©Simon Smalley 2022

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Living my literary dream










After I posted a video of Roald Dahl and his 'writing hut' to my Facebook page, I was asked if I have a special place where I write. I am extremely fortunate that I have. Most of my book was written here in Ariadne’s, our summerhouse which I named in honour of Ariadne Oliver, the mystery-writing associate of Hercule Poirot. You may wonder why, and the answer is that we share a love of writing and are fiendishly devoted to eating apples, although unlike Ariadne, I never leave apples half-eaten. There is never a scattering of bronzed cores in the summerhouse. I am so apple-crazy and eat the lot: everything but the stalk (although that has been known before, albeit accidentally) and with cavalier disregard I ignore my grandmother’s warning that if I eat the pips then an apple tree will sprout from my head.

In spring, summer, and the early days of autumn, the doors and windows of Ariadne’s are open wide, as shown in the photograph. With the arrival of winter, they remain firmly shut, and the cast iron log burner provides heat. Our several free-range chickens go about their business, pecking and scratching for insects and grubs, and are remorselessly kept in line by our Russian Orloff whom we named ‘Lurch’ due to her astonishing resemblance to the character in Australian soap opera, ‘Prisoner: Cell Block H’.

During summer we keep our eyes peeled for the buzzards that effortlessly circle on the rising heat thermals just in case they decide to swoop and help themselves to a free lunch. Our handsomely elegant Belgian Shepherd Dog, Mister Gus, is always on high alert for foraging vulpine miscreants and rodent ne’er-do-wells whilst his companion and best mate, our working Bearded Collie, Nancy, potters or snoozes. John, my partner of over thirty-five years, is the official sounding board when I've completed a chapter, and always provides unbiased reactions and contemplation of my words.

Whilst searching for a temporarily illusive word, or pausing the Niagara-esque flow of prose from my brain to the trusty Chromebook perched on my lap, I sip turmeric tea flavoured with star anise and orange blossom, and nibble the raggedly ripped leaves of a fresh green salad bejewelled with ruby pomegranate seeds, feeling thankful that I’m not pretentious.

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