Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Greetings from Snowy England

What a stressful build up to the holidays this year!

Thanks to Arctic-type weather, England came to a standstill for days. Airports were closed. Passengers stranded. My friend in Dorset couldn’t leave her house for almost a week. My husband and I had our flights cancelled twice. Eventually, Virgin Atlantic offered us a flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and then on to Gatwick. I love Virgin Atlantic. They use Twitter to communicate flight information to passengers @VirginAtlantic. Being able to ask a question and instantly get a direct, personal answer was very cool.

The 250-mile drive that followed from Gatwick in the south-east to Devon in the south-west was surprisingly easy since motorists had been advised to steer clear of the roads. We finally arrived in Harberton, a tiny village close to Totnes on the edge of Dartmoor late on Christmas Eve. Six days late, but better late than never—especially for my lovely mum who is a spry, feisty 81 and had been looking forward to our visit for a whole year.

With the release of my fourth book in the Vicky Hill Mysteries, Thieves!, just under a week away, I was delighted to learn that the Dartington Morris Men were braving the winter chill and would be going ahead with their traditional Boxing Day performance, after all.

For those unfamiliar with my English mysteries set in the wilds of Devon, I like to introduce readers to a British hobby or unusual profession – be it hedge jumping, hedge cutting, snail racing, a Farmer Calendar competition etc. (I still have a few 2011 British Farmer Calendars left for anyone who is interested.)

So … there we all were on the Totnes “Plains” at noon on Boxing Day, cheering on the Dartington Morris Men who were dressed in thin white shirts and baldricks; their black trousers adorned with bell pads, bravely stepping out to the sounds of “The Mumper” and “The Nutting Girl.” The biggest coup was discovering a member of Dartington Morris was in fact, a former national champion who has agreed to give me an interview for my website in the new year. I captured some terrific photos and filmed several of their dances that will be up on my Facebook page once I’m back in Los Angeles.

Much as I have been reluctant to embrace the wonders of the Internet—call me old-fashioned—I have to admit that Virgin’s tweets saved my sanity and the opportunity to post a bit of Morris dancing on my website, very handy.

Of course, my mother’s house in Harberton does not have access to the Internet. I had to find an cafe … and, for some reason, I wasn’t surprised to discover that Starbucks has infiltrated the depths of the British countryside.


Vicki Delany said...

So glad to hear you made it.

Rick Blechta said...

For odd British carryings-on, there's also cheese rolling.

Glad you made it home. We drove home from NY a day earlier than planned because of their blizzard rolling in. Been there, done that. They don't handle snow all that well in "Downstate" New York and the tri-state area, either.

I think it's time Britain orders more snow plows...

Donis Casey said...

I've been thinking of you a lot. I'm so glad to know you made it okay!

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