Summer Showers at Elder Fell Farm
A simple holiday just got complicated …
Single mum Amy has been struggling since her mother’s death and now her son, Harry, has been accused of bullying schoolmate Oliver — giving Amy’s dictatorial ex-husband yet another reason to criticize her parenting.
All Amy wants is the chance to spend time with her son. Where better to escape all her troubles than camping at the remote but beautiful Lake District farm where she spent idyllic summers with her mother when she was a little girl?
Her tranquil escape seems doomed when Oliver, and his widowed dad, Matt, turn up on the neighboring pitch — but at Elder Fell Farm, unlikely friendships can be forged. Are Matt and Amy ready to fall in love again? And will their boys bring them together – or drive them apart?
Author Bio –
Liz has always surrounded herself with books.
As a child, she was always to be found with her head in one and she still has a bookcase full of her childhood favorites to this day. She went on to work in a library cataloguing early printed books – but as most of the books turned out to be volumes of sermons, she wasn’t tempted to read them all!
Children interrupted her bibliographic career, and Liz started writing fiction and hasn’t stopped since, joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme in 2015 to try to learn how to write novels properly. This led to publication of her first romantic novel, The Little Church by the Sea in late 2017, followed by The Manor on the Moors in 2019.
When Covid struck, Liz was working on a novel set in the 1990s, but sadly research proved difficult when she could no longer access the microfilm readers at the reference library. Instead, she wrote Summer Showers at Elder Fell Farm which relied largely on her own experiences of campervans, campsites and noisy children.
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In Summer Showers at Elder Fell Farm, our hero, Matt, owns a campervan, and his story has roots in my own experience of campervans.
When our children were small we bought a campervan, a beautiful old VW called ‘Big Blue’. We had a dream of hitting the open road and heading out into the countryside until we found a nice campsite. We would cook over a campfire and sing songs together as we watched the fire die down in the evening. If it rained, we’d be cozy inside with playing cards and a cup of hot chocolate. What more could you ask?
The reality wasn’t quite what I’d expected.
First, there were the sleeping arrangements. When we bought Big Blue it was fine. The children were little and shared the pop-top (a giant bunk bed in the roof of the van) and my husband and I shared the rock-n-roll bed in the main part of the van. However, before we could have a second summer in the van, our eldest had got so big and our youngest so wriggly that it soon became impossible for them to share the space.
‘He’s taking up all my room!’
‘Well, she’s kicking me!’
There would be an almighty clattering and the whole van would shake as they fought for possession of the pop-top. For a while we tried splitting them up and my husband shared the downstairs bed with my son, while my daughter and I shared the pop-top. But do you know what? She really did wriggle a lot. At least Matt and Oliver in the novel don’t have this problem – Oliver sleeps on his own in the pop-top while Matt gets the rock-n-roll bed.
Then came my romantic idea of hitting the road, in search of that perfect campsite. In theory it sounds great, but in practice, if your children are in school and you want to camp in the holidays, then all the good campsites will have been booked for weeks. If you want to be spontaneous, you end up on one of the weird campsites that have space. Like the one right next to a breaker’s yard where the workers enjoyed whirring metal saws and swearing. Or the one where the feral children lurked in the toilets all day waiting to squirt you with water pistols (which we hoped they hadn’t filled with toilet water). Or the one where someone cleaned out the freezer of all the ice packs that the other campers had put in there for their cool boxes. Twice.
Then there was the cooking. I had this idea that my kids would love camping food. I did as a child – I was allowed to eat things my mother would never have dreamed of cooking at home – instant mash, hot dog sausages, corned beef, and Dairylea cheese triangles. Bliss! Apparently not for my kids. One of them was happy to eat corned beef hash, but only if I didn’t put any onions in it, and the other would only eat it if it DID have onions in, and rather a lot of ketchup. One of them liked the sound of sausages and mash, but only if the sausages were proper ones and not hot dog sausages out of a tin. The other one would eat the hot dog sausages, but only if they could have pasta instead of mash. They were both agreed on one thing – absolutely no chance would they eat anything containing Dairylea cheese triangles. Sigh.
Of course, there were the moments where trips in the campervan were everything we had hoped for. Spectacular sunsets over Ullswater, waking up surrounded by the glorious scents of the heather on the Yorkshire Moors, catching fish in a jam-jar, looking up at night and seeing the Milky Way … oh yes, there were plenty of magic moments too!
So, I tried to include a mixture of the realities of campervan life as well as the dream in Summer Showers at Elder Fell Farm when I made Matt a campervan owner. You can probably sense that not all the incidents in the novel are entirely imaginary …