New Year’s Day 2017

SnowdoniaOnly a sleep from old to new

Only a sleep from night to morn

The new is but the old come true

Each sunrise sees a new year born.

By Helen Hunt Jackson

Nicola here, wishing everyone a very happy 2017! January 1st has traditionally been a time to reflect on the year that has gone and Advent calendar the opportunities, hopes and dreams for the one that lies ahead. It’s a natural human instinct to be optimistic even if sometimes the world feels like a difficult place. Perhaps positive resolutions and hope in the future helps us to deal with that uncertainty.

Ravilious calendarThe calendar is, of course, an arbitrary thing that has changed over the centuries, but it is something that gives structure to our lives and that can be helpful. I'm not a big user of calendars with two exceptions. The first is my Advent Calendar, which I get every year to mark the days from December 1st to Christmas. This year I had a gorgeous one from the National Trust. Now that we are in a new year I am about to put up my 2017 wall calendar, which is a very special one showing the paintings of Eric Ravilious, one of my favourite artists. In both cases the calendars bring emotions of positivity and excitement in me about the potential for the time ahead.

Here in the English countryside the New Year also brings the usual British preoccupation with the weather with a proverb for January 1st that dates from the 19th century:

If the wind blows from the south it will bring warmth and growth, from the east lots of summer fruit on the trees, from the west Astronomical_Clock,_Prague milk and plenty of fish in the seas, but f the wind blows from the north then it’s going to be cold and stormy all year. I’ve just checked the forecast and the wind starts off in the south west today but turns around to the north later so I expect we’re going to get a mix of everything this coming year, as usual, both weatherwise and in other ways.

Whatever the winds bring, I wish everyone a happy, peaceful and healthy New Year!

Christina Courtenay – The Jade Lioness

CCourtenaysmallNicola here! Today we are welcoming award-winning author Christina Courtenay back to the Word Wench blog to talk about her new book, The Jade Lioness, and the fascinating history behind it. Christina writes romantic historical fiction with exotic and unusual settings and the Jade Lioness is no exception. Set in 17th century Japan, it has been described as "lyrical and fascinating." Here Christina talks haikus and the Japanese festival of Tsukimi or "moon viewing."

"I'm sure we've all paused to stare at the moon of an evening, especially when it's full and perhaps with a benign smiling face visible on its surface (or so we imagine).  It is awe-inspiring and beautiful, and it has been important to human beings as a way of measuring time for millennia.  It makes you feel small and insignificant, filling you with wonder at the unfathomable mysteries of the universe.  This was especially true recently when we had the so called ‘blood moon’, a rare total lunar eclipse, which made everyone excited.  It was an extraordinary sight and one well worth missing some sleep for!

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