Saturday, 30 April 2022

Beltane: Day 5

It's Day 5 of our Beltane celebrations! Getting ready for a busy weekend! But first... today...

Beltane Earrings

Today's seasonal earrings were hawthorn leaves and blossoms.

Creative Writing Session

We had a lovely Springtime writing session at Castlerea Home care home today, where I do a weekly volunteering session. We were brainstorming the best bits of the season, and then writing short poems/stories inspired by these ideas.

Violet Liqueur

And finally for today... I had a cheeky Beltane drink with a friend this evening. We had a very seasonal Aber Falls Violet Liqueur!

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Beltane: Day 4

Last day of our holiday, so we were busy travelling and getting settled back in at home today (plus, I had to attend a work meeting this evening). We did fit in a little bit of seasonal celebration though.

Lunch in Bakewell

We couldn't go to Bakewell without visiting the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, could we? We had a lovely lunch here before we headed back. I had a Derbyshire Rarebit and, of course, a Bakewell pudding (not a tart, which isn't native to Bakewell at all).

May Day

And this evening it was time for a bit of seasonal viewing for Beltane... we're watching May Day (the 2013 drama series with Sophie Okonedo and Aiden Gillen) over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Beltane: Day 3

It's the third day of our Beltane celebrations, and we're still in Bakewell so more Peak District adventures for us today. We'll be heading home tomorrow, so today was our final excursion of the holiday.

Beltane Earrings

Today's seasonal earrings were a cute little pair of daisy chains (another surprise gift from Rob).

Monsal Trail

We've been for a walk along the Monsal Trail today. The Monsal Trail is a section of a former Midland Railway line that runs from Chee Dale to Bakewell and is now a walking and cycling route.) We didn't do the whole trail, but we did Bakewell Station to just after Monsal Head viaduct and then back again. My favourite part (apart from the views from the viaduct) was walking through the Headstone Tunnel. I wish we could have gone as far as the other tunnels, but we couldn't handle a 17-mile walk today!

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Beltane: Day 2

It's the second day of our Beltane celebrations - and it's been a bit of a tiring one!

Beltane Earrings

Today's seasonal earrings were a Green Man and stag antlers combo. The stag antlers were a lovely surprise gift from Rob this week.

Hob Hurst's House

We went to Hob Hurst's House today, an English Heritage site just outside Bakewell. Hob Hurst's House has EVERYTHING I want from a landmark. It's a Bronze Age barrow, discovered by the 'Barrow Knight' (a Victorian antiquarian), supposedly inhabited by a folkloric creature, AND it's one of the first monuments to be taken into state care under the Ancient Monuments Protection Act! Amazing place.

Beeley Moor

After visiting the Bronze Age barrow, we continued our walk over Beeley Moor. It was... a little more strenuous than we were expecting. But the views were amazing!


We celebrated our successful (but exhausting) excursion with cocktails. I like to call these 'Travel Cocktails', but I couldn't possibly share the recipe!

Monday, 25 April 2022

Beltane: Day 1

It's time for our third event in our Year of Celebrating the Seasons. Beltane (or May Day) is an exciting one, as it sits on the opposite side of the Wheel of the Year to Samhain (or Halloween), which is my favourite seasonal celebration. We're going to be celebrating all week, and I'm determined to make this a week of Halloween-in-Spring.

Beltane Earrings

My first pair of Beltane earrings this year were these cute little bluebells.

Magpie Mine

We went to Magpie Mine in Sheldon, near Bakewell, this afternoon for a picnic and a wander. It's a disused lead mine, renovated and looked after by the Peak District Mines Historical Society.

Lathkill Dale

We also had a little wander in Lathkill Dale today. We definitely want to come back and explore properly another time. It's lovely!

The Reddening

Beltane feels like the perfect time for folk horror. I'm not 100% sure it's completely seasonal, but I'm reading The Reddening by Adam Nevill this week.

Beltane Candle

We lit our Beltane candle (from Chalice Creations) tonight. This season's scents are ylang ylang, jasmine, geranium and frankincense.

Monday, 4 April 2022

My Year in Books 2022: March

After a bit of a strange month for reading in February, I think I've managed a bit better this time. There are three books on my March list, so that's a definite improvement. Like last month, I did read some other books for work and review this month, but the books in this post are the one I read for fun.

In case you're interested, here are my other review posts from 2022 so far: January, February

Daffodil: Biography of a Flower by Helen O'Neill (2016)

I bought this book to read during our Vernal Equinox celebrations. I knew I was going to be thinking about daffodils a lot in the run-up to the equinox (as it turned out, I underestimated how much) so I thought this might be an interesting book to read. And I was right! It was the perfect choice of seasonal reading, and a really fascinating study of a flower that, perhaps, we sometimes take for granted. O’Neill’s book includes some history of daffodils, but this is sometimes vague by necessity. It seems that there is still a lot that isn’t known about the daffodil, including whether or not it is actually native to Britain. There’s also some botanical information here, and I will say that it helps to do a little bit of light background reading if you’re not familiar with how daffodils actually grow and reproduce. Where the book really comes into its own is when it looks at how the story of the daffodil intersects with more human stories, like the background of the more famous daffodil hybridizers or the ways in which gardening tastes and habits have changed. Some stories are intriguing; other episodes in the daffodil story are still shrouded in obscurity or lost to time. Ultimately though, after reading the book, I was left with the feeling that daffodils matter, that their story is a significant and revealing of something bigger than just a pretty spring flower. And, surely, that’s what a good biography should do.

Asta's Book by Barbara Vine (1993)

The next book I read this month was a reread. And a frequent one at that! Given the difficulties I found last month with reading, I thought it would be a good idea to go back to something I know I’ll love. Asta’s Book is one of my favourite novels of all time. When I first read it in the late 90s, I just fell in love with it and couldn’t put it down. And this time – the umpteenth time I’ve read it – I finished it in a single (albeit rather long) sitting. Asta’s Book is a multi-narrative, multi-generational, domestic mystery novel. The ‘book’ of the title is a diary kept by a Danish woman – Asta Westerby – between 1905 and 1967. After Asta’s death, her daughter Swanny discovers the diaries and has them published to great acclaim; after Swanny’s death, the guardianship of the diaries falls to Asta’s granddaughter Ann. There are two mysteries here: the first is the mystery of Asta’s daughter’s birth, a question that plagued Swanny in her later years, and the second is an unsolved murder from the early twentieth century. Ann believes the answers to both lie in Asta’s diaries. This summary really doesn’t do justice to the depth and intricacy of Vine’s storytelling, or the way in which narratives weave around one another before the final answers leap out with startling clarity. If I could, I would erase all my memories of this book, so I could read it again for the first time.

All Her Fault by Andrea Mara (2021)

This one was an impulse purchase at the supermarket. I read Andrea Mara’s One Click a while ago, and I liked the writing, even though the ending was a little far-fetched. Mara’s books are domestic thrillers, and I have a strange relationship with that genre. It frustrates me intensely (no matter how ‘mind-blowing’ a twist is promised, it’s almost always that the husband did it), and I’ve read a lot of books in this genre that I really haven’t enjoyed. And yet – I keep coming back, and I’m not even fighting it anymore. Fortunately, Mara really is a good writer, and I found All Her Fault just as readable and enjoyable (in fact, probably more so) than One Click. The story revolves around a kidnapping. Middle-class Marissa seems to have everything sorted, but when she arrives at a friend’s house to collect her son from a playdate, her world falls apart. Not only is her son not there, but it turns out the text arranging the playdate wasn’t sent by her friend. Marissa’s son has been kidnapped, and the race is on to find out where he is. The book shifts between multiple perspectives: Marissa, Jenny (the friend who was supposed to be holding the playdate) and a couple of others that I won’t reveal for fear of spoilers. It’s a fun read, and with hindsight Mara plants a lot of clues to the big reveal along the way. But you might not put them together correctly until the end!