Hello dear friends,
Apologies. I don’t seem to be very good at keeping to my schedules at present. There seems to be so much on, not least hammering away at a new novel. I am almost half way through – that’s of the rough draft so doesn’t quite count as half way through. Even so, watching the word count creeping up does give me encouragement and keeps me at the desk for a fair few hours every day.
So, we have reached the weekend of our first Olive Harvest of the season. The fruits are far fewer this year due to loads of rain down here over the past few weeks and the fact that evey second year tends not to be as bumper as the previous one. So, we are on the less bumper year. I am hoping for a small but fine crop with rich delicious oil. Our friend who always comes along to help us is sick this year so I am sending out a big well wish to him and meanwhile Michel and I are mostly attacking this alone. It’s hard work but we take regular pauses and generally just enjoy ourselves out in the sunshine. If we don’t pick sufficient then it’s not the end of the world. We can do a few more kilos tomorrow.
For those of you who have read The Olive Farm series of books, the name Quashia (our ex-gardener and all round wonderful Keeper of the Olive Farm) will be no stranger to you. Well, he is here at present. He is here in the south of France to catch up with his chums, probably to collect his pension and for whatever reasons else he pops over very intermittently these days. As soon as I heard he was here I sent a message via one of his neighbours for him to come and have a cup of tea with us. It was so good to see him. He’s an Elderly now, boasting he cannot remember precisely how many grandchildren and great grandchildren he has – but as far as he recollects, the number is somewhere around sixty. Sired by five sons, one of whom died rather young but still had managed to produce a handful of children. Those youngsters have all grown up and married and so it goes on. Algeria being repopulated. Quashia laughed his hearty laugh and joked and recounted tales about some of them. That twinkle in his eyes has not left him. It was a real pleasure to spend a couple of hours in his company, tinged with a bit of sadness for the old days from my point of view. He remains irreplaceable. We have a lovely chap who helps us but no one is Quashia. Of course, he wanted to leap up onto a ladder and do a spot of olive picking but I wouldn’t hear of it. We didn’t want to send him home with broken bones.
I had a quick trip over to London mid-October to get a set of photographs taken for Spotlight (the Actors Casting Directory). My agent has narrowed down a huge selection to five. Here is one, what do you think?
I also made a very swift visit to Scotland, flying in to Glasgow and from there I was whisked off to a wee small town called Wigtown. It’s in the south in an area known as Galloway. Quite new to me but what remarkable beauty. If you are planning on visiting Scotland DO NOT just jump off the plane and dash to the Highlands. This Galloway region is not to be missed. The autumn colours, the small mountain ranges, the little towns – it was all just gorgeous. The literary festival itself is held in Wigtown where they have a population of several hundred thousand and NINE bookshops. What a welcome. It was fabulous. My event was in a HUGE marquee and I feared I’d be talking to the white canvas wall at the far end but not at all. It was close to packed and its capacity is hundreds. This festival is really worth a visit. Folk come from all over to be there and they return again year after year.
Next year is getting booked up. I am already signed up to return to the literary festivals of West Cork and, slightly earlier in the year, end of May, Listowel. Both of these are the best craic in Ireland. I am honoured to have been invited back to give a three-day workshop again in Listowel and to be one of the judges once more for their very prestigious novel of the year award. So Christmas will be spent reading a mountain of Irish novels. How much better can life get?
What else can I tell you? There are quite a few other plans in the cooking pot for next year, but I’ll hold back on those for the moment.
One more quick word about the farm and olive oil. I have joined up with a couple of small organic olive farms in Greece and Spain to help them get their oil out there into the world. It’s a real struggle for very small independents. The market is just too tough for them. You can always send me a quck email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in purchasing some utterly delicious Mediterranean organic oils.
If you are looking for stocking fillers , please consider gifting THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE CLIFF to your loved ones and friends. The reviews have been splendid. Here is a link to a site that ships worldwide for FREE. (You have to pay for the book, of course!)
Well, it’s back to that ladder and the picking before my back breaks and I have to lie down. So, I’ll sign off for now and will write again very soon.
Thanks for reading this and being supportive.