The latest ‘pup’date from Applecross

Is there such a thing as Puppy Brain? You know, like Baby Brain. Anyway, I have it, whatever it is called! To begin at the beginning…..Many of you will be familiar with Jess, our old huntaway girl who starred on the paperback cover of ‘The Wideawake Hat’ in her role as Friday, James Mackenzie’s favourite dog. Sadly, we lost her a week or two ago at the good age of about 13 (she was a rescue dog, so ages are all a bit approximate). Here she is as Friday’s ‘cover dog’ on the paperback version of the Wideawake Hat, and on the day she arrived with us – just over 9 years ago.

Because we have been expecting her time to come for a while now, we have been keeping an eye on available rescue pups to fill her paws as Ted’s companion. So here comes Hunter, a 5 month old huntaway who was found wandering the streets of Invercargill, unclaimed by his owner. Last week he made the big journey up to Christchurch, with an overnight stop in Dunedin. And he is just wonderful! I could bore you with photos and videos for ever. It is so hard to choose just one, but this will do for now. Be warned, there will likely be more to come as he grows into adulthood.

Those of you with young children know that finding time to concentrate for any length of time is hard, and so it is with a puppy. Checking that he is chewing toys, not the furniture, counting the minutes between toilet breaks and waking to howling pups during the night are not ideal for creative thinking, so writing has taken a back seat for a week or two, I’m afraid. However, with shorter days coming over winter here in New Zealand, logs on the fire and the garden in hibernation, I plan to get into Book 7 very soon. No spoilers as yet. Suffice to say that it will mainly be set in Scotland and that the first shipment of frozen lamb was sent from New Zealand to London in 1882, organised by a land owning company based in Scotland. Put two and two together, and those of you who have read Book 6, Cocksfoot and Clover, may well realise that John James does indeed journey over the seas. The question is, will he be persuaded to return to Applecross? And by whom?

Cyclone Gabrielle

Have you heard about the havoc caused in parts of New Zealand by Cyclone Gabrielle? It has not been widely reported outside of New Zealand, even though there are areas of the country, like Hawkes Bay, Tairāwhiti and the west coast of the North Island, where many people have been made homeless and, in particular, our farmers and growers have lost their stock and had their crops utterly devastated. Debris from forestry work washed down swollen rivers, blocked bridges and caused slips and massive flooding, with metres of silt being deposited on houses and land. The clean up will take a very long time and require orchards to be replanted, stock to be replaced and fields and fences to be recreated. Fencing is a priority. You will remember that George and Sophia built a fence as soon as they decided where to settle in Marytown. Then James and Edmund spent a good deal of time and effort fencing their land at Applecross and Combe, and in the latest book, James and his son are seen mending and replacing those first fences. Fences are important to farmers. They protect crops, stop animals from wandering and provide a symbol of ownership. I give you the following extract from Book 2, Shepherd’s Delight, with a request that, if you are able to do so, you donate to the New Zealand Disaster Fund – see how some of the money will be spent on the Farmy Army Facebook page.


The Great Historical Fiction Giveaway

Fancy some free books? Click here to download your next favourite story.

And finally

The Easter weekend is a perfect break to catch up on the latest from Applecross. Curl up in the Spring sunshine or by the Autumn fireside wherever you are in the world and come on in to Applecross to meet the folk who have made their home in Mackenzie’s Basin. Download the ebook version of all the Applecross Saga books from your favourite ebook provider, or listen to Book 1, The Wideawake Hat, narrated so well by Su Melville, from Audible, Spotify or your local library. I love hearing from my readers, so please do reply to this post or email me at, or comment and review wherever you see my books. And tell your friends about Applecross too – they would be most welcome to join us on our adventures in 19th century New Zealand.

In the meantime, Hunter says, “Goodbye for now.”

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