Cream Teas and Cannon Balls

What a weekend! Apart from shovelling a ton of gravel onto my newly made gravel garden in the pouring rain, I have just about completed my research for “The Uncertain Coast” and made a start on the writing thereof. It’s only going to have a limited market but an email winged its way into my box this morning asserting that writers might find it helpful to go for being a bigger fish in a smaller pond so perhaps I’m on the right lines.

Part of that research was to find a cannon ball fired off by John Paul Jones as he rendered passing honours at the house of the man tasked with eliminating piracy on the East Coast. Some of you may remember an earlier blog on this very subject. Well I have to tell you that cannon balls can be very disappointing. All I found was a weedy tennis-ball sized one rather than the flipping great lump of lead I was hoping for. Not worth a photograph at all. The cream tea was pretty yummy though.

I made one revision to the latest article for the Yorkshire Dalesman after I found a a slip-up about dates which made a nonsense of part of the article – don’t know how I came to write it or miss it first time around. It just shows the value of leaving a “finished” piece of work to stew for a while and then come back to it.

Yesterday I made a visit to racehorse trainer Ann Duffield’s yard up near Middleham in the Yorkshire Dales. I had a great morning interviewing her for a profile-type article and realised that I have enough material for at least one other article taking a different tack (if you’ll pardon the pun). It was a fascinating insight into a complex world of which I know nothing.

However, the piece de resistance occurred in a small café near Middleham where I fetched up for coffee before meeting Ann. It was quiet and the girl waiting tables was inclined to be chatty. Visitors at that time of the morning are clearly as rare as hen’s teeth and she asked me what I was doing there. Once I told her she was off like a whippet on steroids with her questions. Are you famous? Can you get rich as a writer? How do you publish for Kindle? What does it cost? Can you do it yourself?

Turns out that three years ago when she was sixteen she started to write a fantasy novel but then gave up because she couldn’t see how to get it published. So I shared what smidgeon I know with her and gave her Legends of Windermere blog to look up as an example of the blood, sweat and tears of indie publishing (Charles you owe me one if a teenager from England becomes your biggest fan). Before I left she held out a serviette and a pen and asked me to sign it “in case you ever become famous”.

My head is now a heck of a lot bigger than that cannon ball.

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