October 19th, 2011


Rubies at the castle.

We had a splendid long weekend away -- started with a visit to my parents, which is always good, then headed on to explore the handful of south Welsh castles that the marquis has not yet seen. We also managed to fit in a visit to St Dogmaels for research purposes (for The Drowning Kings). I didn't go to the abbey -- it's a twelfth century foundation, and my version is thus author's license -- but I did need to check out the mouth of the estuary at Poppit Sands for various reasons. (Low very sharp rocks, and dunes. Which was hard to see clearly on google maps and is very useful).
We managed to get to most of the castles -- the marquis is deeply underwhelmed by the creeping tendency for castles and other monuments to be closed from late Sept until May. As he observes, not everyone is tied to the school holidays and some of us actively choose to visit outside them. Plus, apparently, all castles should be open at all times. He feels very strongly about this. There is ranting.
Saturday was his birthday, and he decided he wanted to spend it seeing more castles (all open, thankfully), and then staying overnight
here. This was our second visit -- I finished the first draft of Grass King there two years ago -- and it was every bit as lovely as we remembered. I am, as we know, a dyed-in-the-wool socialist, but there is nevertheless a peculiar delight to spending a night in lovely surroundings, drinking a very good wine and wearing rubies. (Well, rubies of a fairly inferior kind, more pink than red, and cloudy, in a necklace that is mostly onyx. But all the same... It's a very pretty necklace.) And then on Sunday we headed back via the National Arboretum, which was lovely with autumn colour, and a couple more castles and the Hook Norton Brewery tap.