Posted on February 15, 2023

Dear Reader,

Hope you are all well, I am testing my ‘sending procedure’ which I have not used since November and am betrayed by an 84 year old memory,

Spring approaches, sap rises, a young man’s thoughts turn to … as if I remember.

Rather more than two hundred years ago, horse-drawn boat traffic from the Somerset Coal Canal near Bath mostly loaded with coal, came to a halt at the bottom of the Caen Hill flight of locks.  For twelve years, while twenty-nine locks and their substantial side pounds were completed, a horse-drawn tramway operated beside a very muddy construction site.  A stone boundary wall survives at Lower Foxhangers Farm for a short distance and is heavily overgrown with deformed trees choked with Ground Ivy, their twisted branches show the struggle to reach sunlight. The wall has been squeezed and pushed aside by the immense force of expanding tree trunks for unknown decades.  Now the wall is being assessed for potential recovery and repair; the more we see the more daunting it appears.  I am beginning to wonder if I should have started this.

Winter at Foxhangers is busier than might be expected because all of the hire boats need freshening up after a busy summer during 2022.  The painting programme alone has to repair accidental scrapes and scratches on eighteen very long boats, some of them sixty-nine feet long.  Our paint dock accommodates two at a time, but the full process still needs an awful lot of weeks.

But this newsletter is mainly about books!

King’s Mercy published before Christmas, is the sequel to White Clyffe which takes place in Wiltshire and the West of England during the ugly years when the King’s forces were working to gain control during the Peasant’s Revolt.  The new book is already selling well in the United States and has a prominent listing on Amazon.  Search for King’s Mercy but please do not use the ISBN number for an Amazon search, because they have their own system.  Printed books can also be ordered through your local bookshop using the ISBN number 978-1-80381-062-1 or phone me on 01380 827 800 for a better price.

White Clyffe, my first attempt at writing fiction, traces the ups and downs of a Wiltshire village family during a very turbulent century.  Five disastrous harvests in seven years have been described by economic historians as the worst famine in English recorded history. Worse was yet to come: the population was reduced by one third during the Black Death during the first wave of the disease.  Life in England was never the same again.  The balance of power had shifted in favour of the villagers.  Printed books can also be ordered through your local bookshop using the ISBN number 978-1-83975-557-6 or phone me on 01380 827 800.

The recommended retail price for King’s Mercy is £9.99 or if purchased direct from Foxhangers the price is £7.00 plus £2.10 post & packing if this is required.  White Clyffe retails at £7.99 or purchased direct from Foxhangers at £5.00 plus £2.00 post & packing.

Looking forward again at book number three, part written during lockdown, then recently extended to forty thousand words.  Second Revolution must be ready to submit to the publisher by late March if it is to be published well before Christmas.    This story is also set in the West of England, but it is a vanished England before the second world war, when unemployment seemed to be a persistent blight incurable by man or government.  Village life was transformed during the war and the long years of food rationing that followed.  During later years the pace of change accelerated; small farms struggled to adapt, though many more moved with the times and flourished.  My special thanks to close friends who have read the unfinished work with a clear pair of eyes and an un-cluttered brain, I am grateful for your friendly comments and advice.

Best wishes to you all,

Colin Fletcher

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