Tales of the Royal Oak

Oak treeNicola here. I’m away from my desk on a research trip at the moment so I’ve pulled up and re-written an old Wench classic post from more than ten years ago which I really enjoyed writing at the time and which feels appropriate all over again at the moment as we approach Royal Oak Day on May 29th.

Here in the Northern hemisphere the flowers and the trees are starting to look very lush as spring is slipping into summer. In the past couple of years I think I’ve been more aware than previously of the environment around me because of the restrictions on movement we’ve all been through as a result of the pandemic. I’ve always loved nature and the countryside but I’ve definitely looked at it more closely and taken more solace from it in the past months than ever before and one thing I do love is trees. I love their strength and their beauty and the way they can look so dead during the winter (unless they are evergreen!) and then leap into life all over again. I’ve also loved discovering trees we don’t have in England whenever I’ve travelled to other parts of the world. The Quiver Tree in Namibia was a particular favourite. A look at the list of “national trees” shows a huge and wonderful variety across the world.

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Costume Dramas: They don’t make them like they used to do. Or do they?

Canva - Close Up Of Tickets UnrolledNicola here. One of our lockdown activities during this period of self-isolation has been to have a weekly film night (or sometimes a double bill!) it’s been great to catch up with some of the new movies that are out, some TV series I hadn’t yet seen, and some old favourites too. My viewing has included Knives Out, a sort of post-modern Agatha Christie style whodunnit with more twists than a roller coaster and Daniel Craig doing a bizarre accent, and Yesterday, a sweet and funny time -travel romance that I loved.

Costume drama has always been my catnip though, so the first film I streamed was the new Emmaversion of Jane Austen’s Emma. Wench Andrea has already blogged about the film here so I’m not going to give my own take on it, especially as I agree with practically everything she said! New versions of Jane Austen’s books seem to come along more regularly than trains these days and it’s always interesting to see what new angle can possibly be taken. In the case of Emma, it really did feel like a film for the Instagram generation with every shot so beautifully curated. Unlike some viewers I did enjoy the fact that there wasn’t such an age disparity between Emma and Mr Knightley as there was in the book, and the sexual tension between the two of them was hot enough to burn down a Regency stately home!

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Our Love of History

M4444ewHi, Jo here, unable to resist playing with a medieval shield at Chirk Castle – which refers back to my childhood fascination with history.

Our recent discussion of our first historical romance had me thinking about where my love of history began. I can't remember, perhaps because my father fed me on romantic historical stories from an early age. Hereward the Wake, Robin Hood, Richard the Lionheart, Crusaders, Cavaliers and Jacobites, including of course Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Of course I can look back on such stories with a jaundiced eye, but they were just the thing to enthrall. I feel sorry for children today who seem to be mostly taught more recent and "relevant" history. Yes, they need to know about 20th century wars, the fights for social justice and women's rights, but I doubt such subjects capture their hearts at a young age.

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