This week we re-started our Bavarian cuckoo clock. It's been idle for years, while our son and other people's children were too young to resist yanking on the chains. But I started it again when my friend's four-year-old daughter was here and begged to hear the cuckoo. She was thrilled as I turned the hands again and again so she could see the little woodchopper raising his axe, the mill wheel turning, the people dancing, and the little bird popping out of his door.
I slept on the sofa last night because I'm not feeling well, and enjoyed the clock's reassuring sound. It made me recall our trip to Germany eight years ago. Much of my novel was inspired by that trip: by the castles, the mountains, the forests, the turquoise waters of the alpine streams, the brightly painted houses, and the fortress-towns like Rothenburg. We visited Nuremburg but didn't get to see the castle. The rest of our fellow tourists did, but, being unable to read the German signs, Mark and I ended up taking a long circuit of the grassy moat! By the time we found the castle entrance, it was time to return to the bus. I've always regretted that.
But I got plenty of inspiration from Neuschwanstein. I could go to the Alps every year, I think! Fresh air, fresh ale, a sense of timelessness and incredible scenery. What more could a person ask for?