May in the Greek Mani

May began as a chilly month with occasional beautiful spring weather. The wild flowers here are stunning throughout this season. Rain has made them endure and today as the month closes they remain vivid. I spend my summers in the southern Peloponnese, in a rented house situated between Neohori and Agios Nicholas. Stoupa lies below me and Kardamyli is just fifteen minutes along the coast.

My husband journeys back and forward from England as we own a solid surface company We employ fifty craftsmen, fitters and office staff. Our more interesting projects have included kitchen work in Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle and Heathrow airports. It is a twenty plus year old successful and progressing bespoke company.

However, I am a writer and that for me is more important than anything, well, apart from family. Whilst Patrick is back in England I have my author friends out to our Mani rented property and then we treat it as a writing retreat. The first week of this May saw visits from Jenny Barden, writer, Charlotte Betts ,writer and Barbara Alderton, writer, otherwise known as our own Busy Bee. This summer we took trips to the caves at Diros and to Monemvasia, a medieval citadel situated on the third finger of the Peleponese and which dramatically overlooks the sea.

We did write too, honest we did. Jenny is organizing the RNA Conference in July at which I shall be presenting a course session on fictionalizing selected stories of medieval women. Jenny is also involved in planning The Historical Novels Conference in September, which sadly I am going to miss this year. She is writing her third novel set in Elizabethan England, a story about the Spanish Armada. Charlotte is editing her fourth novel The Chateau by the Lake, a brilliant story set during The French Revolution. She won the RNA historical novel award in the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Awards in 2013 for The Apothecary’s Daughter. Barbara has been spending her time sending out her slip novel (set in 21st C and in the 17thC) out to agents. To our delight several selected agents want to read her complete manuscript. I , of course, am currently writing The Betrothed Sister, third in The Daughters of Hastings Trilogy.

There have been other visitors this month. I entertained an old school friend mid-month and, although the weather was poor, we went on a trip to Olympia. It was a superb day and I recommend this trip. None the less, a visit to Messini with last week’s visitors, Gail and Sally, was best of all the trips this May. The site is an archaeological project in progress. It is fabulous. If you ever come to this part of Greece do not miss it.

The weather is better now, hot too, so visits to mountain villages near me are enhanced by lemon drinks in antique cafes. We ploughed through the long grass outside Hora to visit Bruce Chatwin’s grave. For us it was a small pilgrimage to a secret tucked away peaceful place that discreetly lies by a tiny, now unused, Orthodox Church overlooking the coast.

This week, the final week of May is very special and deserving of celebration. I now have dates for the Swan-Daughter’s publication. It will be published first an e book on 18th September and placed in bookshops as a paperback in December, just in time for Christmas! It remains for me to say that I hope that your summer is beginning too. Love to all my readers. Carol.

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