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Posts tagged ‘Crime writing’

And at the end of the road… the Fisterra sunset

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The complimentary churros served with our cafe con leche in one of Cee’s town centre cafes probably slowed us down this morning, after the initial sugar rush had passed. That, and meandering around the colourful market, choosing fresh fruit to eat on the road to Finisterre.

I’d imagined, since we were already at the coast, that it would be a simple stroll along the beach to the end of the world. How naive. I should have learned long ago that when any route has  an opportunity to gain height, it does, and on the Camino you don’t consult the map, you just follow the yellow arrows. They took us upwards, to high vantage points, through Corcubión’s medieval streets and up again to finally catch sight of Finisterre.

I tied my boots to my pack once we clambered back down and reached the beach, and like the pilgrims ahead of me waded barefoot the length of Playa Langosteira, all the way to the edge of town and the first bar, where a cerveza was already poured and waiting. We had arrived.

The hostel we found looked a bit bedbug friendly but, feeling reckless, we stayed nevertheless then lined up for our Compostellas in the pilgrim office, ate, drank and set off again, up another hill in the dusk to the legendary lighthouse, past statues of pilgrims, crosses and all the commercial paraphernalia of a tourist hotspot.

But as the sun started to sink it wasn’t hard to find a quiet rock out on the headland to sit and savour the experience.

 

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When the last rays sank into the water there was spontaneous applause. The five amigos hugged when we found one another then we walked – one limping – back down the hill to celebrate the sun, life and the adventure.

 

My peat plot problem

Does anyone have experience of burying bodies? Preferably in peat?  Was anything dropped in the grave that was incriminating?

I’m addressing writers, you understand, not murderers. And no, these aren’t questions I expected I’d ever have to ask but an unpredicted twist in my almost completed story means I’m having to rewrite a section and I’m struggling to find a likely item that would survive long enough to date the grisly event back in the late 1970s when the body is eventually uncovered in 2014.

I know this isn’t the time for reflecting on dastardly deeds, but perhaps in a spare moment, while you’re choosing presents, watching a nativity or humming a carol you might give some thought to my dilemma which is currently driving me to drink; mulled wine, as it happens – there has to be some seasonal cheer in an otherwise murder-riddled festive period.

The scene is a remote Scottish moor and the baddie, a mature male farmer, disposes of the evidence without considering that the blanked-wrapped body will ever be found, so he’s not too careful. Peat bogs are exceptionally good at preserving items but it doesn’t need to incriminate him, just anchor the event in the period.

Oh,  you want to know if there’s a reward for the most useable information? Well, I could name one of my characters after you so that you’d be immortalized in a …ahem… bestseller.

How about it?

Stretching time

It has been passing too fast, this gap “year” of mine and it seems I’ve now overrun my original 12-month deadline. Thirteen months and … well, who’s counting? Best not. I’ve been stretching it out, packing in adventures, travels, walking,  sunshine, encounters and as much writing as I can before my nomadic lifestyle comes to an end and I have to work again.

The hills have been an enduring focus. Two of the most memorable were Beinn Chabhair and Ben Cruachan in Argyllshire; brutes of mountains which demanded long days and big effort. We started late after mornings of rain spent reading in the tents but Chabhair eventually rewarded the steady slog with evening sunshine and outstanding views. There was no desire to leave the summit so we dallied and gazed at the ranges of hills, trying to work out the names of different peaks, returning to camp too late and tired to cook. We pooled resources and shared beer, chocolate and yoghurt – a walker’s feast.

But Ben Cruachan was a different matter. It has been a target for a long time and it lulled me upwards, almost promising all day that the clouds on the summit would clear as I reached through them to the top.

But for once I wasn’t lucky. I’m a fair-weather walker so the last few hundred feet of navigating through mist over rock slabs was a disorientating experience which I’m not keen to repeat. I turned back once, only to meet a couple of serious climbers then follow them sheep-like to the summit. Finding a route back on my own was scary.

Then it was back up to Sutherland to climb Canisp, the elegant swirl of hill I admired from the summit of Suilven in the springtime. I could P1010343gaze all day at the wonder that is Suilven … But Sandwood Bay beckoned still further north across the moors.

What a day of late summer sunshine, the magnificence of Ben Stack, Foinaven and Arkle poking stark out of the expanse of Sutherland’s heather and moorland.  I want to return to camp there, miles from roads and houses and people and take time to enjoy its peace. Next year.

I camped in the pine woods of the Cairngorms and on the coast  in Fife; I spent three days in Stirling at the “Bloody Scotland” crime writing festival listening to successful writers discuss their books and making friends (and commiserating) with like-minded aspiring authors. One woman had written 18 novels and published them online to acclaim yet still can’t attract a publishing deal. What hope for the rest of us who’re still struggling to finish our first?

But despair in pointless (while procrastination is not) so I jumped on a cheap flight to Bordeaux to rewalk parts of last year’s Camino more slowly. And visit Pamplona, Estella, Bilbao and finally the lovely French town of Bayonne.

And now I’m going to stop and stay still for a while. I’ve arranged to rent a little cottage for the winter; it’s by a beach and it has a fireplace. I don’t need more.  Hibernation suddenly feels like another exciting adventure. I’m going to enjoy the sound of the waves at the door, to walk in all weathers and finish my story.

And in the springtime? Time, I hope, will stretch.