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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Exotic Vistors...

Every morning I pull back the bathroom curtains to see what the weather's like before heading out on my morning run. Every morning the view over the vegetable garden is exactly the same (give or take a few beehives) until last Saturday morning. Two fallow bucks were calmly munching their way through some young apple trees! OH and I dashed downstairs  to try and get them out without wrecking the place. Luckily it was only five am, so the neighbours didn't see us hopping about in the cold, wet grass in our night kit trying to improve the fencing. The next morning the deer got in again somewhere else, and started to eat the lower branches of an old mulberry tree. They must have been driven out to the edge of the forest by logging, so until we can get some deer-proof fencing our poor garden is under threat. The deer seem to do a circuit of the village, following the same route each night before retiring back into the trees so I've managed to outwit them the last few mornings. I get up earlier than their ETA at our boundary and re-route my morning run to go between their route and our boundary. They then bypass our garden and head straight into the wood but it won't be long before they realise I'm just a paper tiger. Then our poor fruit and vegetables will be under threat again. 
It's lovely to see such graceful creatures, despite their huge appetites. It set me thinking about the other unusual things we've seen here at Tottering Towers over the years. A lost racing pigeon took up residence for a few days after the great gale a few years ago. A golden oriole once spent a day in the oak trees behind the house, chortling away in the hope of a mate. We often get a goshawk passing through, as they nest only a couple of miles away. Last year I spent ages in a hide at Slimbridge hoping to see a newly arrived bittern, only to surprise one while on a walk a few days later. To add insult to injury, at dusk that same night it flew very low over our house, on its way into Wales.  A few weeks ago, a red kite floated over which was a really special moment for me. When I was a member of the old Young Ornithologists' Club, there were only about six kites in the whole British Isles. Now the reintroduction scheme seems to be taking on a life of its own, and in some places like the Chiltern hills they're almost common!
There's only one exotic feathered visitor I really wouldn't welcome here, and that's a bee eater. They're really beautiful, but with the recent bad weather and the chance of getting their homes knocked about by visiting deer, my poor bees are in enough trouble already! What's the most unusual thing you've seen in your neighbourhood? 

Monday, 11 June 2012

My Latest Release

We don't have another Bank Holiday here in England for months, and with the Rainy Season apparently here to stay, I thought you might like a little distraction. My July release for Harlequin Mills and Boon, The Count's Prize is available from http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/books/Modern/The-Counts-Prize.htm.  
Josie is a sensible academic, who's landed the job of a lifetime. The catch? It's based at the home of notorious playboy Dario. Josie and Dario are drawn together by irresistible forces, but she has more sense than to entrust her damaged heart to a rogue, while his flippant exterior hides a pain darker than he can face.
Here's a little taste of it...

It was only when her hands slid around his waist that he stirred and gave a wordless moan of longing and regret Then he reached around and grasped her wrists. That one simple movement woke Josie from her trance. With a spasm of alarm she realised how close she had come to total surrender. She stood back and stared at him, shocked.
Dario's expression was a mask of regret. His eyes squeezed shut as he whispered, 'No...I can't...I'm sorry... Arietta...'
Josie's longing drained away replaced by the old familiar mix of anger, shame and humiliation.
'You could at least call me by the right name!' She spat.
That broke the spell.
'I should never have done anything at all,' he said grimly, dropping her hands and striding away across the glade to his horse.

Josie and Dario's story has echoes of Cinderella. I love that theme, but of course there are lots of others. What's your favourite? There's a signed copy of The Count's Prize on offer for a comment drawn at random  week on Wednesday, 20th June. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Some Summer!

At the beginning of this year, England was given dire warnings of drought after a year or so of below average rainfall. This had the predictable effect of covering us with clouds of unremitting gloom for weeks on end! If you saw the pictures of Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee, you'll know that London has been suffering from some horrible weather. Here in Gloucestershire, the parties went on under cover, but my poor bees weren't so lucky. The weather was so miserable, I had to give them several doses of sugar syrup to keep them going. I keep bees for the pleasure of watching them work and for their pollination services so honey is a bonus. That's just as well - at this rate there won't be much surplus to take from the hives. I'll be leaving it all on for them to support the colonies.
This has been a difficult year so far for me. Losing my father was hard, and there's been so much involved in winding up his estate, social networking has had to take a back seat. Tweeting, Skype and going on Facebook was such a part of my life for a while, it came as quite a shock to discover how much time it had been absorbing! It's a real tension reliever to chat but having got out of the habit over the past few months, I'm hoping to get back into the old routine and catch up with all the news. What have you been up to while I've been away from the keyboard? Did you see the Jubilee celebrations?