The weather app on my phone tells me there is zero precipitation in Blaenau Ffestiniog. It’s partly overcast with a light wind, apparently. In fact the wind is gusting gales, noisy air slamming down the valley, knocking over bins as it goes. I noticed a huge section of rendering and the drain pipe had fallen off the old toilet block in the garden today, eaten away by wind and rain. The rain is squally, coming and going moodily, but when it falls it’s vicious – thick spears of it hurtling almost horizontal down the hill from the Moelwyns towards Blaenau. The chimney howls in the evenings now and roars when it has a fire to consume. It’s bitterly cold, but we are not snowed in as we were this time last year. It feels like time to hunker down, though, and I’m glad to have only one more launch this year.
Last week I went with my sons to York and we had two days of holiday before the Inpress conference – a brilliantly organised and encouraging annual event for the small presses so ably represented by the Inpress team – and a launch for two of the competition anthologies – the Cat and A Roof of Red Tiles. The nine readers did a superb job and we had a well stocked and attentive audience in the beautiful Treehouse venue at York University – a place I haven’t been to since I was about fifteen and my cousin Jamie was baptised in the York University Chapel. The skies were blue and we had mild weather and leaves on the ground as we visited the Minster and explored the Shambles.
It was autumn last week. Now it is most certainly winter and one last trip to make before hunkering down. I’m glad we don’t have snow and I can get to Aberystwyth tomorrow for the second launch for Herbert William’s autobiography Nice Work If You Can Get It. It’s a great book – full of wit and charm – and the Arts Centre Bookshop at Aberystwyth University is always a welcoming and congenial venue. It’s a good launch to end the year on before turning to a few weeks of hibernation to catch up on admin and editing ad simply to take stock while the winds rage and the rain scours the granite and slate.