Strange Days

It’s been a rather bizarre month, hasn’t it?

I know that’s a wild understatement, and that there are very many people out there struggling with awful things at this time, so I don’t in any way mean to make light of the situation in which we find ourselves.

I’m an anxious person, and also someone who picks up the emotion of those around me, so I’m finding it difficult to write at the moment. My husband and I are both self-employed, too – while we’re okay for now, it’s on my mind. I have a first draft of one book completed, plus a fully plotted second book, and a third book which is about half-written. They’re all waiting for me, and I can hear them calling, but when I sit down to write claws of uncertainty grab at me, taking my focus so I have to step away again, telling them I’m sorry. I know this will pass, and the words will come again, but for now I’m trying to be kind to myself. I’ve baked bread and caught up on the ironing and tidied out a cupboard that needed to be tidied out, and maybe I’ve watched a bit too much Star Trek, but we all have to find our own way to keep going.

Anyway, enough about that.

While I do write about books and writing-related stuff, this blog has always been about positivity and in finding the silver lining in things, even when things aren’t so great. So I’m working hard to find the positives in this, the things that I’m grateful for.

I know I’m fortunate to have a comfortable home in which to isolate, and the love and support of family. Fortunate that the weather is good and, when I go out to walk the dog, people still exchange greetings (from a distance, of course). Fortunate that we’re all staying well at the moment. Fortunate to have time to address all those little tasks that hang around and never seem to get done – no excuses, now!

It’s the small joys, too. The joy of sitting outside in the sun in the morning, drinking hot tea. Of new frogspawn in the garden pond (nothing grand, just a bucket set into the ground), and the red kites that ride the updrafts, reminder that life goes on. There are bluebells coming through, blue elf-spears poking out of the earth, and the fruit trees are starting to sprout, a promise of blossom and fruit to come.

I know there are many people who are not in comfortable situations, and many other people who are doing wonderful things to help out. This is an event unprecedented on a global scale, and so, in all the fear and worry, I try to find stories about people who are doing good, like the small boy who spent his pocket money on loo roll for his elderly neighbours, or the refugee family who left food on the porch of the self-isolating family who had sponsored them. These are the bright lights against the darkness, and a reminder of who we can be, if we choose to be our best selves. I’m trying to do my bit as well, and know there are many in my local community who are keeping an eye out for others who might need help, and that’s heartening.

To be honest, I wonder whether I’ve had the virus already. As you know, I’ve been ill since the beginning of December, and was finally starting to feel good mid-February. However, at the end of the month I had a sore throat, which developed into a cough (though it seemed a continuation of the one that had plagued me for months), and left me feeling very tired. Then my breath started to go and on March 3 I woke in the night burning up and unable to breathe to the point where I had to wake up my husband. I’ve had very bad pneumonia before, but I’ve never, ever felt like that, where my chest was so full and heavy I couldn’t take a full breath or stop coughing. Eventually I fell asleep, waking drenched in sweat. The fever abated but the breathing difficulties stayed with me for a couple of weeks, only really getting better in the last few days. I also lost my sense of smell and taste – once again that’s only just returning to normal.

I suppose I’ll never know, which is fine. We are still isolating, just like everyone else. But I’m still here. I hope you all are, too.

Stay safe and well, everyone – we’ll get through this together.

xx


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

 

 

 

What a Difference A Day Makes

I took this photo last Friday. The sun was shining, bees were humming among the blossoms, and it felt as though Spring was finally on her way.

What a difference a day makes.

This was Saturday morning. Overnight an arctic blast had come through, the temperature dropping to a face-freezing minus one, snow falling. It hadn’t quite begun to settle on the ground at this point, but it was resting on the tree branches where, less than twenty-four hours before, it had felt like Spring.

Nature has a way of doing the unexpected, doesn’t she?

A day later, this was the scene in my back garden. However, today temperatures are starting to rise, the MiniBeast withdrawing back to the frozen east where it belongs. The spring equinox is almost upon us, and there will be more blossom and bees soon…

…I hope.


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

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Beltaine Fire and Butterfly Dreams

Today is May Day, or Beltaine in the old calendar, the first day of summer and the festival that falls halfway between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice.

The garden is green and humming, the blossom almost gone, the promise of Summer’s warmth just over the horizon. Last night I dreamed of a purple butterfly landing on my face, flapping delicate wings as it clung to my cheek. Apparently, to dream of such things is a sign of change, and for the butterfly to land on me signifies that the change will be positive. And to dream of such a thing on May Day Eve? I don’t know, but it seems to add another layer of significance. Or perhaps it was just a dream…

Today the sun aligns with stones, tonight fires will burn on the hillsides, if only in memory, the old customs not yet forgotten. And perhaps I will dream once more…

Note: Ali Isaac, mistress of Irish mythology, has written several posts about the myth and magic behind this festival – click here and here to read more.


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Thursday Doors – Hippies on the Canal

As you may be aware from some of my earlier posts, in January I started a new job. I’m very lucky in that it’s close enough to walk to if I choose, and I can walk most of the way along a stretch of the Grand Union Canal, the longest canal in England.

It’s a lovely walk, and one replete with photo opportunities. From golden green vistas

To blossom caught on the water’s surface at an old lock gate

And unique touches on some of the canal boats, like this wonderful knotted mermaid.

It’s also home to some interesting little doors, like this one I photographed earlier in the week. I’ve seen the owner of this boat before on my walks, a friendly fellow with a dog, always ready to say good morning. From the sign I’d say he might have a sense of humour, too.

This is my entry to the Thursday Doors Challenge, courtesy of Norm 2.0. For more doors, or to add one of your own, visit Norm’s site and click the link.

And if you like my photos, follow me on Instagram!


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Thursday Doors – Silves, Portugal

img_0370This lovely little door is set into a wall on an ancient street, directly across from a twelfth century cathedral that may have even earlier origins, in the town of Silves, Portugal.

The street is sloping, as you can see from the line of the cobbles, and there is a view across red-tiled roofs to green hills beyond, the scent of blossom in the air. This little door has a history and age to it, but its story remains a secret for now. I wonder who holds the key?

This is my entry for the Thursday Doors Challenge, courtesy of Norm 2.0. For more doors, or to add one of your own, visit Norm’s site and click the link.

White Rabbits

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The first day of February has blown in blustery and clear, hints of blue in the swirling grey clouds. Temperatures here have been unseasonably warm for some time, daffodils and snowdrops appearing much earlier than usual, yet today feels more like Spring than any other so far this year.

Our neighbour’s tree, still holding a tattered birds nest from last year, is now covered with blossom. A dusting of white like snow from a distance, yet up close all delicate petals and yellow stamens, portents of fruit to come.

And I started the day, as I usually do, by saying ‘White Rabbits.’ My mother told me years ago that, if it’s the first thing you say on the first of the month, it’s considered good luck. There are varying sources for this tradition, which seems to be of British origin – apparently saying ‘Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit,’ is also appropriate.

Ali Isaac has written a lovely post about today being Imbolc, the first day of Celtic Spring. As for me, I’m also writing. A Thousand Rooms has now gone to several beta readers, a couple of new ideas are taking shape, plus I’ve the fourth Ambeth book to start editing. A busy year beckons and, now that the January blues are past, it’s time to move forward.

January was also my biggest month ever on this blog, which is really nice! If you’ve followed along this month, welcome, and thanks so much for joining me 🙂