A Tale of Over-Excitement and Clumsiness

I may have been a little over-excited last week. First I sent off the first draft of the second book in the Secrets of the Tombs series. Second, I got to go to Bristol for an author evening organised by the lovely people at Orion Children's Books.

I was one of five authors there to tell the audience of wonderful booksellers a little bit about our new books coming out soon.  The other authors were Marcus Sedgewick, Alan Gibbons, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald and Steve Backshall. As you can imagine, I was a tiny bit star-truck to be in such company.

The goodie bag bursting with books . . .

The other authors all had such fascinating things to say about their new books, that I felt a little overwhelmed. That is my excuse for accidentally drop-kicking my full glass of wine across the floor as I got up to say my piece about The Phoenix Code. Luckily it was white wine and the carpet was one of those greyish-marly affairs designed to hide the evidence . . .

It would have been easier to pass the wine-kicking off as a one-off case of 'it could have happened to anyone' if I hadn't already managed to drown my phone in my handbag earlier in the afternoon, courtesy of a sloppily stoppered bottle of water (try saying that after a glass of wine, assuming you manage to drink it before tipping it over the carpet!).

No, all the signs point to the perfect storm of acute over-excitement superimposed upon chronic clumsiness.

Other highlights of the Bristol event were the chance to catch up with my lovely editor, Amber, and publicist, Hermione. It's so nice to have long chat in person, when we usually communicate by e-mail. I also discovered a shared fascination with giant salamanders (both Japanese and Chinese) with Steve Backshall. And a wonderful bookseller told me that he'd just finished reading The Phoenix Code with his ten year old son and that they had loved it! Yippee!

The evening also gave me chance to spend the next day with my niece, my sister and her husband. We shopped till we dropped, walked along the seafront and through the woods and ate our lunch outside in the sunshine (only interrupted by one rain shower!) with a view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge - it's so slender and delicate as it soars above the deep gorge.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Now I am home again and the sun is still shining. This morning was something of a re-run of the dangerous over-excitement-and-clumsiness combo

While walking my dogs in our fields I spotted a clump of not-officially-terribly-rare-but-you-hardly-ever-see-them bee orchids. I first sighted them in 2010 but they hadn't been around for the last few years as we had ponies grazing that paddock; it seems that bee orchids don't like great big pony teeth nibbling anywhere near them.

If you've not seen a bee orchid, they are truly delightful flowers - beautiful and comical at the same time - although whoever named them "bee orchids" had clearly not seen a whole lot of bees. They look more like smily little aliens. Perhaps the name "smily little alien orchid" was deemed too frivolous by the botanical powers-that-be.

Bee Orchid - aka Smily Little Alien Orchid

The bee orchids were the over-excitement.

The clumsiness came a few moments later. Storm, Maia and Pip had cornered a baby rabbit. They're sheepdogs, so their instinct is more to herd things into submission rather than to eat them, but the little bunny was far too scared to figure that out. I hastily called the dogs away from the cowering bunny and in the process slipped and somersaulted down the bank of the brook to land bottom-down in the rabbit hole. I was laughing so much that I couldn't get up.

Disappointingly, it was nothing like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. There was no Mad Hatter's tea party or cakes saying "eat me." Only rabbit poo, ants and nettles.

I did, however, have my phone (it recovered from the handbag-drowning after twenty-four hours!) in my pocket and took these pictures! 

the rabbit hole . . .
me in the rabbit hole . . .

Terrorise baby bunnies? Us? Must have been some other dogs!