Writing – here’s where I’m at – an excerpt from the work-in-progress sequel to A Bed of Barley Straw

Alexander drank his black coffee on the bench outside the cottage. Rested from a fortnight of undisturbed nights, lulled by the rhythmic crashing of the Irish Sea against the rocks below. The dark stubble on his chin formed the shadow of a beard. The blue of his eyes, mirroring the ocean, flashed from his relaxed, ruggedly tanned face. He rested easy on the bench; long legs stretched out, clad in faded denim, weathered brogues on his feet. His body warmed by the oiled wool sweater which draped over his torso.

Alexander thought he would never grow tired of this view. His gaze took in the ocean and the infinite sky; an ever-changing vista. He watched as the clouds swept in from the West and scudded along the coast or paused to envelop Porth Wen in damp grey mist. At times the weather battered his cottage with heady gusts carrying fierce pellets of rain. He saw the haunting, derelict brickworks emerge from dull haze, and smiled as sunlight on the waves glided teasingly closer before embracing the land with warmth and colour. The occasional distant walker or lone fishing boat could hold his attention until they vanished from sight. Sometimes his walks took him along the coast to Hell’s Mouth where he paused to survey the surfers riding the waves; distant from his cliff top lookout. The days followed a rudimentary pattern. With no telephone, no TV or internet, simplicity was enforced. He woke when the first stripes of daylight settled on his pillow. He stoked the stove, filled a basin with water and placed it on top of the wood-burner. Brewing his coffee and feeding the dogs gave the heat of the flames time to lift the chill from the water before he stood, buck naked on the coarse rug, to wash from head to toe.

He took his second coffee with a wedge of bara brith, spread with salted butter; eaten on the bench outside if the weather allowed, at the table when it did not. The cottage door stood open allowing Digger and Dora to wander. They snuffled their way through the rocky gorse outcrop and explored the path to the cove before returning to settle at Alexander’s feet. After breaking his fast Alexander indulged in a leisurely cigarette and turned on his lap top. He couldn’t connect with anyone, nor did he want to, but he spent an hour going over the plans for the equine wing of the practice. He noted steps that needed to be taken.  He studied financial spreadsheets, listed questions and points that required his attention. On the dot of the hour he closed his laptop and put it in his rucksack, shoving his waterproof jacket on top. He whistled the dogs who scurried to him. The cottage was left unlocked. He did not chose his route but let the path take him where it would.

Mid-day always found him at the Crag Inn. The landlord knew him now and drew a pint of dark bitter as he came in. Alexander read as he absently downed a plate of welsh stew. With his hunger sated he took advantage of the Wi-Fi to catch up on emails. On this particular day he was jolted by a message.

Hettie Redfern is on Facebook: Hettie Redfern invites you to like her page “Redfern Livery Stables”

Alexander deleted the notification. He didn’t want her name in his head.

Striding through the town with the dogs at his heels, Alexander stocked up on basics before hiking back to the cottage. He raised a hand in greeting of the painter as she traipsed the coastal path with an easel slung over her shoulder and a bulky satchel. The woman had passed his cottage twice daily since his arrival. She spent her day perched in a nook on the cliffs above the brick-works. Her silvered blonde hair caught the wind and flew into a writhing nest around her head as she turned to wave in reply.

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