When I first met my partner, Lovely Kev, he took me on holiday to a five-star hotel in the Maldives. My forte, at the time, was lying on a sunlounger with a colourful drink in my hand. Paradise. Lovely Kev left me to it and went scuba diving. That should have told me something.
For our next holiday he suggested we went to the Himalayas. That didn’t exactly sound like the kind of place that would have great beaches. ‘Trekking,’ he said. Then threw in the word ‘camping’ for good measure. My heart started to race – and not in a good way. It was only then I started to realised that I’d hooked up with Costa del Keynes’ answer to Indiana Jones. I agreed, reluctantly, to give it a go.
When it was a done deal, all booked and paid for. Lovely Kev suggested I might like to do some ‘training’ to prepare for it. Training? For a holiday? My friends thought it was hysterical. They wondered how I’d last for three weeks in a tent, up a hill – a very big one by all accounts – without my hair dryer, nail varnish and, more importantly, an en-suite bathroom. I did wonder myself.
But I loved Kevin and wanted to be open-minded to the sort of things he enjoyed. So six months before our planned trip to Nepal, I loaded up my brand new rucksack with several tins of Heinz tomato soup, headed to the garage where my brand new treadmill was set up and jogged every day, cursing loudly. My friends thought it was even more hysterical.
I write romantic comedy novels as my day job and as I jogged along dreaming of holidays that involved infinity swimming pools, something clicked in my brain. This would make a great novel. Ditzy, sunlounger lizard changes entire personality for love. It was a sure-fire winner. My training continued with more enthusiasm.
When we finally got to the Himalayas, the sheer beauty of it converted me to a mountain- lover on sight. We had the most amazing time on our travels in the foothills of the Annapurnas. I loved negotiating steep mountain passes with dizzying views, traversing the dodgy rope bridges and learning the native songs of our guides around the fire at night. Watching the sunrise colour the snow-capped mountains with hues of palest lemon and sugar pink is something I’ll treasure for ever. I even loved our little tent. Less so, the dug-out latrine.
I came home a changed person. I fully embraced fleece as an essential product. My walking boots had proper, rufty-tufty miles on them. I wrote my book – With or Without You – which featured the beautiful country and people of Nepal and it became a bestseller. And I haven’t had a holiday on a sunlounger since.
I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy trekking and adventure holidays all over the world – America, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, Iceland, Lapland, Peru. I am a seasoned camper. No one can pack a day sack like me and, yes, it does always include lipstick.
Years later, and the mountains are my best friends. I’m never happier than when I have a rucksack on my back with a packet of sandwiches and hours to wander. I now feel that the Lake District is my spiritual home. In this country, we have stunningly beautiful scenery to rival that of anywhere in the world. Every year we spend as much time in the North Lakes as we can and I always breathe sigh of contentment when we hit Keswick. We have our favourite walks and never have enough time to do them all. But I haven’t completely given up my luxury side completely. The Lake District also happens to have some of the best tearooms known to man and a walk without a huge slice of cake at the end is a walk that’s not quite finished. Now, where are my walking boots?
Carole Matthews is a bestselling author of twenty-four hugely successful romantic comedy novels. As well as appearing on the Sunday Times and USA Today bestseller lists, Carole is published in 31 different countries and has sold over 4 million books. Her books Welcome To The Real World and Wrapped up in You have both been short-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year.
Previously unlucky in love, she now lives happily ever after with her partner, Lovely Kev, in a minimalist home with no ornaments or curtains in the Costa del Keynes. She likes to drink champagne, eat chocolate and spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter. Her latest book is A Place to Call Home.
We have six signed copies of Carole Matthews’ bestselling novel, With or Without You, featuring her trek in the Himalayas to give away.
Follow your heart and see where it leads you…
When Jake tells Lyssa it’s not working, she knows he’s not talking about the toaster. Her immediate reaction is to sob into her pillow and wait for Jake to come to his senses. But slowly Lyssa begins to understand that’s not an option. In a bid to escape, she embarks on a trekking holiday in Nepal. Yet, when it’s time to go home – back to reality and a very sheepish Jake – Lyssa is faced with the hardest choice of her life.
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Further information about Carole and her books can be found at www.carolematthews.com