Life has been frenetic recently, but this has certainly been a great and memorable week as far as I'm concerned. With more to come, given that I'm heading off tomorrow for the St Hilda's Crime and Mystery Conference at Oxford, organised by that splendid writer Kate Charles, and Eileen Roberts. It's always a fun week-end. I missed it last year because of holidays, but a couple of years ago I had a terrific three days there. This time I'm giving a talk on 'The British Lawyer-Author'. Val McDermid and Frances Fyfield are among the other speakers.
The trip to Oxford is all the more timely given that this morning was devoted to a trip to my daughter Catherine's sixth form college (once a grammar school, which I attended long ago, but now scarcely recognisable from the 70s buildings). The aim was to learn her A Level results, given that the UCAS website had crashed. Was it an omen? Fortunately not, as she did extremely well and secured her place at Lincoln College, Oxford, to read German and Italian. So I am a proud father, but proud most of all because she has worked hard and deserves the wonderful experiences that should accompany her time as a student. Whatever the media might suggest, not all teenagers are rioting looters, in fact those I know are all very good people: and thankfully they are in the vast majority.
Then it was a mad dash to Southport, to the resort's Flower Show, a major annual event. This year they were featuring books and writers as well as much else besides (which accounted for a burst of 'The Hallelujah Chorus' halfway through our gig.) I shared a platform with Kate Ellis, and we had plenty of books to sign, always good for morale. The photo shows us in the company of another Ellis (no relation). Ron is a crime writer I've known for many years, and he also published one of Kate's books a few years back. Kate, her husband Roger and I than wandered round the Show, which was quite fascinating. The second photo is of one of the show gardens. I do love gardens, and The Cipher Garden may not be the last book I write with a gardening backdrop.
There are times when it seems increasingly difficult to fit in the day job, I must admit! But I remind myself I'm lucky to have these two lives. And this week, also, I've moved office - for the first time in 31 years. As you can deduce, I'm not the most daring and adventurous person in the world! But it's all contributed to a remarkable few days.