Sunday, 29 May 2016

Much and Fairies

We've 'ad a few days of good weather and 'er's been tripping down the garden. Er's been away a lot lately on account of The 'obbits and their new little Frodo, and meanwhile the weeds have been growing like they're on blooming steroids. Now 'er's 'home, 'er comes out in the sunshine, flitting about with 'a trowel in 'er 'and. Bless. About time, too. It's all very well, 'er going on about the lovely blue drifts of cornflowers, but I can't see over the top of 'em. Swamped, I am. Off she goes, exclaiming about 'er beautiful garden as if there were fairies at the bottom of it. It's nonsense, that. There's a compost 'eap at the bottom of the garden, and you never see a compost heap fairy these days. They all work for blooming John Innes.

Any fairies in this garden come to the rockery. Why, you ask? Why do they so love the rockery? Well, since you ask, there's nothing fairies like better than a chat, and though I say it as shouldn't I can do sparkling and witty conversation as well as the next grey stone gnome from Yorkshire. 'ad a most entertaining 'arf hour with the Cuckoo Spit Fairy and the Missing Tools Fairy today. But if anyone's seen the How To Do In Greenfly Without Using Chemicals Fairy, get 'er to give me a call, will yer?

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Crackle of the Cakes

It's all completely silly round here. Ever since Frodo arrived, She of the Stories has had baby brain and can't concentrate on anything. As usual she is trying to do too many things at once, and she hasn't said anything on here for over a week. In the tower there are new pages to be trained, so Urchin and Padra are very busy with that. Fingal is always sailing about, teaching Tide and Swanfeather how to manage a boat. Then of course there are crops of delicious things growing all over the island, so they have to be tended. Very soon it will be the start of berry season and all those little animals will have blackcurrant stains around their mouths. She asked me to think of something to tell you, so -

I happen to know a very busy young squirrel - a friend of She of the Stories - who is the most amazing baker. I could do with her on the island just now. I wonder if I could make her shortbread with hazelnut flour, and her gateau with ground almonds. She might even learn one day to make Kingsmantle Cake, the one dear Brother Fir was so fond of. And I do wonder if she has any clever ideas with gooseberries, as we may have a glut of them this year. But shall I tell you the best way to eat the fresh soft fruit? Sit in the sunshine and eat it with your fingers, fresh from the bush.

Thursday, 12 May 2016


I have been away from The House Of Stories for some time now. I've been in Wales with The Hobbits (that's Daughter and Daughter's Chap). I was there for a new little Hobbit coming into the world, to be known on the blog as Frodo. He is, of course, gorgeous. Golden-haired and gorgeous. Not quite the most beautiful baby boy ever - LOS and LYS share the honours there - but he's a very close runner-up. Bright as a button and doing all the right things. In no time at all he'll be finding the wonderful world of books.

His parents already have Fifteen Things Not To Do With A Baby so they know not to hang him from washing lines or plant him in the garden. Soon there will be Fifteen Things Not To Do With A Granny, only I won't be Granny, I'll be Nan, and I don't mind if he hides an elephant in my bed. In fact, I'd be delighted. I'm going out today to get him Holly Sterling's new book, Hiccups, and of course he'll have The Very Hungry Caterpillar and some of those lovely Ahlberg books. In time, he'll get Thomas The Tank Engine. There are some lovely baby books from Lion, one of my publishers.

Any more? Any favourite baby books?

Monday, 2 May 2016

Roly Poly People

There is a song called 'Song for the Roly Poly People' which I think is by Judy Small (apologies if I got this wrong.) I've heard it sung by the delightful Heather Innes, and you can find more about her on the link above. Tony and I first met Heather at Alnwick Music Festival many years ago when she sang her way into our hearts. I can't find a clip of Heather singing it, but if you search about you'll find a version of Roly People People somewhere. It's about celebrating the roly poly people.

Models, dancers, and a lot of actresses are stick thin. The Duchess of Cambridge is a healthy young woman if ever we saw one, but as soon as she stepped out of hospital with a new baby in her arms the nitpickers were remarking on the 'baby weight'. And because there is, let's face it, a problem of obesity, we're all being advised to shape up. Fair enough. And I'm not defending myself here, because I'm pretty scrawny.


some people are roly poly because they just are. Their genes make them curvy. Some people can wolf down a full English breakfast and wash it down with milk shake and still stay thin. Some just have to nibble an oatcake and it goes straight to the hips and stays there. We are all different, surely we realise that by now? Some people are rounded. Get over it!

And some of the people I love most are roly poly people. I love big, sensible, roly poly women. I remember reading about a roly poly lady who ran a woman's refuge. She'd stand between a frightened woman and an angry man, blocking out the daylight, and nobody messed her about. Big strong, roly poly women can walk into a room and you know everything's going to be all right. If you're sad, roly poly ladies will wrap you in their arms and protect you. If you're hungry, they'll feed you. If you're afraid, they'll protect you like a mother bear with her cub. They are built for comfort, not speed. I owe my sanity (what's left of it) to roly poly women. If you can get internet in heaven, Sandie Maude and Mary Kelly, this includes you.

If you're one of those readers who wants more Mistmantle, think of Apple, one roly poly squirrel with a big heart and a big hat. And remember - never trust a thin cook.