One morning, sitting at my computer and trying not to be constantly distracted by the fabulous view from my window, I stopped sending emails and started writing about my home on Clee Hill. I wanted to put into words how I felt about such a wild and beautiful place and the emotional ties I felt with Shropshire, and Ludlow in particular. I had no intention of writing a book or getting involved with writing groups and competitions, but somehow one page led to another and here I find myself half-way through my book A Head Full of Budgerigars.
The cottage on the hill was just a few miles from Lily’s former home in Chumley, a small market town thirty miles from nowhere. At every narrow road and lane, the beautiful Shropshire countryside was visible: the sweeping emerald and gold hills beyond the church, the allotments in the hollow, the embroidery of fields glimpsed between the houses and the dark fairytale forests in the distance. The town boasted a ruined castle, crumbling city walls and towering horse chesnuts that scattered conkers on the cobbled streets. This was where her children had made rope swings across the river Tunny and walked the treacherous weir, caught bright copper slow worms on the sunny banks and found knobbly toads like big fat spuds among the fallen rocks.
Writing a book is rather like trying to hold a writhing fish on the end of a thin line at the tip of a very long pole. That is to say, control is hard to maintain and every now and then it gets away from you. Then of course there is the problem of what to do with it if you finally reel it in.
Until I started writing about my home, I hadn’t realised the significance of that word to me. I began to reflect on the many places I had lived, on my family and childhood, on relationships and marriage, on good times and bad. I have tried to weave a fairy story with heroes and villains, humour and sadness, because that is the story of all our lives.