Summer 2012

I know that for those of you in Britain and Ireland, the weather has been lousy and for many in the United States, there have been floods or fires. So, I hope everyone is safe and well. Here, I almost hate to admit it, the weather is quite magnificent, as is the garden. Because we had intense rain in mid-spring and a very warm spell during the flowering season, nature seems to have stocked up on all that she needs for abundant displays of vibrant blossom and long lazy days. I am listening to the cicadas and turtle doves now, as I write this.

Our olive crop is set to be one of the heaviest since we moved here. Already the drupes are fat and, I assume, choking with oil. No chemical treatments again this year so I am keeping my fingers crossed that the olive fly does not destroy this bountiful harvest.

We are completing the international edit of our five films on The Olive Route. Everything has been recorded and mixed now so, save for a few details and fine tuning, we are ready to deliver. As always with projects of this size, there have been challenges and difficulties but now that I spend my days sitting in my den watching the films, correcting, re-writing texts etc, it all seems worth it. It is a Mediterranean journey with the olive tree at its heart and for that I am immensely happy.

Early August sees the publication of Nowhere to Run for Scholastic Books. It is the tale of a young Jewish girl, Rebecca, from Warsaw who leaves her home city in 1938, fleeing with her parents. They are setting off for Paris and once safely installed there, they plan to send back to Warsaw for Becky’s baby brother and her aunt. As we know, Poland was invaded by Hitler and his Wehrmacht soldiers and as a consequence war was declared by Poland’s allies, Britain and France. Paris was no longer safe and Becky’s family were forced to uproot themselves and move on once again. She loses contact with her brother. This loss is followed by an even greater tragedy. Will the family ever be reunited and will they find a hiding place that is safe, where they will not be hunted and persecuted… ?  I have loved writing this book and the research has been fascinating for me.
Also on 2nd August, the My Story team at Scholastic are putting out an edition of two of my earlier diaries and re-titling them Cadogan Square. The two stories within this double edition are both set in London at the beginning of the twentieth century. Edwardian Britain told through the eyes of both the upstairs folk as well as some who are less fortunate.
Both books are aimed at the nine to early teens market but there seem to be quite a few adults who are also reading them, judging by the letters and messages I receive.

I have been receiving many letters asking me what is next, am I going to write another Olive Farm book?  Yes, of course, I will, but not immediately. I have had such fun with my teenage fiction that I want to carry on with one or two of the themes I researched for Nowhere to Run and write an adult book. So that, aside from the polishing of the films, is what I am up to at present.

I have also been turning my hand to the orchestration of a little light construction work. Light, did I say light?  I have been creating a new work space for myself and for Michel here at the farm, which will include a small editing suite. It has been exhausting but is almost done and, aside from the inevitable hiccups caused by certain of the workmen, (Grrr !),  it should be splendid. We also had a moment of catastrophe when a massive wall securing the swimming pool simply subsided. I had horrors of the pool revolving onto its side and sinking, disappearing like the Titanic, as it sunk into the olive groves. Panic.  I rang the world and his wife to request they rebuild and save the structure for me.  Of course being hot and already summer here plus the very clear fact that I was desperate meant that the quotes were astronomical. In the end, two friends of our wonderful, now-retired, Algerian gardener, Mr Quashia, came to my aid. In temperatures of 38° Celsius, all by hand, stone by stone, they rebuilt and secured the wall. All within a fortnight and for a fair fee. As they worked, I fed them gallons of chilled water and handfuls of fresh apricots picked directly from one of our trees. They were happy and the result is excellent. In fact, after Ramadan, in the autumn, I will call them both back to repair other stone walls that have been brought to the ground by the wild boar who are, yes, still our greatest pests.

My mother turns 88 next week. She is utterly splendid and full of life and I am preparing a party for her. The house will be bursting at the seams. Michel and I will sleep on the floor, designating all the beds to the influx of Irish octogenarians who are flying in for the occasion.
So, I better get back to the preparations.

Have a wonderful summer. I hope you are stocking up on books for yourselves and your families and I hope wherever you are intending to spend the holidays, the days will be kind to you and you will have a rest and lots of fun.

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