The Latest News from Applecross

January 2023

It is very nearly time for the 6th book in the Applecross Saga series to be added to your bookshelf, so this month’s news is (almost) all about ‘Cocksfoot and Clover’. Pre-order your ebook copy from Amazon or Kobo now. Available from other outlets and in other formats from 1st February 2023.

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In the sheep country of Canterbury and Otago the native tussock lands had reached the end of their useful life by the 1870s and were sown with European grasses – mainly ryegrass, timothy, cocksfoot and clover.

Rural New Zealand in 1876. A time of prosperity for Applecross sheep station. However, dark clouds are gathering over the settlers of Mackenzie’s Basin.James Mackenzie is good at his job. Quality wool from his flock is valued around the world. But his son, John James, sees the future differently, embracing new ideas and opening up new markets. Will father and son reach a compromise that will allow Applecross to survive through the threat of pestilence and fire? Will Captain Shepherd’s legacy offer the opportunity for his beloved family to spread their wings?

Join James, Sophia and all the folk of Applecross as, once more, they celebrate triumph and success while joining together to face adversity and tragedy against a backdrop of an ever-changing world.

COCKSFOOT AND CLOVER – An explanation …..

‘Why the title?’ I hear you ask. Well, the 6th book is set against a background of big changes in agriculture. Wool from New Zealand was widely used around the world and had made our farmers rich, but changes in the way wool was woven, and the over-grazing of much of our land, meant that things had to change. In the mid 1870s, we started growing wheat, and we moved over to farming sheep for their meat as well as their wool. It meant breeding a different kind of sheep because merino meat can be tough and fatty, and that created a need for good pasture. Tussock lands were ploughed up and re-seeded with a mix of plants that improved the soil for crops and fed the sheep. Seeds from England were used mainly, and the most common mixture was Cocksfoot and Clover, Timothy and Rye.

In fact, it is a mixture still used to this day. Only a few years ago our own little field was re-seeded in that way, and the 6 sheep who graze there at the moment are looking mighty fine on it too!

A teaser, not a spoiler

Samuel and his passengers were approaching the ridge above Applecross.“Samuel, you will stop, won’t you?” Nancy asked.“I always do,” Samuel smiled. He knew very well that Nancy would be anticipating the panoramic view of the Basin community from the vantage point at the summit of the track. As they climbed, the weather had been improving a lot, and now, as if on cue, the sun came out from behind the clouds, flooding the Basin in glorious golden light. Samuel pulled the horse to a halt, immediately jumping down to help Nancy and Edmund alight too. For a few moments, the bright sun dazzled them all, but as their eyes began to focus, the whole valley lay in front of them in all its glory. The three of them stood, silhouettes against the skyline, absorbing the view that Nancy had been waiting so long to see once more.Nancy took it all in from right to left, saving her old home until last as if it was the final chocolate in the box, the one with her favourite filling. Smoke rose from Ngahuia’s fire, the chapel and school stood quiet, the Penders’ house too, apart from the tiny figure of Rex chasing shadows in the garden. She could hear him yapping. The row of workers’ cottages, the home fields full of sheep, the old Applecross house, and the new, the yard where washing flapped in the breeze, Jack and Daisy’s house, then Lucy’s place, the orchard and finally Combe.“What the devil?” Edmund was saying. “Samuel get me down there as fast as you can. What on God’s earth has happened to Combe?

If all this talk of ‘Cocksfoot and Clover’ is too much, how about a special January sale of historical fiction from some of my fellow authors? From medieval times to the 2nd World War – there’s something free for everyone at Historical Fiction Freebies.

A chance to win a free copy of the audiobook version of ‘The Wideawake Hat’ – this time on Spotify!

If yours is among the first 10 emails I receive with a subject line of ‘Audiobook’, I’ll send you a redemption code to download the audiobook version of The Wideawake Hat, read by Su Melville, for FREE!

Subject Line ‘Audiobook’

(Please note – the voucher can only be redeemed via Spotify)

An Applecross Companion

Here you will find a list of Applecross folk and their dogs, updated with the new characters for Book 6, plus a map of Mackenzie’s Basin.

Dive on in there and take a look.

Go to – use the password ‘Applecross’ to get access.

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