Cocksfoot and Clover – available now!

‘Cocksfoot and Clover’ – available now!

Here in New Zealand all the talk is about the weather at the moment. In the north, unprecedented rainfall has left many homes flooded and roads blocked by landslips. While in the south, we are baking in exceptionally high temperatures.

Whatever the weather is doing at your place, there’s nothing better than to curl up with a good book. So get your copy of ‘Cocksfoot and Clover’, the 6th book in the Applecross series, available now from all the usual ebook outlets, or in paperback from Amazon or directly from the author.

Details on the website

I would love to hear your feedback, so please do consider leaving a review when you’ve read book 6, or contact me directly via

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.
An extract….

“Good God, this is a tedious job,” John James broke into his father’s thoughts. “However did you manage back at the beginning?”“Edmund and I were younger and fitter, I suppose, and keen to make our mark on the land,” replied James.“Frank says we should be making the fences rabbit proof by burying wire below ground,” said John James.James was a little bit fed up with what Frank said, and Abe and Henry too. These days his son started almost every sentence with ‘Frank says’, ‘Abe thinks’ or ‘Henry reckons’. So far today, Frank had suggested burning off the land to reduce tussock grass clumps and keeping rabbits out by fencing, Abe was all for importing a new ram from somewhere up north and Henry thought they should buy a new plough. It was all very well for John James to correspond with these new friends, but he couldn’t help feeling that one needed a bit more experience before making such sweeping changes.“I hardly think we need to keep the rabbits at bay to that extent,” replied James. “We can shoot the odd one or two for the pot, and skin the rest for their soft pelts.”“Henry says the rabbits are becoming a real problem down his way,” answered John James. “They breed too well, and they are destroying the land with their diggings.”James thought that Henry could keep his lowland ideas to himself. What would he know of high country farming? However, not wishing to dampen his son’s enthusiasm, he replied gruffly, “Won’t come to that up here. Ground is too damned stony.”“You can say that again,” John James laughed as he pulled two more big round stones the size of his fist out of the hole he had been trying to dig. He felt like he had already made a pile of them bigger than the hole that had been created in the first place.The two men continued their work without further words for a while, the only sound the skylarks rising above them, augmented by the occasional curse as father or son hit a stone with the shovel, or found themselves tied up in a coil of wire. James eventually pulled himself upright, putting a hand in the small of his back to ease the ache before mopping his brow with the back of his shirt sleeve. The midsummer sun was strong, and almost directly overhead. Nearly time to stop for lunch. He cast a glance in the direction of home, hoping to see his wife carrying a basket towards them, and indeed there was someone coming, but it was not Sophia.It was Jakob, with a shovel over his shoulder and a wicker basket in the crook of the other arm. When he got within earshot, he called out, “I thought I would give you a hand this afternoon, and Mrs Mackenzie sent some lunch.”“Both you and your basket are welcome visitors,” said James. He leaned his shovel against the post he had just set upright and flopped down onto the grassy bank. “Now, let’s see what my wife has packed for three hungry workers.”There was a stone bottle filled with ale, which the men willingly shared by passing it round and taking a swig. No need to dirty the enamel mugs that Sophia had packed for them to use. Then, unwrapping the cloths that covered each item, James found three hearty chunks of raised pork pie, some wedges of a round crusty loaf and several thick slices of cheese. There were three apples loose in the basket, and he left the final package still wrapped up for now, knowing it would contain cake or biscuits, depending what had been baked in the Applecross kitchen that morning.There was barely a word spoken as they tucked into the delicious food. It was a good few hours since breakfast time, and they had been working hard and had the appetites to prove it. Eventually, James offered the flagon round once more before tipping back the last dregs himself. “Ah, now that’s better. I was ready for something to eat,” he said, settling back against the bank, with his feet stretched out and his hat tipped forward over his eyes. “Let’s have a few more minutes before we get back to work, eh?”James shut his eyes. The two younger men had not yet reached an age where they needed a nap after lunch, but they too stretched themselves out in the sun, chatting of this and that.“Heard from the Viners lately?” asked John James.“Not for a while,” Jakob replied. “They seem happy down there on the coast with Mr Viner’s sister, but I do miss their company. And Mrs Viner’s baking was nearly as good as your mother’s. Mrs Mackenzie asked if I would like to invite them for Christmas, but I doubt they will come. Too many unhappy memories.”“Yes, it will be a strange Christmas this year, remembering Grandpapa,” replied John James.“Is Heather coming home this year?” asked Jakob.“Yes, she should be arriving in the next few days with Caroline and Adey Rose. They will travel up with Uncle Samuel, I daresay,” replied John James. “She’s bringing that George Latham fellow with her again. He’s a bit of a drip in my opinion, but she seems taken with him, and you have to admit, they have a lot in common with their books and learning.”The two young men failed to see James’ wry smile beneath his hat. He couldn’t help agreeing with his son. George Latham certainly did seem a bit wet behind the ears.“Do you think they will marry one day?” asked Jakob. There was a time when Jakob hoped for Heather’s attentions, although he would never admit it to John James. But no longer. She was spoken for now, and he liked George Latham. They would make a fine couple.“I wouldn’t wonder,” John James replied as he studiously picked each seed head, one by one, from a tall piece of grass plucked from the bank.“He will need to speak to me first, if he wishes to steal my daughter away from me,” said James, pushing his hat back and beginning to get to his feet.The two younger men went to rise too, John James throwing the stripped stalk over the fence and saying, “You wouldn’t say no though, father, would you?”“Maybe, maybe not,” James replied with a twinkle in his eye. “Heather could do worse, I daresay. She isn’t one to follow in her mother’s ways. Domestic tasks were never her favourite thing. Do you remember that cake she baked? It was more burnt biscuit than sponge.”

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