An Average Sort of Day

On most mornings I wake to feel the warm curled outline of my little dog Ivy mirroring my sleepy shape. The tug to rise as dawn breaks always gets the better of me and I surprise my alarm clock by beating the bossy bleep.

My morning formula is simple, Berocca, 2 Nespresso pods – whatever colour takes my fancy- a fat squidgy Medjool date and Radio 4. I listen to the farming programme which I love. News is best served up before the opinionated hours which follow the 8am watershed, when politicians justify and interviewers are rude and abrasive.

I check overnight emails, tweet if I feel inclined and often pick up on what I might have been working on the night before – I love the early morning flow and the ease of creative thoughts returning. I very seldom fret in the morning.

Ivy is thoughtful; she remains snoozing until I am unfolded and energized. She is contagiously curious and loves to sit on the window ledge in my bedroom watching cats sloping home and cleaners returning from their night time duties at the local supermarket.

The first walk of the day never ceases to excite her and her thrill to burst out of the house hurries me along. We tread a well loved path on the Railway Land meeting the occasional early riser. We are a friendly bunch and enjoy the ritual meet and greet as our pets snuffle out the rabbits and exchange their doggy greetings.

I go to my business, Ouse Valley Foods, on most days of the week. I hop in my van and rattle over the cobbles in Cliffe before heading out of town. I have a choice of routes and like to travel the variations, rather than fall into a rutted routine. I drive carefully as I often come across deer returning to the safety of the woods; the silly things leap without warning, seemingly not to have grasped the perils of traffic.

I have never entered the kitchen without a bubbling urgency. I can manage more in the first hour of the working day than any other time. Multi-tasking is second nature and within no time at all pans are heating, processes planned and jars lined up waiting to be filled.

I love the sight of fresh fruit and vegetables arriving from the market, shiny purple aubergine, fronds of fresh herbs and the tactile pitted skins of citrus fruits. The delivery man has an old fashioned chivalry and always carries the boxes into the kitchen for me.

By the time the others arrive I am clear in my head as to the tasks to be tackled and the projects to focus on. Nevertheless a day does not go by without surprises and a bendy, flexible attitude to the foibles of a food business is essential.

The hubble bubble of the kitchen is mirrored by the bustle in the other areas. Telephones ring, emails slip silently onto screens – each order is the most important, dispatch and deliveries shuttle backwards and forwards, printers whirr and labels flutter – everyone is fully tasked.

It is complex for me and I divide my time between working on and working in; sometimes in the kitchen pitching in with production, other times heading up projects and strategic decisions. I am blessed with stunning amounts of stamina and have learnt to follow my namesake, Mother Julian of Norwich’s mantra “All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”.

The coal-face of a small demanding business is a tough place, often lonely, though endlessly offering the chance to reach beyond what was previously thought of as impossible. The curious part of stretching out to beyond a possible potential is the fantastic prize of surprise. I could not have second guessed where I am now!

As my Ouse Valley day draws to an end my other begins. Often on my way home I am already back with the latest manuscript for the current book. It thrills me to know that while I have been stirring the pots the rest of the Hare and Heron team have been busy and I will come back to the fruits of their labours – stunning illustrations, designs for layout, exciting responses from press releases, school book reading opportunities and all the rest of the curious twists and turns that the written word creates.

I write straight onto my computer – I rarely plan with pencil and paper, though can see the merits of that method. There is a harmony for me to plink-plonk on my keyboard; I feel it ties in with the rhythm of my imagination. As a late learner it also thrills me to use a lap top!

I build in a discipline, though find I write in rushes of urgency. My desk faces out the window and I love the natural light and stream of life running along in front of me.

When the weather is warm I leave the front door open so Ivy can keep an eye on the street – an endless source of fascination to her. She squats like a meerkat on the bench in my little front garden keeping an eye open for a flirtatious opportunity with a passerby or a bark at an unwelcome cat. During the summer evenings she is fascinated by the family of hedgehogs that forage for peanuts that have fallen from the bird feeders.

How lucky I am that on most nights I sleep soundly and wake with a magical amount of energy, ready to throw myself into another average sort of day.