I have always loved the countryside and spent a lot of time playing outside, as a child. I grew up on farms and nurseries and so, the appeal of the countryside has remained with me – and, particularly, the region in which I grew up and live now; West Sussex.
Writing Under the Yew Tree gave me license to remember the landscapes of my childhood and investigate further the activities and dynamics of the villages and farming communities I grew up with and worked within during my career. I certainly had some key places in mind, whilst writing and several of my readers of Under the Yew Tree claim to recognise some of my landscape descriptions.
The village of Watersham itself in the book is a combination of villages local to where I live, in which you can imagine life in the 1940s; children walking to primary school; local shops and places of interest including the baker, the grocer, a tearoom, the church hall; and boys getting up to no good in the woods on the outskirts of the village!
Many of the descriptions of Downland views are based on areas of the South Downs outside Chichester, Arundel and north of Worthing, in West Sussex.
Village life in those days was a much tighter, closer-knit, and self-sustainable existence and I must admit, an element of that still appeals to me…