September ramblings

There was much activity on Walmer beach at the start of the month – diggers and dumpers, transporting the shingle from one end of the beach to the other (apparently). The men at work must have wondered why I was videoing them – for the grandson, obviously…

I took my first train trip since lockdown, up to London and back in a day, excited to see my daughter, Julia, after over a year. It was probably the longest time I’d had to wear a mask at any one time and, apart from the usual hazard of my glasses steaming up whilst trying to read, the whole trip was very straightforward. The Kings Cross area, where I met Julia for lunch, felt rather sad and desolate. Very few cafés and shops were open in Coal Drops Yard, normally vibrant and busy, and hand sanitising stations had popped up every few yards.

Back home, the grey skies vanished after a day or so and the temperatures crept back up again in time for some visitors and more fizz on the beach, plus a wander around Walmer Castle gardens where the late summer and early autumn borders still had plenty of colour.

Julia arrived to stay for a few days and the temperature soared, enticing us back into the water for a swim, followed by the last Pimms of summer (on the beach, of course).

We spent a very hot day in Margate, making a film about the inspiration behind my latest book (The Margate Maid/A Maid’s Ruin), in which Turner’s very early works played a part (below left). The excellent creative services of a filmmaker friend, and Julia’s assistance, made the whole process surprisingly straightforward. We popped into Haeckels, a shop in Cliftonville featuring all things seaweed. It was quite an experience, making a purchase via their socially distanced vending machine (below right), housed in a ‘hall of mirrors’.

We had a day out in Folkestone, checking out the shops in the High Street and beyond, including Moda, which has to be my favourite shop for gift buying.

Then we wandered along the harbour arm and along the boardwalk, taking in a few of the artworks on the art trail. It all looks very tranquil in the photos but it was actually blowing a gale (which the weather forecast defined as a moderate breeze…).

After Julia left, I worked on the edits of Book Three in the latest trilogy, and pondered some ideas for a new book (or new series, perhaps), while also helping to make some tweaks to the film, ready for its debut as part of Libraries Week in October.

Back in London, Julia celebrated her birthday, ably assisted by Ellis, while I lit the first fire in the new house on a gusty weekend. Turned out to be a bit smoky – the house smelt as though I’d had an indoor bonfire!