The Almanac – A Seasonal Guide to 2019

Book Review

Lia Leendertz. Illustrated by Celia Hart

Octopus Books/ Mitchell Beazley. Hardback £10. September 6 2018.

Captivated from the first page, I keep dipping into the new Almanac, published this week. I loved Lia Leendertz’ first seasonal guide created for 2018. The new version for 2019 is just as magical, if not better.

I’ve made a kind of nest in the summerhouse, heaping cushions and old quilts on a comfy armchair. It’s peaceful in here, only the sound of thrushes tap taping snail shells on the stone path. It’s just the place to settle down and delve into Lia’s book.

There’s something comforting about being in tune with the natural world around us. Checking the times for sunrise and sunset, sea temperatures, tides, moon phases. I haven’t tried planting by the moon, but there’s dates and times to get me started. It seems to make perfect sense. I love the little moments of joy. Reading that day length increases by 1 hour and eight minutes during the course of January. It gives hope when it’s needed most. Here’s the page for January. Plough Monday is included in the dates listed. I heard my grandfather talk of Plough Monday- traditionally the start of the agricultural year. The book is like a siren call leading me back through time to my farming family ancestors. A reminder to keep in my heart their customs and celebrations.

There’s recipes such as Epiphany tart, a kind of jam pastry, with a star made with overlapping triangles and each “well” containing a different flavour. I hadn’t heard of this; it sounds delicious. There’s a tradition dating back to the 1600s of creating tarts with intricate pastry patterns, coloured with different jams. I wonder if my great grandmother Annie Foulds – who was head cook at Bradgate House- would have made such a dish. She made the most delicious cakes at home at Carters Rough Cottage, Groby.

Lia’s writing is perfectly complemented by illustrations from artist Celia Hart. The prints are so beautiful they draw you in, much as a photograph of a glorious scene makes you want to step into the landscape. It’s impossible not to stare longingly at Celia’s drawings- and wish you could step into the page. I’d like to see those swifts and swallows soaring above my head and turn over the seashells she so wonderfully captures.

A mesmerising read, totally spellbinding. A beautiful month by month companion for me. For anyone, like me, who tries to weave the stories of the past into the journey to the future.

The publishers have kindly offered one copy to give away. Please leave a comment below if you’d like to be included in the prize draw. The publishers will pick a name and send out a copy. The publisher’s decision is final. Sorry UK entries only.

Please share this review on any social media platform you like. Thank you.

Here is the Amazon Link for The Almanac.

23 thoughts on “The Almanac – A Seasonal Guide to 2019

    • It’s a gem of a book. I’m looking at making damson vodka which is the recipe for September. Would make a lovely Christmas present- along with the book. Thanks for reading. All the best. Karen.

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  1. This is the book I’ve been looking for. An absolute delight to follow through the months linking me with nature and the past. I have put on my Christmas list 🌲

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  2. Karen missed you. I hope you are in good health. The place you have chosen to be resting, the summer house, is wonderful. The Almanac I like very much like the divine and magical illustrations. Karen to you comes very deep what the almanac says, because your ancestors come from the field. I look for the field because my ancestors are from the city and I do not like the city, I want to learn from the countryside: I am a novice from the countryside. I would like to, I would love to have that book. I’m going to investigate at AMAZON and even if it’s in English I buy it. Returning to you, you have referred to your beloved Grandpa and your great-grandmother who made some great cakes. It’s lovely that the book reminds you of them. Love and memories from me for your Mother that I sincerely hope she is completely recovered. Health and love for your family. Karen for you love and health and all the best in the world. Take care. Very loving greetings from Margarita.

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    • Thank you so much Margarita. You are very very kind. My Mother is fully recovered, thank you. I do hope you enjoy the book. It is one I immediately felt a connection with. The stories are like echoes from the past for me. They are there in my background and now and again something will remind me of them, and it is as if I have always known them. I hope you and your family are well. This has been rather a difficult year for us all hasn’t it. Sending loving greetings in return. All the best. Love from karen xx

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  3. That’s a really lovely review Karen. I think the book sounds and looks wonderful and I love the thought of you sitting in your ‘nest’ reading. You’re so lucky to live so close to the countryside and traditions of your ancestors; I know from research that my dad’s side of the family were involved in agriculture in the Northampton area but, sadly, no tales were passed down. I would imagine that Plough Monday on a bitterly cold day was not a cause for celebration but a reminder that it was time to get back to work if you wanted food to eat later in the year!
    PS. I’m sorry to read in the comments that your elderly relatives need your attention and wish them – and you – well. Caro xx

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    • Thank you Caro. My “nest” is currently being occupied by the cat! When I try to read she bumps her head against the book to remind me to fuss her too. It’s warm and peaceful in here. Luckily my Grandparents still had a farm when I was little so I spent many happy hours running riot in the fields, collecting “treasure” – unusual stones, mossy twigs, conkers, seed heads. And I listened. My grandparents were great talkers and now I’m getting older, everything they said is coming back to me. Their voices seemed to drift into the background while I was busy working and having children. Thanks for your kind comments. Much appreciated – as always. Karen xx

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