Lockdown was never going to be any travel writer’s finest hour. Writing about travelling… within five miles of your front door? Writing about travelling… through your taste buds? There is appeal there, of course – and scope – but when you are accustomed to writing, at the very least, about a new British long-distance trail opening, or a boat trip down the Amazon, or street food in Guatemala, there is not much contest.
Lockdown, however, was, were you able to pull yourself away from the back garden sun, a fiction writer’s time to get tapping away at the keyboard and that, duly, was what I did: working away at ideas for novel three, which is going to be a very abrupt departure from the historic fiction of my first two novels.
So there was that and (as you may have seen from the new section on the homepage) developing a new travel venture with partner and fellow travel writer Kerry Walker, creating a website, Undiscovered Wales, dedicated to offbeat travel in Wales (where we both live).
Then, there were other books coming out. The Joy of Water, showcasing the best wild swimming holes, tumbling waterfalls and dreamy seascapes – with me, given my love of getting wet in wild, middle-of-nowhere places, writing the introduction – plus culinary travel writing in the shape of Wine Trails Europe and the Global Chocolate Tour (had an awful lot of fun with my indulgent contributions here, I can tell you!)
But overall, as for many, lockdown was a lull – a serene drowsy lull of observing the antics of red kites wheeling overhead, of muggy evenings potent with the smell of just-mown grass and overcooking sausages on the barbecue – a chapter in the slow lane of life.
And August, suddenly, is manically busy again – travelling the length and breadth of Wales from jagged Snowdonia down through the boggy Mid Wales moors to the sand-rimmed south – researching the Good Pub Guide to Wales, the new edition of Lonely Planet Wales and continuing to embellish our own website (the grand plan being to make it the go-to site in Wales for offbeat and off-the-beaten-path travel by the beginning of 2021). Plus, of course, trying to find time to continue work on the new novel!
One thing in all this, for sure, however: I am already looking back with faint nostalgia on those sunbaked, sleepy lockdown days (in the same way as one often does with childhood summer holidays, where annoyances and frustrations are kindly filtered out by the memory, leaving just a pleasing golden glow).