Celebrating the Solstice!

Nicola here, talking about midsummer and using it as an excuse to post some gorgeous pictures! Yesterday marked the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest day in the Southern.  The June solstice is considered to be the beginning of summer and it’s rather nice that finally the warm, sunny weather has arrived in the UK so it really does feel like summer here.

I’m reading in various places that the solstice today is the earliest since 1796. The dates of the solstice occur within a relatively small range (June 20th or 21st and December 21st or 22nd.) As 2024 is a leap year, the time of the solstice occurs a whole 18 hours earlier than it did last year. The last year a solstice was this early, 228 years ago, Napoleon and Josephine got married, Edward Jenner administered the first smallpox vaccine, George Washington issued his “Farewell Address” and “Auld Lang Syne” by Robert Burns was first published.

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Northward, Ho!

By Mary Jo

This will be my fourth and last blog about our British Isles cruise because I can never capture all the wondrous places we saw and it’s time to move on to other topics!  After leaving Wales, we headed east to Liverpool, one of Britain’s major seaports and famously the home of the Beatles as well as many other successful pop musicians.  I can’t resist posting the link for James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney guiding Corden around Liverpool and the two of them singing. It’s WONDERFUL!

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Digging Myself into a Hole!

Andrea here, musing today on “green thumbs.” I do not have one. Don’t get me wrong, I love gardens. Being a visual person, I’m endlessly enchanted by the colors and textures of gardens (and the wonderful ancillary winged creatures that they attract.) There is something so organically beautiful about plants and their endlessly changing shapes and hues. I’m constantly stopping to take photos of gardens that catch my eye . . .

So, why aren’t I merrily scrabbling away in the soil, creating some idyllic oasis? After all, I like to think of myself as a creative person and a lover of Nature and the natural world. One would think that it should be a match made in heaven. But no. And I shall endeavor to explain.

Over the years, I’ve had a number of friends who extol the joys of gardening. And as they looked so blissfully happy on their hands and knees rooting around in the soil, pulling weeds, planting seedlings and bulbs for hours on end, I imagined that I, too, would fit right into the role of gardener.

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Ask a Wench

Christina here with this month’s ASK A WENCH and today the question we are answering is:-

“Do you reread books you enjoyed 20 years ago or do you prefer to just let them be a happy memory in case they’ve dated badly?”

Pat:  I don’t re-read anything much. My TBR stack is toppling as is. But sometimes, I need a comfort read before bed, preferably in paper. Unfortunately, I had to leave all my romance Keepers behind when I moved. At the time, I tried to dive into the shelves and look for favorites to bring with me, but many of them were dated and didn’t suck me in as they once had. I think that’s more a problem of having read way too many similar books for years afterward, as publishers tend to produce books similar to the original bestsellers until the imitations quit selling. Kind of wears out the originality and the reason for re-reading.

But because my husband and I both read Terry Pratchett, and he won’t give up anything, we have the entire collection of Pratchett books. When we first bought them, I read in order of purchase, well after the Disc World series had started. This past year, I started with the first in the series, and I’ve been working my way through the entire collection in order. They definitely stand up to the test of time, because of their originality. No one can write humor or create worlds like Pratchett. I’m not sure what I’ll do when those run out!

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Tea cosies

Anne here and today I’m talking about tea cosies (or cozies, if you’re American). In one sense, they’re historical artifacts but in many places today they live on — and even flourish.

What is a tea cosy, you ask? It’s a cover for a tea pot, intended to keep the tea warm for longer. (The one on the right I found on Pinterest from folksy.com but it’s sold out.)


Image on left: Made between 1870 and 1899, this velvet English tea cosy features beaded thistle and rose motifs as well as trim and top loops. Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

The Duchess of Bedford is credited with popularizing afternoon tea in the 1840’s, and teatime became a fashionable ritual complete with fine porcelain or silver tea services and lavish table settings.

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