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I’ve become a guerrilla…

I’ve always dreamed of adventure, and I certainly seem to find myself in enough scrapes because of my habit of saying ‘why not’ when most people say ‘why on earth would you want to do that?’ But this time I can safely blame the Royal Horticultural Society for leading me astray. And the cat, too, come to that. Because if the cat hadn’t been sitting on my daughter’s lap so she couldn’t head off while I was listening to a podcast then we’d never have heard of guerrilla gardening.

No machine guns, promise. No terrorist raids either. Not even so much as a banner. Just heading off with your secateurs and gloves and our green recycling bin to tackle a planter on the road outside that wasn’t so much overgrown as taking over the path to the point where it wasn’t safe for buggies or wheelchairs. We have neither, but my daughter has a social conscience and she turned to me with shining eyes and said. ‘We could do that, couldn’t we, Mum?’ And, of course, I said yes, because you do, don’t you? Even when they’re all grown up, you want them to be happy.

So, out we went on the day of green bin collection day, and we got down to work with the aim of filling the bin so the council, who should maintain the planters but have run out of cash, would take the trimmings away. And very therapeutic it was too, because how often do you get to see progress that can’t be undone? I know I certainly don’t see it as often as I’d like because people eat what I’ve cooked, wear the clothes I’ve washed and ironed and walk all over the floors I’ve mopped with wet and muddy feet.

Within a few minutes, people started to come wandering down the road to see what we were doing because, like in so many of my books, people round here aren’t nosy. No, that would be very wrong and naughty. We’re simply interested in things, and my shy daughter was happy to explain what we were doing and why, and we filled our green bin and planned a second attack in a fortnight’s time before the next collection and thought nothing of it.

Then Sunday afternoon came, and a nice gentleman knocked on our door and asked ‘You coming?’ He was carrying a cordless hedge trimmer, so of course we were, and he did in 10 minutes what would have taken us a good hour. And then the green recycling bins began to arrive, because the council collections start before most of us have anything like enough to fill them (Sneaky that, because it makes it look as if we get more than we do to justify the price rise, but we got the last laugh this time and this is just the start.) Some came armed with brooms and dustpans so they couild sweep up the trimmings. Another couple of people with cordless hedge trimmers turned up and so did people with those sharp pointy things you get weeds out from cracks with. Someone else had a flamethrower for weeding (and oh, I want one. I don't need it, but it was amazing!)

People came from the next road down to see what the noise was because there was a fair bit of laughter while we set the world to rights (You might think we ought to get out more, but a lot of us work from home so the community spirit that grew during Covid never died away.) And then they went back and tackled their planters...

So now both roads have beautifully trimmed planters and all the weeds that had grown in the cracks in the pavements have been pulled out or flamed and we had a communal tea party, with ginger cake (I’d just made one) and lemon drizzle (I promise I’ll get the recipe and share it because it had actual home crystallised lemon peel in it and it was gorgeous). Someone else brought sausage rolls and someone who works for the council is going to look into us getting a formal adoption order so we can take over maintaining them from the cash-strapped Council. Who knew that we could have a temporary street closure order once a month so that we could work in peace? Then the kids can safely play on their bikes and roller skates and there will be tea or coffee and cake and people getting to know each other and old people being a bit less lonely and all of it began because a cat sat on my daughter’s lap and she listened to something she doesn’t usually listen to.

So, when you read my books and think , ‘aah, sweet, but it couldn’t happen’ and the world seems bleak and people nasty, then try to remember that in one sleepy corner of a sleepy Dorset town we came together and sorted something out. It wasn’t world changing and it won’t make any news bulletin, but it looks nice and next month, when it takes less work to maintain it, we’re going to tackle the front gardens of our elderly people where the weeds have got too much of a hold. Someone has some old carpet we can use to smother the roots once we’ve cut it back and dug out what we can. Someone else is organising us to club together and get a big load of gravel to top up all our front gardens. And best of all, we all came together and laughed and talked and were happy.

There is the GOOD NEWS for today, so please share yours too.

And in more good news, here are this weeks special offers on books, all at 99p in the UK and 99c in the US

In my Shadows Series of romantic suspense novels, which I write as Eleanor Neville, we have Accidental Hero, Strange Harvest, and Kisschase, all with handsome heroes and women in jeopardy who are finding out things about themselves and the world that they’d rather not have known. My sneaky favourite is Accidental Hero because it has a heroine who’s a romantic writer and finds herself drawn into the world she thought was fictional. It’s not so much wish fulfilment as nightmare scenario, because she, like most of us, didn’t think she was a heroine and keeps promising herself that she’ll stop writing suspense and start writing knitting patterns if she survives this, even though she’ll have to learn to knit first.

Or, if you fancy something quieter and gentle, there are 3 books set in my fictional sleepy town of Oldcastle. These are family orientated, slightly old-fashioned romances set in a place where people are interested in each other and the town is gradually, gradually, coming into the twenty first century. Or at least the nicer parts of it anyway. They’re The Toddler and the Tough Guy, Buried Trouble and Where there’s a Will.

So we’ll catch up on Sunday, God Willing, and till then, here’s a picture from my walk yesterday when the sky was blue, the sun was shining, the air was warm if you had a coat and an extra jumper on, the birds were singing, the daffodils were coming out and the Harbour was buzzing as half term brought the tourists out…

It’s the lifting bridge lifting so the boats can come through, up at the working end of the harbour where the police boats and the pilot boats and the lifeboats are. Not the modern one that’s supposed to be iconic and known as the Twin Sails, but we rechristened the Twin Fails because it keeps breaking down but the old faithful one that was built in the 1920’s and soldiers on reliably.

Have fun till we meet again and I shall do my best to as well. (Oh, and the Amy Hammond is coming so well that I don't mind that we've got rain forecast for the next three days, so soon there'll be 3 new ones in the works!


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