January 2019

January has been so busy that February was well underway before I realised I hadn’t written my January blog. It’s good to be busy – but sometimes I wonder how I ever found time to go to work.

My U3A Writing Group is going well and the nine members are keen and talented. Devising a varied programme of stimulating exercises is stretching my imagination as well as theirs. And there was some preparation of specimens for a talk which Richard gave to the Shropshire Botanical Society. This was about The Botanist Gin and the twenty two plants which we had suggested and supplied.

Work in the garden continues although wet weather has been a hindrance and there were some days when the ground was frozen so hard that it was too cold to do anything at all. The kingfisher continues to use the branch which we dragged across the brook and I managed a photo although, as it was taken through the window, it’s not very good.

Birds in the garden continue to delight and Richard has set up a much better feeding station on the edge of the terrace. Last year we had ten regular long-tailed tits but this year have only had six. Sadly, great-spotted woodpeckers are not tempted to the peanuts but they occasionally venture into the field maple in our garden.

When we left our glorious south-facing sea view on Islay I thought I would really miss it but I can honestly say that I don’t. Having seen it on a daily basis for twenty years it’s engrained on my memory and I will never forget it, especially its contrasts between rosy dawns, silvery moonlights and turbulent storms. Here in Shropshire our view is more varied as the trees change throughout the year and the flow of the brook rises and falls. Even this early in the year, hazel catkins are dangling and some of the roads around Shrewsbury are lined with them.

On the 21st we took my birthday walk to Stevenshill where the Cound Brook meanders through multitudes of snowdrops. Although not fully open, a few were already hanging their heads and we knew there was the promise of more to come.

There has been a lot of wet weather and the higher ground has seen snow but we have only had a few stray flakes. I had hoped for a decent fall so that we could follow animal tracks but it was not to be. However, we enjoyed several good walks including one to Poles Coppice and one around Church Stretton. And we finally climbed up to Bromlow Callow. I find this tree-topped hill fascinating and wouldn’t be at all surprised if it appears in another work of fiction which I’m hoping to write. Surrounded by a fence it is roughly circular in shape, has a path running through the centre and gives good views of the surrounding land.

Letting go of characters is hard. Merryn and Hamish of The Hagstone Chronicles are old friends. I lived through their adventures with them, and they have moved to Shropshire with me. I don’t yet know what their adventures will be. I’m exploring the countryside and waiting for something that triggers my imagination and leads them into new adventures.