The Banker's Niece

Read exclusive extracts from my new novel The Banker's Niece. Click here for Chapter 1.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Dog

Ellie's favourite activity at the moment is sticking the front half of her body down rabbit and badger holes. Sometimes she barks down the hole as if to say, 'Anyone there? Why won't you come out and play? the scent of you is driving me mad.' Luckily her tail is white - muddy white usually - so if she isn't barking and I've lost her I can scan the area for its gently waving crescent, so bright against the browns and greens of the undergrowth. She carries her tail high and the long hair hangs down and flutters in the breeze like the hair on the monster in the 'Monsters Inc' film (have I got the right one?).
    She has quite a large bottom in comparison with her head - her spaniel inheritance perhaps - even though she's not a greedy dog and sometimes, when I try to bribe her with food to keep quiet at home so that I can do some work, she drops it on the kitchen floor and looks at me. I know what she's thinking. 'You're going to leave me, aren't you? And I'd much rather have your company than some silly old bone.'

My sister Emma loves windy days but I love stillness. And I prefer overcast days to sunny ones. When the sun is out you have to be cheerful and busy and rush outside to 'make the most of it'. On cloudy days you can be quiet and meditative.

Today was perfect - cloudy, grey and soft. I sat by a stream with Ellie and listened to the birds and the water and the silence.

So often we hear the motorway, ten miles to the east, but today it was silent. I could feel my brain relaxing without the constant drone to contend with.

The signs of spring were everywhere. As we walked home I stepped in a puddle full of frogspawn. A yaffle was calling. I saw a rosette of bright yellow celandines in the hedge, and around the edge of the garden primroses were appearing.

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