Gillian Monks

'Making Fairytales Come True'

The Sacred Jug

It is an ancient, basic and sacred activity for humans to come together to share food and drink.

However, the modern social trend tends to divide and segregate: whereas we would once come together around a central table in our homes or places in our community and eat and drink together whilst sharing our news, we now eat different foods at different times of the day in different places. Even a hot drink is isolated in that we all choose different beverages brewed individually in cups or mugs, often prepared at different times and carried away to consume while we work, walk or travel.

But, there is a unifying and quite magical feeling which surrounds a large jug or pot pouring steaming liquid into smaller containers which we are all going to enjoy together. It captures and focuses everyone’s attention simultaneously. We all relax, appreciate and enjoy together as a group activity.

Similarly, larger containers for serving in bulk are also becoming less common. To this end, I suggest that a most useful and appropriate gift might be a moderately sized or larger heat-proof jug from which hot (or cold) drinks might be served. Admittedly, tea tastes better from a tea pot, but otherwise, there are lots of drinks which can be served from a jug including coffee, hot chocolate or cocoa, and, especially welcome in winter, mulled wine. Even thinner soup can be poured into beakers from a jug, to be drunk and appreciated as it warms and nourishes us.

Nor does this simple social activity have to cost a lot. A cheap, seasonal but alcohol-free drink may be made by using fruit juice, (which also allows children to imbibe with the adults), while a pan of homemade soup, can be speedily assembled and cooked.

So, if you wish to give someone a really useful and meaningful gift this Midwinter season, please do consider getting them a jug – new or sought out in a charity shop – and perhaps the contents of their first use of it – either apple juice and spices or a packet of ground coffee, or a small selection of vegetables. Let us all invest in the simple but time-honoured and sacred act of coming together and sharing.

A truly thoughtful, useful gift.

There are many other ideas out there along similar lines. Please do share your ideas with me and everyone else – I would LOVE to see what you might come up with.

Happy alternative Christmas gifting!

Suggested recipes are below.

Spiced Apple Juice:

Assemble a litre box of apple juice (£1.69), an apple cut into slices, 8 cloves, a  teaspoon of ginger, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a tablespoon of honey, (or alternatively brown or white granulated sugar) in a pan and heat slowly – gently simmer for a few minutes before serving. Very warming and tasty.

Spices may be purchased, 32 grams for just over £1 and might present an initial outlay, but will be be useful in many other winter recipes or for making numerous jugs of hot spiced fruit juice throughout the colder season.

You may prefer to use orange or clementine juice with a sliced fruit of the same kind. You may also like to use other spices such as all-spice, mixed spice or a little grated nutmeg. Adapt amounts to suit your own taste. Of course, if you wish to add a dash of wine or spirits to the mixture to give it that extra kick, that is entirely up to you.

Serves six portions – but can be divided to make just two or three – or even a single portion if you adjust the amounts of spice and sweetening accordingly.

Traditional mulled wine can be made by substituting apple juice with a bottle of wine, and adding 1/2 pint of fruit juice.

Hot Milk:

I am including this because it is one of the simplest, most comforting drinks for young or old alike – best consumed out of a thermos flask on a chilly winter walk, or when you get home after a tiring day.

Measure your milk – whatever kind of milk you prefer to use: cow’s, goats, oat or soya. etc., one mugful per person – into a saucepan. Add a teaspoon of honey and a quarter teaspoon of ground cinnamon per mug. Mix and bring not quite to boil before pouring into large, pre-warmed heatproof jug and serving. An extra shake of cinnamon or grate of nutmeg over the top can add that special touch.

Coffee for Four:

Your favourite ground coffee, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of cinnamon, (or alternatively, a goodly pinch of cocoa), freshly brewed, (or even instant coffee, one generous teaspoon per person, with salt and cinnamon/cocoa and enough boiling water to fill three mugs or cups), and a mug of milk heated in separate pan. Pour both liquids into a warmed jug, stir and serve.  Extra cinnamon, grated chocolate, or cream can be sprinkled/poured over the top of each individual mug.

Onion Soup:

Meat of vegetable stock, three onions peeled and thinly sliced, two or three sticks of celery finely chopped,  four tablespoons barley flakes, salt pepper and a good knob of butter.

Bring all to boil in pan and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes – purify if you have a suitable appliance. A swirl of cream or a dollop of yoghurt can be added to each mug when served.

Cost: £1.30 for large pan of soup which will feed four – six people (depending on size of portions served), plus whatever fuel costs you incur for cooking.

Hearty soups may also be made similarly from mushrooms, tomatoes, green split peas, etc. See my ‘Eat Cheap’ booklet for more simple and economical recipes.





It is More Blessed to Give than to Receive

Front: little crackers containing handwritten good wishes and messages. Behind: yule log decoration adorned with natural greenery and handmade decorations. (The small Christmas tree is revolves, is musical and is over seventy years old.)

Well, the title says it all, really. Job done then – I can sign off! (Only joking!!!) But as the hype for ‘Black Friday’ sales gears up several notches, the above Biblical quotation is at the heart of my thoughts today.

Of course those who are engaged in manufacturing and selling are keen to persuade us to buy their wares as much and as frequently as possible. It is their business, their livelihood. But we don’t have to pay attention to them. Christmas/Midwinter is a time for giving, for generosity, for inclusivity, community, friendship, thanksgiving and joyful service to others.

Consider what truly matters in our lives. What is most important to you? To your family and friends? After the basics of a weatherproof home and sufficient food and clothing have been taken care of, it is usually the intangible gifts which spring to mind: peace, rest, friendship, good company, love – and pleasant activities shared with others who also enjoy the same.

So, tear up your Christmas shopping lists, put your purse away. It is time to don the mantle of the Spirit of Christmas Present and begin to make some magic of your own. Get out a clean sheet of paper and a pen and begin to make your real Christmas list!

First and foremost comes ‘Quality Time’. How many friends and relations would love to hear from you (phone or email, etc.) or actually spend time in your company? How many days, weeks, months speed past while we lament that we would love to see or speak to so-and-so but just haven’t got the time? You could probably free up several whole days if you weren’t distracted by fighting through crowds of harassed shoppers, frantically surfing the net, or losing yourself beneath seas of wrapping paper as you attempt to parcel up all the resulting purchases.

Instead, pick up the phone, or better still, go round to visit someone… more genuine joy can be given over a shared cup of something hot (or a glass of wine) and a biscuit, or a good big hug, or minutes spent with a comforting, supportive arm around a shoulder than ever can be bought on the High Street. Remember the pandemic? How many of us would have given anything to be able to physically see and touch a loved one? How many of us would have sacrificed all the rest of the seasonal palaver just to be able to be together?

Well, now you can.

In some ways the pandemic was a blessing in disguise – it allowed us to get our priorities right. Why not carry on in that vein now that those imposed restrictions have been lifted.

There are all sorts of activities and events which can be planned for two or more people – family or friends of all ages, and why not extend your hospitality and include mere acquaintances or neighbours your don’t really know at all. This is the time to change all that – in the season of God Will. Open your home (and your heart) and organise a games evening, (could simply be playing Gin Rummy), or a quiz night – ask everyone to contribute a packet of nibbles or you could bake something to share like mince pies or biscuits or a cake, or simply serve cups of tea or coffee with a packet of biscuits. Light a couple of candles or tea lights, burn some incense cones if you have them, play some festive music in the background and you have instantly created a Christmas atmosphere. Without lots of work putting up decorations or spending a fortune.

There are other activities which can be substituted in a similar way. Even if there are only the two of you – better still if there are a group – ask everyone to bring a Christmas poem or story to read aloud and share. Alternatively, sing and make music. Invite everyone to find three jokes to share. (Laughter is a great gift – and it lowers blood sugar too). Begin your time together by constructing fantastic Christmas hats for each other made from old newspaper or gift wrapping, decorated with bits of tinsel, ribbon or parcel tie.

Arrange to meet up and go for a walk – walks around towns and villages can be exciting at this time of year – a mosey around an Christmas fair or market, a cup of hot chocolate drunk outside in the chilly damp air, a saunter down a road to see everyone’s Christmas decorations in gardens and windows can be very enjoyable, especially when shared with someone dear to you. This is an activity which can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and shared by the generations too.

Organise a shared meal at your house, where everyone brings an edible component, hot or cold, sweet or savoury. We particularly love to do this when our grove gathers; for instance, one person will provide a pan of hot soup, another a savoury flan or bowl of salad, crusty bread, or savoury nibbles, a trifle, fruit crumble or cake, and yet another cheese and biscuits, or fresh fruit. Before you know it, a veritable feast is set before you, one which didn’t cost anyone much time or effort – Christmas Dinner can be approached in a similar way – it spreads the cost, the preparation and work and a great deal of the responsibility and stress. (Just ensure that you know what everyone is contributing beforehand or else you might find yourself with with four dozen pigs in blankets, two boxes of cheese biscuits and a potted poinsettia.)

You may also wish to get together with friends, family or neighbours to make and bake – take a morning, afternoon or evening – weekday or weekend – and have a baking session, or a making/sewing/knitting session. How about you all make Christmas crackers (again, craft materials can then be shared and makes for less expense). Crackers are a particularly good way of parcelling up and presenting small inconsequential gifts – nicely presenting tokens in your new mindfully reduced gifting regime, or conveying something small but significantly special in a unique way.

How about making sweets to give as gifts?

Please do trawl your shops for craft and packaging materials, and support local artisans and businesses as much as possible, but it might also pay you to look on line – if you share similar projects with one or more people you can benefit from buying more cheaply in bulk and dividing the costs as well as the purchases.

Yes, it takes a little forethought and planning, but there is still time. Don’t forget that there are the lovely days between Christmas and New Year to fill as well, or even after New Year as we enter a colder, more inhospitable season. Enjoyment and socialising doesn’t have to grind to a halt and disappear with the last of the baubles into the loft until next December.

Live and love a little! Cancel that. Live and love a LOT!


Falling Leaves… A Time To Remember

Recovering from a throat infection I have been obliged to spend most of my time in bed this past few days. It has been an unexpected joy to simply be able to lie and listen to the radio – in particular, Classic FM – and engage in some deep meditative thought.

Quite by accident, I have found myself caught up in both the Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday memorial silences at eleven o’clock each morning – how amazingly powerful those silences are!

Like most people, members of my family were involved in both World Wars. One of my grandfathers sailed the Mediterranean with the Royal Navy, while my other grandfather served with the medical corps at Gallipoli, and one of my uncles sailed in the Merchant Navy with the South Atlantic convoys, among other dangerous voyages.

When I was a teenager in the early 1970’s, I found myself with my family driving across part of France which had been completely destroyed in the First World War, and was caught up by the awful atmosphere of the place – it has only just dawned on me that it is exactly the same distance in time from the present day back to the ’70s as it was in the ’70’s back to when the battles were first fought… in other words, not that long at all really.

During those Remembrance silences – and beyond – I have found myself thinking about all the people who died in both wars (as well as the many others which have raged around the planet throughout the 20th Century) but also about the many millions of people who lost their lives in other ways without actually dying – the wounded and disabled, the many who suffered from Post Traumatic Distress Syndrome, who returned home strangers to their families, unable to live ever again in a normal peacetime society; those who became violent in response to their invisible pain, those who ended up in lunatic asylums, driven out of their minds by the horror of it all… and their families, especially the children, who’s lives were warped and shattered by the incomprehensible actions of their parents – generations damaged, scarred, torn apart, their pain still impacting in dysfunctional families today.

And what about all the non-human unwilling and innocent victims, the domestic animals who were left to starve or die in bewilderment and agony; the wild animals who’s habitats were cruelly annihilated, obliterated off the face of the earth for ever more… the bird life and insects and fish who were exploded, crushed, poisoned; the plants and trees and quiet places which were destroyed for ever.

So much pain and suffering.

But we can ALL do something, sitting in our chairs, reading this post, here and now. We all have a responsibility to help heal, on every level, what has taken place; what is taking place. Not by indulging in negative emotions such as anger, hate, indignation and judgement, but by releasing love, kindness and compassion from our hearts. Nor must we be selective but embrace everywhere and everyone. People who are ‘behaving badly’ are only poor struggling souls whose awful actions are really cries for help. As you fill yourselves up with good will towards all, it will spill over and flow out into our world, to wherever it is most needed.

Here we are in the month of November and next month many of us shall be celebrating Christmas, the so-called ‘Season’ of just such ‘Good Will’. Why should these feelings and responses be confined to just a few days out of the year? Why do we need ‘permission’ to be granted by a date on a calendar to be the very best we can be and fill our world with love?

Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. Remember what humanity is responsible for in the past, and what we are witnessing being perpetrated now, today.

Comments about and condemnation of consumerism and commercialisation are rife, especially in the weeks before Christmas. Here is one gift you can give which is absolutely free but, in effect, priceless beyond comprehension. Simply keep the love flowing for it will surely find its mark.


Winter Greetings!

Days come and go, the seasons turn and we have finally reached the first dark, turbulent days of Winter! Gazing out of my window across the drab khaki-green and brown fields, watching huge purple galleons of clouds majestically sail into view, I wonder what it is about this season which I love so much.

Perhaps it is that I finally get a few days to rest and catch my breath after all the hurly burly of the autumn, culminating in our three day celebration of Calan Gaeaf.

Monday (30th October) was the day we hold our Ancestor’s Dinner, when we gather around our dining table with extra places laid to welcome any shade of family past over who might be around at this special time of the year when the veils thin and loved ones are able to draw closer once more. A hearty meal of chicken pie in thick white savoury gravy accompanied by buttery red cabbage steamed with raisins and apples was followed by spicy Soul Cakes made to a traditional recipe, and numerous cups of freshly brewed Nicaraguan coffee from our local supplier. It is fair to say that I sensed the house to be happily bustling with movement and whispers and my son’s partner, who works from home, was wryly amused when a colleague on a video call asked who was singing in the background – she had been listening to the excited voices of children for some time, although no children have lived here this past thirty years.

The 31st October – Hallowe’en to many – was mainly fun and games for us, out in the darkness of our back garden where visiting children played the traditional games of ‘bobbing for apples’ and chasing the wildly swinging ‘sticky bun’ while we lit a fire and brought out steaming dishes of potato pie and fruit crumbles. Later, after the door had been answered to many excited ‘trick-or-treaters’, we settled around the welcome warmth of the blaze and told stories of the White (headless) Lady and Hwch Ddu Gwta, the tailless black sow who waits for unwary travellers by styles and crossroads (and other liminal places) and carries  them off, possibly to be plunged into Ceridwen’s Cauldron… which might not be as bad as it sounds as it is a magical receptacle of rejuvenation and rebirth. More Soul Cakes were consumed as we sang the traditional ‘Souling Song’. Marshmallows were toasted and sparklers were lit as we all joyfully danced in the night with our brave little lights.

The third and final day was Wednesday, the 1st November. In the past, the old Celtic calendar, and many other cultures of the Northern Hemisphere, began their New Year at this time, with the ending of the harvest, the settling into winter and a break from agricultural activity. The shadows thickened as friends and family gathered around our cosy hearth, the candles were lit, and we shared the first afternoon tea of winter – a hearty affair of savoury pies, pastries and sandwiches, followed by crisp thick shortbreads delicately flavoured with lavender and lemon, sticky dark parkin, and other sweet goodies.

We discussed when each of us personally feels that winter begins and the effects it has on us. I understand that some dislike winter intensely and many suffer from S.A.D. as the Solstice darkness begins to close around us. Which leads me back to ponder why I, conversely, love it so wholeheartedly. Perhaps it is because I begin to anticipate all the joyful excitement and celebration of Advent, Midwinter and Christmas soon to come? Or maybe it is because I hold so many wonderful memories of special loving times around the hearth with my family, talking, making, reading, in our shadowy, candlelit kitchen which felt so very safe and secure. On the other hand, I did also chose this time of year to enter into this life, although that is often a traumatic time for both baby and mother and my advent was no exception.

Whatever the reason, the coming of Winter never ceases to thrill me with all its possibilities and potential for cosy times, the plotting of treats and happy events and the general making of magical surprises. As a fairy-godmother-in-training I delight in helping to make wishes and dreams – no matter how large or small – come true.

I sometimes think that the greatest gift I can give to anyone is to invite them to my hearth, enfold them in shadow and soft candleflame, ply them with lovingly-made edible treats and watch them relax, unfurl and awaken to the gentle magical delights of a Winter tea by the fire. Old memories stir within us at such times, and it isn’t simply the province of visiting ancestors – there is something incredibly fundamental about drawing together in shelter and safety around a brightly burning blaze and sharing good food and good company, while the wind howls and the rain lashes outside. It is the oldest communal activity in the history of the human race, and one which triggers memory held deep in our DNA, and a suitably favourable reaction.

Living fire, living flame might not be so common in our homes now, but you might at least consider lighting a candle in this new winter’s darkness and match it with a flame of loving anticipation and appreciation in your heart… you can also use a candle flame to toast marshmallows too!

Happy Calan Gaeaf!

I have moved on from little gnomes made from fir cones to witches full of character and mischief!

Warm greetings for a very stirring, magical and mischief-filled Calan Gaeaf! (Better known by some as Samhain or Hallowe’en.)

For those of us who follow the seasonal celebrations around the wheel of the year, this is the last day of the old year, a fitting culmination to all the growing and harvesting of the light months before we plunge into the dark, cold days of winter and a precious time of introspection, rejuvenation and renewal.

As we move from one season to another, we pass through this special liminal few hours when various levels of life and existence temporarily collide and the normal status quo is disturbed. This gives us great opportunities to breath and expand in ways not normally open to us – to connect with layers of life not normally possible for us… to let go and enter into temporary chaos where everything is shaken (definitely NOT stirred!)  and we can shed our old perceptions, actions and goals to re-emerge from Ceridwen’s metaphorical cauldron reborn and ready to begin planning our next sparkling cycle of seasons for the coming year.

However, this year is a pivotal time in our existence – not just on a personal level but in a global context. As you pass through the thinning veils tonight, bear in mind that, intentionally or accidentally, you are currently determining all our futures – so make it a good ‘un! Look deep within, plan carefully, and celebrate joyfully.

Have fun!

My love and blessings to you all at this very special time!

Party Inspiration

I have just received an amazing book through the post!’ The Book of Wizard Parties; in Which the Wizard Shares the Secrets of Creating Enchanted Gatherings’.  I bought it from Bibliophile, a mail-order book suppliers. It is really for children, but to my (possibly) juvenile mind, I feel that some of the ideas could easily be adapted for adults too – I don’t think much of so-called parties where one simply sits and eats and talks – I like activities and something to do!

The themes are varied and interesting as well as magical. There is the Alchemist’s Gathering, the Aladdin’s Cave Party, and the Egyptian Summer Solstice Party, as well as Merlin’s Birthday Party , Springtime Fairy Frolics and the Wizard’s Winter Revels, the Chinese Dragon Fete, and, most applicable to me and this time of year, the Spirited Druid Hallowe’en Gathering.

Each themed party has instructions on how to make a suitable costume or accessories to wear, decorations for your party room, games to make and play, food to assemble or bake and little stories to tell. One of my favourite suggestions is how to make a royal throne, (this one of for King Arthur, but would do for any royalty, or adapted for a celebratory ‘birthday chair’), and is simply formed by taking a rigid plastic garden chair and covering it in silver kitchen foil, then decorating the back and arms with fake jewels or other similar haberdashery. What fun children could have creating their own very special chair. Heck! What fun I could have!

The pages are all beautifully laid out – it is an absolute joy to just to handle and certainly to read.

Or how about adapting a fallen tree branch into a Christmas Bough (as opposed to a tree) and making all the decorations for it in the form of silver icicles, glittery snowballs (fir cones could be adapted here) and paper snowflakes. You would only need to spend a very little money on craft supplies to enjoy a lot of family fun and shared activity to produce something utterly personal and unique for Midwinter celebration.

At the front of the book, there is also some sound advice on how to both give and attend a party – and the activity really is a two-way street with just as much responsibility on the guest as the host to make the event enjoyable and successful for all. There are also a couple of pages about how to make, send and respond to party invitations – again, valuable and sound information based on good manners and thought for others, something which we perhaps all need reminding of occasionally.

The book originates in North America, but the differences in names for hardware and kitchen items aren’t too difficult to get around. It is beautifully written and presented and I find it simply inspiring, which is why I wanted to share it with you all.

Anyone who has read any of my books, (but especially ‘Merry Midwinter’), will know that I do not normally encourage consumer spending, but there are certain items which are incredibly helpful, fun and full of the feel ‘good factor’ as well as invaluable in getting one started on creating, making and baking for oneself, and this is certainly one of those instances.

I have found ‘Wizard Parties’ on Amazon, priced at £12 54,  but from Bibliophile, it was a paltry £3.50      Give it a try – I promise you that old and young alike will not be disappointed.

Happy Partying!

The Joy of a Pencil

Small things amuse small minds, as the saying goes. Yet simplicity need not necessarily be boring or banal. Often, the simplest thing can have about it an elegance and grace which is obscured or totally lost in more complex, intricate items or situations.

Here I need to let you into a secret – I am actually referring to my pencil.

How many of you reading this now still use a pencil?

It is an amazing invention which has contributed in no small way to the progress of civilization. Consider: it is robust, lightweight, made from natural and largely renewable resources and is totally biodegradable. it does not need electricity or other energy to power it. It will operate under water or if the writer is upside-down, or in any other less usual, awkward position. AND, if you wish, you can erase the marks you have made with it. Amazing!

Recently, due to early autumns storms (just how many tail-ends of hurricanes have we had up to now?) our electricity supply was playing at lighthouses, flashing on and off, and our internet connection got fed up and went to sleep. So, no access to my webpage. However, feeling inspired to ‘chat’, I decided to carry on and joy down some thoughts in long-hand which I am now transferring to my computer. Fountain and ball point pens are great, but I often derive great pleasure from holding and writing with a pencil on fresh white sheets of paper.

My current pencil is slim, cylindrical and black, with a shiny metal top into which an incredibly useful eraser has been inserted. Functional, smart, it is a joy to hold and use.

Yes, perhaps this ‘small mind’ is finding pleasure in a mundane item and activity, but why not?

If satisfaction and joy can be discovered in all our basic repetitive activities, how glorious our lives might become. Hence my favourite catch phrase: ‘make much of little’.

What can YOU find in your everyday tasks to which brings you pleasure? And if you can’t find anything, what can you do to change your daily round to one which is more appealing and satisfying?

I would dearly love to hear from you, my readers, as to what simple little things in your daily lives gives you pleasure. It doesn’t matter how seemingly trivial. From such minutiae comes the metaphorical ‘glue’ which cements our life into a cohesive whole.



Just Another Afternoon

How is it that some of the simplest activities can be transformed into something special and everyday actions into memorable occasions? I tend to think that it is how we chose to view something, how we seize an opportunity, how we allow it to inspire us and – to coin one of my favourite phrases – how we make much of little.

This is exactly what happened to me yesterday when I travelled the thirty-five miles or so up the coast with my husband to the seaside town of Llandudno. We left home in rain and wind but arrived to brighter skies and sunshine just beginning to peep through the clearing clouds.

First we went to lunch in one of my favourite restaurants, ‘The Habit’ which has a huge selection of tasty dishes and delicious cakes, clean, relaxing, and cosy decor and excellent service. I hardly had time to enjoy my pot of tea or the selection of daily newspapers and books provided before my meal arrived.

You would never know all this fascinating information and deliciousness was behind this unassuming facade.

As we left the ‘Habit Tearooms’, I almost bumped into a sandwich board on the corner, advertising a chocolate museum down the little sideroad – now when had that sprung up without me noticing? My husband went off to his afternoon of voluntary work at the North Wales Wildlife shop on top of the Great Orme (which he does once a fortnight) and I disappeared down John Street to investigate the museum which is housed in old buildings alongside a very modern chocolate producing factory, all of which was started by entrepreneur, Timothy Winstanley, shortly before the pandemic. Regardless of its apparently small size, an amazing selection of delicious chocolates are produced here (for sale in Maisie’s Chocolate Shop just across Mostyn Street round the corner into Vaughan Street ) as well as creating between one and two tonnes of chocolate flakes each week. Anything to do with the handling and processing of chocolate is a black art and takes a great deal of skill, technique and care.

It was disconcerting to find some of my favourite chocolate bars, tins and boxes among the exhibits!

The museum was an intriguing and delightful experience; a veritable warren of small rooms and corridors full of chocolate-related artefacts, interactive experiences, scenes, models, information boards and recordings. I travelled 5,000 years from the cocoa-rich kingdoms of the Olmec, Maya and Aztecs (including bird song and other sound effects) through to the Crusades and Mediaeval Europe when both chocolate and sugar first found their way into modern western society, the chocolate houses of London, Songhai, the last indigenous empire of North West Africa, the slave trade, piracy, fashions in eating and drinking and monarchs who promoted it. To enhance my experience, on entering the museum I was issued with a plastic beaker containing five gorgeous chocolates, all of which are made on site, and which I was gently instructed to eat at various stages of my visit to help enhance my experience and illustrate the changes in chocolate and what it actually meant.

Floating in a warm fuzzy haze of sweet treats, I finally exited the museum to explore my favourite kitchen shop (where I did a little Christmas shopping for useful but much-needed items which I know will be greatly appreciated) and my favourite craft shop across the road. Here I found lots of little goodies for gifts to fill our Christmas Elf’s sack on the breakfast table on Christmas morning, or pack the model Victorian Snowy House which graces our dining table on New Year’s Day. I bought spools of 3mm wide ribbon in various shades of green for tying packages to go under the Tree, and gorgeous purple satin ribbon to make into bows to adorn the herb pillows I plan on making later in the autumn. I also found synthetic orange berries which will look great clutched in the pipe cleaner fists of my little autumn fir cone gnomes and extra sheets of felt for the making of pointy hats for my fir cone witches – more on those in a week or so as we approach Hallowe’en!

I also found a bunch of pretty gold fabric poinsettias which I might use to decorate our Christmas or New Year crackers this year. On the other hand, I might just adorn myself instead – such simple decorations can pull an outfit together for a seasonal occasion – one in my hair with two or three more as a corsage sewn onto my dress… or perhaps attached to my evening bag – or stuck on my shoes… or…

Entering a different kind of ‘fairy land’ through an archway of beautiful synthetic autumnal leaves!

This autumn I have been enchanted by all the seasonal decorations – the garlands of coloured leaves alone are glorious. Yes, I love authentic decorations straight from garden, but how long does a trail of beautiful brown and red Virginia Creeper leaves last in the warmth of our living room? About two hours before it wilts and curls away to practically nothing. Yes, we should use less plastic, but let’s not throw the metaphorical baby out with the bathwater. There are some truly beautiful items manufactured with which to decorate our homes and celebrate the seasons (not just Christmas) and if stored sensibly they will last many years – I still have a spray of plastic harebells which my mother bought when I was eight years old and sixty years later they haven’t even lost their colour.

The delicate, life-like shading and colouring make these garlands, flowers and sprays works of art in their own right.

In another shop I discovered lovely Christmas cards which depict an snug shed in a snowy winter’s garden but which to me looks remarkably like our Hafod down on our land on the Llyn Peninsular. (Oh, that we might actually get some snow this winter!)

Later, I sat on one of the old wooden benches in the sunshine beneath the trees in Mostyn Street, cooled by the unseasonably warm breeze and made lists: planned and dreamed my coming autumn and winter celebrations into being. Someone sat down on the bench beside me. I took no notice as I squirrelled away with my pen and paper. Finally a voice spoke… it was my husband! The shop had been fairly deserted all afternoon and he had decided to close a little early.

Happily, we drove home together, back along the coast and into the mountains where strong gusts of wind whipped up white horses on the surface of the water all down the Menai Striates, Anglesey was merely a thick black line on the horizon and the skies still wept above cloud enshrouded mountains. Apparently, it had been pouring with rain at home all day… I smiled as I remembered my lovely afternoon in the warm breezes and sunshine of the town… but then that is part of the magic of Llandudno and a very simple but special afternoon!


A Brave New World

Earlier this morning, whilst looking for something else entirely, I came across a recent recording by astrologer, Pam Gregory, and I would love to share it with you now… only 20 minutes long-  try and listen right to the end. (Link below.)

In a nutshell, she suggests that we all come together for a universal group meditation at B.S.T. on a Sunday evening to envision/co-create a new world and a better existence for all upon the Earth. You may remember that this is something which I myself began promoting three years ago soon after the pandemic arrived and I can heartily concur with the theory behind this simple loving intention and action.

No matter how challenging and painful you might be finding life just now, one of the surest ways of easing your burden is to reach out with love to others… to the Earth. Seriously. Try it and see – done with genuine intention, dedication and commitment, it can be the most healing action and experience.
I know that, like myself, some of you already join with like-minded groups, but it wouldn’t do any harm to also connect with others.
And if you like this idea, please pass this link and explanation on to any of your oved ones who might also appreciate it and wish to join in with us.

We need you ALL – everyone.

I shall leave you to listen for yourselves.
With much love,

A Blessed and Bountiful Autumn Equinox!

The autumn/winter lights begin for me now; with the setting up and decoration of our autumnal branch

Greetings! Autumn is well and truly upon us with the rest of the fruit, nuts and vegetable crops coming to full ripeness and our stores happily filled once more against the coming lean months of winter.

Spiritually, emotionally, personally, this is also the time to look back and reflect on the warm, light months and growing cycle which is just coming to an end. How have you grown over the past three seasons? How have you developed and what have you personally harvested? Now is the time for gratitude, to give joyful thanks for all you have… for all you are…

As we reach the point of balance between light and dark, feel that moment of stasis within yourself and appreciate this pivotal position as we slowly top the rise and begin to metaphorically slide down into the depths of winter. Relish the light and the golden sunshine, the bounty of the Earth and her great beauty as she dons her autumnal garb – smile and feel the joy of life.

A blissful and bounteous Equinox to you all!

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