Tag Archives: countryside

April Inspiration

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With new life shooting up all over my riverbank, how can I not be inspired?

The willow has taken hold, and shiny lime green leaves reach for the sun. They’ve made a huge difference reducing the moisture on the bank (it used to be part of a leat running along our riverbank, over the road to the mill), and also sustaining its integrity, following the flooding swells we experienced last year.

We’ve planted over 100 tiny trees this year, with 60 little saplings getting a start in pots, still to put in.

Loki likes to accompany me down to the riverbank to help me write.

I’m delighted to announce I’ve almost reached the midway point of my tenth novel, the fifth book in the Lizzie Martin series, The Able Witch. Fancy a few lines? Having burned her hands rescuing Bilbo the dog after he knocked a candle over with his tail, this is the first time Lizzie has potted for a while…

Lizzie grasped the new lump of clay on her wheel. She missed Marsha. Into Lizzie’s mind arose the tanned, smiling face, and blue eyes sparkling with mischief, and then she thought of her own mother, Elsa, but she couldn’t pin down her features. With her eyes shut, she found herself walking the path to another world, but all was in darkness. Twitters, hoots and howls of fear and flight rose from the blackness of the forest. Strange eyes glowed. Vines, leaves and branches brushed against her body, snagging at her ankles, threatening to trip her. Grotesque shadows loomed out of the trees, into the clearing ahead. A roar echoed behind her and she turned. Slime, a dozen eyes, a mouth-like tunnel and rows of pointed teeth threatened to consume her.

“This isn’t real,” she whispered.

She opened her eyes and sat back from her wheel. The flowerpot was perfect, but the road to the land of the fae had changed. She removed the pot and picked up her coffee.

In fact, everything had changed in only a few months.  It was little wonder that the road to the underworld was no longer a pleasant one.

Today, there is no sunshine. The first of the bluebells are hiding, bending to the rain. It’s another great day to write a magical novel.

 

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Wood and trees

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After spending a lot of last winter with no heating, we now have two magnificent and efficient wood burning stoves.Wales 2014 040This one, to heat the lounge, hot water and radiators and this one…..Wales 2014 037that keeps the room we live, sleep and work in warm.

But with only tarpauline and tin on the roof and holes in the stonework, our house is still difficult to heat. We’ve an interesting curtain arrangement around the stair case…extra long curtains lined with velvet help stop the draught from upstairs. The insulation screwed to the kitchen ceiling helps a little too but in order to keep warm, we need lots of wood.

We’re very lucky. Our land has trees and lots of them and no one has trimmed them or managed them so this weekend, we’ve worked hard to take out the trees and branches that are dangerous or have been left to grow in daft places. A few weeks ago, we took down branches over a track we share and began a wood pile for next year with a layer of oak. Wales to 13th Sept 2014 004This weekend, we’ve been taking down ash which can be burned immediately. Any trees and branches endangering buildings are being removed before they become too big for us to handle and we’ve continued our scheme of coppicing, taking out wood to allow more to grow.

As our land provides for us, we give back. In March, we planted fruit trees, apple, pear, plum and damson. Wales 2014 March 015Ash saplings are sprouting all over the land, especially down on the river bank. Some we’ve left in situ until they grow bigger and some we’ve dug up and moved to the slope at the bottom of our field. We’ve planted willow, given by friends but it’s not taken very well so we’ll try again next year.

Our beech tree, the Queen of the forest, is another tree that needs attention, seen here the day the removal van brought our possessions. summer 2013 and tent pictures 432Great leathery rows of fungus are visible from the roadside at the base of the tree and we are concerned that the roots are being eaten away. We have a neighbour who is a tree specialist so we will be seeking his advice as to the best way to proceed.

We moved to Wales to change our lives and live closer to the earth. Our Land provides for us and we will look after her, removing the decades of rubbish left by previous owners and looking after the trees and replanting. In the future, we hope to plant hedgerow and soft fruit as well as erecting eco camping pods in our field using recycled materials, enabling others to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Welsh countryside. On our land, we see the wood and the trees.

 

 

Circle of Life

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The countryside around where I live is getting quieter. From March until July, the area is buzzing with life as new lambs and calves add their voices to the sheep, cows and birds. As the trees become one great verdant canopy, life below is vibrant. Tractors are in abundance pulling trailers and machinery. Four vehicles were needed to turn our field into hay and watching them in action is like front seats at the ballet. Not only do you get to watch the machines dancing, turning, crossing and twisting but you get to smell the grass and fresh turned hay is deliciously sweet…no wonder the new calves love it.

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Lamby (aka Ben) was born in the spring with his brother Jerry, to an older ewe who sadly died. My neighbour Liz was helping the farmer with lambing and offered to take on Ben and Jerry and I enjoyed helping bottle feed them, though I didn’t have to get up in the night to them as Liz did! Sadly Jerry, the seemingly more able and aware lamb, died leaving Lamby, partially sighted and with learning difficulties.  Wales 2014 084 Flibbertigibbet (aka Jibby), a little white female cat, became a full time member of our family, moving on from the house Mike, my partner, built her in the porch. Once the wood burners were installed at the end of January 2014, Jibby decided to stay and made the most of the warmth of the house and it’s occupants. Wales 2014 079 Other new things started for me in the spring, teaching ATS® Belly Dance from the beginning of March and publishing Wrath of Angels at the beginning of June. Tribal Unity Wales is now flourishing in Lampeter and my students have already performed at the Cardigan Belly Dance Festival. It’s been a joy to teach them and I’m so lucky having the opportunity to make friends with such a lovely group of ladies. 10603378_10202597850844530_906991781996694645_n

My New Moon Book Promotion went well for Wrath of Angels and I’m in the process of finishing a novella, The Standing Stone – Home for Christmas which I hope to have available by November 2014. Wales to 21st June 2014 013

But as the evenings grow cooler and the mornings greyer, our little corner of countryside doesn’t bustle any more. Indoors, jam and preserves are being made in kitchens and vegetables are being bagged for the freezer, but outside it is quiet as most of the lambs are no longer grazing. It makes me sad, as a vegetarian, but the only reason the lambs are on the hillside is because of the demand for sweet, tender lamb for Sunday lunch. I’ve witnessed first hand how hard the farmers work looking after the sheep and how much they care but I can’t help my stomach flipping when the sheep trailers drive by.

And as the summer nears it’s end, we have lost a member of our own family as Olly, brother to Tiggy was helped to the Summerlands by the vet at our house on Saturday. Olly was the perfect cat. Found in a box with Tiggy and another kitten, who had sadly died, at just three weeks old, the kittens had had acid dropped in their eyes and on their paws so Olly was blind in his right eye. He loved his new home in the countryside and I shall always remember, when we were tent living, the first time Olly ran the full length of the field. His body at full stretch, he bounded like a leopard through the grass. Before he became unwell, he and Rowan our black tom cat, would roam the area together. I buried Olly in our field, next to the plum tree we planted in memory of my dad. Every day I carry stones to the field, building a cairn to keep him safe.

As the wheel turns and autumn comes into view, the circle of life continues.

Olly, Tiggy and Rowan camping

Olly, Tiggy and Rowan camping

Olly being king of the castle, Oct 2013, the day we moved into the house

Olly being king of the castle, Oct 2013, the day we moved into the house

Olly being Olly

Olly being Olly

Loved, missed and always in our hearts

Loved, missed and always in our hearts