The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Robin Hood: A Very Mini Medieval and Tudor Ballad History

I admit it- I had a lot of fun writing my novel, Romancing Robin Hood and my novella The Outlaw’s Ransom. Each project gave me the chance to take a self indulgent trip down memory lane, and dig out all my PhD notes on the ballad history behind the Robin Hood legend. Although Romancing Robin Hood is a modern contemporary romance, it also contains a second story- a medieval mystery which has more than a hint of the Robin Hood’s about it.

The earliest balladeers sang tales of Robin Hood long before they were written down, and audiences through history have all had different ideas of what Robin Hood was like in word, action, and appearance. Every writer, film maker, and poet ever since the first tales were spoken, has adapted the outlaw figure to fit their own imagination.

Lytell Geste

The Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode

 

The earliest mention found (to date), of the name Robin Hood appears in the poem The Vision of Piers Plowman, which was written by William Langland in c.1377.

A long ballad, Piers Plowman was a protest against the harsh conditions endured by the poor in the Fourteen Century. Not only did it mention Robin Hood, but makes reference to he outlaw gang, the Folvilles, who research suggests were an influence on those whose exploits wrote the Robin Hood ballads.

 

“And some ryde and to recovere that unrightfully was wonne:

He wised hem wynne it ayein wightnesses of handes,

And fecchen it from false men with Folvyles lawes.”

The Folville family were incredibly dangerous, influential, and had great impact on the Midlands of the UK in the Fourteenth Century. I’ll be introducing this family of brothers to you properly very soon; for they are something of an obsession for historian Dr Grace Harper- the lead character in Romancing Robin Hood.

RH and the monk

Robin Hood and the Monk

 

In 1450 the earliest single short ballad, Robin Hood and the Monk, was committed to paper, but it wasn’t until 1510 that the original story (Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode), was recorded in its entirety.

With the arrival of the printing press in Tudor and Elizabethan times, all of the most popular stories we recognise today were recorded for prosperity. Some of these stories had medieval roots, but many were were brand new pieces. The Tudor audience was as keen for fresh tales containing their favourite heroes as we are today. These ‘new’ tales included Robin Hood and Gisborne (c.1500) and Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar (c.1550) – who became known as Friar Tuck.

The Tudors loved the stories of Robin Hood. He was more popular then than he is now. Tudor documents are littered with mentions of Robin Hood’s all over Britain. For example-

– in 1497 Roger Marshall called himself Robin Hood, and lead a riot of 200 men in Staffordshire.

– in 1509, ten Robin Hood plays were banned in Exeter by the city council, as they had become a public nuisance.

Robin Hood’s most famous Tudor fan was Henry VIII himself. In fact, apart from hunting, eating, and getting married, Henry’s favourite hobby was acting. Sometimes he dressed up as Robin Hood. The king would wear a mask, and his audience had to pretend they didn’t know it was him, and had to look surprised when he revealed his true identity at the end of the play.

In 1510 Henry VIII and eleven of his nobles dressed as Robin Hood and broke into the Queen’s private rooms, apparently giving her the fright of her life! (Up to that point anyway!)

Thank you for letting me share a little of my Robin Hood passion with you today.

Romancing Robin Hood is available now on Nook, Kobo, Kindle and in paperback from all good retailers, including-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00M4838S2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407428558&sr=8-1&keywords=romancing+robin+hood

The Outlaw’s Ransom is available as a Kindle download – (published under the name Jennifer Ash, this novella was previously published as the medieval part of the Romancing Robin Hood novel mentioned above.)

http://amzn.to/2dr5ZPo

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


Did you know that books are invisible?

One of the most popular blogs to feature on my website in 2016 was one I did about the importance of marketing…

Did you know that books were invisible?”

That was the opening line I gave a slightly bemused group of friends when they kindly offered to let me give a ‘pretend’ talk about what to do after you’ve written a book.

invisible

OK- I’d better back track a little bit.

For a little while now I’ve been considering holding a few writing classes, and possibly taking on mentoring. There is one issue however-there are hundreds and hundreds of creative writing classes out there. I want to provide something a little bit different.

After chatting to fellow authors it transpired that what wasn’t so available was advice on what to do after you’d created your story. I have spent some time thinking about this.

There are so many authors in the world putting their life’s blood into their words. They pour themselves into their work, then perhaps they are lucky enough to find a publisher, or they decide to self publish their book, and then…nothing.

Big Fat Zero 2

This brings me to my original point. Unless you are with one of the top six publishers who have contracts to get books into the mainstream bookshops and supermarkets, books are invisible. They only exist if people know about them- and when I say people, I don’t mean your family, friends, work colleagues, and the people they happen to know.

Marketing- that’s what writers have to do. Writing is fairly important as well of course- but if you write something in the hope of earning an income, and then don’t market it, then what’s the point?

I can’t say I enjoy the marketing side of my job- and I’m lucky enough to have a publisher that does a little marketing for me- but if you don’t have a Facebook page for your books, and a Twitter account from which to shout about your literary wares, then there is a real danger of disappearing into the ether of the eBook world. You need a blog, you need constant presence, and you need to – every now and then- share just a little of the real you to engage your audience.

Sadly, there is no magic wand when it comes to selling books. People won’t know you’ve written a book unless you make them sit up and take notice of the fact.

 

OK- lecture over!

I’ll pop off now, because I need to think up exactly what my ‘after-writing’ course will contain…any ideas (polite ones only!) will be very welcome!

Thank you!!

Happy reading, writing and marketing,

Jenny x

Twitter- https://twitter.com/JennyKaneAuthor 

PS- I will shout as soon as the writing courses are up and running x

 


Seeking Perfection

It is with great pleasure that I welcome Caroline MacCallum to my site today. Caroline is here to give us a delicious taster of her very first romance novel, Seeking Perfection, so grab a cuppa and settle down for a read.

Over to you Caroline…

Seeking Perfection

By Caroline MacCallum

Thank you for hosting me today, it’s great to be here. Since completing a creative writing course several years ago I’ve enjoyed immersing myself in my imagination and the world of romantic fiction. Seeking Perfection is my second novel and tells the tale of a personal shopper who has grand plans to become a bridal wear designer. It’s full of sassy characters, hilarious exploits and of course a gorgeous hero. Here’s a bit more about it, and just so you know, it’s available for pre-order at the super-low price of just 99c/99p.

Back Cover Information

Emily Beach has a passion for wedding dresses—not wearing them, but designing them. She’s hitched her wagon to the stars and has grand plans to become the brand brides rush to when seeking perfection on their big day.

Until that happens, she’s working at a swanky London boutique. Her days are a whirlwind of wealthy, eccentric customers, and crazy, sex-mad colleagues. When dashing yachting-mogul millionaire, Henry, sets his sights on her, she gets a taste of the finer things in life, as he sails straight into her heart.

But does Henry really understand her need for independence, and her fierce determination to make it on her own? And did he ever really know her if he thinks she wants him to pull strings to get her on the first rung of the ladder? With the meddling of her wacky, energetic friends, she soon finds the answers to all of these questions, but are they the answers she wants?

Excerpt from Chapter One…

“There’s so much sex around here.”

“I beg your pardon?” Emily Beach wondered if she’d heard her new colleague correctly.

“Sex, so much. Here. It’s in the air.” Ralph flung his arms up and waggled his fingers. “Think of it as sparkling dust. Whoever it lands on wants to get laid or is getting laid. Can you handle that?”

Sparkling sex dust? What the hell kind of place have I come to? “Well…I guess so.”

“Good, you’ll fit right in then. That’s your desk over there. We haven’t got much space, but we’ve made the best of it. Go and get settled.” He slammed his hands onto his waist, cocked his hips and grinned. “Oh, and welcome to On Trend. May your time here be truly happy, prosperous and utterly satisfying, darling.”

“Er, thank you.”

“I’ve got to dash, so sorry.” Ralph glanced at his rose-gold watch. “I have a nine o’clock; don’t you just hate them? Inconsiderate wealthy people make me sick. Shouldn’t they all be in bed sleeping off champagne hangovers, or polishing their private jets?” He blew Emily a kiss, then strutted away, his neon-blue crocodile shoes tapping on the wooden floor.

Emily watched him leave.

Is he for real?

Head spinning from the fast-paced encounter, she turned and saw the only free desk was the one nestled in the corner of the fourth-floor office. It was next to a window, and past several chimney pots she could just make out the tips of the trees in Hyde Park. The only trouble was, the desk was flooded with white-hot sunlight. Soon she’d have damp patches on the underarms of her silky navy-blue blouse—which was a shame, as she’d spent a considerable amount of time planning the perfect outfit for her first day and she hadn’t intended on looking like she was stomping through the rainforest.

She set her faithful black leather Gucci bag on the desk and shrugged out of her blazer. Luckily, the window had a latch, so she reached upwards, opened it and let in a cool breeze.

“Hey, you must be Emily.”

A pretty girl with a long, curly blonde hair, heavy makeup and wearing a candy-pink and white striped dress smiled at her.

“Yes, hi.”

“So glad you’re here, I can’t begin to tell you. I’m Sandy, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you, Sandy.”
Sandy perched on the side of the desk in front of Emily’s and folded her  arms. The action pushed her ample breasts upwards, almost to overspill point. “I’ve been saying to Matt for yonks that we need another personal shopper. It’s all well and good having cashiers, stock managers and those people who do the sums at the end of the month, but it’s personal shoppers that sell the big-name stuff. We’re the fashionistas, we give the customers not just what they need, but what they want, we rake in the big bucks and we do it with flair and style.”

“Yes, I suppose so.” Emily paused. “And I’m glad you did—persuade him to take on more staff, that is. I was ready for a change.”

“Oh, why’s that then?”

Emily shrugged. “I’d been at Harrods for two years, it was time to move on—and to be honest, the hours here will suit me better.” Dropping ten hours a week meant Emily would have a couple of mornings to work on her own designs. They were beginning to sell now she’d set up a website showcasing her work, and word of mouth was spreading, but she didn’t mention this fact to Sandy.

“Ooh, la, la, Harrods! Is it really a den of bitching and incest?” Sandy rubbed her hands together and widened her eyes.

Emily laughed. “No, not at all, it’s very professional. A wonderful place to work.”

“And for monumental shopping sprees,” Sandy said. “So what department were you based in?”

“Bridal, but I went to women’s wear if they were short, and I did men’s suits for a while too.”

“There’s no shortage of men here looking for cool clothes to wear to the races, on their yachts, or to wow in the boardroom whilst haggling over their billions.” Sandy sighed. “Shame most of them are too old, ugly or fat to make the clothes hang like they should. It’s like dressing up a pork pie sometimes— no amount of garnish is going to disguise that artery-clogging layer of lardy gloop around the centre.”

Emily held in a shocked gasp. Sandy was obviously, like Ralph, the sort of person to just say it how it was. Already she couldn’t wait to tell her best friend Lynne all about her first day, and she’d only been on the premises ten minutes. “I guess as long as they feel good. That’s the main thing.”

“Oh yes, they always feel good when I’ve finished with them. I’m the queen of flattery. I could make a sloth feel like Naomi Campbell and a platypus feel like David bloody Gandy.”

Emily giggled. The office time at On Trend was going to be entertaining if nothing else. It may only have an eighth of the floor space that Harrods had, but still, it would make up for it in the shock factor.

***

Pre-Order now for just 99c/99p

Amazon

Amazon UK

About Caroline MacCallum

Caroline lives in the UK and uses her many years working as a nurse for inspiration when it comes to creating characters. She enjoyed walking her dog, cooking and painting when she has time. Look out for her YA novel Gabriel’s Angel which has a swathe of 5* reviews.

WEBSITE

***

Thank you for such a great sneak peek of your novel! I wish you every success.

Happy reading,

Jenny xxx


Bring it On…

There’s no need for me to say things like “2016 was just so awful….” Hardly anyone would argue that it wasn’t a pretty big disaster all round the world stage. So, enough said.

2017 now lays ahead of us like a pristine blank notebook, just waiting for the world’s storytellers to fill it up.

OK- so they’ll be more political chaos etc- but here in my own small corner of book land, there is much to look forward to.

For a start I have 2 brand new novels coming out during 2017 – one as Jenny Kane, and one as Jennifer Ash.

My Jenny Kane novel comes out in June, and will be entitled Abi’s Neighbour – the sequel of my bestselling novel, Abi’s House. I will have a cover for you to look at shortly (I’ve seen it already- and I love it!), as well as a blurb. All I can tell you at the moment is that the main characters, Abi, Max, Beth, Jacob and Stan, are still in Sennen Cove in Cornwall- along with a few new faces. And before anyone asks- no, I haven’t killed the dog. You’d be amazed how many emails I got asking me not to kill off Sadie, Stan’s Golden Retriever. As if I would!

My Jennifer Ash book this year will be a full length novel which carries on a few months after the end of the novella, The Outlaw’s Ransom. The new novel, The Winter Outlaw, will be out in November. It is that novel I’m working on at the moment. So I’m starting 2017 by doing a rewrite of the first draft of the book which will probably end up being the last publication of the year.

Along with these two novels, I also have short stories and a novella coming out under my adult pen name.

In between the editing and writing, I’ll be teaching as many writing workshops as I can squeeze into the days, drafting yet another novel (not saying what that’s about yet….), and taking on freelance writing assignments.

2017 is only a few days old, but it’s already shaping up to be one of the busiest yet, and after the publication of Another Glass of Champagne, The Outlaws’ Ransom, Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection, and several other pieces for the ‘other’ me in 2016, I wouldn’t have thought that possible!

Happy reading,

Jenny/Jennifer x

 


Sunshine Dreaming: Returning to Abi’s House

What better way to start the New Year than to forget the grey cold days of winter, and look forward to a Cornish summer?…

I’m delighted to say that the sequel to my Cornish friendship and romance novel, Abi’s House, is almost ready, and will be out in the world in June! That might feel a long way away to you- but in novel writing world that’s almost next week! There are many bits and bobs to do to prepare a book in between it being written and reaching your eager hands. I should say at this point how grateful and humbled I am  by all the messages I’ve had about Abi’s House. It seems to have touched a lot of people’s hearts. I can only hope that Abi’s Neighbour will be equally well received.

Sennen

Abi’s Neighbour will follow on from where we left Max, Abi, Beth and their friends in the beautiful Sennen Cove, at the very tip of the Penwith peninsula in Cornwall. There will – obviously- be a new neighbour moving in next door to Abi on Miners Row. I’m saying no more for now- but there will be a cover reveal very soon…

In the meantime, why not hide from the awful weather and indulge in a little Cornish sunshine via Abi’s House.

Blurb

Newly widowed at barely thirty, Abi Carter is desperate to escape the Stepford Wives-style life that Luke, her late husband, had been so keen for her to live.

Abi decides to fulfil a lifelong dream. As a child on holiday in a Cornwall as a child she fell in love with a cottage – the prophetically named Abbey’s House. Now she is going to see if she can find the place again, relive the happy memories … maybe even buy a place of her own nearby?

On impulse Abi sets off to Cornwall, where a chance meeting in a village pub brings new friends Beth and Max into her life. Beth, like Abi, has a life-changing decision to make. Max, Beth’s best mate, is new to the village. He soon helps Abi track down the house of her dreams … but things aren’t quite that simple. There’s the complicated life Abi left behind, including her late husband’s brother, Simon – a man with more than friendship on his mind … Will Abi’s house remain a dream, or will the bricks and mortar become a reality?

 

Here are some of the lovely review’s Abi’s House has received…

A summer read as scrumptious as its Cornish backdrop. Brilliant!”

“This novel is a box of delights…the perfect escapist read…”

“Better than a Cornish Cream Tea…”

“Reading a Jenny Kane book is like opening a journal by a much loved friend…”

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To pick up your copy Abi’s House in either paperback or on Kindle visit any good book retailer or follow these links

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00UVPPWO8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711175&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane
 
http://www.amazon.com/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00UVPPWO8/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711253&sr=1-2&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane
Happy reading,
Jenny xx

Where Did 2016 Go?

It’s that time again- not just another New Year’s Eve- but the end of the month blog from Nell Peters is here!!

Buckle up folks- and pass the whisky!

Over to you Nell…

New Year’s Eve! Where did 2016 go? But suffice to say, I for one am glad it’s now slithering its way into the archives!

Let’s start with the birthday line-up – on the starting blocks we have such luminaries as Donald Trump Jnr (OMG, there’s more than one?), football bod Sir Alex Ferguson, actors Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Ben Kingsley and Val Kilmer (no knighthood, Val? Well, if you will be born in the US …), late singers John Denver and Donna Summer, explorer (not watchmaker) Jacques Cartier (my ancient Firebird once broke down while I was driving over his rotten bridge in Montreal) and painter Henri Matisse.

anthony-hopkins

Most important of all, our lovely niece Francesca Cerulli celebrates her 26th birthday today – her dad has Italian genes (the name gives a wee bit of a clue) and she has benefitted in spades in the looks department, lucky girl. Not too good at cooking pasta, though … Just kidding, Fran!

sparkly-doc-martens

Right, before you get too involved in dragging the sparkly Doc Martens from the back of the closet, and preening in preparation to party, let’s see what has happened historically on this day, shall we? On the eve of the new twenty-first century, just as the London Eye was cranking into action for its debut circuit, Boris Yeltsin resigned as the first President of the Russian Federation, leaving the PM, one Vladimir Putin, to mind the shop – cheers for that, Boris, old chap. A zillion bare-chested, macho-man poses later, mostly accessorised by horses and firearms …

big-ben

I normally shy away from making any even vaguely political statements on social media, but the thought that after Trump’s inauguration in January, the world will have the Vlad and Donnie Show in positions of unassailable power, their fat fingers hovering over the ultimate button, frankly scares the bejesus out of me. Even the likes of Michael Gove, Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage don’t look too bad, compared to that not-so-much-dream-as-nightmare team.

trump

Moving on; NYE in 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the capital of Canada (she wasn’t amused by Victoria in British Columbia?) The city name derives from the Algonquin (Native American) word Odawa – which, incidentally, is exactly how Canadians (or Canajuns) pronounce it, just as they drop the ‘t’ in Montreal and the second ‘t’ in Toronto – meaning ‘to trade’. Assuming HRH didn’t just stick a pin in a map, its selection was strategic as a border stronghold. Ottawa is probably the most British city in Canada in terms of embracing the influence, (though it’s still of necessity bilingual) and surprisingly small for a capital, but it’s full of superb Victorian architecture and brilliant museums. They even have Changing of the Guard (yes, all dressed in red tunics, with bearskins!) on Parliament Hill – but sadly, only from June to August, for tourists.

ottawa

In 1892, across the border in New York, Ellis Island opened its doors as the official immigration processing centre for those in search of the American Dream. (By the time it closed in 1954, 15m people had passed through – that’s an average of 220,589 a year.) How immensely brave folk were to sail off literally into the unknown, many with hardly more than the clothes they wore. Scientists believe that Homo sapiens first arrived in the US via the Bering Straits about 20,000 years ago, and these were the forebears of the many Native American cultures which would people the landscape for thousands of years.

ellis-island-liberty

Next came the Vikings – though not in huge numbers, so maybe not too much raping and pillaging – and eventually the great European migration began. (Just saying, but Donald Trump’s mother and father were of Scottish and German descent respectively – if only the ancestors of Border Control had been a little more on the ball regarding who made it through …) All of this long before the Statue of Liberty was in place nearby, to declare (courtesy Emma Lazarus – I’m absolutely not going to mention anything about her taking up her bed to walk!):

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Crossing the Atlantic for early settlers meant two to three months of seasickness, overcrowding, limited food rations, and disease. Eew – not exactly luxury cruising, but better than a ticket for passage on the Titanic, I suppose. However, the prospect of yours-for-the-asking land parcels and the hope of political and religious freedoms were pretty persuasive arguments. Among the early British settlers were indentured servants willing to trade four to seven years of unpaid labour for a one-way ticket to the colonies and the promise of land. Sounds like a slightly one-sided agreement to me? After seven long years of being a freebie skivvy, I’d expect to be gifted California, minimum.  There were also convicts among the newcomers – many thousands transported from English jails. And we always think of Australia as our go-to penal colony.

wagon-train

The merging of Europeans and Native Americans was not always peaceful (I’ve seen those John Wayne cowboy movies – wagons ho, or there’ll be heap big trouble and a few unscheduled haircuts) and cultures clashed, leading to violence and the spread of new pathogens. Whole tribes were decimated by diseases like small pox, measles, and the plague. And don’t forget how badly these usurpers behaved generally, riding roughshod over tradition, beliefs and land tenure. How rude! When I lived in Montreal, a friend’s old bat of a mother-in-law was slagging off the indigenous race as leeches on the economy, plus a whole lot of other things bad – and when I ventured to disagree (quite bravely, as she was one big momma with a viper’s tongue) she looked down her nose at me and said imperiously, ‘Well, you know, they are allowed to live on Reservations!’ Be still my heart …  This is someone born and bred in the second most French city in Quebec Province, where the official language has been French since 1974, but who never actually bothered to learn the lingo.

marie-curie

OK, enough New World ramblings – Marie Curie (the scientist, not the cancer care organisation that bears her name) accepted her second Nobel Prize on this day in 1911 for Chemistry, having shared the prize for Physics in 1903. She was the first woman to win a Nobel, and the first person/only woman to win twice. Kind of puts Bob Dylan into perspective, doesn’t it? Born Maria Sklodowska in 1867 in Warsaw, she was the youngest of five children of poor school teachers. After her mother died and her father could no longer support her, she became a governess, reading and studying in her own time. Becoming a teacher – the only route which would allow her independence – was never an option, because lack of money prevented her from formal higher education.

However, when her sister came up trumps (sorry!) and offered her lodgings in Paris so she could go to university, she moved to France in 1891. She enrolled at the Sorbonne (when I was a young and foolish student, I once spent the night there, sleeping in the mortuary on a dissection table – don’t ask!) where she read physics and mathematics. It was in Paris, in 1894, that she met Pierre Curie – a scientist working in the city – whom she married a year later and adopted the French spelling of her name, Marie. Her achievements included the development of the theory of radioactivity (a term that she coined), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium. Yeah, Bob, nice lyrics – AND Marie Curie turned up to accept the award.

farts

So, who is going to make a New Year resolution? There will be the usual suspects, like giving up junk food and/or dieting/eating more healthily; stop smoking/drinking too much; embark upon a regular exercise regime (that’ll last until 3rd January at least); stop wasting money on fripperies, yada, yada. I looked online and found a list of 100 resolutions – apart from the obvious, there was, stop twerking (7 – or start, in my case); quit farting so much (16 – I’m saying nothing!); stop playing Candy Crush Saga (28 – please note, those FB friends who keep sending me requests which I steadfastly ignore!); don’t buy the latest iPhone (32 – fine by me, as my mobile is a five year-old, basic Nokia); find Nirvana (38 – far out, man!); become more cultured (45 – that’s after you quit farting so much, presumably); drink more water (46 – why, when there’s still wine in Tesco?); quit picking your nose (62 – see 45); get a tattoo (66 – why?); keep a cleaner house (73 – again, why?); write more (76 – what’s this, chopped liver?); read more (97 – I wish!); become an expert at something (100 – like composing dumb lists?) I’ll leave it to you to extract the bones out of that lot.

Traditionally, on the stroke of midnight on 31st December, the English would open the back door to let the old year out, and ask the first dark-haired man they saw to come through the front door carrying bread, salt and coal. (Did he have to patrol the streets carrying that lot, in the hope of being invited in somewhere?) Symbolically, that meant that for the following year everyone in the house would have enough to eat (bread), enough money (salt), and be warm (coal). Nowadays, those of us who don’t venture out to lurk – freezing our socks off – in Trafalgar Square or similar to see in the New Year, or pay exorbitant prices to attend a formal function, slum it sitting round the TV watching Jools Holland and his cronies cavorting around the studio to present the annual hootenanny. There is a countdown to midnight, courtesy Big Ben’s bongs (nice alliteration!), followed by a rendition of Auld Lang Syne, often with the Pipes and Drums of the Scots Guards. All a bit naff, when you consider it’s pre-recorded.

cocktail-07

The Scots celebrate Hogmanay, the name taken from an oat cake that used to be given to children on New Year’s Eve – I imagine they’d rather have had a chocolate bar. In Edinburgh there’s a huge ticket-only party from Prince’s Street to the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle – the only year we were there, it was cancelled due to foul weather. In Scotland? Surely not! Those who stay home observe the tradition of first-footing at the stroke of twelve – ie the first person to set foot in a house is thought to affect the fortunes of everyone who lives there for the coming year. Strangers are supposed to bring good luck – except when they fill their swag bags and abscond with the family silver, of course.

New Year’s Eve is Nos Galan in Welsh, and whilst they also believe in letting out the old year and ushering in the new, if the first visitor after midnight is a woman and a man opens the door, it’s considered bad luck. Uh-oh! Plus, if the first man to cross the threshold has red hair, that’s bad luck too. I guess gingers don’t get too many invitations to parties, just in case they time their arrival badly. The Welsh believe you should pay off all debts before the New Year begins, or you’ll spend the whole of the next year in the red – maybe there’s some tenuous connection with those poor carrot-topped chaps being so unpopular? On New Year’s Day (Dydd Calan) Welsh children get up early to visit their neighbours and sing songs. They are given coins, mince pies, apples and sweets for singing – or, more likely, to go away. Shrill little voices warbling on the doorstep is not really what you need first thing, if you’re nursing a hangover from the night before. Whatever, this fizzles out by midday.

My job here is done. Thank you for having me again, Jenny.

happy-new-year

Happy New Year! Or A Guid New Year! Or Dydd Calan Hapus!

Toodles.

NP

Author.to/NellPeters

PS. I have mentioned before that Jen and I share a birthday, but we also share an editor, lovely Greg Rees at Accent Press. Since I wrote this blog – well in advance, as usual – Accent Press have reorganised, and Greg left in mid-December. I have so enjoyed working with him (he even appreciates my dodgy sense of humour!) and wish him every success and happiness, as he moves on to pastures new. I will miss him a lot, as I’m sure will all his authors. Yep, 2016 has been one rubbish year …

Sé feliz, Greg, y cuídate! x

(I second the above – Greg, you’ll be hugely missed J x)

Many many thanks once again to Nell for a fabulous blogs this year. And thank you to all of you, my lovely readers.

Happy new Year everyone.

Jenny x

 


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