Thursday was the hottest day of the year so far – 28c and hardly a day I’d choose to go travelling by train. However, I piled on the sunscreen, wore my coolest clothes and set off for sunny Carlisle (not just a figure of speech for a change) for the launch of Mike Craven’s latest crime novel ‘Body Breaker’.
In spite of the heat, it was a great event. The evening started with a meal for about 8 of us at the Old Bank pub in Carlisle city centre. It’s a ‘gourmet’ pub doing a nice line in chops, steaks, grills, fish’n’chips etc; I hadn’t been before but thoroughly enjoyed my whale (sorry, haddock, the portions were huge) and chips. I’d happily go back.
After that we all piled down the hill to the Old Firestation where Mike was holding his combined book-launch-and-birthday party. The launch was really well attended – I’m hopeless at counting crowds but would estimate around 100 people had turned out – and was highly entertaining. Mike’s an amusing speaker anyway, and he’d invited fellow crime writer Michael J Malone along to act as question-master. The two are great friends, have a neat line in banter, and spent the rest of the evening quietly killing each other with quips. The audience, myself included, loved it!
Mike answered a wide range of questions on everything from how old he was when he started writing, to researching golf courses in Cumbria. (The novel opens with a grisly discovery on a golf course.) And once all that was over, there was cake. Birthday cake. Or book launch cake. Or, well, you decide. Either way it was delicious. (Apologies for the blurring, by the way. I wasn’t seeing double, but apparently my phone camera was!)
The only slight annoyance was getting to Carlisle station at the end of the evening and finding all the trains up sh*t creek, and absolutely nothing open – no shop, no café, no bar, no information desk, nowhere to get even a bottle of water, on a blisteringly warm night. I thought I might have to book into a hotel in the city for the night, but luckily (and unusually) my train was one of a tiny handful still running, so I made it home after all. And was really glad I’d gone, melting stickiness (and not just from the cake) or none.