Monthly Archives: June 2018

Land Of Green Ginger

Hello everyone!!

I hope you’re all well and enjoying soaking up the amazing sunshine we are currently having. Firstly, my apologies to you all, I’ve neglected you. I’m bogged down with exam marking but I promise to take time now to catch up and read all your wonderful posts. Secondly, I want to share a little treat with you today before my June post for the Read The Year Challenge. So whilst I had a spare twenty minutes to sit in the park (look how postcard perfect it is!) I want to show you this little wonder.

Last week, every house in Hull received a copy of the magical Land of Green Ginger book. This book follows the huge success the city has had as City of Culture in 2017. Inside this amazing little book are the stories of the city, a bonfire in Longhill and an enchanted golden nose in Bransholme. The writer, Katie Fuller, has expressed her love of the project and its impact on the city.

“The project was for everyone; it was designed to surprise, delight, intrigue and remind everyone of the joy of unleashing a childlike imagination.”

The Land of Green Ginger was a flagship project which contained a number of events homed under one narrative, coming together at the end of the year for Land of Green Ginger Unleashed parade. This book is the seventh and final Act of Wanton Wonder and it’s a pure gift to the people of Hull. This book keeps the magic alive for future generations. Katy Riddell’s illustrations are so beautiful too!

What’s it all about?

This book contains a number of poems about different events in Hull. It starts with the prologue explaining about the Acts of Wanton Wonder and what the book is about. The magic is in the ordinary people, the sounds of the city and the delights it holds for us.

Act One: 7 Alleys

To some, the 7 Alleys are a place of fun, games and laughter. However, to others they are spooky. This poem centres around Scary Mary and children playing Knock Off Ginger. However, one boy, Richard, had to knock the door but he fell over! Disaster! He lands at the door of the most feared lady around. Nervousness follows. Yet, he meets Scary Mary and she wants to hear tales of the alleys. He explores and adventures with his friends who mock him about the baby fairy tales he’s believing. Nevertheless, he continues to believe and experience them from the previous events. He reports back the following day. (Not So) Scary Mary wants to go! We see her energised and excited; young again.

“The ground beneath them moves, Vibrating with beat of hooves.

A whinny, bells, the violin;

Smoke and sparks and it begins.”

Act Two: The Gold Nose Of Green Ginger

This poem centres around the arrival of the Gold Nose in Bransholme (found 50 years before as the first homes were being built.) Chelsea, a shop owner who deals with gold, didn’t have a clue as to what all the fuss was about and was rather curious. However, as interest in the Gold Nose increased, trade for her decreased. Following the belief that those who came into contact with the nose would be blessed with good luck, she wished hard for a baby of her own. However, she was a little bit underwhelmed at the appearance of such a special nose…

“But Chelsea would always remember that day.

For standing alone there with the Gold Nose,

The hope in her belly ignited and rose.”

Act Three: The Longhill Burn

This is probably my favourite part of this book. It’s just so so lovely! This poem celebrates the Longhill Burn which involved singing, dancing and excitement. Jimmy Johnson didn’t feel quite right; he knew something was missing. That one person is Laura. He takes a walk and bumped into the Firesmiths. Here he learns that they have been asked to build a fire. Not just any old fire though, a fire beyond anyone’s belief for Eastmount Playing Fields. The Firesmiths ask everyone to write down what gives you hope on a card ready for the fire, to free them into the world. His joy: Laura returns!

“All their hopes are crammed within,

And burning them till black and curled,

Will send them out into the world.”

Act Four: Re-Rediffusion’s Voice Park

Agnes, the main character of this poem, is wandering around Walton market, looking for supplies when she is approached by a man collecting voices. Agnes can make herself disappear and believes she has nothing of any value to say. He gives her a card in the hope she changes her mind, with details of a future event in the city. The Voice Park. She heads to Pickering Park on the bus having completely forgotten that chat some months ago when she feels a pull towards those who have the same cards as her. The noises, the lights, they’re all calling her. She finds the man from before who gives her a potion to help her speak, to give her a voice of power. Three months later she is transformed and she is now confident and a Hull Volunteer, helping others live the city.

“Then all of a sudden, to her great surprise,

She feels like her body’s been magnetised;

The pull is insistent, and she’s not alone”

Act Five: Micropolis

Dave was a watchman at the Springhead site where workers there deal with the constant stream of rubbish discarded by everyone in the city. One thing that causes him constant irritation is the flashing light. One evening he heard a sudden crash! What he sees is this incredible little city with its own shops and schools. Hours go by but Dave doesn’t leave: he’s entranced. He rushes back to tell everyone what he has seen. Crowds form to see it which is completely unexpected for him. Thankfully, they all love it too!

“Perhaps, he thinks, the time has come

To be a happier watchman.”

Act Six: Land of Green Ginger Unleashed

This final poem tells the story of how something is brewing in the city. People can hear horse hooves; something is approaching! Crates that brought this very book to the people of Hull are being described. People surround them, overtaken with curiosity. All of a sudden, the crates burst open and the tales of the city are for all to share. Giants, horses, Gold Noses, magic and song. Everyone is together, old and young. Life will not be the same again.

“And nevermore will life be dull.

Forevermore for those from Hull

These wanton, wondrous Acts will linger:

Memories of Land of Green Ginger.”

Overview:

This was a complete surprise in the post and what a magical little gift it is. I’ll treasure it forever. What a way to celebrate City of Culture. Life here has changed. Now, I realise many of you won’t get to see this. However, if you ever do get chance to read it or read about it, DO IT. Information Here!

Yet, the messages from this book are universal. The everyday, the ordinary, the people we meet make our lives extraordinary. You have all made a huge impact on my life.

Big love to you all xxx

Advertisements

19 Comments

Filed under Book review, City of Culture

Meet Me At The Museum – Anne Youngson

Hi Lovelies!!

The English exams are finally over so now I’ve got time to breathe again. It’s always a ridiculously busy time of year. I feel like I’ve blinked and missed May. I cannot believe it’s June. However, it’s so sunny and lovely that I just don’t mind. I spent the weekend with my family at Nostell Priory which was lovely (see photo above) and I also managed to read quite a beautiful book that I want to share with you all today.

This short little surprise took me little time to read because it was just that good. I think the cover is really lovely too.

What’s it all about?

The novel opens with a letter from Tina Hopgood to Professor Glob. Over fifty years ago, Professor Glob dedicated a book to Tina and thirteen other school friends, as well as his daughter, on The Bog People of Denmark. She is writing because she still hasn’t made it to see the Tollund Man homed by the Silkeborg Museum despite it being a plan for many years. Tina doesn’t expect any further replies to her letters. However, she uses her first two letters to try and get her head around her life, the choices she’s made and the events that have happened to shape her.

“…I am forced to consider what might be the real reasons, because you’re answer to an unasked question has made me want to be honest with myself. Please be aware, I am writing to you to make sense of myself.”

We learn about the character of Bella and the impact she had on Tina’s life. From being friends since school, the girls had big plans, all of which are shared with the stranger Curator of the museum in which she is writing to. This dialogue is not one sided. Anders Larsen, the Curator also gains a great deal from the letters shared between them. He claims it makes him think about history and the world. Yet, as time progresses, their dialogue does change to be more personal.

“I end, as always, with an apology. This is not why you started this correspondence, to read my views on ideas too grand for me to express them as I would like to do, even if my English, like yours, was perfect.”

The tone changes as the letters become more personal, more entwined in the sharing of their own personal lives. Tina tells of her life on the farm, the daily routine, how her husband embodies the farm; he is at one with it. However, Tina feels like she sacrificed her life and what she wanted, even though she is happy. In Anders’s response, he discloses the story of how his wife, Birgitt, died. His hopes and dreams died that day too. He’s merely been breathing not living since then. He shares her last words, arguably quite a bold step to share this with a complete stranger. There is a feeling, quite early on that these letters will come to have significant meaning for the both of them.

“I never saw her again. Her body has never been found. She left my side as if all her life she had been dreaming and now she wanted to wake a new day.”

As they continue to share their lives: stories of their children, their work and their pleasures, we come to realise that there is a sense of ease between the two. You can feel the excitement that each letter brings them both. There’s also a sense of urgency as Anders suggest they email and attach their letters to share their thoughts immediately. What is quite endearing is the process they go through, the printing of each letter, keeping them all together. As a reader, you get the feeling that each are waiting for the others name to appear in their inbox. The biggest need for both though is for Tina to visit the museum to see the Tollund Man. The narration centres around this and isn’t forgotten.

“I am looking forward to standing beside you when you meet the Tollund Man for the first time. I hope it is soon, but I trust you to know when the time has come.”

As each divulge and share more about their own children, Anders shares the new of his daughter’s pregnancy. He wants Tina’s opinion on Karin’s decision to keep the baby but not tell the father. Anders wants to share his thoughts but something is holding him back. He needs advice and reassurance from Tina: the bond between the two ever strengthening. Likewise, Tina wanted to share her discussion of this topic with her daughter, Mary and her partner, Vassily. The split narrative of Tina and Anders means we learn more about their children as we hear their voices through their parents. Each personality is strong and shines through the letter form. Their children shape how they think; the attitudes they have.

“We should look inside ourselves for fulfilment. It is not fair to burden children or grandchildren with the obligation to make us whole. Our obligation is them is to make them safe and provide them with an education.”

Tina shares the news that life is changing on the farm too as Mary and Vassily are moving to their own place, meaning they are leaving and need replacing. To deal with this change, each focus on a room and describe it to one another. They each teach the other to look hard and see what’s really there. Anders’s job is to look at objects and catalogue. However, it appears difficult when people are involved; the objects mean more. Ander’s talks about the objects his wife collected, no knowing the context to most. However, they’ve been sat for the time his wife has been gone bringing him no joy. He shares with his children the want to getting rid of them. It’s a sign of moving on.

“Lastly Erik laid the nest of twigs on the water of the lake and we watched as the waves and the breeze played games with it, tossing it away from us then towards us as if inviting us to decide we did not really want to let it go.”

There’s further sense of life progressing and moving on towards the end as Tina wants to end their correspondence because she doesn’t want to spread her unhappiness to Anders, who finally seems more content within his own circumstances. However, he persuades her to continue to share and reveal what is deeply troubling her. She discovers her husband’s affair. Life as she knows it is now completely different again. She leaves to live in Bella’s old flat. The letters slow down but do not diminish. She also starts to feel guilty because of her involvement with Anders.

“When I first found out I reacted with outrage. I felt like an innocent woman, grossly deceived by those she had trusted, those she had served. But once I calmed down, I began to challenge my own innocent. Because of you.”

Like a true friend and confidant, Anders offers solutions in his reply. This letter is one of the largest in the novel and you can tell that there has been serious thought and consideration in the words chosen. Underneath all of the advice, he just wants her to be happy. The novel goes full circle as we return to Tina reading The Bog People. The big question: will she go and see the Tollund Man? The final letter is from Anders, repeating the words echoed through the collection of letters.

“I am waiting for you. I will wait, every day, between twelve o’clock and two o’clock in the cafe in the museum. I will be watching the door, waiting for you to arrive.”

Overview

This novel is beautiful in its purest sense. The letters change from formal, to friendly to compassionate. As you are reading you can feel the walls of each character gradually tumble. They each learn from one another, their families change because of the friendship also.

This book taught me a valuable lesson, or reminded me that everyone needs to feel love regardless of age. I’m desperate to know if Tina went to the museum. Yet, I fear the magic would be lost if we ever did find out. This ending means we can create our own ending for these characters. In my heart, I just want happiness for them both but maybe I’m just being optimistic. Maybe they never meet and the letters are all they have. Who knows. Regardless, it’s a really beautiful read.

Big love to all!

Xx

19 Comments

Filed under Book review, Reading