At journey’s end

This time tomorrow, I will be on a plane somewhere between London and Singapore, on my way home to my babies (whom I’ve started to dream about in vivid detail every night) and my house, car, and cats. My usual response to impending travel, especially long-haul, is to curl in a foetal ball all day and worry about everything that can go wrong. But today is the first fine day in a while, so I said to myself: imagine that you have been given one day here in the Cotswolds in spring; you wouldn’t spend it in bed watching television.

So I went walking up the road and through the mud to Stow-on-the-wold (nearest village: Anglo-Saxon for “place on the wood”), and then I sat in the garden with a cup of tea and gazed out over the rapeseed flowers shining brilliantly yellow in the sun, and tonight I intend to head up to The Fox for a pint of Marston’s Pedigree and a pub meal and YES I will eat the sticky toffee pudding because it’s my last day in England.

But the best part of the day was returning to the churchyard and sitting under that centuries-old yew tree, and listening for voices. Travelling Companion snapped this picture of me, authentically working. The story is called “The Lark and the River” and it’s all about an old yew tree and the building of a new church in a pagan place in the Anglo-Norman period. I don’t know what I was waiting to hear, but I closed my eyes and listened hard. I heard the wind in the trees, birdsong, traffic far away. The wind was cold and I came out in goosebumps. And I heard it: the first line of the story, and with it came a whole avalanche of other ideas. I scribbled them all down.

And for all that I bang on about hard work and craft and sticking at it, sometimes writing really IS magic like that. When that kind of magic happens, I think I’m the luckiest woman alive.

I’ll be home within 48 hours. Get the place tidy for me, will you?

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