Sunday, 31 May 2015

Time flies

Here we are at Sunday again, our third here and it hardly feels like that at all. You may find it hard to believe but I was up and out with the dog by half past six in the morning yesterday; also today, but today I cheated and we both came back to our respective beds after he had relieved himself. Twenty minutes past eight we finally decided it was time to rise and shine. Consequently it is ten past eleven by the time I sit down at my computer. Time flies! 

The mousetrap went off with a clatter while we watched tennis yesterday. So that's mouse number two sent on its way. A third one has nicked the dog biscuit without setting off the trap, so no doubt this war will go on for some time.

The forecast was for overcast and cloudy today, so we had planned to drive down to Bergerac. But the sun is shining and it is very warm, so we are still at the mill. Tomorrow the forecast is for rain, so we will see. Maybe tomorrow it will be Bergerac.

Meanwhile, we'll keep watching the wildlife around us. Dragon flies are hatching on the pond, hanging over the  water in jewelled clusters. Tiny frogs abound, literally, in the grass and reeds. DH says he is constantly seeing them leap out of the way of the tractor when he cuts the grass. The little one on the right is hovering on the top of the water, with his shadow on the stone beneath and he has adopted excellent camouflage. He looks exactly like the stone beneath him.  If I hadn't seen him jump, I'd never have spotted him. (Sorry, no pun intended.)

The squirrel has made two appearances, both times galloping over the house roof and then down to the bolly rails. Our wildlife camera has recorded two white eyes in the darkness, presumably Monsieur Reynard doing his rounds. No more sightings of the coypu, though something is leaving tracks into and out of the pond. There are definite trails now. Mallards, perhaps as we often see them fly off in the early morning, and Tim has routed them out from the river.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Death in the house

No need to get alarmed. The death I refer to was a mouse, caught in a mousetrap last night. DH set out the trap, not me. I'm far too squeamish to do that. I may not be happy about them running about indoors, and I know they're a health risk, but that's me. Squeamish.

We've had two splendid days with clear blue skies and full strength sunshine, and today there is a fine cloud layer and hazy sunshine. They've begun to cut the hay around us, and for me they can't do it soon enough. Once it's baled I might be able to walk out whenever I please without sneezing and wanting to scratch my eyes.

We've discovered a new way of exercising Tim. We ride the little bike up and down the drive with him running beside it. He barked at it the first couple of times but he's stopped that now. It's an easy walk around the property now all the grass has had a second cut - almost like lawns! I can walk around in my slippers after the dew has gone. The cows stare at us across the fence, and Tim barks at them. I'm trying to stop him, because they're awfully big beasts and they have calves to defend. No way do I want one of them chasing us across the field.

PS Remember if you click on the pics, you get a larger version!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Houses and homes

There are some very attractive houses in this region. Some of them make me briefly envious, Some just make me smile. We have a whole range around us, from the chateaux with the guardian dogs, live, who race along the fence barking until you are safely out of their sight, right down through the small farmhouse to the caravan in the field, and even better, the caravan on stilts.
If you build in the local style, and some do, then a square tower rising out of the body of the building is a must, and the 4-sided triangle roof can be seen peeking out of the forests for miles around. (I'm sure there's a name for a 4-sided triangle, which obviously isn't a triangle, but I don't know what it is.) I'll add a few pics of examples over the next few days.

Some look very old, and it is easy to imagine they've been here from medieval days. I have no doubt they have mice too, because they're built of rough stone which makes it easy for those little feet to climb and get in through the roof. I know snakes live in lofts - we hear horror stories from our rellies in Australia where people are very wary of entering loft spaces because they never know what they will encounter. Last night when I was drifting off to sleep I imagined a war one in the loft above me - mice versus snakes and lizards, and it made me feel sorry for the mice.

 I encountered one in the laundry room yesterday. It shot across the floor and out where the water pipe comes in through the wall. DH has caught one on his wildlife camera while it was running across the living room floor during the night. Odd that Tim doesn't seem to have noticed them yet.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Mice are back!

Roland Garros has started today and I'm watching selected matches courtesy of UK ITV 4 relayed here to France. Technology is wonderful!

The weather is still not brilliant. We get snatches of sunshine and relax but then it clouds over again. I saw a deer in the field yesterday, around midday, no less. We both saw a fox running across the road as we walked Tim, and DH was startled by the appearance of a mouse almost in front of his nose as he sat at the big desk! The little blighters have had a go at breaking into Tim's sack of biscuits so we've put half in a red metal container - I think it is actually a bread bin - and the other half safely locked in the boot of the car. It seems you can't avoid mice if you live in farm land in an old house with cracks and crannies where they can squeeze in. The other day as I sat reading I heard the click of claws in the loft above the balcony room, but it may have been the lizards - though I don't think lizards squeak. I imagined battles going on up there - mice against lizards. DH assures me the main loft is cut off from the new loft above the balcony room, but he knows very well that mice and lizards will squeeze in anywhere.

Finished reading JoJo Moyes The One plus One - enjoyed it. Also read a Joanne Trollop since we got here - Balancing Act, but I honestly now cannot remember what it was about. It obviously made a great impression on me though I enjoy her style while I'm reading it.

The picture is one DH caught of me whistling for Tim - and the clothes will tell you how warm it is!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Hay Fever

A brilliant sunny day yesterday, so not much work was done, but I did get a wash load dried, ironed and put away. There's not much work involved in putting  a washing machine on, and apart from that, we downed tools and soaked up the sunshine.
 Today it is me who has the odd problem - one of my eyes has swelled. Not the eye but the socket and lid. It's either a reaction to pollen, of which there is a lot drifting about on the wind, or some tiny insect has bitten me.

I shall be relieved when the farmer has cut all his hay because only then will my nose stop prickling and filling up. In England I don't suffer from hay fever, but here, I do. The cutting is partially done. I watched the farmer cart away about a dozen plastic wrapped bales this morning while I gave Tim his early morning walk around nine o'clock. That was quite late for Tim, but then I'd been out earlier, too, for he woke me just as it was getting light with a plea to go outside. Every bird in the locality was singing in the greyness and I was glad Tim is mostly white, for he showed up in the gloom no matter how far he wandered!

The final edit of The Craigsmuir Affair is ongoing. I have cut chunks of "local character" which gets in the way of the story. I don't suppose anyone would be interested in it but me.There are no signs of it being available as pre-order yet on Amazon. There must be more I have to do before that happens.
The irises are blooming everywhere around the lake and nearby damp fields. They look beautiful.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Third Day

Tim has survived his cut foot and had the time of his life today when two  farm dogs? - local dogs? turned up and played with him and in the river at the bottom of the garden. They stayed all afternoon and tonight he's flat out asleep.
It's good for him to socialise and it was interesting to watch him go from aggressive Get-off-my-patch to hesitant-can-we-play to full on play. We cut some more grass  and pulled up a few weeds from the patio while all this doggy fun went on.
Yesterday was dh's birthday and I promised him I'd cook. I did, but it was a disaster.  Isn't that typical? I think of all the meals I cook that are perfectly fine and then, when I want to please someone, everything goes wrong. Hangs head in shame. DH did the shopping and came back with a strange cut of beef. It may be a fine cut of beef, but it is not one I have seen back home. Still, it was listed as Beef steak. Perhaps the noisette oil I used was a mistake. Or the couscous I thought was an original idea is just not meant to go with salad and steak. The  wine was white and sparkly but sweeter than we expected. One lives and learns, and the moral of the story is take a French-English dictionary to the supermarche, and don't try odd combination for a special meal.

The weather is not very nice - damp, grey and threatening rain most of the time, but we're hoping for a better day tomorrow. We're inside tonight with the doors and windows closed, but of course we are here mid-May rather than mid-July. The good weather will come, I know it. Farmers have cut the first hay already but the meadows before they do so are a joy to see, so full of wild flowers. I remember fields like this during my childhood, but we rarely see them today in England..

PS Our meal tonight, cooked by DH, was fine. I may just let the maestro take over the kitchen. I'm not proud.

Friday, 15 May 2015

First Day

Our first full day at the mill was hot and sunny, and in spite of promising ourselves a quiet day after the long two day journey cooped up in the car, what do you think we did? DH got out the mini tractor and began cutting the grass while I unpacked and gave Tim several walks around the fields. I got involved in rescuing plant pots hidden in the long grass then divesting them of the slugs and snails that infested them. Both creatures are so much bigger than than the ones in my garden back home!

Then Tim ran over what turned out to be the base of a broken bottle in the long grass around the end of the mill pound. We only really noticed he was hurt when we got back to the bolly and saw he left a trail of wet red footprints with every step. .So then it was a case of holding his paw firm and tight (no evidence of glass in the paw) and try to stop the bleeding. For the rest of the day he went around with a gents hankie bound around the pad and a sock bound over to keep it in place.

The bandage lasted until this morning, when he greeted me at the side of the bed with this bundle flopping about at the end of his paw. When we got a look at it, the wound is clean and no sign of bleeding. The thing is now to try and keep him out of the muck and gravel. More easily said  than done.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Hatfield Forest

A brief entry to say we have reached our destination - I am now en France and endeavouring to think in another language. We enjoyed a halt at  Hatfied Forest on the way down. So close to Stansted on the M11 yet it is a world away from the busy 21st century. We spent three quarters of an hour there with Tim off the lead and racing through the buttercups. We're lucky that though he loves to run, he never runs far from me and his recall is good. We'll certainly stop there on the way back from France. It's a medieval hunting forest now looked after by the National Trust.

We have the chairs our on the bolly, the first of the grass has been cut and lunchtime approaches. Our first lunch in France!

Sunday, 10 May 2015


Something I'm trying for the first time with THE CRAIGSMUIR AFFAIR - pre-order at Amazon.
I've set a date and loaded the cover. I've been given a date by which I must load all info, which is fair enough. Now I'll wait and see when and where it is listed - if it is!

Astonishingly, we haven't begun packing yet. It looks like it is going to be the usual last minute dash, but that's all part of the fun. Before we set off on the journey south I shall have to give Tim a good walk so he'll sleep until we get a good way down the country. That means getting up very early, but that's OK too, as we're usually alert and awake well before normal time when there's a big trip in the offing.

I'm trying to ensure that I have everything I want loaded onto my laptop so that I can continue to proofread while I'm in France. Disaster if I forget anything! Tennis is distracting me right now. It's the Madrid Open Final tonight and it is between Andy and Nadal. Finally, Rafa seems to be back on track, so I think I shall splurge £6.99 and pay for 24 hours viewing so I can watch the match. If I were to stay in England it would be better value to pay for a month but that's OK. The price is considerably cheaper than paying to visit the venue!

Spring is a lovely time to visit England - so many shades of green to enjoy. The froth of white in the pic is the mass of garlic flowers that have opened up in the last week. The bluebells are out too, in the shadier places.

Saturday, 9 May 2015


France beckons and as usual I'm stuck between the laptop and the desk PC. I must make sure everything I'll need is on the laptop otherwise I'm sunk. I had fond hopes of having The Craigsmuir Affair published before I went, but that is not going to happen. Only chapter one has been finally proofread, and even then I made changes!

We've been very social this week, with a trip to Dent on Wednesday and a dinner dance last night at the Hilton Hotel on the river at Newcastle. Evening went off fine except that conversation was impossible once the band started up and we left with our ears ringing. Why do they have to be so loud? I gather it is expected  nowadays, but fear that there will be a generation of people who go deaf before they are forty years old.

Unless I have a change of heart (and I doubt it very much) this will be the cover for THE CRAIGSMUIR AFFAIR.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Fear of Flying

You have to be over 50 to understand the hooha that went on when Erica Jong published Fear of Flying in 1973. It has sold more than 27 million copies and no doubt a new generation will discover it all over again now the author has given Isadora Wing a new outing in Fear of Dying. It is one of the hottest stories at the London Book Fair and goes some way to proving once again that publishers have their beady eyes on what will sell.

Fear of Dying tells of a woman in her 60s encumbered by dying parents, an ageing husband and a pregnant daughter and who feels the lack of sex as something too valuable to ignore. I am not sure that the majority of women in their sixties would prioritize their lives in quite that way, and thirty-somethings and youngsters probably think that the thought of their parents having sex as gross. Will a theme that sounds so depressing be as popular as publishers think?

There is evidence that publishers are scanning the self-published lists. Meredith Wild landed a 6-figure deal with Transworld in the UK and a 7 figure US cheque for her self-published novels about a young businesswoman's intense relationship with a billionaire. (A familiar theme?) A G Riddle gained a 7 figure deal for his self-published novel Departure, which features a plane from New York crash-landing in the English countryside.

Janet Ellis has won a book deal with a major publisher after submitting her manuscript under a pseudonym. A Little Learning is set in the 18th century, and sees a girl taken advantage of by her tutor. (Oh dear; sounds like sex and abuse; how can it fail?) As a friend of mine once said - Sex Sells.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Yawn time

It has rained all day to day, but to cheer myself up I've uploaded a picture from a better weather day. A day at the beach is in order again soon!

I've been working hard on Photoshop but I plan to start on the final edit of Daisy in a day or two, maybe even tomorrow. Then when I go on holiday I can take my laptop and start something new. That will be fun, for there comes a time when it is easy to get a tad bored with the story I've worked on for so long. When did I start? I can't remember clearly, but if you count the first attempt way back in 2009, then a long time ago. If you count only this last attempt, from about March this year, then not so long.

Writing can be hard slog. The beginning is fun because it is mostly research and pottering about making plans and timelines and then discarding them.Then comes the exciting moment when the first line is typed and then follows all the variations because we all know how important that first opening line is. Eventually it is time to move on and get into the meaty part of the story, and that is part exhilaration and part hard grind, but it has to be done and done on a regular basis as in day by day by day. The alternative is to have a long time gap and then forget the last plot point made, or get in a muddle by doing a different version of it. if you stick with the routine and do your daily quota of words (or something like it) then at last you type the last few words, and feel entitled to sit back with a silly grin on your face.

But it isn't over. You can't relax yet. Oh, no, not by a long shot. There's editing, and editing and final edits. That's where the boredom can creep in, because the story is so familiar there are no more surprises. Excuse me while I yawn.....

Lost dog!

Sunday 8 th May Slow start to a sunny day with a promise of high temperatures. Bill took Perla out at 7.30 as he has done all this month ...