Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Travelling Tuesday: Sussex

One of my favourite ways of refilling the well is our annual family holiday. We usually pick an area we haven’t seen before (preferably not far from the sea, castles and stately homes), hire a cottage, and then spend the week exploring.

This summer, we went to Sussex. This was my idea; I’d gone to the RNA conference in Chichester last year, took the wrong road back to London (OK, I admit, I was chatting to my friend Kate and missed the turn) and discovered just how pretty Sussex was. Seeing Arundel castle in the distance made me think how much I’d like to visit it – so I suggested it to the family. The result was an overwhelming yes.

We had a great time and I came home with lots of lightbulbs. What did we see?

Castles. (I’m a castle geek.) Arundel in particular was fantastic, especially as we were there on an event day – they had a medieval encampment, which included a jousting tournament (right). That set off one big lightbulb. (Ha. My poor editor is no doubt wondering if I will be naughtier about this than I was with the reindeer…) I was also very taken by Bodiam Castle (left) with its wonderful moat.

Ships. We went to the historic dockyards at Plymouth (which, yes, I know is in Hampshire, but it wasn’t that far). We got to see the Mary Rose (right) – a Tudor warship that had been at the bottom of the ocean for more than 450 years – and Nelson’s Victory (left). (As Nelson was born in Norfolk, that was a bit special for me.) This did make me wonder if I could do a medical romance set in the early nineteenth century on a ship (sadly, the answer is no).

The seaside. The colour of the water in Sussex is unbelievable. In my part of the world, we get the North Sea (which is wonderful but is never this incredible turquoise – probably because our tides are bigger and our beaches are sandier). This (left) was just lovely. Oh, and it’s Brighton. Cue a stroll along the pier.

Then there was the place we stayed in – a 500-year-old barn conversion. That’s sparked seeds for where my hero lives in the book after next. (That, or Gun Wharf in Portsmouth. Cue much mental house-hunting by me.)

Not to mention historic places such as Battle (=> William the Conqueror => Normandy => France – guess where I’m setting my next Modern Heat/Presents duo?), vineyards (that's another clue), the beautiful rolling South Downs... Pure inspiration!

So my question is: where have you been recently that inspired you?

In the UK, you can get a copy of in Kate’s new book set under the Northern Lights - Temporary Boss, Permanent Mistress. Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion is still available in the US from Harlequin, and next up in Australia is Kate's contribution to the Penhally series, Falling for the Playboy Millionaire. You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website (http://www.katehardy.com/) and her blog (http://katehardy.blogspot.com/)


  1. Great post Kate, and great question.

    I went to Cornwall this summer which turned out to be beautiful, rugged and very taciturn (weather wise), but very inspiring. For starters, when we were boogie-boarding at Watergate Bay, I couldn't help noticing the very hunky lifeguards (inspiring in so many ways!) and we got chatting to the waitress at the Beach Hut there, who was young and enthusiastic and obviously did a bit of surfing (yet, more inspiration).

    I'm definitely setting my next MH in Cornwall (the heart of Daphne du Maurier country!), probably off season and I've already got a great opening scene where the heroine (who's a lifeguard and waitresses in a beach cafe, surprise surprise) has to save my hero (who's going to be a taciturn loner, scarred and embittered, lame in one leg and a former surfing champ) from drowning...

    How's that for inspiration!

  2. Kate - your post inspires me. If I have any bucket list thing going on it's the desire to travel and see more things.

  3. Ooh, Heidi, that sounds GORGEOUS. I have a very soft spot for Daphne du Maurier country muself. (I so enjoyed visiting Fowey!)

  4. Donna - you and me both, hon. (I am drilling DH in this. "Cold places and Pompeii, cold places and Pompeii...)

  5. I love Sussex and find it very inspiring. So may of the writers I loved as a child lived or wrote about there - Rudyard Kipling, Malcolm Saville, Eleanor Farjeon, A A Milne, Georgette Heyer... I'd love tp go back!

  6. just one thing. plymouth is not in hampshire its in devon :)