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The past is never far away.

I read and researched while it was bitterly cold and then, on Saturday, there was a gap when the temperature had come up but Storm Isha hadn’t arrived. (It’s Sunday now and I can hear it howling outside as I type this so the hatches are battened down again and I can see why the seagulls are a mile inland, which is where I live.) I’ve had the window open to air the room, so there's the faintest hint of the sea, my battery operated candles are lit to give a gentle glow to the room, I’ve got a mug of herb tea beside me and something nice and spring smelling coming from the diffuser because I’m fed up with winter and it’s now only 39 days till the Meteorological Office’s definition of spring, which is the earliest option and ties in with the weather down here.

Sorry, I’m wandering off the point, but there we were yesterday looking at the clues the past left behind at low tide, of which more another time, when round the corner from the RNLI museum came a group of old fashioned lifeboatmen. I was just thinking ‘I don’t believe in ghosts’ when they were followed by others in steadily more and more modern dress. By the time I spotted the one who was carrying the RNLI teddy bear mascot and the ones with collecting buckets I was happily aware that I wasn’t being haunted, but I was seeing something amazing and unexpected.

So I scrambled off the beach and chased after them (who cares if I looked daft? This was exciting and good exercise!) When I caught up with them I dropped my spare change in a bucket and asked what was going on without mentioning that they’d really spooked me because I’d been very focused on trying to see the past and this is the second time that I actually have seen something that belonged to the past while I was doing it.

It turns out that yesterday was the 200th anniversary of the lifeboatmen’s first shout so they were walking the route round to Sandbanks where they’d once have launched their boat from. They were happy for us to walk with them, so we did, and listened to stories, and heard about a sea shanty concert they’re having and met old friends and made new ones and felt part of our amazing, amazing Old Town, which, as I learned yesterday, is ‘proper’ Poole.

The upstarts up by the shopping centre are actually Longfleet, which is built on part of Longfleet Road and Seldown Road and the Ladies Walking Fields. Old Town is the original Poole and it goes its own way, much like my fictional Windy Bay and Westerham do and people are kind and have more time and enjoy telling stories, some of which are taller than others.

I live in Heckford Park, which is another place like that and it was built by the Lord Wimborne Estate, overseen by two redoubtable ladies who believed that people could be so much more if they were given the chance. They were the driving forces behind giving Poole Park to the people of Poole, and we’re a conservation area now, where not much has changed in the 38 years I’ve lived there. The corner shops have gone and the speed limit’s been reduced but otherwise, especially during Lockdown when it was quiet, you can go down the access lanes behind the houses and see history and feel the past very close. (Bless the 2 Lady Wimbornes for their practicality in saying you had to be able to get coal in without going through houses because I can get gardening supplies in that way too and they're perfect places for kids to ride their bikes and play football and let off steam.)

Anyway, enough wittering on. Today’s picture is of the lifeboatmen with their boat. 200 years ago it was horse drawn. Yesterday, they had a Land Rover, and God bless all the heroes who answer the call and put out to see when they’re needed. As the book I’ve been reading says ‘Lifeboatmen never turn back’ so of course I believe in heroes.

Speaking of which, on to this week’s special offers, at the usual 99p UK and 99c US.

Quite appropriately, there are 3 Windy Bay Books, Endings and Beginnings, Building a Future and A Healing Time. These follow Kath Conway, Jess, and Toby Druett and Nicky King while they come to terms with the past and find a new future. Kath is an older heroine, because I think we need more of them.

There are also the second 3 Lavender House books - A time to fight, Sunshine and Shadows, and Love Always, and you’ll get a feeling for my love of the amazing place where I’m lucky to live. They’re also a nice lead in to a new series that’s starting soon which interweaves the stories of younger couples and older ones and is set around a gently sheltered block of flats that overlook a fictional bit of the sea down at Sandbanks.

So take care till we meet again, and I’ll see you on Sunday.


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