by Marilyn Forsyth
In the first months of this year, our country was in the grip of the worst bushfires in our written history, soon to be followed by massive floods, and right now we’re caught up in the craziness that is COVID-19. In the midst of all the angst that 2020 has brought, I’ve been looking to find positives.
Mostly, I’ve been losing myself in researching and writing about the past. I’m in the middle of writing a timeslip series about Rebel Daughters of Wales, and next week I would have been winging my way to England on yet another research trip. Sadly, that’s now postponed until next year.
But rather than dwell on the disappointment, I’ve spent time looking back at mementoes I’ve bought during my previous trips and recalling when and why I bought them. It’s been lovely to reminisce so I thought I’d share some of my favourites...
Not only do I love this watercolour of the village of Aberffraw on Anglesey for its sheer colour-filled beauty, but it’s a wonderful reminder of my visit to the birthplace of Gwenllian, the heroine of one of my stories. Precious little remained of the one-time princely Welsh court, but my writer’s brain supplied a fantastic re-creation (helped along by this drawing in the café-come-visitors’-centre).
This bronze ring, certified as fifteenth century from an antique shop in London, has become integral to my writing routine. As well as listening to medieval music, I wear the ring when I write to help me maintain a ‘feel’ for the past (maybe it’s more to do with my imagination, but whatever works, right?).
I found this in one of the many eye-poppingly fabulous bookshops in Hay-on-Wye. Together with The Chronicles of the Welsh Princes it’s my go-to book for authentic information about the Norman Age. I adore Hay – such atmosphere! The castle was written about in The Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine (the timeslip queen IMO) who I was fortunate enough to meet a couple of years back at the Hay Literary Festival.
An ancient gold cross plays a major role in one of my timeslips, and when I saw this one in Dublin I just had to have it. It may not be ancient, but it’s a reminder of the fascinating old city in which it was bought.
At an antiques auction in Aberystwyth I came away with this treasure. This little Welsh lady (only 2 inches tall) is going to play a role in one of my future books. Not sure how yet, but she definitely called to me (or maybe she tolled, she is a bell, after all). When she was sold as part of a ‘job lot’ I was so disappointed. Thankfully, my lovely hubby persuaded the buyer to re-sell it to him.
These gorgeous little initial stamps came from the Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill – a must-visit whenever I get to London, not only for the atmosphere and the antiques and the live music but also because there’s a Pylones shop there. (If you don’t know about Pylones, check this out.) I have no idea what I’ll use these cuties for, but I love them ’cause they’re so pretty.
I’ve had the loveliest time revisiting some of special possessions. Thank you for indulging me in my quest for positivity.
Love to Love being able to view Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre productions from home. Of course, there’s nothing like a live production, but watching the video of Romeo and Juliet (which we had bought tickets for) was the next best thing.
Love to Laugh at the creative ways people are embracing life in iso.
I’d Love to Learn how to speak Welsh, but the closest I’ve come is getting a basic understanding of how to pronounce Welsh words and names.