A Family Adventure

IMG_2171

The clouds were gathering, rain threatening, but it was Bank Holiday Weekend so we were going on a family adventure, no matter what 🙂

After discussion and consultation of maps, Avebury was decided upon. It’s somewhere I’ve always been keen to visit and, as it was only an hour and a bit away, it was deemed appropriate for a day trip. And we enjoy exploring, we really do. My husband is still finding his way around the country, while I’m rediscovering places I remember from childhood. And the gorgeous child is always up for a day out, keen to see somewhere new.

IMG_2165

So rain jackets and umbrellas were packed, the car filled with petrol and we were off, fingers crossed that the M25 would be more forgiving today, painful memories of almost missed flights and bumper-to-bumper traffic making us wary. But all went well and an hour or so later we were approaching the massive henge, so large that a village has been built in what was once the centre.

And I lost all reception on my phone. Which was a bit odd.

IMG_2166

We parked, then made our way along the overhung-with-green pathway leading to the looming ridge surrounding the circle. There were a few other people out but not too many, as the rain had started to fall in earnest. We walked the short avenue leading into the first quadrant of the circle, marvelling at the huge stones and wondering how on earth they had been brought here and put into place. I reached out to touch one, laying my hand flat against the cold stone, rough under my palm.

IMG_2168

And I felt a buzzing, tingling sensation, like pins and needles. My daughter put her hand on the stone and she could feel it as well, though perhaps we were both just kidding ourselves. There was a humming in the air too, but only I could hear that – water on the ear, perhaps? I thought to myself how extraordinary a sight it must have been when all the stones were in place, like a dance across the green field bounded by chalk.

IMG_2176

We kept going along the curve of stones, noticing flowers left as offerings in the nooks and crannies, the rain still coming down. Crossing the road that cuts the circle in half one way, we found ourselves in the next quadrant. There were more stones here, a smaller circle within the large one, and steps leading to the top of the ridge. Making our way up to the top we started along the chalky path, marvelling at the depth of the ditch and the work it must have taken to dig.

Beneath the trees at the edge of the circle a group of women in bright clothing were gathered. Some were whooping, others dancing and hugging each other as a drum began to pound out a rhythm. There was a full moon last night, and I felt maybe that was what they were celebrating, though I couldn’t be sure. Then, as the ridge curved around we saw a small group of trees, so close together they seemed as one, the roots twisting and twining fantastically along the earth, while the branches were hung with ribbons and tokens.

IMG_2188

This seemed a magical place indeed, and the gorgeous child was disappointed she didn’t have a ribbon to leave there. But we decided a large chocolate button was a nice compromise and so one was left, I didn’t see where, and a wish was made.

IMG_2186

Down the ridge we went, to the second road cutting through the ancient henge, where we crossed into the third quadrant. This one was home to sheep and goats, some of them incontinent, it seemed, by the minefield of droppings we had to negotiate as we walked along the ridge. We made it fairly unscathed into the field where two large stones known as ‘The Cove’ stood close together, both of them over twice my height and massive. Another loomed behind the wall of a picturesque old barn enclosure, and I wondered what it would be like to live in the shadow of these stones.

IMG_2200

We crossed the road once more and entered the fourth and final quadrant, leading us to the old church and manor house. Once again the remaining stones were imposing, one pocked with small holes that looked like faces. We passed through into the old farm and manor grounds, spending time in the Barn and Museum where we learnt more about the history of this extraordinary place, and men such as the one nicknamed ‘The Stonekiller’ who sought to destroy the stones, knocking them down, breaking and burning them, before building them into the walls of the houses nearby.

IMG_2205

As we came out of the Barn, gorgeous child pointed up to the top of the church tower. ‘Look at all the birds,’ she said. I turned to see ravens perched on every corbel and point of the old tower, at least thirty of them. But as soon as I looked at them they took off, each and every one, a black squawking crowd passing overhead. Which was kind of odd, again.

IMG_2212

We came full circle past the Manor House and old Church, past cottages and brick homes, before taking the green path back to our car. The rain had stopped, the stones wet and gray against the vivid green grass. As we left the henge behind we saw a cricket game being played, a perfect summer village image.

IMG_2213

And for a moment, there might have been a hum in the air. Then it was gone.

Update: The lovely Sue Vincent, who is very familiar with Avebury, told me that the buzzing and humming are well documented phenomenon at the site. How cool that I got to experience it!

In The Hedgerows

IMG_2133

Today we braved the rain, the wasps and thorns and nettles, even the occasional spider. We walked along muddy paths with trees dripping above, laughing at each other, faces damp inside our hoods. We searched for treasure, night dark, glistening among the green leaves.

And we found it.

IMG_2125

Sweet and tart, nature’s bounty, tumbling from the hedgerows. So ripe that some were rotting on the brambles, left for birds and insects or trampled underfoot.

IMG_2136

Does anyone pick blackberries any more?

Rainy Day Updates

Rain coming across the distant hills

Rain coming across the distant hills

It’s a cold and wet Friday here in the UK, so the gorgeous girl and I are having an ‘at home’ day. We’re getting a few chores done and there’s fun planned too – movies, snacks and some cooking adventures – it’s just lovely to spend time with her while she still wants to hang out with me.

So I thought today might be a fairly quiet day, but my email has been pinging away with new likes and follows for my blog. The lovely SuzieSpeaks shared a post of mine from earlier this week and it seems to be fairly popular, which is wonderful. Thanks to Suzie for sharing, and welcome to everyone visiting – stay a while and make yourself comfortable, there’s plenty to read here 🙂

bloggerrec_award

I’ve also been nominated by Jonathan and Aaron at Husband&Husband for a blogging award – the Blogger Recognition Award, in fact! Thank you so much for thinking of me guys, I really appreciate the nomination.

As part of the award, I’m to write about why I started blogging, and also pass on some advice to fellow bloggers, so here goes:

I started blogging just over a year ago, though I was very nervous about it at the time. I’d already written the first two Ambeth books and the rest were underway, plus I was writing freelance, but I knew I needed to look into expanding my media platform as well. A friend had started a blog on WordPress and, when I looked into it, I was intrigued by the possibilities. I do love to write, and so I started out with three small posts on what I’d learned about writing so far – I was a bundle of nerves when I hit the Publish button for the first time! Even though I’d had work published before, it felt quite confronting to share my own thoughts in a public forum. However, what a year it’s been! I’ve learnt so much about blogging and writing, read some fantastic blogs, made some wonderful connections with people around the world plus my little blog is starting to be seen by more people every day. It really has been fantastic, and I’m so looking forward to attending the first Blogger’s Bash in London next week and finally putting faces to some of the voices that have enthralled me for so long.

So my advice to other bloggers would be to keep writing. Just keep on going – write posts, write your own work, share your thoughts and dreams and ideas, even if you think no one else is going to read them. You will be surprised!

I have to nominate fifteen bloggers for the same award. This isn’t easy, as I follow a lot of great blogs, so I’ve chosen fifteen that I read regularly and always enjoy – here they are:

Dark Knight Chronicles

Everything Indie

Nicholas Rossis

Ali Isaac Storyteller

Tara Sparling

Stephen Baird

The Sound of What Happens

Sue Vincent

MissRachelChanel

Suzie81Speaks

Chris The Story Reading Ape

Sacha Black

That’s So Jacob

Louise Allan

The Mathemagical Site

You may have already been nominated for this award, or simply not wish to participate – that’s completely fine! If you’d like to know more about it the original link is here. Whether you accept the award or not, thank you for keeping me entertained in the blogiverse. And, if you’re visiting, please check out some of these blogs – they’re all very much recommended.

Finally, to celebrate the upcoming release of No Quarter, the second book in the Ambeth Chronicles, I’m going to be running a giveaway on Goodreads soon. I’ll be giving away five signed copies of Oak and Mist, the first book in the series. Details coming very soon!

Seems as though Friday has turned out to be a big day after all 🙂 xx