Sunday 24 November 2019


Sir Peter Scott's house

I took two of the boys to the wetlands place at the weekend. It was wet, which is as it should be. I saw a bittern, right in front of me, which was fantastic, normally they're so well hidden. I didn't even think to take a photo, I was so amazed.

The house in the third photo used to belong to the conservationist and ornithologist Sir Peter Scott, son of Robert Scott, aka Scott of the Antarctic. In his last letter to his wife, written when Peter was two, he wrote, 'Make the boy interested in natural history if you can; it is better than games.' Shortly after writing it he died on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

Sir Peter Scott kept captive birds on the water in front of his home for a while, but eventually wild birds started landing there and now all the birds there are wild. Bewick's swans spend the winter there after making the journey from Siberia. It's an incredibly special place.

I managed a bit of writing while the others were exploring. The sun was setting and overhead crows were calling and settling in the tops of trees. I do love the winter sunset, it's so atmospheric. I'm plowing on towards 50,000 words. Just eight days to go I believe. I have crossed the 40,000 word mark.

There was no cricket or football at all this weekend, which was novel. I'd like to say many other useful and organisational things were accomplished, but somehow it has flown by in a jumble of work and odd bits of half-hearted housework. There was a cricket presentation night. The biggest boy stayed late with the adult team. I asked him when he got home if he'd had a good time. He said, 'Yes. I spent all of your money but none of my money.' Thrifty, no?

I am still enjoying podcasts. It occurs to me that after a lifetime of listening to the news and current affairs, they have finally broken me. I had a really frustrating day on Friday, you know the sort of thing, when everything goes wrong, everyone is annoying and it rained on me and the dog, and then I got home and there was a letter from Boris Johnson on the doormat as some sort of coup de grace. Honestly, if the local MP comes round, I shall not be held responsible for my actions.

Anyway, podcast land is a very fine place and I may never go back to news and current affairs. There is so much else to know about and things to hear that leave me feeling warm and positive and happy. If you have any favourites, do let me know.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

The old woman in the cave

The top photo is sunrise down by the river. It was a bit on the damp side. That was Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon was indoor cricket. Sunday was football. I left home at 9.45am, had forty minutes at home at lunchtime then I was out again until 4.30pm. I have no idea how two football matches can take up almost an entire day. As a special treat I was allowed to watch the football while I ate my tea. I think I am almost ready to referee a match.

Last night was the town's Christmas lights switch on, always a big event. The children have pretty much ditched me now when it comes to this sort of thing, so after wandering up the high street and down the high street and catching up with a friend or two I took refuge in a coffee shop and wrote for a while. Still aiming for those 50,000 words. I did discover that the local wool shop still half exists though, which was encouraging. The other half of the shop is given over to houseplants. Which I thought was a pretty perfect (and dangerous) combination. I couldn't decide which plant to buy first, but you know I'll be back.

Tonight was my turn to help out at Scouts. Some nights are livelier than others. This was a lively one. Let's just leave it at that. I have had some chocolate and now I am having a sit down.

The littlest boy made me laugh the other day. I had just given him one of my lengthy and impassioned speeches about the importance of being honourable and sportsmanlike and never ever taking something to which you are not entitled (it went on a bit, to be honest I forget the exact point I was trying to make, but I believe it started being about not taking too many Tesco charity box tokens when you are only supposed to take one, even if you are using it to vote for your school to receive the big donation) and he said, 'You should be a quoter. You know, one of those people who makes up quotes. You're really wise. You're like a wise old woman who lives in a cave.' Oh, how wonderful that would have been if he'd just stopped at 'really wise'. Anyway, it made me laugh and shut me up, which was probably the whole point of it.

Hope all are having a good week. If you need me I will be thinking deep thoughts in my cave.

Tuesday 12 November 2019

The whites of our eyes

In between the rain there have been some glorious autumn moments here. This morning on the dog walk there were golden leaves catching the sun as they fluttered down from a cloudless blue sky. Bertie and his gigantic labradoodle friend were cantering along in slow motion as if they were in a movie. Well, actually his friend looks as if he's in slow motion, while Bertie was running at top speed with his tongue hanging out and the whites of his eyes showing (there's a bit of fear over the sheer size of his chum). Anyway, it was all glorious.

Saturday on the other hand was practially wall to wall rain. We did an extra big early morning walk before the rain started, which made us feel incredibly smug, then I hunkered down and did some writing and that was all rather lovely as well.

Happily Sunday was sunny for the Remembrance Day parade. The church and castle photos were taken then. The littlest boy looked very smart as he walked along wearing his poppy and I tried not to cry as I always do.

The biggest boy is deep in the midst of exams and I am panicking on his behalf. Everything has all gone very Real all of a sudden and before I know it they'll all have to decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives. You can definitely see the whites of my eyes. I have finally worked out what I want to do with my life (be a fiction writer) but it is taking a while to get there to be honest. If only I'd known when I was 16. Sigh. From memory, I think I wanted to be a stuntwoman or a shepherdess. Either of which would actually have been great. I feel those particular ships may have sailed now though.

I have a new saying for you which I'm certain you'll love. The biggest boy discovered it. It is Finnish, and for when someone is not quite thinking straight - you say their Moomins are not all in the valley. I am spending this week trying to work it casually into conversations.

How are things at your end? Relaxing in the sun, or showing the whites of your eyes? Dreams being chased or do you still look at sheep and sigh wistfully? Moomins all safely in the valley? Do let me know.

Monday 11 November 2019

In remembrance

Photo by Laurentiu Lordache via unsplash

The Soldier by Rupert Brooke
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by the suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.