hours before we were due to set off… and then thawed again the following day. Typical.

This time there were no such problems, in spite of temperatures that were so far below freezing that the duck pond at Tebay Services (above) had frozen solid. (The ladies loos weren’t much better either.) But the scenery on the way up, especially over Shap Fell on the M6, was amazing, and we arrived in Gretna a little chilly but unscathed.

And the event was well worth the three year wait. Lovely food, lots of fun, great company, great chance to catch up with folk – some of whom I hadn’t seen for the best part of a year – and a chance to hear how much success everyone has had during the year. And successes they have had – in spades, by the sound of it. Everything from TV deals to debut books, and quite a bit in between.

I had my own good news to share (more on that in the next day or so!) but it’s so good to hear that I’m not the only one. The Crime & Publishment weekend is one of the best things I’ve ever signed up for, bringing so many new friends and above all, so much support.

Merry Christmas to the lot of you – and I’ll see you again for the next Crime & Publishment weekend in March!


Second helpings

Friday found me travelling north to Gretna Green again, for the first follow-up session to the great ‘Crime & Publishment’ writing course I attended there a few weeks ago.

It was held at the very same hotel, the Mill Forge, and six of us managed to juggle commitments and journey times to get there. And a fantastic time we had too. Drinks at the bar, dinner, then back to the bar, and all the time we talked several hind legs off several donkeys on everything from character names to the Harrogate festival and back again.

It’s a fair way to go for an evening so I stopped over at the hotel (hardly a hardship…) and was delighted I’d made the effort as it was brilliant catching up with folk again. Chatting to other writers, especially ones on such a similar wavelength, always seems very inspirational (even if it does mean having to change some rather silly character names in my latest work-in-progress!) and I’m hoping to make the next session, some time in the summer, as well.