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

Saturday, July 28, 2007

High water rather than hell

Everyone has their own flood story this summer; this is mine. On Friday we were due to drive up to Shreswbury for a cousin's wedding the next day. My sister, whose birthday it was, was coming from Eastbourne but was delayed by floods at Harywards Heath, a landslide at East Croydon and another flood on the way into London. Since her journey was taking all day, we decided to pick her up in Oxford.

But the roads round here in West Oxfordshire were impassable or impossible in many places and the Brize Norton roundabout full of cars abandoned in the water. We did eventually get to Oxford but by then decided it would be foolish to attempt the drive north and booked into a hotel. Good thing we did or, instead of having a drink in the bar and a nice Italain meal in Summertown, we would have been in one of those cars stranded on the M5 without food, drink or loos and no chance of sleeping.

The wedding was fine - only a few guests didn't make it but there were over 200 guests, each with a story.

On the Sunday we had to get to West Sussex from Shrewsbury after not much sleep. But that ended up like a proper summer Sunday, drinking tea in the sun after a lovely Sunday lunch.

On Monday I was due to go to Charney Bassett for our annual SAS retreat. The radio actually mentioned Charney as one of the places due to flood (overflowing River Ock). Floods at Ducklington and Standlake too, they said, which are on my normal route. So I set off for Faringdon and was turned back at Alvescot. In the end I got there by the usual route, late and quite exhausted, greeted by concerned fellow-writers telling me how terrible I looked.

It was wonderful, as always. The house, a gem of an Elizabethan manor, had been refurbished since our last retreat and all the rooms now have bathrooms. I had a gorgeous one with stone-framed windows overlooking the gardens. We had inspiring sessions on book promotion, writing for adults, and so on and a hysterical quiz night on which the team I was in - the Litchicks - had a convincing win. We won far too much chocolate for our own good.

I forgot to take a book! But someone had discarded Rose Tremain's Restoration which I fell upon. Enjoying it hugely so far.

Yesterday I got an advance copy of the UK and US editions of Princess Grace. They do both look wonderful and the UK one has the title in silver foil, which I always wanted.



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