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Spring Is Blooming

The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer and life is coming back into my garden. We are also coming to the end of the latest lockdown and this time there is a real sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, it might be the last one. This is certainly the last week of home schooling for us - barring any need to self-isolate over the next few months - and although there's been just as much work done as in previous weeks, it has definitely felt different. We've been less stressed and the work has flowed more easily on the whole. On Wednesday when Arthur clearly wasn't in the mood to do extra work, I didn't worry and took some time out to relax with him. In previous weeks when this has happened, I've spent the day stressed and anxious that he's falling behind. All nonsense of course, but reflective of my state of mind at the time.

For me, there is also the sense that 2021 is finally beginning. On Monday I get the house back to myself and I have great plans to write some of the new novel in the morning and do some work on the first edition of Makarelle in the afternoon. I am so excited about this it's bordering on the ridiculous, but it's the first taste of anything like normality since before Christmas and I can't wait.

Obviously, this means that the number of books I'm reading will fall as I'll have less time to read during the day, but even this has reduced the stress levels. Last month I raced through so many books and had got into the habit of reading 1-1.5 books every day. In some ways it was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed most of the books I read, but in beginning the month at such a speed, I then wanted to end it in the same way and ended up putting pressure on myself to continue reading the books at the same rate. I mean, seriously? How ridiculous does that make me sound? But, I accept that this is just part of my personality and sometimes I just have to ride the wave of craziness until I find a point to break free. Reaching the end of the month provided the opportunity and I made the conscious decision to slow down. It helped that I've had to be more hands on with this week's home schooling and that the first couple of books I read were both long and interesting, each one taking me just over two days to read. Consequently, I'm not worrying that I'm falling behind in my reading challenge, but have been able to take a step back from it and just enjoy the stories.

That said, I was champing at the bit to finish Americanah, but only because I was so keen to read the next book on my list. Jenny Kane's new book Spring Blossoms At Mill Grange came out on Thursday and regular readers of this blog will know I'm a huge fan of these books and have been eagerly anticipating the next instalment of the series. All the regular characters return with all their flaws and foibles and are rounded out still further. The beginning of the book did cause me a few moments of tension and I did consider messaging Jenny to tell her that I would never speak to her again if she had done something bad to a particular character - I refrained however, as I didn't think she'd necessarily appreciate the late night text! Usually in books of this genre, you know you're guaranteed a happy ending, but this is Jenny and she doesn't always do the expected - one of the reasons I love her books so much!

If you've read and enjoyed the first two Mill Grange books, I promise you will not be disappointed with this one. I know the fourth book is currently being written, but I will confess to having very mixed feelings about this. Obviously, I want to read it. I want all the loose ends tied up and I want the conclusion of the story. But, here's the thing - it's likely to be the last I see of these characters and I don't want their story to end. There is something about this group of people that makes them seem so real. It's possibly because I know the house that inspired the series - when I visited, Jenny took me round the grounds and showed me where everything from the book was meant to be located and when I went to talk to the chickens myself about a problem with my plot, I fully expected to walk into the walled garden and find Thea and Tina there already talking to Gertrude and Tony. However, I firmly believe the main reason for this believability is Jenny's excellent writing and although I was in a rush to read Spring Blossoms, I'm just a little sad that I no longer have it to look forward to.

So now that spring seems to be raising its head, I'm looking forward to being able to start talking about my own writing again, rather than just reviewing other people's. I'll be able to go out for walks again, which always improves my creativity and as my Novel in a Year book is set in a fictional town on the North Essex coast, I'm hoping to be able to make the most of the nicer weather and do some 'on location' writing. There's also the small matter of the edits to make on my own Northmoor-inspired novel and an online magazine to help put together. March is certainly going to be both busy and interesting!

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