Ugly Bus by Mike Thomas publishes in paperback today. Here, Mike tells us how he swapped police sirens and the city for the serenity of the Portuguese countryside (and good wine) …
I moved my family to Portugal in 2013, just for six months. That six months has turned into a permanent move: we’re still here, pottering about in the mountains and renovating a house which we bought several years ago. I love it. Central Portugal is green and beautiful, much like my birthplace of Wales but with better weather and cheaper wine. After twenty years in the police working some pretty tough inner city areas I was kind of burned out, and desperately seeking some tranquillity. I’ve found it now, and I have no intention of returning to the UK other than to visit relatives and ‘do Christmas’.
I don’t have a writing space at the moment; we’ve moved five times in the last three years so I settle wherever I can – it’s not ideal, and I long for a swanky leather chair and a desk large enough to make a terrible mess on, but at the moment the view from my cubbyhole more than compensates: mountains in the distance, and my tired, ramshackle barn in the foreground reminding me to do some bloody work so I can afford to rebuild it.
It’s very rural where I live, with little distractions other than the odd passing tractor or lumber wagon. I thrive on it; after two decades of nee naw sirens and people wanting to punch you for wearing a silly helmet it’s lovely just to be able to wander and think about plot points and character arcs and … well, nothing at all most of the time.
I take my dog when I go wandering. She’s old and daft, but then so am I so we rub along together just fine. After a hard day spent staring out of the window and one-finger-typing a paragraph, it’s nice to simply wander to the tiny village café for a coffee and pastel de nata before the children arrive home from school and chaos ensues.
You can get find out more about Ugly Bus here.