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Oh, what a beautiful morning…

I’ve just put the washing out. I know, I know, there’s not much to rejoice about there, but indulge me, will you? First of all, it’s not in the tumble dryer, which means it isn’t raining. It will this afternoon, but that’s this afternoon which is ages and ages away so it doesn’t count.

Right now, it’s quarter past six in the morning, the air is clean and cool and smells of the sea, the breeze is perfect for drying and the sky is changing colour as the night is banished and a new day begins. It took longer than I’d planned because of the birds but that's okay because I'm ahead of the game work wise after all that awful wet weather so I could enjoy it. My friends the robins came to see where their mealworm was and why there wasn’t enough of it. (According to them there never is. I suspect I’m being conned but they always get second helpings because I love their cheekiness.)

Then, overhead, I heard the distinctive whumph, whumpf, whumpf as a skein of swans flew back to the park from where they’d roosted overnight on the shore of the other side of the peninsula on which I live. This isn’t the well-known and eye-wateringly expensive Sandbanks peninsula, but I like mine better because I can walk to shops, the swimming pool, the park, the library, the salt marshes on one side and the harbour on the other. I’ve only got little beaches but I’d rather have a tiny beach all to myself than a few square feet of a crowded bigger beach, wouldn’t you?

And I know those swans. I’ve known their parents since they were cygnets and I know the almost adult cygnets so well that they come to me to have their heads scratched just behind the neck. I feed them and love their grace in the water and in the air. On land… well, we won’t talk about that, will we? Because they are BIG and I wouldn’t want to annoy them!

So I watched and marvelled and gloated over the signs of spring at the start of a new day when it felt as if wonderful things not only could happen but were happening. The forsythia coming into bloom. Primroses and daffodils and crocuses because I only planted 43 pots of them in September to move into the garden to fill in gaps once the blooms had gone over. For now, they’re on tables and windowsills so I can enjoy them and I do because I love the time when colour comes back to the world and the days get longer and warmer and I see bees and butterflies again. Drier would be good, but at least we won’t have a drought.

I’d played truant for a while before that because I’m not sure I like the arrangement for a quilt I’m planning. It would be lovely, but in this season of my life, it’s too complicated for me to enjoy making it so I won’t. Instead, I’ll make a chevron strippy quilt with the diamonds and set it with long strips of fabric that I can heavily quilt in the Welsh way I learned to do long ago because Wales is in my blood and soul, just as my patch of Dorset is by adoption. After all, I’ve only lived here for forty two years now, so I’m not quite local yet. Almost, but not quite!

In a few hours time I shall be walking down at Harbourside and enjoying the freshness of the sea air that I got a hint of just now and seeing which boats are in the harbour and watching the fishing boats and the paddleboarders and sailing boats and windsurfers. Indoors, I can smell the loaf of seeded half brown flour, half white flour that came out of the breadmaker just before I went outside, mingled with the chicken and chorizo pasta sauce that's cooking in the slow cooker that means that all I’ll have to do is cook the pasta when I get home and a lovely lunch will be ready. My floors are clean, the house is aired, and all is well with my world.

You can laugh all you like, because none of them are big things. Once, I’d have taken most of them for granted, but today also marks the day four years ago now when my lovely rheumatologist rang me and said ‘I think you may need to cut down your social contact’ and my world began to change. It’s only a few days since the so-called National Reflection Day for Covid. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard about it. Don’t worry if you say, quite rightly, that it’s a pain for most people but not that bad because I know that. I’m just one of the people that it is that bad for, so I had to build a new world that means I meet people outdoors and avoid poorly ventilated shops and mask up.

I’ve gone through the angry and resentful phase and come out the other side, and now I love the simplicity of my days. I love walking and cooking and sewing and tidying and home making and gardening and photography, and I am so incredibly lucky to be able to make my living from writing, which means I can go anywhere in my imagination. And today, it really is a beautiful morning of the sort I try to capture in my books.

Speaking of which, here are this weeks special offers at 99p in the UK and 99c in the US.

There are three Amy Hammond cosy crafty suspenses - Ghost of Christmas Past, The Past is Always With us and Sweet Revenge. These are early in the series so Amy and Peter are just getting to accept that they love each other. My current favourite would be Sweet Revenge, because it’s a lovely hot summer, Swansmere is at its best, there’s hand made fudge and cake and only a little poisoning…

Writing as Eleanor Neville there are 2 novels in my Shadows series. A little bit more violent, a little sexier, but nothing to shock your grandma! They’re Warriors Way and Cynics Way and they’re set around the scenario of a doomsday cult out to take over the world. Innocents are involved, and some who aren’t quite as innocent, and it’s so hard to tell which is which…

Today’s picture is, of course, of ‘my’ swans last summer when the cygnets were grey and gangly but still so beautiful. Technically, I know they belong to the King, but he’s a lovely gentleman who I hope gets well soon. I’ve had the privilege of meeting him because of the work he does for the then Princes Trust, so I know he won’t mind me thinking of them as mine, enjoying them and taking care of wildlife in general. Have a great time till we meet again, and remember, the simple pleasures are almost always the best ones.


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