I’ve been forced to walk the dog after dark for the last few weeks, as the sun goes down at 4.30pm at the moment and hubbie doesn’t get home until six.
We don’t go across the fields because they’re treacherously slippery with mud and I’m scared of the dark. Not that it’s much lighter round the village since they disconnected half the street lights to save money. But I feel safer with the dog on the lead beside me and knowing I’m surrounded by people eating their tea.
I do feel bad for the dog, because she doesn’t get to run, and she loves so much to run. But her tail still wags all the way round as she catches up on the doggy gossip. (Am I the only one who thinks of sniffing wee as Facebook for dogs?)
This evening it’s drizzling and slightly foggy. The air is full of the patter of water dripping from soggy autumn leaves and tapping on the ground in a staccato tempo. The ivy glistens brightly in the orange glow of a rare street light and other dog walkers loom out of the darkness.
The rattle of the dog’s harness is the only bright clean sound in a misty gloom as all other sounds are deadened by the fog. The smells, though; the smells are in Technicolour. I can smell someone’s mouth watering dinner, which definitely includes caramelised onions. The acrid yet heartening scent of wood smoke fills my nose, overlaid with the beery smell of the pub as I pass.
The fog has it’s own aroma; the scent of mystery stories and nefarious deeds. Wet leaves underfoot give up a smell of mulch and things beginning to rot. In the stories I’m reading at the moment they’re often in the swamp or in noisesome taverns and it’s easy to imagine both as I wander round the village.
There’s something rather strange about being outside, looking in at well-lit kitchens and TV rooms, or the cluttered music room I pass, where there is evidence of practice begun and abandoned.
Security lights blaze into life suddenly and drive away the darkness, while all the while making the shadows deeper and more black. Spreading puddles must be navigated and the uneven pavement trips me up and sends me lurching like a zombie.
With the jingling of the dog harness I feel a bit like Father Christmas on a recon mission before the big day. Strange to think it’s only the absence of the sun that creates this world. In the summer at 6pm the kids are still digging in the sandpit, not playing hide the toy indoors and driving Daddy nutty. I think if I ever decided to write murder mysteries, I would have to learn to tap on my phone without blinding myself in the dark!
I obviously couldn’t take pictures in the dark with my rubbish phone, so have included other ‘night time shots’ from the various villages I have lived in!
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
Claire watched the sun set over the sea from the window of the hostel and breathed out deeply in contentment. As the flaming orb slipped beneath the waves, the sky shone orange and deep, luminous, blue.
What a place for a hostel. Imagine living up here, gazing at that view every day.
Looking round, past the washing line of wetsuits drying in the late sun, she could see the endless sandy beach glistening silver in the dying light. White waves crept into the shore, shining brightly in the gloom.
Claire stretched out tight muscles and smiled as images from the day popped into her mind. After she’d checked in that morning, the hostel manager had mentioned the great surfing to be had down on the beach at the Perranporth surf school.
It had been much easier than her first lesson, and she’d got to her feet almost immediately. It really was like flying, to stand on the waxed board and balance atop the waves as the beach rushed up to meet her. Of all the daft adrenalin activities she’d done for the blog, it was the first one she’d felt remotely good at.
With a sigh, Claire turned away from the view and opened her laptop. She’d forced herself to leave the beach earlier, to try out some of the more family friendly tourist activities, and her notes needed to be written up while they were still fresh. She hoped some of the places would help to entertain the nephews, whose imminent arrival filled her with dread.
Although I’m not sure a cider farm is the place to take a couple of adolescent boys. I seem to remember cider was the first thing I got drunk on: I can’t imagine Robert approving of his ten year old son getting tipsy.
While the ancient laptop warmed up, Claire loaded her emails into her phone, checking to see if Robert had sent his flight details as promised. It still didn’t seem real that she would have two small people to look after in a couple of days. Scanning down the list of messages, her stomach plummeted as she saw an email from her boss.
Great, what does he want? And do I tell him about the boys’ visit? I guess I’d better, but he isn’t going to like it. I’ll be lucky if I don’t get sacked.
She ignored the trembling in her hands as she opened the message.
I hope you are making progress with the report. The Board are asking for reassurance that your work will provide value for money. I have assured them, but I will be sending through your latest rough draft for them to review. Can you send me a copy when you next have internet access?
I’ll be back in the West Country again this weekend, St. Austell this time. I think it would be worth catching up. Will you still be in the area on Saturday?
Let me know your plans
Crap. Claire stared at the message again, trying to read beneath the surface, as she always felt compelled to do with messages from Conor. Catching up to check up on me or renew his advances? Or maybe even say sorry?
She ran her fingers through her hair and glanced out the window at the darkening sky. Had she really believed she could keep her nephews’ visit a secret from her boss? But if she told him now, it would sound like she’d been concealing things. Not good.
Chewing at the inside of her cheek, Claire stared blankly at her phone, picking through words in her mind, trying to find the right ones. The she began to type, frowning at the tiny keys.
I’m glad you emailed. I had a call from my brother yesterday and he needs me to take my nephews for a fortnight. I would have said no, but I saw an opportunity to add an extra layer to my research. Your visitors include children, so travelling with the boys will give me more opportunity to build detail into the report.
I also spoke to my brother about the Gift Aid idea I mentioned in my last update. He believes it wouldn’t be too complicated to set up, with the right interested parties. It’s possible you could spearhead the campaign and bring business as well as consumer interest to the Purbeck area.
The boys are arriving on Saturday but my brother is bringing them down from Exeter, so I will be free to meet you.
She reread her words and hoped the Gift Aid sweetener would be enough for Conor to swallow the news that she was letting her nephews tag along on her research trip.
What’s the worst he can do? Fire me? Would I care all that much?
Looking out at the moon glistening on the water far below her, Claire thought that possibly she wouldn’t.
- Two-thirds of councils turning street lights down, research finds (telegraph.co.uk)
- The Street Light (barefootonrainydays.wordpress.com)
- This Glow-in-the-dark Path Provides an Energy-Free Alternative to Street Lights (enpundit.com)