For me summer doesn’t mean anything until I arrive at my family’s ramshackle beach house in South Australia, built by my great-grandfather early last century. He was a great recycler so the house has abundant character: a tram door in the kitchen, Georgian windows here and there, and an art deco door in the living room. It’s the place my mother knew as a child, as I did, and my children now do too. It’s my favourite place in the world.
I’ve always loved the feeling of seawater left to dry on skin, so that I feel completely saturated in summer. I’m sure a skincare specialist would be horrified, but if you can’t indulge yourself in summer when can you?
A good single malt whisky is a lovely thing. I’m not a soak – promise! I only discovered the pleasures of an occasional whisky in the evening a few years ago, and enjoy it now. Having a quiet drink and talking about the day with my husband is the nicest way to unwind.
I have vivid childhood memories of huddling under the curtains and looking out at the storm-wracked valley that we lived on the edge of: the lightning cracking and disappearing and the thunder rumbling, and feeling so warm and safe inside. It’s still hard to drag myself away from storm watching.
I’m lucky enough to have a writing studio not too far from home. It’s quiet, unadorned, even boring, which for me is a powerful motivation to write. I feel as if I’m settling into it from the minute I leave home, and when I arrive, it’s like shrugging on a warm and familiar coat. The peace of it is blissful.
Favourite books. I love to reread favourite books, and go through phases with authors. Every few years I do a big reread of Marilynne Robinson or Hilary Mantel or Cormac McCarthy. They’re familiar, but there’s always something new in them too. And there are so many childhood favourites too.
Favourite smells: fog, snow, flowering currant, eau de cologne. I have associations with each. More than any other sense, scent has an incredible power to plunge me into another time and place and age.
I’m in the process of building a ‘birds, bees and butterflies’ garden, designed to attract all these wonderful creatures. I used to have a vegetable garden, but possums moving into the neighbourhood finished that. Fortunately they don’t like herbs, so I grow them and anything that encourages the birds, bees and butterflies.
Visiting a good bookshop is always wonderful – the sense of worlds opening up, the possibilities of enchantment, and the complete lack of guilt at spending money. How rare is that?
We all need to debrief with people who understand us from time to time. I have a wonderful group of writing friends; we get together to chew the fat and celebrate and commiserate and generally let our hair down with people who we know will understand. I don’t know what I’d do without them.
Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar is published 4th September 2017 by Aardvark Bureau, price £14.99 in hardback