Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

Spring in a winter garden

You have this trip planned. A great big scary trip that involves international travel, research for your novel, staying in a cottage on the Lleyn Peninsula, and speaking Welsh on a daily basis. You have been planning the trip for months – but to be honest it has been in your heart for many years. Only this time you’ll be travelling alone for the very first time – no organized eldest daughter to hold your hand, no husband to take the slack.

A big, bold solo adventure – you swing between terror and elation with pendulum regularity.

Still, there is no real cause for concern, things are progressing at work. If you busy yourself like a bee right up until departure day, you might manage to get everything done. You are up to lesson twenty two of Say Something in Welsh, and have started tuning into Radio Cymru. Added to which, you’ve made final payments on your accommodation, photocopied essential documents, ordered one or two books from Amazon.co.uk – to save postage, you tell your husband wide-eyed. You are saving him money! You have even booked a show in the West End.

You are organised – so organised, nothing could possibly go wrong.

On Wednesday, you wake up with a sniffle. But it’s nothing to worry about. Just because you come down hard with every cold, doesn’t mean it will happen this time. On Thursday your muscles are aching. But, no, you can’t afford a day off work. You take a few paracetamol and a bucket of vitamins. It’s okay you tell everyone. Nothing to worry about. You’re just a bit below par, that’s all. It’ll pass.
Friday, hits you like a wrecking ball. You are held to the bed by a six strong arms. For some reason, no matter how hard you you struggle, you can’t face the day on two legs. You call work, agonising over everything you are not getting done, and wait for the paracetamol to take effect.
Your weekend passes in a haze of wretchedness. You miss coffee with friends and going to the movies, and, to be honest, you don’t really care, you are too sick. You wonder if this is the start of a new pandemic. 
Monday, you are no better – by Tuesday you feel like your face is going to explode. Somewhere in your vitamin C, zinc and echinacea soaked existence, you remember there is a medical profession. You make an appointment and drive yourself up to the clinic. 
‘Hmm …’ the Doctor shakes his head. ‘A sinus infection. We’d better get on top of it. This could stop you flying.’

In the car, you can barely stop yourself from howling. All that practice, all that hoping and dreaming, threatened by a set of blocked sinuses. Still, it’s probably for the best, you console yourself. You’re too administratively challenged to travel alone. You’d leave your laptop at a bus stop. Or drop your iPhone over the rails of the Princess Pochahontas river cruise. And as for learning a language – who were you trying to kid? You’d be completely tongue-tied – like in your year twelve Japanese exam. Spend the fortnight be lying to your family, while secretly speaking English the whole time.  

Then, as you trudge up the driveway you see it. You stop, closing your eyes, and press your aching eyelids – take another look. 
Yes, it really is there. You are not hallucinating – a lone yellow daffodil in an otherwise winter garden.
Picking your way across the lawn, you hear the the crunch of old leaves under-foot. Bending low, you touch a finger to its nodding head, marvelling at its tapered stem and delicately bevelled trumpet. Then, for no reason at all, you find yourself smiling – at this tiny hope of spring that has come to you completely out of season.


Important medical information


Round and round the roundabout …


  1. if a daffodil can get out of the ground in this cold, Liz, you will certainly get to Wales. Hope you’re feeling better pronto!!
    (and yes, that is a different blog I have now.)

  2. Very moving and inspiring post, Liz. Did you get to Wales? Can’t wait to hear.
    Love Carole

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