We had made the decision to celebrate an early Samhain as this year the 30th April (and Mr T’s birthday) falls on a Wednesday. Mid-week is a difficult time to get people to come out and so we choose yesterday, Friday the 25th to do our thing. Appropriately enough it was also ANZAC day here, the day of remembrance for all New Zealanders and Australians who have died serving in wars (and peace keeping forces) and a public holiday.
This meant that Mr T was home to help with the preparations thank heavens because I was feeling particularly tired and as he was suffering with a cold, the two of us made up about one person work wise.
It did turn out to be quite an effort in fact not the least because we had a few extra jobs thrown in like carving pumpkins and collecting firewood from various kind friends so that we could use the brazier.
Our last gathering at Mabon had been kind of small, with only about 6-8 people and although it was really lovely I thought I would try a bit harder this time and invite lots of people on the basis that most of them wouldn’t come. But then of course most of them did come with the consequence that we almost didn’t have enough seats – but it was so lovely to see everyone.
The weather which we had watched anxiously over the previous days had promised rain and cold and indeed it did rain on and off yesterday to the extent that we decided if it hadn’t got better by 5pm we were going to give in and hold the party inside.
Then a small miracle, it stopped raining.. completely. Not only that but we were treated to a absolutely stonking sunset with such lurid light it turned my t-shirt day-glow. It became so warm that our brazier almost felt too hot. The clouds cleared and the stars did their thing.
Many thanks to Sue for the photos
Thanks to everyone for coming and making it such a wonderful night.
Also, at some stage I am going to add another blog page so that you can read what is said at our rituals. Coming soon..
Ostara – the Spring Equinox, didn’t so much as roar in on Hay this morning, as float in on fat winglets of snow. Britain is having a very cold March with not much good news in the near future and all around me I can feel people grinning and bearing, grinning and bearing – I swear if we suddenly had one hot, sunny day the whole place would burst into song, mardi gras, fiesta!
But in the mean time we practise stiffening our frigid upper lips and wait..
And in the mean time I have no problem with eating my own body weight in chocolate to help usher the Spring in – isn’t that why we do it? Nom, nom..
Please lady, don’t make us wait much longer ..
Oh and for you Southern Hemispherians, particularly those of you in my home country of New Zealand – I wish you a happy Autumn Equinox and a long, drought busting soak 🙂
Almost the first thing I saw when I opened my lap top this morning was a link sent to me by a friend the contents of which purported to be horribly hilarious . Now, normally that would go straight in the bin but as this particular friend and I share a similar sense of humour I thought I would check it out.
I couldn’t even read the whole thing because I was seriously worried I was going to do myself an injury by laughing too hard and too long. I waited till I got home from work to read a little more – still couldn’t finish it.
So here is the link for you my friends – hope you haven’t read it before but if so, it’s still funny a second time..think of it as a Solstice present to you all.
So my friend Yvonne said to me on the phone a couple of months ago “Please update your blog” – I agreed and then proceeded to procrastinate with a vengeance…
It is far to scary to attempt to recount all that I’ve been up to in the many months since I last posted so I am just going to start with the here and now..
The view out my window is lovely and green – that is because we have had eleventy million litres of rain bucketing out of the sky all summer. Believe me this is only a slight exaggeration. Now normally I like rain – specially heavy rain, but I like it to be appropriately cool – rain and cold, they go together don’t they? Instead we have had rain and hot – so sweaty hot that the obligatory walk with the dogs ends up with me as wet as they because it is far to warm to wear a coat. I hate that.
The other small thing of note in the photo is the surprisingly lovely and incredibly long lived pom pom flowers which grew from our neglected leek plants. Well worth growing just for the flowers.
The last thing I note from this photo is the card celebrating the 1st of August – Lammas, the first harvest festival. We have had so little sun it seems a bit of a swizz that we are already on our way back into the dark half of the year. Ah well, at least I will get the cold as well as the rain that I am moaning about.
This morning I spoke to my Mum in New Zealand for about an hour. She told me about her week – playing bowls, outings with friends, her renewed interest in Coronation St (oh yuck) and I told her about the amazingly wonderful effects of HRT that I have finally twisted my GPs arm into prescribing. I feel like a ‘normal’ person again, truly incredible and I wish so much that I could have started taking them years ago.
I did do some research before swallowing the first pill – and amongst it all I found this article from the New York Times really interesting if you are trying to make your mind up about it yourself.
The rest of my day has been filled with house work, walking the dogs (one Toastie and one visiting aged and quite lovably stupid Springer Spaniel named Alfred, whose elderly owners are both in hospital.
My other job of the day has been to revive my Etsy shop and start to list some of my new creations. Not that I think that anyone will actually buy them but more that I have to justify continually making new ones and purchasing the yarn to make them.
Also – a couple of months ago I committed to go to Rome for four days the last week in September with some friends and the trip has worked out to be a lot more expensive than I expected. As Mr T did not want to come and I am spending vast amounts I need to show willing and at least try so sell some of my wares.
Here are the ones I listed today.. They are great fun to make – partly because I am not using any pattern so there are no rules and I get to use whatever yarn I want, including strips of tee shirt.
Also they look good on me so they will look good on anyone!
That is my day so far – I am off now to feed my furry friends and settle down for my currant fave True Blood and a little hooking.. Have a good one all..
The first thing I do when I get in the door from work is to grab a lead, a poo bag and a small Toastie and head for the Great Outdoors. At this time of year it is a pleasure as I know that I will be walking in the light and pretty much mostly in the dry.
It is pure pleasure to see everything regenerating, not just the plants but the birds and animals as well – everyone is out and about and fulfilling the three Fs, feeding, fighting and .. .well you know the last one.
A couple of photo highlights from our walk this afternoon..
Day light saving starts this weekend so it will be even lighter in the evenings and of course it is the Spring Equinox tomorrow, yay!
Here is my little table all ready for a celebration with daffodils from our garden and the patchwork table runner that I put together a while back.
I don’t know about you all but I am very excited.. I positively love this time of year..the middle of winter, the longest night, lovely cold weather with lights and candles and booze and food and presents and holidays and, and, and, and… Breath…
It has been a lovely week of socialising and getting everything sorted food wise and present wise. I finished work yesterday and do not go back for two weeks. When I do I will be starting an extra day a week which is a real bonus. I will just about be paying our rent and that make things a bit less tight.
Last night we spent at our friends having a little Solstice eve get together, with the weather so mild we were able to sit outside around a fire.
It does not look like we have a chance of snow for Christmas but as we had a small taste of it last weekend I am not dissapointed. Neither are the shop keepers as everyone is able to get out and about to buy provisions and treats without nasty icy paths to manoeuvre.
It was market day today in Hay and I tried to get there a bit earlier as I thought it might be busy, and I was right. I couldn’t get the bread I wanted and Lucretia Wood-Cole who makes and sells wonderful cakes in aid of the Women’s Institute had nearly sold out. But I did manage to get everything else, including the most luscious runny cheese that you can only get at this time of year. It was lovely that they had fine weather for it and everyone was in very good spirits. Toastie had a great time taking every chance she had to snuffle at people’s market bags which must have been emitting wonderful smells. Particularly if they had visited the stall that sells many types of fish, fowl or beast.
As an aside – we were accosted by a visiting lady in Hay the other day who wanted to know if Toastie was a Norfolk Terrier as she had one and Toastie looked exactly like her. We said that as The Toastilator is a rescue dog we had no idea and then rushed home to Google Image it. Sure enough- apart from having slightly longer legs Toastie has found her tribe!
On with the story..
We trundled ourselves home with our parcels and then I set out again to have lunch with my boss/friend Sandra, and two of our trustees – Betty (our Chairwoman) and Karl (vice Chairman). I love these people and feel very lucky to be working with them. I have to say that I never thought I would feel that way about employers! Karl (the first Quaker I have ever met) looked completely appropriate for the occasion as he is in his eighties and has a long white beard which he topped off today with a Santa hat.
Sandra did her usual of trying to confiscate the sugar lumps so that Karl cannot put fifty million of them in his hot orange drink while Karl (who does not have diabetes) did his usual of remonstrating with Sandra for taking the Lords name in vain. I did my usual of surreptitiously nicking the sugar lumps so that Karl can have his fill, and Sandra did her bit again by telling me off 😉
We drunk stupendously good mulled wine and I chomped my way through a frittata which included bits of turkey, bacon, little sausages and brussels sprout – I know that sounds mad but it was nom.
We ate at Booth’s Books cafe, which if you are ever passing our way you must stop and visit. Booth’s used to belong to the King of Hay, Richard Booth, and by the time I started coming to Hay the bookshop was a bit of a mess- damp, cold and smelling of mould. Now it has new owners who have transformed it into the most magnificent, light, airy, warm utterly inviting space. Spread over three floors with loads of pozzies to sit and read, it is a place you can spend hours in. They added the cafe and are also building a small cinema which should be finished in the new year. The food in the cafe is tasty, interesting and the menu varied every week – it also has the bonus of being relatively cheap. And the chips with aioli, and the real hot chocolate are to die for..
If you think I sound like I am happy you would be right.. Certainly compared with December last year when I had lost my job and was still incredibly home sick. I still struggle with depression and the terrible tiredness that comes with it but I am keeping my head well up and am helping myself with the simple things – seeing friends as much as possible, walking this beautiful countryside, sharing our home with a bonkers Terrier, reading good books, immersing myself in crochet and craft, and making myself go to work – of course I’m lucky to have a job that I like.
I am deeply grateful for all that I have.. Thankful for the hard bits of life that make me appreciate all the good. Thankful for all of you..
So – the winter solstice, celebrating the return of the light, new beginnings – new challenges. Hope you are all ok out there.
And happy Beltane to those on the other side of the world..
Our clocks changed at the weekend and this evening while out walking Toastie and admiring the neighbourhood pumpkins I realised that if I didn’t move my ass I would be walking in the dark. Sure enough it was full dark shortly after we got home at 5.20.
Although we have been having some gloomy days we have been blessed by incredible autumn colours. Everywhere there are fiery glowing trees. I walk in wonder..
Tonight is All Hallows Eve/ Halloween/Samhain. A night to remember the dead and to light fire.
Happy Autumn Equinox to you all! And a happy Spring Equinox to you all on the other side of the world.
This is a time of reaping the harvest of experience from the past year, of weighing up of both gains and losses. We can sort out the wheat from the chaff – chucking out the rubbish in other words. I wonder if that is why I and others I know get the urge to ‘spring clean’ the house and garden at this time of year.
Balance is a strong theme , day and night are equal on this day, but after this we move on into the dark. Light is balanced by the dark, life is balanced by death – symbolised by the double spiral. As we wind in toward the still point of the winter solstice we are reminded that we will inevitably move out again into the light.
Which brings me to another strong theme of Mabon, the Autumn Equinox – thanksgiving. It is time to give thanks for our harvest.
Seeing this is a harvest festival I will be heading out shortly to sup a little wine with friends (I give thanks for my friends and the good grapes) at Kilverts – an excellent excuse. Not that I need one..