Saturday, 29 January 2011


Frost this morning, all the way down to the river. Snowdrops are out. Laughs and smiles from Golden Girl when she saw me again yesterday.

I've spent few days doing lots of writing and reading at Gladstone's Library in Hawarden. It was a great treat, and makes me feel I've moved into a different world, where there is nothing for me to do except read, write, and meet inspirational people. Now I'm catching up on e-mails, letters, and more washing than a football team after full time.


Bit lighter in the evenings, now, but, ooh, it's still winter, I slipped on the frost outside the tower this morning, I were taking some cordial to the castle, King Crispin comes out himself to see what the noise was and helped me up to me paws. I said to him, I were just about to take some cordial to the tower for the family, there's nothing so good as my cordial for keeping coughs and colds away.* He was very pleasant, took a bottle of cordial, invited me into the tower. I weren't 'urt, but I said to him, the main thing is, the bottle didn't get broken. Yes, he said, that would have been a terrible ting, and he gives it to a mole maid and tells her to put it in a safe place. What a good king.

* Keeps everyone away - Lugg

Saturday, 22 January 2011


Clear, frosty skies across the valley, a glittering garden and stunning sunsets. I was playing peep-bo with Newest Godchild yesterday, and she kept throwing back her head and laughing. (My face has that effect on people.) She has golden hair and amber eyes and is the Golden Child forthwith.

Daughter, Lady Sunshine, and the rest of Lady Sunshine's bridesmaids to be are off on their 'Here Come The Girls) day choosing bridesmaids dresses, Lovely Younger Son is seeing The Lassie today, Tony is away doing Something Important and only Lovely Older Son is home. All is quiet...


No, it blooming aint! This garden's full of blooming spuggies all looking for their dinner. They came down at breakfast time when the grass were frozen that 'ard you could 'ave snapped it, they were all chip-chipping away at the soil, they'll break their beaks if they're not careful. And there's two little robins strutting about squaring up to each other over who owns the bit between the raised bed and the fence. There's enough garden for them to choose from, for 'eaven's sake.

'Er come down today, she says she had a dream last night that gave her the perfect plot for a novel. What was it, I asked? I don't know, she says, I've forgotten it. Blimey, she can't even have a kip without getting something wrong.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


A frosty night in the valley, and a bright morning. Snowdrops out, and the river dancing along.

Last night I brain-stormed ideas for stories, wrote a few things down, and, when Lovely Older Son came in, said 'look over that and see if anything jumps out at you.' His favourite idea wasn't the same as mine. We did some thinking aloud, asked questions, then suddenly our brains went 'ping', and we were asking 'what if', and saying, 'maybe', and ideas were flying about and bouncing off the walls, faster than I could write them down.

All you creative people out there, do you have somebody to bounce ideas off? What makes your brain go ping?

Monday, 17 January 2011


Gleaner is having a moan about the rain so I went for a quick swim and brought her a fish - I remembered too late that squirrels can be so odd about fish, can't they? However, the mole maid looking after her loves fresh fish, so it found a good home. It's not just Gleaner, though. At this stage in the winter a lot of animals are a bit grumpy.

Time for a party, then. I'll get Tipp and Todd on board, and Sepia - Urchin's doing a lot of court stuff just now. And Scatter and Pitter, they like organising parties. If you have any thoughts about food, themes, any of that stuff, let me know. And I'll get Tide and Swanfeather, of course -

oh. Anyone seen Swanfeather?


Saturday, 15 January 2011


Big brown river muscling its way downstream. One wise robin in the hedge and two soggy spuggies on top of the hedge because they haven't the sense to get out of the rain.

Yesterday I had an injection to ease my back and already I feel lots better for it. I took ina book by Elizabeth Goudge, one of my favourite authors, and was just up to a really exciting bit with an earthquake when they wheeled me into theatre. Fortunately it was all done under local anaesthetic so I could go straight back to my book afterwards. I was home by midday and spent the afternoon curled up in bed, watching the rain outside and giggling smugly to myself.

By this evening I was well enough to walk along to the church hall where our local style guru Tracey had organised a swishing party, ie, clothes swapping. It was only a quid for admission, and donations to an excellent charity, Stop the Traffick. I took along some tops which I hardly ever wear but which were quickly snapped up, and came home with a top, a skirt, and two men's jackets. The denim one is for whichever of the chaps here would like it, and the worn and faded leather one, which used to belong to the vicar is FOR ME. There's something about a small woman in a big jacket, especially a bloke's jacket.

I told the vicar I would treasure it as a holy relic. And promised his wife I'd give it a bit of shoe polish.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


A grey, wet and gloomy valley today. But there are lights in windows and fires in hearths.

Yesterday, I was hopping for a first birthday present for a small person, so I went to a bookshop. Babies need books. I was looking at simple board books, but there wasn't much to them. Then I saw a book my one of my heroines, Shirley Hughes. It was 'Alfie's Feet'. I bought it for Small Person to grow into, and in the meantime her parents will love it. Then again, you're never too young or too old for the stories of Alfie and his little sister, Annie Rose.

Shirley Hughes is a national treasure. Her illustrations are breathtaking, capturing so much life, warmth and detail, and her prose is studied simplicity. I've been greatly privileged to meet her, and she doesn't disappoint. So on days like this, I can think of Alfie, splashing joyfully through the puddles in his new yellow boots (on the wrong feet).

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

all quiet

Quieter than it was. The river is a muddy brown colour and is trundling busily past. The heron was patrolling the riverbank yesterday, and the goosander bobbed downstream today. Two robins are fighting over a corner of the garden and the long-tailed tits are hunting for insects in the sycamore tree.

Those of us who live in the House of Stories are back to full work mode. The Christmas decorations are put away. Mozart and Strauss are playing on the radio, reminding me of Vienna. I could sip my coffee and pretend to be in a Viennese coffee house with waltzes playing in the background, but really I'm quite content to be here. I could go and play a waltz on the piano, but it wouldn't sound like a Viennese orchestra. A three-legged horse on a corrugated tin roof, maybe...

Saturday, 8 January 2011


Dick King-Smith, author of The Sheep-Pig amongst many other delightful books, died this week. If you've only seen the film of 'Babe', read the book, which is has so much more to it. He wrote animal stories with charm and honesty.

Something I learned from reading the obits this week was that Dick King-Smith was a good farmer and a poor business man and so failed in farming twice, then trained to teach and finally started writing when he was over fifty. I find this heartening. For one thing, it reminds us that it's never to late to start.

Also, one of the great things about writing is that all our experiences can be drawn upon to feed what we write. Nothing is lost. So those of you who are trying to be writers and feel you're not getting anywhere, value whatever it is that you do day by day. Even if it's school and you hate it, it can all be turned to gold.

NB If it's school and you hate it THAT MUCH, don't just muddle through. Don't be too scared or too proud to get help. Who can you talk to?

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


DON'T PANIC. Piper number one should be fine when we've dug him out of the compost heap and had him checked over at A and E. Piper number two is now out of the river and being treated for hypothermia, and Piper number three responded well to CPR.

The nine remaining pipers were last seen running to the station pursued by a garden gnome with a spade. Members of the public are warned not to approach him. Especially with bagpipes.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Much's eleven drummers drumming

WHAT! ELEVEN DRUMMERS! What's that in aid of? Give me strength! Just what we need in our nice quiet garden! Can't a chap have a nice sleep on 'is snail? 'Er Ladyship keeps talking about learning to play the drums, but she never gets round to it, so there must be mercy in 'eaven. Speaking of her, 'er's got work to do, and how can she do it with all that bish bash pom di pom going on? Whoever started singing about that little drummer boy has a lot to answer for.

That young otter chap, that Fingal, 'e thinks it's 'ilarious, doubled over with laughter, 'e is. Off yer go, drummers, the pub is straight along the main road, yer can't miss it. Take yer blooming drums in there and for mercy's sake shut the door behind you.

Monday, 3 January 2011

ten lords a leaping

(or 'lowping' where Margi comes from)


Are they squirrel lords? Leaping from tree to tree? That would be lovely to see.


It might be squirrel lords where that Myrtle comes from, I think we're talking about the aristocracy and the House of Lords from 'ere. 'Er remembers a big charity fundraiser some years ago when ten real Lords played leapfrog on 3 December. That'd be worth seeing. Mind, there's some in the 'ouse of Lords she's not too keen on, and the idea of 'em taking a run down the garden, clearing the fence and landing in the river might appeal to 'er. Doesn't have to be the river. If they fall a bit short and hit the mud she'd be well pleased. Common as clarts, she is.

(Clarts is mud where she comes from.)

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Nine ladies dancing

Ballerinas? Very nice. Country dancing? I like a bit of a village hop, meself. But I'm not having tap dancers making a racket on my yard. (They call it a patio these days, but it's always been the yard as far as I'm concerned.) Anyway, it's still wet and they'd fall down on their you know whats and do themselves a damage.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Much, Catkin, and Eight Maids a Milking


That's enough! You bring them cows on my garden and they'll be in the river before yer can say yoghurt!


Thank, you, I'll take over now. I have arranged the use of a cowshed which has just been vacated by a family who no longer need it. Milk the cows, and transport the milk to Mistmantle. If you don't know how to do that, speak to She of the Stories. She didn't get home till half past two, but she should be up by now, surely?

Send the milk to the kitchens and ask for it to be distributed round the island. There should be enough to make cheese as well, I should think.


What's happening? I had a lovely evening yesterday - there was the usual party at the vicarage followed by the Watchnight Service, and we all gathered outside the church to wait for the chimes, set off fireworks and sing Auld Lang Syne, then back to the vicarage to continue the party. And now I find all the stories and Christmas songs are getting mixed up! Sort yourselves out!

Maybe that happens around Christmas. All the stories get mixed up. HAPPY NEW YEAR.