Gillian Monks

'Making Fairytales Come True'

Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 2)

Politically Correct?

November Day

Sprinkling of snow on the mountain opposite my living room window this time last year – today everything is very green, wet and windy… but when it comes to a question of black…?

If the use of the word ‘black’ is now seen as politically incorrect (as in the instance of Saint Nicholas and his companion, Black Peter, in the Netherlands), how come everyone is now being allowed to use the term ‘Black Friday’?

Personally, I think that disallowing the use of the word ‘black’ is quite ridiculous and actually draws unnecessary attention to colour prejudice and highlights the problem rather than the reverse. I am not here to debate this question – simply asking why one reference to an ancient custom is no longer allowed (when it harmlessly had nothing to do with race) but is allowed when it concerns making lots of money.

I view Black Friday as very black indeed – appealing to the most base instincts, responses and emotions of humanity – avarice, greed, selfishness, arrogance and acquisitiveness not withstanding.

I love to give. I am delighted to say that on Black Friday, we actually gave away, not fifty, but seventy-six electronic copies of the ‘Alternative Advent Calendar’. I hope that all the recipients enjoy our gift to them and get a lot of fun, satisfaction and pleasure from them.

Meanwhile, it is a very blustery, stormy morning here, although not as cold as it was this time last year as the photo above illustrates! It is the second Sunday of Advent and, as I was in Germany for the first Sunday of Advent, this afternoon I shall be making my wreath and as a family we shall be sitting down by the fire and singing carols around the two lit candles.

Blessings of peace and anticipation to you all – have a really lovely day!

A Merry Midwinter Workshop

Candles Trigonos Library

Building the magic in the library

What a marvellous day I had with the Merry Vegan Midwinter workshop group at Trigonos last Sunday!

The centre is only a couple of miles from my home and they stock both of my books (as well as various other crafty bits and pieces like my ubiquitous fir cone gnomes) It was while I was checking numbers and signing a few copies which had slipped my attention that a lady entered the room. It transpired that she was part of another group staying at Trigonos that day; a yoga teacher who had bought a copy of ‘Merry Midwinter’ the previous year and used it to suggest seasonal topics for her classes – and now she was about to do the same with ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’. Of all the ways I imagined ‘Merry Midwinter’ might be read and used, I never could have envisaged that it might be used as a focus for yoga!

My group spent the morning in the main meeting room making traditional decorations from natural evergreens and other locally foraged items. We began with the Welsh New Year calennig: an apple – representing the world – with three wooden legs – representing the trinity – topped by a red candle – the light of the world – and decorated with holly leaves and beech masts to symbolise undying life and the fruitfulness of the seasons.

Workshop Display Table

Examples of some of the things that were made – and my books, of course!

Then we moved on to constructing a fir cone gnome, by which time, I felt that everyone had deserved a break and we all enjoyed a mug of hot spiced apple and other fruit juices which had been slowly warming on a hot plate. After that it was down to the really serious business of making door wreaths or kissing balls which were constructed from hoops of living willow and then had lengths of bay and holly tied around them, decorated with bunches of ivy and other red-berried sprigs.

Main Meeting Room, Trigonos

The Main Meeting Room at Trigonos, set up and ready for the morning’s activities – the large piles of cut holly, bay and ivy are behind the camera!

Three hours for such a workshop might sound interminable, but it always flies by. The look of stricken panic on everyone’s faces once I announced that they only had half an hour to complete everything was almost comical, but they thankfully all managed to finish what they had set out to do, producing some beautifully individual decorations full of character and the very essence of wild Midwinter life brought within. Burnham Woods had come to Trigonos earlier that morning, but it was more like Burnham copse that we packed back into the car to take home again!

Meanwhile, Lee, my partner in organising and delivering the workshop, had been beavering away in the kitchen with the rest of the Trigonos catering team to produce a sumptuous three course plant based Christmas feast for our lunch. The dining room was lit by soft wall lights and candles… tea lights, ivy and fir cones  and colourful tiny camels decorated the long table around which we all sat… the warmth and scents of hot savoury food were tantalising.

We started with roast squash, coconut and ginger soup which was thick and smooth and steamingly delicious. The main course was parsnip, chestnut and rosemary roast accompanied by creamy Potato Dauphinoise, pan fried Brussels sprouts and kale (the deep green, red and darker colours of which looked like a glorious Christmas table decoration),  mini Yorkshire puddings, heavenly Christmas gravy and fresh cranberry and orange sauce. Our dessert was hot chocolate and orange brownie cake topped with mulled berries and cool dollops of vegan fromage frais.

The first part of the afternoon was spent with Lee giving a cookery demonstration of how to make some of the dishes we had just eaten. Perhaps I am beginning to feel my age a little but I was quite relieved that I could quietly retreat to the library where everyone was due to come together for the last activities and the close of the day. Softly I trod around the peaceful room, setting out my candles, standing my little musical Christmas Tree on a small table, replenishing the blazing fire with more logs and placing a plate of vegan flapjack ready to offer to everyone, just in case they still had the odd empty corner left after our amazing lunch The clock ticked quietly, the logs occasionally repositioned themselves in the grate on their bed of glowing ash, the candle flames winked and danced.

Library, Trigonos

An oasis of warmth, calm and cosiness!

Once we were all together once more we began to discuss how one might satisfyingly achieve an authentic Midwinter/Christmas celebration – or, in fact, any celebration – without killing oneself with the effort. (Watch this space for more ideas on this!) I had handouts and a questionnaire for everyone to fill in – not the usual ‘feed back on the event’ kind, but questions as to how people might really wish to celebrate the Midwinter season and how they thought they might achieve it… who they might ask to help them… who they might extend hospitality to this year, and so on.

As dusk began to fall outside the big bay windows and the mountains were swallowed up in the darkness of the late November afternoon, shadows pooled in the corners of the room and fire and candle light became softly prominent. I handed round the alternative carol sheets and we began by tentatively trying out one for ‘Mother’s Night’ on Christmas Eve, sung to the tune of ‘Silent Night’. As we reached the last verse, Lee’s partner, Jane, came in through the door bearing a large tray of steaming mugs of hot chocolate. The flapjack was also now shared around. In much more vigorous voice we next sang my dear friend, Jackie Worcester-Box’s alternative words to ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’.

Time was getting on and I was aware that some people had a long journey home ahead of them, but when I asked if they would prefer another one – or two – carols, or me reading an extract from one of my books, there was a resounding cry of ‘All of it!’ Lee and Jane also now joined us and I spotted my husband sitting quietly by the door. We set off with a roof-raising rendition of ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Druid Folk’ (to the tune of ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’ and ended with a slightly quieter version of ‘We Three Gifts’ (‘We Three Kings’) which focuses on the elements of the natural world and how blessed we are by clean air, fresh water and good earth.

Everyone calmed down as I began to read about collecting evergreenery when I was a child, and our annual walk to Bessie’s farm to cut holly with red berries on it. But people still seemed loath to leave and there was a great deal of chatter, laughter and hugging before we all finally dispersed.

I feel that if I can help to clarify – or in many cases, rekindle – the love of celebrating Midwinter and Christmas, then it more than recompenses and validates my work…  my job is truly done.

Black Friday… All Month?

Vase of hollyStand up and make a difference! Rebel against consumerism! Do not fall for tacky sales techniques. Many years ago, I was told by a very successful businessman that the way to generate sales and boost profits was to raise the price an item and slap a ‘sale’ sign on it. Trading standards wouldn’t allow it these days? Don’t you believe it. Our clever sales teams have become craftily adept at manipulating our perception of reality.

This last few years I have been deeply concerned that we, here in Britain, have decided to follow in the U.S.of A.’s ill-considered footsteps and have a Black Friday commercial jamboree all of our very own. In fact, when I first heard the term, I hadn’t a clue what was being referred to. Sadly, I should think that everyone is now very well aware of exactly what Black Friday is.

Unfortunately, it no longer refers to merely the day after Thanks Giving (which in America usually falls on the fourth Thursday of November). No. Now we have sales going on all through the month which are generically referred to as Black (no longer politically correct) and on any day of the week for all the weeks in the month.

In America, Black Friday falls on the 29th November. Today on Amazon, I distractedly noticed that there was a clock counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the start of their Black Friday sale tomorrow, (the 22nd).

I have an alternative suggestion to make. It involves a cardboard box, a sheet of plain paper, some scissors, a pad of paper, a pack of envelopes, a tube of glue and a set of coloured pens. On the first day of December, get your family together and present them with all of these items. First they have to cover the box with the paper. Then they need to cut a postbox-shaped slit in the top of one side of it. If they wish, they may then decorate the outside of the box with the coloured pens – make it more festive or personal. Then they can all decide what they would like to do for one another… instead of giving gifts this year, everyone can give something of themselves… their time, their company, their commitment to do something for someone else, even their commitment to do something for themselves which will effect everyone else favourably (like giving up smoking or refraining from being  untidy or inconsiderate).

Everyone writes their promise or pledge on a piece of paper – decorative script can be employed, poetic words may be used, the coloured pens may come into play again to illustrate or decorate the pledges. Once all the pledges have been written, they are sealed in the envelopes and ‘posted’ into the box which is then placed under the Christmas Tree ready for the 25th December.

Some might be funny or facetious… others might be very sincere and beautiful… to make it work, everyone has to join in and play the game AND stick to what they have written – really deliver what they have promised to do for someone else.

Apart from the initial outlay for pens, paper, envelopes and glue, no money is required. Any competitive spirit will be subverted in to ingenuity of a totally different kind and have possibly far-reaching consequences… consequences which will certainly last a whole lot longer than the emotional response and disappointment which the millions of unwanted gifts that are given each year must surely generate.

Let’s make this a really positive Christmas.

Christmas gift shopping? Sorted!

This winter, instead of having a spending spree celebration, make it a spending free celebration!

 

That Time Of Year!

Christmas Cards

Writing my Christmas cards at the dining room table yesterday – a lovely, sunny, winters afternoon.

Yes, it is that time of year again… time to write my Christmas cards! Some people love it but many seem to have negative feelings about this seasonal task. I hear complaints about the cost… the feeling obliged to send them… the environmental issues of using so many trees to make the cards and then the pollution involved in transporting them to their destinations. But there are some positives among all these too.

It may not surprise you to know that I love my Christmas cards. They are one of the most important features of Christmas for me. In this automated, electronic age, I relish being able to still hold something – touch it while I write it – that the recipient is going to also soon hold in their own hands – no matter what part of the globe they may be living on. Similarly, I adore receiving cards in return… saving them up until two or three days before Christmas to open with the family, and hearing all the news, reading the enclosed letters and messages and, yes, touching the paper that my loved ones have also held with their hands. It almost feels like we are holding hands together across all the time and miles… our cards unite us.

Which is why, when I write my cards, I try and take my time. I am as busy as the next person, but it is important to me. I write a message which I genuinely feel for the person I am addressing, and once that is done, I lay my hands across it and ‘charge’ it with some positive thoughts and feelings like love and light.

If you are only writing your cards – or doing anything else – because everyone else is doing it, then stop! Don’t do it at all. ‘Have to’ and other people’s expectations are not nearly a good enough reason. You need to mean what you do – and enjoy it too. Otherwise it is an empty gesture which benefits no one.

No matter how many or few cards you wish (and I use the word advisedly!) to send, stop and think about what you really want to say to the person you are writing the card to. What would you say if they were standing in front of you? If you could say anything at all that your heart desired, what would that be? That is what your Christmas message should be – that is exactly what you should write. These days there is a lot of talk about authenticity; in this case speaking our truth and  expressing ourselves – our feelings – authentically. So do it.

If what you would truly like to say to this person is not nice…is  offensive… insulting… then you shouldn’t be writing a card to them at all. So don’t. But on reflection, it is the time of year for putting aside your grievances – can you not find it in your heart to wish them well anyway? We all have challenges, emotions, misguided good intentions … and make mistakes… how about giving the gifts of generosity, second chances and benefits of the doubt this year? Forget the expensive presents. Give something which really means something and will have a positive, beneficial effect into the new year ahead.

As for the environmental impact of the production and transportation of so many millions of cards, let us get this in perspective. Look out for environmentally friendly cards to buy – not just the paper production but there are also options to use less toxic dyes and colours too – and lobby for them to be used at other times of the year. When all is said and done, when one considers just what quantity of unnecessary goods we rape the riches of the Earth to manufacture, why pick on the innocent Christmas card? When the good feeling, friendship, healing and love which they annually carry all around the globe is weighed against their production, I would suggest that it really is worth it after all.

I understand that I will probably never know most of the people who read my blog posts. But, hey… you… yes, it is you I am talking to… my sincerest wishes to you for a marvellous Midwinter, a very happy Christmas, and a wonderful winter in general… With my love.

 

A Very Happy Birthday!

Birthday Cake

Only six candles on my cake but they give off a remarkable amount of light!

It was my birthday yesterday – always an enjoyably special day for me because it usually means family coming together and the true start of my Christmas preparations.

This birthday was a bit different though, as my luncheon club was due to meet that day and, as we only gather together once a month, I really didn’t want to miss it. So I did something quite radical – for me! – I went out celebrating with my lady friends and left the menfolk at home to prepare the tea!!! I felt quite naughty, ha! ha! But I really enjoyed myself and found the speakers talk about producing award winning wine from grapes grown on his allotment a real eye-opener.

I arrived back home just before four o’clock and there all laid out was afternoon tea with my favourite Mandalay china, the fire was lit and glowing and my presents and cards were piled up ready for me to open. And there were fragrant spice cakes (my first of the Winter/Christmas season) and a delicious tangy lemon drizzle cake decorated with candles. Bliss!

To sit with some of my nearest and very dearest around the family hearth is a joy to me at any time, but especially on this, the celebration of my solar return. As the dusk dwindled into darkness outside, there was light and laughter within.

Later, we all wrapped up warmly and went out into the garden to have the little bonfire that was originally planned as a finale to Calan Gaeaf, but made an even more welcome end to my personal celebrations. My husband lit the fire and kept it well stoked… I brought out the hot potato pie, carrots and turnips mashed with lashings of butter and freshly ground pepper and jars of the beetroot and red cabbage which I pickled only a few weeks ago. I suddenly discovered that it adds a certain zest to a meal if one cannot entirely see what is coming on the next forkful of food!

Later, there was equally hot apple crumble doused in thick cream which one of my dearest friends had contributed towards the meal. She had also provided sparklers to light and which we danced around the flames with like six-year-olds! And there were marshmallows… large and sweet and bubbling on the end of our toasting forks while our hands grew progressively redder from the scorching fire. Mugs of piping hot tea and coffee finished the whole thing off.

Eventually, the forecast rain made a tardy appearance and washed us all back indoors – but at least we had enjoyed our time outside first. A truly lovely birthday!

And what did I spend the first morning of my new year doing? Why, organising Christmas, of course… what else?!!!

Merry Vegan Midwinter!

Jess' Workshop Picture‘MERRY VEGAN MIDWINTER’: an alternative festive feast of delights, Sunday, 24th November, 2019, Trigonos, Gwynedd, North Wales
Early bird offer £69 – ends 8th November
Regular day ticket £79

Author, Gillian Monks, and author and TV chef, Lee Watson, are teaming up to bring you a day of seasonal enjoyment, inspiring experiences and magical treats.

Prepare to be inspired!

INCLUDES:

  • Three course vegan festive lunch and welcome drink
  • Workshop with Gillian making authentic traditional Christmas decorations from locally foraged evergreenery
  • Cooking demonstration with Lee
  • Candlelit afternoon tea with special hot chocolate, storytelling and carols by a blazing open fire
  • Selection of teas and fresh coffee available throughout the day
  • Full recipe booklet, especially designed for the day – try all the recipes at home.

Early bird offer: £69, until the 8th November
Normal day ticket: £79
Bed and breakfast rates also available for those coming from further afield

TO BOOK:
Tel 01286 882 388 or email info@trigonos.org
For a booking form visit Trigonos’ web site
Address: Trigonos, Plas Baladeulyn, Nantlle, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, North Wales

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Celebrating With A Book Launch!

What a wonderfully amazing and joyous day! My first proper book launch to

officially birth my second book, ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’, out into the world. And we had a blast! Even before two o’clock struck, people were pouring through the door as I happily greeted so many friends… new and old. It was so good to have so many very dear people there with me.

And there was lots for them to do while we waited for stragglers – and there were one or two! I had assembled a collection of vintage family advent calendars dating back to the early 1950’s which we put out on display, (more about them another time), and we had both my books, ‘Merry Midwinter’ and ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’ for sale, as well as a branch full of my speciality fir cone gnomes which make cheekily cute decorations at any time of year.

There was also a table of refreshments: home made chocolate cake and ginger parkin coated in sweet white icing and studded with crystallised ginger; gluten and dairy-free orange cake and fruit flapjack with savoury snacks to nibble on as well. I had made mulled wine and a none-alcoholic fruit punch but as the cinnamon had a very strange gloopy reaction in the fruit punch and I had forgotten a pan in which to heat the mulled wine, that rather narrowed the choice down to tea and coffee for the more discerning… well, you can’t win them all!

All four candles were lit on the advent wreath which I had made for the occasion and I began by welcoming everyone and giving them an update on what has been happening to me in the world of publishing since the beginning of the year. For not only was this a celebration for the launch of my second book but also for Herbary Books who are responsible for publishing it! Jess and Dafydd were there with us and so I officially introduced their new business venture to the world as well.

I went on to talk about the ancient significance of Midwinter celebration and what advent and the advent wreath symbolises and how the advent calendar developed. I mentioned how I came to write ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’ and we went on to discuss what makes Christmas important to us and how we can bring that into our lives this winter festive season.

I was glad that I had booked the hall for longer than I originally intended. It allowed me to get round and talk to everyone… sign books… and eventually sit down with some of my nearest and dearest for a well-earned cup of tea before beginning to pack everything away.

Once home again, there were six of us for dinner… and a giddy, happy party we made of it. Later, as we settled back with cups of coffee, Jess opened a big tub of chocolates… ‘Celebrations’… what else?!

Stepping Into The Past

Dinas DinlleHill Fort

View walking up the hill to the iron age fort

Walls have been uncovered that were built by people over two thousand years ago, and which probably haven’t seen the light of day since the great storms of eight hundred years ago when all the sand blew in and forevermore totally obliterated parts of the coastline.

Yesterday, I went with my family to visit our local beach – the one nearest to us, only four or five miles along country lanes which normally takes us approximately twelve minutes to drive to in the car. Archaeologists have been excavating on top of the hill fort there this past couple of weeks. The public were then invited to go and see what they had discovered.

Gazebos and tents to house photos and maps and other significant information bucked and flapped in the aftermath of the gale which had assailed north west Wales the previous evening. The sun shone but the waves roared in thunderously as they crashed upon the beach relentlessly and the wind nearly blew us away, especially once we reached the exposed summit of the hill which the fort crowns. It was hard to stand still or upright and the furiously swirling air snatched our guide’s words away in a possessive tantrum, but what we saw and discovered there took my breath away far more thoroughly that the exigencies of the wind.

We were told about the Roman watch tower which was probably built from stones taken from the older hut circles and later, the farms which came and went – even a golf course which was laid out across the hill fort at the turn of the last century!

Hill Fort walls

One of the archaeological trenches showing a wall between six and eight feet thick – built to withstand the elements and humanity alike.

But it was the stones. Stones carried, held, placed by hands over two millennia ago… laid with infinite precision and care by ordinary people shaping their homes… people with vision of a new community… ordinary people going about their everyday business, with blisters and sore backs, with loved ones, with hopes and aspirations just like you and me. I felt the intervening years dissolve and I stood with them – those people of old – and looked on with them as their great round houses and animal folds took shape.

I walked with them towards the entrance to the enclosure which faces away from the sea and the wind and envisaged hunters returning home with their prey, farmers walking back up the track at the end of a long weary day from toiling in the fields… the laughter and chatter of children, the women’s voices and the smoke rising from the cooking fires. It was all there, just a blink away… and then was gone. But I was still left with a feeling of shared community… connection… experience.

Dinas Dinlle

Looking across the sea towards the mountains of Tre’r Ceiri

As I walked back across the summit of the hill and looked out across the bay to the mountains opposite, I saw the very same view that these ancestors of the place must have looked at every day of their lives and felt again that frisson of connection. I thank the archaeologists whose care and work enabled me to briefly walk beside these older folk once more. It gave me a sense of place and time and of fitness to carry on the task of preserving the planet and our life upon it – more precarious now than at any other time this past few thousand years.

With much to think about, we descended the steep slopes and sought sanctuary within one of the bright, warm cafes. I bet those older folk would have a loved a cup of hot tea or coffee!

A Golden Day!

Spent a wonderful day with my family at Cae Non yesterday! The weather was hot and sunny with blue skies and the land was awash with blossom. One of the main focuses of the day was the ritual mixing of our Lammas loaf – or in this particular instance, four flat loaves which were baked on a planc or griddle over an open wood fire. We all took turns to knead the dough and then left it to rise under a damp cloth in the

The land of Cae Non! Our land is actually visible in this picture, but you have to know where to look!

warm sunshine while we wandered off to climb a neighbouring hill.

In spiritual terms, hills can be seen as liminal places, between earth and the heavens. (Think of the tradition of climbing a hill to receive wisdom – Moses and the ten commandments or the Quaker, George Fox, who had certain revelations on Pendle Hill.) This time of year is the season of the grain harvest and in ancient agricultural terms, the time when the masculine energy of the ripening crops of grain sacrifice themselves to the scythe and sickle of the farmer so that humanity might feed and prosper through another long winter.

We climbed to a space which sits high between the sea and the narrow land of Pen Llyn, with the lofty, hazy mountains of Snowdonia in the far distance. Villages, fields, bays, beaches, hills and mountains were spread out around us like a huge and magical quilt. It felt wondrously freeing to literally rise above it all and get life into perspective. To look down and literally and metaphorically see everything mapped out below. We could also clearly see our own land of Cae Non, vigorously bushing out with young tree growth as it transforms from a boggy, weedy, neglected field into a shady, sunny, be-flowered adventure of magic and mystery.

 

How many thousands of generations of our ancestors have sat besides such a fire to cook and eat their meals?

The wonder about the natural world – and life in general – is that there is always something lovely to anticipate and look forward to. I hope that you are enjoying this powerfully invigorating and nurturing season and storing up all the sunshine and Vitamin D against the darker, colder days to come.

Later, once more restored to our own domain, our own miniature domain, my husband lit a fire outside and we began to cook and bake our evening meal. The sun sank lower in the sky. I have noticed that already the quality of sunlight has begun to change from the bright, clear, almost white light of midsummer to more mellow, golden tones which herald the approach of autumn.

For those of us who are lucky enough not to be experiencing deluges of rain and flooding, the beaches, mountains sides, woodlands and sunny gardens all await you – go out and make the most of Lammas-time… and have fun!

The Path Leads Onwards!

First draft finished – another manuscript now ready to enter the editing and production process! And yes, it is another book centred around Midwinter and Christmas but is applicable to any time of the year. ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’ is based on the traditional twenty-four doors, with an extra special door to open of the twenty-fifth of December.

Advent calendars are usually based on giving us something nice to enjoy. This calendar differs in that – far from taking – it is all about what we can give back to the world around us. There is an introductory chapter to explain the origins, aims and development of the advent calendar and also an explanation of the ethos behind Advent itself. This is followed by twenty-five short chapters, each one suggesting a way in which you can make life pleasanter and happier for everything that lives around us – and here I am including animals, plant life and inanimate objects as well as the human element.

Each door will be marked by a large, seasonally illustrated numeral which the reader will ‘open’ by turning the page. There is a simple task or challenge for every day; ideas like giving a hug to people, making someone a hot drink, spending quality time with someone, making people laugh, feeding the local birds, planting seeds, and so on. I also include why these things are important… what real benefit they bring to those around us. Yes, we are mostly aware that it is good to promote such actions… but then we often forget to keep on doing them, especially in the hustle and bustle of the weeks before Christmas when in reality this is just the exact time we should be focusing even more on selfless thought and activities – not less.

But nothing we do, think or say is without its consequences and nothing we participate in is simply one way – there are ultimately the benefits that accrue to the perpetrator as well. Simple kindness can bring immeasurable fulfilment, satisfaction, joy and love. Our interactions with others are always a two-way street.

So, if you want to give yourself or your loved ones an early Christmas present look out for ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’ which will be available to buy from the beginning of October onward. There is also a final short chapter on how the ideas can be applied to any time of the year – January is a wonderful time to instigate these activities… brighten the cold dark world of post Christmas and cheer everyone (including yourself) by doing so.

This whole idea began as a series of blog posts dashed off in the heat of the moment last December while I was rushing around promoting my first book, ‘Merry Midwinter’. Once Advent had come to a end it seemed such a shame to merely discard the idea, so earlier in the spring I began work on rewriting them and taking the time to truly consider what I wished to convey. The result will soon be in the hands of my editor.

I have also been having long conversations about how I wish to portray the seasonal numerals which will represent the ‘doors’. I finally knocked up some very rough sketches to show everyone what I had in mind. They were warmly received and now – although I am no artist at all – am left with the task of doing the job properly for inclusion in the book. I just hope that it does not also fall to me to execute the cover… words are one thing but lines on paper have a habit of refusing to do what I expect. Come to think of it, so do my words! Ah well, such is life – jolly exciting isn’t it?

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