Gillian Monks

'Making Fairytales Come True'

Tag: Spring In Your Step

Full Steam Ahead!

Flower at BodnantI have suddenly realised that it is several weeks since I last posted here… and the reason why is because I have been working very hard on my next book, ‘Spring In Your Step’!

I have just completed Chapter Seven out if a possible twelve and am around the 47,000 word mark, so I am now ell over half way. More importantly, I am really enjoying what I am writing and am so excited about what I shall eventually be sharing with you all.

The chapter I have just written is all about the ‘Mother’ figure of springtime – and that covers the natural world, our genetic mothers and Mother’s Day/Mothering Sunday and the feminine within us all. In mentioning Lady Day – how many of you know what it actually is? – I found myself attempting to explain the vagaries of the various changes in our calendar over the years. And did you know that the name for ‘simnel cake’ actually stems from the very fine flour with which it was originally made? I was also drawn to share how just nine years ago, at this exact time of year, we came to discover – and eventually purchase – our own little piece of wonderful wilderness at Cae Non.

I am really, really hoping to have this next book finished by sometime in May and out in the shops by October or November – well in time for next Christmas and the following spring, so that you can all join me on the next adventure through a new year and a new season in 2021!

Meanwhile, the spring of 2020 is well and truly upon us, despite the all the wind and water. Birds are singing and nesting, buds are swelling, flowers are blooming.

Wherever you are, I hope that the season is treating you kindly. If the weather is causing you problems and heartache, my love goes out to you.

Onwards and upwards, as the saying goes – here is looking forward to all the new life and new growth which typifies this most beautiful and special time of the year.. with my love.

Happy Distaff Day!

Me stating writing againI must be one of very few people who was actually delighted to return to work on Thursday… in fact, I could hardly wait! When I refer to ‘work’, I am actually talking about my writing and I have been desperate to begin work proper on my next full length book for months, but had to see ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’ birthed out into the world first.

‘Spring In Your Step’ follows directly on from ‘Merry Midwinter’ so begins at this most grey and uninspiring time of year – January. Memories of my singular childhood are tumbling onto my keyboard along with lots of ideas and observations as to how we can all really enjoy these otherwise quiet, dull days and the true relevance of this first month of the year. As in my first book, there are also ‘Comments from Joan’ and one or two recipes per chapter taken from her manuscript cookery book… hearty sustaining casseroles, comforting hot, sticky puddings and delicious treats to sustain you through the winter weather, whether you are playing in the snow or struggling to work. And there will be more ideas for little seasonal craft projects along the way. If you would like to know more, I will be putting an extract on my blog in the next few days, so watch this space!

Some people are only returning to work on Monday, 6th January (which, ironically, is actually when ‘Old Christmas Day’ would have fallen before the change in the calendar in the 1750’s) but many have already returned in the days since we celebrated New Year. Why bemoan the fact? If you do not actually enjoy what you do for a living, at least be thankful that you have got a job to go to. (Although I have to admit that in these days of zero hours contracts and gross abuse of workers I can well understand why this might not be the case but this is a different conversation for another day.)

Distaff Day is variously placed on different days around the beginning of January and in times gone by was used to celebrate the return of the women to working life after the Christmas revels (as if they had been sitting twiddling their thumbs while all the feasting and celebrating had been going on – who was supposed to cook, bake and provide it all?) Some people refer to it as Saint Distaff’s Day but in fact there is no such saint – it simply refers to spinning (work traditionally performed by women using a distaff, hence the reference in family ancestry to the ‘distaff line when referring to the mother’s or female side of the family). On the other hand, in the agricultural communities the men returned to work on Plough Monday, the first Monday after Epiphany, when their work tools would be blessed, the farm horses dressed up and all manner of joking and hi-jinks entered into.

So celebrate your return to work… or the fact that you have had a good Christmas… or that Christmas is over and you can be left in peace… or that we might get snow in the next few weeks… or that we haven’t had snow to further complicate our lives… but celebrate something. Midwinter and Christmas isn’t the only opportunity to celebrate – if you look hard enough you can always finds lots of wonderful things to be thankful and happy about… celebrate LIFE!

 

Beginning a New Book!

February tree

Life is like a tree – so much is hidden, buried deep beneath.

The most important news is that I have begun writing my next book, ‘Spring in Your Step’ which is a direct follow on from ‘Merry Midwinter’ and is all about how to satisfyingly and authentically enjoy and celebrate the spring season. I takes up the dialogue at the end of January where ‘Merry Midwinter’ ended and will cover the downside and depression of January, the celebration of earliest spring at the beginning of February followed by all the springtime activities and high days and holidays. I am currently working on Chapter Four and writing about Valentine’s Day so am already a quarter the way through.

I definitely had a ‘Eureka’ moment yesterday. I have been finding my work a bit lacking in spontaneity and sparkle and quite hard going in places and I have realised why. In my attempts to be politically correct and all inclusive I have been trying to include lots of festivals and events from Europe and other places around the globe but their details have been taking all my time and thought – not to mention manuscript space – and I have rather ‘lost’ my original direction and drive.

But not any more! Except for a few important or favourite examples, most details are going to be listed in an extended appendix at the end of the book, leaving me free to bumble along, making my comments, observations and suggestions as I best like to do. I am definitely back on track!!! Watch this space!

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