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"Let us talk of many things: of Books and Queens and Pirates, of History and Kings"

January
 2016

I thought I would look back at some of the New Year things I have talked about here in my Journal.

2006 opened with this observation: "The start of a new year is always filled with excited hope; a feeling which begins to tail off by April, turns to a shrug of ‘oh well’ by July, and is completely gone come October - by which time it doesn't matter because January will soon be here and the whole thing begins again."

I’d had high hopes for Sea Witch, being picked up by a publishing company – again and again it was favourably received, but turned down with "…thoroughly enjoyable - but no one reads about pirates." No one, it seems, apart from the hundreds who are buying and enjoying it after I eventually indie-published. I’m glad I took that step, except had it gone mainstream I could have written ‘thousands’ there instead of ‘hundreds’.

2006 also saw the birth, and sad death six days later, of our pony Rosie’s foal; me doing a lecture tour in the Netherlands (very enjoyable and I am still friends with Carol and Joop whom I met at one of the venues) and us having to move house because of a fire where the upstairs neighbour’s burnt-out bedroom ended up on my daughter’s bed.

2007 was welcome after all that unexpected (and traumatic) excitement. But 2007 went rapidly downhill in direct competition with the previous year for unpleasant moments, so let’s just give it a cursory nod and move on to 2008.

The scumbag Kathy married in 2007 was entered onto my ‘stay well out of my way’ list. After a few short months of increasing domestic abuse my daughter divorced him. I remain extremely proud of her having the guts to ditch him. He remains on that list, and yes I feel very smug that he missed out on the financial good fortune that eventually caught up with us. Read on.

So: welcome 2009… when my ‘straight’ historical fiction was published mainstream in the USA and Forever Queen hit the USA Today Bestseller List. A short-lived accolade, but an accolade nonetheless.

Things took a turn for the worse in December 2009, and January 2010 was not much better. We lost a horse, I was bed-ridden in agony from a torn muscle in my groin and my mother passed away on Christmas Day.

At this point I am wondering why I decided to look back at past years – except I ended the January 2010 journal with something worth repeating: "I want to add how very proud I am of my daughter. She ran the house while I was ill, visited her Nan in hospital, took care of everything and set about ensuring that Yule would not be forgotten, even if enthusiasm was a little on the thin side. She decorated the house beautifully, did all the shopping and then cooked an entire Christmas dinner. December was a sh*t of a month - but my daughter ranks among the very best in the entire world. Thank you Kath."

2011 saw us moving stable yards and things starting, finally, to look up while January 2012 was the encore of an exciting year and a complete life-changer. Although that was not to happen until July and the opening night of the London Olympics. We won £1,000,000 on the lottery.

2013 New Year was somewhat chaotic – and a bit scary. We moved from London to Devon on 18th January – in the snow.

From here, January 1st 2016, it was the best thing we ever did, but back then there were a few moments of uncertainty. My memories from those first few days? Piles of cardboard boxes. The darkness of that first night - we hadn't found the outdoor light switches! Moonlight on the snow. A stag red deer in the field next door. The owls. The first snowdrops appearing.

By 2014 all doubts had well and truly gone. Kathy married Adam in March of that year; we live in a fabulous old farmhouse built in 1769. We have new friends, a new life – and I love it.

There have been some sad moments during 2015, a few annoying and frustrating ones, but I continue to shed a few tears of joy whenever I walk down the lane and see our farmhouse lights twinkling through the foliage.

I am sitting here looking out of my study window as evening settles over the fields and hills behind our orchard. The colours change with every passing hour, as well as the seasons. Lambing will start soon, and already, because of the mild weather, primroses are appearing. I have just been watching a barn owl hunt along the hedgerow.

I know I am lucky, and I assure you I appreciate this wonderful gift of life in Devon that Fortuna bestowed upon me.

I wish good fortune for you, my dear friends and loyal readers. May 2016 smile upon you and continue to let us talk of many things… of books and queens and pirates, of history and kings.

Lege feliciter (read happily).