No time for Internet today

Deadlines approach. Getting the guest room ready for my parents’ visit and getting the book out at the end of March. Ideally before next Wednesday, when they visit. Or at least, have it primed and ready to send by then. I can do the last few stages while they sleep, I’ve had plenty of practice now.

There is a very real danger that I will meet two deadlines in the same month. This is not something you should expect to see very often. Halley’s Comet is more frequent an event than this.

There is also gardening. There is a lot of garden and it’s all starting to grow. Since the weather is currently fine, and since the garden was neglected for at least a year or possibly more, I have to keep it under control.

If a small garden goes wild it can take a few days to put it right. If this one goes wild, well, might as well get used to living in a jungle because I’d have no chance!

The landlord took pity on me and sent in professional gardeners for two days of brutal slash-and-burn gardening to get me started. They did a grand job of weed clearance and hacking back trees, but they hacked back some a lot further than I would have.

They absolutely butchered an old holly tree. While out tidying up that part of the garden I noticed something they had uncovered. Embedded in the tree is a large deer antler – it’s been there so long the tree has grown around it and it’s not going to move now. On the antler is a skull.

Now I know nobody is going to believe me but I honestly didn’t do that. It was already here. One of the points of the large antler has been hacked off, I assume the gardeners thought they were pruning a branch because it’s coated with green algae. The horns of the skull have suffered similar chainsaw damage but it’s otherwise intact.

They left it in place. I plan to leave it alone too. Apart from taking a few photos. This is a ready-made anthology cover for a later one, and a garden ornament I would have put up anyway if it wasn’t already there.

It might go some way to explaining the mystery of the room that had gouges in the walls and three locks on the outside of the door but I would probably be best not to delve too deeply into that.

There are other, um, Interesting Things to be seen in the garden. More on those later.

I just hope the holly tree recovers. It was a particularly impressive one.

Anyway. I have to put out author contracts and ‘about the author’ pages (if you haven’t sent me one and you have something specific you want in it, let me know). There is still time for one more story, if you have an Easter idea, but the whole thing must be assembled and finalised by next Wednesday so don’t hang around! I’ll have to be sociable for a week, no matter the toll it takes.

I will soon be looking for an illustrator. I can’t pay much yet, but I think some illustrations would be a Good Thing To Have in some books. There’s no time to do it for this anthology but it would be fun, in a future one, to have the stories all set up in time for an illustrator to put a picture to each story.

Maybe Halloween. The Tree Skull Anthology could be a working title.


5 thoughts on “No time for Internet today

  1. I just hope the holly tree recovers. It was a particularly impressive one.

    When I was a lad, we lived in a house with two acres of land, and part of the border was a very impressive holly hedge. About 15 feet high, 40 odd feet long and heaven knows how thick – one doesn’t investigate holly hedges to any great extent. One summer we were plagued with wasps, and father tracked down the nest to somewhere under the holly hedge. Being an enterprising (and careful with his money) man, he decided he’d smoke the buggers out. I’m not sure he had any knowledge about the process (I suspect not), but he managed to get rid of the wasps. Utterly and completely.

    Unfortunately, he also managed to get rid of the holly hedge.

    I never realised that holly burned so well or so spectacularly. Crackles, pops and fizzes on steroids, and flames shooting hundreds (or at least, it looked like hundreds to twelve year old me) of feet in the air! It was wonderful! Better than Guy Fawkes by far! And to add to the excitable joy of a twelve year old boy, the fire brigade was called to put it out! Wonderful! I can’t remember having so much fun in years. My very own drama, on my doorstep, with all the bells and blue flashing lights and firemen with hoses telling everyone to stand back – it was just like the movies!. I was rapt!

    The holly hedge, however, never recovered its former glory. Not while I lived there, anyway. Just a blackened patch where it once stood. And to add to Dad’s ignominy, he had to pay for a fence to replace the hedge, poor bugger!

    However, he did give us a day to remember, 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t worry about your Holly. In two of the woods I do conservation work in we have a major job keeping it in control. It is a thug of a plant. Spreads by clonal sprouting from the roots and will sucker at the base of those cut stems next year. It tends to shade out everything below it and if you want diversity in a woodland ( stuff people like like bluebells andpand stuff wildlife likes like red champion’s, woodruff etc) you have to be ruthless with the Holly. Even brambles stand no chance with Holly.

    I agree even fresh green cut it burns like petrol! Must be the wax on the leaves

    Those stems look pretty thick. Woodturners (like me) love holly, it’s a dense, white wood, makes amazing turned fruit. Better practice would be to take them down to floor level (coppicing) to encourage suckering and pass the cut stems on to your friendly local woodturner. Same with many garden ornamental trees and fruit trees. Many have very decorative woods, lilac and laburnham especially so. An inch a year to dry so patience is needed but results are worth it.


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