A Work of Fiction

Martin and his girlfriend Steff have moved into the cottage of their dreams in deepest, rural Wiltshire.
Read her diary and live the life.

Rundown and Romantic

Monday, 16 April 2012

Farmer, Train Driver, Gardener.

Joe's into gardening. It's amazing. A passion for animals I could understand, especially with the menagerie we  have accumulated after a year and a half, and the ducks and pigs in Seb's garden. But Joe's been caught more than once glancing casually through Your Garden magazine and sliding a sideways glance at the telly when the chefs and gardeners are doing their thing with handfuls of pungent herbs, or trundling their wheelbarrows down wet, cracked paths.

He staggered home the other day under the weight of a stack of pots and seed trays which old Mr Tollit had given him to 'get him started'. He'd been spending a lot of time up there recently but I assumed it was to do with their mutual interest in trains. Martin shrugged and happily handed over a part of the garden which Joe has ardently been digging over ever since (I've heard of double digging but this is something else entirely!). We bought some seeds together and Seb gave him a small seedhouse for his birthday, which is now crammed full of trays of burgeoning new growth.

So what with today being the last day of the holidays, and the wind still being so uncomfortable chill, we turned the kitchen into a potting shed and got stuck into the long and fiddly job of pricking out. Seeing those frail and spindly green shoots in my boy's soil-blackened hands brought a smile to my face. We'll make a gardener of him yet. And a farmer, and a train driver...

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Back To It

I've been satying with friends up north, so haven't had much of a chance to write in this diary for a month or so. It's great to flip through its pages again and read my scribbles, each page like an old friend welcoming me back home.

Not that time's been wasted while I've been away: My first surprise was a beautifully arrayed set of shelves set into the understairs cupboard in the kitchen. Instead of the unsteady units we used to balance everything on, we now have properly crafted shelves made by Martin and Joe in my absence. I never knew Martin was such a dab hand with the old hammer and nails, but he's really surpassed himself here. And Joe's learned such a lot from watching his dad. I'm so pleased!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Dangle of a Promise

Like small animals in hibernation, we in the village of Chittham seem to have been hiding ourselves away for endless months, peeking out over our snowy mufflers from time to time just to see if the worst has yet passed. But every day has brought more snow, more fog, more raw and biting winds, and we've curled up by the fire with a good book and resolved not to look out the window again.

Until today. Despite a keen breeze at daybreak that swirled low-lying fog in a wet dance through the trees, the house now feels distinctly warmer, the floorboards kinder to my feet. There is no condensation round the window frames to be mopped up, but the desire to fling the windows wide and let the new day inside. And now at midday, a determined sun is finally breaking through the clouds and probing the earth with a gentle finger, causing banks of snowdrops and hellebores to lift their heads in greeting.

I sit for a while by the stream, listening to its low trickle through the weeds and stones, my eyes closed, the sun playing with shadows on my face. The green smell of new shoots and wet earth, the dangle of a promise, plays in the air and I dare to think, maybe, this is it. I dare to think, at last, spring might just be around the corner.

Thursday, 5 January 2012


It's been so windy these last few days! The poor chickens roll around their run like soft white tumbleweed until they find the sense to take cover in their house and the sheep huddle together in a tight shield wall under the trees. The trees themselves have been shedding their load all over the garden and out onto the hill beyond; a tangled mass of branches, leaves and woody flotsam strewn far and wide. And the cat doesn't know what to do with himself. He howls continually and takes manic flying leaps from one room to another, scraping at the wind-tossed leaves through the windows.

There's nowhere you can go to escape it. It howls through the vents in the windows, a wild man of the hill seeking entry. It spews dust and leaves under the back door and churns the leaf-clogged stream. The weathermen say it is almost done, that after tonight it will have burnt itself out and be a spent force, but there is no let up so far. So we sit tight and wait. 

Monday, 2 January 2012

A Whole New Year

It's been a long time since I last picked up this diary.

Four months to be exact. The zenith of our English summer, although it seems August is becoming ever more frequently a mash of wind and rain that batters the beautiful blooms of June and July. I remember sitting in our living room looking out at the mud being churned by our small flock of sheep, watching the huddled feathery balls that are our few chickens cowering under their house, and reaching to flick on the light as the room got gloomy and cold. August.

Martin's mother died that month. It was a shock, she was still young. There was so much to do and suddenly life wasn't the same for any of us, hence this diary got pushed to the back of a drawer. I couldn't talk to anyone, not even to its quiet pages. But I find myself lifting its cover once more and mulling over the next entry which I hope will be full of hope and new life.

It's January 2nd now. A brand new year. Let's move on.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Fruit of Love

And so, with Joe still poking about in the weed, Martin and I were able to get on with trimming the errant branches from the apple trees. Our 'orchard' is truly bounteous this year. The cookers are particularly fine; shiny and green with a pink blush to their cheeks, that cook to a soft pulp in the pan. Martin favours the russets, but I find them a bit on the rough side.

Ofcourse, even if we never picked another apple, I would still love this wilder part of the garden. The trees have a wonderfully gnarled shape and insist for the main part on growing sideways, and the swing Martin fashioned between them is like something out of a Gainsborough painting. Except maybe better.

A Friend for Joe

What is it with young boys and all things wet and mucky? Actually, that is such a sexist and ageist thing to say, seeing as what has been occupying my son in the garden for the past hour has also prevented my husband from pruning the apple trees and myself from hanging out the washing.

A frog.

I had asked Joe to take a stick and skim the tiny pond that Martin had shaped out from the stream for him. Duckweed clung in long, dripping strands to brown leaves which had drifted in from the masses of trees around, and whiled Joe dredged like a true trawlerman, up came the carcass of a dead mouse which we later had to bury. Nice. But then came all the excitement: Joe shrieked as movement rippled through the water, then a rather large brown head emerged from beneath the weed.

Funny how the metal watering can nearest the backdoor has also got a lot of jellied clumps in it, floating in an inch or two of collected rainwater. Think our little friend's been busy...