Snowdrops blanket the near lawn, and the hellebores are ramping. Cheerful sprouting of perennials everywhere, and the hens create the impression that forty maids with forty rakes rather than merely daughter Ellie [now my once-a-week gardener] have been tending the beds. Ellie is now admirably fit, as she is running the London Marathon [for a kids kidney research charity, as her little Sam has nephrotic syndrome] in a couple of weeks time. I'm much less fit, finding the present weather uninviting to tramp in, but with iron resolve I do get out at regular intervals. Not least because I need to: I'm head down in a lovely commission which unites three of my favourite things: Arthur Ransome, domesticity and boats (especially their cabins). It's for the Frances Lincoln authors at home series, but in AR's case we are making it Arthur Ransome At Home and Aboard (sic). The first part will focus around his 'Lake in the North', his composite spiritual home of Coniston and Windernere, but the second half [Of Broads and Boats] will be about his holidays on the Broads, his waterside homes on the East Coast and his cabin yachts, Nancy Blackett, Peter Duck and Lottie Blossom. Racundra will also get a look in in a section called Foreign Affairs. Over-application always mean back-ache, and the sailing season, or at least MY sailing season, hasn't started yet. Just back from four lovely days in the Lakes, based with friends high behind Kendal who kindly lend me the best little writing retreat in the world.