December 2009

I have recently returned from a month in Australia and a few days at Tauranga Bay in New Zealand where I was appearing at the bi-annual arts festival there. If you attended either of my Tauranga events, thank you so much for coming. They were terrific and I met so many readers. I felt really high when I flew back out again to Sydney.

I thought that after my travels in South Africa and then being spoiled in Australasia returning home to winter might prove a little difficult, but today as I write this the sun is streaming in through the open French doors and the dogs are lying asleep on the terrace. We have roses and bougainvillea still in bloom, which is cheering, but less so is the sight of the orange blossoms and a few lavender shrubs in full flower. This is unseasonal and it worries me. Hundreds have gathered in Copenhagen from all over the world to attempt to thrash out some basic guidelines to assist us with the fundamental environmental issues that are threatening the future of our planet. As our little olive farm makes its transition from a regular, chemically supported farm to organic, I am also trying to be conscious every day of the tiny gestures that can assist, such as turning lights out when leaving rooms, looking after water, using it mindfully and not needlessly disposing of products down the sinks that might poison water sources. Please do your bit to lessen your carbon footprint and remember that no gesture is insignificant.

I love Christmas passionately, love all the glitter that goes with it, but we have decided only to buy a tree if we can find one that has roots and can be planted afterwards or kept in a big pot for next year. Otherwise, we will hang decorations from a couple of the Cypress trees in the garden and the Magnolia grandiflora. A new puppy will be coming to live with us on Boxing Day. She is a cross between a Border Collie and an Alsatian and she will be christened Cardea, who was the Roman goddess of locks and hinges and is considered the protectoress of houses.

Isn’t she adorable? I posted these two pictures on my Facebook page, OLIVE FARM, and asked my friends there to suggest names for her. It was an American, Margaret, who came up with the name Cardea, which I think is very fitting. When we are travelling the dogs are one of the main deterrents against burglars. So, this little cutie will have an important role to play. Someone said she looks in this photo as though she is wearing a tuxedo, and she does. I will keep you posted about her and how she settles in with us – and how fondly Homer and Lola welcome her!

Directly after Christmas, I will be in London appearing at the France Show on all three days: 8 , 9, 10 January. My talks will be held in the Seminar theatre at 12.30 pm each day. Check out their website,

If you are on my facebook page, OLIVE FARM, and are intending to be in the vicinity of Earl’s Court, please remember that on Saturday 9th January, we are all gathering after my talk to go out for lunch. It should be great fun. Sign on to Facebook and put your name down. I look forward to meeting you. Beyond that, I will remain in London for another week to record the audio edition of Return to the Olive Farm. The hardback book and CDs are due to be published in the late spring so do keep an eye out for those. There is great excitement about this new book and already it is being translated into several languages ready for the foreign editions.

Another exciting piece of news is that we have most of the funding for the ten-hour documentary film series inspired by my last two books, The Olive Route and The Olive Tree and the first batch of principal photography is scheduled to begin in March 2010. This project is a dream come true for me, to see all those journeys that I made alone around the Mediterranean come to life, to hear other members of the film team grow excited at the prospect of visiting here or there, paying homage to ancient trees, marking out some of those trade routes that have been instrumental in making the Mediterranean what it is today. It is to be shot on high defintion film stock and will look absolutely sumptuous, the Mediterranean as you have never seen it before! UNESCO is with this and leading us to contacts in several of the countries as well as in Brussels. I cannot describe to you how thrilling all this is for me.

Meanwhile, I remain at my desk in spite of this glorious winter weather, which is beckoning me into the garden, and I am making headway with my new trilogy of fiction stories. I hope to have the first book delivered at the end of 2010, ready for publication in the summer of 2011. How fortunate I count myself to have work that enthuses me so much.

Please keep writing to me. If you have sent me an email via this website and have received no reply, please check that the address was complete and correct. It is very frustrating when letters come bouncing back and I have no other way of letting the sender know that I did respond and that I love hearing from you.

I want to wish you all a very wonderful holiday and a blessed and health-filled 2010. I hope that you will all be spending your time with those you love, but let us also share a moment and a euro or two as we celebrate to pause and give a thought to others who may be alone, without means or company. Keep the circle turning; it always comes back. Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2010.


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