Daffodils in Snow, and History Lessons

A line of daffodils in snow
Daffodils in snow

At first I thought there was only a single line of daffodils in the snow. I stopped to take photos. Like I would do on any other day out. A day out just for fun. Not that there have been many of those lately.

I walked along the path and headed down the steps where I was met with this stunning bank of yellow.

daffoldils in snow at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
A bank of daffodils at ARI

I couldn’t deny where I was anymore, of course. Not with the ambulances and then the familiar hospital front door. But I was just an out-patient this time. It wasn’t too bad. And I got to buy a chocolate aubergine in the food shop on the way back out!

Trees in snow at ARI, Aberdeen
Snowy woodland beside the hospital

Reviews have started to come in for FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE. One, from Barb Taub, is included within a really interesting article entitled History: telling the big enough lie.

It got me thinking and led me to conclude that I was lucky not to have had history ruined for me at school.

In Primary 3 (aged 7 or 8) I was fortunate to have a deeply enthused teacher and we did a project on the Jacobites. I recall a large wall painting of the bloody battle of Culloden and the fact that we studied Tam o’ Shanter by Robert Burns at the same time, the character of the witch, ‘Cutty Sark’, sticking well in my mind.

But for history, that was it. In secondary school there was a class called ‘Social Subjects’ which was meant to cover history, modern studies and geography. Our teacher believed that colouring in maps of crop rotation covered all of these, which, I suppose, technically, it did. So, three times a week for two years, that was our lot.

A decade later another set of students would set fire to their books in that class, perhaps to alleviate the stifling boredom, or perhaps in a (successful) attempt to get rid of the teacher.

So I never came to associate history with boredom. Colouring in, yes. History, no. And historical research is something I throw myself into with great fervour.

Quote from Barb’s review:

As an American now living in Scotland, I found Fireflies and Chocolate offers a rare look at the sometimes uncomfortable history we never learned in school. Author Ailish Sinclair takes the stories of real life characters and believably intertwines them in Elizabeth’s experience, while never losing sight of her main goal: telling a roaring good story with all the romance, danger, and dawning strength of character you could ask.

Other reviews I must mention are from Liz Lloyd who published hers on release day which was so helpful, and this one on Instagram from Adeline Bronner. I do love seeing the books ‘out in the wild’ as it were!

I’m glad I picked these before the snow came!
Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, inspired by the 600 children and young people who were kidnapped from Aberdeen during the 1740s and sold into indentured servitude in the American Colonies, is out now. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s proper derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

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Goodreads

Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'

And, not to be forgotten, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, which features the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic and a love story.

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45 Replies to “Daffodils in Snow, and History Lessons”

  1. You’re right. So many students are “turned off” by history because of a boring teacher. On the other hand, there are the choice few teachers who make it exciting and inviting. I’ve had both during my educational career. Thankfully, the latter far outnumbered the former, and I’ve retained my avid interest in history (though only select periods) ever since. And I hope that I made my own teaching of history exciting. Congrats on the numerous good reviews!

  2. I loved History at school but living in England it was all English History until A level where I could do some American History. I have had to read Scottish history myself.

  3. My copy came this week! I love it. I only allow myself three chapters a day, so I can savor the beautiful writing and fascinating story. Let me also comment on the truthfulness of history lessons. In my family history (Munro of the Black Watch) I heard of this war on Scottish soil only from the depths of my own family’s legends. I never heard it mentioned in history classes in America, and my family mythology is surely the opposite of the history taught in Scotland. I know that in telling the same story from different sides neither are lies of fact, and both are truths of passion and experience. So it is that truth is best told in well-researched fiction. Thank you Alish Sinclair for sharing this story.

  4. Lovely article. Congratulations on the launch! I am so glad history wasn’t ruined for you. My job now is to recover people from the boredom, especially students, through sharing the stories that live in the museum here. I love to see people get excited when they connect to the objects that were “actually there”. I think you would likely agree sharing stories and history is an important part of all cultures. It helps inform us of where we come from and at times challenges us to think critically about the events and decisions behind them in the past.
    I can’t wait to sit down and read both of your books. What an accomplishment. Again, congratulations!!!

  5. History in school was pretty awful for me. In that it just wasn’t taught well. In ninth grade I was put into an Honors class with a teacher who was praised as this brilliant educator. Didn’t learn a damn thing in that class. My mother was a history teacher, and the students who took what they were doing seriously said she was really good. Wish I could have had her as a teacher. I plan on purchasing your book and reading it! It sounds intriguing and informative. ♡

  6. Our history lessons at school were about battles, kings, wars, kings … nothing about inventions or other accomplishments.
    I got my kindle copy of your book. I am all excited to get started.

      1. They seem to be inevitable in history, but from what I read in the reviews, there are interesting characters involved, and then the whole story about the kidnapped children. It is quite horrible what human beings do to each other, sometimes in the name of religion.

  7. Greetings from the Czech , an excellent , interesting article, … and congratulations on the reviews! 🙂

    History…sometimes we need other look , in my time, in the school under the communists, the West and its history did not exist..only Russia … sad…still some things are complete new.

    But..we are alive ! 🙂

  8. There’s a lot of important things in history that don’t always show up in school. I’m grateful for all teachers who take the extra step of talking about the deeper meaning of events and the weight of all those lives before ours.

  9. I’ve got a first class degree in history. However, in my first year of secondary school, I got a bad mark on my report, for my favourite subject, because I couldn’t draw motte and bailey castles properly or colour them in neatly. Not that I’m still bitter about it after 35 years of anything 🙂 🙂 🙂 , but why are teachers so obsessed with colouring in? It wasn’t an art lesson!

  10. I was so bored with how history was taught in my south London secondary that I gave it up at the age of 14. We were allowed to drop subjects in those days. All it covered was “this king did this and this this king did that”. Thankfully I retained my interest in learning after I left school because history is fascinating but not from the British point of view of how wonderful we were because we weren’t.

  11. This is so true! History was so often so dry in school, even if there were topics that seemed to pique my interest, I was also never taught how to explore them in any depth. It was just all academic, you need to know this and you need to know that for the essay you need to write at the end of the week. And lots of true false questions!

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