It has been a while since I have written a blog for this page and I apologise. Life seems to have overtaken me these last few months.
Aside from my days of writing, I have been travelling, but a little less than usual. I have just returned from a short trip to Thessaloniki in northern Greece where the city’s annual documentary film festival was being held. I was intending to continue my journey on to southern China for book-signings of the Chinese edition of The Olive Farm, but I had to cancel this. One of our dogs, Lola, has become rather decrepit and I cannot bear to be away from the farm for more than a few days at a time. I know she misses me and counts on my presence to reassure her. Those of you reading this who have dogs of their own will know the bond I am talking about. It means that I have been rearranging my schedule to be with her, and she appreciates it.
I have been accompanying Lola about the farm as far as she is able to walk. Slow staggers in the sunshine. Her back legs have grown arthritic, a common ailment in German Shepherds. Because she is such a big strong dog, the sight of her weakness is all the more heart-breaking, but she carries herself with dignity and determination. A week or so ago, I thought we had reached the final day and telephoned the vet who agreed to be with us before the end of the morning. Lola was watching me as I switched off the phone and began to weep and with a willpower that astounded me, she rose to her feet and wheeled her way to me. Within the hour she was nudging me to come and play. ‘I m not going yet,’ she was telling me.
Some days she surprises me and puffs along after us as I take the other two, her son, Homer, and our little black and white Collie-mix, Cardea, around the land. We are a family and we all know what is happening. Cardea sleeps at Lola’s side beneath her favourite tree, watching over her, caring for her like a younger sister. The tenderness this canine threesome expresses towards one another is so touching to behold. For now, that is all Lola is asking for: plenty of food – she has always had a huge appetite – and plenty of affection.
For the rest, I am taking it day by day, sharing this beautiful springtime with her.
When I am not writing or at my desk, I have been preparing the vegetable garden for planting. The salads are in and this weekend, I will plant tomatoes and courgettes. We have plenty of bitter oranges. The trees are decorated as though for Christmas, and I am hoping that Easter will see someone (not me) making us plenty of pots of marmalade. My mother enjoys it best when it has a splash of Irish whiskey in with it. “To preserve it better,” she explains!
A fairly monumental work attacked this winter has been the repainting and tiling of the swimming pool. Such dust! It is over a decade since we have touched it so the work was long overdue and I had forgotten what it entails. The refilling took almost a week, but now normal swimming can be resumed, which means a daily few lengths in the unheated water. I love it. The blood coursing through my veins is good for the brain, I am sure of it.
It has meant that there has been no time for olive pruning so we have decided for this year to let the trees grow a bit wild and next year we will give them a good clipping. It won’t affect the harvest but it does make the good health of the branches harder to maintain. But we cannot do everything – we are a working couple!
A few reminders: If you haven’t booked your flights for a few days in the sun, do take a look at the page on this website that shows our little cottage. There are still a few availabilities in the summer. If you want to know more, email us at: email@example.com
I receive lots of messages and requests from you for copies of my books or the DVDs of The Olive Route films. The films are available in all international formats in either English or French.
Any of my books can be ordered through us and sent out signed and dedicated. Again the mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to draw your attention to a book not written by me but by my friend and webmaster, Bart Hulley. If you are thinking of travelling to work in France, even for a short period of time, Bart has written the definitive guide to getting you through the hoops, the maze of tax, social security, pay levels etc. It is terrific. Even after all these years, I learned quite a few things from it.
Freelance in France. It is a must if you want to hack your way through all that French bureaucracy. Here is the Amazon.uk link to it:
The Lost Domain, my new novel, has been receiving terrific feedback from those in the publishing world who have read it. I will have news for you in a few more days… Publishing seems to move at the speed of molasses dripping these days, so we all need to be patient. More very soon. I am now at work on something else…. besides planting up the veggie gardens and spending time with my very loyal Lola.
Thank you for dropping by and reading this.
More very soon!