Tuesday, 30 December 2014


Dearest Emily,

It was fun talking to you on Christmas eve. I shall need to tell you something about my 'conversation' with Father Christmas (who arrived just out of face-time frame) one day- but that can wait.
It was also charming to see Annabel's delight- again on face-time over her favourite gift- a music-box that played 'La Vie en Rose'- GiGi's favourite piece and sentiment.

Oh, the magical joys for children at Christmas.

Grumpa and I, as I mentioned in my last post- were set to enjoy a well-earned rest- post house and shop move.

Which we did. Our little cattle shed cottage, a completely different environment to Christmasses-past. No little children, no big children (no Monopoly- that Uncle Eddie insists we play every year.)

Even Uncle Joe was away, as you know, because he came to you for his birthday two days ago- and Daddy, Uncle Ed and him painted the town of Tonbridge Wells their own particular shade of vermillion.

And you know what Em, that's just how it should be. We had just what we needed. A rest-ful, cosy and peaceful Christmas, peppered with shop days, Lifeboat for Grumpa, and lunch over with Kyra of Cowes.

Ahh, and I got to finish my December painting. Whilst I was about its painting- I kept thinking about 'Ygdrasil' which was a doodle that a character called Henrietta made constantly throughout Agatha Christie's 'The Hollow'.

Though I haven't read it since I was about thirteen, something about the imaginary wriggly tree seemed aposite.

So, I nick-named it Ygdrasil. It is our Beech tree here in our garden Em- a magnificent old beast of a tree. I'm very fond of it.

As I neared finishing my painting- I looked up Ygdrasil- thinking it only a Christie phenomenon- and here's my findings- (Wiki)

The cosmos in Pagan Norse mythology consist of Nine Worlds that flank a central cosmological tree,Yggdrasil;
Pronounced [ˈyɡːˌdrasilː]) it is an immense tree that is central in Norse cosmology. Yggdrasil is attested in thePoetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Yggdrasil is an immense ash tree that is central and considered very holy. The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to assemble. The branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, and the tree is supported by three roots that extend far away into other locations; one to the wellUrðarbrunnr in the heavens, one to the spring Hvergelmir, and another to the well Mímisbrunnr. Creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the wyrm (dragon) Níðhöggr, an unnamed eagle, and the stags Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór.

Conflicting scholarly theories have been proposed about the etymology of the name Yggdrasill, the possibility that the tree is of another species than ash, the relation to tree lore and to Eurasian shamanic lore, the possible relation to the trees Mímameiðr and LæraðrHoddmímis holt, the sacred tree at Uppsala, and the fate of Yggdrasil during the events of Ragnarök.

Around Yggdrasil, units of time and elements of the cosmology are personified as deities or beings. Various forms of a creation myth are recounted, where the world is created from the flesh of the primordial being Ymir, and the first two humans are Ask and Embla. These worlds are foretold to be reborn after the events ofRagnarök, when an immense battle occurs between the gods and their enemies, and the world is enveloped in flames, only to be reborn anew. There the surviving gods will meet, and the land will be fertile and green, and two humans will repopulate the world.

Hah! More reason to research if ever I needed some.

Here is my picture- I hope you like it.

And so we shall see you here in January Emily- looking forwards to it very much. I hope you have had a marvellous Christmas- see you next year,

your ever-loving Grand-mother, GiGi xxx

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A Fezziwig Christmas

Dearest Emily,

As Christmas Day approaches, I expect your excitement knows no bounds and Mummy and Daddy rush around with all the preparations for your first Christmas at home together. Uncle Joe is off to his Daddy's and Grumpa and GiGi are quite frankly looking forwards to a much quieter Christmas than historically- here in our new little old house.

Following years of Family Christmasses, this year after moving house and opening a shop- it figured as a welcome break for Grumpa and I. Fast approaching, we made vague plans for Christmas lunch over at Cowes (a first to have Christmas Dinner away) and carried on with the businesses at hand.

Then, on Saturday night we set off for two parties (two-Em, and we rarely go out!)

A busy day at the shop- a quick turnaround and out- all the way down the lane to a neighbours house! It's the first time we have met many of them. In this quiet dark peaceful little valley, at this time of year- without any street lighting we are more likely to come face to face with a fox- rather than a human. So, in we go, and are warmly welcomed by a sea of cheerful faces, mince pies and mulled wine accompanying. Almost immediately, I was introduced to three charming children, aged between seven and eleven, who announced that they had just got off the ferry and were about to sing carols- and would we join in please. A few numbers later, I turned round to see the whole room engaged in 'The twelve days of Christmas' acting out seven swans a-swimming, six geese-a-laying etc. It would have been impossible to feel anything other than welcomed and involved in this yearly tradition (Some things never change Em- as I read about the residents here-abouts in a book dated 1897- 'the people revel in freedom and unconventionality here'.) Off we went, having sung and chatted and felt very cheery to the second venue on our little junkette. A Pagan Yule this time. Once again- the welcome, this time accompanied by home-made Meade, and soup,  and decorated pine-cone gifts was the same. 

Two very different parties, but the very same sentiment.

And dear Em, that is the story of my post. Christmas should be everything it is to you and Annabel- magical, exciting and exhausting for your parents! As you grow up things change and evolve. Grumpa and I now have a Christmas holiday together- glad of a few days well-earned rest. 

Christmas to me now means a warm and cheery celebration in the middle of Winter- when the days are short and the nights dark and long. A mid-point before the awakening of Spring, where we use up food in the store-cupboards, visit family and friends- old and new, make fancy gifts and trimmings to dress-up our daily landscapes.

Here is a passage from Dickins Christmas Carol- that sums it up for me this year-

Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away, or couldn't have cleared away with old Fezziwig looking on. It was done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life forevermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ballroom as you would desire to see on a winter's night.
In came a fiddler with a music book, and went up to the lofty desk and made an orchestra of it and tuned like fifty stomach aches. In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the three Misses Fezziwig, beaming and lovable. In came the six followers whose hearts they broke. In came all the young men and women employed in the business. In came the housemaid with her cousin the baker. In came the cook with her brother's particular friend the milkman. In came the boy from over the way, who was suspected of not having board enough from his master, trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress; in they all came, any-how and every-how. Away they all went, twenty couple at once; hands half round and back again the other way; down the middle and up again; round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping, old top couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top couple starting off again, as soon as they got there; all top couples at last, and not a bottom one to help them.

When this result was brought about the fiddler struck up "Sir Roger de Coverley." Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too, with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pairs of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance and had no notion of walking.

But if they had been thrice as many, oh, four times as many, old Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. If that's not high praise, tell me higher and I'll use it. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. They shone in every part of the dance like moons. You couldn't have predicted at any given time what would become of them next. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance, advance and retire; both hands to your partner, bow and courtesy, corkscrew, thread the needle, and back again to your place; Fezziwig cut so deftly that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again with a stagger.

When the clock struck eleven the domestic ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually, as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas!. 

Happy Christmas darling Emily and Annabel- your Grand=parents shall be Mr and Mrs Fezziwig this year!

Your ever-loving Grand-mother, GiGi xxx

Friday, 12 December 2014

Mrs Dipity

Dearest Emily,

When I began your 'Tales from the Bookroom' blog, it was fired by my experiences working in The Book shop in Yarmouth. I was constantly surprised, delighted and mystified by the serendipitous alchemy that books in a shop, and the people who desire them produced. Add into the mix some Classic FM, and a zen-like happiness and ever-winding trail of unexpected events seemed to unfurl.

So, dear Em, it has been for myself. The tangents that I've set myself off on- fired up by books and their life-style- have all culminated in my own Bookshop/cafe. Who knew!

It's such fun Em, books to sell, and meeting the interesting people who want them. Plus coffee and cake on tap.  However, an unexpected problem has occurred. Apparently- I am not Mrs Middleton.

There have been so many times that I have been told I don't look like her- and I shall simply have to aquiesce. So here she is Emily- introducing 'Mrs Middleton' (or- as I prefer to call her 'Mrs Dipity'.)

I shall remain, your ever-loving Grand-mother,

GiGi xxx