Category Archives: Tradition

Here’s tae the Scottish Bard, Robbie Burns

What better place to celebrate the life of Scottish Bard, Robbie Burns, than in a tartan chair in front of a crackling, wood fire.

I’m remiss this year in getting an online Burns Day celebration together. Shame on me. But, I have a valid excuse. I’ve had my head down working on my next novella. If you go by word length, it does qualify as a full-fledged novel, but that’s neither here nor there.

celebration
January 25, 1759 – July 21, 1796

It’s Robbie Burns Day. Will you celebrate the bard today with haggis, champit tatties and bashed neeps?

Here at The House of King, we celebrated last Saturday (Jan 19th). My idea of a small haggis (about 1 pound), went straight out the window when the smallest one I could get this year weighed in at almost 3 pounds!

So tonight, I’ll have some leftover haggis, sans tatties and neeps as there aren’t any leftover, with whatever else I make for supper. With Burns Day falling on a Friday, it also means it’s grocery night for this gal. A hearty Scotch broth? Fish and chips? Maybe shortbread or sticky toffee pudding for dessert? Decisions, decisions.

celebration
The “Guest of Honour”

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
“Bethankit!” ‘hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

And a wee bit of light reading for ‘after the feastie’.

 Enjoy your Robbie Burns celebrations no matter how/where your celebrate.

It’s Robbie Burns Day – House of King style

I’m remiss this year in getting an online Burns Day celebration together. Shame on me. But, I have a valid excuse. I’ve had my head down working on my next novella. If you go by word length, it does qualify as a full-fledged novel, but that’s neither here nor there.

celebration
January 25, 1759 – July 21, 1796

It’s Robbie Burns Day. Will you celebrate the bard today with haggis, champit tatties and bashed neeps?

Here at The House of King, we’ll be having a toned down version of previous Burns Night celebrations. Although I don’t have a wee haggis, I do have some frozen sliced haggis (great with a Scottish breakfast) so it will do, especially since I’m the only one who truly enjoys eating it here. I made Cock-a-leekie soup shortly after Christmas and it’s in the freezer and for the toasts to the lads and lassies afterwards, I have a bottles of 18-year old Glenlivet and Cardhu.

celebration
The “Guest of Honour”

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
“Bethankit!” ‘hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

And a wee bit of light reading for ‘after the feastie’.

 Enjoy your Robbie Burns celebrations no matter how/where your celebrate.

The stockings were hung…

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

The stockings were hung…

stockings… by the chimney with care…

waiting for the arrival of the man with flair

not to mention his long, curly white hair

stockingsShh… he’s arrived, sat on a barrel as his chair

Sneak in and see what what he has, if your dare

But remember, t’is the season to share…

And now my poem is over (thankfully, you say)

But before I bid my final adieu, if I may…

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Merry Christmas everyone!

**********

 Wishing you all the merriest of Christmases. May all your wishes have come true.

What did you get in your Christmas stocking? Were you naughty or nice? Treats or a lump of coal?

 

Christmas must sees

Here is my list of Christmas must sees…

christmas must seesI’ll start with a couple of animated programs:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! I caught this one on TV the other night and found myself singing along with “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…”

A Charlie Brown Christmas I admit at the end when the Peanuts gang yells “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown” I get a little lump in my throat.

Christmas must sees

Now for some movies…

Some of these I must watch at specific times:

A Christmas Story My husband doesn’t like this one so it’s popped in the DVD player while I put up and decorate the Christmas tree. He’s usually off doing something else so it works out perfectly.

This next group, while it doesn’t matter which order I watch them in, there are only certain versions I like…

Miracle on 34th Street but it has to be in black and white – not this colorized nonsense – and the one with Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn.

The Bishop’s Wife with Carey Grant and David Niven.

Holiday Inn where White Christmas is sung for the first time.

White Christmas I love the costumes in this film. This is the only one I’ll watch in colour… somehow this one wouldn’t be the same in B&W. Not that it was made that way but many moons ago, all there was were Black & White televisions.

It’s a Wonderful Life but not the colorized version. Hope this is another that has to be in good old black and white.

Christmas Eve I have to see A Christmas Carol and not just any version. It has to be the black and white, 1951 with Alastair Sim version. (I know, I’m picky) I think this is the movie that turned me off colorized films in the first place. How many of you always thought the bed curtains in Scrooge’s room were a deep, reddish burgundy shade? And what did they come up with when they colorized the movie? Green!

Christmas Day, starts after the presents are opened, the meal is finished and it’s quiet time… relatively speaking.

First movie popped into the DVD player is Holiday Affair with Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh. It’s another classic in black and white. Unfortunately the imdb link didn’t work for this one.

And in the afternoon, while the turkey is cooking and we might be having snacks…

It’s the 1945 version of Christmas in Connecticut with Barbara Stanwyck.

Christmas must sees

That’s my list of Christmas must sees… what are some of yours?

 

MEMORIES OF CHRISTMASES PAST

memories

MEMORIES OF CHRISTMASES PAST

For Minnie (1892-1971) and my Dad (1913-1969)

As a child, spending time at my Grandmother Minnie’s farmhouse east of Athens was something I always looked forward to. Christmas Day was even more special because all the aunts, uncles and cousins were there, too. No matter how horrendous the weather or long the journey, everyone always made it. Without fail, the Petawawa faction was always last to arrive, leaving the rest of us chomping at the bit so that Christmas could begin!

You have to picture the scene – nine kids, six parents, Minnie and my Uncle Winston cheek and jowl in the two rooms downstairs and without benefit of indoor plumbing until 1970. Dishes were washed and rinsed in two large galvanized washtubs that were hauled up onto the table and filled with hot water from the kettle on the woodstove and cold from the buckets on the counter brought over from the well on the other side of the road. And if you had to go, it was either make the long trek to the outhouse or use the thunder-mug upstairs in Minnie’s room or the one on the stairs.

My love of reading began during those Christmases at Minnie’s. My cousin from Toronto gave me a book every year from the time I turned ten.

1970 was the last year for family Christmas at Minnie’s and the first with indoor plumbing. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but to us it was. With how commercial the holidays have become, I long for those simpler times.

I still have most of those books (I think I only ever parted with one – a book of fairy tales).

What are some of your favourite Christmas memories?

Saying goodbye to 2014

fireworks

And to all my Scottish friends and family…

Happy Hogmanay!

I’d share the wordpress helper monkeys stats for my blog here for 2014 but since I went most of the unable to connect to Jetpack, it hardly seems worthwhile. Besides, I have some other things I’d rather share about this past year and not the cheesy thing that Facebook puts together.

So, here we go! Fasten your seatbelts, we’re ready for takeoff!

April, Easter to be exact, my husband and I spent 10 days in beautiful, romantic Paris.

april 2014
Don and me at the Arc de Triomphe
at the trocadero
“Able” and me at the Trocadéro
Don at the Trocadéro
Don at the Trocadéro

Then in September, another romantic destination was on the cards – Niagara Falls, Ontario. Okay, there are the tatty, touristy places but overall, it’s a lovely place.

Niagara 2014
Horseshoe (Canadian) falls at night

While we were here, we decided to take a horse-drawn carriage ride. We’d seem them on previous trips and have always wanted to do it…

IMG_3076
sitting in the carriage before our ride

… so we did.

Our horse and carriage
Our horse and carriage

We even did a wine tour while we were in the region and came home with at least 4 bottles of wine – including a couple icewines!

2014
Don and me wearing our silly hats before our wine tour – photo by Grape and Wine tours

Before the year was out, we spent a week in Quebec City. It was close enough to Christmas that the decorations were in the process of being put up. In hindsight, second week of December might be a better time to visit this beautiful city so that the baubles and lights and everything are in place.

Quebec City 2014

And again, we did a horse-drawn carriage ride. Our driver, Philippe, was amazing and made the ride extremely fun.

Quebec 2014
in front of the Chateau Frontenac
2014
Me at the tree with a cannon ball in its roots

No trip to Quebec City would be complete without a short drive further east to see my ‘haunted’ house which is between Quebec City and Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.

IMG_3433
The “haunted” house

Sadly it’s more run down since the last time I was down in this part of Canada but it’s beautiful nonetheless. And doesn’t being in a state of disrepair add to the mystery and the possibility of it being home to ghosts?

And when we weren’t gallivanting here, there and everywhere, I managed to write over 74,000 words in one of my works in progress (the first draft of the sequel to my debut novel)! While it was with my beta readers, I plotted and started another project and have some cracking ideas for even more writing projects.

So before I get all sappy and sentimental, I’ll finish this post with a little Auld Lang Syne.

SHOULD auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus.—For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a
weary fit,
Sin’ auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

Robert Burns

What will you do to see out 2014 and see in 2015? Any traditions you take part in?

 

It’s Robbie Burns Day – House of King style

It’s Robbie Burns Day. Will you celebrate the bard today with haggis, champit tatties and bashed neeps?

Here at The House of King, we’ll be having a toned down version of previous Burns Night celebrations. Although I don’t have a wee haggis, I do have some frozen sliced haggis (great with a Scottish breakfast) so it will do, especially since I’m the only one who truly enjoys eating it here. I made Cock-a-leekie soup shortly after Christmas and it’s in the freezer and for the toasts to the lads and lassies afterwards, I have a bottle of 18-year old Glenlivet.

The Haggis
The “Guest of Honour”

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
“Bethankit!” ‘hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

 Enjoy your Robbie Burns celebrations no matter how/where your celebrate.

 

Spirits of Christmas: A Rock’n’Roll Christmas Carol by Nicky Wells

Spirits of Christmas: A Rock’n’Roll Christmas Carol

SpiritsChristmas_NW_CoverAt one time, up-and-coming rock singer Jude had it all: a great band, a platinum record, a loving girlfriend. This Christmas, however, he is well down the road towards spontaneous self-destruction.

Unwitting at first, Jude has progressively alienated his band and driven away the love of his life. Tonight, the night before Christmas Eve, he has broken the final taboo during a disastrous gig. Yet Jude doesn’t see how badly his life has derailed, not until a ghostly procession of legends passes through his bedroom with a series of vivid and powerful wake-up calls.

Will the Spirits help Jude put the friendship, love, and rock music back into his Christmas?

Spirits of Christmas is a modern-day rock’n’roll adaption of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. This novella will enchant romance readers, rock lovers, fans of ghost stories, and everybody who adores the festive season.

 Amazon.co.uk Kindle | Amazon.co.uk Paperback

Amazon.com Kindle | Amazon.com Paperback

 EXCERPT

 ‘Hiya, Jude!’

The voice emerged from the door, and Jude’s head whipped round as if drawn by a string.

‘Hiya, Jude,’ the voice repeated cheerfully. Unexpectedly, it launched into the first line of one of Jude’s most favourite songs. Jude once again sank onto the bed, his legs refusing to carry him with the shock of this second apparition.

‘Is this really you?’

For a moment, Jude’s second otherworldly visitor abandoned his song and remained silent, motionless, allowing Jude to take a good, long look. The sideburns, the nose, the defined chin, the round glasses were clearly visible despite the spirit’s transparent appearance. Everything about this figure was familiar, yet nothing was quite as it should have been. It was as though Jude was looking at a hologram, a distorted, stretched vision where nothing quite fitted together.

Nonetheless, Jude found his voice. ‘Oh my God, it is you!’

Excitement made his exclamation strong and clear. The figure flinched at the sudden burst of noise, but Jude ploughed on. ‘This is…this is totally unreal. I mean, imagine this—here’s me in my bedroom, and there’s you, come to visit me.’

‘I’m not who you think you see,’ the apparition interrupted. ‘I’m the Ghost of Christmas Past.’

 Inspiration for Spirits of Christmas…

 Writing this novella was a bit of an inevitability for me, all things considered. If you don’t already know me, you have to understand that I simply love rock music. Rock musicians are like Viagra for my soul. I’m also a sucker for romance and a good-old fashioned happy ending. Moreover, I love the Christmas season: the lights, the sweets, the laughter. Combining all those things ~ rock, romance, and Christmas ~ was one of the most delightful writing projects of my career so far!

The idea for this book came to me the very night after I launched my second book, Sophie’s Run, in February of this year. I was hyped up with excitement, I had finished writing my third book and was waiting for publisher edits, and I had already planned my fourth full-length novel. I was utterly and completely unable to sleep with everything that was going on, and quite unexpectedly, the whole story was in my head. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite Christmas stories both in the original and its many varied adaptations. I suddenly thought… why not bring it into the rock’n’roll domain?

My wonderful husband, Jon, was somewhat taken aback when I presented him with this plan the following morning.

‘I’m going to write a Christmas novella,’ I said.

‘But you’ve got another book launch in September, and you’ve planned your fourth book already—how’s this going to fit in?’ he responded enthusiastically, if pragmatic.

‘I’ll figure it out.’

And so I did. It took me just over a week to write the first draft in May 2013, and another few weeks here and there to tweak, fine-tune and polish it over the following months. But here it is. Spirits of Christmas. I hope you enjoy!

About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!Portrait

Hi! I’m Nicky Wells, your ultimate rock chick author. My books offer glitzy, glamorous contemporary romance with a rock theme ~ imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill! If you’ve ever had a crush on any kind of celebrity ~ rock, pop, movie or other ~ you’ll connect with my heroes and my leading ladies!

Like my first leading lady, Sophie, I love listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When I’m not writing, I’m a wife, mother, occasional knitter, and regular contributor to The Midweek Drive show on Lincoln’s Siren 107.3 FM. Rock on!

My books: Sophie’s Turn | Sophie’s Run | Sophie’s Encore | Spirits of Christmas

Join me: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Romantic Novelists’ Association | Sapphire Star Publishing | Amazon | Goodreads | Pinterest

 

Robbie Burns Day

burns portrait
Scots around the world celebrate the country’s national bard today. Celebrations include a feast of soup (cock-a-leekie – fancy name for chicken and leek), haggis, mashed potatoes, turnips and trifle. Of course most is washed down with Scotland’s national drink – whisky!

For those who take part in The Scotsman’s annual Haggis Hunt, the season ends today (sniff…)

The Haggis

Today, I’m celebrating Robbie Burns Day with Scottish author, Ali Bacon, over at her blog.

It promises to be great fun so drop over and celebrate with us.

Suggested tweets:

#burnsnight with @alibacon and @RobertsoKing http://ow.ly/h7B5Y Traditional Burns celebration in the virtual world. Haste ye back!

Traditional Burns celebration in the virtual world with @alibacon & @RobertsoKing http://ow.ly/h7B5Y Haste ye back! #burnsnight #lahe

The stockings were hung…

fireplace with candles… by the chimney with care…

waiting for the arrival of the man with flair

not to mention his long, curly white hair

champagne santaShh… he’s arrived, sat on a barrel as his chair

Sneak in and see what what he has, if your dare

But remember, t’is the season to share…

And now my poem is over (thankfully, you say)

But before I bid my final adieu, if I may…

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Merry Christmas everyone!