Joanna recently blogged about blogging, and where we could find inspiration. All very helpful but I envy the fact that, as an historical novelist, she has photographs to share from costume exhibits at the museums she has visited.
Lovely dresses, shoes, uniforms as well as what her characters wore beneath them. So much fascinating detail to write about.
Regency fashion is such an important part of the pleasure in reading books set in an era when clothes and character are inextricably linked.
As someone who has always written contemporary novels – and with a very low personal fashion threshold – I tend to find dressing my characters a bit of a challenge. Continue reading →
Dear Readers: Sophie is currently hors de combat with a broken arm so we’re republishing one of her inspiring nature blogs: this one is about owls (from 2019). Enjoy.
First you should know: I love owls. When I was at college, I lived for a time in a cottage opposite a field. We had a visiting Little Owl. I first encountered it when I came home at dusk to find Something sitting on the stone wall that surrounded our garden. I thought a child had dropped a stuffed toy and I reached to retrieve it. Until it OPENED ITS EYES.
It was a Little Owl. And they are really small, as you see. 1.5 bricks tall, max. But the message was direct, unmistakeable and compelling: DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.
This weekend, with the revisions for my second crime novel on my editor’s desk rather than on mine, I spent the weekend working through lists: essentially my “to do list”, catching up on housework, the ironing and reading a “treat” book.
They were on my mental list of things to do and, mentally, I ticked them off.
One of the things I did, once the heavy lifting was done, was sit down with a cup of tea. The radio was on – I love the radio – and Weekend Woman’s Hour was playing.
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
Lucy Ireland Gray was talking about the 200 discarded shopping lists that she’d collected from shopping trolleys (we’ve all seen those) and picked up from the ground. They went on display at the Museum of London Brands, in Notting Hill.
One of her friends was horrified that one of the lists might be hers. Not so much worried that her shopping list would betray her inner secrets, but that it would out her as a litter lout.
Earlier on this week, I caught myself saying “Touch wood” and started to wonder where the expression came from. Was it me being superstitious? Or was it just a cultural thing, like saying “Bless you” when someone sneezes, or “Goodbye” (= God be with you) when we leave them?
As is the way of such things, it started me down a whole warren of research rabbit holes. What’s not to like? At least for a blogger like me, rooting around for something to write about.
I assumed that “touch wood” must be ancient, perhaps dating from pre-Christian times when sacred groves of trees were venerated.
Shades of the wonderful Asterix and his Druid, Getafix. (That’s a classic example of the humour of Asterix’s brilliant English translators, Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge. The original French name was Panoramix which isn’t nearly as clever, I don’t think.)
According to Wikipedia, I was sort of right about the Celtic history of touching wood (or knocking on wood) as a kind of protective magic to turn away misfortune. The proper term is, apparently, apotropaic. (No, me neither.) However, there’s a later Christian explanation, relating to the wood of the cross. And an even more modern derivation, from a game of tag called “Tiggy Touchwood”.
Personally, I prefer to stick with the Celtic origin theory. “Touch wood” or “Knock on wood” seems to be in common use in loads of countries which might suggest that it is very old.
I’ve been reading a fascinating book, Follow the Money, by Paul Johnson (yes, the one who is Director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies). It includes passing references to financial history, including tax and the kind of revenue-raising choices made by British governments over the centuries.
A very happy New Year to all our visitors. May 2023 bring you health, wealth and happiness and, for the authors among us, booming sales.
As we said in our Christmas blog, the hive is on holiday until next weekend. But we don’t want to leave you with nothing, so we’re repeating the Christmas and New Year serial that Sophie wrote a year or two back.
The first episode is below. The link to subsequent episodes is at the end of each. It’s like binging on box sets of Downton or Bridgerton. Feel free to read all the episodes at a sitting. You know you want to!
CHRISTMAS MYSTERY SERIAL by Sophie Weston: EPISODE 1
There was fog over the rooftops when Liv looked out from her bedroom window for the last time. She kind of loved this view of her bit of London. Like Mary Poppins and her sweep, she saw Victorian chimneys, with a distant church tower and, even further away, a block of Edwardian apartments. Continue reading →
Autumn colour can be uplifting. Good for the soul, perhaps?
Yes, we know that it’s essentially a by-product of deciduous trees closing down for winter, but it’s still beautiful, isn’t it? So I make no apology for filling this blog with gorgeous images of autumn colour. Though there are downsides to some of it (for me, at least). Read on to find out more…
Autumn Colour at Westonbirt Arboretum (one of the UPs)
The Chinese curse of May You Live in Interesting Times well and truly struck this week, didn’t it? I have tried to keep away from news media, I really have. But the appalling tragicomedy that is our current government just wouldn’t leave me alone. And then I re-encountered Rupert Bear.
I was really grateful to my friend and fellow writer Lesley Cookman for spending a happy few hours in the Rupert Bear Centenary Exhibition at the Beaney (House of Art and Knowledge) in Canterbury. She came back and told our Zoom Circle all about it. Continue reading →