Me and Nell, our 46 year old Massey Ferguson tractor, have just been rocking and rolling through the undergrowth in old almond grove.
The long-established fennel and other assorted wild plants that colonise everywhere the moment our back is turned (it’s a year since I cleared those terraces) cloaked the furrows and pits dug by wild boar. The cutter on the back of the tractor threw the sandy earth in all directions, but we got through.
We are late with the harvest, but all is almost clear for the gathering of what almonds the dying grove can offer. We will strim close to the trees now, set the nuts out to dry, then bag them next week, when thoughts will turn to bottling the 450 litres of wine in the barn. That must be done so we can clear the area and clean equipment in readiness for the grape harvest at the end of September. It is a dizzy time of the year, always.
So, back and forth I trundled this morning, heavy with a cold but still able to scent the cut fennel. There is a lot to think about. The proofing of my next book is almost done, yet I am still finding things wrong. Shaking The Tree is due to be published on December 1, with book signings being planned for Oxfordshire, Norfolk, Yorkshire and possibly north London. I worry that it will be as well received as No Going Back – Journey to Mother’s Garden, which has sold nearly 32,000 copies now.
And there is something else to worry about. Screen East, a key funder of the Moon Daisy feature film project, based on my last book Count The Petals Of The Moon Daisy, has gone into receivership. I will write again soon about the challenges of getting a film made, but in the meantime, if anyone has a spare million in the bank and wants to be part of a project about English American history and the joyful truth of rural England, specifically the Norfolk Broads, then get in touch.
I’ll tell you something, though. There is nothing quite like an hour with Nell on the high terraces on a crisp September morning to clear the head and settle the heart.