Wednesday, 30 July 2008

TV

What do I watch on tv? And what does it say about me? If anything at all!

There are some things I'll make an effort to watch. New Tricks. Foyle's War. Doc Martin.
Some I'll watch if they're on and I'm in the mood (ie with nothing better to do.) Frost. Neighbours. Dine With Me.
Sport? - Tennis, Formula 1, Gymnastics when its on the Olympics.
Documentaries? stuff on Volcanoes, Earthquakes et al, Climate Change. New stuff on animals. Some psychology stuff like the new one - What makes me - if that is the correct title. I watched the one on John Barrowman and found it interesting, so I'll watch the next. Stuff about people going to live in France, because we thought about doing it and decided not to.
Films? Nothing too dark, gory, camera jumping all over the place sort of stuff. I watched The Horse Whisperer last week.
Can't think of anything else. How about you?

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Something new


I intended to blog more about Save the Cat, and how it affected my writing, but I got totally sidetracked by trying to make a tiny video to go on Youtube. For someone who likes to paint, using Photoshop to adapt and edit pics is sheer heaven! The pic left is my first attempt at visualising Eba, my heroine in Dark Pool. On reflection, perhaps she does look as if she's sitting in a murky pool - but that is soon altered!
The work is hard on the eyes. I have stopped a couple of times when I realised such close detail was giving me a headache. Pity graphic artists who do this for a living, but perhaps they work on far bigger screens. I hope so!

I've got my pics ready. Now I need to discover how to use Movie Maker. It seems simple, but the pics are too close together in time, and the legend doesn't always come up on the right picture. Still, I'm getting closer all the time and it is absorbing. I've done very little writing overt the last few days.

Weatherwise the last three days have been gorgeous. Over 70 degrees F (21C), especially if you found a sheltered spot like my garden!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Learning by Reading


The Soldier’s Homecoming by Donna Alward
M&B Romance, 2008

I stick to the Historical line (usually) but picked this one off the shelf because the author’s name is one I recognise, and I’m trying to get a better grasp of the kind of writing M&B require. I wasn’t disappointed. Ms Alward’s plot is deceptively simple: Jonas and Shannyn part when he joins the army. Two weeks later she discovers she is pregnant, chooses not to tell him, and when he returns six years later, he is a wounded war vet not pleased to discover she has kept his daughter from him.

The plot may be simple, but the conflict is not, and the author depicts it from both sides with absolute fairness. The writing is not showy or over emotional, but I salute it because it selects just the right word for the task. Below is one description that gave me an instant picture of the hero – without using what I call obvious words like pecs, abs or muscles.
“He was wearing trousers but his shirt was missing and he stood before her in an Army-issue T-shirt. And, oh, he filled out every cotton inch. Flat where everything should be flat, a wide chest and broad shoulders that led to arms with muscles that dipped and curved.”

When I reached the end of the story I was surprised at the lack of a final sex scene because that’s what I’m used to in Historicals. But I was not disappointed. I didn’t check the Line before I brought it home, but the Romance Line doesn’t do sex, and if the writing is like Ms Alward’s, it doesn’t need it. The emotion was all there without it – the longing, the wish for closeness, to share, to understand, the fear of hurt. The scene where Jonas finally meets his daughter was short, simple and so touching it brought tears to my eyes. That doesn’t happen often, let me tell you.

I learned a lot from this book. I also enjoyed it as a Good Read. I’m sure you will too.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Reading and YOUtube

I love this image courtesy of PDPhoto.org
Two thirds of the way through Save the Cat (STC from now on) and it is an entertaining read even though I don't think I'll take to writing screenplays. A lot of the theory behind it applies to fiction writing as well, and that's why it is interesting. Already I'm making notes! One cryptic scibble in my notebook reads: "How does F cope when she realises she NEEDS Jack? She can't tolerate it!"

Ah well, no doubt it'll work in somewhere.

I'm surprised and pleasedf to find that I'd already figured out that certain things need to happened at a certain spot in the category romance (and possibly with all fiction with the exception of literary fiction which these days seems to have no plot at all but strings words together beautifully as it meanders along.) The screenplay is 110 pages, no more, no less. So if I multiply that by 3 to get a rough approximation of category romance, we have 330 pages with which to play. (Not quite that many, but near enough.) Then he breaks it down into 15 beats or Places Where Things Must Happen, and lo and behold, these too fit the category novel.


As for You tube: it is something I have fought shy of, believing it to be the home of restless cyber kids. But as of today, if you put DARK POOL into the video search box, up pops a two minute video about my book. Let me know what you think, and hurry, because I don't know if the person who did it is going to leave it there!

Friday, 18 July 2008

Reading

The 3 books I ordered online last Sunday are here, so bravo The Book Depository. A period of study is in order now!

Enjoyed a girly lunch in Durham today and sneaked into the library on the way. - made myself 20 minutes late, but nothing lost as she was held up by an accident on the A1. We arrived at the meeting point within a minute of each other.
Left the library with a book on The Reivers by Andrew Moffat and copy of Soldier's Homecoming by Donna Alward. I read Donna's blog from time to time and since it is a 2008 M&B, I couldn't resist.


I adore libraries almost as much as I adore bookshops., and it is a rare day when I find nothing to interest me on library shelves. Read the second book of the Nora Roberts The Hollow trilogy in 2 days flat
but couldn't hack the biog of Jennie Churchill by Anne Sebba. Possibly my fault for not reading from beginning to end, but I found she uses pronouns far too much and I kept losing track of which "he" was under discussion. I thought it might be useful as background info for the 1893 rewrite I'm doing, but those years Jennie spent in Europe, so it wasn't much help. Nothing lost there. Except I must admit to being surprised to see that phaetons were still in use. Somehow I didn't expect that when Winston Churchill was one the subjects - after all, I remember Winston Churchill! So it follows it can't have been all that long ago...I know, I'm deluding myself.

The books are stacking up on me, and I can't decide which one to drop into first! Or should I be attending to work I should be doing for the critique group? Or, getting down to doing some writing of my own?

I find that I work hard on several chapters on one of my wips and then run out of steam, so I relax by turning to something else for a day or two. It only takes a small break. and then I feel the urge to go back It is one way of keeping all the plates spinning at the same time; seems to work for me.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

King's hired thugs

A FASCINATING new book about the Border Reivers shatters the popular perception that the lawless families of the North were indigenous.
Julia Grint’s book Bastles explains: “During the 14th century, in an attempt to repopulate an area made a dangerous economic desert by Anglo-Scots warfare, Edward III encouraged what we would term ‘relocation’ to the Border region.”
“The people were chosen quite deliberately as being capable of brutish and violent behaviour; the settlers were brought in to form a protective ‘pale’ or bulwark and needed to be suitable for that purpose.”
In exchange for land and low rents, the King required military service on demand, and at first that worked well.

Taken together with a fascinating introduction that helps you step into the shoes of the Charltons, the Fenwicks, the Armstrongs, Royal machinations, the politics of the time and the geography that dictated the lifestyle, the book sets the scene.
The focus then narrows until it is on the holders of the names and graynes themselves – the bearers of the main surnames and subgroups formed by their descendents.
We learn about their activities, houses and even their clothes.
Bastles is published by Ergo Press, priced £7.99, and available from Cogito Books in Hexham, among other outlets.
See the full report at: helen.compson@hexham-courant.co.uk
Friday 11th July 2008

I can think of some local families who won't be too pleased at having their forebears labelled thugs.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Sound bites and elevator pitches

This gloomy doorway is the exit from the kitchen at Beynac Chateau. Sixteenth century, and built on as a "modern extension," it looks as much like a torture chamber as a kitchen. It makes me feel very grateful for modern appliances!



I hear some weird and wonderful expressions around these days. I am reliably told that LOG LINES, SOUND BITES AND ELEVATOR PITCH all refer to the art of pitching your novel to an editor in the shortest number of sentences and yet still managing to make it sound riveting. "Imagine you are in an elevator and that's all the time you have to make your pitch," chirrups an American author. They should be so lucky. Don't they know that in the UK a tall building is all of eight floors and by the time you've realised who is in the lift with you, you've barely got two words out before you've arrived? If you live in London you might be luckier, I suppose. There's always the GPO tower, but then, what self-respecting editor would be fooling about there?

I saw these on a friend's blog - and howled. Thank you Ginger

APPALIACHIAN-AMERICAN (hillbilly)
BREASTED AMERICAN (babe or chick)
LIGHT-HAIRED DETOUR OFF THE INFORMATION HIGHWAY (dumb blonde)
HORIZONTALLY ACCESSIBLE (easy)
PREVIOUSLY ENJOYED COMPANION (has been around)
LOW COST PROVIDER (two-bit hooker)
VERBALLY REPETITIVE (nag)
LIQUID GRAIN STORAGE FACILITY (beer gut)
OVERLY CAUCASIAN (a bad dancer)
RECTAL-CRANIAL INVERSION (acts like a total ass)
REAR CLEAVAGE (butt crack)
FOLLICLE REGRESSION (balding)

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Who am I?

I am Marianne Dashwood!


Take the Quiz here!

I'm not sure that this is an accurate assessment of me, but it was fun to do. And who knows, there may be a grain of truth in it. I'd much rather have been Lizzy, but since I don't have sisters, that sort of narrowed down the options in the answers.

I've taken the plunge and order 3 titles from the Book Depository. Georgette Heyer's Regency World by Jennifer Kloester; Jane Austen: the World of her Novels by Deirdre Le Faye, and Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. The first two I borrowed from the library and read while on holiday last month, so I know the worth of them both. The last title is fashionable at the monent on several websites, not least that of Michele Styles.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Changing midstream

I have decided to collapse two strands of family into one in my current wip. Makes for less confusion and two fewer characters, which I think will be of benefit. But it now means I have to go through carefully and delete/change all the pertinant references. Gives me a chance to polish at the same time, which is no bad thing.

After receiving the latest rejection from HM&B (after a year and a half!) on my Viking story, I borrowed a Sharon Kendrick from the library. I was tempted to hide The Sheik's Unwilling Wife because dh would scoff, I know he would. Much to my surprise I enjoyed the writing, though the story line is relatively simple. At 184 pages it is relatively short, too.

I've seen Ms Kendrick on brief snippets advertising M&B this year and understand she is one of their best and most successful writers. At last, I realised, by reading her story, how much internal conflict M&B want. I wish I'd done this ages ago, but there you are - we learn as we go. Then I began polishing/changing my latest wip, and thought - I'm not so far away now. I seem to have got the right idea at last. Though I do wonder why I didn't "get this" from all the historical M&B titles I've been reading over the last couple of years. Perhaps Ms Kendrick just does it better.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Go Rafa!

I am intrigued by this man, and even I think that's a little strange and hard to explain in a mature woman. But rest assured that though his physique is certainly attractive, it is not, as everyone probably suspects, the reason for the interest.
Not my sole interest, shall we say. I have been looking for an image that encapsulates his ferocious concentration on the ball, and the second picture (taken by Julian Finney/ Getty Images) comes closer to it.



What I really want is the moment before he hits the ball, when he reminds me of one the hunting animals with prey in sight - the same intense concentration. And it isn't just for that one ball, nor that one game, but for entire matches; the fascination is how he manages to maintain that level for two, three hours or more.

There's also his sheer commitment to return everything, no matter how difficult, and to return it with interest. His physical stamina is incredible, but his mind must be his most powerful weapon. He seems to think positive all the time, no matter what people like Federer throw at him - and Federer is a man who can deliver the most telling shots without effort.

Tennis players must think very quickly. Tennis balls travel the length of the court in normal play at something close to 90 mph and the players must have reflexes that are truly phenomenal. Hard enough to get the racquet to the ball and return it safely, never mind turning the shot into an attack as well.

Some of this I may well be able to incorporate into a hero at some point. Not that my heroes play tennis, you understand; but I can try and instil some of the relentless "attack" into a sword fight or a verbal battle. It is astonishing how much sport we can observe, absorb and use in writing fiction.

My current hero lives in Regency times, and he needs to be a bit of an action man at times. If I could conjure up a little of Nadal's intensity for him, I think it would be good. I should certainly enjoy writing it!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008




Random views of the countryside. A winery - Chateau Reynardie


The church on the road to Bergerac







The church on the rock at Beynac.



This is me posing beside a hay bale with the mill in the background



20th I began a new story, tentatively called Daisy’s Story. I wanted a Victorian name, but shied away from Violet or Lily. I quite like Daisy, but it may well change midstream.

21st Stocked up at M. LeClerc. The weather is now so hot it was a relief to be in the air conditioned space of the mall. We drove to Lou Peyrol in St. Marcel de Perigord where we’d booked for dinner. Click Excellent auberge serving a limited menu of fresh, wonderful food. I drove home and a deer ran across the road a mere five yards in front of the car.

Tiny red squirrels, a lizard climbing up the front of my basket chair - I thought it was going to climb on my knee, but after surveying me doubtfully it reversed and disappeared. This closeness to nature is something we really like about this holiday.

24th Hottest day so far. 26C inside first thing in the morning, almost 27C when we went to bed. The heat doesn’t dissipate overnight like it does in England. I have no idea how hot it was outside, but it still felt cool to walk indoors! We slept with the duvet cover and no duvet inside.
Driving with the top down on the car is bliss in this sort of heat.

30th Heat continues but the air is so still, and the little black flies are a nuisance. So are the flies, wasps, hornets and the B52 bombers that crash about the place and stun themselves by flying into walls. I rescued a 2 inch long beetle with horns from the bottom of a bucket where it lay on its back, pathetically waving all its legs in the air. It walked half a yard and next time I looked it was on its back again. ‘It won’t last,’ grunted dh.

I got a grass stalk and flipped it over and off it plodded. A lizard ran out and bit it in the neck (if beetles can be said to have a neck) but the beetle just reared up and ignored it. The lizard, all of six inches long, eyeballed it for a minute and then watched it walk away. The beetle marched right up to the brushwood fence and proceeded to march vertically up to the top. Once there it found the edge to prickly, and to my surprise it opened a double pair of wings and flew off!

1st July Very hot again. 27.8C (82F) inside. So still, no wind at all. Getting stickier, suspect another storm on the way. Our last day, so we began final clean up, packing. No wine tonight.
2nd July Lightning storms overnight. I woke to see the flashes lighting the sky but no sign of thunder. Rain, grey skies in the morning, and a lot cooler. We were anticipating a lovely sunny drive north with the top down. Now we will be in shorts and skimpy tops (well, I will. Dh will avoid the skimpy top!) and no doubt freeze.
We left at 7.50am and drove back to St Malo, where we stayed in a Campanile overnight. I like Campaniles. I know what to expect, and they’re always good. This one had a really excellent tv and I discovered Wimbledon! Better still, it was men’s quarter final day and I got to see both Federer and Nadal




This pic is from the Daily Telgraph after Rafa's won the final.
3rd July Drove to Brittany Ferries, watched the lorries lumbering off and all sorts of odd fork-lift truck manouverings (they drive on and off backwards because they can’t see passed the big containers they carry) and watched un voiture classic arrive on a beavertail. The car, an MGB GT (I remember driving one in the sixties), was unceremoniously rolled off backwards on to the concrete and abandoned with two worried owners clutching lots of paperwork. ‘So much for classic cars,’ scoffed dh. ‘I wouldn’t have one if you paid me.’

The journey was uneventful. 10.30am to 6.30pm on a bright sunny day and we crept into Portsmouth and viewed all the old aircraft carriers – Invincible, Illustrious – and the old wooden ships Warrior (1860) and Victory (1805) and docked ten minutes late. On the car deck we couldn't get into our car. Not enough space to get either door open, so there we were, the only two people standing until the cars began to roll off the ferry. Dh managed to get in as the cars began to leave, moved the car forward a couple of feet which was all it took for me to get my door open, and I got in just in time to keep up with the line. Talk about a tight squeeze!

The MGB GT had been dumped in plain view. It would have been last on, and first off, both times by some kind of low loader. That classic car had all the rest of us waiting for over an hour…
Then we set off to drive home. We finally got to our door about 2am.
Whacked.

Monday, 7 July 2008

La Belle France 4

This picture is halfway up from the river to Beynac Chateau.

In searing heat, the kind that makes you leap up in haste when you sat down on a stone or tile surface, it is an effort, but it is worth it. You can drive up and go in at the top, but driving up must be hair raising as the street is Narrow. And anyway, it would be cheating, and you'd miss all the little quirky bits that are so delightful.

The rewards are good. This is the view from the top, though if you suffer from vertigo I wouldn't go too close to the edge as it's a straight drop down onto the houses below.



On the other side of the river is another castle. Castelnaud is the name and it is surrounded by trees.




If you click on the pics, they should all enlarge.

Beynac is definitely a place for romantic medievalists. For 7 euros you get to walk around what they call the enceinte which I always think means preganant but in this case means surrounding wall and some of the building. The States Chamber building is three floored and impressive. The guard room is so dark we blundered around by feel. Above that is a huge room with a wooden floor that looks as if its been there since 1100 or so. I stepped out onto it gingerly at first. There are all sorts of curious little corners, an oratory and rooms, most looking out over the precipice to the river. Easy to imagine the demoiselle sitting in the sunshine, sewing. Or freezing in winter, huddled in a blanket trying to avoid the drafts.


For the intrepid there a spiral stair that takes you right to the top of the tallest tower and you feel as if you are above the world. In the lower regions, the spirals are very dark, lit only by wicks in oil, flaring and wobbling as people pass by, and with puddles of sand beneath to catch the drips. It really gives a feeling for how it would have been so long ago.

There is evidence for lots of domestic buildings within the enceinte but most have gone now. But outside the walls, domestic residences abound on the top of the jutting rock 150 metres above the Dordogne. There are restaurants, craft shops and a church. People live there, and it is amazing to find a modern car parked up in a garage that seems impossible to reach on four wheels. If it got in, how will it ever get out? Enough to give nervous drivers the heebie jeebies.


The walk down is easy, with time to notice the things you missed as you panted your way up. This is a close-up of the old stone tiles that make up the roof. Yes, it has grass and flowers growing on it. Not unusual. Beneath the overhand is what I think is an owl window.

All over Perigord, houses are built with triangular owl windows in the roof. They allow the hunting owls into the roof spaces to clean out the mice and whatever else happens to be living there that the occupants rather wished shouldn't be living there. Kinda cute, eh?

Hear a thump and a squeak in the middle of the night, and turn over and go to sleep. It's not Dracula in the attic, just the owls hunting down the little creatures.

H'mmm. Not sure about that.

La Belle France 3



17th More grey clouds. Gave in and lit fire in the big open hearth and very nearly kippered ourselves! By the end of the night we got the hang of it. Walnut burns very well. Other available woods - dodgy.


18th First really hot day! Postponed planned visit to Laverie and made the most of it by sitting out all day long. Duvet out in the sunshine along with us.


19th Another hot day, but this time we took the bedding to the Laverie, left it for a service wash and then drove on to Beynac. It took us an hour to walk up to the Chateau – we’d call it a castle – through narrow, cobbled twisting lanes and I was ready to sit the moment we got within range of the chateau itself. Persuaded dh it would be good to have lunch before looking around.
The views out across the Dordogne were trememdous. The man who controlled Beynac certainly controlled the river and all river traffic. For all its huge size the chateau itself is not that large, and initially was only the square keep. First mentioned in records in 1115, the Beynac family lost it to Richard the Lionheart when Ademar de Beynac died without an heir in 1194. Simon de Montfort was here, too, leading a crusade against the Albigensians. Now it is in private hands.
I'm having a little trouble loading pics this morning. I think I'll quit while I'm ahead and try again later.
Picked up nice clean washing and had some banter with the lady about the dubious benefits of learning a foreign language. Most pleasing of all, the weather looks set fair for tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

La Belle France 2


Here's my second entry. Already the memories are fading...

12th June: After the fourth thunderstorm in four days - easily the worst or best, depending how you view these things - the weather cleared. Today we actually sat out in the sunshine. All day.
The last torrential downpour almost got the better of us. Water poured off the roof so fast the grass was flooded along the length of the bolly.

This is yours truly surveying the damage. You can tell from the state of the bolly that we didn't totally beat off the mini flood.

By the next day all that water had soaked away into the limestone and you'd never know it had rained. It
keeps the countryside fertile.

13th Vergt market today. Got up early as planned, drove in but had to retreat as my back pain was very bad - little dagger sharp pains so sharp they made me gasp every time I moved any direction. Getting in and out of the Honda was excruciating. Started taking painkillers today.
Rain threatened, but held off. The streams ran higher than ever along perimeter of the property. We saw the local farmer hard at work channelling run-off water to prevent roads flooding. On the positive side, I am progressing with edits on Heiress's Dilemma. Second draft complete up to Chapter 9, p 96

14th Weather sunny, then grey

15th Poor weather. As tablets cured the rhume des foins we’ve been working outside, clearing dead wood and invasive brambles. I have to say dh does the hard work. At the moment I do no more than gently snip without bending too much and only after I've given the painkiller time to work. Dh got bitten very badly and is covered in lumps and bumps, all extremely itchy. Now we need medication for the dreaded mosquito bites!

16th Raining when we awoke. I am down to one painkiller today as pain is slowly receding. Went off to replenish supplies in Bergerac. Dh bought elastic bands impregnated with citronella, reputed to keep mossies away. He wears one bright yellow band on his wrist, one on his ankle and looks rather trendy.

17th More grey clouds. France is really not hospitable this year. Rain threatened on and off all day. We had planned to walk to Clement de Beauregard three miles along the valley. Well, in the afternoon, we plucked up courage and went. 3.4k there and 3.4 k back, with a tour around the place in between. It was hot, the kind of steam bath heat under grey skies without a hint of a breeze, and the last half mile was up hill – cruel.
But the tiny place made me think of gingerbread houses, and the cemetery is almost as big as the village. There is a curious tower with a statue on the top, a church, a handful of private houses, a creperie (closed), a small chateau and a carpenter’s workshop. The road system would look like this –o- a road uphill from the main road, a narrow circle on a slope around the church and then either around the circle again or off down the hill on the other side. Not the place to meet another car going in the opposite direction, a good half of the circle is no more than one car wide.

With all this unusually poor weather I have lots of time to read newspapers, and in the Sunday Times Books Supplement 15/6/08 I found a piece on Richard and Judy’s book club. Star of the Sea sold 14,000 copies between 2002-2004 before it was included in the first 10 books on their list. It went on to sell 600,000 and changed the publishing industry’s perceptions overnight. (I started reading, but didn't finish it, found it far too depressing.)
The book club had been regarded with mild derision and scepticism by “literary snobs.” Four years on, R&J Book Club accounts for 26% of sales of the top 100 books in the UK, and Amanda Ross, the club’s book selector, is the most powerful player in British publishing. In the autumn the R&J Book Club moves from Channel 4 to UKTV. Unhappily, I shan’t be able to access it. Bummer.

The article goes on to say: “the use of the word “literary” to define a book indicates a deep chasm between popular storytelling and high culture, a chasm unknown to Dickens and Shakespeare. Books shortlisted for the Man Booker or the Costa may do well, but they stand little chance of breaking through into the mass market.” How true.

It calls the British Book business incompetent. “Since the abolition of the retail price maintenance ( a thing this writer remembers fighting against) power has shifted from the publishers to the bookshops, and they, in turn, have aggregated into a few big chains, primarily the near monopoly of Waterstone’s. This has made publishing absurdly timid in its approach to marketing.”

Amanda Ross says the publishers “are all really nice people”, but she cannot understand why they want to use and reuse successful covers. (I have noticed a plethora of headless females in Tudor costume. Possibly Phillippa Gregory’s series started it, but now they proliferate everywhere.) She is also shocked to discover that publishers must pay to have display slots in shops. Don’t be fooled, she says, that these are “top picks” - they only criteria to got them there is money.

Friday, 4 July 2008

La Belle France


Home again, home again, market is done. Or in this case, holidays are done, finished, finito, over with, completed at an end.

It was good, but Oh, I did miss my e-mail/internet connection! I kept a mini-blog while I was there, but had no way of uploading it. Here's a slightly expanded version of what I wrote each day.

We travelled non-stop from Newcastle to Portsmouth, boarded the ferry and slept as it steamed over to St Malo, where we drove off and headed south to the Dordogne. I was disappointed in La Belle France. She was not doing what I expected. She was letting me down.

7th June: I have hay fever, and the skies are cloudy and grey. Outside is warmer than inside the house. (17 degrees C inside, about 64 F.) The old mill walls are thick, and it has been empty for a while since the builders departed. A thick layer of dust covers everything from the floor to the sugar bowl.
8th Cloudy grey skies continue. So does the hay fever. Dare not go outside as local farmers are cutting hay. Spent time with mop and bucket cleaning up after the builders.
9th Sunny. Hurrah! Hay fever still with me. Resort to taking Zyrtecset. The label says it cures Rhinites, conjonctivities allergiques and crises d’urticaire, whatever they are. Reading Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester and Jane Austen – the World of her novels by Deirdre Le Faye. Thunderstorm in the evening.
10th Grey skies and cold! Second thunderstorm 5pm-ish. The creek at the bottom of the field is flooded.
11th Misty morning. Went shopping at M. Leclerc’s hampered by painful back no doubt brought on by days of excessive floor washing and extremely hard beds. I could hardly get in or out of the Honda, which is very low to the ground, because I could not bend spine. Must have looked amusing but it felt b-a-d. Shows how inactive I have been for the past few months.
Promptly at 4.30pm, third thunderstorm of the week. This one was the worst so far. Electric lights flickered, then went out – just as I was preparing to cook! Hasty scramble for candles until dh realised the storm had tripped the meter or whatever it is power surges do. He went downstairs with a torch, reset it and the electricity came on. Then we discovered water advancing in a wave across the floor of the bolly because the gutters could not cope with the volume of rain coming down. Sprang into action, seized mop, dug channels, stopped the worst of it saturating the house walls.

To be continued....