Firstly, two bits of exciting news. Last week I signed a contract with Dreamspinner for my dragon novel, Reawakening. I’m still a little in shock, and very excited! The provisional release date is Jan/Feb 2014, but watch this space! I also, a few days before that, sold them a short story for their steampunk anthology, Steamed Up, which is coming out in the autumn. “The Clockwork Nightingale’s Song” is a story about a mechanic, an inventor, and a brass nightingale with a broken heart 🙂
In all that excitement, I completely forgot to post the last few pictures from my trip south. There’s not a tremendous amount more to say, but both Stratford and Oxford are very pretty places, even when you’re lugging around a backpack in a heatwave 😉 The one place I will rave about, though, is the incredible MAD Museum in Stratford-Upon-Avon, which I stumbled upon and spent a happy hour in – it’s a collection of mechanical art and every piece can be operated: cogs and clockwork and rolling marbles and shadows cast upon the wall in beguiling patterns. All that, and they immediately offered to look after my very heavy bags (possibly more for the sake of their exhibits than for me, but by the end of a trip away, that offer pushes any attraction up in my esteem ^_^) and they were just lovely and friendly and upbeat.
Shakespeare’s birthplace. I didn’t do the whole Shakespeare trail, partly because I’ve done it before, partly because I can get to Stratford and back easily in a day, and partly because I’m not daft enough to subject myself to one of the most touristy things in England on a Sunday in July 😉
And that’s the garden where Shakespeare’s house once stood. A mid-eighteenth century owner got into a row with the local council over taxes and planning permission and so demolished the place. He also uprooted a cherry tree that Shakespeare had planted because he was so fed up of it attracting tourists (nothing changes then).
A view from the bus stop in the lovely Chipping Norton. I had ten minutes here on the trip between Stratford and Oxford, and rather wish I’d had more. There can be few building materials in the world quite as lovely as Cotswold Stone.
Looking towards Merton College in Oxford very early the next morning. I only had an overnight stop in Oxford, but I got up very early and went for a wander around some old haunts before it got too busy. Again, there is little to compare to Oxford in the sunlight.
Looking up the High from the corner of Queens’ Lane. A rare picture of the centre of Oxford without any buses.
The bottom of Queens’ Lane. Some of the best gargoyles in Oxford can be found along here, if you know exactly where to look up (they’re also very hard to photograph well, so you’ll have to take my word for it).
At the other end of the lane, with a beer lorry unloading under the Bridge of Sighs (this is the back entrance to the Turf Tavern, one of the oldest pubs in Oxford).
The entrance to the Sheldonian and Broad Street from the steps of the Bodleian. Including the ubiquitous crane (there are always cranes in the centre of Oxford). As always, I was a little loath to leave, but I also wanted to finally get home and catch my breath, and Oxford will always still be Oxford.