It would certainly be a challenge to have Veronica McCreedy as your grandmother. She’s quite a handful. She takes no prisoners (an inveterate collector of litter from her local beach, Veronica thinks anyone who drops refuse ‘should be shot’) and has no hesitation in barking military-style instructions at her loyal assistant and home help, the endlessly patient Eileen. ‘Door!’ Veronica bellows every time the poor woman leaves one ajar (Veronica cannot abide open doors, one of her many tics).
But Veronica is uncharacteristically uncertain and troubled by who to leave her substantial fortune to when she dies. Her family is far-flung, and she has few friends. It is while she is pondering the question that she is distracted by a documentary about endangered Antarctic penguins.
Almost at once, Veronica decides she must travel to the bottom of the world to see penguins. Brushing off Eileen’s profound concerns, she makes enthusiastic plans to journey to one of the last great wildernesses.
Veronica arrives safely on a remote Antarctic island, bags bulging with the essentials: down jacket, thermal layers and, of course, a tin of loose leaf Darjeeling tea. The island’s handful of resident wildlife experts are dumbfounded at the arrival of a stubborn 85-year-old lady and try to persuade her to leave on the next boat. Fat chance. This is Veronica McCreedy. Soon she is striding over the snow in search of penguins. And what will prove to be the adventure of a lifetime . . .