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.


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Into The Blue


I went to the woods the other day.

I love the woods – they have always been a place of magic to me. My grandmother used to take me to the woods near her village to gather snowdrops in Spring, hunt for fairies at Midsummer and take long autumn walks golden with leaves. We visit the woods near our own house quite often, a place to run and hunt for treasure, to find strange stones and pretty leaves as we watch squirrels dance lightfooted, birds rustling overhead. A forest features in my Ambeth stories, home to a gate between worlds, the seasons changing as you pass from one side to another.

The woods we visited are a short drive away. (They are also featured in the header image on this blog). There is a rather good pub on the way where we stopped for lunch, then the road continues through ancient countryside dotted with half timbered cottages, old bridges and small villages, gardens heavy with flowers and fruit trees. When we arrived the place was packed. Or at least, the entrance way was. Cars arriving and leaving, lining the roads, people in wellies and waterproof jackets, kids with sticks, dogs on and off leads, all of them going to the same place we were. However, we were not deterred. We parked, did the obligatory toilet check (as part of a National Trust Estate there is a nice cafe on site), bought ice-creams and then took one of the green-brown paths leading off into the trees. At first there were a few people heading the same way we were, but as we moved deeper into the woods they were gone, leaving us alone amongst the trees and heavenly bluebell scented air.


The bluebells were the real British ones, where the bells hang on one side of the stem only and the scent fills the air with every waft of breeze. Then, to make things even more perfect, we spotted two small deer making their dainty way through the trees. And so we followed, taking the narrow trail dotted with tiny hoof-prints as we went further and deeper into the blue, careful not to tread on the delicate flowers as we walked as quietly as we could, not wanting to frighten the deer away. But they didn’t seem bothered, trotting ahead, stopping to munch on whatever it is they munch on, then, finally, disappearing behind a dense hedge.

If you use a magnifying glass :-) you might be able to see a little deer disappearing into the woods...

If you use a magnifying glass 🙂 you might be able to see a little deer disappearing into the woods…

It was time to go and, as we made our slow way back through the trees we started to see more and more people, hear voices and dogs barking and motors revving. It felt as though we had been somewhere else, and were just now returning to the real world. A world of cars and families and ice creams, of driving home through country lanes as the first spots of rain began to fall.

It was completely magical, and a beautiful way to end the day.