Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Remember When . . . I Learned the Details
While in England, I found myself making a list of the little details I hadn't known. The little things that aren't wrong in my books, but which aren't present.
The first to strike me:
I don't have nearly enough sheep in my stories.
Because seriously. While we were in Salisbury and then the Cotswolds, there were sheep everywhere. According to our host at the B&B, if you have a plot of grass, you just throw some sheep onto it to keep it trim. Apparently wool these days isn't worth what you have to pay the man to come and sheer them, so all the money in it is in lambing. And, I suppose, whatever you save in lawn mowers. ;-)
Not coming from a sheep-rich area, I found this pretty noteworthy. And it also meant I noted things about how they keep the sheep. In many places, there are no fences to keep them in the field--there are instead ditches dug around the pasture, which are called ha-has. Because while the sheep quickly learned to avoid them, unsuspecting humans often don't pay attention and fall in, to the amusement of their companions.
That was my big revelation in central England. When we went to the West Country and stayed in Cornwall, my revelations were different. Namely, I had way too many trees in the first draft of A Name Unknown.
Now, there are trees in Cornwall to be sure. But they tend not to be near the cliffs of the coast, and I have my estate in the story have coastal property. So I needed to do some rearranging of my fictional estate and move the woods to the opposite end. ;-) At least in the miles we walked or drove through, there's no emerging from the trees onto the cliffs. Between the two would be a large expanse of scrub, filled with heather and gorse and...
Wow. I don't know if it's always like this in Cornwall, but every day we were there was crazy-windy. Now, being accustomed to the beach, I knew there would be wind off the water. I had some. But not nearly enough. Much like sheep. ;-) So I turned up the wind and down the trees. And of course had to mention these beauties.
They look like palm trees, and Cornwall is "sub-tropical." But I put that in quotes, because it means temperate, not warm. Certainly not warm enough for real palms. These are actually a New Zealand species that are also called cabbage trees, as parts of them are edible and were part of the Maori diet. Though they're commonly referred to as a Cornish palm, and though you'll see them all over the place in Cornwall, and though they do give you an air of a tropical resort . . . don't let 'em fool you. "Sunny Cornwall" was gorgeous, but we saw just as much rain as sun when we were there, LOL. Maybe more, actually. Though it certainly didn't stop us from getting out and enjoying the beauty of this rugged coastline. Cornwall was definitely a LOVE!