Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Houses, gardens, books and wool

Well, it’s been a busy time recently, and none of it was writing, though I did fit in the odd bit of knitting, crochet and reading. I’ve had a work project on which was a bit intense, but is now done, and I’ve been helping a relative move into their new house which has required a fair amount not only of box shifting and unpacking, but also ringing workmen and sorting out estimates and orders and all kinds of work. To be fair, the man we had doing the wet rot work turned out to be something of a project manager and looked after the other tradesmen, which was great as the house was not habitable just then. He was a bit of a treasure! I bet he’s pleased to be shot of us, though.

Now it’s time to do a bit more gardening: the place is hopelessly overgrown and the allotment is rather undergrown, with two of the beds helpfully cleared by the incumbent rabbit population. My plot has been selected for the site of the humane rabbit trap, but fortunately I don’t have to supervise it. When I was last there I did still have courgette plants, potatoes, nibbled onions and broad beans, and very timid mangetout. At home I have tomatoes, peas, more potatoes, and peppers – and aubergines and squash if they ever get to doing anything interesting.

The knitting includes an Aran jersey, size XXL, to be finished by November, a tunic and a Norwegian jersey to be finished whenever, and a guest bed blanket which now only requires sewing on to its backing. There are as usual also gloves and seafarers’ hats around the place for casual knitting moments – the seafarers’ hats (along with socks and gloves) are for the Mission to Seafarers, to be distributed amongst those sailors who set off on a plane from the Philippines to join their ship in Aberdeen dressed in shorts and sandals, and are consequently a little chilly.

Reading has been varied. I’ve just decided to give up on a Stuart McBride – not a Logan Macrae one, and therefore lacking the humour that makes me go on forgiving the darkness. It’s just too noir. Started Post Mortem by Kate London, whom I saw at Granite Noir, and I’m enjoying it so far. TheHerring Seller’s Apprentice was daft and fun, with some dark insights into publishing. A Clash of Spheres was deeply enjoyable as usual, except for a couple of modernisms and a dearth of punctuation (reminds me of that Billy Connolly monologue where someone tells him breathlessly about Bonnie Prince Charlie coming to Dumfries and taking the shoes off the people, and he says ‘Listen, son, for Christmas – ask for a comma.’) She will keep ending on cliff edges, though: good, but I like to feel I’ve finished a book. The Ghosts of Ardenthwaite was better than its predecessor, I thought: more rounded, more satisfying, with a fairly believable plot. Midnight Crossroad was not, I thought at first, my kind of thing – not really interested in Midwest small town America – then I realised why it was a bit weird, and enjoyed it much more. This Crazy Thing ICall My Life was fun and touching in a balanced, well-written way as ever, while Long Spoon was a bit of a departure in some ways for the author but as always a satisfying read.

Now, perhaps, I can get back to work on the standalone I wrote in 2000 and am editing, and on the next Hippolyta Napier, provisionally called ‘A Murderous Game’, and due out in early December (but not yet started, help!). I’m also still thinking about a series set in 1785, and another one set in a very different time period which someone suggested to me but will need some considerable research to make it work. Again it might be a question of writing the first one and seeing how they go – though I tried that with Hippolyta and wrote two to see how they would go! Oh, well.

The mailing list subscribers are reading the novella, A Dark Night at Midsummer (at least, I suppose they are: perhaps they just wanted to use it as some kind of psychoanalysis tool). I need to take a week and do all the mending and sewing that is blocking up the study – and we hope this summer to move some rooms around so that my study is in fact in a different room (not something I’m particularly looking forward to, but maybe it will work!). This will involve – hey, more decorating and fixing and wallpaper ordering, and there we are, full circle!

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