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Tuesday, 31 March 2020

We return from twenty-eight days alone in our Scottish retreat - to self-isolation in town

View of Ben Resipol, Scottish Highlands

We are back from our month-long creative retreat in the Highlands. Twenty-seven rainy days, and one snowy one. No excuse for not writing. 

I’ve been quiet for some time. I had to be. Uppermost in my mind these past six months has been the continuing ugliness surrounding Sherlock The Musical. I am still not at liberty to go into detail. Suffice it to say that the lawyers are on the case. One day I will tell my version – although who will be around to hear it remains a matter for conjecture.

Okay, self-isolation. We are among the fortunate ones. One, we have each other. Two, our house is large enough for us to avoid each other when we need to. Three, I have work on my desk – one or two paying propositions, a new novel (on which more later), and news that the book I co-wrote with Robert Stone (Chasing Black Gold) is being looked at yet more closely by movie producers.

We only set this garden out last March; it is slowly bedding in.

How else are we lucky? Well, we have a garden (above). We live in an area with few recorded cases of coronavirus so far. And we can still walk, through mature woodland and over rough pasture, to our allotment (below), where we plan the year’s fruit and vegetables.

Another young garden. All rubbish and half bricks when  we took it over, but the fruit bushes (protected by cardboard) are getting established and the lower half is thoroughly manured.

Shopping isn’t as easy as it was. Bread flour – I have been baking my own since 1971 with hardly a break – is hard to find. However, A. came home the other day with a bag of pasta flour and reminded me that we had a hand-cranked machine in the cupboard. Indeed we had. It had been there for several years, unused. So out it came.

Linguine - in case it's not immediately apparent!

I won’t say that the result filled me with a desire to make all our own spaghetti and lasagne henceforth, but it was encouraging. We’ll try again.

In a few days’ I shall talk about the new novel, which announced itself to me while we were in our Scottish retreat. I came home with 20,000 words, very wet boots and a lot of questions.

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