This is my last blog for ABBA for a while, and I feel sad, but with the imminent arrival of new twin grandsons (all being well) and a novel to finish off, and my gardening blog (Leslie Erika Wilson, Literary Gardener, do visit it if you haven't already), and The History Girls, I have to pull my horns in somewhere. But I have loved blogging here and will continue to read and enjoy other people's blogs!
So - the parting note.
There's a path that goes - well, somewhere, where the Chilterns slope down to the Thames near Reading, and it leads to a place on which I have based the house in my novel-in-progress. I walked it first in the winter, when I was finding the spot, and a winter path is very different from a summer path. It's in summer that a scene actually takes place there, so the Sunday before last, I asked David and the dog if they'd walk it with me again. Matilda always says yes to a walk - well, she's a dog - but David agreed too, and off we went..
It was a good thing I went, because the last time the ground was wintry and muddy, but in summer it's lined with loose flints. I think it was a road before it was a path, because you can see that it was made and hogginned or whatever the word is, with the flints. It's only the ones at the surface that are loose. This is where Jack, riding a bike along there with his mind in turmoil, has to come off his wheels and into a thorny bit of hedge.
When I wrote the scene, I had blackthorn in mind, because that was what I saw there in the winter, but now there are brambles scrambling everywhere, covered in delicious berries, which we and the dog snacked on.
There were also spindleberries and woody nightshade berries, lovely, but more or less poisonous; elderberries, which I don't care for, and enormous fat haws, which I do like to nibble. The other candidate for thorniness was the dog-rose at the start of the path.
But I found the spot I'd envisaged, and there were brambles there.
So Jack slithers on the loose flints now, and his bike tips him into the brambles. Poor Jack, it's early June, so he doesn't get to eat blackberries for comfort. Then my heroine turns up on her elderly horse, with a posse of dogs, and all the animals nose at him.
We walked on up the path till we came to the estate gates - and there I stopped. I couldn't for the life of me have gone through there now, because the house I've imagined is totally, completely different from the house that's there, and I wanted to leave my mind unmessed with.
So we turned back, because I knew what was REALLY beyond those gates; the world of my book, with all the characters.
Odd, in a way, that none of them came along the path to greet me. Or maybe just as well. They might complain at me for everything I've put them through.