this image has become my consolation after a traumatic two months
For someone who was blogging sometimes twice a week, it begs the question as to why I hardly even read the posts of other bloggers at present, let alone write anything myself. There has been a reason, which though not a good excuse, has so sapped my energy and dulled my brain, that I have thought of little else but surviving.
It began the day we returned from the Malvern Spring Gardening Show (Tuesday 12th May), with an article to prepare and submit and 700 photos for my husband to process. I opened my emails to find that the magazine for which I was writing the Malvern Review (a publication for which I had worked for ten years) was to cease publication immediately. No warning. I was told I would be paid if I still wrote and submitted the article which was reassuring, but in no way could it compensate for the fact I had promised to write about some of the garden designers and new companies who featured at the Show. I felt I was letting down such lovely people, which was far worse for me than the loss of work. I know I am not alone in the work turmoil, but it does not lessen the shock and pain.
That was ten weeks ago, and although I have posted the occasional blog to keep my spirits up, most of my time has been spent updating my CV, writing promotional literature and letters and trying to canvas new work. It has been non-stop, without compromising other work already in hand. We seem to have pulled through and are enjoying working with new editors and new genres, though initially I was outside my normal comfort zone. One such was last week when we travelled to Shropshire to cover 'A Foody Retreat in the Shropshire Hills', to be published in due course. I was at last able to relax and for once actually feel as if I was on holiday, even though we were working.
I think the place I loved most was the magical Stokesay Castle and for a significant discovery I made whilst we were there.
peering through an unglazed window slit at the roofline below
That night, I wrote in my travel diary: "I stand high on the roof of the battlemented 'Keep', watching the Hereford to Shrewsbury train speed past far below me (no trains back in the 13th century. And then a sudden flashback: over 50 years ago, I stood at the top of another Keep, in a different castle, looking down on a steam-train chuffing its way through the Berkshire landscape. It was 1954, and I wrote a 'thankyou poem' for my great aunt, whose guest at Donnington I was.
Margaret Wood, whose treatise on medieval domestic architecture is cited as 'further reading' in the English Heritage Guide to Stokesay Castle'. Dear Great Aunt Peggy, now long dead, who nurtured my teenage love of theatrical history. And what a moment, what a place, to re-discover you."
We have been back home now almost a week and the peace of the place has seeped into me, and the quiet of the high Long Mynd. Perhaps I can now put behind me the shock of the magazine closure and the trauma of seeking new work. Perhaps I can also begin to journal again. Open a new window, a new chapter, and move forward again. Meanwhile, I so look forward to catching up on other bloggers' posts; It feels as if I have been away for a long, long time.
part of the peaceful enclosed garden where Raymond and I sat quietly, drinking tea and eating scones with cream
I will not forget 'those blue remembered hills' (A.E. Houseman, from 'A Shropshire Lad') - I discovered that 2009 is the 150th anniversary of Houseman's birth; certainly this area is 'the land of lost content'. I must look out my college anthology and steep myself again in his verse, and climb the steep stairs to my roof-top work-room, and slather paint once more.