I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
From “Walden”, by Henry David Thoreau (condensed)
Spring came late in Lithuania this year. Winter didn’t start in earnest until January, but it found its feet quickly and dug in hard. Snow fell on top of snow and temperatures held at about -19 C (-2 F) until the end of February. It was beautiful to behold, even if it cost a small fortune in heating bills! Continue reading “Wildflowers”
I envy animals sometimes. They live life in the moment. If they feel like eating, they eat. If they feel like sleeping, they sleep. And while they’re alert for danger and will bolt if they feel the need, they return to their relaxed state very quickly. No need to dwell on that last danger. No need to worry about the next danger until it presents itself. They are blissfully unaware that their world is full of danger, and that tomorrow might never come. Continue reading “Living in the Moment”
“You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen…🎼”
“Not again, Robert – WE’RE NOT REINDEER!” Continue reading “Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen…”
We are lucky to have so much wildlife right on our doorstep. Roe deer are very flightly and quite hard to sneak up on – they are usually on the run and out of range before you can get your camera to your hand. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch one in flight. They are dainty and beautiful, particularly against a snowy backdrop. Continue reading “Roe Deer Doe”
I find snow very soothing. It dulls sounds, softens light, quietens the mind. Having a dog is great for getting you out of the house and into the fresh air, even when the temperatures have fallen well below zero. I walk about 4 km each morning, and even though I regularly take the same route, I always experience something new – ice crystals sparkling on fine branches, the way the light plays with the shadows, the crunch of the snow underfoot. The pale morning sings. Continue reading “Pale Morning Sun”
One of the greatest joys of writing books for kids (or for any audience, to be honest) is getting positive feedback from readers. It takes a long time to write a book, and even longer to get it published, so hearing that people have read and enjoyed your work is extremely gratifying. Continue reading “Ask the Author – Millie’s Questions”
I know lots of people are feeling “stuck” right now, with all the travel restrictions that are in place. I managed to make it to the seaside a few days ago. It was the first time I’d ever seen snow on sand and slushy ice at the water’s edge. Between the sky, the sea and the clear air, it was magical. If I have to be stuck somewhere, I’m glad I’m stuck here. Continue reading “Stuck in Colder Weather”
I’ve waited so long to take these pictures. I know they’re not perfect, but when one of your favourite animals strolls out from the trees a few metres away, you take whatever photos you can get, regardless of the strong shadows. Red deer feature prominently in my middle-grade novel, Guardian of Giria, and I have been seeking them out for about two years, mostly to no avail. This hind posed nicely for a moment, then trotted off across the road and disappeared back into the trees. I had just put my camera down when I realised she was being trailed by her newborn calf – the tiny creature on spindly legs looked like it was only hours old. I had no time to focus, so please excuse the blurry shot. I still think it’s cute as can be! Continue reading “Red Deer Hind with Calf”
There are days when I go out to take photos and seeing nothing of interest. Perhaps a few roe deer that run off as I approach or a fox skulking by a distant hedgerow. I regularly see birds, but most are small and skittish and have moved on before I can lift my camera. Once in a while, though, I get to see a true spectacle. Continue reading “Bean Goose Migration”
Driving through the countryside at the moment, the air is filled with the song of these tiny little birds. I scan the skies, I scan the fields, but they are so hard to spot. Finally, I see one. I sit and watch. I listen. It is magical. Continue reading “Skylark”
Our house is nestled at the edge of our village, facing out onto fields and forests for as far as the eye can see. Sitting in my front room, I regularly see buzzards swooping and soaring over the fields. Generally, they are quite far in the distance, but occasionally they do come quite close. I was lucky once to be in the garden, camera in hand, when one flew over the house. Most of the time, though, they are gone from range before I have time to grab my camera. Continue reading “A Buzzard Soars”
One question that has come up a number of times when chatting with readers about Guardian of Giria is why I made wolves the “bad guys”. And my answer is this – the wolves are not the “bad guys,” they are the antagonists. And those are not the same thing. Let me explain. (Please note that this post contains slight spoilers as to the content of the book.) Continue reading “Why the Wolves are not the Bad Guys”
Oh, the joy! Oh, the sweet, sweet joy! Finally, after years of searching and waiting, I got to see a wild boar in the flesh. But not just one boar – a whole sounder (group) of sows and piglets! And the experience was everything I hoped it would be! Continue reading “Wild Boar Feeding Project, Tauragė (Lithuania)”
I’m delighted to announce that “Guardian of Giria” is now available from Vaga bookshop in Tauragė!
Su dideliu džiaugsmu pranešu kad nuo šiandien, “Guardian of Giria” galite įsigyti knygyne “Vaga” Bažnyčių gatvė 6. Tauragėje. Continue reading “Vaga Bookshop, Tauragė”
A common buzzard (paprastasis suopis) soaring above my garden. Look at that sky for the last day of October! Continue reading “Common Buzzard Soaring”
My faithful companion, Džekis (Jekis). He is seventeen (and a half!) years old and still going strong. His new winter coat is just gleaming as he basks in the last of the autumn sun. Continue reading “Companion”
This week, I visited the Waldorf Green School in the village of Skirgiškės, about an hour north of Vilnius. The school is set about two kilometres from the village, deep within the forest, where it is surrounded by paddocks and lots and lots of trees. The classrooms, all built of wood and each with their own woodburning stove, are cosy and welcoming. Continue reading “Waldorf Green School, Vilnius”
There is something soothing about September. After the build-up of spring and the crescendo of summer, things are slowly starting to wind down. The ouch is gone out of the sun but it is still warm enough to be outside, sometimes even in shorts and a t-shirt. The evenings are noticeably shorter but there is still enough light to walk the dog after dinner. By 9 pm it is fully dark, perfect for settling down with a good book or a movie without the guilty feeling that you should be doing something more “constructive”. Continue reading “Sparkling Webs”
This is how to do September – high tea in a high hide! Continue reading “High Tea in a High Hide!”
It appears our area is a congregation site for common cranes (grus grus) – thousands of them gather each autumn in the fields around our village, getting ready for the long flight south. They are a little skittish, so getting close can be tricky, but they are a magnificent sight to behold.
Continue reading “Cranes in the Mist”
Strictly speaking, this is a common frog, but that seems like too plain a name for a creature so beautiful, and one who looks so at home on the forest floor, surrounded by moss, twigs and other detritus. So I’m calling him a forest frog!
Continue reading “Forest Frog”
This morning, I spent the best part of an hour rescuing this hedgehog from certain death. Continue reading “Hedgehog Rescue”
‘How could books about wizards, werewolves, hobbits and fairies be desirable, but books about real-life animals not be? Have the animal books that I loved so much in my youth died a death?’
My guest post for Mairead Hearne of the wonderful Swirl and Thread. Continue reading “Are Animal Books Waning in Popularity?”
I have spread myself too thin. Somehow I have ended up with 5 Facebook pages, 2 Twitter accounts and 2 blogs, none of which is currently well attended. So, in an attempt to simplify my life, I am cutting back! Continue reading “Amalgamation”
Giria Wood is a large forest with a healthy population of animal families, many of whom feature in the story. Some are main characters and others are just family members who are mentioned once or twice. Together, they make quite a cast of characters. Continue reading “Characters in Guardian of Giria”
The Kindle version of Guardian of Giria is currently on sale for just 99c / 99p.
Available from Amazon here.
A sample from the book is now available here.
Continue reading “Guardian of Giria – Read A Sample”
The first batch of hardbacks arrived today and they are totally gorgeous (even if I do say so myself!)
Continue reading “The Hardbacks Have Arrived!”
A red deer stag with a massive crown of antlers is a very impressive sight. And indeed, that is part of their function – to make the stag look more impressive to the ladies. It takes a lot of testosterone to grow those antlers and it takes a lot of food to nourish them, so large antlers are a good indication of the virility and strength of the male. Unfortunately for the stags, they lose their antlers every year and then grow a new set. And while they’re between sets of antlers, they look just like the girls!
Continue reading “Red Deer Antlers: Annual Regrowth”
It feels like I’ve been waiting such a long time to bring you this news and I am very, very excited. On Tuesday, May 8th 2018 I will be releasing my very first novel, Guardian of Giria.
Continue reading “Introducing: Guardian of Giria!”