A Week in Books: Stories to treasure, traditional recipes and seasonal flowers

On a Sunday evening, I like to clear the shelf next to my desk, in preparation for the week ahead. There will always be a pile of books that have accumulated beside me. These will include stories my daughter has brought over for me to read to her and those that I have quickly grabbed to find a quotation, or check an ingredient for a recipe. There might be a seasonal book or two where I have looked up a flower name or gardening wisdom.

I enjoy the moment when I scoop them up and shelve them again, the titles on the spines evoke a diary of the days just passed: A Week in Books.

The Complete Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem

This week my daughter chose our Brambly Hedge treasury. After reading “A Summer Story” we took the book out into the garden to see which flowers we could spot for ourselves.

The Complete Brambly Hedge: A Summer Story

We live near to hedged fields, so our walks together often seem to leap out of the pages of the Brambly Hedge stories.

The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2020″ by Lia Leendertz

I think of The Almanac as an “outdoors book” to be read in the open air. August’s chapter tells of the luck of finding a traditional Scottish charm:

A rare patch of white heather … historically sold at fairs and tucked into brides’ bouquets

The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2020″ by Lia Leendertz

I happened to be reading by the pebble stream where our white Scottish heather plant is growing, so took a sprig to use as a bookmark.

“The Wood: The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood” by John Lewis-Stempel

John Lewis-Stempel’s “The Wood” tells of August being:

[T]hat awkward old month at the end of summer, when the majority of plants are past their profuse youthful best

“The Wood: The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood” by John Lewis-Stempel

It prompted me to gather in samples of those flowers that still remain in mid-August, creating a photographic reminder for winter, of the colours of summer to come.

“Apple: Recipes from the Orchard” by James Rich

A friend kindly dropping off a crate of their surplus apples resulted in this book being happily retrieved from the shelf.

I gave the children reusable stickers and they staked claim to the recipes in the book that they most wanted to try. Toffee apples won. We created our own maple-flavoured versions ( Homemade Maple Toffee Apples ) and then made toffee brittle shards from the leftover syrup to add to warm drinks: Autumn in a mug.

“England’s Heritage Food and Cooking” by Annette Yates

Traditional recipes teach us how to make the best of each season, as they hark back to a time when the majority of people had no choice but to cook with whatever grew in their gardens or was available locally. We have been baking Shrewsbury Cakes, a biscuit recipe from the 1600s. We will also be trying a Kentish Cherry Batter Pudding in the next week.

“The Hobbit: Three Dimensional Book” by JRR Tolkien

On Saturday we discovered a Mirkwood full of spiders under the Fuchsia in our garden. A moment of dramatic tension occurred when a large very real spider crawled into the pages unseen and then dropped out on a thread when we lifted the book up. My little daughter thought that this was an excellent addition to the storytelling, however, I wonder if she will expect this level of realism every time from now on.

In a cave by the little stream, we encountered a strange fisherman. I used a torch to make Bilbo’s little reflective blade glow its warning.

Our tale concluded with us sneaking away safely from a fire breathing Smaug, who had hidden in our pumpkin patch amongst courgette-flower flames.

It is now Sunday evening and time to gather up all of the books and replace them on the shelves, whilst wondering what the next week will bring.

Do you have a favourite book from your childhood that you still treasure?

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The Complete Brambly Hedge: Celebrating forty years of Brambly Hedge with this gorgeous storybook treasury (Brambly Hedge)



Apple: Recipes from the orchard




The Wood: The Life & Times of Cockshutt Wood




England’s Heritage Food and Cooking: A Classic Collection of 160 Traditional Recipes from This Rich and Varied Culinary Landscape, Shown in 750 Beautiful Photographs


  1. A fascinatingly delightful tour of the week. I have a Brambly Hedge set. I found The Hobbit so uninteresting that I have never opened my Lord of The Rings. I guess The Wind in the Willows will always be my favourite from my own childhood, but what delights me most is when my children read their own favourites that I once read to them to their own children. An example is featured in https://derrickjknight.com/2012/11/13/nobby-bates/ Jessica was 5.
    When my niece, Danni read that post, she said “you read that to me, too”. My sister, Elizabeth had then bought the book and read it to her two.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Hello Crystal, I think the Hobbit is a great book for children … showing that being little in stature doesn’t mean you cannot have grand adventures. When my two eldest boys were 10 and 12 we bought a map of Lord of the Rings and laid it out over the kitchen table and read it by lantern light. A friend of mine who is into wargaming miniatures painted little Fellowship figures up so that they could move them about the map 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much Derrick 🙂 I did the reverse to you and read Lord of the Rings first … initially to get it read before the Peter Jackson films were in the cinema, but I loved it and have read it many times since. I’ve read the Hobbit just once, but I do love this pop up version, which is beautifully made. I can never see a river on a summer’s day without thinking of Ratty and Mole 🙂 I really enjoyed your link … it’s wonderful that you have chronicled every day so beautifully.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. My favourite childhood books were those making up the Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis with my very favourite being The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. I have read it many times over the years and have recently bought myself yet another collection of the complete works. I loved the idea of travelling to fairytale places, conversing with animals and battling evil. Still do. Happy days.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Dugaree 🙂 I love the Narnia books too. I actually have this lined up to read to my children this Christmas – and have some forest adventures planned to make it come to life for them 🙂 Crossing my fingers for snow!


      1. Yes perfect Christmas reading especially with snow which makes the Witch feel just a tad more menacing and talking beavers very much more possible.


  3. This post and the beautifully staged photos make me very happy (as always, I might add.) I”m a voracious reader but in the days of Covid, I’m mostly reading e-books, which don’t photograph as beautifully. We’re huge Hobbit/LOTR fans and one of the best audio books ever is the rather old BBC radio version of LOTR. I bought my husband a set of tapes of it many years ago and now we and both our girls own the story in CD’s. We listened to it on our annual trip to Wyoming almost every year for the past many years and I listened to it again on my own this year. Makes driving even better. 🙂

    I have a number of boxes of children’s and young adult books that will be passed on to our older daughter and husband once they start a family. I also have some that I’ll keep for me. One of my favorite young adult authors is Rosemary Sutcliff and her stories of (mostly) Roman Britain are something I”m re-reading now for the ??th time. I also have a number of Swallow and Amazon books.

    Anyway, I could ramble on about books for ages, but that’s it for today. May your upcoming week be filled with blessings and joy.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Janet x You will never talk too much to me about books – I’ve worked in libraries since I was 19 🙂 If you peak at my website you’ll see a reply just above this one where I explain how we read LOTR to our boys by torchlight with a map 😛 I’ve not read Rosemary Sutcliff, so I’ll take a look when I’m next in work, thank you. It’s been a long time since I read Swallows and Amazons, but I really do want to re-read it 🙂 Thank you so much for such a lovely, joyful
      reply and all of the recommendations xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just finished a wonderful book about WWI and its aftermath of looking for the missing and the dead. In the US, it’s title is “The Poppy Wife”, by Caroline Scott, but in the UK and Europe it’s “The Photographer of the Lost.” Not a children’s book, of course, but a beautiful and terrible book for adults about a war that at least on this side of the pond is somewhat unknown/neglected but was a terrible war.


        1. Thank you for the recommendation Janet – I shall keep an eye out for this one as I always try to read a book like this around November time, for Remembrance Day. I’ve just been part of a project to research the history of every soldier on our village war memorial, so that we could learn the stories behind the names and publish them for all to read. What struck me most was how young they all were.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful selection. I remember reading the Brambly Hedge stories to my daughter (now 22). I’m cooking from an English book at present – Oats in the North, Wheat from the south.


    1. Thanks Jo! I’ve just looked up Oats in the North and it looks wonderful, I’ve added it to my wishlist 🙂 We’re a bit of a mix of food heritage here in the Midlands, although North Leicestershire, where we are, is mainly known for stilton and Melton Mowbray pork pies.


  5. At full of visual treats and things to think about. I was brought up on Maria Edgeworth’s Parents Assistant. Somehow life didn’t turn out quite like the picture painted.


    1. I had never heard of Maria Edgeworth’s writing so took an hour to read all about her. I’m completely fascinated by different approaches to education – being a librarian, tutor and home edder myself. I can only tell you that five children, all raised in the same house and taught by the same person, still all end up entirely different 😀


    1. Thank you so much – and I agree. I have pressed flowers a lot in the past, but although it preserves them, they never look as I like to remember them and they lose that delicateness that I love. I now much prefer using freshly harvested or foraged ones, and taking a photograph 🙂


    1. Hi Rebecca 🙂 I had to look up Make Way for Ducklings as I don’t know that one – and found that it is in its 75th Anniversary Year. Amazon had a “look inside” option – the pencil drawings are so beautiful, I can completely understand how this would become a keepsake x


  6. I had a wide variety of children’s books from when I worked as a live-in children’s Nanny in the mid 1970s in the U.K. and again in the late 1980s here in Melbourne. I have given them all to my eldest neice (including my own battered and worn children’s books from my childhood). I have given my Mothers children’s books and school prizes (in the form of children’s stories) to my youngest neice. They were from the late 1930s and early 1940s.

    My favourite books of all time are those written by Janet and Allan Ahlberg – Burglar Bill, The Jolly Postman, Peepo, Jeremiah in the Dark Woods are just a few. I bought Each Peach Pear Plum by the Ahlbergs for my best friend’s first grandchild last year.

    The only book(s) I have left is the complete volume of Beatrix Potter’s stories and biography AND The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is illustrated by Shirley Hughes (another children’s writer whose books I love – mainly for the illustrations).

    I wrote a couple of children’s stories with watercolour & pencil illustrations about 35 years ago, but they were never published. Can’t remember what happened to all those illustrations I did.

    Hopefully, one of the greatest gifts I have bestowed in my lifetime is the love of reading to all 12 children I was Nanny to in my youth.

    All our family are great readers, even my Mother used to read with a magnifying glass up until her passing at the age of 88 (in 2012) and my 93 year old Father used to read all the newspapers – cover-to-cover – up until his passing in December 2019.

    A home without books is a home without soul.


    1. Hi Vicki, I love the Janet and Allan Ahlberg books too! We have The Jolly Postman (which miraculously still has all of the letters in place) and when I was at primary school I learnt all of the poems in Ahlberg’s “Please Mrs Butler” off by heart. Each Peach Pear Plum always flies out of the library the moment someone returns it – children love being able to see spot something a page ahead through the little gaps 🙂 I think if you can help a child to fall in love with reading, they will never be bored x


  7. What a delightful post! I so enjoyed how you wove in everyday life with your weekly books. Particularly thrilling to me was The Hobbit. Watch out for giant spiders and glowing swords.


    1. Thanks Laurie! I have been wondering about how to write reviews of the books I love for a very long time, because so many others already write reviews and do that so exceptionally well … and eventually thought maybe showing how they just form part of our everyday life might make for a different slant on things 🙂 I’m really glad you enjoyed it – The Hobbit in the garden was great fun to do 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just write what strikes you about a book. Different people get different things, and I always enjoy hearing other perspectives, even if I don’t agree with them. Broadens the horizon. Of course, what you’ve done is grand, too. But please don’t be intimidated by what others write.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. We have my old Paddington Book and the library I help run has a giant Paddington Bear sat in the children’s section 🙂 A friend gave us all of her son’s Tintin and Asterix comics, so my older boys are working their way through them at the moment.


    1. I do love Nania … as commented in a reply somewhere up above, it’s going to be our Christmas family read this year so I’m thinking up lots of activities to do for it out in the forest. We have the Famous Five boxset – but I also remember really enjoying the Five-Findouters and Dog series too. Probably because there was a much younger character in it and I was one of the youngest out of all of my cousins 🙂


  8. Brambly Hedge was a favourite, as was Sampson and the Church Mice series (think these might be out of print now 😔). I read the Hobbit when I was 8, I loved the Narnia Chronicles too and the much less well known Oswain Tales by John Houghton. I read and reread Heidi and the Secret Garden over and over again as a child. Must reread some of these stories again. ☺️


    1. Hello 🙂 I love all of your choices – though have never heard of either Sampson and the Church Mice or the Oswain Tales, so I’ll look forward to seeing if they are in the library system when I am back at work 🙂 Autumn is the perfect time to cosy up with a mug of your favourite drink and a much-loved childhood book x


  9. This is such a gorgeous post! I love those magical shots in the garden! The Hobbit is very special to me and I went on to read it and LotR to my own three who all have strong memories of the experience. My daughter and I loved the Brambley Hedge books and I still pass certain places (far away from where we lived at the time) and recognise them as Brambley Hedge spots. I have yet to read the August chapter of The Almanac – I’d better hurry! And I’m just a teeny bit envious of your Rebecca mug! 😉


    1. Thank you so much, I’m really glad you enjoyed it. I’ve been trying to think of the best way to write about reading for a long time, but I think maybe it is best just to show how they fit in with our daily lives 🙂 I love that you have Brambley Hedge spots too! My mug was last year’s Christmas present from my husband – I love the novel and my name is Rebecca (or Beck), so it was a pretty perfect gift 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello there, thank you very much – I’ve spent a long time pondering over the best way to write about the books we read and have been really moved by all of the kind feedback. I’ll hopefully be posting up a new set of books every Sunday. Thank you again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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