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Channelling my inner wildlife expert…

Summer is finally here and I’ve finished the first draft of the fourth Lucy Williams book while working in the garden in the cool of the early morning so there’ll be two new ones next year, which is great because I’ve been meaning to write them all year but other characters kept shouting for attention. Now I’ve got a long list of things to research and a feeling of ‘and breathe’ because I’m far enough ahead to think about relaxing in the garden or park or down by the shore and sewing and reading. The sewing room is on hold for now, but the garden is moving centre stage and I’m discovering that the original Victorian paving in the side return is actually grey rather than the brown I’ve always assumed it was. I’m going slowly and patiently and using nothing more than water and a stiff brush and it’s starting to look exactly right for the house.

I’ve also been watching wildlife despite being close to the town. Little Squawk and Big Squawk the baby seagulls are both just fledgling and I saw them fly into the early morning today (Tuesday.) It reminded me that the days are getting shorter and the year is passing so I need to make the most of time, and I imagine that there’s a young squirrel on the other side of the house who’s also learned a lesson.

So here's a picture of Big Squawk. I'm sure his mum thinks he's gorgeous!

But now to the weirdness that seems to be typical of my life. Picture the scene. A hot Saturday afternoon. Daughter and I are sitting in the side return in the shade listening to the gentle burble of the fountain while sipping cold glasses of elderflower presse with sprigs of mint in it and feeling very posh. There must have been a football match because the local kids weren’t playing out in the lane at the back of the house as they usually do, just as my pair once roller skated or rode their bikes in relative safety because hardly any cars come down there and you could keep an eye on them just by leaving the back gate open.

So all was peaceful. I was writing and it was coming well, when we heard a shrieking sort of animal sound that wasn’t any bird we knew. Daughter went outside to check and then came back, sounding worried.

“There’s a squirrel at the top of the telegraph pole.” She said, and somehow I wasn’t too surprised when she added. “And our cats are at the bottom of it.”

The good news was that I knew they couldn’t climb it because I've watched them trying to. The bad news was that the squirrel was hiding amongst all the wires and transformers and things, so the first step was to find my husband who knows about such things to see if he was at risk of electrocuting himself. (Or she, of course, I don’t know how you tell with squirrels at the best of times and definitely not when they’re more than thirty feet up in the air. He looked like a he though; all cocky and confident, so I decided that’d do and I apologise if I misgendered him!)

More good news. He was likely to be fine, if a bit exposed. The cats, meanwhile, began to try to look very casual. Us, hunt squirrels? No, no, no you’ve got the wrong felines entirely. We’re washing or stretched out in the sun or rolling on our backs to have a tummy rub because we’re sweet and fluffy. We also have no intention of being caught and brought in, so I had to be sneaky. Home I went and set the cat flap to ‘in only’. Then I began to prepare tea and the smell of gently frying beef wafted out of the open window. Soon after that, I had some loving friends who politely mentioned that they like pulled beef and are hungry. I shut the window and sacrificed a bit of our tea in a good cause, and when I checked late that evening the squirrel had headed back to wherever it lived and I can only hope that it’s sadder and wiser.

Here he is, but you'll have to look carefully because he's well camouflaged.

And now I’ve been serenaded by seagulls and the family are home. Some landed more gracefully than others, and one was lucky not to head butt the chimney stack where the nest was, but all are safe and well and the world is waking… Life is good, if weird, and I should get back to work before I head out to the park to see the now almost grown up baby birds if that’s not a contradiction in terms before the day gets too hot.

Then I shall enjoy the summer while it lasts, and in case you fancy some light reading while you do the same, here are this weeks special offers at 99p UK and 99c US

One, Twice Shy, is under my Eleanor Neville pen name, and is one to put away, or read if you’re in the world where it’s winter. A desolate Dorset beach in winter. Two people with different secrets they have to hide. And a sudden rash of dead bodies that threatens to uncover everything they’re trying to hide. Who can they trust? And can two dedicated loners resist the attraction between them.

Then there are two from my Christians Cross cosy paranormal series. One’s a Christmas story which left me asking how you tell the difference between the spirit of Misrule out to cause chaos and over-excited children at Christmas. That one’s Mistletoe and Mischief. Time’s Veil comes from my love of reconstructions and my fascination with the way that the past influences the present and how apparently rational people are convinced they’ve experience time slips.

I don’t know where I’d go to if I could go back in time, but I do know that I intend to have a good week and I hope you do the same.


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