Monday, 28 September 2009

Warning - Gratuitous Holiday Snaps

Well, here I am, back again, after a lovely weekend. We went to Inveraray, which is a tiny little town in the west of Scotland on the shores of Loch Fyne. It has a castle, a jail, gorgeous scenery, a few pubs, and about seventeen thousand shops selling tourist tat. You can get See You Jimmy hats in every other shop in the high street. Why you would want to do such a thing I have no earthly clue, but there you go- they are, sadly, available.

We spent the whole weekend stuffing our faces. Here we are about to eat at the famous Loch Fyne seafood restaurant. I had oyster followed by lobster. Luckily the photos was taken before the meal because by the end of it I had lobster in my hair and butter all over my face. It was yummy. Not my face - that can never be described as yummy.

Inveraray Castle is the home of the Duke of Argyll. As with most Scottish history, all you really need to know about the historical earls and dukes of Argyll is that most of them didn't like the English, and conspired with...well, anyone else, against them. The castle is very grand, there are lots of paintings, fancy furnishings and nice cake in the cafe. As usual, I spent most of the time wandering around the castle trying to see into bits that you're not supposed to go in. I got caught opening a door. Whoops.

We also visited the jail/courthouse, which is a fascinating place with lots of dummies. This picture shows three of the dummies. It would have been a horrendous place to live, although in the 1840s new reforms brought in central heating, three meals a day and gas lighting (to replace no heat, no lights, one meal a day). Unfortunately, that turned out to be too much largesse in one go and people were queuing up to get in. Mind you, it wasn't very hard to get yourself thrown into jail. Walking around after dark on a Sunday would do it. One little boy got thrown into the cells for stealing a ginger biscuit. You could get 14 years for stealing a sheep, and 7 years for murder. I got to try the thumbscrews and a table you could lie on and be whipped, but enough of my personal life...

I had a nice little haul of gifts, including Nelson Algren's THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM, David Simon's HOMICIDE, Nick Cave's THE DEATH OF BUNNY MONROE (yippee!!), some personalised notepaper (I have a thing about paper), a couple of Muse albums, and tickets to the ballet (Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray). And then last night we went to see Bombay Bicycle Club at one of my favourite Glasgow venues - King Tuts Wah Wah Hut. They were brilliant, although we brought the average age of the crowd up quite considerably...

And now, to return you to your regularly scheduled crime fiction, here are a couple of news items.

Spend a minute with Philip Kerr. And he's shortlisted for the 2009 CWA Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award.

Craig Russell interviewed in the Aberdeen Press and Journal.

Iain Banks at the Wigtown book festival between now and 4th October, and the Beverley Literature Festival (October 1st to 11th). I know he has an alter ego in Iain M Banks, but presumably he's scheduled for different days. And TRANSITION is reviewed in The Guardian.

The Independent reviews Val McDermid's FEVER OF THE BONE. And Norm at CrimeScraps reports on her appearance at the Budleigh Salterton festival.

Sue Walker's THE BURNING comes out on October 1st.

And finally, what a nice idea as a hotel leaves an Ian Rankin novel in every suite. I'm not sure what you get in your room if it's not as posh as a suite, mind.


  1. That's OK. I only ever stay in suites.

  2. Loch Fyne looks very tempting for a holiday despite the tourist tat, and thanks for the link.