A day out across the country

This actually happened a week ago, but since then I’ve been ill and then run off my feet at work so I haven’t had much of a chance/inclination to do a blog post about it.

Last Sunday (7th November) I went on something of a cross-country jaunt. Firstly I went down to Cambridge to see my mother (who doesn’t live in Cambridge, but we agreed it as a meeting point). Her birthday was on November 5th, which was of course Guy Fawkes Night, and more importantly, the release date for DARK SKY. She also used to work in Cambridge some fifty years ago and was able to show me around a bit (I’d been once before, briefly, to visit my cousin for a few hours when we were both at university).

Cambridge is really a rather nice-looking city. It’s dominated by university colleges, of course, and that gives it a very different character to most of the other places I’ve been. What’s more, those colleges are often hundreds of years old, so it’s a far cry from a steel-and-plastic ex-polytechnic.

A bridge that’s apparently based on some geometry-related principle.
The front of King’s College.
King’s College Chapel.
The front of Trinity College.
A small side street. This puts me in mind of my mental image of Ankh-Morpork.

While there we popped into Heffers bookshop, which has been there since 1876. And lo and behold, tucked into their (fairly small) sic-fi and fantasy corner, I found these!

Lookin’ at me funny.

I spoke to an assistant and, somewhat hesitantly, wondered whether they might want me to sign the books since I wrote them? They agreed, and what’s more, proceeded to lay the books out on the ‘ledge’, a rather more obvious display area around the main balcony. Simply because I introduced myself and offered to sign them. It just goes to show, I think, that it really can be worth putting yourself out there a little.

Speaking of putting yourself out there… after I’d finished seeing my mum and she’d gone off to catch her train home, I drove on south-west from Cambridge to Hemel Hempstead to visit my friend Emily. I’ve known Emily for fifteen years since she was in a band with another friend of mine. These days she makes her own acoustic music under the name of Minnie Birch. She’s just left her job as a children’s librarian in order to pursue her music career, and yesterday she set off for a tour of Germany! Bearing in mind that my preferred genre of music is punk music, and the louder, faster version of punk music at that, it should say something when I tell you that I love Emily’s brand of acoustic folk. She’s an absolutely amazing singer, and I strongly recommend that you check her out. She has an album called ‘Floundering’ out now.

Emily/Minnie ready to leave. Picture courtesy of the Minnie Birch Facebook page.

I went to her book character fancy dress ‘retirement’ party and found myself in a house with The Princess And The Pea (Emily herself), Fantastic Mr. Fox, Harry Potter, Tank Girl, Where’s Wally, two Katniss Everdeens, and so on. As for me, I’d been walking around Cambridge all day and so hadn’t been able to be in costume. Also, the mohawk makes it a bit difficult to dress up as anyone else. So I had to settle for a certain T-shirt…

No fewer than two members of Cambridge Wetherspoons staff were cool enough to compliment me on this.

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