It’s hard believing October is nearly at an end, that the clocks went back an hour last weekend and that it’s only some eight weeks to Christmas, especially when this morning I found myself sitting in the garden, drinking coffee and enjoying the birds and the sunshine, and most of all the unseasonally warm temperature here at 9 o’clock this morning. Unheard of for this time of year in England! The garden borders are still looking good, with cosmos (I’ve never known it grow so tall – over 5ft) and dahlias, coreopsis and fuchsias still in a profusion of bloom, even a carnation poking its scarlet head through the flowering oestospermums and the rudebekias are still going strong. Not a breath of wind either, which is most unusual for this garden as we’re high up and invariably there’s always a wind blowing.
With a second cup of coffee in hand, I watched the robin who’s claimed the garden as his home flit from seed feeder to bird bathe to flowerbeds in his busy hunt for food. He’s getting quite tame now, and even before I’ve turned away from filling up bird tray on the stand each morning, he’s there picking out his favourite morsels from the oats, suet and mealworms before the greedy starlings flock in. A quick drink and he’s up in the holly tree chirping his heart out in competition with the two wrens sitting in the ivy – such little birds with loud voices and beautiful songs. Anyone would think it was spring instead of approaching winter. A pleasant two hours spent listening to the birds chattering, the sparrows vying for a place on the perch of the seed feeder.
But two hours was all I could spend there today, not because of the things indoors I had to do but because at this time of year, the sun has left the patio by 10 o’clock, thrusting the garden into shade for the rest of the day. Another week or so and there will be no sun at all in my back garden until March, so I made the most of it before going back inside and sorting the washing, find the vacuum and the duster. I found them, but then couldn’t be arsed to do any housework. Perhaps tomorrow. Perhaps it will be too cold to sit outside. Perhaps it will be cold enough to turn on the central heating, put on an extra layer of clothing and think of the glorious days we’ve had this summer. On the other hand…
Dawn, my favourite time of day. I live in the middle of a housing estate stuck between the junction of two motorways. Close by is an airfield, a large shopping mall and a railway, so you can understand why it’s not exactly quiet around here. Except for early mornings when all is calm, all is peaceful. I love to sit, preferably outside, and watch the sky lighten in all its ever-changing hues of blues and pinks, the play of light and shadows, and enjoy a feeling of anticipation of what the day will bring. Coupled with this, another of my favourite things — birds.
The dawn chorus is part of my enjoyment of dawn, but I also like to hear the birds singing at any time of day. I even have a CD I play frequently to feed what is a passionate need to hear them around me. If it wasn’t for the pesky pigeons and magpies that we have an overpopulation of here, where I live would be perfect. The birds like my garden and many of our native garden species can be found flittering and feeding and bathing here almost every day. Whenever I am out, no matter where or what country, I always take time out to watch the birds but can categorically say I am not a twitcher despite my binoculars saying to the contrary.
My garden, plants and other animals. My garden is my sanctuary, a small piece of tranquillity in an otherwise noisy, chaotic world. Here my husband and I grow and enjoy all manner of flowers and thrill at everything that mother nature decides to send to visit including the birds, butterflies, toads, frogs, slow-worms, lizards, field mice, hedgehogs.
Holidays abroad to warm locations. For many years now I’ve been fortunate enough to spend my holidays with just my two sisters and our mum. I live some way from them so our annual migration to the sun gives us precious time together. We chill out, read, do as we please, eat and drink what we please, go where we please and enjoy each other’s company without the tantrums of men or children. I never got on with my sisters when we all lived at home, always fighting and arguing. They are twins and five years older than me. Not a big difference now but that’s a huge ravine when you’re young. Next year will see our last holiday together. Mum is 86 next March, travelling getting too much for her, and with my sisters retired and my being recently redundant we will not be able to afford to do it again.
Greece and all things Greek. Of all the places abroad I have visited, from Barbados, Austria, Germany and Spain, through to holidays with my sisters, it is always to Greece we return. Each island is unique in its own way. I love the food and the people, the culture, the history and the climate. Especially the climate. I just love the sun although I am not a sun worshipper — you’ll never see me with tan. If I could choose one place in the world to retire to, it would be to a Greek island. And it’s back to Greece again next year for our last girls’ holiday.
Music. All types but especially classical and especially Andre Bocelli. What I wouldn’t give to see him live. His voice sends a shiver down my spine. I grew up with music, especially German folk songs and bands, I taught myself to play piano, my first husband was a DJ, and music is always playing at home when driving, be it ELO or Eric Clapton, Ralph McTell to George Michel, Bocelli to Rachmaninov, music is my world.
Each one of the above has been included in one way or another in my books: classical music is a central theme of Whitestones, along with a garden where the heroine seeks solace. In Every Step of the Way, the music of the 1950s features prominently. Sisters in a villa on a Greek island and happenings at dawn are elements running through When Two Worlds Collide. When I’m writing novels I like to bring some of my favourite things into the narrative; the premise being “write about what you know”. Hopefully, the things that please me, will please my readers, too.