Blog Neglect & the Queen in the Snow.

I've been meaning for ages to get back to regular blogging, but what with one thing another - school events, finishing Scrivener's Moon, the new dog arriving - I just haven't found much to write about, or much time to write it in.  Anyway, if you're one of my 93 followers, thank you for your patience; I hope I can get back into the habit of updating this more regularly.

Snow Flurries near Ruddycleave, in a damp sketchbook.
For our first eight or nine years on Dartmoor we barely saw any snow; winter was just a time when it rained even more.  But the last two winters were pretty cold, and this one seems to be shaping up to out-do them; we've never seen snow before Christmas here before, but we woke up to quite a thick dusting of it this morning, with more promised for next week.  This is annoying as I'm supposed to be going up to London on Tuesday, and for once I was planning to take Sarah with me, but even if we can get to the railway station it doesn't look as if it will be the sort of weather in which my parents will want to venture up onto the moor for a spot of Sam-and-Frodo-sitting, so I shall have to go alone as usual, and leave sarah the merry task of taking Frodo out to do his Morning Poo at 7 a.m. in temperatures of about -5 .  (My mum and dad wouldn't mind that sort of thing a bit: they wake up at 5 a.m. anyway, and think warmth is for wimps because they spent their formative years sleeping in Anderson Shelters.)  So boo to winter.

On the other hand, I do quite like snow, especially when I don't have to be out in it but can look at it through the window while I curl up beside the fire with a good book.  And at the moment I have a particularly good book to curl up with, because Geraldine McCaughrean has kindly sent me a copy of her latest, Pull Out All The Stops.  It's a sequel to Stop The Train, her novel about the inhabitants of a town in the old west.  In the new book some of the children join the Bright Lights travelling theatre company as it makes its accident-prone way down the Missouri river aboard a ramshackle, abandoned paddle-steamer called the Sunshine Queen, which they manage to re-float.  It is, as usual, perfectly brilliant, and I'm rationing myself to three chapters a day to make the pleasure last.

It's so good, in fact, that don't even mind the fact that it has sunk not one but two of my own projects; I've been tinkering for ages with some ideas for a story set during the American Civil War, which was going to involve some characters re-floating a ramshackle, abandoned paddle steamer on the Missouri.  And I also had a vague notion that my own troupe of travelling actors, the Persimmon company out of A Web of Air, might stage some sort of elaborate con-trick to fox the villain of a future Fever Crumb adventure...  but I suspect that that's exactly what Geraldine's Bright Lights will be getting up to at the climax of her book.  In a way I feel quite chuffed that I  keep having the same ideas as her; the trouble is, she usually has them first, and does them much better than I could.

Anyway, a proper review of Pull Out All The Stops will appear soon on The Solitary Bee, another blog which seems, in its bee-like way, to have gone into hibernation recently.