The Early Medieval period is famous for Dark Ages England, but the rest of the world still existed in the Dark Ages - and for some civilisations, it wasn't even the Dark Ages but a Golden Age.
Alfred is a very special English king.
Eclipses have been a source of fascination throughout history and this feeds into popular novels.
It was the first place in Britain to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956, something not lost on the ancient peoples.
Now and again I stop to marvel at the wonder of the written word. The greatest gift, possibly, is the ability to read, hence to learn. Then I look at the funny little shapes that are letters and the meanings we put to them. It is easy to see how ancient peoples thought that these squiggles were signs from a divine power. None more so than the Norse runes.
You risk being knocked over if you say "cheese" in our house. Our cat will run at great speed from wherever she is to steal the dairy product. A real cheese monster. But there is another story about cheese that is much more disturbing.
"Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race ... The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets." (Alcuin, a Northumbrian scholar.)
June in England is supposed to be summer. And many English families take off to the beautiful countryside and coasts of Cornwall for their summer holiday. We all have great memories of Cornish holidays.
I don't know where I'd be without the Venerable Bede. He, along with The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, is one of the major resources for my Dark Age novels.
I have not yet visited East Anglia, that rotund bump on the east of England. I do want to. I have heard that it is very flat and as I prefer hilly and mountainous terrain, that puts me off a bit. But the draw is still there, because East Anglia - the kingdom of the East Angles - was home to one of the great seventh century Anglo-Saxon kings, Raedwald.
Finan was a bit of a religious celebrity in his day, which was mid-seventh century England.
I am a Pisces. How does that make you feel? To some that makes me a dreamer, indecisive, creative and lazy. To others - a nutter who believes in mumbo jumbo.
Sailors, criminals, prostitutes, bikers and thugs used to have a sign that was known to the entire civilised world. But times have changed. Now grandmothers, sportsmen, royals and artists have the sign. Only now it is not a sign but a symbol of belonging, a statement, a decoration or a bit of fun. The latest fashion accessory that will stick around longer than boot styles: tattoos.
There is a public school that looks a little bit like Hogwarts and an ancient church, Saint Wystan's, with a crypt.
The last Anglo-Saxon king of England had a short reign, which ended at the Battle of Hastings.
It is no coincidence that my least favourite month is named after probably the least glamorous god. January, dragged down by the cold, poverty and the post-Christmas famine, is the most dreary of months. And what is worse, January somehow manages to be the longest month lasting seven weeks. At least.
Chocolate and cake are still in abundance. Twinkling lights still on the tree. Christmas cards are still falling from their allotted holder every time the door opens. We can't move on though. It is that strange vacuum between Christmas and New Year where things aren't quite celebratory and yet aren't yet quite back to normal.
A huge and monstrous cat from Icelandic folklore, who eats people who have not received new clothes before Christmas eve. Horrific.
Every year the conversation goes like this:
Child - "Santa isn't real, he's my dad!"
Me - "Wow! Your dad is Santa? How cool is that?"
Kids have it all don't they? We know that Christmas is all about them, from the baby Jesus to Father Christmas/Santa Claus coming down the chimney to leave them gifts under the tree. From November and throughout December the marketing is all about them, too. Buy this doll that looks like a wrinkled newborn and produces stuff from its man-made orifices that's as ugly as anything nature can provide. Films and television are all about keeping the faith of Santa. All aimed at children and those who provide for them.