A newsletterish thingy..
Every season, I write a longer blogpost, a bit like a newsletter, to have a chat about the previous season of doings.
Being spring, I don’t see much of my husband as there’s all things lamby happening on the farm, requiring his attention. Whilst I love the lambs and enjoy watching their kindergarten antics, I find Australian farming fraught at lambing time. Maybe it’s because it’s just merinos, maybe it’s that traditionally Australian farmers rarely lamb in sheds, but I get very emotional. I get angry at the stupid merinos which from the moment of birth seem to spend their entire lives trying to die, I hate the mums who have multiples and leave one behind, (and it’s not just one, trust me). I hate that crows and eagles come in and kill a newborn that is unable to fend for itself, pecking out eyes and innards. So I stay well away from the paddocks until lambing is over. It’s best that way. Not exactly what a farmer wants in a wife and partner, but that’s life.
So let’s talk about other things – the season just past. Supposedly the mildest winter ever.
And yet, my ageing toes succumbed to chilblains and I finally wore my first ever fur-lined boots…
…and my first ever beanie, along with scarves and the like. I’ve never felt the cold but have to say this is the first year I’ve shivered with winter. An age thing? Surely not! No doubt my northern hemisphere friends are laughing at me complaining, when winter up there is a serious business. Ah well, it’s all relative.
We always have a few days away somewhere different in winter.
We always pick a beautiful house in a stunning semi-isolated setting. Over the years it’s worked well and this year, we returned to accommodation we’d stayed in before.
Truly, I know how the author, ML Stedman thought up the title, The Light between Oceans. Just staring from lighthouses over the ocean sang a million songs.
I’ve spent less time doing BIG gardening than normal. This is probably due to me being injured. Last year it was the Achilles and a de-laminated thigh, this year it’s the glutes, one after another. It’s a gene thing but I still tend to do what I love between the damage. But the gardens in both our coastal home and the city matchbox have reached saturation point and apart from weeding, feeding and watering, then pruning and raking leaves, there’s not much to do. Still, I love tidying in the garden – and then I love to prowl quietly – observing, examining, enjoying.
Winter has meant that warmth is approaching rapidly and driving the seasons before it and so I purchased new boat shoes which to anyone else might be like buying the kids’ new school-shoes. Warmth on the coast means boat shoes or thongs (flip-flops to the uninitiated!) and worn shorts and old shirts and jumpers. It ‘aint Palm Beach, Portsea or the Hampton’s that’s for sure.
Best of all this winter, we managed a wonderful boat trip on ‘Olympian’. My son and husband are hard workers and take very little time off the farm to truly relax. There’s always something – fencing, hay deliveries across the south, lambing, moving rams, tree-planting, agronomists visiting etc. This day, the two of them fished…
… and I just soaked up the sea ambience, the water stretching to the horizon where soft blue sky and navy ocean met each other.
(please note smile of contentment on face and delicious backdrop)
I listened to a strident argument between two Pacific gulls and saw many seals (thanks to the disgusting industrial salmon farm up the coast) but mostly I just floated in a contented state, never happier than when I’m on the water, be it swimming, boating or kayaking.
It’s well known that I’m a grandmother and time spent with 3 year old H is like a beam of sunlight. He is unaware of the lessons he teaches his grandparents. Of joy in the little things, of living in the moment. Of laughter and throwing all pre-conceived notions aside. It is a beneficence we never expected.
And now to writing…
Firstly, I’m writing Book Number 15!!!! That number knocks me sideways!
But do you ever wonder when I might publish another book?
Soon, I swear!
Certainly before the beginning of the northern winter.
And to be fair, I have had a mini-me anthology of medieval short stories published in between times.
To purchase print or e-book go to mybook.to/medievalanthology
But the novel, Reliquary, is waiting quietly in the wings and I’m writing the second book in The Peregrinus Series which is tentatively called Oak Gall. The cover for Reliquary is being designed as I write this and I hope for a really good tagline from a supremely eloquent and well-known writer for its cover.
I confess to wanting to take The Triptych Chronicle to audio, followed by The Peregrinus Series, but it’s a hugely expensive exercise as I would want none but THE best male voices to give the stories the gravitas they deserve. But never say never.
And finally to reading and viewing:
On SBS on Demand, 18 binge-watch series through winter, mostly Scandinavian. They seem to be able to handle the whole crime genre with such panache, such intellect. And the scenery is usually breathtaking and a character in its own right. Strangely, I’m not a crime fan, but there’s something about the polish and the characterisation that draws me in. We finished the lighter Nordic Sandhamn Murders just before the Paralympics (which we have loved watching) began and then started watching Spring Tide last night.
On Britbox (BBC streaming), we’ve watched everything from drama to doco’s, and many cooking shows by the inimitable Mary Berry from whom I’m learning so much. Not least is how to wear crisp shirts and never get dirty in the kitchen or out stalking or salmon fishing!
On Netflix, we’ve watched very little really – just gentle stuff filmed in Canada like Heartland and Virgin River. Oh, we watched Bridgerton too – tongue in cheek.
On Amazon Prime we watched our show of the year, Clarkson’s Farm, where we reassessed Jeremy Clarkson as a person, applauded his message to the city from those on the land, laughed till we cried and can’t wait for Series Two!
Reading for me has been a mix of audio and Kindle, no print at all (apart from research papers). And all up, 23 titles. Too many to list but I will name my favourite authors from winter literature: Monty Don, Bernard Cornwall, Matthew Harffy, Simon Turney, Gordon Doherty and Giles Kristian
I’m currently listening to a Rosamunde Pilcher I’ve never read before called Coming Home. Pilcher handles ambience and setting like no one else I know.
On Kindle currently, Robert Low’s The Whale Road and I truly love his seamless winding of such uncontrived colloquialism and Dark Age history. It reminds me exactly of the winding patterns of Viking art.
In amongst all of this, I still stitch – crewel and freehand for me and little felt hearts for the wonderful charity, www.1000Hearts.com
As I often say, a needle and thread stills the mind, focuses thought and slows down busy hands and heart. And it’s a damned good way to avoid the bloody bits in the screen time mentioned above!
And so that’s been my winter. I hope your season, be it summer or winter has been safe, happy and enjoyable. Keep it that way – always stay safe and well.
Another newsletter perhaps, as we enter summer/winter? If you would like? Okay!