Welcome to The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2021. If you are new to The Almanac then welcome; if you are a regular reader then hello! The Almanac is about celebrating the unfolding year in all its various facets. The old dependables which I include every year are back: moon phases, sun rises and sets, tide time tables and the sky at night. As ever there are seasonal recipes and monthly gardening tips for the flower and vegetable garden too, as well as a bit of folklore, and nature and a song for each month.
This year’s edition has a theme: movement, migration and pilgrimage. This was not a reaction to the unsettling events of last year – it was half written by the time Covid-19 hit – but writing it from lockdown did give me a heightened appreciation of the way in which Britain and Ireland have always and continue to be places of movement, and are intimately connected to the rest of the world. You will find within this book migration tales for each month of this year, but I have also searched out seasonal tales of human movement, and included a pilgrimage for each month, some ancient, some current, all underlining the spiritual benefits of putting one foot in front of the other. Every month I have included a method of navigating using the stars, sun or moon, so you can find your way around in the dark (or just look out of your window and know where south is). And our monthly folk songs are all shanties this year, work songs with movement at their very heart, created to coordinate muscle power to drive sailing ships backwards and forwards across the Atlantic Ocean, and containing influences from the eastern seaboard of the US down to the Caribbean and beyond mixed with British and Irish folk traditions. These songs are stitched through with movement and travel, as is this Almanac.
We are all eager to move after so much time cooped up, but I dedicate this edition particularly to those for whom staying in one place was not so different, who were never going to climb mountains anyway. I hope this Almanac helps you to travel in your mind all year long, via the swift that streams past your window, through a rasher pudding cooked up in the Romani style, and by way of a song of derring do on the ocean waves. Have a wonderful 2021.
PRAISE FOR THE ALMANAC: A SEASONAL GUIDE: ‘The perfect companion to the seasons’ – India Knight
‘This book is your bible’ – the Independent ‘An ideal stocking filler’ – The English Garden
‘I love this gem of a book’ –Cerys Matthews