After a month of travelling, I arrived back at the Olive Farm a couple of days ago and was greeted by very warm weather and full blown spring. It was a robust and colourful welcome with creatures buzzing about on the open blossoms everywhere and overwhelming happiness from our three dogs. More good news this week is that the EU has put a two-year ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, which is a promising first step towards the rehabilitation of honeybee colonies in Europe. Italy, who banned these pesticides some time ago, is already seeing an improvement in the survival rate of their bee colonies. Here is a recent article from the BBC explaining simply how the decision has been made and what is at stake. If you would like to read more on the subject, please go to my BEE AWARENESS page on this website :
America! Thank you. What welcomes I received, everywhere.
I am going to write a Newsletter during the coming days, when I have caught up a little with my mountain of mail, and this will include a few photos if any of them are worth posting. I am also writing a short article for the Mail on Sunday’s Travel section about my few days in Chicago, a city I had never visited before and one that I found exhilarating and fascinating.
I have no notion of how many miles I have travelled in this last month but I have certainly seen the US from many angles, both rural and urban, both exciting and concerning. But the overriding memory of this tour will be my audiences and those who put the events together for me, welcoming me to their cities, their gardens, bookshops, theatres, lecture rooms etc. I have learnt a great deal as well, about the history of this huge continent, its flora and fauna and American architecture.
My birthday celebrations were, in US jargon, ‘awesome/something else’. Readers drove or flew from all corners of the States to put together a really memorable party. In fact, parties because I was celebrating days before and days beyond. I drank Michigan champagne, having never even known of its existence before that evening. It was very delicious. I received so many gifts that I needed to add another suitcase to my travel load, all of which I am now unpacking, while finding homes for the gifts.
The trip was truly memorable. Thank you, all of you.
And now onwards… I have returned to a publishing offer which has excited me and so I am plotting that while also preparing four Scholastic books for audio recording, continuing this work again in London in mid-May. I still have summer commitments to honour, including two visits to Ireland: one in July to the West Cork Literary Festival where I am giving a five-day workshop on writing non-fiction and memoir. If this is of interest to you and you are in the vicinity of Bantry, do go to their website and book yourself a place.
While I am there, I will also give an evening talk entitled ‘The Olive Route comes to the Screen’. I will be showing clips from our five documentary films and discussing the process of turning books to film. I will also have the honour of introducing Lord Melvyn Bragg who will be in Ireland to talk about his latest book, Grace and Mary. So, a busy week.
Later in the year, on 14th September, I will be appearing in Omagh, County Tyrone, at the Benedict Kiely Literary Weekend. Check my Events page for times and details.
Otherwise, I am hoping to stay home, to write and to enjoy being still for a little bit. Well, until I am on the move again!
If you have written to me over the last five or six weeks, I apologise for the delay in replying. Time is my excuse. I am getting to the mails now and if you have ordered my books or the films through firstname.lastname@example.org please don’t feel afraid to send me a reminder. My computer crashed before I set off for the States and I am still attempting to put all the files back together and to catch up.
Newsletter to follow soon, I hope. Enjoy this wonderful spring, or autumn for those of you who are in the southern hemisphere. Special days.