Coming home, I find the latest (April) edition of The English Home waiting for me, with my words to Nick Carter’s gorgeous photographs of a sweet, nostalgic seaside cottage. Each commission presents a different challenge, but it’s always very satisfying to see the finished article in print. I’m currently working on two commissions for the magazine which are due to appear later in the year. Fiction-wise, of the novella I submitted in January, there’s no word. Perhaps with the current appetite for ‘grip-lit’, stories about two people overcoming misunderstandings to find their ‘happy ever after’ are out of favour? Whatever the reason, I’m more philosophical about the vagaries of publishing these days; I’m not going to give myself a headache trying to second-guess what ‘the market’ wants, but will continue to write what’s important to me.
Yesterday, we enjoyed our fabulous Christmas present from Lily and Russ and Rose and Si; tickets to see Matthew Bourne’s stunning ballet ‘The Red Shoes’. We rounded off our day spending a couple of hours with Bee before her bath and bed-time. Never has one small person wrapped four adults so tightly round her little finger… but little does she know that competiton's on the way - the first of her new cousins (all being well) is due to arrive soon!
Apropos nothing, other than a reminder to make the most of what we have, I really enjoyed reading Rebecca Rideal’s ‘1666: Plague, War and Hellfire’, a wonderfully vivid account of an extraordinary year. I still love the comfort of reading a few pages of nature writing before turning out the light, currently Robert Macfarlane’s ‘The Wild Places’, because I drift off to sleep feeling cosy. However, it’s Kate Gross’s words I keep hearing. Her ‘Late Fragments: Everything I Want to Tell You (About this Magnificent Life)’ is an oddly uplifting account of facing a terminal illness at far too young an age. She writes, ‘I shall end this by reminding you to put your superhero glasses on, to pay attention to the wonder all around you. To get your dodgy bottoms checked out. To always, always eat from your very best crockery, because where can we live but days?’