I was hoping to post this blog in time for May Day, but the best laid plans…
The holdup was that I have been waiting for these links to come through for the re-publication of two of my novels, Mapping the Heart and An Abundance of Rain, and here, finally, they are. I do hope that you will enjoy these two stories, boths set in exotic locations, if you choose to download them.
April has been a really exquisite month here except for the discovery that our honeybees have not been faring well. The colonies have weakened, having been damaged by a fungicide that has contaminated the pollen. It continues to be claimed in the press that fungicides, because they are not aimed at insects, are harmless to bees, but it seems this is definitely not the case. Obviously our bees did not find the infected pollen on our land because we use nothing on our crops and plants, but as they are capable of travelling six kilometres in the honeybee search for food, they must be flying off our land and finding the crops elsewhere. The discovery of the condition of the bees within the hives has been very distressing and we will need to rebuild them.
This problem seems to be acute in the United States where bee populations have reached an all-time low. A Facebook friend living in the States wrote to tell me last week that over 8,000 hives have been lost in California this spring. The bee crisis is getting worse. Europe is suffering too. Every plant I buy now is purchased from nurseries where the plants are grown organically. No pesticides, insecticides, fungicides are used in the earth or on the small plants or trees. It is essential to produce natural plants that are not contaminated from seed. It is slightly more expensive but I am committed to this battle. If you are in agreement, please do consider where you buy you garden plants from. Aside from not spraying them with chemicals, it is important to rear them organically.
Thanks for listening/reading this. As many of you know, the fight for the future of the honeybee is a subject very close to my heart.
Thankfully, the bumblebees are plentiful and are busily at work. Two photographs taken in the garden this last week here show white-bottomed bumbles at work.
Bees are a huge and varied group of insects. They feed on pollen and nectar and are a vital part of our food chain. The female honeybees and bumbles carry pollen back to their nests on their hind legs which have stiff hairs forming collecting ‘baskets’, while others carry the pollen on the underside of their body. Our garden is packed now with bee-friendly plants such as rosemary, orange and lemon blossom, soft fruit blossoms and lavender. Lavender and rosemary are shrubs that are very easy to grow, even if you only have a tiny corner alongside your dustbins. Window-boxes can be planted up as well, if you have no outdoor space. We have hoverflies visiting our avocado flowers and I am trying to make sure that there is always something to feed each of these various creatures. It is such a joy when I find them dropping in to pay us a visit and find themselves some nourishment.
As I said, apart from the struggling hives, April has been a very sunny and uplifting month. In all senses of the word. The flowers in the heat after a wet winter have been exceptional. The colours, the light, the joy of being outside… I feel exceedingly blessed to have enjoyed such a spring here. Now, it is the May Day weekend and we are having a real storm as I write. I hope it will clear up soon because we have guests arriving to stay in the cottage, which is available now for holiday lets. If you are interested, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
In the middle of April, I was in Strasbourg as a member of the jury of a short story competition. The prize-giving evening was extremely well attended and I was delighted to discover how many young folk had entered the competition. It was heartening to see this and to enjoy the high quality of the entries in general. So, well done Strasbourg and thank you for such a warm welcome. The same competition will run again next year so do keep an eye out if you are interested in participating. Here is their link.
What a gorgeous old city. It surprises me every time I visit. Thank you to everyone for the warm welcome I received.
So, it is back to work. Both Hotel Paradise and The Girl in Room Fourteen continue to hug the Kindle Single charts. Thank you for the huge support. For those of you who have written to ask me, yes, I am at work on another which will also be set in the south of France.
Here are the links to the first two:
Back to work.
Enjoy the weekend. Keep reading, planting and enjoying nature and please consider the plight of the honeybee and the attention we need to continue to give to rebuild a healthy environment for all creatures and plants.
Thank you for reading this.