Dragonscale Leggings

Dragonscale Leggings CoverI’m always interested when I see catchy and quirky titles, so when I started blogging some years ago and came across a blog called ‘Dragonscale Clippings’ I just had to have a look. The result was the start of an on-line friendship with the blogger, Freya Pickard, and when I discovered that she had written a book called ‘Dragonscale Leggings’ I knew I just had to read it.

The book was soon added to my Christmas list and from there found its way into my hands – this was a few years ago now and I have been promising myself that I would write this long over-due review ever since.

‘Dragonscale Leggings’ is pure fantasy, but with a twist. The writer, Freya Pickard, a fantasy lover herself, describes this book as a fantasy spoof and this is exactly what it is. She takes the genre and turns it on its head with great humour and skill. It is littered with characters that are of the classic fantasy-typical stereotype, but they are never stereotypical. From Sir Agravaine the Amorous to Sama the troubadour and many others in-between, not forgetting the dragons of course, or her self-appointed guardian horse called Tygar, they are colourfully handled with a deft touch.

The story is expertly told in the first person, in the format of a rather confused diary (with diary entries given such titles as “Getting on for noon” or “Not sure of date, think I am in Gatus’ wagon”) and this is its ace card. The heroine is thoroughly bewildered, she doesn’t know who she is, where she is, how she got there, why she’s there or what she is supposed to be doing and neither does the reader. We know no more than the heroine does and learn along with her, similarly bewildered and trying to make sense of it all.

Together we learn that, at least in the world she finds herself, she is called Dracomagan. She is apparently (heaven forfend!) a female dragon-slayer and her choice of weapon is unusual to say the least! She has found herself in a society where she has broken all the rules without being aware of what those rules are. The result is a wonderfully humorous romp through an alternative fantasy scenario while the heroine attempts to make sense of what is happening and tries to stay one step ahead of disaster. It is a thunderingly good read.

“Dragonscale Leggings” by Freya Pickard.
ISBN 978-1-84923-353-8
Available from Amazon

Please visit Freya’s blogs: ‘Dragonscale Clippings‘,  where you will find more information about the book, and ‘Pure Haiku’.


On the eve of our holiday
I wonder if, on our return,
all the Spring blossom
will have died away.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I am going away today for a couple of weeks and will likely be off-line for much of that time due to no WIFI access. I have scheduled a review of “Dragonscale Leggings” by Freya Pickard to appear on Monday 16th May so please take a look. Normal service will resume around the beginning of June.


I am re-reading a book that I have had for several years called “The Elements of Earth Mysteries” by Philip Heselton and came across this quotation which I thought I would share with you:

“What appears to be ‘proof’ is often no more than a lack of imagination in providing an alternative explanation.”

From “Practical Thinking” by Edward de Bono.


As The Saying Goes

I am now into my thirteenth year of editing the bi-annual magazine of a sailing association that we belong to. When compiling the magazine there are often little pockets of space, usually at the bottom of a page, where it doesn’t seem sensible to start a new article when it would look better beginning on the following page. This means that I have to find ‘fillers’ for these spaces.

From the first issue that I produced I began a series of ‘fillers’ which I called “As The Saying Goes”. For this series I take a well-known phrase that has its roots in the glory days of sail and explain how the saying came into being and what it means. I try to find those phrases that are less obviously nautical and that I think will be of interest to the members. Another advantage of this series is that some sayings need longer explanations than others so I can pick and choose appropriate ones to fill the space available.

Having just completed and sent out our Spring/Summer issue for this year I thought it might be of interest to post here the saying that appears in the current issue:

“By and Large”

The expression ‘by and large’ is used in common parlance today to mean on the whole, generally speaking, all things considered, but it is yet another expression of nautical origin. To understand this we need to understand what is meant by the nautical terms ‘by’ and ‘large’.

A ship is said to be sailing ‘large’ when the wind is blowing from a compass point somewhere behind the direction of travel, either directly behind or on the stern quarter. Conversely to sail ‘by’, or ‘by the wind’, means to be sailing as close-hauled as possible into the direction of the wind. To ‘sail by and large’ required the ship to sail not only downwind but also against the wind. The 19th Century windjammers like the Cutty Sark were able to maintain progress ‘by and large’ even in bad wind conditions by the use of aerodynamic triangular sails and large crews of able seamen.

So there you have it!


Dusk falls silently.
The small bats flitter and swoop;
dining out tonight.


Sparrow flutters in the tree,
cherry blossom petals
float down like feathers.

Silver Birch Trees

Following on from my post a few weeks ago about felling some Silver Birch trees in our front garden I thought perhaps I would give you a little update. Having apologised for failing to take any photos it was pointed out to me that these would have been helpful so I now have a couple for you.

Garden Gap

The first shows the gap in our frontage. You will see that we are on a corner plot, the two roads both clearly visible and amazingly with no traffic on them. The nearest road (in shadow) is the one our driveway leads onto and is relatively traffic free in any case. The other runs along our north-eastern boundary and is one of the main roads in to and out of our small town so can be busy, especially during the morning and evening ‘rush hours’. The photo is looking north towards the centre of town, which is  beyond the houses you can see.

You probably can’t see too well, due to the shadow, that we have already done some replanting with young laurels and holly, as well as staking some of the self-set trees that we are retaining for the time being. These are  Sycamore, which are little more than weeds and not our choice, but at least they are already there and will provide some leaf cover for the time it takes the other planting to establish. The stump from the trunk that was leaning over and pushing the wall is to the left of the gap, against the remaining trees and we are not able to replant that spot just yet.

This second photo looks towards the north-eastern boundary and the houses on the other side of the main road. Once all the trees and hedging are in full leaf we can usually see very little of the houses.

Silver Birches

There are four of our other Silver Birches shown in the photo, all with ivy smothering their trunks. We have made some effort to kill this off but it grows rampantly around here and soon recovers! You will note that the two trees on the right are just coming into leaf, however there are no leaves (apart from the ivy) showing on the two trees to the left. It appears that they are probably already dead and will in fact have to come out rather sooner than we thought. Such a shame.

It saddens me that we have to take these trees down. I do enjoy the privacy they give us from the nearby houses and the feeling of almost living in a woodland that they provide. When we moved here some eleven years ago, downsizing from our small-holding out-of-town, it was the number of trees surrounding the property that was one of the main things attracting us to it. Even though many tree species can out-live us it is a sad fact that trees also have a limited life-span; in the case of Silver Birches very similar to that of humans! When these have to go we will replace them, though it will be many years before they provide the same degree of cover.

Bumble Bee

Bumble bee bumping
against the window pane.
I think he is asking to come in
from the cold north wind and rain.


bright sunshine,
bitterly cold wind.
Winter still hangs on;

Wild Woman

I am an avid reader, I read voraciously, I devour books. Fact or fiction if I set out to read a book I need to absorb the information/story as quickly as possible, get outside it. One downside of this is that often I remember something I have read, and possibly which book I read it in but, particularly in the case of non-fiction, I haven’t a clue where exactly I read it; a bit of a nuisance if I want to find it again. Usually  if I start a book I finish it, there are very few books that I have abandoned part-way through.

Cover 'Women Who Run With The Wolves'Several years ago I came across a copy of ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola  Estes in a local charity shop. Now I had heard about this book with its glowing reviews, tributes and so on – I quote The Times: “…undoubtedly one of the most widely acclaimed and most influential books of recent years.”  The  Irish Times states “This book offers a life-enhancing way to make contact with our deep feminine instincts: the wild woman within.” In fact, due to its reputation, it was on my ‘to read’ list, so I bought the book.

I began to read it in my usual fashion, trying to get all the information inside me as quickly as possible. I got as far as page 54, roughly the middle of chapter 2, put it down one day and didn’t pick it up again. I found it long-winded, unnecessarily verbose, (why use only 10 words when 100 would do?) and at times boring. It seemed to speak the obvious and laboured each point to exhaustion. Certainly no page-turner.

Since then I have glanced at it on my bookshelf several times and thought I might give it another go. I decided that perhaps the way I read was at fault, since others praised it so highly. So about a month ago a began again. I decided this time to take it more slowly and intersperse it with other light reading that I could race through in my usual fashion.

It seems to be working, I have now got to page 197, the beginning of chapter 7. I am still finding it tedious, laboured and unnecessarily verbose but I am making progress – or was, I haven’t actually picked it up for several days now but I am reading an exciting Fantasy tale. Will I continue with it? Well I am enjoying the folk tales within the book, some of which I have never come across before, and there are a few interesting points made in interpreting them, even if I do still think it frequently states the obvious (at least to me) so I don’t know. I would like to finish it this time, even if only as some sort of challenge!

This isn’t intended to be a book review as I haven’t finished reading it yet.  I’m  just saying how the book seems to me. Is it just me? Am I missing something?  It would be interesting to know what other ‘ordinary people’ like me think of it.

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