Hey, hey, hey!
I'm writing today from a converted cow barn half a mile outside a North Bedfordshire village in the UK. The village was where I got the inspiration for Annabelle and Upton St. Mary and I hope to share with you over the coming weeks some of the village sites that made their way into the book.
This is, in fact, the actual sofa on which I sat when Annabelle popped into my mind. Look, there is even a Mini outside!
If you look very closely you will see an Upton St. Mary icon amidst the trees. I will talk more about that in another newsletter.
It is ‘parky' (means ‘cold') out here in the mornings but I am lovely and toasty in my cottage on an arable farm up a long track. I've stayed here many times with my family, but this is the first time on my own.
This is the walk from the cottage down to the main road. It is half a mile long so I am quite isolated, but there is a farmhouse and five other cottages with people around me, so I am quite safe. As I'm sure you can imagine, it is very quiet.
When I was younger I wanted to live in an English village but felt it a little too rural for the twenty-something I was back then. This is my chance to see if village life is what it seems.
I've been here a week and every morning once it has warmed up a bit, I'll run into the village to buy supplies from the well-stocked shop. There's also a coffee shop and yesterday I took my mum there for an English lunch staple – a jacket potato and prawns – and to order items for an afternoon tea I'll be hosting this weekend.
As a child, I was taught that wild snowdrops were always the first sign that Spring was on its way! A bit of hope in February when we're all getting a little tired of the short days and cold weather.
My biggest achievement this week has been to catch the bus into town. I decided not to hire a car and until I do, I'll be relying on public transport and maybe the odd taxi to get around.
Catching the bus for the first time involved a walk of nearly a mile followed by an anxious fifteen-minute wait at the bus stop worrying if I'd got the right time and right side of the road.
If you don't get on the right side, you're in for a big adventure as you get on a bus going in the opposite direction to the one you want.
Sure enough, the bus did arrive eventually, and I spent a pleasant half-hour being driven through the countryside into town.
There were only two other people on the bus and I have to salute whoever it is that decides to keep these rural buses running because it can't be a commercially viable operation. Yet because they exist, residents of villages on the route still have an affordable means to travel beyond them.
Feeling quite proud of myself, I visited with family and then caught the bus back to the village and traipsed the mile to the cottage in the glorious sunshine.
This is a picture of the walk back to the cottage. In the picture is the farmhouse. My cottage is tucked away on the left behind the trees.
While I'm here, family and friends will be coming to stay, my son will be flying over from New York. I'll be going to Paris and the South Coast. I might even find some time to write! I'll tell you more as the weeks pass.