Monday, 20 February 2012

Goodby Jamaica, hello Sutton, mon

sunny, mild, temps about freezing

Yes, we're back home - otherwise the weather report above would be disconcerting (and disappointing) for Jamaica.

We had just the best time! And just what the 'doctor' ordered. Peace and quiet....lots of pampering. Great food. We even liked it when it rained, though that wasn't often. For our last two days we were moved from the little Blue cottage, to a larger one (yes, an upgrade!) on a small spit of land jutting into the sea....that's the view from our bedroom.

Michael is saying 'goodbye'. Well, first we had you can see.

The travel day was long, as they so often are. The Air Canada flight didn't leave until 6:30pm, which gave us much of the day by the beach. It still amazes me that we can have papayas on the terrace overlooking the sea in the morning and go to bed with snow outside that night.

After the last swim we returned to our cottage, ordered lunch and then I showered (remembering to take my sea salted bathing suit in with me) - then Michael's turn. We did the last of our packing and checked out by 2:30. It's a 90 minute drive to Montego Bay - but a very pleasant one.

We'd pre-booked the exit row seats, and checked our luggage at the AC counter...only to discover the flight was delayed. Now leaving at 7:45. We sat in the lounge...and waited....and plane outside the window, which as you know is never a good thing. finally at 8pm it arrived.

But they'd changed the aircraft - and suddenly our extra-legroom exit row was a regular (very squished) seat. I asked the flight attendant (while Michael tried to disappear into the seat) if the exit row was available, could we switch, since we'd requested them.

she came back a few minutes later with the great news that because of the plane change, everyone's ticket had gotten screwed up, and they'd put a baby in the exit row - again, not a good thing. So the baby (and family) had to leave - and take our seats.

Well - talk about turbulance. The mother was furious- absolutely apoplectic, to the point where she wouldn't even look at us or talk to us as we tried to change seats - just snarled. I can completely understand her annoyance....the exit row seat on this particular plane had huge legroom - room enough for a jacuzzi, a bed and a sofa (almost)....I'm 6 feet tall and stretched out my tip toes didn't reach the seat in front of me.

but the regular seats had people breathing on the person in front of them - it was awful.

This mother's problem wasn't sitting in the tight seats, it was being ejected from Eden.

But, well, too bad. We jumped into them and buckled up, and the woman in front also nabbed the seat next to me - she was lovely and we had a terrific chat during the 4 hour flight about iPads etc. We don't have one, and she showed me hers and described how it might be helpful for Michael and me.

The flight landed at just after midnight - then the race to customs and immigration, which is notoriously packed at the Montreal airport. Sure enough, our flight landed at the same time as at least one other....we spied each other down the corridor, with the escalator to immigration between us. Then, like knights of the middleages - we paused, then all ran toward each other. fortunately we didn't clash, or cross swords....but we did converge on the escalator.

Happily, we were near the front, so there was only a small wait. Then through customs, got the bags and into taxi and home by 1am. We decided to drive straight down to Sutton, getting here at 3am.

So wonderful to be home. Feels as though we've been gone longer. My Assistant Lise had left a vase of roses and gummi bears (for me) and chocolate wafers (for Michael). We crawled into bed and ate the treat - marveling at the day.

Now we're all unpacked (often that can take a week or more) - laundry is even done! And sneaking slowly back into real life. Refreshed.

I knew I was exhausted - indeed, I was even getting a little worried about my physical, but also mental, state....felt over burdened and staggering. But now feel so much better.

I'll be starting the next book (book 9) on March 1st. I've decided to take my time....when you read (as I hope you will) THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, you'll see why book 9 needs to be written carefully... Like holding something delicate, fragile, alive...and needing to take care.

Fun time, as I approach the first words of the first draft. And try not to get all scared. though I think fear is just part of the deal. It means I care. But there's also joy, at being back with characters whose lives fascinate me - and whom I love.

So nice to be home - and back with you!


Miche said...

Good Morning Louise,
I am a new reader from Brisbane, Australia. I enjoy your blog almost as much as I enjoy your novels. Thank for providing a link into your life. Your writing has opened up a part of the world that I am now determined to visit.
Kind Regards

Terry L. said...

Looking at the picture of Michael gazing out at the ocean I can almost hear the background music,

Like the corners of my mind,
Misty water colored memories,
Of the way we were..."

Now get out the snow shovels and get those steps cleaned off!

Calif. Girl said...

Your vacation sounds pretty close to heaven for me, and I live in a California beach town. So glad you had a relaxing time. I must agree with one of the previous bloggers, your blog is just as good as reading your books. Keep up the bllog and the books!

denise in BC said...

I thought that your characters were written with much love, hence I love them too.

lil Gluckstern said...

Welcome home-a different kind of Eden.It sounds like you needed a rest after your flight. Your vacation looks just beautiful.

Regina Calton Burchett said...

Your vacation sounds (and looks) wonderful, and good to be refreshed before you bring back the characters we love and wait for... I always look forward to visiting with them again.

Colombine said...


Il y a toujours un p'tit deuil à faire en rentrant de voyage, mais ça passera lorsque Gamache et sa suite prendront de plus en plus d'espace.

Profitez bien des derniers jours avant la "rentrée". Les jours sont de plus en plus longs, le printemps est à nos portes.

Lynn in NC said...

So glad you and Michael had such a restful vacation, but I'm glad you are safely home. Between your books and your blog, I really care about both of you, and selfishly want them both to continue!
I grew up on a farm just outside Ottawa, so I feel a special 'connection' to all the locations. I've been in North Carolina now for many years, but still have family 'back home,' and many happy memories - and your books have brought back even more.

Miss Diane said...

De vraies vacances de rêve! Bon retour dans la belle province.

darlene said...

Welcome home from your fabulous holiday. After having such a lovely time you'll be able to conjure the beauty and tranquility of Jamaica even when it's freezing and snowy. Write on!

Anonymous said...

Awwww... the first time one of your posts disappointed me. Can't understand why, after a heavenly 2-week vacation few could manage, you couldn't be kind enough to leave the exit aisle seats to the mom and baby for the last 4 hours. But then, one person isn't real to another until some little flaws have made themselves known - one reason I love your Three Pines characters so much!

Barbara said...

Glad you're home safe, but oh what a wonderful vacation you had. I'd find it awfully difficult to part with that sea view. I look forward to hearing about the new book as you begin work on it.

Debbie said...

Obviously Anonymous isn't 6 feet tall. If she/he was she/he would realize that a 4 hour flight would be very uncomfortable on the legs in a cramped space. I'm 5'3" and I sometimes find the space cramped.

Glad you and Michael are home safe and sound and totally relaxed.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous. I also believe in Karma. What goes around comes around. Truly disappointed or rather disgusted enough not to read your works again!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Debbie, Anonymous (aka Dobes) here. I AM 6' tall, OK, 5'11" and I do realize how very uncomfortable it is -- I live in Europe but my whole family is in America, so it's something I encounter with some frequency, for 8 hours at a time! I've also flown with babies and know how uncomfortable THAT is.

I have been wondering this afternoon why I was so unhappy with this post. I think it's because I read the Inspector Gamache series exactly for its good old-fashioned kindness. The author is kind to the characters, who are unashamedly kind to each other. They see each other's flaws, they get annoyed or angry with each other, but at bottom they are simply, wonderfully kind. I can't get enough of it.

I read Louise Penny and Alexander McCall Smith for exactly this quality of kindness and generosity that is so hard to find in the real world, and then I imputed that same level of kindness to the author, and was sad to find it lacking in her account of the trip home.

Then, of course, I realized that she, like all of us, is only human, and so I'm back to apologize. I really am sorry I didn't keep my thoughts to myself - it wasn't very kind of me.

Debbie said...

Anonymous #2, Did you read where Louise had specifically requested the exit seat aisle? Just because there was a change with the plane doesn't mean the request should be ignored. If Louise had left that little tidbit out of her blog, you would have still read her books. She is human after all as Anonymous #1 said.

Jeanine Cronin said...

Welcome home, Louise and Michael. Please don't be disturbed by some of the previous posts. You are wonderfull, kind, loving people. It is also my understanding that the exit rows cannot be occupied by any person who is not capable of helping out in the event of an emergency. A baby does not qualify to help passengers exit the plane in an emergency, nor would the parents be worried about helping other people.

Anonymous said...

Hello clueless ones. It is illegal to have a baby in the exit aisle seats. Enough already!

Dan said...

Can't wait for your next book! I get them as soon as I can and I love every one of them. My mom was from Bromptonville, just outside of Sherbrooke, and I love the reference you paint of the cantons de l'est!!

darlene said...

I wish I'd remembered this the night I posted my other comment. Possibly now it's too late and irrelevant, but maybe not. Anyway, here I go.

Two years ago I reserved a flight three months in advance and at that time reserved a window seat for the nominal fee, I think, of $10. The seating was important to me because I was landing in daylight and wanted an aerial view.

When I boarded the plane, carry-on bag in hand, I found a man sitting in my seat with his wife beside him. I politely asked him to move and told him he was sitting in my reserved seat. He refused.

I motioned to a steward and told him of the problem. He said to the man, "Oh, darn, the woman showed up. You'll have to move." I told the steward I had paid a reservation fee. He gave me a withering look, which I thought was completely unprofessional. The man and his wife grudgingly moved and I occupied my reserved seat.

About an hour later the man asked me if I had reserved the seat the night previous. I told him about my reservation three months prior. I told him I had paid extra for the seat reservation as well. He was shocked -- didn't take it in the first time round, I guess. He said he had made his reservations the night previous online and had no idea seat reservations were possible, never mind three months in advance. The couple tried to be friendly toward me after that, but it was still uncomfortable.

Perhaps airlines need to advise their customers of the options available and that seats are not always "first come first served". I'm just sayin'....

Anonymous said...

Louise paid extra for her seat. She planned ahead to accommodate her own special needs. If the people with the baby needed extra room, they should have done the same, rather than expecting to inconvenience somebody else.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi all - thanks for defending our actions - we'd have happily stayed in the seats we were eventually given - have done that plenty of times - and given up seats we did pay for on the bulhhead going to england (a six hour flight) to families with babies...without question or concern. The fact is, babies are not allowed in exit rows. By law. On any airline. They would have always been moved. I'm sad that people follow our lives and feel we'd be selfish. And then are so mean about it. I didn't expect that of people who read the books. But I am so grateful to those of you who defended us. How very kind.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I only signed up for this blog about five minutes ago after finishing your last book, and what an exciting blog it is! And as a mother of two tiny ones who travels to LA and back from DC a couple of times a year, I can skipped right over that exit row brouhaha, because you can't SIT in an exit row unless you can help others...ANYWAY moving on I hope this blog is about your lovely books because while in aforementioned LA, CA visiting with family, I read THREE of them and loved them. So I hope your blog has some tidbits about what inspires you about Ruth, and Gabri and Olivier, and drop some hints about Anne and Beauvoir when you can!

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