I spent much of my lockdown in the company of an alien that invaded my body, and made me as chubby as the fluffy fledgling birds nibbling the fat balls in the garden. Sadly, I’m also just as fluffy. Or was until I cut off an inch around the bottom - of my hair of course. The other bottom needs different measures.

Wedding Bells on the Home Front

Wedding Bells on the Home Front

For an author, if the research stage is over, the lockdown makes little difference. There’re just the blank pages that need to be filled and the creation of this other world. Had it been one of my stand alone novels I might have required research trips to Australia, or somewhere else - and in that case I would have torn my hair out, but – hang on - at least the fluffy problem would have been solved.

In this Annie Clarke series their world is concentrated in a munitions factory and a north east pit village during the 2nd world war so I had no need of travel. Why? Because this world is imprinted into my DNA, what with a mam born and brought up in a pit village, my school holidays spent there, and the sulphur and smouldering slag heaps the air that I breathed.

The pattern of my days changed, almost immediately, as huffing puffing joggers nudged my elbows as I walked the dogs – ‘And that’s social distancing is it?’ I would yell to heedless ear-phoned ears. So I rose earlier and earlier, finally deciding on 5.30 to tramp the byways in peace before starting the day’s writing.

Why did I leave it so long? It is another world, a wonderful one. There was nature in all its glory as the dogs and I sauntered along empty North Yorkshire paths, around fields, along lanes enclosed by hedgerows beginning to flourish, wildlife awakening, birdsong tumultuously increasing as nests were built, nestlings fed, until fledglings were off and out.

With two other grannies I run a small charity Words for the Wounded. For once we had to time to re-think our annual writing competition. And to ‘suck up’ that our fund raising walk was postponed, but there’s always next year. Besides we have enough in the pot to assist when called upon, plus the veterans whose writing we help are well, and still stoically writing from their wheelchairs.

Within the constraints of lockdown I had other heroes to discover: a house martins nest plunged from the eaves. Quick, save today’s work, scoop up the four nestlings– dazed but alive.

The local sanctuary would take our Tom, Dick Harry and Fred. Into their incubator they went with swallows and other house martins. Just one family, taking 40 calls a day. They deserve a medal.

Local shops and the community hub swung into action, delivering what was needed. The supermarkets did their bit. They too deserve medals, and our bachelor neighbour… Words are not enough.

Lockdown gave me time to reflect and appreciate my life.