Gillian Monks

'Making Fairytales Come True'

Month: September 2018

Merry Michaelmas!

A very happy Michaelmas to you! What am I talking about? Already people are

Autumnal Wreath Front Door

Autumnal wreath for the front door

beginning to focus on the ‘countdown to the BIG DAY’ on the 25th December and are forgetting other more ancient agrarian festivals!

Michaelmas is one of the Christian quarter days – the others being March 25th, June 24th and December 25th – which closely shadow the equinoxes and solstices celebrated by older and other religions. This time of year is seen as the end of the time of harvest and is still marked by harvest thanksgiving services as we rapidly slide into deep autumn and towards the fallow months of Winter.

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Candying Time

Candied Peels 1

Candied halves of grapefruit ready to be dried off.

I have just seen a post on Facebook which informs me that there are only fourteen more Fridays before Christmas. I got my diary out and counted – and it is true! So for all the people who feel that they have loads of time between now and Christmas…. think again!!! Suddenly, fourteen Fridays neither sounds – or feels – very much.

And I already seem to be a bit behind myself – and I am blaming all delays this autumn on my book which is being published in just a couple of weeks time on the 4th October. I have only just finished candying my first batch of fruit peel which I usually get done in July or August. My favourite peel is grapefruit which is thick and luscious when candied. I usually add it to my mixture when I am baking my Christmas and New Year Cakes. It gives a fresh tang to the other fruits and spices. (And I often finish using it up in the Hot Cross Bun dough at Easter which makes the spicy fruit bread an extra-delicious treat.)

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‘Gather Ye Fir Cones While Ye May’

Fir cones

Gathered on one lovely summer’s walk through the Beddgelert Forest

Gazing out of my window this evening it is hard to believe that it is the middle of August and the children are still on their summer holidays. The mountains are completely obscured by cloud – in fact, I can hardly see the other side of the valley – and it is dark, gustily windy and drenchingly wet. Ah, the true British summer has returned to us. Now this is the weather I recognise and understand!

In such circumstances my thoughts turn to autumn and cosy evenings by a blazing fire… and being me, they drift as far as the Midwinter season. No, don’t groan! There are facets throughout the whole year which reflect on our major Winter celebrations; things which it is good to do/collect/gather/make in preparation for that special time, and now – if and when the rain stops! – is no exception.

For it is now that everything in the woods and forests is coming to fruition, and that means things like all the fir cones which feature so prominently in our Winter decorations. But NOW is the time to begin collecting them. Take

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