My head was not where it was supposed to be last night; in fact, I could have wished it anywhere other than here, so I ended up abandoning pretty much everything I’d had planned and going early to bed with Terry… Pratchett that is, before any eyebrows start lifting. I keep a pile of books beside the bed, but night time reading these days tends to be the old, familiar friends that take little effort.
Gone are the days when I would regularly devour a book cover to cover in a sitting before sleep; by the time I get to bed these days I usually manage a page or two before lights out, so any reading done at this point of the day needs to be familiar enough to keep the plot going even when I have lost it. This, just at present, happens with alarming regularity as both I and the internet run at the pace of an arthritic, nonagenarian tortoise and I’m getting halfway through a job only to find it giving up the ghost with a sigh. This is not good. I’m busy. Even the dog is in the throes of the late summer moult and is not on form.
Mind you, I have found something guaranteed to cheer me up when the frustration sets in. Between growls and grumbles I am re-organising my image files bit by bit. Not a lot to cheer anyone up there, you might think, not with the volume of stuff I have in there these days! But honestly, if you could see them, I promise you couldn’t help but smile.
There are a lot of old files, of course, and they are always good to revisit, but the bulk of the pictures are more recent. Since the birth of the Silent Eye I have travelled much more than I have in the whole of the past twenty years put together. Nowhere exotic, you understand; no warm, tropical beaches, no far distant climes or rain forests… but across the length and breadth of England, with an all too brief foray into Scotland. In all manner of weather…and strangely enough, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Most of the pictures have been taken over the past year and a half, traipsing round the landscape with Stuart gathering information and following the trail of tantalising clues that led us to begin… and continue… writing together. The books really do document our adventures, even though they are written as fiction. The treasure trail of knowledge and understanding and oddly synchronous events is real. Not only do the pictures show the places we have visited, but they document a human journey of discovery; one of a growing connection to the roots of our home.
There has always been, for both of us, that love affair with the land. For me it has been the hills and moors of Yorkshire, my heart’s home, even though I have lived in the south for the last two decades. Yet our travels have opened that for me, and ripples of love for the land now spread out from that centre to encompass a much wider landscape. These isles may be tiny when compared to many countries, but they are incredibly beautiful. An American friend summed it up perfectly when she said that Britain’s beauty is on a human scale. It is small enough for the heart to hold, but big enough to be loved for a lifetime.
It is an odd thing, really, we started writing because of how the land spoke to us and in the books we speak, perhaps, for the ancient life of the land. And so we write…it is a two way relationship. Like any writers we would love to see our books do well, but the biggest prize, the greatest joy is to feel the land come to life for us, and in its voice, we find ours.