Tomorrow I travel the furthest I’ve ever gone on work expenses – not counting India, of course, and somehow I never do count India; it was always a spectacular one-off – Aberystwyth, Wales. This is so far into Wales that if I got into the sea and started swimming, I could be in Dublin in a bit. I didn’t know anything in Wales could be five hours’ drive away. We’ll be well into Unpronounceable Territory. The two nearest towns seem to be Llangelynin and Machynileth, and your guess is as good as mine, there. I’ve always liked the names of Welsh towns – they sound soft and pleasantly Elvish to me, if Tolkien and the Welsh nation will forgive the comparison. (Although Parseltongue is the other association that springs to mind, with all those th and sst sounds, and I imagine the Welsh would rather have Elves than the Dark Lord.)
Anyway, it’s not the office and it is by the sea, so I’m quite excited. The reason for the trip is to meet with one of our printers, who are based there. The manufacturing team do this regularly, and I’m on the bill this time because they print my Monster Journal (poor chaps), and have just got a gleaming new printing press to do it more efficiently, so they’d like me to come and nod all approvingly. I say ‘printing press’ like I have the slightest clue how they produce the thing: actually I just send them the files, gibbering my varied apologies, and they send the shiny-covered issue back a couple of weeks later. They could be feeding the files into the maw of a magic rabbit and watching journals come out the other end, for all I know (I suspect this is not the case, however). I have visited one of our printers before, but that was somewhere in Oxfordshire several years ago and, to be honest, I really only remember the free lunch (one of the best treacle sponges I’ve ever had, as I recall). Incidentally, this overnight trip should involve lunch, dinner and probably breakfast as well; as such, I should be in enough of a good mood to hand out approving nods to all and sundry. They’ll have difficulty getting me to stop approving, especially if there’s treacle sponge.
I will let you know whether Aberystwyth is full of pointy-eared people in cloaks, or red-eyed cold-high-voiced people in cloaks (what is it with fantasy writers and cloaks, I wonder?). Or, just normal people with Welsh accents. That’s a third option.