Best way to start one’s week: on a train to
Balamory Tenby, implausibly picturesque jewel of the Pembrokeshire coast. I last hit West Wales on a post-A Levels holiday, to enjoy those final bits of intimacy with school friends before we all buggered off to university (we went to a very classy nightclub in Saundersfoot, and got chatted up by a bloke who claimed he was Griff Rhys Jones’s nephew: such are pulling techniques of the Welsh schoolboy), but generally when I head for the homeland I get stuck at Cardiff. Which is lovely, of course, but provides fewer opportunities for building sandcastles.
Pembrokeshire has so many castles of the non-sandy variety they have no truck with Stonehenge-esque fencing, and are quite content for you to meander all over them. Carew is good: Manorbier even better (not least because their costumed mannequins are Madame Tussaud’s cast-offs: marvel at medieval J.R. Ewing! fling rotten tomatoes at Brezhnev in the stocks!). Highlight of the holiday, however, was the company. Apparently, you can hire a paparazzo to follow you around all day to make you feel like a star. I recommend obtaining a small niece instead, who will be similarly mesmerised by your every nose-blowingly mundane act (Auntie Susie has socks on! Auntie Susie has muesli! Auntie Susie HAS EYES!). Comes with free hugs. Sometimes the hugs include jam. Could anyone ask for more?
From Head To Toe, Eric Carle; Cockatoos, Quentin Blake; Kipper, Mick Inkpen. Two-year-olds have all the best books.
I need to get better at writing on trains. Curse you, iPod, distractor of the masses! Although should you find yourself on a 5 hour train journey that has just become a 7 hour train journey thanks to a 4-minute delay making you miss your connection – just to pluck an example from thin air, natch – you could always pass the time listening to me (and other more amusing people) blethering away about narrative point of view, Sex & the City, and chocolate plungers on last week’s Litopia podcast (iTunes or streaming). Otherwise, I’ve been contemplating Chekhov’s Gun (not to be confused with Chekov’s Gun). I suspect I’ve got an entire armoury strapped to the wall in the opening chapter of Biscuits & Lies: might need to discard a crossbow or two…
Being entertained by The Last Shadow Puppets (they sound like The Walker Brothers channelling Viv Stanshall: basically Gretschen Hofner with a bigger production budget, which can only be a good thing); watching M*A*S*H (the Henry/Trapper/Frank Burns era: oh Radar, I do love you so); being hugely impressed as usual by the ginormous brain of Alex von Tunzelmann, whose Indian Summer makes even a kidlit junkie like me get excited about grown-up non-fiction; eating magnificent fish & chips from Ficci’s in Tenby, who have been frying since 1935 – accept no substitutes!