Photo Diary

Archive for February, 2008


Thursday, February 28th, 2008

P1010003.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Well, it’s all very well to call yourself an author, but sometimes it means you have to get out and test your descriptions. Last night my friend Andy and I went off to the middle of the moors, and tested my theories of what the moor looks and sounds like. Well, mostly, I learned, it sounds of animals which don’t sound familiar, helicopters from Gidleigh, and lots of rifle shots on automatic, from the Merrivale Range south and west.

But it also gave me some insights into the views you can get at night. Especially when it’s moonless. It was very dark indeed. In fact, I fell into the same hollow three times.

Without a camp fire (you can’t have fires up there because the soil’s all peat, and you’d start a fire that would be very hard to put out) the best thing to do is get to bed early. We did. And after trying hard, it was good to slip into sleep.

Only to be woken at about three in the morning when it began to rain.

Still, the tent (a new one) worked extremely well, the cooker was adequate, and hopefully I’ll be out on the moors one night per month to make sure I really understand Dartmoor properly!


Thursday, February 28th, 2008

P1010005.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Returning home from a night on the moors is delightful. After all, there’s the prospect of a warm home and hot tea. But when the mist comes down, as it did this morning, there’s the very real risk of getting lost. This picture, for example, should not have been seen. The track we wanted skirted round the western edge of Little Hound Tor, but somehow we ended up here, at the White Moor stone circle. Only a matter of fifty yards out of our way, I’d guess, but that’s enough to change your direction. Here, we had somehow managed to start heading east, rather than north.

It’s a proof of the need to always carry a compass with you while on the moors. You can never tell when a cloud will come down. Last time I was there without a compass, I could not see more than about ten yards, and it was impossible to tell whether I was climbing, descending, or walking on the flat. A very odd experience. And why I now always have a decent compass to hand when I walk up there.


Thursday, February 28th, 2008

P1010006.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

There is something very pleasant about wandering over the moors in the fog. Admittedly now, as I type this, I’m suffering from chronic leg-failure, and I’m very glad to be sitting at my desk, not wandering about the moors still! However, it’s a very special place, made more so by these signs of our ancestors’ efforts. This site is at the top of the peat-cutters’ track, an ancient pathway that leads from South Zeal, round the edge of Cawsand, and on to Round Tor. Well worth a visit, but you do need waterproofs. And a compass, as mentioned above.


Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

DSC_0027.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

The last week has been lovely. Gorgeous weather, and clearly the robins are getting frisky. They don’t realise that there’s a fair wait until Spring. Sadly the seasons are all so mucked up now, that there are some songbirds which are mating already, which may well spell disaster. With any luck a cold break will make them realise their error before they lay their eggs and see them freeze.

Meanwhile, life’s getting interesting. Last week I was contacted by my credit card firm, to ask why I’d suddenly started using it. And only for transactions to Italy. Well, the short answer was, I hadn’t. And so the two and a half thousand pounds which had gone through my account was nothing to do with me. After a short discussion they agreed to reimburse me for the money. Makes you wonder how much cash is actually stolen, though. And today I was told that only a tenth of the money was actually returned to my account! So I cancelled the card and burned it, along with the PIN number. I don’t think I can afford to have that worry.

Because worries there are a-plenty just now. The amount which is paid to authors is reducing here in the UK. There’s no competition in bookselling, so the publishers are forced to ever lower margins and ever smaller payments to most of their authors. Oh, the very top guys still get fortunes, but ninety percent of authors are now seeing their incomes reduce – and by significant amounts. There are many authors who’ll have to jack in writing completely. The retailers really are killing the geese that lay their golden eggs.

I am increasing the number of talks I give. It means less time to research and write, but it is at least one way of getting more cash into the bank and paying the mortgage. I just have to try to write faster and win over more readers. Life is not getting any easier, sadly!

So – if you know of any film producers who’re keen for a medieval story, please point them in my direction. Any money gratefully received!

For more photos like this, go and look at where there are many more shots of Dartmoor in the winter.