lemme tell you a story, ness talks about life

I’ve Returned. (Oh, And This Is How You Don’t Catch a Bus.)

fromcitadelGuess who has returned, life and sanity (possibly) intact? Yep! That would be me.

I’ve learned quite a bit – how to survive beneath a boiling sun (lots of water, suncream and shade hopping), catch a foreign bus and a host of other Very Important Things.

Oh, do you want to know how to catch a bus? Let me aid you in this by telling you what not to do.

How To Catch A Bus:

Don’t be polite and wait for the man to clamber down the steps and dismount from the front of the bus.
Don’t stare at the doors as they shut.
Don’t proceed to the middle doors and be extremely puzzled when these close too.
Don’t be astonished when the bus moves off, the last set of doors closing whilst it does so.
Don’t stare in bemused incredibility as you realise that there are people sitting in the bus and you aren’t one of them.
Do listen to the man speaking beside you. Do learn his language before you listen. He’s saying important things – [rough, paraphrased translation, minus hand waving] – “Get in the back of the bus, you dim-witted loon.”
 —

readingI’ve walked castle walls, roasted my skin, climbed steps (steps are wonderful things in small, manageable doses. A thousand or so in one go is not a small, manageable dose), eaten strange food, made friends and swum in clear waters.

And now I’ve returned home. And home, my dear friends, is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

England may not always have the most blue skies, its weather may not often reach the thirties (for this I am fervently thankful), it may not have clear seas or terribly exotic fauna.

But it is green, I consider it pleasant and it is the land I call home.

Hello Again!

books, lemme tell you a story, ness talks about life

So I Drove Seven Hours To Buy Some Books

For some time, I’ve seen Hay-On-Wye ‘The Town of Books’ lurking around the internet, and being in need of driving experience (and *cough* books) I decided to venture forth to Wales.

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pictured: said castle

Envisioning a land of glorious books with even more glorious prices, I found, well I found a lot of books, tourists and winding village streets.

Oh, and y’know … a castle.

[It must be noted that bookshops and castles are a heady combination that should not be allowed to intermingle for fear of an explosion of excellence.]

Hay-On-Wye has over twenty bookshops.

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such an innocent looking scene …

And also … Hay-On-Wye is twinned with Timbuktu.

All of the above is the truth.

Castles, bookshops and Timbuktu.

You’re welcome.

Strangely enough, at first I couldn’t find anything. Anything at all. Which is rather strange considering the enormous amount of choice. But I suppose it is possible to be swamped.

More wondering about. Visiting a Deli. Sending a postcard in the Post Office. People watching. Diving into another bookshop and … nothing.

Zero. Zilch.

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it combined the murder and book elements brilliantly. I took many pictures.

And then, after a reviving snack (driving and book-dipping are hungry work, I have decided) I ventured into the magnificently named ‘Murder and Mayhem’ bookshop.

I found authors – my authors. The ones that I had been looking for. But … some of them weren’t for me just then. Others I’ve already read. (And others were dramatically named ‘Die For Love’ which is almost as bad as ‘He Fell In Love With His Wife’).

Dorothy L Sayers was there and I should have purchased one of her books. I should have. But I didn’t. So there’s that. Instead, I turned to the trusty Agatha Christie and being a penny-pincher and ‘Already-Watched-The-Film-Adaption-Of-That-And-Know-Who-Dunnit’ I only purchased a single volume of her many works.

I visited yet another bookshop. It was then that I resigned myself to having driven many miles for a single book.

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a picture from the Bookshop In Which Was Purchased Nine Books

‘Ha,’ I thought magnanimously amused with myself, ‘all this way and for only one book? How hilarious. I could write a blog post on that. Make it a feature of my life; a story to tell and chuckle over when sipping a cup of tea with my numerous dear acquaintances.’

(I may be embellishing the above thoughts just a little).

But then, just when I was resigned to the inevitable small-talk fodder, I went into one last bookshop.

This was my small-talk undoing.

You see, it was then that I hit the treasure trove. It was then that I fell in-sync with the bookshops. It was then that I dive-bombed a Brontë and fell like dragon hoarding gold upon the Heyers.

Nine books in all.

And though I only had visited a small portion of the bookshops, it was time to come home.

… and now, after over seven hours of driving in total, I’ve reached home. Books are awaiting placement on shelves, driving experience has been attained and I’m … going to flop onto my bed with a book and the option of blissful sleep and bid this tired and verbose post adieu.

lemme tell you a story, ness talks about life

… And then I fainted [Story Time]

I’ve never fainted before. Not when I fell off that rope swing and broke both of my wrists. Not when a friend nearly died from anaphylactic shock. Not even when I woke up to find a burglar at the end of my bed with his hand in my jewelry box.

No.

You see I saved my first faint for a much more auspicious occasion: my debit card being denied in a little store, in a little town in America.

Caught in a terrible moment of ‘oh, no!’ I was first overtaken by a ‘brain freeze’ which was a sort of roaring followed by a white fuzzing around the fringes of my vision. Valiantly fighting this feeling I stood stock still and didn’t move, but alas! The war was in vain.

For a first swoon I did it quite gracefully – if I do say so myself – I leaned heavily onto the counter and slid onto a friend, who thought that I was being rather rude. Really! If I wanted to see the jewelry beneath the counter next to her, why didn’t I ask her to move instead of … sliding on top of her?

I am told that I whispered something softly about my legs; legs that were swaying like a puppet’s wooden appendages. This alerted my companions to something being wrong. For myself, it was all rather perplexing for I wondered why my legs were moving like that – for I had most excellent control over them and they were wobbling. Why were they wobbling?

Everything was fringed with white and grey and my friend’s voice was both distant and close as I was assured that everything was going to be okay. (Another perplexing thought – why wouldn’t it be okay?)

I’m told that I didn’t speak. I have no recollection of being able to speak as most of my world was taken up in what I call ‘blinking surprise’.

kinda like this
… with an incy bit of this.

I was somehow lowered to the floor. And when I was there I tucked an arm under my skirt (for I didn’t want anyone to see my underwear. One has to think of these things, you know) and leaned my head on my knees (that’s what fainting people did, wasn’t it?).

A purse was on the floor in front of me. It looked strangely li- oh, yes. It was mine. How on earth, I wondered with serious consideration, did it get there? Last time I had checked it was in my hand. A bottle of water was offered me with its lid off – this struck me as very strange. Did Americans’ sell their bottled water without lids? No matter, I drank it gratefully.

I tried to get up, but was told to stay sitting.

I sat.

A lollipop was offered to me (though brandished comes to mind as a more appropriate word). Three in fact. All given to me by a kindly new acquaintance of my friend (who looked up from kneeling next to me and exclaimed ‘I know you’ to the woman, who then offered the lollipops).

Finally I was allowed to get up and go outside to a bench, leaving the jewellery shop behind me. I polished off two lollipops, drank the bottle of water and then was taken to a cafe where I consumed a bagel, a banana and another bottle of water. This was my ‘Fainting Feast’ so to speak.

Then we sat on another bench and waited to be picked up. We’d locked the car keys in the car, you see. Oh yes, because when it rains, it pours.

Now, I’m sure that there will be quibbles as to whether I actually fainted or not – fainting, after all, is losing consciousness for a brief portion of time. I’m not certain I did and I’m not certain I didn’t. I do know, however, that everything went white and grey around the edges and I lost control of my body.

I also traumatized my friends.

… And now the moral of this story?

I would like to pretend that I did it all for research – heroines can often faint in books, and as an author, to know what it is like to faint would be useful. But in the end, even though I didn’t intentionally do it for research, I can use it for the same purpose. Life experience, you know. Useful stuff. Useful and traumatizing stuff.

Perhaps, for a brief moment in time I actually did lose consciousness. And if I did, I now know that everything doesn’t always go black – it goes grey and it goes white. But as I’ve only done this once and am not, in any sense of the phrase, a dab hand at this fainting business, I can’t honestly say for sure.

… and I don’t really wish to repeat the experience.