My guest today is Fil Reid, author of the Guinevere series of time travel historical romances based on Arthurian legend. I'm delighted she has an animal story for us. Thanks for stopping by, Fil!
A Tale of Two Peacocks
I’ve had a lot of pets in my time – horses, dogs, cats, goats, chickens, sheep… you name it and at some point it’s lived in the Reid household. But the oddest pet (albeit quite temporary) were the peacocks that appeared from nowhere in our barn.
We were living in France at the time, in the middle of nowhere and a mile from the nearest farm, with our youngest son, a small eleven-year-old. In our large dutch barn opposite the house, we had stables, kennels, and a stack of hay. We’d been out somewhere and when we came back, there was this young peacock in our barn. It panicked a lot as we tried to catch it and narrowly escaped ending up in the dog run which would have ended its life pretty smartly.
However, our delighted son managed to catch it. He loves every kind of bird so was over the moon to have acquired a peacock. But we knew we couldn’t keep it, so we put it in the largest dog cage we had (bearing in mind it could fly over a stable door and might end up murdered) and I rang the local Mairie.
I spoke to Loic, the secretary. “We’ve found a peacock,” I said, in French (I was pretty fluent back then). Now, peacock in French is ‘paon’, which sounds pretty much like ‘pont’ when pronounced by a Brit, and Loic probably wasn’t expecting a peacock story. “You’ve found a bridge?” he echoed, clearly puzzled. I explained the paon/pont was a bird and he cottoned on. I also rang the gendarmes and told them, but, oddly, no one had reported a lost peacock.
Several days passed and we still had the peacock which was looking increasingly grumpy in the dog cage in a stable. My husband was working in the barn on the car when he noticed the dog cage was empty. No peacock. We went inside and told our son. We all trooped outside to take a look. Surprise. There was indeed a peacock back in the cage, but not our peacock. That had been young and tailless. This was a fully fledged angry male with a big tail. A mystery. And he was an interference fit in that cage.
Another phone call to Loic to tell him we had acquired yet another peacock – a different one – and with no sign whatsoever of the first one. Who knew what had happened to that one? We didn’t.
This was not the end of the story. Two days later, an irate French farmer turned up and accused us of stealing his peacocks. I pointed out that the peacocks in question had just appeared and we’d reported them as soon as we noticed them. However, they were convinced our eleven-year-old son had carried those heavy birds a mile from their farm. Of course, he hotly denied this, and we’ve never, not even eleven years later, got to the bottom of the mystery of the vanishing and reappearing peacocks.
BLURB, Guinevere: The Quest for Excalibur
(Fil mentioned that book 5 in the series, The Quest for Excalibur, just released September 6, 2023, but for your reading pleasure, it's best to start with book 1. Here's the link for the whole series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09MR86WGQ)
Book Five of the award-winning historical romance series based on Arthurian legend.
Twelve years ago, 21st-century librarian Gwen decided to remain in the Dark Ages with the man she loves above all else – a man around whom endless well-known tales of legend and magic have been spun. King Arthur. Over the years, she’s carved a life for herself by her husband’s side, gently steering him in the direction she wants him to go, but always with an awareness that he’s a Dark Age king with a Dark Age view of the world.
Equipped with her prior knowledge of Arthurian legend, Gwen’s sole aim has long been to save her husband from the legendary fate she dreads hangs over him. But always, at the back of her mind, is the nagging doubt that whatever she does is already set in stone, and nothing she can do will change his future which is already her past.
Now, in book five of the Guinevere series, she’s all too aware that time is marching on, and that this fate might well be drawing closer to the man she gave up everything for.
Danger lurks in the most unexpected places, and long-hidden secrets threaten to rise to the surface. After a long, cold winter in their hilltop fortress, Gwen’s pleased to welcome traveling players to Din Cadan. But these players are hiding secrets of their own, and one of them has come with black deeds in mind. Gwen will have to fight harder than she’s ever done to save herself and thus her husband. And all evidence points to the hand of Morgana, Arthur’s wicked sister, manipulating everything from afar.
Throughout all of this, simmering in the background, is young Medraut, Arthur’s nephew. Unnoticed, despite still being only a boy, he’s been exerting his malignant influence over those around him, in particular, Gwen and Arthur’s son and heir. The wedge he succeeds in driving between Arthur and his son will carry forward into the cataclysmic events of the final book, The Road To Avalon.
But even Morgana can’t prevent Gwen discovering the truth behind the story of Excalibur and setting the legendary sword in her husband’s hands.
Excerpt (Merlin shows Gwen where the sword has come from):
The younger man reached for the sword with reluctance, his stubbly cheeks tear-stained, eyes anguished. Filthy fingers closed around the hilt. “My Lord, I will not rest until this sword lies in the hands of your wife.” His head bowed in supplication.
The dragon ring winked at me in the raw daylight, as the Emperor laid a hand on the young soldier’s bare, short-cropped head in benediction. Withdrawing his hand, the Emperor fumbled at the ring with awkward, bandaged fingers as the young man rose wearily to his feet, and slid the sword into the scabbard by his side.
The Emperor, his own cheeks wet with tears, held out the ring, gripped between finger and thumb. “Take this as well. It was my wife’s.”
It fell into the soldier’s open hand, and the young man turned it over, so the dragon rested uppermost on the filthy palm.
An overwhelming urge to reach out and snatch it washed over me, but the vision vanished. My eyes flicked open.
I was back on the wall-walk again, with Merlin still holding my hands and the dragon ring on my finger glinting in the afternoon sunlight.
My breath came hard and fast. “Was that sword Excalibur?”
“I don’t know, but I think so. This is the clearest I’ve seen him. All I can tell you is that every time I look, I see this sword gripped in that hand. That hand with that ring. This ring.” He indicated the ring on my hand. “And I believe that what I’m seeing, what I’ve just shown you, is Macsen’s defeat by the Emperor Theodosius. I think he knew execution awaited him and wanted to send his sword back to Britain. Perhaps it was a British-made sword – even linked to the Princess Elen, his wife.”
Fil Reid, Author Bio:
After a varied life that’s included working with horses where Downton Abbey is filmed, riding racehorses, running her own riding school, owning a sheep farm and running a holiday business in France, Fil now lives on a widebeam canal boat on the Kennet and Avon Canal in Southern England with her husband, a rescue dog from Romania called Bella, and Nancy the cat.
She once saw a ghost in a churchyard, and when she lived in Wales there was a panther living near her farm that ate some of her sheep.
She has Asperger’s Syndrome and her obsessions include horses and King Arthur. She speaks fluent French after living there for ten years, and in her spare time looks after her allotment, makes clothes and dolls for her grand daughters, embroiders and knits. In between visiting the settings for her books.
SOCIAL MEDIA links:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09MR7F2RP. - start with book one of the series