Accidental characters

Every now and then I introduce a character to my stories who plays a small role in another character’s thread, and then takes on a whole storyline of their own. I call them my accidental characters.

First there was Guy Pender – only introduced in Book 2, Shepherd’s Delight as the photographer who took the only known photo of Friday the collie. He became such a favourite that he ended up having his own complete book – Book 3, Guy Pender, and is now very much part of the Applecross community along with his lovely wife, Amelie and their growing family (and Rex the scruffy dog, of course).

Then there was Jakob (pronounced Yakob due to his Dutch ancestry), introduced in Book 4, Three Cedar Trees. Just a farmer’s son who swapped places with Freddie so that both boys could learn about other ways of farming. Somehow he accidentally grew into a firm favourite with his own stories to tell. He, and his faithful collie, Leda, have now made a home in the Basin. All we need now is for Jakob to find a wife! I am busy working on that one, although you may have to wait a few more months to see how that develops in Book 6, Cocksfoot and Clover, due for release in early 2023.

The Cedar Trees

In the meantime, while doing some research for Book 6 (more about that next time), we recently visited Elephant Rocks near Oamaru in New Zealand’s South Island. It reminded me that this was where Jakob sheltered for the night after falling in the river as he escaped from the terrible incident with a flock of sheep. Battered and bruised, he and Leda slept in the contours of a rock worn into shape by millions of years of erosion. It is an atmospheric place. I recommend you add it to your list of places to visit when touring the South Island of New Zealand. Hopefully, as there are lots of places to stay nearby, you won’t have to sleep under a rock!

Here is an extract from Three Cedar Trees :-

He had not accounted for the mist. The wet weather was on the change and warmer temperatures over damp ground were causing a ground mist to form, rolling gently towards Jakob and Leda as they walked on towards the setting sun. Very soon, they were surrounded, unable to see more than a few feet in any direction. Jakob could tell only that they were surrounded by rocks, some of which seemed to be like giant animals looming out of the mist at them. He moved from one to another, trying to find a crevice big enough to squeeze into, but they all seemed to have flat, weathered surfaces. Thinking that he had no choice but to hunker down against one such rock, he made one last attempt to find better shelter. He put a hand out to the next rock he saw, feeling along its surface, working his way around it in the gloom. He was rewarded by finding an almost circular crevice where water had eroded away at the base of the rock. The remaining cave like space was enough for a boy and a dog to squeeze in under cover, wrapped round on both sides by rocks too. It was the perfect sleeping place for a tired boy and his exhausted dog.

What greeted Jakob the following morning was a sight like nothing he had seen before. He found himself in a flat field beyond which were steep cliffs on two sides, almost as if the ground on which he stood had dropped down, leaving a jagged edge. Punctuating this green area were a variety of incongruously shaped grey rocks rearing up through the grass as if they were fossilised giants. Blown smooth by erosion, forming weird and wonderful shapes, Jakob could not help himself from running between them, reaching out to touch the smooth surfaces, dancing round them as if they would dance with him. To Jakob it was a magical, enchanted place. It was as if the rocks themselves were giving him hope, telling him to go forward, wishing him good fortune.

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