Mary's musings

Mary Hoffman, author of over 90 children's books, including the Stravaganza series and Amazing Grace, has begun a web journal which will be updated roughly once a week. You can read more on

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Not dropped off the planet

It might seem so, it's so long since I blogged. A lot has happened in the meantime.

Jessica was diagnosed with ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on 4th May. Since then she has been having acupuncture and we have found a wonderful qualified GP who specialises in diet and homeopathic treatments so we are very hopeful that she won't be ill for too much longer.

I already had a holiday booked for the last two weeks in May in Crete, so we went. It was a great break from invalid care, change of scene etc. But I was very glad that I didn't fall in love with it. It hasn't displaced Italy in my affections. Knossos was impressive and the museum at Heraklion even more so.

In the middle of the two weeks, Stevie and I walked the Samaria Gorge. With hindsight, this was a Big Mistake! It was a 13km "walk" - more of a downward climb really - dropping over 1200m from the Omalos plateau to the sea. We saw sights that one could not experience any other way and it was spectacular. But for the next two days I was really laid up - not just stiff but unable to walk or sit down or get up without searing pain down the fronts of both thighs. It was a "sports injury" - me!

It started to ease after 2 days and a massage and I was still able to swim, sunbathe and read so don't expect any sympathy. We were very lucky because there were no visitors booked into the flat above ours so the two of us had the pool and terrace to ourselves for two weeks - what bliss.

Before we left I went to two memorial services- Jan Mark's in London and Nick Shackleton's in Cambridge. Jan's was full of unexpected choices - music by the Travelling Willburys for example. But Julia Eccleshare's address was just right, capturing the complex character she was. Nick Shackleton was a geophysicist, an FRS, Professor and a Knight, who also had an international reputation as an expert on the history of the clarinet. He had a collection of 400 instruments and could play them.

He married my best friend at Cambridge and we 3 shared a house - and a cat - for a year. I hadn't seen much of him for some time but the service was quite emotional for me. His ex-wife, my friend, had helped to organise it and it was a joy to see her again.

We took 12 boxes of foreign language editions of my books (mainly Stravaganza) to the International school in West London and it was lovely to think of them going to the right people.

Rhiannon and I went to open a library at a school in Reading and it was just what a school visit should be but hardly ever is. Renews ones faith in the whole enterprise.

I returned from Crete to 6,000+ e-mails, mostly junk but they needed checking. I've just finished answering the 30+ fanmails - on my laptop, thanks to clever work by Rhiannon. (It wasn't as simple as you might think it sounds). One of the mails was from Sweden, where I'm going to a literary festival in September (Litteralund). Kate Cann is the other English guest and we had a good phone call about what we are going to do.

I'll have to fly out straight after the SAS retreat at Charney but it will be worth it.