Sunday 28 June 2020

Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Catherine Kullmann ☼

☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼ 

Pull up a deck chair, tie knots in your hanky and roll up your trouser legs!

☼ Summer time is here ☼ 

 I'm delighted to welcome author, Catherine Kullmann to our picnic ☼

What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?

It depends on whether we want finger food or if we can have forks as well. If the former, crusty rolls opened, spread with mayonnaise and filled with home-cooked ham, lettuce, tomato and cucumber. If the latter, a salad of new potatoes served with poached salmon and a samphire, asparagus and green bean salad. And, if we really want to treat ourselves, French-style strawberry tartlets, with the fresh fruit on a bed of confectioner’s custard. 

Would you like chilled white wine, a flute of Prosecco, a tumbler of Pimms, or a tall glass of sparkling elderflower cordial?

My favourite would be a chilled rosé for flavour and chilled sparkling water to quench the thirst. And a flask of coffee for later on.

Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside, at the seaside?

In the countryside

Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?

We have a rug to spread on the ground, folding chairs for anyone who might find it difficult to get up from the ground, and a cooler or coolers to keep everything fresh, chilled and intact. Plates, cutlery, glasses and napkins are in a carrier bag.

Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic?

My absolute favourite is Glenmalure in Co. Wicklow. Coming from Dublin, it is one glen over from the more famous Glendalough but is really quiet. It is a twenty kilometre long u-shaped glacial valley. You can hike in or drive as far as the little stream that comes purling down from the hills. There is a ford, but it is best to leave the car in the car-park, cross the river and walk up the track edged with wild flowers, enjoying the rippling of the stream and the birdsong. The river bank is quite flat and there are several places that are ideal for a picnic. Here, ‘peace comes dropping slow’, as Yeats said. There is something magical about it. Anytime I have been there, I have always stayed longer than I meant to. 

Which of your literary heroes are joining us on the picnic today?

It would have to be people who would enjoy the simplicity. The March sisters from Little Women, perhaps or Jamie and Clare from Outlander. I could also see Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliott from Persuasion enjoying it, but not Darcy and Elizabeth. 

Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

Barbara Spencer’s new book, An Ocean of White Wings. Her magical realism will really suit Glenmalure.


What is your earliest summer memory?

The long evenings when we could play outside until bedtime. There were very few cars then and we played on the road—skipping, chasing, pussy-four-corners, statues—there were so many games. Or we’d sit in the grass and make daisy chains.

Do you have a favourite summer hideaway?

If I could wave a magic wand and be transported to anywhere in the world, it would be to the harbour of Chania in Crete to have an evening ouzo while watching the sunset.

Do you have a summer music playlist for reading / writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel summery?

I don’t listen to music while I’m writing. I find it too distracting. My favourite summer song is Silent Noon, a setting of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poem by Ralph Vaughan Williams. It is a beautiful love poem and really captures that hushed stillness of a summers day. You can listen to it here:

Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer?

Not really. I read pretty much the same, all year round. What I read depends more on what new books are being released at any given time.

Do you find it easier to write in the summer months or during the winter?

It is far more tempting to skive off for a day or more in the summer. Frequently, though, I can combine this with a research trip. You find Georgian houses, large and small, everywhere in Ireland, and fascinating small museums all over the country. Many of the country houses are now small hotels or guest houses and I love staying in them. 

Would you like to tell us a little about your latest novel, or your current work in progress?

Willow Books

My latest novel, The Potential for Love, is set in 1816. When Arabella Malvin sees the figure of an officer silhouetted against the sun, for one interminable moment she thinks he is her brother, against all odds home from Waterloo. But it is Major Thomas Ferraunt, the rector’s son, newly returned from occupied Paris who stands in front of her. For over six years, Thomas’s thoughts have been of war. Now he must ask himself what his place is in this new world and what he wants from it. More and more, his thoughts turn to Miss Malvin, but would Lord Malvin agree to such a mismatch for his daughter, especially when she is being courted by Lord Henry Danlow?

As Arabella embarks on her fourth Season, she finds herself more in demand than ever before. But she is tired of the life of a debutante, waiting in the wings for her real life to begin. She is ready to marry. But which of her suitors has the potential for love and who will agree to the type of marriage she wants? As she struggles to make her choice, she is faced with danger from an unexpected quarter while Thomas is stunned by a new challenge. Will these events bring them together or drive them apart?

Catherine, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @CKullmannAuthor

More about Catherine Kullmann

Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector. Widowed, she has three adult sons and two grandchildren.

Catherine has always been interested in the extended Regency period, a time when the foundations of our modern world were laid. She loves writing and is particularly interested in what happens after the first happy end—how life goes on for the protagonists and sometimes catches up with them. Her books are set against a background of the offstage, Napoleonic wars and consider in particular the situation of women trapped in a patriarchal society. She is the author of The Murmur of Masks, Perception & Illusion, A Suggestion of Scandal and The Duke’s Regret. Her latest book is The Potential for Love.

☼Thank you for coming to our picnic☼Follow on Twitter



  1. Thank you so much for having me. My only regret, especially after months of lockdown, is that it isn't real.

    1. My pleasure. Thank you for sharing your picnic with Jaffareadstoo. It's been great fun x


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