Friday, 22 May 2015

Summer arrives

As I am sure you will all understand, coming to terms with life has been rather difficult for the last two months – and I fear that showed in my blogs. It was my intention to completely ignore my health problems in these blogs but I am coming around to the idea that this is creating something false in them so . . .

As always, the robin was keeping a close eye on everything.

When we received the news one of my first thoughts was, ‘how will Marcia cope with all the business things that I have been doing down the years?’ Suffice to say that after a lot of work, I am now confidant that she will manage. Some she will now be able to do herself but the really important thing is that in addition to our accountant (and we have been with the same firm for over ten years now) I/we have found a superb book keeper – who now calls about every three weeks and is keeping all the records straight and whose husband is a computer guy – on whom Marcia can call if she has a problem and who will keep Marcia’s web site up to scratch (with the hope that it will have more news on it to make sure that the things I tell you about here will still be available) and a really lovely chap to advise Marcia on matters financial. Having done everything possible on that front, I am looking at another problem but first I want to tell you about yesterday.

Here is one of our blackbirds collecting food for the young in the nest. 
It may sound odd but yesterday was the first day this year when it was good to spend a few hours out in the garden just lounging about. Up to now we have had wonderful clear blue skies but a strong and bitingly cold east wind blowing or everything has been overcast and often it has been raining. I know I have said this before but there really does seem to be so much more power in the weather. Those winds have been blowing very hard indeed - often up to gale force - and when it rains much of the time it is best described as torrential.
Not yesterday. A fairly cheerful sky, not clear blue by any means as there were plenty of puffy cumulus clouds which every now and then obscured the sun, but it was warm and the wind was gentle and balmy. Thus both before lunch and afterwards I sat doing nothing but watching the birds and sleeping.

The fence is faced on both sides and the hole leads to a perfect spot for the blue tits to raise their brood. The lower photo is not brilliant but these birds are so quick I reckon I was pretty lucky to get on this good.
I do feel very sorry for my brother-in-law. He and Marcia's sister moved up to live on the outskirts of Port St Milborne which is a few miles from Sherborne (where there is a beautiful abbey with a wonderful choir). For some reason, and no matter what they do, there are never any birds in their garden. They miss them very much indeed. Yesterday the local birds clearly wanted to put on a good show for me. Lists are rather boring but from my seat and within the garden (or flying overhead) I saw robins, blue tits, great tits, a coal tit, sparrows, dunnock, nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers, blackbirds, pigeons, a crow, a herring gull and a bird I could not recognise (see below). In the field behind the house the swallows were dipping and diving and Marcia saw a heron fly past the window - a first here in Dartington.

This bird as about the same size as a robin but slimmer. Purely from the way that every now and then it would fly from its perch and grab some poor innocent passing insect, I assume it must be a flycatcher – in which case since it is clearly NOT a pied flycatcher by elimination it must be a spotted flycatcher.

Now the question is, where do I go from here? As many of you know, I was planning five booklets as companions to Marcia’s novels. The first was published in October – with many misgivings on my side. The problem with publishing books with lots of photographs is deciding on the right quality – if the photos are to be really good the price goes up. Add to that two other facts: I wanted to use a fairly large type face to make it as easy as possible for those whose sight is not what it was and I knew many – probably most – would be going overseas which, of course, costs. Thus I ended up knowing we had to go for low printing costs and, not surprisingly, I am unhappy at the result – the photographs are slightly muddy. Nevertheless the book has sold quite well and we have recouped all the costs (but yet to make any profit). Putting that to one side, it is now impossible to get the other four books intp print – but a lot of the text has been written and I have taken a few hundred photos especially for this project.

So, should I rethink this and create a web site A Companion to the novels of Marcia Willett which will just be there for those who wish to dip in and have a look? My idea is a prologue, The Birth of a Novelist, followed by a section on each novel recounting the odd and quirky things that happened during its production with plenty of photographs to illustrate the locations. No place for history though. What do you think?

You may know that in a comment last week, Avagabonde gave us a link to her blog and permission to use some of her photographs here. (Click here if youwant to have a look). I have chosen two simply because I think they are lovely pictures.