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"Swashbuckling at its best!
This was a wonderful romp across the oceans with a very likable cast of characters."


July
 2019

Downhill from here to winter *laugh*, now that Midsummer has come and gone. Although, so far, summer has been somewhat wet; a heatwave is promised for the arrival of July, however. Not that the weathermen can always be trusted – it's just as likely to snow given our recent really weird weather patterns.

The garden likes the rain; we have a crop of carrots, peas, beetroots, cauliflowers and a few rather limp lettuces. The best of these (not the lettuces!) are destined for exhibits at the annual village flower and veg show. More of that next month.

Daughter Kathy and son-in-law Adam went off to compete at the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead towards the end of June. A bit of a mixed bag of results with Lexie deciding she didn’t like the stone wall in one of the competition rings – it was fine jumping it from the opposite side in the next class, though. Silly horse. Alas, she had to be retired from the last two days as she became unsound. We are always worried about Lexie’s legs as she had a few troubles when she was a young filly – a severely pulled tendon which healed nicely, but then she broke the pedal bone in her foot - the horse equivalent of a big toe bone - so several further months of TLC ensued. Because of these injuries it was years before we risked show jumping her, but, touch wood, these old ‘war wounds’ are now okay, the present lameness in her foot seems to be something entirely different. As yet undiagnosed, we’re still waiting for the x-ray results. ( I am trying to avoid thinking of the vet’s bill that will be coming.)

As I write this, Lexie is happily wandering around the stableyard nibbling at the hedge - she’s cleared the nettles - and making a general nuisance of herself.

My thanks to Mal who came down from London to assist with looking after our equine delinquent, Franc, and the gang of Exmoor ponies. Actually Franc is a good boy – just going through his horsey equivalent of the early Teenager years!

One of the delights, for me, was the chance to sit in the garden under the new gazebo and chat - and watch our troupe of little hens come scurrying down the garden steps to be fed on treats such as Weetabix and Cornflakes. There are five hens, one cockerel named ‘Arri and, between them all, 15 chicks of various sizes.

Our previous guests, Ray and Cathy, who came from the US to stay with us for a week, also enjoyed watching the hens ‘plop’ down the steps. The lovely little fowl are Pekins, so about the size of a large rugby ball – very amusing to watch, and very intelligent.

According to Wikipedia:

The first Pekins are alleged to have been looted from the private collection of the Emperor of China at Peking (now known as Beijing) by British soldiers towards the end of the Second Opium War around 1860. However, some sources suggest that a consignment of birds from China around 1835 were given to Queen Victoria, assuming the name of 'Shanghai’s' and that these birds were bred with further imports and were developed into the breed we know today as Pekins. The Pekins first brought to the United Kingdom are said to have been buff in colour, with blacks and cuckoos arriving later on.

[2] They are known in the United States and Canada as Cochin Bantams. Pekins come in many breeds.

A further delight is watching our colony of Pipistrelle bats emerging of an evening from their nesting place. They are agile little creatures. As they flutter out I can see them quite clearly against the sky-blue background and hear them squeaking. Lovely!

We have recently discovered a nest of Tree Bumble Bees occupying the cavity behind Lexie’s stable wall. These are delightful little brown and black bumbly bees with white bums, quite docile as long as they are left alone.

The squirrels have been a problem this year. We are about to declare war as unfortunately they have discovered the hens’ nest box and are stealing the eggs. Our household eating eggs I don’t mind, but these are little unhatched chicks that Mum has been patiently brooding. The dogs get quite a bit of fun haring into the orchard barking like mad when we shout, in an excited manner, “Squirrel, squirrel, squirrel!” Mind you, Eddie and Baz haven’t a clue what they're chasing. The squirrel, however, very quickly dashes away.

We didn’t have a squirrel problem when we had Goosey, our no-nonsense gander. He saw any squirrely squirrel which dared set foot in his orchard well and truly off!

So all in all the garden, orchard and stable yard have been very active nature wise; this includes the rapacious growth of nettles and brambles, unfortunately!

For readers: Sea Witch should be out in it’s new paperback format soon – you can already get it on Kindle – and Pirate Code will be weighing anchor in the not too distant future. You can reach the Amazon link here, and it is also available on Nook etc.

Enjoy Summer - with a pirate, King Arthur or King Harold…

Lege feliciter (read happily).

helensig

 

June
 2019

Can we really already be into June? We’re almost at midsummer – not that we’ve had much summer so far here in Devon. Nice sunny days, yes, but really chilly at night with deep banks of mist of a morning smothering the valley below us.

Farmers are getting the silage in and our hay in Top Field is growing well - although so are the buttercups. We’ve been busy laying a stone pathway at the top end of the garden where it has, until now, been Weed Haven alternating with Mud Patch. With the addition of some solar lights it looks really nice up there now. We’ve also got a couple of raised vegetable boxes planted out with spring onions, beetroots, lettuces and a redcurrent bush. We’ve several raspberry bushes near the greenhouse, but not much sign of any raspberries.

The damson trees are well-laden, so there’s a good prospect of damson gin-making come the autumn. I’m going to try blackberry gin as well. The only detriment is you are supposed to wait several months before drinking it. (Well a year really, but that's not going to happen!) The roses are looking lovely this year, and the honeysuckle growing around the front door has become a tenement for several sparrow families – there are at least three nests in it. Not many bees around this year, though, which is somewhat worrying. Plenty of bumble bees, but very few honey bees. The bats are back, roosting beneath the eaves of the house. These are Pipistrelles, although we do have several other types flying around. We’re also hoping the garden plays host to the Hedgehog family again this year. Baby hoglets are SO cute!

Sadly we’ve lost several hens and a couple of ducks to the Fox; what is even more annoying, they were taken during daylight hours. The hens are free range, which means they have the run of the farm during the day, but are well tucked-up in their ‘bedrooms’ during the night for safety. Kathy happened to hear a lot of squawking a couple of days ago, and ran out into the lane to see Mrs Fox with a hen in her mouth – which she very quickly dropped when Eddie our dog chased after her. With any luck he gave her enough of a fright to keep her away from the house and the hens.

The crows, too, are a nuisance as they get into the hens’ nest box and pinch the eggs. And as for Mrs Squirrel, she was sitting quite happily on the bird table picking out all the sunflower seeds! Still, the squirrels also pinch the crows’ eggs, so what goes around comes around, I guess.

I’m writing this at seven p.m. and love looking out across the valley at this time of the early evening. The fields over the back are lit by the lowering sun, making it look like a bright spotlight is highlighting the meadows. The various greens are amazing – fifty shades of grey, there may be, but I wonder how many shades of green there are? I love this time of year, this house, the view… well, I love living here in Devon.

The end of May saw the end of several things.

I won’t dwell overlong on politics, but the list includes another end of May; Theresa May, our Prime Minister. Personally, I feel very sorry for her because I think she was landed with a thankless task and whatever your views on Brexit, we had a vote. The majority voted to leave Europe and too many MPs, I feel, were out for their own agenda and not the wish of their constituents. Devon voted to leave. Democracy has not been respected.

On TV we had the end of Game Of Thrones. I loved the series - and the books, come to that. Some people are saying they were disappointed with the final season - I am not one of them. The rule has always been ‘expect the unexpected’ and that certainly was the case. The CGI imagery was breathaking. Those dragons - WOW! There has been a call for a remake, which is ridiculous. However, I would have ended it thus:

Final, final scene

Bran is sitting in his wheelchair, asleep. It is night, he is alone; the fire crackles.
He wakes. He opens his eyes.
They are ice blue…
Cut to credits.


The End.

Now, if you are not a GoT fan, that will mean nothing to you. If you are, I hope you felt the shivers of apprehension!

Lastly came the final episode of twelve - yes twelve! - years of The Big Bang Theory. I am not usually a fan of American comedy; like our spelling, US and UK humour is different, but Big Bang was fun because the characters were believable in their oddball quirkiness, the scripts were good and the situations hilarious. I loved the guest spot appearances as well – followers will remember the cameo appearance of Carrie Fisher, bless her, and various scenes featuring the wonderful Stephen Hawkins.

For myself, work has been demanding. I am still busy editing. Ripples In The Sand is nearly done, Pirate Code and Bring It Close completed, and the good news, Sea Witch is now available under her new ‘colours’ of Penmore Press. I would be very grateful if you could leave a comment for the new edition, if you have already read and enjoyed Jesamiah’s first voyage.

You can reach the Amazon link here. - it is also available on Nook etc. Pirate Code will be setting sail soon.

Enjoy Summer!

Lege feliciter (read happily).

helensig

 

May
 2019

Editing, I’ve decided, is interesting but a bit of a chore. It is also embarrassing. I am re-reading through the entire Sea Witch Voyages with the aim of picking up missed typos and correcting any errors that I had not realised were mistakes when first I wrote my nautical adventures.

Author Jeffrey Walker picked up a couple of bloopers concerning Colonial Williamsburg; quite minor things but serious enough to warrant being corrected. For example, I used 'Main Street' – which should have been referred to as 'Duke of Gloucester Street'. I realise what I had intended to write was ‘…he walked along the main street’, not ‘…he walked along Main Street’.

I also discovered a huge blooper in Bring It Close – but I'm not going to mention what it is because the error gave me an idea for a future plot. (Ah, that’s got your interest hasn’t it!) You'll need to be patient, however, for I probably won't use it until Voyage Seven, Jamaica Gold.

I am quite enjoying the re-read. ("Gracious me these stories are good!" she said, modestly but truthfully.) However, the time constraints for having to get on with it and read quickly are somewhat daunting. It’s utterly amazing how, when you are really busy, so many other things suddenly demand your attention.

Friday, for instance, was a stress-day. I had to go into Barnstaple to collect something, which meant my husband driving me there. This time of year the roads are busy because it’s tourist season – or ‘Grockles’ as visitors are known as in the Devonshire language. Alas, far too many tourists have no idea how to drive along narrow country lanes, and I won’t even mention the matter of reversing…

Once home, the neighbouring farmer’s cattle had pushed into our field. This created mayhem as the Exmoor ponies got all excited and galloped about. The big horses hate cattle, so they joined in. Fences were down which needed putting up again.

Then there is the enormous ham my husband bought from the butcher. It is lovely ham but I’m no cook and thus not quite sure what to do with it. There are only so many ham sandwiches you can eat.

Prior to all this it was my birthday in mid-April, a day of celebration shared with little Franc, our foal – although as it was his first birthday we can’t really call him a foal now. Plus at about 15.2 hands he is not so ‘little’ any more. Still, we both had birthday cake and presents.

A couple of days before that, though, was not so pleasant. We had to have my donkey, known as Wonky Donk, put down. He had developed a huge cancerous-type growth in a ‘delicate’ place for a male donk, which made it very uncomfortable for him to pass water. The growth was mostly internal and there was nothing our vet could do, so it was kinder to send dear Donk quietly over the Rainbow Bridge.

Added to that, the chap who came to ‘do the deed’ reversed his car into me and sent me flying. There was an audible thump and I’ve still got a wonderful bruised knee where I landed. It was partly my fault – I was standing in the lane with my back to him. It just didn’t occur to me that he was reversing, and it didn’t occur to him that I would be standing there. So all in all, not a good day.

I miss Donk terribly. He loved his cuddles.

We owe it to our animal friends to do the best we can for them, even when such very hard decisions have to be made, but I would rather endure my heartache and tears rather than prolong a pet’s life of pain, especially when animals cannot understand why they are hurting or tell us how much it hurts.

I have lost many dear friends during the 66 years I’ve been around - cats, dogs, hamsters, horses, and I remember them all with great affection: Basil, Poppy, Nesta, Rajah, Rosie, Bill, Rum… the list would be as long as this newsletter if I were to mention them all.

I am sure that they are all happy and content on the ‘other side’. I hope I get to give Donk more carrots and cuddles one day.

Not just yet though, I’ve still got two books to re-edit.

Lege feliciter (read happily).

helensig

 

April
 2019

Exciting news - for those who have not already heard it!

Let’s start by rewinding time a little to April 2006…

~

My publisher, Random House UK, has decided not to reprint my Pendragon's Banner Trilogy and Harold the King, but fear not, I have taken the enormous step of deciding to indie-publish.

It will either be the wisest thing or the stupidest thing I have ever done, but it will mean my books will remain in print for as long as I want them to be.

However, the excitement does not end there. I have also decided to indie/self-publish my Sea Witch pirate novel. If all goes to plan, it will be setting sail in early May 2006

~

Zip forwards to the present day, March 2019. (I simply cannot believe the announcement above was written thirteen years ago!)

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then, some of it calm and sedate, but a good bit of it somewhat turbulent. The first indie publishing company I went to turned out to be not all it said it was, and looking at those early print runs, well, let’s just say they were examples of how not to produce books.

When the company went bankrupt, I high-tailed it over to Helen Hart’s SilverWood Books. I have been with that company, most satisfactorily, ever since.

Sourcebooks Inc in the United States picked up Harold, Queen Emma and Arthur for traditional/mainstream publication in the US and Canada, with The Forever Queen (retitled from the UK’s A Hollow Crown) making the USA Today bestseller list, so I was now in the ranks of authors known as ‘hybrid’ – both traditionally published and indie.

I think most of my followers know the story behind Sea Witch? (If you don't, click here.) My (ex) agent let me down big-time. She hated it but I knew the idea was a good one. We parted company and I went on to turn that first Voyage into a series. I have worked hard at being an indie writer, with all that being an indie entails. Which means doing your own, hands-on, all-day-every-day marketing. I have, mostly, enjoyed it.

Back in 2006, when ‘Indie’ was a relatively new concept, it bore the mark of being ‘second-class vanity’ publishing. All these years later, indie authors are far more respected because the good, serious, authors have made a point of producing quality, high standard work. And we, as authors, have on the whole become accepted in the literary world as respected authors – again, because we produce our books with care (and a lot of love!) After all, we invest our own money into it. Being indie can be expensive. There’s professional editing to pay for, professional cover design and professional marketing services if you chose to use them. To produce an indie novel that matches quality mainstream standard takes time and money.

However, it is hard work to keep yourself and your books going. After thirteen years of trumpet tootling, I’m getting tired. I want to get back to making writing my priority but needed a boost for my flagging lack of self-confidence and enthusiasm. That little whisper of nagging self-doubt when you are an indie writer is always present. We are on our own and – well, it’s draining to the point of ‘why am I doing this?’ The only thing that keeps us indies going is knowing that our readers out there - that's you - enjoy our books. But even the most prolific and supportive indie writer would still prefer to be with a Mainstream Publisher.

So I am delighted and excited to announce that, after thirteen years of ‘going it alone’, I have signed a contract with Independent Publisher, Penmore Press, based in Arizona USA, for the Sea Witch Voyages. Jesamiah is to sail in consort with a new fleet to explore New Horizons!

We are keeping the covers designed by Cathy Helms (www.avalongraphics.org ) and hope to get the new editions ready to weigh anchor as soon as possible – although they will be out of print for a short while.

I’m delighted that my Captain Acorne is to sail along with good hands, and that at last, despite the pleasure that being indie can bring, he has the potential to reach the much wider audience he deserves. Jesamiah really should achieve whale status; he just isn’t the tadpole type.

However, if you need to complete your set of e-books or paperback Voyages, and don’t want to have to wait, I’d advise you to go ahead and plunder them from Amazon right now.

Meanwhile I’ll be getting on, enthusiasm renewed, with the writing of Voyage Six, Gallows Wake

Lege feliciter (read happily).

helensig

 

March
 2019

February was a funny old month. It seemed to rush by for the first two weeks, then slow down, and then zap, here we are in March! Add to that the weather was weird… spring came early. The snowdrops were finished by the end of the first week of February, and before the last week ended all of the daffodils were out, alongside coltsfoot, lambs’ tails on the hazel trees, and buds budding everywhere. For the last few days we enjoyed glorious blue-sky-sunny-days, although the wind was cold, as were the frosty nights. This time last year we were preparing for the Beast From The East.?

Looking west though… I don’t usually bother with the Hollywood Oscars (a lot of fuss and nonsense about nothing, usually,) but I was delighted to see our UK Olivia Colman win best actress for playing Queen Anne in The Favourite. Apart from the delight of watching such a talented actress and her wonderfully amusing speech, the movie itself was super – and it’s about time we started seeing drama about queens other than Victoria and the Tudors! (And I must mention the other ‘Queen’ – well done that movie as well!) If you’ve not seen Olivia in the TV series Broadchurch, with actor David Tennant, get the DVD; you’ve missed out on brilliant acting, scriptwriting and engrossing entertainment. Ditto for The Favourite.

I heard somewhere that The Favourite was conceived twenty years ago – which is most inspiring, maybe there is hope yet for our 1066 movie. (Another movie which really, really should be made!)

February was a funny month as well, in the not-so-amusing sense. It is no easy thing to deal with narcissistic people at the best (worst?) of times but when they tend to have ‘troll-like’ tendencies on social media it is even more difficult. The old rule of ‘don’t feed the troll’ definitely applies as these sort of people cannot be argued with, will never see reason and are completely oblivious to what they are doing is destructive, not constructive.

This is even more unfathomable when the person involved appears to be promoting a business but is doing so by obtuse rudeness to others. This sort of behaviour becomes especially tiresome when it is your book that is being targeted.

Reposting highly misleading ‘reviews’ to make them look like new reviews, is ‘bad form’ as Captain James Hook would say, but the only way to react is add a polite correction to the misinformation then go away and have every faith in yourself and your book and let the destructive elements get on with destroying themselves – as will happen eventually.

My books do have a few typos, I don't deny it, but there is little I can or indeed intend to do about it, as the occasional blooper that pops up in books of 75,000 to 130,000 words will probably not be noticed by a reader who is thoroughly enjoying the read anyway. Yes, I’d love to be 100% perfect, but life (and my fading eyesight) isn’t like that.

I did and continue to do my best with my books. If my best isn’t good enough, well, to be blunt, too bad because I am not going to get obsessed about a few very minor boo-boos or a troll who obviously hasn’t got anything better to do with his time.

Something else which came to the fore in February was finding the time to do things.

I am not the only writer who discovers at four-thirty p.m. that I’ve been answering emails, writing articles, doing various promotional things on the interweb only to discover it’s time to cook dinner but I haven’t even opened the file of my next novel yet. Oh to be a disciplined writer who doesn’t get distracted by distractions!

But such is the case for many of us who are Indie Writers. We do not have agents or publishers to help out with the essential marketing, and, believe me, the marketing is essential. The trick is to get a nice balance between posting about things that regular readers and potential readers are interested in.

It’s hard work for what often seems little reward, but then up pops a really nice email in your Inbox saying how much someone has enjoyed one - or more - of your books, and you know what? All of a sudden the hard work is worthwhile, and the rest of the day passes with a smile.

So thank you, dear readers, for your support, your enthusiasm and your encouragement. All I would add is: Please show your liking for my novels – or indeed any novel – by leaving a comment on Amazon. Good comments really do make a big difference!

Lege feliciter (read happily).

helensig

 

February
 2019

I can't say that 2019 started out quite as I had expected, hoped or planned. Son-in-law wasn't well. Then I wasn't well, then my email wasn't well. A power cut hijacked my email inbox.

I had struggled downstairs to do the essential 'daily' tasks online, like ensuring the daily Discovering Diamonds review had published properly, and checking that there were no urgent or essential emails in my inbox (like a Hollywood director emailing about an option on the Sea Witch Voyages… okay, one can dream) when phut - blank screen. Power cut. It happens occasionally - it's the only downside of living in the middle of nowhere in the Devon countryside.

As I'd more or less finished what I was doing, I turned the main power switch off and went back to bed. I was engaged in binge-watching the entire David Tennant Doctor Who TV series.?

Next day. Booted the computer up - and I could have well and truly really booted it into the neighbour's lake next door!

No email. Gone. Vanished, zapped by Cybermen, or the Daleks, or those statues that get you when you blink. My fault, evidently, I blinked.? With apologies to non-Doctor Who fans, who won't understand a word of that.

I tried a few timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly type things (Doctor Who quote again). Pressed several keys. Turned off. Turned on again. Still nothing. Went to the email back-up system I maintain - where, relief, nearly everything was there, neatly saved away. However, I don't find the back-up version to be very user friendly, which is why I only use it as a back-up.

After several days of swearing, cursing, screaming - yes, if you heard a scream, and quite a few choice words, bad enough to make a pirate blush, that would have been me - my Webmaster managed to get me going again with a new setup using Gmail. Thank you Mr Webmaster.

But trying to fathom the quirks of a new system. it would be easier to defeat the Daleks!

I mean, just how do you transfer the email addresses I need from the 1,500 imported list of Contacts into the Gmail 'other contacts' folder, so that the name and address auto-fills in when sending mail? And just where is the 'request read receipt' button? Has Gmail even got one?

To counter all that, however, there was some good things during January, one being I had a wonderful batch of emails after the original Escape To The Country TV show, where we found our house here in Devon, had been broadcast in Canada. Several utterly delightful people who had watched the episode e-mailed me to say how much they had enjoyed the show, how pleased they were that we'd chosen the first house - and even more wonderful - that they'd ordered one or more of my books. I'm thrilled at the contact from these new friends - thank you!

Despite the trials and tribulations of the Interweb, at least I do now have e-mail - even if I am still trying to figure it out. Which is a relief because early in February my Italian publisher, Catnip Edizioni, is doing a massive blog tour for the publication in Italian translation of Bring It Close - or In Tempesta as it is titled in Italian.

I've had great fun writing several interview answers for it - I'll copy them all to my own blog, the English pre-translation versions that is - later in February, and to this website, keep an eye on the News Update on this website's homepage.

Oh, that was another thing - the news feed was hijacked by pirates as well. Thank you again Mr Webmaster for rescuing it.

And the excitement doesn't end there…

My new book about smugglers will be released on 31st January! Although I am somewhat anxious as, on the date of writing this update, 26th January, I still haven't seen the final published version. I'm somewhat anxious about how it looks in print… I've a short piece on my blog about the book.

If you enjoyed my Pirates Truth And Tales, I think you'll also enjoy Smugglers in Fact and Fiction. so please take a look at that then hop across to Amazon to pre-order a copy.

Oh, and "Watch the wall my darlings while the Gentlemen go by…"?

Lege feliciter (read happily).

helensig

 

January
 2019

I hope you all had a relaxing, stress-free Christmas - although I admit that I get stressed wrapping presents: it is unbelievably hard to use clear sticky tape when you can't see very well. I end up missing the two bits of paper I'm supposed to be sticking together and the wretched stuff gets wound round my fingers instead. I also struggle with addressing Christmas cards, which is why I tend to use the wonderful Jacquie Lawson e-cards online. If I know you personally, check your inbox, you might have received one. Or if you would like to be put on my Christmas Card list - Contact me and I'll consider adding you.

Did you see the fantastic short story series we ran on Discovering Diamonds throughout December? A wide variety of authors contributed a wide variety of short stories inspired by a song: the idea being, Read The Story - Guess The Song.

Don't worry if you missed them, you can start here with the first story-song, then follow on by clicking 'Next' - below the story.

It was hard work organising the stories, finding suitable images and the original (official) versions of the songs on YouTube, but well worth it. Just a quick reminder to all authors though; Lyrics in songs are governed by a very strict copyright, so do not be tempted to use even a few distinctive words in a novel or story - don't risk being sued for thousands of pounds or dollars! However, there is no copyright on titles or ideas - hence our stories.

We've had a bit of a change-round here at Windfall Farm regarding the housing of ducks, geese and hens. The problem has been rats. They can chew through anything and have a keen desire to eat duck - fortunately not the adult ones, but the nasty creatures did kill most of ducklings back in the summer. (We got our own back by 'removing' quite a few of the vermin.) However the wretched things have been disturbing the ducks and geese at night, so we have moved the geese into a different shed, put the ferrets where the geese were, and the ducks will be moved to where the ferrets lived. Rats do not like the smell of ferrets, so maybe this will have some effect. Our two ferrets are called Piper and Hamelin, and they are both rather fat roly-poly ferrets!

Squirrels are in fact fluffy rats but much cuter, although they do as much damage to wildlife. We have a regular squirrel visitor which has white ears - it looks like he has been dipped in a pot of paint. Our old gander, which we sadly had to have put down a few months ago as he fell ill, hated the squirrels. He used to chase them if they ever dared to set paw on the ground. Woe betide if he ever caught one!

We are also using the field next door to the house, which is owned by our nice new 'down-the-hill' neighbours. (I still say 'new' , even though they have lived here a year now.) One of my dream ambitions was to have a home where I could look out of a window and see the horses grazing. Alas, here at Windfall, although I can, just about, see the stables from the house, the fields are at the end of the lane. So it is with a sense of achievement of a morning that I can look out of my bedroom window and see Lexie, Saffie, Franc and Wonky Donk grazing in 'Stable Field'. Except it is also somewhat alarming. Lexie is a BIG horse she can't quite reach the window from the other side of the hedge, but she's not far off it.

We also have three new chickens; two hens and a cockerel. They reside in the front garden and are so sweet. They are about one foot high, somewhat 'fluffy' and have highly feathered feet. They are no trouble and do no damage to the garden - in fact they gobble up the slugs and gently scratch over the flower beds.

But His Lordship the cockerel - oh, he is funny! Like I said, knee-high to a grasshopper, he regularly chases the dogs off, guards his two 'ladies' with immense pride and crows to tell everyone that He Is In Charge. Except his crowing sounds more like a dog's squeaky toy. It really doesn't have the desired effect.

Oh, a quick reminder, my Smuggler's book will be published at the end of January. You can pre-order here, but more information about this book next month.

For now, may I wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Lege feliciter (read happily).

helensig