I’ve just returned from a lovely trip to Barnard Castle, one of King Richard’s favourite homes.
I was invited by the Northern Dales Richard III Group to come along to their monthly meeting and read my short story ‘The Beast of Middleham Moor’ (my contribution to the anthology Grant Me the Carving of My Name) and answer questions afterwards. I duly did (in my newly acquired medieval outfit…more about that later) and I’d like to thank the members and other attendees for sitting all the way through it without fidgeting! It was lovely to be welcomed by so many enthusiastic Ricardians and others interested in the history of his period – and thank you also for your kind words afterwards.
Travelling homewards down the old Great North Road (the A1(M) – well, roughly the same route anyway), I was amazed to see my first lambs of the year.
Up in Bronte Country (though further south), they won’t be in evidence for another month or more. And it reminded me, not only of the ‘grey-wall-bounded fields, speckled white with lamb-heavy sheep’ of ‘The Beast’, but also Matthew’s amazement when travelling south from Yorkshire with Richard in April of 1483 in the early part of The King’s Man:
‘Spring had seemed to be racing ahead of us as we rode down from Middleham. Here the hawthorn was already in full flower although it was not yet May. We had left tiny lambs sheltering from the biting wind behind high stone walls, watching their mothers grazing the sparse late winter grass, while here boys and their dogs stood guard over flocks of sheep almost half-grown.’ (mybook.to/TheKingsMan
What a difference a few metres of altitude or degrees of latitude make!
And I arrived home to snow on the ground.
Spring may be coming, but winter is definitely still here. An ideal time to ‘gather round the flames and tell ghost stories as we hear the villagers do on long winter’s night’, as a certain king says in ‘The Beast’. Perhaps a story or two from Grant Me the Carving…? 🐗📚