March 6th 1052 was a day of mourning in England - at least for some. On that day in history, Emma of Normandy - Queen to two Kings of England, mother of two more - passed away. She was at least in her 60's although we do not know her exact age. I expect this is most inconvenient for historians: as a writer of historical fiction I find it downright annoying. Still, at least fiction writers can get away with making things up if the facts are not there.
One thing I am not making up: our goose. Guaranteed to raise laughter. She really is a silly goose, I can quite see where the saying comes from. Her name is Bernadette, although I have to be honest, she might be a Bernard. We're not sure, but we're sticking with Goose, not Gander.
Bernadette Goose lives in the orchard now that the Build is finished. She wanders about alongside the hens and the ducks, although they are two distinct rival gangs. The Webfoots and the Clucks. Think Romeo and Juliet: the Capulets and Montagues. Or West Side Story, the Jets and the Sharks (hum or sing various tunes from the famous movie if you like, but I suggest this one
from YouTube) Not that the goose, or the hens can click their fingers, but you can bet your life that Goosey would if she could! She waddles around as if she is a plump queen surveying her Queendom. Woe betide anyone who encroaches into her realm. Even if that does include myself or son-in-law Adam when we go to let them out of their Overnight Suite Accommodation of a morning. She hates us. We are her minion slaves, or in her eyes, the Cops of New York's West Side: Officer Krupke
She hisses, pecks and attacks Adam's wellies and my dressing gown. (What? You expect me to be dressed at 8ish in the morning?) It is probably my white dressing gown that started the whole 'Peck the Humans' routine. It is large, white and fluffy. To Bernie I resemble a giant goose. Adam, she just hates. She chases him. His fault, he shouldn't run!
And Kathy? Well Goosey adores Kathy. Kathy is Juliette, or Maria. and this one from West Side Story just IS the goose: YouTube "I feel pretty
Western Power were here a while ago to trim back overhanging branches from the power lines. In the end we had to shut Bernie away because she was terrorising the workmen. All that hissing and flapping, you would think she was being measured up for the pot or something. There again if she keeps going for Adam's wellies. we do usually have goose for Christmas
On a completely separate but vaguely attached topic: I cannot believe that it is a year since Kathy and Adam got married
. Happy Anniversary to you both!
The Orchard is looking a little sorry for itself. A lot of the top end was badly churned up because of the Build; not the builders' fault, slopes of grass dowsed by pouring, persistent rain soon becomes a replica of the Somme. The grass will grow back, but skis would be good for getting down the slippery bits.
The evening of February 23rd was spectacular. We had a thunderstorm. Grumbles and rumbles echoing all along the valley and the entire panorama of the sky turning a lurid shade of purple. The previous storm, a few weeks back, tramped over the horizon in the early hours of the morning, announcing itself with the most enormous bang that shot us all out of bed wondering what had been hit. Turned out it was a power cable pole in the next village a couple of miles away.
We are prepared for storms. Power cuts are always a possibility, and the trouble with them is, we don't lose just electricity. The pumps for the oil-fired Range and the water-filter that draws water from the well are both electric. So no power means no light, heat, or water.
Fortunately these storms usually lurk over the moors; Exmoor to the north, Dartmoor to the south - both near enough for us to hear the bangs and see the flashes. Our bit of the Taw Valley is fortunately fairly sheltered. Just in case, though, I have a couple of bottles of water, torches, candles (and matches) always on standby. A bucket is accessible in case we need to draw water from the well (not to drink unless boiled, but handy for loo flushing). The log-burner gets very hot, so with our trusty old kettle we can have tea or coffee, can warm up soup, or cook baked beans and fry eggs - make toast. Or crumpets buttered with Devon Butter.
As for Emma. I 'met' her when writing Harold the King, (titled I Am The Chosen King
in the US). I came to like this fascinating woman and wanted to know more about her - hence, she got her own novel, A Hollow Crown
. Titled The Forever Queen
in the US - and frankly the better of the two editions.
I have a scene where Emma, as a young woman, fends off an angry swan that is about to attack a child. Had I known then what I know now, I would have made it a goose not a swan.
Part of my itch to write her story was a desire to explore why she and her firstborn son, Edward, (later known as The Confessor) hated each other. The relationship was hostile. And that is why I say that not everyone in King Edward's Realm of England that day in March 1052 was mourning. I reckon Eddie put the flags out and celebrated. Silly man.
Read more here - posting March 6th 2015 - a full article
So, have you come to gloat? To witness the end of the woman who has plagued you all these years?