The battle of the tree roots!

Another cold, but dry day in Kent. So I was back out in the garden, digging out the rest of the soil for the base of the chicken’s house. This last bit was a little more tricky than before, as I had to contend with some rather large tree roots. But with the help of a saw and a bit of flexing of my muscles, I soon showed them who was boss.

Plus a few more interesting finds along the way.

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A Christmas gift for my chickens!

Whether it’ll all be ready for Christmas I don’t know, only time will tell, and if the weather behaves. Today I started digging out the base where I need to lay the concrete base for the chickens new shed to go on. Some of the digging was easy and other bit were a right pain in the backside, because there are still some massive tree roots in the ground. Still I’ll get them out. How far I’ll get today is another matter. But I’ve got all afternoon (well until it gets dark), so off we go.

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25 things I’ve learned from 25 years in books…

Mark Stay Writes

December 1992: Charles and Di announced their separation, the NET book agreement was still in place, Amazon was still just a river to most people, and a fresh-faced bookseller started a temporary Christmas placement at Waterstones in Dorking.

dscf0171.jpg Me and Horrid Henry before the TV and movie money changed him…

I’ve been selling books for 25 years (I only meant to stay for Christmas!) and I thought I could share a few of the things I’ve learned on the way, though I suspect the final tip is the only one of true practical use…

25 things I’ve learned from 25 years in books:

1. Be professional and courteous to everyone you meet and work with. It’s a small industry.
2. Amazon is all about the customer. Keep that in mind with every dealing you have with them.
3. Formats may change, genres will wax and wane, but people will always want…

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All marked out…….

I’m all marked out, it took a whole lot of planning, and a handful of weeding. I’m all marked out, it’s hard to dig you sometimes, when I’m forking and shovelling you around.

The trees are out, the fencing is up and now I can decide where everything is definitely going to go. So come and see what I have decided. There’s still a huge amount to do, but slowly but surely it’s coming together.

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The Bestseller Experiment is back!

Mark Stay Writes

After a bit of a post-publication break, the Bestseller Experiment podcast has returned, with an episode we recorded… back in September…

Okay, so that’s maybe cheating a bit, but it’s an excellent episode featuring three of Orion’s top publicist sharing their secrets of the trade.

Elaine Egan won an award this week for her excellent work on Lucy Vine’s debut Hot Mess (including getting her a much-prized guest spot on our beloved podcast), Lauren Woosey who recently arranged our interview Victoria Aveyard (tune in next week), and Virginia Woolstencroft who squeezed us into the busy schedule of some bloke called Bryan Cranston. They’re full of really useful advice, so if you want in on some tip-top publicity tips, listen here now.

And speaking of amazing publicity, our wonderful publicist Lisa Shakespeare got us a double page spread in Publishers Weekly. You can read the online version here

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I don’t feel exposed any more!

As you know the cypress trees where ripped out on Sunday, and then we felt very exposed to the elements for several days. The wind whizzed across the field, and even the chickens found it rather chilly, as they puffed their feathers up. A little electric fence was put up to stop the horses from venturing into our garden, and I’m very pleased to say it worked. But today was the day where our new fence would go up.

Before the men arrived this morning, I went and turned off the electric fence from the battery. I was hoping I’d done it right, and I had. I didn’t want to electrocute either myself, or the guys coming to do my fence. That would not have been a very good start. Since the trees came out, the garden has been a bit of a mess. Well, there was no point me tidying the end of the garden, because I didn’t know what mess the fence men were going to make.

Here is a quick reminder of how my garden looked this morning.IMG_4306

But today our wonderful fencing guys came round to give us back our privacy. They arrived a little after 8.30am, all ready for a hard days work. And boy did they work. They told me what they were going to do, and then they just got on with it. There were only 2 guys, but it was like they had a whole army working on our fence. I supplied them with drink, and homemade ginger biscuits, and they worked solidly until they were done.

They had all sorts of tools with them, some noisy, some quiet. They parked in the field behind, so the horses weren’t allowed to come out and play today. By 11 o’clock this is how far they’d got..



They didn’t even stop for lunch, they just worked straight through until they’d finished. I just got on with what I need to do inside the house, and if they needed anything they just called. They didn’t even use the loo! No they didn’t pee in the field, well I don’t think they did. I was writing in the office, and every time I glanced up, I saw that more fencing had gone up. They finished a little after 2pm, and cleared away all their belongings, and even filled in any gaps at the back of the garden with soil they found, and raked level the end of the garden.

This is what it looked like when they’d finished.IMG_4308


Thank you so much Steve and your mate from Firwood Fencing. You were amazing! They’re a very small company just these 2 guys, but they’re brilliant, friendly and very professional.

Now I’ll let the ground settle, and then sort out the chickens new shed and my greenhouses.

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Sunday 5th November 2017 – Timber!!!!!

For many people the 5th of November is synonymous with firework and Guy Fawkes and the failed plot to blow up the King and the houses or Parliament. But in our family the 5th of November will be the date that we finally got rid of our 10, 8 meter tall Cyprus trees at the bottom of our garden, and got our entire garden space back from the horrors of the conifer family!! Paul and his lovely assistant (not Debbie Mcgee) worked very hard, from just before 9am until they’d finished at about 2pm. They used a large tractor/grabby thing to pull the trees out, roots and all. We now have so much more light that is coming into the house, and have a very different view. We are having a new fence up in on Thursday of this week, and then I can get the greenhouses up and the chickens in their new shed at the end of the garden sorted. All that is stopping the horses, in the field at the back from venturing into our garden is a very thin electric fence. Only time will tell if it works. But if the horses do come in the garden, I can save up their droppings. Not sure what the chickens will make of them though.

Here’s how it all unfolded yesterday…..

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