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In every day life, John Jackson, a former Ship's Captain now retired. He still retains an avid interest in the Hash House Harriers, Rugby, Food, Romantic Fiction, Philately, etc etc etc.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Keeping Busy!!

Time for another Blog update, just before we head off to France on Holiday.

As usual, the calendar just gets fuller and fuller. One advantage of being retired is that we have the time to do a lot more.

No sooner was I back from the RNA Conference in Lancaster, than we were off to Harrogate to the Great Yorkshire Show. This is now the largest show of its kind in the UK, on a purpose-built showground, and is always a fun day out. 

We came back with some plants and bits of food, etc. The horses and other beasts were magnificent, and the "big kit" on display from the manufacturers of Farm Machinery was truly astounding. We always make a point of going early, so the traffic isn't too bad. Even the weather smiled. 

The following weekend saw me back down to Balsall Heath, to join friends from Warwick Hash House Harriers on their 200th Run. Several of us had been there on Run 1. Again, the Weather-Gods smiled, and friends assembled – some from Spain and points even farther away, for an afternoon of social running, walking and an occasional sociable beer. 
The Mean Lean Running Machines of Warwich H3, and their Friends

They come in all sizes,

They come in all ages.

and assume all positions.

But they are all old friends and practically housetrained.

Note: I have a note from my Mother, and am excused the Running and Walking bit, on account of me being deficient in the working-leg department to the tune of One! 

Warwick Hash on Facebook

My fellow author friend, Lynda Stacey has her first book out, and a bunch of us met up for a celebratory dinner to mark the launch.

Lynda herself, with her OH Hayden.

 (good bloke!)

House of Secrets is an excellent tale, and the subsequent sales have been really good. Roll on her next book.

House of Secrets on Amazon

This wasn’t the only launch I went to. Every year, I head off to Silverstone for the classic racing car meeting. This year, it coincided with the book launch of "Falling" by Julie Cohen.

Falling - Julie-Cohen

 Julie is not just a really good writer, she is a really good teacher of writing. That has been VERY helpful for someone like me. Even today, I keep two of her maxims at the front of my brain when writing.
1.      Repetition is DEATH!!
2.      Resist the Urge to Explain.

We all had a cracking evening in Waterstones in Reading. Lots of wine, lots of chat, lots of pics, lots of friends.

This year at Silverstone, I was joined by an old friend, Alan Brooks ("Sperm Whale") He makes me look slim, hence the nickname.

Love the Passenger Instructions!

 The event gets bigger and bigger, but there is still room to wander around, and an awful lot going on. Some great racing too, with cars going back to the 1940s. 

I confess to a great love for the Formula Junior cars, and for the awesome Lister "Knobbly" Jaguars. This is the sort of racing I knew when I was growing up.

Two weeks later, I was off to a Ball! The London Hash House Harriers 40th Anniversary Ball, held at the London Welsh Clubhouse at the Old Deer Park in Richmond. 

Everyone dressed to kill, and – once again – a host of old friends came out of the woodwork for it. Well done to "Last Tango" and her team for pulling it off. A cracking night.

And so we came to the Historical Novel Society Conference. This was held at the Mathematical Institute (The House of Sums) in Oxford, and we were, for the most part, billeted at St. Anne's College, almost directly across the Woodstock Road.

The Historical Novel Society

Fay Weldon was warm and witty, as was Jo Baker. Carol McGrath was an excellent compere. There were no "pregnant pauses"

I took over 500 pics, and have posted in excess of 300. Hopefully, I got a shot of most people. A good proportion of gentlemen there, and an equally good proportion of foreign visitors, mostly from the USA, who host next years conference in Portland Oregon.

This was my first HNS conference, and it was packed with an unbelievable list of speakers, including Fay Weldon, Tracy Chevalier, Jo Baker and Kate Williams, who all great to listen to, plus a host of other luminaries who were entertaining and informative.  

Kate Williams

Richard Lee. Founder of the HNS and its Chairman

Tracy Chevalier

For some reason, the area where we were assembling for lunch and coffee, etc. didn't have a PA system, so I got called on to shout loudly to get people moving towards the main lecture theater at the appropriate moment.

Melvyn Bragg was also there.

And so to the Gala Dinner.

All the nice girls love a Sailor!!

There is a tremendous cross-fertilization between the Romantic Novelist Association and the Historical Novel Society, so there were many existing friends there. It was also another weekend of people tapping me on the shoulder and saying "Hi! Your my friend / follower……" I love it when that happens.

My OH asked me what was the difference between the 2 conferences, and which I enjoyed more.
Well, I enjoyed them both equally. They were both a great way of spending a weekend amongst friends and making common cause in a highly sociable milieu.

The difference – for me – is that I learn more of the "Craft of Writing" at RNA Conferences and more about different ways of looking and writing about history at the HNS conference. So both SERIOUSLY good.

Finally, the Hedgehogs. They are still coming regularly and are all putting on weight. We now have 4 (we think). Mr and Mrs Snuffles and 2 smaller ones who could be their offspring. They all need to make a minimum weight of about 600gms., and I reckon ours are all doing just fine. 

They will probably disappear off to sleep in early November. 

We have actually bought a "hedgehogery" which we will be putting out in a corner of the garden shortly. We shall see if one of them uses it.

Enjoy the rest of your summer;