Skeletons of Birkbury is my first novel. It was published by www.wingsepress.com on 1st May 2012. It is available direct from the publishers and www.amazon.uk.com.
EXCERPT FROM SKELETONS OF BIRKBURY
We spray the fields and scatter
The poison on the ground
So that no wicked wild flowers
Upon our farm be found.
We like whatever helps us
To line our purse with pence;
And neat electric fence.
All concrete sheds around us,
And Jaguars in the yard,
The telly lounge and
Are ours from working hard.
(A letter in Farmers Weekly.)
Frank Codrington was now running his late and pushing his
bicycle with a punctured wheel. He glared at the hedgerow as if it was their
fault they had been butchered yesterday by Grahams’ hedge
cutter , leaving debris scattered all over the lane. Frank remembered the pride
his father took trimming and plaiting hedges by hand. How he would thoughtfully
make sure any off cuts were carefully disposed off rather than left scattered
across the road. In those days ditches were also properly maintained so the
lanes didn’t flood every time it rained.
Frank was a slight man, people often
assumed he was an ex jockey although in reality he had never sat on a horse in
his life. He had worked at Rooksbridge Farm for most of his life, firstly for
Mark and Kim. He now worked for their son, Graham and his wife Gillian. He had
retained his boyish good looks, enhanced by his wide grin which was never far
away. His dark hair was kept short and neat although usually hidden under a hat
He leant his ancient bike against the fence whilst he fumbled in
his pocket for the keys. The pockets of the battered jacket
handed down to him by Mark, were full of baler twine, nails, screws, bits
of straw and saw dust, his cigarettes and at last the keys. At 49 Frank no
longer did wheelies down the road but his head hurt from last nights’ drinking
and he had hoped the short bike ride would help clear his head. It also kept his
small spry figure in trim and on half days he could go straight back to The Bull
As it was summer
it was light at 6am, unlike the dark cold mornings of the now forgotten winter
months. Once the main gates were unlocked it was a short ride along the
manicured drive way, Graham took such great pride in mowing each week, to the
main stable block. There he unlocked the tack room and switched all the alarms
off. Once the stabled horses were checked he was off to check the horses in the
fields and the fencing.
Frank knew the farm as well as his own tied cottage. Last
night’s storm had been severe but now everything seemed too still, too calm. The
quad bike skidded as he pushed it to full speed across the homefield. Whilst the
rain had left a fresher feel to the air it had turned the dust to a thin layer
of slippery mud. The weather patterns seemed to have gone crazy of late, the
seasons all mixed up with extremes of temperature and torrential rain likely at
any time. The strong winds would have upset the horses and possibly brought down
parts of the electric fencing used extensively for summer grazing.
Mostly the horses spent the nights in the gully field. Either to
enjoy the breeze that always came across the top off the ridge when temperatures
soared or on colder nights they would huddle in a tight bunch down the bottom,
using the steep banks as a shield from the wind and
As he approached the top of the gully he noticed the huge oak
tree had come down overnight and taken half of the ancient hawthorn hedge with
it. The horses were nowhere to be seen. As he approached the base of the fallen
tree, a cloud shadow ran across the landscape and he felt the temperature drop
several degrees as the cloud passed, blocking out the morning sun. Amongst the
upturned roots of the tree and hedge and dislodged earth were the decomposing
remains, of what appeared to have once been a
He steeled himself to move closer and double check before
raising the alarm.
Frank’s reaction was “bloody ‘ell. This ain’t my