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The Year in Review

October is an odd time to review the year, but it is the time when I set my mind to my new writing project, so I thought it would be a good idea to look back over the past twelve months to see what, if anything, has been achieved.

The past twelve months have been strange for everyone. We had to get used to doing things differently, or not doing at all the things we usually expect or like to do.

Then, having got used to that, we had to ease ourselves back into something like the old patterns again, but carrying with us the precautions and extra awareness that have become second nature.

Like everyone, I saw much less of family and friends. When we did see each other we did it in carefully controlled numbers, outdoors. We had ‘nights out’ with friends via Zoom. Birthdays came and went, even quite special ones, without the fanfare or celebrations that we had planned.

I’m so grateful to the key workers who kept us going, especially the delivery men and women who brought our post and parcels and our groceries.

We moved house, and that gave us a whole new canvas of jobs to be done on home turf. But we missed having a party to get to know our neighbours, and, for me, it took a long time for me to think of the new place as ‘home’ because I had no happy memories of it filled with my loved ones.

I wrote two books during the pandemic, because, well, what else was there to do? And, strangely, the themes of isolation, of shrinking away from others, of being thrown onto our own resources all emerged in my work.

The Lady in the Veil by Allie Cresswell

The House in the Hollow by Allie Cresswell

Our new place has an extensive garden and we spent a great deal of time reconfiguring the kitchen garden, introducing raised beds and refurbishing the polytunnel. We planted a wide variety of vegetables, not all of which were a success, but most of which yielded a goodly crop. I say ‘we’ here, but in fact my husband does most of the work. I’m called in for consultation, approval, appreciation, and for the odd bit of heavy lifting.

Then the really hard work began, because all we had grown had to be picked, stored, pickled, frozen, made into jams and chutneys or otherwise preserved. This is where I do come into my own; harvesting the veggies every day and then sitting in the kitchen to peel and chop, slice and dice, pickle and stew, blanch and freeze. I like to listen to audiobooks as I plough my way through the pounds of produce. Of this, more next time.

Not much writing got done during this period, but I did set about reformatting six of my books into large print. This was much more of a battle that you might imagine and I fear that, on occasion, there was some swearing. However, at last it was done. These books can be bought from Amazon and also ordered from your local bookshop, as they are listed with InghamSpark, which supplies independent bookshops. You can also order a copy from your local library. Large print books are ideal gifts for those who need a bigger font size to enjoy reading.

See the links below to purchase any of these books in large print format.

When we moved here there was a hen run, but it needed a bit of repair. We inherited three hens and then re-homed four more. Seeing them scratch about the place, and collecting the eggs each morning, was a real delight. Unfortunately, though, a mink got in to the coop and killed them all. Once we had got over the shock and appalling waste of it, we radically reviewed security and spent a lot of hours, and quite a lot of money, reinforcing the coop by digging out the ground and burying galvanised steel mesh half a meter below the surface level and up the sides of the coop so that no digging animal could get inside. We meshed the roof too. At last, we were able to re-home eight more lovely girls: Hermione, Helena, Heather, Holly, Hildegarde, Harriet, Hazel and (of course) Henrietta.

Now autumn is here and my thoughts are turning to my next book, which will be contemporary fiction, set right here, in this remote corner of West Cumbria that we call home. It will be inspired by the landscape and the weather. We have a lot of both of those! More, I cannot tell you because the story is not written yet!

Purchase Links for Large Print Books. In the US: Mrs Bates of Highbury The Other Miss Bates Dear Jane House in the Hollow The Lady in the Veil Tall Chimneys In the UK: Mrs Bates of Highbury The Other Miss Bates Dear Jane The House in the Hollow The Lady in the Veil Tall Chimneys You will find these links, as well as links to normal sized paperbacks and ebook versions of all my books, on the relevant pages of my website.


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