Lately I’ve been…

Travelling.

I was in the UK for a couple of conferences in Oxford, and then headed north through the ancient Roman and Viking site of York, the pilgrimage destination of Durham (breathtakingly beautiful), Newcastle (more Romans – this time in museums), and finally out along Hadrian’s Wall.

Durham Cathedral

Cloister at Durham Cathedral

So in a couple of weeks, I went from discussing life writing and celebrity with historians and writers, and then gender and love with academics from many fields, to researching three writing projects at once. And I walked a long way.

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian’s Wall, near the village of Once Brewed

I also flew a long way, which not only gives a busy person plenty of time to catch up on movies and TV shows I’ve missed (Poldark! Agents of SHIELD!), but also endless hours to read.

Sadly, what you read at 3am somewhere over Albania after being awake for twenty hours doesn’t tend to stick in the brain for long, so I stuck to re-reading favourites on my Kobo.

But here’s what I’ve been reading or rereading since:

  • The Moor: Lives, Landscape and Literature, by William Atkins. Like taking a long walk with a thoughtful friend who points out details you’d otherwise miss.
  • The Paying Guests. Sarah Waters’ latest, and yet another novel perfectly evocative of time and place.
  • The Mystery of the Hansom Cab, by Fergus Hume, which I decided to re-read while I also delve into Lucy Sussex’s book about Hume and his book, Blockbuster.
  • Cloudwish by one of Australia’s finest writers of young adult fiction, Fiona Wood – yet another inspiring visit to her fictional contemporary world.

Now I’m onto Oxford, by one of my writing heroes, Jan Morris, which is just as wonderful as I expected, and keeps me laughing aloud at the antics of students and dons over hundreds of years and in delight at its perfect phrases and word choice.

Book cover of Oxford

Has she ever written a bad book? Or essay? Or travel story? I don’t think so. Every one is a treasure.

 

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