Georgina by Clare Darcy

Georgina by Clare Darcy

Several months ago, I wrote a post on Clare Darcy, the second Regency author I read. Georgina was the first book I read by Ms. Darcy. It kept me up reading long after I should have been in bed, even though I had no idea why a lady shouldn’t “stand up” (dance) with one man more than once, what was wrong with a young lady just “out” shouldn’t wear “colors” what a bandbox was, or why rooms were called saloons. I only knew that the story caught my imagination and the time period my heart.

Georgina isn’t a particularly unique story. She finds her latest suitor a dead bore and turns him down. Her aristocratic grandmother is annoyed and ships Georgina off to distant relatives in Ireland. Instead of falling for an eligible gentleman there, she falls head over ears (really? Ears, not heels?) for an Irishman with a scandalous past.

Who can deny the romance of that scenario? I’m not even enamored of Irish heroes, but, in Georgina, Mr. Shannon was enough to make me understand Georgina’s subsequent actions.

I have since gotten my hands on the rest of Ms. Darcy’s books and find all them, to greater and lesser extent, delightful reads. Georgina, however, is the only one I have reread, though I may remedy that one day. One reason why I reread it twenty years after the first read was that I wanted to see if it held up the test of time, maturity, and a lot more knowledge of the time period, the Regency era.

It did and then some.

Although I love these sweet Regencies now called Traditional Regencies, mine are more in the style of Patricia Veryan—swashbuckling adventures. The romance, however, will always hold center stage in this time period that lends itself most highly to romance.

Laurie Alice Eakes is the author of four Regency romances with three more coming out in the future. You can find excerpts from her first Regencies at http://www.lauriealiceeakes.com

The Scandalous Consort by Laurie Alice Eakes

The Scandalous Consort
by Laurie Alice Eakes

“Poor woman, I shall support her as long as I can, because she is a Woman and because I hate her Husband.” This is what Jane Austen wrote of Caroline of Brunswick, official wife of the Prince Regent.

Princess Caroline Portrait
Princess Caroline Portrait

Besides making this shockingly feminist statement for the time, Miss Austen spoke support of a woman who was hated by her husband and popular amongst the common folk. She caused contention everywhere she went, dividing families, politicians, and society itself.

The prince married Caroline in 1795 because he was in debt and Parliament agreed to give him more money if he did so. Caroline of Brunswick was imminently suitable on paper. An alliance on the continent was important. Caroline was of high birth.

She was also outspoken and unhygienic. She spoke her mind without tact, and she didn’t change her clothes enough. Nor did she bathe often enough. She and the prince were disgusted with one another, as she considered him fat and not as handsome as his portrait. Caroline claims that George spent their wedding night under the grate, where he had fallen down drunk.

Despite their distaste for one another, they did produce a daughter, Charlotte, who became a pawn in the battle between her parents. Caroline was forbidden access to her daughter except for arranged visits, weekly at first and then less frequently. The prince used Charlotte in an attempt to keep Caroline under control.

Caroline, however, was rarely in control. She gave elaborate parties and adopted children, giving rise to rumors that at least one of them was her own illegitimate offspring. As early as 1806 set up enquiries as to whether or not Caroline had committed adultery, a crime.

Enquiry into a princess' conduct.
Enquiry into a princess’ conduct.

Until her death in 1821, the social battles continued. When heads of state visited England in 1814, the queen would not allow Caroline to visit the drawing room to meet them. She showed up at the theater they were attending with her husband.

Shortly afterward, however, she left England for Italy, where her behavior became even more scandalous. She hired an Italian man who, by all reports, was more than a servant, sharing her dinner table the least of their improper contact.

So when the Regent acceded to the throne in 1820, he wanted rid of Caroline; he did not want her to be his queen. She stood trial for adultery and was removed from her position. George IV was crowned without her presence. Indeed, when she tried to attend the coronation, she was blocked at every entrance to Westminster Abbey.

In reading several accounts of Caroline and the years of her marriage to the Prince of Wales, I could not find much sympathy for her in my heart. Although Prinny did not treat her well, most of her woes she brought upon herself.

She died in 1821, possibly of a bowel obstruction, possibly of cancer, or possibly from poisoning, an ignominious death for an ignoble life of a woman who could have been a queen.

Laurie Alice Eakes is the author of four novels set during the Regency, as well as a dozen other books. You can find more about her and her books by following her on Twitter @LaurieAEakes or on her web site http://www.lauriealiceeakes.com.

From Acceptance to Exile: A Reluctant Courtship and Give-Away

In writing classes, we are taught to make things as bad for our characters as we can. Honore should have been easy. In A Necessary Deception, in which she made her debut into society, and in A Flight of Fancy, where she rusticates in the country with her injured sister, Honore managed to make things terrible enough for herself.

But I wanted to make her situation even worse!

A Reluctant CourtshipLord Bainbridge, the father of the three sisters, is an autocratic man, a political animal who wants things the way he wants them. He manipulates his children to his will as much as he can, and he can do a great deal. But Honore is the baby and pretty and lively and a daddy’s girl. She got away with too much. Daddy cleaned up her messes for her.

So I had to take her daddy away from her.

And then we introduce Americus Poole (Meric to his friends) now Lord Ashmoor. Most men fall at Honore’s feet. Ashmoor looks at her like most of us view rattle snakes—the further away the better. He has his own issues, and Honore’s presence in his life will only make them worse. After all, a man under suspicion of treason cannot be involved with a young lady with a questionable reputation.

Beyond the romance and adventure that springs from Honore and Ashmoor’s stories is the theme of exile. Honore has been exiled from her family and from society because of her past mistakes. In turn, this physical exile makes her feel exiled from God. Everything that happens to her seems to indicate that God has rejected her, and this rejection of the heart and spirit drives her decisions and actions until her very life hangs on the edge.

Cliffs_Clovelly_Coast_West
Cliffs in North Devon (Wikipedia image)

As with Cassandra in A Flight of Fancy, I related to Honore’s spiritual struggle. I attended a Christian college and my friends were going off to be doctors and pastors, and the wives of doctors and pastors. I, however, had no calling that I saw. I interpreted this as God rejecting me. The decisions I made over the next several years—most of them terrible—stemmed from this sense of exile from God.

The simple response is that God doesn’t reject us; we reject him. Romans 8:38-39 assures us that nothing separates us from the love of God. Yet what I had to learn, what Honore has to learn, is that we often have to be taken out of our comfort zone of the life we think we want or should have, to circumstances we can’t control, for the Lord to shape us into the people we are intended to be to thus serve him better.

I hope you enjoy Honore’s journey back from exile.

For a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card today, answer the question below in the comment section. Your name will also be entered into our Regency Gift Package Giveaway in honor of the release of A Reluctant Courtship. The giveaway includes another gift card, a tea cup, and chocolate.

What types of things do you like to learn from authors? For example: How they work, their non writing life, their spiritual life…

Mop Fairs and Michaelmas Day

Mop Fairs and Michaelmas Day
by Laurie Alice Eakes

 Michaelmas Day was one of the four quarter days in the British system, a day in which rents and wages were due. Michaelmas Day, or the Feast of St. Michael, the Archangel, is now the 29th of September. Under the old calendar, it was celebrated on 10th or 11th of October (sources are inconsistent on which day), which coincided with the annual hiring of laborers and household servants.

These fairs were called mop fairs for the fact that those needing work gathered with the tools of their trade in hand. A shepherd carried a crook, a cook carried a ladle and wore a red ribbon, and a maid wore a blue ribbon and carried a mop. Those with no particular skill also carried mops.

Black and white historic mop fair photo
Historic turn of the century mop fair from this site:http://www.nfa.dept.shef.ac.uk/images/strat8.jpg

Those needing to hire someone interviewed potential employees (during the Regency, the word was employé, as employee wasn’t used until the 1850s) as to their skills and experienced. When the employer chose someone, money exchanged hands, and the hiree donned a ribbon to signify she or he had been hired. They were then free to spend their token of employment at the local taverns or other establishments set up with games and goods.

Michaelmas Day was appropriate for this practice because the harvest was usually finished or nearing completion; thus farmers could either acquire more laborers or, having rid himself of these extras, left them needing employment elsewhere. The day being a quarter day, wages were settled up.

Michaelmas Day was also celebrated with some other traditions such as eating a goose for dinner. The goose tradition probably stemmed from tenants bringing a goose to the landlord to soften him up, geese being at their prime at this time from dining on the stubble from the fields. In 1709, the following verse appeared in The British Apollo:

Yet my wife would persuade me (as I am a sinner)
To have a fat goose on St. Michael for dinner:
And then all the year round, I pray you would mind it,
I shall not want money—oh, grant I may find it!

Many mop fairs continued well into the nineteenth century and on to the twentieth. Some of them were discontinued due to the drunken debauchery that became associated with the fairs; however, in the past couple of decades, these fairs have been revived with carnival rides and other festive entertainments. The fair at Marlborough, celebrated in October on the old Michaelmas Day,  has talked of moving the fair from the High Street to the commons; however, because of their charter for the fair, moving it would take an act of Parliament. This symbolizes how important these fairs are to British history.

 

Celebrating Harvest: The Corn Dolly

We hope you enjoyed last month’s celebration of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Congratulations to Debra for winning a copy of the 1995 miniseries. 

September has arrived and with it harvest is in full swing. September 24 was the traditional medieval harvest day, though much produce was brought in for weeks beforehand and weeks afterward. The Harvest moon is the moon closest to the autumnal equinox and is supposed to be bright enough farmers could keep harvesting by its light.

Harvest at WindsorMany traditions arrive with the harvest, and the one I bring up here goes back at least fifteen hundred years and possibly more, as its roots are firmly based in pagan rituals. In The Golden Bough, Sir James Fraser discusses the practice of making the “corn Dolly” at the end of harvest being wide-spread throughout the world.

(For clarification here, “corn” is not the stuff Americans eat on the cob. “Corn” in Great Britain and Europe in general, was any kind of grain—rye, barley, wheat, oats, etc. This is something I see mistaken in fiction set in England and written by Americans.)

In general, the last of the harvest of grain was tied into a sheaf and hung from the final wagon, or was carried by various chosen villagers. These sheaves, tied in various ways, were called the “corn dolly” and represented plenty. Often the dolly was doused in water to represent the rain needed for a good harvest. Some places made a wreath of straw placed on the head of the prettiest village girl. She wore it in a procession to the home of the landowner, where he hung it on the wall.

Corn KnotBy the Regency, this pagan practice had pretty much ceased, though hadn’t entirely died out. Every area made a different kind of corn dolly, which then took its name from that county or area.

One sweet and symbolic tradition practiced was a simple corn dolly made of three strands of straw tied into a knot to represent the heart. A young man would give it to a girl. If she wore it over her heart, he knew his affections were returned.

Although the more pagan of the corn dolly practices are not something most of us would include in our Christian Regencies, knowing of the practice reminds us of the importance of an abundant harvest to our characters from the lowest laborer, to the highest ranked nobleman.

Pictures courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Georgette Heyer, an Austen Successor, and Another Chance to Win

Congratulations, Susan Heim, on winning the beautiful hardback copy of Pride and Prejudice. Check your email for details on claiming your prize. See the end of this post by Laurie Alice Eakes for another chance to win a fabulous prize. 

Although I have been devoted to the Regency era since the age of fourteen, I never read a book by Jane Austen, nor did I see one of the movie adaptations, for another twenty years. I haven’t even read all of Miss Austen’s books. Instead of this celebrated lady of letters, my attraction to the Regency came through an intermediate step—Georgette Heyer.

Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer

For years, I tried to get a copy of A Private Life, a biography of Miss Heyer written by another one of my favorite Regency authors, Jane Aiken Hodge. That tome was never available, so I was thrilled when a new biography by Jennifer Kloester was published. Since I’ve been reading it off and on for the past few weeks (it’s a lengthy book), I thought reviewing it in the month we are celebrating Jane Austen wholly appropriate. My Regency sisters have indulged me, since I am far more fond of Heyer than Austen, as blasphemous as that may be.

Kloester executed a tremendous amount of research for this biography. She must have read a few thousand letters and delved into numerous dusty storage rooms for original documents. The details included are more intriguing—and more edifying—than five minutes of TMZ. This is the book’s greatest strength and greatest weakness. The details about her publishing life, her personality, her friendships and animosities are like juicy gossip, especially to a writer or lover of her books. On the other hand, after a while, as many details as we receive go a little too far. I don’t need endless pages—fortunately scattered—regarding the Rougier (her married name) financial difficulties and mismanagement. Nor do I need the author’s speculation about the couple’s sex life.

KloesterBook_HeyerMore important are the details about her ups and downs as a published author. More ups than downs from most writer’s perspective. She sold her first book when she was nineteen. One of her detective novels was banned by the Irish government as being obscene (it’s not) until the 1960s. And although it rather makes me sad, I like the details about her personal habits such as how she smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for most of her life. It just doesn’t fit my image of this educated and talented Englishwoman born right after the turn of the 19th century. The ways in which she stayed awake when on deadline make me cringe as much as did some of her business decisions.

A business woman she was not unless one counts that she wrote romances, most set in the Regency, for the money, when her heart lay in long historical novels. She did manage to write these, but other than An Infamous Army, these were not the most successful of her books. Readers ate up her Regency and Georgian romances. They also loved her detective novels. To learn that two of her favorite authors were Jane Austen and Raymond Chandler did not at all surprise me.

That others ripped her off didn’t surprise me either. She exchanged letters with publishers and attorneys regarding how closely Barbara Cartland’s books followed Heyer’s, and wasn’t afraid to say the woman needed to do her own research. Cartland wasn’t the only writer who decided to use Miss Heyer’s original research instead of seeking it out for themselves.

Often I have heard that Miss Heyer made up slang terms and even that she inserted false facts to throw off these pretenders to know the time period and write in the same genre Heyer rather developed herself. After reading the biography, I no longer believe these claims to be true. She possessed too much professional integrity to do so.

HeyerBooks

Although Miss Austen wrote during the Regency era that has become a subgenre of romance fiction, the subgenre itself, for which we and dozens of other authors keep blogs,  owes its popularity and stronghold to Georgette Heyer.

The love of Regency romance lives on today. Comment on any post this week for a chance to win a book by one of Regency Reflections’ amazing published authors. The winner will be emailed the list of available books to choose from. The winner will be announced Monday, August 26th. Winner’s mailing address must be within the United States to win. 

Jane Austen’s Road to Publishing and A Chance to Win

Jane Austen
Jane Austen

When one mentions Jane Austen, the majority of people think Pride and Prejudice and the movies, not necessarily the book, who’s bicentennial of it’s publication we are celebrating this month. Miss Austen, however, wrote several other works, including an epistolary novel in the 1790s. Like the majority of authors nowadays, Austen faced rejection and publishers who did not fulfill their promises.

One of Austen’s biographers, Claire Tomalin, writes of Lady Susan, “in letters, it is as neatly plotted as a play, and as cynical in tone as any of the most outrageous of the Restoration dramatists who may have provided some of her inspiration … It stands alone in Austen’s work as a study of an adult woman whose intelligence and force of character are greater than those of anyone she encounters.” This is impressive when one considers she was less than twenty years old.

In 1811, Sense and Sensibility was published, though she probably began it much earlier. We don’t know if the original story known as Elinor and Marianne, which she read to her family in the 1790s, survived in this novel.

Still in the 1790s, Austen attempted a third novel, which was a satire of the popular Gothic novel. That manuscript, which we know as Northanger Abbey, ended up the first one for which she received any money.

One of Austen's early works, The History of England. Photo by wikimedia commons
One of Austen’s early works, The History of England. Photo by wikimedia commons

Her father attempted to get her published, but that manuscript, First Impressions, later published as Pride and Prejudice, was rejected. But in 1803, a London publisher paid Austen ten pounds for the copyright on Northanger Abbey. It was not published until Austen bought back the copyright more than ten years later.

After the family moved to Bath, she may have suffered from a depression that kept her from writing, or she may have revised her already created works. We aren’t certain. We do know she worked on The Watsons, but never finished it after her father died. Her own situation as an unmarried woman without independent means, closely reflected the ladies in the story.

Finally, in 1811, Sense and Sensibility was published and well-received, nearly twenty years after we believe she began work on her first novel. Pride  and Prejudice was published in 1813, which we are celebrating this month as it is her most famous work today.

Mansfield Park was her best selling novel and published in 1814. Reviewers ignored it, but the public did not.

Although the books were published anonymously, and I’ve always been told that no one knew who wrote the books, I scarcely think this is true, at least for those able to worm information from perhaps the publisher, as the Prince Regent’s librarian  invited her to visit and she was given the suggestion that she dedicate Emma to him in 1815. She didn’t like him, but she couldn’t refuse. This was her last book published during her lifetime.

After her death, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published as a set in 1817. Sanditon was published, though unfinished, in 1825. Her books remained out of print until a set of her works were published in 1833. They have been in print ever since.

notecardsThis week we’re giving away a lovely set of Jane Austen notecards. For a chance to win, please leave a comment on any of the posts this week. winner will be drawn Monday, August 12. Winner must have a mailing address within the United States.

William Wilberforce: Abolitionist and Friend, Politician and Evangelical

“If this be madness, I hope that it will bite us all!” said one of William Wilberforce’s friends after the young politician became an evangelical Christian. His other friends thought his newfound beliefs and life changes madness, and they still counted him friend and so much more.

Photo and link to William Wilberforce article on Christianity Today
William Wilberforce

Born in 1759, William was a sickly young man with poor eyesight, slight stature, and a quick mind. He sang and conversed in ways that pleased his interlocutors to the point the writer and socialite Madame de Staël described him as the “wittiest man in England”. And the Prince of Wales said he would go anywhere to hear Wilberforce sing.

Wilberforce was born to a wealthy merchant family. After his father died when the lad was young, he went to live with an uncle. But other relatives thought that evangelical Christian branch of his family was not a good influence, so brought William back to Hull, where he’d been born. He attended Cambridge and, though became quite a college partier (not a term that would have been used during the Georgian era of course), he managed to pass the exams and receive undergraduate and graduate degrees from that august institution.

Still interested in gaming and other less savory pursuits, William became a politician, using his great voice to persuade listeners. Never did he choose a party. He voted his conscience. It, or perhaps his poor eyesight and health, cost Wilberforce a post in William Pitt’s ministry. When Mr. Pitt became prime minister, whatever the reason, they remained friends.

Especially after his conversion, Wilberforce took up the subject of slavery. By the late 1780s, he was working toward the abolition of the trade. Opposition was fierce. Many Englishmen were getting rich taking trade goods from England to Africa to purchase slaves. These men and women were transported to the West Indies under horrendous conditions. From the West Indies, the English ships brought back sugar and rum.

Hannah More, link to her poetry
Hannah More, poet and abolitionist

In 1802, Wilberforce engaged in other important issues of the day such as the Society for the Suppression of Vice, working with Hannah More and the Association for the Better Observance of Sunday, and also Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He also married and became the father of six children, to whom he was devoted. The abolition of slavery, however, was his life’s most important goal.

1833 Abolitionist Act photo and link to U.K. educational site.
1833 Abolitionist Act succeeds in Britain

In 1807, the slave trade ended in England greatly because of Wilberforce’s work. Slavery, however, continued for those already enslaved in British colonies. All through the Regency, Wilberforce fought for the complete freedom of those enslaved.

In the early 1820s, he retired from politics due to poor health. He did not stop fighting for the abolition of slavery. Three days before he died in 1833, Parliament passed the act to abolition slavery in British colonies.

When Did You Fall In Love With Reading?

Most authors have a love affair with reading. The written word, compelling story, and fictional characters are the constant companions that light the fire to create our own stories and characters on paper.

So this month we asked our authors when they knew they loved reading. Was it a particular book? A series? A person?

BookStack

Susan Karsten

I have loved reading since early childhood. One of the strengths of my family of origin was reading. So I was blessed in that way. One of main family activities was trips to the library where we’d all go our separate way. The James J. Hill Library in St. Paul, MN has a splendid children’s room – lots of marble, built-in puppet theatre. Visit it if you’re ever in that city. I can picture myself in one corner with small Beatrix Potter books at age 6 or so.

Naomi Rawlings

I’ve loved reading since I was a kid, but I did go through a spell when I stopped reading for fun. I was an English Education major in college, which gave me a lot of literary fiction to read and didn’t leave time for any fun reading. After college, I never really picked the reading habit from my younger years back up until I visited my grandma one summer. She had a Lori Wick novel sitting on her table. I picked it up, started reading, and was immediately sucked in. It was a giant Aha! moment for me. I suddenly remember how much I loved reading romance novels and other fun books. And I’ve been thoroughly addicted to romance novels ever since!

BookCornersLaurie Alice Eakes

I knew I loved reading as soon as I realized that those stories I  loved was the act of reading.

Kristy Cambron

Classic literature is a funny thing. I find that either you love it, or it’s an assigned chore in high school. And unfortunately, I’d always viewed it as the latter. But something clicked when I entered college and began doing research for Art History. I remember sitting on the edge of my armchair at home, trying to fit in any extra moments in the day to read just one more line of ‘Jane Eyre’. An as they say, I was gone… hook, line, and sinker. It’s not just the classics now – I always have a book in my hands. (Right now I am reading ‘The Heiress of Winterwood’, by Sarah E. Ladd.)

Kristi Ann Hunter

I don’t remember the name of the book but I remember that it was about a Native American boy and the cover was blue with a picture of the boy riding a galloping horse with a spear in his hand. What I remember about this book is that it was the first “real” book I checked out from my elementary school library. It had chapters and no pictures in it. When I finished it in less than a week and took it back, I realized I loved reading. From there I remember moving to the Boxcar Children series and the rest, as they say, is history.

What about you?

Are you a reader? When did you realize that you loved books?

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Tansy Pudding ~ Recipe for a Dangerous Tradition

Wednesday, I shared some history of traditional Easter and spring cooking. Today, I am sharing a couple of old recipes for tansy pudding, as well as links to contemporary recipes for tansy pudding.

Again, tansy is a purifying herb. Used sparingly, it can be healthful. But always do your research on the effects of an herb before using.

Tansy Pudding

Beat twelve eggs, keeping out four whites, a quart of cream, the crumbs of an halfpenny roll grated, a little orange flower or rose water, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, a spoonful of tansy juice, half a pint of spinage juice, half a pound of sugar.

Butter your dish, and bake it.

The Lady’s, housewife’s and cookmaid’s assistant  by E. Taylor, 1769

 

To make a Tansie the best way.

Take twenty eggs, and take away five whites, strain them with a quart of good thick sweet cream, and put to it grated nutmeg, a race of ginger grated, as much cinamon beaten fine, and a penny white loaf grated also, mix them all together with a little salt, then stamp some green wheat with some tansie herbs, strain it into the cream and eggs, and stir all together; then take a clean frying-pan, and a quarter of a pound of butter, melt it, and put in the tansie, and stir it continually over the fire with a slice, ladle, or saucer, chop it, and break it as it thickens, and being well incorporated put it out of the pan into a dish, and chop it very fine; then make the frying pan very clean, and put in some more butter, melt it, and fry it whole or in spoonfuls; being finely fried on both sides, dish it up, and sprinkle it with rose-vinegar, grape-verjuyce, elder-vinegar, couslip-vinegar, or the juyce of three or four oranges, and strew on good store of fine sugar.

The Accomplished Cook by Robert May 1660

 

Tansy Pudding.

Beat sixteen eggs very well in a wooden bowl, leaving out six whites, with a little orange-flower water and brandy; then add to them by degrees half a pound of fine sifted sugar; grate in a nutmeg, and a quarter of a pound of Naples biscuit; add a pint of the juice of spinach, and four spoonfuls of the juice of tansy; then put to it a pint of cream. Stir it all well together, and put it in a skillet, with a piece of butter melted; keep it stirring till it becomes pretty thick; then put it in a dish, and bake it half an hour. When it comes out of the oven, stick it with blanched almonds cut very thin, and mix in some citron cut in the same manner. Serve it with sack and sugar, and squeeze a Seville orange over it. Turn it out in the dish in which you serve it bottom upwards.

Original Receipt from ‘The Lady’s Own Cookery Book, And New Dinner-Table Directory’ of 1844 

*The full text of the two recipes reproduced here are available for free on Google Books, as they are in the public domain.

 

Here are some links to contemporary tansy puddings. As you will notice, contemporary cooks add other flavorings and even sugar to counter the bitterness of the herb.

http://www.allfoodsnatural.com/recipe/tansy-pudding.html

http://www.elephantrestaurant.co.uk/tansy-pudding