Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Back to reality












I’ve had chance to draw breath (and, because all good things come to an end, go back to work) after my summer holiday – a break all the more welcome as it gave me a chance to make at least a small impression on my massive to-be-read pile.

A couple of nights in Barcelona were followed by a seven-night cruise of the Mediterranean on a ship called the Norwegian Gem. The highlight in Barcelona was undoubtedly a trip to the marvellous Parc Guell, with its Gaudi sculptures, which reminded me that I’ve yet to write up the short story idea I had on my last visit in October, for a tale to be called ‘Gaudi Night’. But the sight of all the living statues on the Ramblas gave me another storyline…

Cruising has provided the backdrop for a number of mystery novels. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie must be the best-known, but others include Too Much of Water by the under-estimated Bruce Hamilton, and Obelists at Sea by that writer of extraordinary puzzles, C. Daly King. And listening to one of the shipboard pianists gave me yet another cruise mystery idea. The only question is when I’ll get round to writing up these stories…

This was my first cruise for nineteen years – since before children arrived on the scene, that is. Cruising has changed in the interim – the ships are much bigger, the facilities much better, the food even more plentiful and fattening than before. For lazy travellers like me, it’s the ideal way to sample fresh parts of the world. And among the sunny spots I visited were Valletta (the signboard in the picture was the closest I camee to spotting the fabulous Falcon), Naples, Pompeii, Livorno, Pisa and its leaning tower, Tarquinia and Cannes. The Bogartesque artwork, by the way, comes from Cannes – not far from where some of the scenes of To Catch a Thief (which I covered in this blog recently) were filmed by Hitchcock.

And one final thing. All authors like a morale boost now and then. And I got one when I found some of my books in the ship library, which was otherwise dominated by American bestsellers.

9 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

That must have been great to see your books on the ship's shelves! Time for a pat on the back.

Love the pictures...thanks for taking us along on a virtual cruise.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Dorte H said...

I am sure I am not the only reader who would love to hear more about Gaudi Night!

Gaudi is indeed a marvelous architect. There is such a fairy tale quality to many of his building - I think we could use more of that around, especially in a time of crisis.

BooksPlease said...

It looks as though you had a lovely holiday! And how good to see your own books on board! Quite right too.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, ladies. Dorte, I knew littel about Gaudi before my first visit to Barcelona last year, but have become a huge fan.
One place I nearly got to see (but didn't) was the Tarot Garden in Italy, which was influenced by Gaudi. And merely thinking about it gave me yet another story idea....

bookwitch said...

Oh, you wealthy types..!

So, not a single murder on board?

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Bookwitch. I'm tempted to say this is how I always holiday, but I've spent the last 16 summers in Aberdyfi instead!
No murders on board, alas, but plenty of interesting characters to observe!

Maxine said...

I wrote a comment here a while back but blogger ate it, I forgot to copy, and lost heart. Trying again....summary of what I said before:

First, welcome back!

Second, what a lovely surprise, finding your books in the ship library. That must have been such a boost. I hope all your fellow passengers were spotted (and photographed?) avidly reading them.

Third, we were quite keen on a cruise this year (including some tours of classical Greek islands, Scandinavian fjords, or similar), but I was put off partly by the fact that I easily get seasick but also becuase what happens if you are stuck on a boat where the food is awful, accommodation uncomfortable, blaring music from tannoys, etc? You can't change hotel or restaurant. Is there any way to check these things out in advance or do you just gamble?

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Maxine. I am a 100% fan of cruising, though this was my first since the children arrived. If you avoid the Bay of Biscay, seasickness shouldn't be a problem. On the Norwegian Gem, there were no fewer than 12 restaurants, so food ranges from good to excellent. They are now very hygience conscious because of the risk of swine flu etc, so you might be safer on a cruise ship than in some other places. And you can have a luxurious experience for a cost that is not extortionate (provided you are wary of the pricey 'extras'). I can't wait till my next cruise....

Maxine said...

Thanks for the tips, Martin. I'll look out for the Norwegian Gem - sounds as if fjords might feature in its repetoire (or whatever the correct word is for boats). Do you know it never occurred to me that a boat might have more than one restaurant? How naive is that? Oh well, there is always a lot to learn in this world!