Good afternoon

A great afternoon at La Grande Galerie yesterday, when Eileen and Wally celebrated the 3rd anniversay of their gallery opening.

The grey damp weather was successfully held at bay by light, airy marquees, and the event was very well attended.

Eileen and Wally, respectively glamorous and genial, really did put on a splendid show, and spoiled us disgracefully. Cocktails and never-ending trays of really classy and irresistible nibbles served by two very charming and persuasive gentlemen. Bang went the Dukan Diet for the afternoon. We were entertained by a live piano recital and later a lively rock band.

Among several stalls was a local English gentleman selling his artisanal ice-creams. I learned from him that Maggie Thatcher was responsible for making air the main ingredient of English ice-cream, and how Italian ice-cream makers use UHT milk for theirs as against the English who use fresh.

Next to me was a very nice man called Peter Hoskins, with his book “In the Steps of the Black Prince.”  Peter spent five years researching and retracing on foot the “chevauchées” of Edward, the Black Prince during the 100 years war.  The chevauchée was a form of warfare designed to demoralise the entire enemy population by wreaking the destruction of their land and cities, something at which Edward was quite adept. He defeated the French army at the battle of Poitiers, taking the French King John prisoner. Funnily enough, despite the havoc and humiliation Edward brought to the people of France, they don’t appear to bear him any animosity. “Le Prince Noir” is a common name for French hotels, restaurants and bars, one only a couple of kilometres from the battlefield where he captured King John.

I also met Angela Berry, the artist who created the really stylish cover for Peter’s book.

Talking of covers, I am really thrilled by the number of people who have commented on the cover of The Valley of Heaven and Hell. So many compliments. Please take full credit, Fena, for a job very well done. 🙂

Book sales were quite brisk, and one purchaser told me that she’d taken her bicycle from Harrogate down to London for the royal wedding, and been able to watch Kate Middleton leaving her hotel, arriving at the Abbey, and waving from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, thanks to the cycle-friendly London streets. Whether people buy or not, I always  enjoying talking and listening to them.

Later I took the dogs for their evening walk through the fields. It was a slightly surreal experience, because it felt far more like an early autumn morning than a mid-summer evening. It was pleasantly mild and still, with a hazy sunshine; the ground was damp, steamy and sweet-smelling, and the air was heavy. I noticed some small puffball mushrooms amongst the grass.

A thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable day.

If only the hornets would stop flying down the chimney in the evening and buzzing around me while I’m writing. They are attracted by the light. Each time one starts circling me, I have to get up, switch off the light, switch on the patio light, open the door and wait for the hornet to exit. I don’t know if it’s a different creature each time, or just a very slow learner.



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