Wednesday, 25 May 2011

House Warming

‘Hahaha!’ says the heating engineer, recoiling as he takes his first glimpse of our boiler. ‘I know this one. Saw it three years ago and it was on its last legs then!’ The boiler makes the mighty whooshing sound that’s become part of the soundscape of our new home. It’s followed by the tinkling of falling ash particles, like the Grimsv√∂tn volcano in miniature. ‘That,’ says the heating engineer, ‘is what we call The Boiler Death Rattle!’. There’s clearly no hope for the patient, but how about the rest of the heating system? The heating engineer and his apprentice - yes, a real live apprentice! As someone who once worked with ‘disaffected and disengaged’ young people, you’ve no idea how hard it was to find apprenticeship schemes - crawl into loft spaces whilst ghostly echoes of their laughter trail down to Tom and I waiting in the kitchen. The verdict is not good, but as yet we have no idea what it will cost to put right. ‘I’ll try to send you a quote before I go on holiday!’ says the heating engineer. Maybe we should have established if he was going off backpacking for six months...

It’s been interesting to see people’s reactions to the new house; the location is wonderful, but there’s some work to be done inside. I was very cheered up last week when some dear friends visited and saw exactly what we’d fallen in love with. It makes an occasionally daunting project somehow seem more manageable. And talking of labours of love, I was very touched when the postman turned up with a housewarming present from my sister. She’s a very busy bunny, but has spent hours stitching this beautiful cushion for me. It arrived with a copy of Carol Klein’s lovely book, ‘Life in a Cottage Garden’. The idea is for me to loll around on the cushion reading the book, but after all my sister’s hard work, I’m a tad reluctant to squash that cushion just yet!

Coming up for air after my recent writeathon, I spent a brilliant morning in the company of Welsh tweeters, Preseli Mags, Lins, Kathryn and Squizzey at Lins's beautiful home. I’m always struck by how comfortable meetings with friends I’ve only ‘talked’ to via the internet are. The only reluctance came from Topsy, Lins gorgeous dachsie, who took a bit of winning over until a dog treat and the smell of Mag’s homemade brownies forced her to make friends. Mind you, I’d go a long way for one of Mag’s brownies, so I may have to work on Topsy which is another good reason for meeting up again.

One of the joys of moving to a new garden is the pleasure of seeing what’s coming up next. Along with the 'seventies house, there's some dramatic 'seventies planting, like these red hot pokers lighting up the garden in the twilight yesterday evening.

And then we stood at the end of the garden and watched this...

Thursday, 12 May 2011

A Walk to the Beach

On a fine May evening, turn left from the house, remembering not to walk beneath the rookery. The hedges are heady with blossom.

Speedwell has appeared in the last couple of days.

And the Wild Garlic's out too.

Through a shaded valley.

A glimpse of the sea through the ferns.

We're almost there.

Just one other family on the beach.

Thrift on the cliffs.

The spray's flying.

Back across the beach.

And homewards bound.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Since I've Been Gone

Dear me, it’s been a while! The combo of ongoing concerns about Ma, moving house, a blip in my normally rude heath and a book to finish mean that I’ve only just come up for air. Thank goodness this isn’t a vlog or you’d all be reeling at the sight. The Beautiful Eyebrow Lady has, at least, restored some order (although I think she misheard ‘not too dark’ as ‘Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, please’) and tomorrow I’m off to the hairdresser's for pretty much everything they have on the menu.

I’ve written a bit about how it feels to have completed Novel 2 over at Choc Lit Author’s Corner. It’s a strange time, a combination of elation at having reached the end of the 90,000 word journey and a sense of loss that comes when you look up for the first time and have to leave the place and characters you’ve inhabited for the duration. This journey’s also been about writing as a published author, having to put aside fears about what other people’s expectations might be, sticking to the routine during times of illness or worry and simply concentrating on that tiny spark that breathes life into the whole process.

I’ve also looked up to find I’m living in a new home! Yes, I know I moved here physically in March, but I don’t feel I’ve seen very much of it yet. A bit like me, it needs some work, but the location is just wonderful. A twenty-five minute stroll takes us down to the most beautiful National Trust beach and, okay, it’s a right old slog uphill, but who cares when the hedgerows change almost daily and are currently glorious with clouds of cow parsley, pink campion, the last of the violets, the promise of foxgloves and the ferns poking their tongues out all over the place? And if you don’t fancy walking all that way there’s always the garden, here’s a few photos to give you a flavour of what’s been happening there and now I’m off to stroll round some of the blogs I’ve missed whilst I’ve been away.