Books · Happy · Hope · Inspiration

A Special Memorial: Betty’s Reading Room

I wondered whether to post this blog but on thinking about it, I think it is the perfect time to think about how we celebrate the lives of those we have loved.

In this busy, busy world of ours, amidst all the hustle and bustle, we are encouraged to take time to slow down. We should stop and just ‘be’ for a moment. Use our senses to take in the world around us. Sometimes that can be so much harder than others. However, if we are lucky enough to physically be in a place that lends itself to that, then surely it must make this challenge easier.

Of course, we can’t always be physically in such a place but we can use the wonderful power of our minds to take us somewhere else. (Perhaps a bit of a ‘Beam me up Scotty’ sort of a moment!) If I need a picture in my mind of a place that is calm and peaceful, then I can take myself back to sitting on the cliffs at Marwick Bay on Orkney. I can remember the smell of the fresh sea air, almost feel the brush of the wind on my face and hear the seabirds calling as I watched a group of four puffins bobbing on the water below.

On our way to the Bay, we spotted a hare standing in a field. Its long ears pointed skyward in the sunshine. Another day we saw four more hares – more than I’ve ever seen in my life. That was until we visited a place that not only offered me peace but hope.

I write of a little cottage in the small village of Tingwall on mainland Orkney. A cottage donated to a couple who had the wish to create a special and unique memorial.

Betty Proctor was a very good friend of Craig Mollison and Jane Spiers. When Betty passed away after an operation, Craig and Jane decided they would organise a memorial with a difference. The result is the wonderful, ‘Betty’s Reading Room’. A tiny cottage filled from floor to ceiling with second hand books. There are comfy sofas, one covered in a specially handmade beautiful blanket, fairy lights strung from the rafters, lanterns, a stove and everywhere, hares. There is a lovely photo of Betty holding a hare, she must have loved hares!

Every visitor is invited to spend time in the reading room and, if they would like to, they can choose a book to take home with them. If it’s possible, they are asked to pop a little into the next charity box they see. For each book there is a label that the visitor can stick inside and, when they have finished reading it, they can pass it on to someone else. And so the chain of kindness spreads.

On a table lies a book for visitors telling the story of how the reading room came about and all who helped to make the vision of Craig and Jane come alive.

Look out for the stain glass window and also the mermaid sculpture by Frances Pelly

To have inspired such an outpouring of love, Betty truly deserves to be in our thoughts. Once again it is the kindness of others that I love and appreciate. The fingers of joy that are spread when a hand is held out to help others.

So I would like to say thank you, to Craig and Jane and all the others who created this wonderful room but also to Betty Prictor. What an inspiration to us all.

I am at the start of ‘A Long Petal of the Sea’ by Isabel Allende and have just finished ‘The Penguin Lessons’ by Tom Michell which I would thoroughly recommend!

Books · Flowers · Friendship · Happy · Hope · Inspiration · Nature · Writing

A Six Step Starter Plan / Winter Warmers

I don’t know about you but 2022 , well, I can’t decide if it got off to a slow start or is just flying on through.

I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago but had a few technical issues (the format of the photos changed and I didn’t know what to do!), anyway, I decided just to post it. After all, so much of it can apply at anytime. Hope you have a good day!

Sometimes I think I have magpie tendencies. I like nothing better than to gather together bright shiny strands from all parts of my life. This then, helps me to build a sort of collage picture of hope.

I don’t think I’m alone in finding January and February a bit challenging but this is the recipe I’m using right at this very minute to help me and I hope that in some way it may help or inspire you too.

  1. Taking a look around the garden and spotting this sedum popping through.
  2. Lighting candles and then taking time to read.
  3. Going to the Zandra Rhodes exhibition – an absolute explosion of colours, pattern and inspiration!
  4. Listening to a podcast. At the moment my favourite is Viv Groskop’s, ‘How to Own the Room.’
  5. Writing, of all kinds.
  6. Going for a walk.
Me at the Sandra Rhodes exhibition

At times like these, when the dark winter days are slowly, slowly changing to the brighter days of spring I remind myself it can be a good thing to think small to get started with. Progress doesn’t have to be big to be effective. So it was interesting for me to read the title Anya Hindmarsh chose for her autobiography: ‘If In Doubt, Wash Your Hair’. In fact it made me laugh as, over the years, I’ve developed my own wee routine for those days of doubt.

So here it is, my six-step plan. For the days when I wake up and don’t know where to begin.

Any order.

  1. Brush my teeth
  2. Have a shower
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Do the dishes
  5. Make a pot of soup and then eat a big bowl of it!
  6. Phone a friend/ family member.

These indoor hyacinths had an amazing fragrance

Is there something you would add to make it super-duper seven step plan? (Or should that be ‘souper-duper’?)

Bonus soup recipe – with thanks to my Mum and most, likely, the Woman’s Weekly.

  • 2 mugs red lentils – rinsed
  • 1 onion – diced
  • 5 carrots – peeled and diced
  • 2 pints of water
  • 2 tins of Heinz tomato soup

Optional: fennel seeds, celery – any old vegetables you have to hand.

Put everything in a large soup pot except for the tins of soup. Cook for 45 minutes, add in the tins of soup and heat through and it’s ready to serve! This also freezes very well.

  • Book: ‘Do One Thing Every Morning to Make Your Day’
  • Poem for Every Night of the Year’ Edited by Allie Esiri.
  • ‘Hawkeye’ by George MacKay Brown.
  • ‘The Moon Sister’ by Lucinda Riley.
  • TV: BBC iPlayer: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Song to dance to: Madonna – ‘Hung Up’.

NB. Please note that there are many great organisations out there ready to help. There is a really helpful list

here.

Birds · Books · Dogs · Garden · Happy · Trees · walking

A Spring in My Step

I had a hair appointment on my birthday! It felt like a fantastic present particularly now after this latest lockdown. My hair was the longest it’s been in twenty years. It was definitely time for a chop.

Perhaps I was thinking about hairstyles as I looked out my window this morning? A bit of a wind today and the Laurel bush is waving like a shaggy monster from The Muppet Show. The breeze is rippling through the bronze tint on the Beech hedge and the bobbed Kilmarnock Willow is showing off streaks of green through it’s mane.

Green tinted Kilmarnock Willow

Each year I have the discussion about when the leaves will appear on the trees. I always think Spring comes earlier than it actually ever does – perhaps too optimistic? So I look out of my window to check what’s happening in the garden and every morning I try to read a poem. ‘A Child’s Song in Spring’ by Edith Nesbit summed up exactly what I was thinking one day.

Signs of Spring are coming and a blue tit is nesting in the bird box hopefully kept warm by our dog, Molly. Having brushed Molly, we put the fur from the brush into an old bird feeder and recently spotted the birds collecting it to line their nests. In no time at all the feeder was empty. Molly is one very well groomed dog these days!

Well groomed Molly keeping me company as I write this,

I recently downloaded an App: Merlin, which is helping me to identify the birds I see in the garden and out and about. I love the way their calls and songs are available to listen to as well. To top it all I was totally delighted to receive a pair of binoculars for my Birthday. I had a sudden flashback to childhood and trying to use my parents’ binoculars and now at last, I have my own! So with the App and the binoculars, I’m pretty sure the pair of birds who scurry around our garden are dunnocks.

So with my newly cropped hair, my binoculars in hand, I’m off for a walk with a spring in my step. Here’s to life as a twitcher!

I’m reading ‘Golden Hill’ by Francis Spufford and ‘Flight’ by Vanessa Harbour. Still reading Muriel Spark’s autobiography.

Picture Book Review

Head over to my Picture Book Review Pages for great recommendations.

Latest Review – ‘I Don’t Like Books. Never. Ever. The End’ by Emma Perry and Sharon Davey.

Books · Flowers · Garden · Happy · Latin names · Tea

Kaleidoscopes

I took a long hard look at my website recently, wondering if now was the time to make dramatic changes. Is it too muddled, are there too many themes I wondered? After all, there’s this blog; Picture Book Reviews, Gardening, Latin names for flowers and Cup of Tea Books. Quite a variety. But no, not at this time. This is me. This is who I am. A person of many interests and this Blog brings me joy and time for reflection and the opportunity to merge these interests. I hope it will bring you a moment or two of calm too.

Thank you for reading and wishing you a safe, healthy and very Happy New Year!

I am reading Americanah by Chimomanda Ngozi Adichie and Friend Me! by Sheila M. Averbuch

Books · butterflies · Friendship · Happy · Inspiration

News

Today I wanted to write the word ‘butterflies’ and found myself writing ‘beautiful’.

I have been on the search for positive news, heartwarming stories like that of musician Paul Harvey whose son recorded him improvising a song and now Sir Tom Hunter has donated a million pounds to split between Music for Dementia and The Alzheimer’s Society. (It’s worth reading the article right to the very last line!)

Rogie Falls this October – the beauty of Scotland.

Listening to an interview with Richard Osman from ‘Pointless’ I loved the fact that he mentioned there are ‘nice people out there’. It’s true, it’s just not often that the news chooses to focus on this. Why is that? Why is the news skewed to all the negative stories? Why was the one last positive story at the end of the news laughed at and finally removed?

Why don’t we demand that the news is more balanced, after all, aren’t we all trying to find more balance in our lives?

Reading the book ‘The Salt Path’ by Raynor Winn reminded me of the kindness of strangers. It was heartwarming while at the same time it did make me stop and think, am I that stranger?

The days grow colder and darker and we search for warmth, can we help spread a little warmth too?

I am reading ‘Hamnet’ by Maggie O’Farrell and ‘The Children of Castle Rock’ by Natasha Farrant.

Books · Happy

Book Shopping

 

The other day I helped out at a bookstall for a Girl Guides Fair.

Well it just so happened that I had a ‘Tinkerbell’ book in my hand as a lady and her little daughter approached. With exclamations of delight she said her daughter loved ‘Tinkerbell’ books but there aren’t many about and so she has to get them out the library. Now her wee girl thinks the books are hers! 

So, we got talking and I asked her if she’d looked online. Immediately she mentioned ‘The Big A’ and I agreed but also said how about other second hand bookshops online?

Anyway, it got me to thinking. When I joined a book group a few years ago we discussed where everyone bought their books from.

Some went straight to the High Street, others to the aforementioned online store, still more to buy second hand online and one lady usually used the library.

It made me stop and think. There are so many options out there. It is easy to buy with one click but if I take just a little more time to search for the book I want I could be saving money and hopefully helping the environment too. (I know, I haven’t even mentioned e-books!) thumb_IMG_1327_1024

Recently we made our way back to the delight that is The Bookmark in Grantown-on-Spey. I have to confess I bought four books – a massive treat, not just to buy them but also to go in and chat about books in such a great environment.

Buying books is a complete joy to me and these days I pick carefully where I buy them from. One here, one there. I picked up a few great bargains at the bookstall, I’ve collected my recent book group choice from the library and I’m hoping for a book voucher for my birthday so I can do a little bit of High Street shopping too!

Here’s hoping!

 

Where’s your favourite place to buy or borrow books from?

 

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Hyacinth in the Spring sunshine