Friday, 3 January 2014

Hello 2014

It is conventional, at this time, to look back over the last twelve months and list the highs and the lows - and then to look ahead and consider what it is hoped will be achieved in the next. Well, since we have shared the former here on a weekly basis there seems little point in going through it all over again. As to the future: I am no prophet so all I could write about would be hopes and they are always the same every year. 

Since there are no suitable photos to go with this blog, I thought I would have a look at some taken in previous Januaries. Here we have Tintagel Head taken in 2007. Marcia was trying to find out where Julia would get rid of the little Merlin (The Way We Were). Well it was from here, a few feet nearer the edge of the cliff on which I was standing when I took this photograph.
I hope that the world will be a kinder and a more peaceful one than hitherto and that all who are dear to me (which includes those who follow my blog or email either Marcia or me on a regular basis) enjoy good health and have the inner strength to cope with whatever 2014 throws at them. As always, some of our hopes are destined to be shattered. My father was fond of quoting from poetry. This from Alexander Pope comes to mind, "Hope springs eternal in the human breast. Man never is, but always to be blessed."

Today is my father's birthday (which may be why I thought about this quote). He would have been a hundred and one. Why do I find that an amazing thought?

My father, in India during the war.
Have you ever thought that we celebrate New Year on the wrong day? Since the night of December 21 is the shortest here in the north - and the longest for those in the south - it would have been logical to start the year then but, no, we wait for a further ten days. It seems odd. Does anyone know how this came about? The moment the days begin to draw out, I begin to look for the signs that tell me spring is around the corner - 'my' year starts on December 22nd!

This is the same year, 2007, but now we are on the south coast of Devon at Torcross on a miserable day. In the background is Start Point. 
As it happened – in other words because someone got the date of New Year all wrong – 2013 went out in spectacular fashion as far as we were concerned. We live upstairs in this house where there is a kitchen, sitting room, our bedroom and one bathroom while the spare bedrooms, another bathroom and my study are at ground floor level. 

Te same day as the photo above. Slapton Ley.
Upstairs as well as dormer windows, all the rooms have a Velux window and outside the hall is a small conservatory with a glass roof.  When it rains heavily the noise is quite incredible. Well, we didn’t have rain on New Year’s Eve: we had hail. It was like being in a drum. It was a little bit worrying as well. Would the Velux windows take the strain? We could easily imagine the hailstorm joining us in the sitting room and I have a sneaking suspicion that in a few books down the line someone else will share this experience. I should add that it if that happens it will be described properly unlike the bald statement that I have made.
Two years later, 2009, and we are on the north coast near where The Children's Hour was set. At the time Marcia was thinking about another book set there which revolved around a house being built by an architect but this was one of those dead ends of which there have been many. Most of the ideas associated with this one became incorporated in The Summer House.
So now it is time to put the holidays behind us and to get back down to earth. Marcia is working well at the moment and feeling quite good about the book she is writing – well, for most of the time since there are the usual wobblies when she is convinced that it is all rubbish, that it has no plot and are we really meant to love any of these people?

The Dartmouth – Start Bay book proceeds. There are still a few photographs needed but they will have to wait until the spring now by which time all the text will be written - it's very nearly finished. 
This time last year I took the opportunity to record this Blackcap which popped in for a spot of grub. Being a female, her cap is rusty brown. Well, there had to be at least one bird to celebrate the first blog of the year, didn't there?
Then there is this video project. I think I shall try and take three separate environments (the moor, the coast and the farmland between the two) and try to shoot three videos each month: one in each environment so we can follow the changing seasons. There is, of course, the real possibility that this project will die on its feet before it is complete.

Meanwhile, I would like to tell you about Marcia’s jeans: the navy blue velvet pair she has been known to wear at book signings (and so some of you may have met these jeans). She washed them the other day and hung them up to dry. We went out. There was a gale blowing and so despite the weakness of the sun (when it deigned to peer at us through the scudding clouds) there was every chance that the washing would be dry when we returned. Most of it was but the jeans had vanished. Gone. Poof!

Had the local jeans thief been on the prowl or had they been blown away on a gust of wind? Marcia popped round to see whether they were in our neighbour’s garden. There was nobody at home but also no sign of the jeans. Could they have blown beyond that garden into the railway cutting alongside? We walked up to the bridge and peered over the parapet. No jeans.

Suddenly on New Year’s Eve, just after dark, the front door opened and our neighbour called up. With her were Marcia’s jeans. They had been blown between some plants and the greenhouse and you couldn't see them until you went inside. Now they were home again and in perfect condition. What a nice way to end the old year.

Lily May is a Norfolk Terrier. Having had a Cairn I would like another terrier but they are not really Marcia's favourite dog (being addicted to Newfoundlands has something to do with it). However, I am now informed that should we consider another dog she would certainly look at choosing a Norfolk.