For reference, the piece I read was the first few hundred words of 'What Katy Did on Holiday' from the Tea and Crumpet Anthology:
“I’m going to have an adventure,” Katy said. The assorted soft toys arrayed haphazardly on her shelves said nothing, but she suspected the majority disapproved. “A proper adventure,” she clarified. “I’ve spent too long being boring.”
So Katy packed her bags, jumped into her ageing pink Mini (with white Go Faster stripes), and set off in a north-easterly direction. She had a whole week until term started, all her lessons were planned—they had been since the first week of the summer holidays—and there were no plants to water or pets to feed. It was just her and her soft toys in their little flat. The toys could cope very well without her for a few days, in spite of the looks they’d continued to give her right up until she’d slammed the door on them, and begun her adventure.
When Katy first moved to Wales, living on her own and having her first proper grown-up job had been enough of an adventure by itself. Having survived the first term, though, she had realised she needed more. She needed a social life. Abergavenny wasn’t much of a drive, but Katy didn’t fancy walking into a pub by herself. The other teachers were older, married -- to men -- and already had friends and hobbies of their own. She’d thought about joining a sports team, but rugby made her nervous, and no one in Monmouthshire seemed interested in getting a netball team together.
So, for two terms, Katy had mostly stayed in and read. She had wallowed in school stories, mystery novels by Agatha Christie and her ilk, and picture books. She read those to her class too, of course, but sometimes it was nice to put her feet up with a glass of wine, and read the adventures of Mrs Murgatroyd and her giant rabbit just for fun.
Mrs M and Bunny had become popular recently, but Katy had been collecting the books since the very first one came out. The central characters travelled the British Isles, latterly in a distinctive VW camper van, befriending the locals and solving very small mysteries. Katy had slipped her three favourites -- all a little dog-eared -- into her suitcase. She would have been embarrassed to take a teddy on the adventure, but the books would comfort her in case things became more exciting than she anticipated.
Hay-on-Wye wasn’t that far away. It was just over the border, near enough that she could walk back from England into Wales. Going to another country, even if it was, in fact, the country you had been born in, surely counted as an adventure. The Mini certainly thought so, being reluctant to reach speeds of over forty miles an hour the whole way. Katy tried to sympathise with it, patting its dashboard, or the centre of the steering wheel, in an encouraging way whenever they reached another hill. Once their adventure was over, she would send it away for a proper service. She might even see if someone could give it a new engine.
Hay certainly had a lot of bookshops! And pubs, come to think of it. Katy decided to stay at the big whitewashed hotel with cheery, well-kept hanging baskets all around its walls. It might not be the cheapest accommodation in town, but she’d saved a little this year, in spite of her student loan repayments.
After a tasty and hearty lunch, washed down with a pint of local beer, Katy set off to explore the bookshops. There were many, many more than she had counted on her drive into town, and she ran back to the hotel to hide two of her three credit cards under the Mrs Murgatroyd books in her suitcase. With only one credit card, and only one pair of hands to carry her purchases, she might just manage not to break the bank. Especially
considering that her poor Mini would have to transport the books home, come the end of the week.
Outside bookshop number nine on her tour, Katy spotted a sandwich board listing upcoming book signings. Tomorrow morning the shop would be playing host to Elizabeth Harris, author of the Mrs Murgatroyd books! Heart pounding and head spinning, Katy took a step back, coming to rest against a window sill. She contemplated going home for her copies of the other books in the series. That would seem too enthusiastic. Heading into scary stalker territory. She would take along the three she had, and buy the new one if it was out. Asking to have four books signed wasn’t crazed fan level, not when she could rightfully say that she was a primary school teacher.
The next Open Mic will be on Friday the 5th of August and I intend to go, especially if I can find another local author to drag along.