The past few months have been a strain at Windy Poplars Farm.
Tom's 93-year-old mother has had increasing signs of dementia, and is currently in a hospital where they are evaluating what is going on. From there we are expecting a move to a mental care facility and we hope it will be a place that is five minutes away from us. There have been a few times when his mother has expressed interest in moving up here - to independent living, and later to assisted living - but every time it didn't work out.
Our son Michael and his wife, Estée have separated. It has mostly been harmonious, but it is still one of those big changes that are very stressful and worrisome. They are now both settled into rental houses in the same town. They are, without any court intervention, sharing custody of Campbell and Indy. The kids seem to be doing alright, even well. Maybe at six and seven they are able to grasp that their parents are happier apart; better friends and parents not living together. As you may guess we, and Margaret have been very involved in this whole process. The kids have been up here a lot, which is good for all of us. I have a blog post planned with summer fun pictures.
With two big emotional situations in our lives, there haven't been many minutes to read during the day, and in the evening I just want to settle into one of the wonderful television shows available or an old, much-loved DVD. So almost all my reading has been bedtime, or early morning reading in bed, which means the Kindle.
A few months ago, Acorn TV offered a new detective series called Whitstable Pearl. I enjoyed it, and naturally bought the first book in the series. As is so often true, the books are very different and offer a much more in-depth story and character development than television. This is not to say that the book is always better. I could barely read the Inspector Morse books, but I adore the television production and actually think it is much better!
I expect I am not alone in being a foreigner who did not know that Whitstable is a real town. Look to the right - on the coast, and almost even with London on the map.
You can see loads of photographs here. It really sounds beautiful, though Julie Wassmer, the author of the books makes it clear that there are the usual problems with vacation destinations. The DFL, Down From Londoners, buy up property and use it occasionally, while the rest of the time they rent it out. These rents are mostly too high for the locals, and young people can't afford to live in the town they grew up in. Whitstable seems to have been able to avoid one of the downfalls of popularity and that is that their stores are less national names than local, independently owned. The author does an excellent job of portraying the landscape, the businesses, the public lands.
I had the supreme reader's joy of reading the eight available books in the series, one right after the other. I so love finding a new-to-me author and doing this. The main character is Pearl who owns a restaurant called Whitstable Pearl which offers local seafood. She is a single mother whose son is now going to college in nearby Canterbury. This city is also described beautifully. Pearl's mother is a widow, quite alternative in her thinking (a bit like this reader), and very flamboyant in her choice of clothes and haircolors (not a bit like me there!). There are other characters who appear in many of the books, and then new ones who are introduced in each new murder case.
When Pearl was young she began going to school to become a police officer. She became pregnant with the love of her life (who by then had moved away), and had to leave. She isn't the kind to look back with regret. She has made a wonderful life for herself and her son. After her son leaves for college, she starts her own detective agency. She has a real gift for the work. She is one of those rare characters - a woman who is contented, self-assured, and quite genuinely happy.
I love this series and look forward to next year's offering.