My husband’s retirement coincided with lockdown. Instead of being elsewhere every weekday he converted the garage into a workshop and built a shed. With the gym closed it seemed the ideal time for me to clear the nearby tangle of shrubs, brambles and ivy. Raised stone flower(or weed)beds had been dismantled to make way so, over several weeks of glorious sunshine I used the stone to make a Mediterranean garden.

Christmas Wishes

Christmas Wishes

We ate on the lawn, followed the news and, reluctantly, agreed Michael’s intended retirement business of converting a run-down house had to be put on ice. I frowned over where to buy plants and he did the same about shed materials. (The roof still doesn’t have its planned cedar shingles.)

Affairs were complicated by my son and daughter-in-law experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms and their Jack Russell moving in with us. He’s a far from ideal work companion! He bowls sticks or balls in front of the mower, climbs on forkfuls of earth or gets in the hole being dug. If I’m writing he introduces his head-plus-ball onto my lap or even onto my laptop. Thanks to him, our birdbath is now a planter because he knocked the top off. Thankfully, my son and daughter-in-law recovered and he went home to get in their way instead of in mine. (Yes, I did miss him.)

I planned and wrote my summer 2021 book, an activity I also took outdoors where possible. Working from home is the norm for me but the associated research trip and writing retreat were cancelled. With no gym, business or social events, time pressures eased but I felt confined and cut off from normal life.

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My inbox exploded, as events were cancelled and taken online, high street retailers closed, online retailers changed their practices, some staff members at both my publishers and my agents’ were furloughed and the rest worked from home. Extra online events were arranged to try and entertain, necessitating learning different softwares and having to tidy up my study so anyone watching said events didn’t think I’d been burgled.

Summer on a Sunny Island was published with its usual complement of social media but radio interviews took place by phone. I was interviewed by BBC Radio Northampton about how the pandemic was affecting me. With only two major supermarkets still selling books and bookshops being closed, I offered readers signed copies at cost-plus-postage whenever I could get supplies and spent a lot of time trekking to my local parcel drop.

I admit I did my share of complaining and sighing. But I also thanked my stars for phones and computers that meant business could continue in adapted form; I was grateful for my house and garden and the large park almost on my doorstep in which to take daily walks while I listened to audiobooks.

And now we have a Mediterranean garden and a shed!

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I passed my bronze survival swimming qualification before I was six years old. We lived in Malta at the time so opportunities to swim were many. All the cool kids could swim well... to read more click HERE 

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