Probably the strangest, but certainly one of the most rewarding activities over the past month would be the smelting of iron ore to make my own sword, with the help of Jake Keen, formally of the Iron Age Centre in Cranborne. This involved collecting the iron ore (yes, there more of it about that you would think) from a nearby field, building a kiln using clay dug out during Rob’s building work, cleaning, roasting and selecting the best of the ore and two days of actual smelting which resulted in two blooms (large balls of mostly iron mixed with some slag, created in the heart of the furnace). We have also included a piece of thunderbolt iron, sourced by Colin Smythe, that fell on the Sikhote-Alin Mountains in Russian in 1947.

The next step is to hammer the slag out of the blooms to get wrought iron and then we’re off to see the blacksmith.  The whole thing was a strangely fascinating process and the smelting itself, controlling of the kiln and occasional venting of the surplus slag seemed a mix between industrial magic and genecology. The ultimate aim is a completed sword, which every Knight should never be without.

We’ve also just returned from Air Edel studios where Leighton James House is recording the Only You Can Save Mankind album.  This is a very exciting project and we hope to have more news and hear some previews very shortly.

I am very pleased to tell you that Nation has just won the LA Times book award for Young Adult Novel.  I accepted my award by video during which Patch, our office cat, made a star appearance.  You can read a blog about it HERE and we’ll also upload the video to YouTube when get a (haha) free moment.

Amazingly, Unseen Academicals is very nearly completion, only requiring one of those most magical of creatures – a five day working week with no other interruptions. But it’s well over 100,000 words and we hope to get it in no later a week after deadline, which by publishing standards is pretty nifty.

Work on I Shall Wear Midnight will, in theory, begin immediately, but will probably be held up by the necessity to tidy up the office so we can at least find the kitchen.  And the floor.

People continue to ask them after my health and I thank them, but the facts is that when I tell people what the symptoms might be they all interrupt by telling me; that happens to meI’ve lost count of how many times I’ve gone upstairs and forgotten what I am there forI continuously lose my keys.  In short, I’m not sure how many of the things I notice are to do with the disease (which I certainly have because I have seen the scans) or simply because, to the best of my knowledge, I have never experienced being 61 before. 

All the best.