Creating Our Reading Rooms

The first time I was was introduced to a “Reading Room” was on our visit to Orkney.

Betty’s Reading Room is located by the small ferry terminal in Tingwall, a tiny settlement on the north-east coast of Orkney’s West Mainland, which looks across the Gairsay Sound to the islands of Gairsay, Wyre and Rousay.

Craig Mollison and Jane Spiers chose to breathe life into a derelict bothy, as a tribute to their beloved friend, Betty Prictor who passed away unexpectedly in 2007.

April 2012, Betty’s Reading Room was opened to travelers waiting to catch the Ferry.

Reading Rooms are personal, a place to find ourselves with a book in hand. Most reading rooms resemble a library, a quiet space for seeking solitude and concentration. Perhaps Reading Rooms are created wherever we meet up with a story.

Today, I want to share my Reading Room in nature where I will meet up with Robin Hood and his seven score of merry men.

You who so plod amid serious things that you feel it shame to give yourself up even for a few short moments to mirth and joyousness in the land of Fancy; you who think that life hath nought to do with innocent laughter that can harm no one; these pages are not for you.” Howard Pyle, From the Author to the Reader, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

51 Thoughts

    1. You have made an excellent point about wolves being placed in the negative role, Robbie. We have all those fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood, that have underscored humanity’s fear of wolves. I understand that wolves would rather run away from humans. They are remarkably intelligent are family oriented. When I lived in Northern Manitoba, we would go skating on lakes at night. I loved to hear the sound of the wolves howling at in the forest (we called it the bush). I would howl and they would howl back. I didn’t think anything about it at the time. Now, that I look back, I realize how special those moments were.

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  1. Now Rebecca, you behave with these Merry Men xxxxx Seriously these rooms are wonderful places and i loved the story of the bothy becoming that. Such a wonderful tribute and way to remember someone. We have a nice spot in our loggia with a chair and cushions. Ideal for a summer day when the curtains flap in the breeze and the bees drouse.

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    1. Oh, Shehanne, I am envisioning being in your reading room, listening to the sound of bees and feeling the gentle breeze coming through the window. A perfect reading room! I read Howard Pyle’s book many years ago and had forgotten that Maid Marion was not included in this book. She came later – I must follow this line of research. Sending many hugs and congratulations on your new addition to the family. Exciting news!!!

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      1. xxxx. it is nice news re wee Nax. They have waited along time for this. xxxxxxx Oh even better our reading room is has no walls, just the roof, It was an old log store when we came here but not now!!! xxxx

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  2. How wonderful! I can even smell the old papers from here. It is a great book, without doubt, and I could run to your reading room at once as I see the blue sky and the shining sun. Here is in my small town in Germany, storm and rain at the time. Anyway, thank you, dear Rebecca, for your recommendation with your beautiful warm voice. Stay safe and tune.

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    1. Thank you so much for your heartwarming comments and for joining me in my imaginary “Sherwood Forest” far away from merry old England. I am enjoying looking back into public domain literature and seeing how we have progressed in storytelling over the centuries. It seems that there are recurring themes that keep on coming up in different ways. Sending sunshine your way!

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      1. Thank You so much, dearest Rebecca 💖 I agree absolutely that these stories fulfil not only our past but also our presence and remain forever in the future ❤🙏🥰 Blessings

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    1. Come on over, Meg. One day, there will be an app that will beam us to wherever we want to go. Whoever invents this app will go down as a “great” in technology history…. Thank you for joining me and Robin Hood!

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Rebecca, it was a pleasure to see you speak about Robin Hood and recite from that prologue, all in a lighthearted way. Perhaps the Sheriff of Nottingham you felt a bit sorry for could’ve used a good public-relations person. 🙂 But the tree you were in front of needs no PR; it’s magnificent.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Dave – I laughed out loud at your PR person thought. Even King John (in later versions) would have benefited, given that his brother King Richard was an absent ruler preferring to head off to war over taking care of his subjects. Interesting how “marketing” of the past continues to bias in today’s world.

      Ever since our discussion on “themes”, I have been looking back into the realm of public domain to see how stories changes over the decades/centuries. I had forgotten the Maid Marion was not in Howard Pyle’s version of Robin Hood. That came later. And I don’t think that I pronounced “Pyle” correctly. Do you remember the 1976 movie “Robin & Marion” with Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn. The story continues to change, with every passing generation. https://youtu.be/-GTXXfZR8IE

      Liked by 5 people

    1. I am delighted that you joined me, Robin Hood and his merry men in Vancouver’s version of Sherwood Forest. What was interesting is that when I started to read, a couple of passersby stopped to listen. Isn’t it interesting that everyone loves to hear a story read out loud. Sending hugs along with my thanks for your heartening comments.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. I am absolutely enthusiastic, dear Rebecca, about your reading room and Robin Hood’s adventures 🙂 As I have been thinking quite a lot recently about the difference between “to have” and “to be”, it seems to me that Robin’s attitude was really of the second one I mentioned! Many thanks and have a good week!

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    1. Thank you, Martina for joining me in my reading room. Your enthusiasm is very much appreciated. You would be interested in knowing that I found another public domain book: Maid Marian by Thomas Love Peacock on Gutenberg Press. In Howard Pyle’s version of Robin Hood, Maid Marion doesn’t appear. Several years ago, I attended Italian language classes and came upon the same thought of what is the difference between to be and to have. Essere/Avere. Io sono is completely different from Io ho. It took learning another language to understand my own. I must get back to Italian classes.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Good morning Rebecca, and good to hear about Maid Marian, that is the book I have bought and hoped to read with you:):)
        Excuse me for “To have and to Be” by the famous German-American psychoanalist, where he speaks about those people, who are more concentrated on power, money, inluence or HAVE and those, who belong more into the category of “BE” that means where the core of sb.’s being is more important. I thought Robin Hood belonged more to the second category! Please, dear friend, go on enjoying your Russion lessons and don’t worry about Italian:)

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Thank you for bringing this intriguing and interesting story back to life. I read this many years ago and now, because of your new introduction, I have purposed to read it again. Robin Hood and his Merry Men have very interesting adventures and encourage us to look beyond our sometimes drab lives to search for our new adventures. I like your reading room for today, a nice comfortable place in the middle of tree trunks. My reading room today will be on my balcony enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Happy reading to us both! !

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    1. I am delighted that you will be reading The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood with me in the coming weeks. It is a great story and keeps on transforming with every telling. There is a simplicity of living within themes of belonging and working for a greater purpose. It is a beautiful day of sunshine – perfect for sitting out in your balcony reading room that looks out towards the tall every green trees. Sending hugs and love your way, Frances.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Robin Hood was one of my heroes when I was growing up only a few miles from Sherwood Forest. I remember my sister and I playing around and inside the trunk of the Major Oak. Of course we believed that this was where he and his merry men used to hide from the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. There was also a tree called Robin Hood’s Larder where they were said to have kept their provisions. Thanks for bringing back wonderful childhood memories. The story of how this reading room came into being is very touching and heartwarming.

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    1. What wonderful childhood memories, Sylvia. I smile imagining you and your sister playing around and inside of the Major Oak trunk. I’m certain that you were right – that this was the tree where Robin and his merry men would hide. What fun that must have been for you. Betty’s Reading Room was a profound experience for me. I felt her presence in the handmade quilts, the writing paper and pens, the sunshine that flowed through the windows and the bookshelves ladened with books, the poetry and musical instruments. Sending hugs and love along with my gratitude for joining me in Vancouver’s Sherwood Forest.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Sending many hugs back to you, Rebecca. I can well imagine the lovely vibe Betty’s reading room must have. Thanks for sharing it here. What a privilege that you have been able to experience it for yourself. xxx

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Your reading room is delightful, as was your reading and commentary. I remember my dad having to explain to my brother and me that this whole business of robbing from the rich to give to the poor was complicated, morality-wise.

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  8. Rebecca, when I saw the title I imagined the Reading Rooms of university libraries, imposing often stuffy places which although inspirational on some level for academic studies was anything but cosy for reading! Betty’s Reading Room sounds lovely and what a kind thought … as for your outdoor choice of the tree, I’m right there with you! 😀 My favourite place is the swing seat in my garden during warm summer days … often I’ll promise myself just ten more minutes, those precious moments stretching to an hour or so if time allows! Such is the joy of life and giving oneself permission to enjoy it! Xx❤️

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    1. Dear Annika, I’m happy that you have joined in my my Reading Room. I recognize the swing seat in your garden from your recent post with a video of the breeze gently pushing the swing into action, with the glorious sound of birds singing in the background. A perfect setting to spend delightful hours of reading in the sunshine. I especially appreciated your last thought – “giving oneself permission to enjoy it!” How well said.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, my dear friend, When I read out loud, the story becomes real to me. Sitting in the tree, speaking the words, I felt that Robin Hood and his merry men were just around the corner of the next tree.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Such a delightful video, Rebecca! The ambiance and music selection were excellent, and your laughter contagious. We do love the smell of old books, don’t we? My spring, summer and autumn reading room is lovely as yours, trees everywhere, at each and every park bench and picnic table!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The summer beckons us to take advantage of those park benches and picnic tables, just as winter beguiled us with long evenings with a book and tea. Books belong to every season, it seems. One of my favourite “outside reading” paintings is entitled “Reading” by Berthe Morisot, which is located at the Cleveland Art Museum, which has made all of their art “open access.” https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1950.89

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh that’s a wonderful painting. One of my favorite photos is of my first child sitting on a blanket and reading her Winnie the Pooh books beside a lake in the deep woods of northern Wisconsin while camping.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. You are very kind, Julie. I think it was the ambiance of the forest that added dynamics to the reading. And sitting within the arms of an old tree brings out a reverence and dignity. Send hugs and more hugs your way.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Rebecca,
    I always enjoy listening to you recite, read or just speak.
    This was a fun piece. I was always bemused by Friar Tuck.
    Your reading room rocks!
    I used to cross the footbridge to the beach to read, but with the pandemic there are hoards of people down there, not all behaving.
    People were off to a ball game, a concert, a restaurant or a club. Now, it’s this little strip of beach.
    Well, now I’m drawing a lot, in my drawing room!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I loved Friar Tuck’s robes because he could alway hide the gold. He knew how to live life and always chose the side of justice. Reading Rooms have come back into mainstream. I was reading about the history of how they came about in Victorian times, as an alternative to the public house. I am looking forward to the summer months of reading outdoors, with a glass of iced tea with lemons. Check out these reading rooms.https://www.readitforward.com/gallery/beautiful-libraries-world/

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, Inese! These days, I’m learning that virtual travel through photographs, books, and on-line art galleries and museums have been a wonderful retreat (and no jet lag). Vancouver and Victoria are very close – just a ferry ride between us. Even so, we have kept close to home. Sending hugs your way.

      Liked by 1 person

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