• Adieu Australia!

    27 April 2011

    The final third of our trip to Australia was just as relaxing and exhilarating as the first two-thirds. The wedding was a lovely event. My cousin Kevin got married to his partner, Aly, in a gorgeous vineyard. The ceremony was one of the nicest I've ever been to -- it was held outdoors, in glorious sunshine; the celebrant perfectly captured the essence of the marrying pair; the vows were sweet but not sickly; it juts felt... NICE!!! Drinks and canapes followed, as friends and family members mingled outside, then it was indoors for the speeches and food. There was lots of dancing later, and everyone left with a smile on their face. The next day we had an after-wedding party held by Aly's parents, and it was nice to catch up with everyone again. One last meal that night with some of the new friends we'd made, then it was onwards and upwards the next morning...

     

    ...to Wilpena Pound, in the mountains north of Adelaide. One of the things I liked most about this holiday was that we didn't plan most of it in advance. We simply picked up out car and drove around, making up an itinerary as we went along. In and around the wedding festivities, I happened to read about the Flinders Range, liked the sound of the place, so off we set! We weren't disappointed. It's a spectacular part of Australia, rugged yet beautiful. We would have liked to penetrate deep into the Outback, but there's wasn't time for that, but this gave us at least a tase of what life is like away from the major cities and tourist destinations. We went on some gorgeous walks -- I even went a bit mad one evening, when I set off on a 4 hour hike up a mountain by myself, and finished it in half that time! I felt like a young mountain goat as I trotted merrily down, though later on, as my legs were shaking and fireworks were going off inside my head, I had to wince and remind myself that I'm pushing 40 and need to slow down a bit in certain areas!!! The next day we were taken on a fascinating four-wheel-drive tour of a couple of gorges, where we learnt a lot about the formation of Australia over the years.

     

    From Wilpena we headed back down South on a long day of driving -- it took us 11 hours to get to where we wanted to be!! But it was worth the long stretch on the roads, as it meant we didn't have to rush our last few days. We had a great time in the World Heritage listed caves of Naracoorte -- as well as being beautifully formed, we were treated to an intriguing lesson about some of Australia's extinct animals. After that we struck for the Great Ocean Road and spent a nice couple of days moseying along. We enjoyed the famous sites, like the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge, though our favourite place where we stopped was a lesser know spot called The Grotto -- stunning ocean scenery.

     

    And then, suddenly, it was all over. We spent a quiet last day puttering up the road to Melbourne airport, then flew back to London. It was a nice, easy flight -- I saw a few films, read quite a lot (I'm reading "Tis" by Frank McCourt, which I'm greatly enjoying. Oh, and I read my first-ever eBook earlier in the holiday, "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown, on my brand new Kindle. I didn't think much of the book -- total tosh, to be honest -- but I loved the e-format!! This is definitely the way forward, and I don't think it will be too long before I download my next eBook to read during the course of my travels.), and the flight just... well, flew by!! As much as we enjoyed the holiday, it was nice to hit London again, especially as the sun was shining. What wasn't so nice was having to spend a couple of hours cleaning our flat as soon as we got back -- we'd had builders in to replace a couple of skylight windows just before we went away, and they weren't the best at cleaning up after themselves, so the flat was caked in layers on dust!!! Still, at least the activity helped keep us awake and fight off the jetlag!

     

    Yesterday I gave an interview to a reporter from the Sunday Times, which should be seeing print shortly -- I'll let you know once I have more news. I also went to see "Scream 4" at the cinema. It was OK, but didn't really have anything new to offer. More exciting for me was that I found myself sitting next to Billie Piper and Edward Fox! I wanted to tell her that I'd loved her in "Doctor Who", but at the same time I didn't want to intrude on their personal time together, so I just kept quiet and let them watch the movie in peace -- though I don't think they liked it that much, as they left before the end!!!

     

    And now I'm heading back to Limerick for a few days at home before the start of my tour in Ireland and the UK to promote "Ocean of Blood". It officially goes on sale this Thursday, April 28th, though lots of shops in the UK and USA have already put it on the shelves. Early response from fans on my message board has been VERY positive! If you want to join in the debates once you have read the book, visit the Darren Shan message board forum which I have created especially for it: http://www.darrenshan.com/messageboard/viewforum/19/ But be warned -- the forum is for people who have read the book, so it does contain spoilers!! If you want to find out where in Ireland and the UK I'm going to be visiting on tour, click on this link, then come see me if I'm in your neighbourhood -- and don't forget, I'm always happy to sign ALL of my books on tour, not just copies of the new book, so don't be shy about bringing along as many of them as you like!! http://www.darrenshan.com/news/shanville-monthly/

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