Well, we’ve had quite an exciting – and rather busy – time these last few weeks. Halloween is fast approaching and autumn is definitely here. It’s stamping its mark on all around us, sometimes with a bit more force than we expected. On the plus side, the wood is looking good and unusually for this part of Ireland the leaves are changing colour. Displays of autumn shades were a regular feature of life in England but over here trees often stay green, if a bit battered, all through the year. I think this may be because it is much wetter, but this year there was actually a bit of a drought, just for a few weeks. This caused a modicum of panic, especially amongst some farmers, and also may have triggered the leaf changes.
Be assured, normal service has been resumed. This last fortnight we have had some tremendous rainfall and very high winds. On Wednesday I heard some strange bird calls and went to investigate. I was shocked to find a small tree had fallen over the road. It was one of the almost-dead trees on the edge of the wood so we set to with clippers, axes and a reciprocating saw. Jacqui used the saw, by the way. I know my weaknesses. Within an hour the road was clear and we had a pile of kindling and small logs. And a great sense of achievement. I think it shows how much better Jacqui is now – progress has seemed slow but it has been progress.
We had our second set of visitors last week. A dear friend and her son made the journey from England and it was lovely to see familiar faces again. They hired a car at the airport and we met them in the nearest town to guide them through the lanes to the house. I remember the first time we came here, to view it. The satnav sent us along the longest and most confusing route possible until we had no idea where we were. And even less idea how to get back! They had a very restful and happy few days, visiting a few places and helping out in the wood. The weather was kind for them, bright if not sunny by day and cool enough to light the log burner at night.
As the undergrowth dies back we can now get further into the wood and it was our visitor who spotted a body just past the oaks. It had obviously been there a long time as it was picked clean but I’m fairly sure it was a badger. A sad find as we love the idea of a set in the wood. I rescued the skull before another animal could drag it away and it is on our monument. There’s no sign of shotgun injury on the skeleton so it may have been poisoned by someone. I hope not – they are beautiful creatures and we hoped they would be safe on our land.
Other interesting signs of autumn have popped up in the form of some white mushrooms growing along the wall outside. These looked very strange, even more so when they matured after a few days. They seemed to turn inside out before melting away to an inky sludge. I did some research and I think they may be Shaggy Ink Caps, also known as Judge’s Wig. If they are then apparently they are delicious though very short lived. I’m very wary however and will check with Wild Food Mary before we have a fry-up.
I have finally found a writing group locally. It’s just begun but the members are a lively and talented bunch. It gets me out of the house once a week and I’m getting used to being with other people again. I hadn’t realised how far I’d retreated into myself over the past few years. I think this is not so unusual and I must make a determined effort to keep in contact with people. Maybe even, if possible, make new friends. We left a lot behind when we moved – and have few regrets – but the hardest thing was the people.
Now for some writing news. I should have a new book out before Christmas. This is not an Alex Hastings but though if it goes well I will probably go with these publishers for the next one. Written with my Irish cousin, Jem Cooney, it’s called “Puppy Brain” and is the first (hopefully) of three novels. I’ll have some dates and order details in the next few weeks. If anyone would like a personal copy I will have some to sign and send. For the curious, here’s the cover “blurb”:
When Liv and Petra inherit Lucy, a Tibetan Spaniel, from Liv’s brother-in-law, he has one final wish, for Lucy to have puppies and one day to see them in the show ring. Despite never having bred or shown a dog before the women agree – after all, how hard could it be?
Two Puppies, One Promise, No Chance.
So, thank you for reading and a Happy Halloween to you all. It’s a public holiday here – not because of Halloween but just the October one. Have a good and safe night and I’ll be back in two weeks.