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6 Time

Fleetingly it seemed possible to reach into the water and grasp a fistful of gold.

Walking along a remote stretch of river bank, alone, on a blustery autumn afternoon, not so much seeking inspiration as simply soaking it up. I don't do such things often enough. I don't have time. I don't make time. I should. I will.

How about you ... do you find time, take time, just to be?

There's a long overdue decluttering beginning here, so mega it's going to take some doing. But less stuff equals more time. And reduce, reuse, recycle equals more everything. So we're making a list of the stuff we can't live without and the rest ... we'll probably freecycle/freegle it. Quietly, I think I'm looking forward to letting a lot of things go.

And finally, because this reminder should have been posted yesterday - yep, it was a time thing - I've extended the deadline for the book giveaway to midnight tomorrow, Saturday October 25th, so if you haven't entered yet now's your chance. Good luck.

PS Thank you for all your sweet comments on my last post. And to those who apologised for giggling ... don't worry, you were meant to!


63 A series of unfortunate events

I keep losing whole weeks to ... stuff. Apparently writing 'To blog good content you have to live good content' on the front of all your notebooks offers no guarantee at all that you'll get the chance.

There was a batch of elderberry chutney, but if I tell you that I've bottled it and labelled it ketchup you'll understand why it hasn't featured here. Also not featured, the elderberry juice spatter on my favourite white shirt.

And I had a birthday - no cake, but the pizza had candles - and one of the dogs got so excited he headbutted a wall. A recently concussed hound has to be woken hourly through the night, just saying. Of course he's fine now, but we were exhausted. That was when the mister's mother decided to liven things up with an hallucinatory episode or three. I made the mercy dash north to discover she'd been muddling her medication.

A tripping pensioner, a dizzy whippet, a culinary mishap, and stain remover ... such is my life. Maybe the words of Lemony Snicket would be a better choice for future notebooks?

If I were a different kind of blogger I'd probably have squeezed posts about condiment making and canine first aid from the above, instead I have a story about stories, and a couple of links to share.

Finding humour in an at times absurd week I wove a tale that explains my absence. But other things happened too. One of our daughters moved far, far away. I finally kicked my chocolate habit. And I reconnected with an old friend who remembers a me I'd forgotten I used to be but would like to become again.

There's a line in Jeanette Winterson's Lighthousekeeping, my current read, that's rather apt ...
Tell me a story, Silver. What story? The story of what happens next. That depends. On what? On how I tell it.

Inspiring me right now ...

(You can read more about Ben in Ben Short - An Uncomplicated Life, an article that first appeared in The Countryman.)

And Sonia's post about how to support makers and artists even when you can't afford to buy their wares.


81 Can it be true, a giveaway

Image of Can It Be True cover art.

For your many thoughtful answers to my questions about paid for and sponsored blog content, thank you. It's a topic I'm tempted to return to in more detail, but for now I'll say just this ... there are limited sponsorship opportunities for those who prefer, as I do, to collaborate with indie illustrators, makers, and retailers who have an ethos that's a good match to my own.

One such is fellow blogger Valerie Greely of Acorn Moon, who has recently illustrated a brand new edition of Susan Hill's now classic Christmas prose poem, Can It Be True. I'm going to heap superlatives upon this book for the simple reason that it deserves every one of them. Val's illustrations are exquisite, and her chosen colour palette of muted reds and browns, inky blues and greys, white and gold is perfect for a compelling Christmas Eve story that may not be quite what you expect ...
It was Christmas Eve
And twelve of the clock,
When the message was heard
On the wind in the trees ...

It was heard by the owl
With blood on its beak, and the shrew
In the ditch...

Heard by the weasel,
The ferret, the stoat,
The terrified rabbit,
The whale in the sea
And the whaler above in his boat ...

The hounds
And the hare ...

And can it be true? ...
Susan Hill's poem - of which the above and below are only a series of extracts - is firmly rooted in the Northern hemisphere, where December is all about frost, and sometimes snow, and the long nights are for hunting. But at its heart is the setting aside of differences ...
And can it be true? ...

Come and see for yourselves.
So they left off their
Fighting and hunting and chasing
And dreaming of war
And they went ...
This is not a sponsored post, but Valerie has given me two copies of the book, one for me to keep, and one for me to give away, signed by both her and by Susan Hill (of The Woman in Black fame). Details of the giveaway are below, and the book is also available from Val's Acorn Moon online shop.

Detail of owl illustration from Can It Be True.

Of course Christmas stories that end in stables aren't everyone's cup of tea, so I do have a second book to give away, a wintry gift to you from me ... a retelling of The Snow Queen by Sarah Lowes, illustrated by Miss Clara. As you will discover if you follow the links* Miss Clara does things a little differently ...

To enter simply comment on this post before midnight GMT on October 24th - maybe tell me something Christmassy** - and do let me know if you have a preference for either book (both are hardbacks). I will post to anywhere in the world. Good luck.

* Posts about The Snow Queen on Miss Clara's blog, and The Enchanting World of Miss Clara. Both are in French but Google Translate worked for me, and besides, it's the images you need to see. Oh, and don't worry, the book is in English.

** I know, I know, it's still October, but humour me will ya! Octoberish and Christmassy, there, double the challenge.

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