On the edge of a pond,

Today I’m going to share an excerpt from the first e-book I published, Farholm. The story takes place over two weeks – Deke goes to Farholm Island where her late husband lived as a boy to try and find out more about the man she married; when he was killed in a road accident she discovered he had secrets which affected her after his death. When she gets to Farholm, she meets Michael who also has a particular reason for staying on the island.

In this excerpt, Michael and Deke have travelled up to an old village up in the hills which has become an alternative community, the members adopting new names and following a seemingly harmless ecological/Mother Natural/Earth religion. Deke and Michael have a terrible row and she storms out of the little studio where they have been looking at paintings and photographs, into a dense fog. As Deke is on crutches because she has a broken ankle, it is possibly not the most sensible thing to do…

Deke hobbled swiftly down the stable, flung open the door and rushed out into the fog, she would go back to the cafe and phone Tom or Barbara Crewe or Sean, anyone to rescue her, to take her back to her cottage and she would pack and run away. She blundered on and she heard Michael somewhere calling her, his voice oddly directionless in the obscurity. She came up against a wall and followed it, passing an unlit window and came to a door. She banged but there was no response, it wasn’t the cafe. Michael was still calling her name and then she heard other voices. Quite close at hand a woman said

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, Deke,” she answered because the voice sounded familiar.

“Where are you?”

Deke stumbled on to where the woman seemed to be. There was grass beneath her feet, she had strayed out of the confines of the village. She was very frightened. Something moved in the fog in front of her and thankfully she hurried towards it only to collide with a startled cow. She turned and tried to go back the way she had come. She had no idea which way she was facing, towards the village or away and into the hidden wilderness.

“Where are you?” said the woman again.

“Here.”

She stumbled on and suddenly her crutch sunk into mud. She was on the edge of a pond, the pond she had seen in the photo of the children. She had staggered into the cow trampled ooze and  slithered and stuck, her crutches pushing down into the smelly slime.

“I’m by the pond,” she called, her voice sharp with panic and fear. Deke looked across the dull grey water and could just make out a clump of reeds.

She was shoved violently and she slipped and fell with a great splash. She floundered and thrashed desperately as a foot pressed down on her back, between her shoulder blades. Then suddenly it was gone and she turned onto her back, hacking and coughing as she tried to sit up. Then the pond seemed full of other people and she was pulled up, hawking and spitting.

“Oh stars and moon! Are you alright?” Lark was wrapping her tartan around Deke  and there was a chorus of concern from the others who had appeared. Michael had pulled her out. Had he pushed her in?

If you want to find out why Deke and Michael were in the village, who pushed her into the pond and tried to drown her, and what happened next, here is a link to Farholm:

Foggy

It’s foggy today… well, being by the sea we might talk about a sea-fret or haar but I’m not sure technically that is what we have here now… I can’t find the origins of ‘fret’ used in this way, it seems to have arrived in the nineteenth century, so perhaps is a colloquial word from somewhere… a haar is a very specific east coast winter sea fog… although now I think it is used everywhere by the sea; it is of Dutch/Germanic origin, so no doubt Dutch and German traders brought it to the east coast of England and now it has spread across to the east coast, so that any cold nasty fog coming off the sea is a haar!

A few synonyms I came across while looking it up: mist, mistiness, fogginess, haar, smog, murk, murkiness, haze, haziness, gloom, gloominess, sea fret, pea-souper, brume, fume and i am sure there are many more, and many, many more dialect words.

Fog is a useful device for writers, and I think I have used it twice.

In the first novel I published, Deke is staying on Farholm Island and she goes exploring; she reaches a village up on the top of the hills and then the fog comes down:

Deke hobbled swiftly down the stable, flung open the door and rushed out into the fog, she would go back to the cafe and phone someone, anyone to rescue her, to take her back to her cottage and she would pack and run away. The fog was thicker than anything Deke had ever experienced, it was quite frightening, like a disembodied entity pushing up against her face, its cold breath chilling her skin and dewing her hair.
She blundered on and she heard Michael somewhere calling her, his voice oddly directionless in the obscurity. She came up against a wall and followed it, passing an unlit window and came to a door. She banged but there was no response, it wasn’t the cafe. Michael was still calling her name and then she heard other voices. Quite close at hand a woman said
“Who is it?”
“Its me, Deke,” she answered because the voice sounded familiar.
“Where are you?”
Deke stumbled on to where the woman seemed to be. There was grass beneath her feet, she had strayed out of the confines of the village. She was very frightened. Something moved in the fog in front of her and thankfully she hurried towards it only to collide with a startled cow. She turned and tried to go back the way she had come. She had no idea which way she was facing, towards the village or away and into the hidden wilderness.
“Where are you?” said the woman again.
“Here.”
She stumbled on and unexpectedly her crutch sunk into mud. She was on the edge of a pond, the pond she had seen in the photo of the children. She had staggered into the cow trampled ooze and she slithered and stuck, her crutches pushing down into the smelly slime.
“I’m by the pond,” she called, her voice sharp with panic and fear.
“Which side? Can you see across it?”
Deke looked across the dull grey water and could just make out a clump of reeds. She was shoved violently and she slipped and fell with a great splash. She floundered and thrashed desperately as a foot pressed down on her back, between her shoulder blades. Then it was gone and she turned onto her back, hacking and coughing as she tried to sit up. Then the pond seemed full of other people and she was pulled up, hawking and spitting.

If you haven’t read my book, Farholm, here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/FARHOLM-Lois-Elsden-ebook/dp/B007JMDAFO/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1464093893&sr=8-5&keywords=lois+elsden

and In The Double Act, Genet hurries out to find Dr Herrick who she desperately wants to speak to:

Genet stood on the back doorstep smelling the early morning and the salty milky air. She had a peculiar urge to walk out into the wetness and she gave into it and stepped barefoot onto the terrace and onto the lawn. The fog was so dense she couldn’t see the top floor of the hotel.

Her feet were cold but it was perversely pleasant and she had an urge to lie down on the wet grass. Her skin was cold and droplets had formed on strands of auburn hair hanging down her forehead. She remembered standing by the sea wall with Dr Herrick, shivering and pressing herself against him.

Footsteps crunched down the drive; he was going to the sea. She hurried back to the house and ran into the bedroom, then ran out of the hotel and had to follow the hedge and the neighbour’s garden walls, the fog was so dense. She walked along the wire fence of the little park and playground and came to the white walls of the coastguard cottages. She crossed over to the sea wall but could see nothing but the grassy banks leading down to the beach. She followed the wall round until she came to the slope down to the little harbour and the fisherman’s huts.

Through the dense fog came voices.

“Hello,” she called. The bait shop was open and a couple of men sat on the step.

“It’s Genet, isn’t it?” It was Heath’s father, his boat somewhere out in the mist.

“Hello, have you seen someone come down here to swim?” she asked breathlessly.

The two men were wearing waterproofs, two old geezers smoking their pipes and talking fish.

“Yes, he comes every morning. He’s over on the other side, he swims off the end of the point and across the bay to Green Rock. Does it every day. Swims like a fish though I told him not to go out today, too dangerous in this fog,” Heath’s father lit his pipe.

“I don’t think he cared, he looked suicidal. If he doesn’t come back I won’t be surprised,” added the other man gloomily. “One of those moody types if you ask me. What is it, manic-depressive is it?” He puffed on his pipe. “First he used to come down he hardly said a word, nodded and that was it. Then we’ve had a sunny couple of months, him whistling as he walked and chatty as anything. Now the last few weeks his face has been as black as sin.”

If you haven’t read, The Double Act, here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Double-Act-think-romance-story-ebook/dp/B01349UBHA/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1489055000&sr=8-7&keywords=lois+elsden

Driving with your eyes shut

Yesterday I had a little incident in the car… I’m fine but sadly the car isn’t, however, this is not about me but about other drivers. The upshot of the incident was that I was parked, quite safely at the side of a road, hazard lights on, waiting for a pick-up truck.

I was sitting, annoyed with myself, but fine, with nothing to do but wait. The road is quite narrow,but there was plenty of room for a car in both directions to pass me, although a van or bus might have to wait a few moments. It’s not a busy road, but busy enough. It’s perfectly straight and runs from our village, parallel to the  sea and straight, literally, into town.

It being the 1st of December the weather was wintry, and very foggy; the street lights weren’t on yet but the light was beginning to fade. The visibility was ok-ish, and as I said, I was perfectly safe. However, I was amazed at the number of cars driving with only side lights on, black and c=dark coloured cars barely visible until they were quite near; what shocked me even more was the number of cars with no lights on! Even if it hadn’t been foggy, as late afternoon turned to dusk and evening, they should have had them on!

I had a while to wait, so sat thinking about things; a white van coming in the opposite direction came towards me – it did have its lights on, to be fair, but it pulled up on the other side of the road, almost opposite me. OK, it was partly on the pavement, but even so, with me marooned where I was, it meant that there was only room on the actual road for one car to pass at once… late afternoon means lots of traffic as people go home… So there was a hold-up while this bloke delivered a few parcels to the flats beside him… he only needed to have parked ten yards further on and all would have been well… parcels delivered he hopped in his van and off he went.

A little while later, a lady stopped her car directly opposite mine to disembark some passengers – directly opposite. At least the van driver has pulled onto the pavement to allow bigger vehicles through… not this lady… Again she could have pulled up just a little way further on, and in fact she could have pulled into the forecourt of the flats!

At last big flashing lights arrived, a pick-up truck as welcome as a gaily lit Christmas tree, and I was taken home by a very nice driver,and we spent the journey complaining about other drivers. We agreed that some drivers might as well just shut their eyes!

Haar-haar!

Living by the sea at this time of year the haar is a common presence; November is renowned as the season of ‘Mists and mellow fruitfulness’, but along the coast we have more of it. The word haar is interesting, for some reason I thought it was Scandinavian, but it probably isn’t: haar is used along the coast of the North Sea, and mainly in eastern Scotland, and  north-east  England. Variants include har, hare, harl, harr and hoar which may have come from the Saxon or Low German and Middle Dutch word ‘hare’ ; elsewhere it is usually called a sea fret.

I have used fog a couple of times in my novels, in ‘The Double Act’ and also in my first published e-book, Farholm. Deke is the main character, and she has gone to the island of Farholm to find out about her dead husband who came from there; she becomes friendly with Micheal who is on his own pilgrimage and they become trapped in a hippy commune in the hills when the fog comes down.

The fog was thicker than anything Deke had ever experienced, it was quite frightening, like a disembodied entity pushing up against her face, its cold breath chilling her skin and dewing her hair. She wanted to hold onto Michael but he stayed close by her, his arm against her elbow. Dawnstar lead them as surely as if she could see clearly. Perhaps she is an alien, perhaps she has infrared vision, thought Deke. It was an utterly silent world apart from the sound of her own breathing, the tap of her crutches on the cobbled path and the light thud of the man’s boots. She sensed the presence of buildings rather than saw them…

Deke becomes upset and rushes out of one of the buildings and then gets lost:

Deke hobbled swiftly down the stable, flung open the door and rushed out into the fog, she would go back to the cafe and phone someone to rescue her, to take her back to her cottage and she would pack and run away. She blundered on and she heard Michael somewhere calling her, his voice oddly directionless in the obscurity. She came up against a wall and followed it, passing an unlit window and came to a door. She banged but there was no response, it wasn’t the café. Michael was still calling her name and then she heard other voices. Quite close at hand a woman said, “Who is it?”
“Its me, Deke,” she answered because the voice sounded familiar.
“Where are you?”
Deke stumbled on to where the woman seemed to be. There was grass beneath her feet, she had strayed out of the confines of the village. She was very frightened. Something moved in the fog in front of her and thankfully she hurried towards it only to collide with a startled cow.
She turned and tried to go back the way she had come. She had no idea which way she was facing, towards the village or away and into the hidden wilderness.
“Where are you?” said the woman again.
“Here.”
She stumbled on and suddenly her crutch sunk into mud. She was on the edge of a pond, the pond she had seen in the photo of the children. She had staggered into the cow trampled ooze and she slithered and stuck, her crutches pushing down into the smelly slime.
“I’m by the pond,” she called, her voice sharp with panic and fear.
“Which side? Can you see across it?”
Deke looked across the dull grey water and could just make out a clump of reeds.
She was shoved violently and she slipped and fell with a great splash. She floundered and thrashed desperately as a foot pressed down on her back, between her shoulder blades.

Here is a link to Farholm:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/FARHOLM-Lois-Elsden-ebook/dp/B007JMDAFO/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1479216432&sr=8-6&keywords=lois+elsden

… and to ‘The Double Act’

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Double-Act-think-romance-story-ebook/dp/B01349UBHA/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1479221511&sr=8-11&keywords=lois+elsden

A foggy sort of idea

I was having a little on-line conversation about fog and the phrase ‘haven’t the foggiest’ came up and we were sort of wondering about it. Apparently Dickens was the first person to have used fog and foggy in the sense having a confused and foggy mind; it may have been a common spoken phrase of course, because being in a fog, meaning to be in a confused state of mind or being muddled, was first recorded two hundred years before Dickens. So maybe it was just Dickens who happened to use it in his novel, Barnaby Rudge.  I’ve read most of Dickens novels, but Barnaby is one I haven’t… yet… I don’t think… However, when I looked it up and discovered it was about the Gordon Riots of 1780 it did ring a bell. Maybe it’s one of those books I read when I was young and had a voracious reading appetite. I can’t remember it, however, so I will reread it and I will be on the look out for ‘a dull and foggy sort of idea’. However, Dickens might have used the foggy idea idea, but ‘I haven’t the foggiest’ didn’t appear in print until about 1917.

So where does the word ‘fog’ come from? It first seems to have appeared in the 1540’s, and meant what we know it as, a thick concealing mist.  It may have come from ‘foggy’, and was a contraction of an adjective which was common, or maybe it came from Scandinavian roots; ‘fog’ in Danish meant ‘a spray, shower, snowdrift.’ It’s also not dissimilar from Old Norse fjuk which meant a ‘drifting snow storm,’ and also Old English ‘fuht’, the Dutch ‘vocht’, and the German word  ‘Feucht’ which means damp or moist.

So having things obscured by spray or snow, or having such a damp atmosphere the water droplets hang in the air and hide what’s all around is one thought; there is another Scandinavian word  to do with grass, and long grass, a second-growth or that sort of long grass which grows in low-lying very wet land – which in Norwegian  it’s fogg.

It all seems a dull and foggy sort of idea… doesn’t it?!

Dull and deadened comes its every sound

Living by the sea we occasionally get sea mist, but it isn’t often very thick, just mysterious… we can see almost to the end of the road, almost, and almost to the top of the hill, almost, and out the back to the houses on the main part of the village, almost. There is something magical about really dense fog – although it can be terrifying too… but just round ordinary harmless streets in little villages, where there are the sounds of voices and there is no clue whether the speakers are near or further away, sounds distorted and strange.

I’ve written several times about fig in my novels, sometimes it is benign, sometimes not. This is a poem by Jones Very, born in Salem Massachusetts in 1813.

The Clouded Morning

The morning comes, and thickening clouds prevail,
Hanging like curtains all the horizon round,
Or overhead in heavy stillness sail;
So still is day, it seems like night profound;
Scarce by the city’s din the air is stirred,
And dull and deadened comes its every sound;
The cock’s shrill, piercing voice subdued is heard,
By the thick folds of muffling vapors drowned.
Dissolved in mists the hills and trees appear,
Their outlines lost and blended with the sky;
And well-known objects, that to all are near,
No longer seem familiar to the eye,
But with fantastic forms they mock the sight,
As when we grope amid the gloom of night.

Something moved in the fog

Living by the sea we often have sea mist in the mornings, and occasionally we have fog which might last all day; however we very rarely have a thick enough fog to cause us any problems. When I was a child before the clean air acts, and before car engines were as efficient as they are now, fog would become smog and it would be so dense you literally could barely see your hand in front of your face. later when I went to Manchester, there would be dense, blinding fog; I remember walking to college, my hand against the wall beside me because otherwise I might have stepped into the road and got lost. I heard a noise behind me but there was nothing there except a faint glimmer, and then the glimmer became lights, a pair of lights inching their way forward… a bus… How grateful I was to get on it, but I think it might have been quicker to walk!

In the first novel I published, Deke is staying on Farholm Island and she goes exploring; she reaches a village up on the top of the hills and then the fog comes down:

Deke hobbled swiftly down the stable, flung open the door and rushed out into the fog, she would go back to the cafe and phone someone, anyone to rescue her, to take her back to her cottage and she would pack and run away. The fog was thicker than anything Deke had ever experienced, it was quite frightening, like a disembodied entity pushing up against her face, its cold breath chilling her skin and dewing her hair.
She blundered on and she heard Michael somewhere calling her, his voice oddly directionless in the obscurity. She came up against a wall and followed it, passing an unlit window and came to a door. She banged but there was no response, it wasn’t the cafe. Michael was still calling her name and then she heard other voices. Quite close at hand a woman said
“Who is it?”
“Its me, Deke,” she answered because the voice sounded familiar.
“Where are you?”
Deke stumbled on to where the woman seemed to be. There was grass beneath her feet, she had strayed out of the confines of the village. She was very frightened. Something moved in the fog in front of her and thankfully she hurried towards it only to collide with a startled cow. She turned and tried to go back the way she had come. She had no idea which way she was facing, towards the village or away and into the hidden wilderness.
“Where are you?” said the woman again.
“Here.”
She stumbled on and unexpectedly her crutch sunk into mud. She was on the edge of a pond, the pond she had seen in the photo of the children. She had staggered into the cow trampled ooze and she slithered and stuck, her crutches pushing down into the smelly slime.
“I’m by the pond,” she called, her voice sharp with panic and fear.
“Which side? Can you see across it?”
Deke looked across the dull grey water and could just make out a clump of reeds. She was shoved violently and she slipped and fell with a great splash. She floundered and thrashed desperately as a foot pressed down on her back, between her shoulder blades. Then it was gone and she turned onto her back, hacking and coughing as she tried to sit up. Then the pond seemed full of other people and she was pulled up, hawking and spitting.

If you haven’t read my book, Farholm, here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/FARHOLM-Lois-Elsden-ebook/dp/B007JMDAFO/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1464093893&sr=8-5&keywords=lois+elsden