Saturday 5 December 2009

Mary had a little lamb . . .

Mary had a little lamb,
It's fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

I am sure this is a rhyme that you all know quite well, I don't think there is a person alive in the Western World that doesn't!

But . . . do you know where it came from? Have you ever wondered who Mary really was??? I found this little story in a book of mine and thought I would share it with you this morning.

Mary's father was a shepherd in the Welsh Hills. He often came home after a stormy night with weak or sick lambs that needed to be looked after. His daughter, Mary, would take them in and look after them until they were well, and able to look after themselves.

Two of these little lambs became her special pets, which she named Billy and Nell. Soon they were following her everywhere . . . they would be watching her from the farm gate every morning as she left for school, and be waiting for her, in the same place, when she returned home at the end of the day. One day, Billy escaped, and, much to the dismay of the teacher at the school, he turned up at their little classroom.

This story became well known throughout Llangollen (my favourite place on earth), and a few years later, a visitor from London heard all about it from Mary, herself. That visitor was Jane Buell, who happened to write children's stories and rhymes. Before too long, she had turned Billy's escapades into the five short verses we know now, as Mary had a Little Lamb.

Today it is one of the best known nursery rhymes in the world. When Mary was an old lady of 87, she confessed that to hear her story on the lips of so many children, as loved as it was by them . . . was one of the great joys of her life.

I have been in those hills, which are just loaded with sheep, and I have been to that school room. Llangollen is a delightful little town, nestled in the Welsh Hills with the beautiful river Dee coursing through it's centre. When we lived in Chester, Todd and I often took ourselves off on a Saturday afternoon for a drive to Llangollen where we would walk about the town and dream of one day living there. Every year they hold a world famous music festival there, the famous International Music Eisteddfod where singers and dancers congregate from every corner of the world. It's a very quaint and picturesque village and I just love it. You pronounce it as Clang Gock Lyn, but then . . . that's the Welsh language for you, just as lovely and mysterious as the Welsh themselves.

Here's a tasty quick supper that will come in handy on these upcoming busy days leading up to Christmas! If you are like me, you probably have your hands quite full , what with one thing or another and it's really handy to have a recipe or two that you can whip up in a flash to help feed your hungry family! Most tuna melts are filled with mayonnaise. This one isn't and that's part of it's appeal. Chock full of artichokes and cheese, it's a real winner!

*Tuna and Artichoke Melt*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Yummy and so very easy to do. These go together in a snap and are quite delicious. This is knife and fork food!

1 (14 ounce) tin of artichokes, well drained
1/2 cup finely chopped spring onion
the juice of one small lemon
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/3 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/3 tsp garlic granules
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 (6 ounce) tins of albacore tuna, drained and flaked
4 English Muffins, split and lightly toasted
8 slices of cheddar cheese

Pre-heat the grill.

Empty the tuna into a bowl and flake. Add the artichokes and mash well together, leaving a few lumps of artichoke. Stir in the spring onion and mix all well together. Add the lemon and the seasonings, mixing all in well and finally fold in the Parmesan Cheese. Divide the mixture evenly amongst the muffin halves and place on a baking tray. Top each with a slice of cheddar cheese and pop under the grill, 5 inches from the heat. Grill until the cheese melts and they are lightly browned on top. Delicious!!

It may not be much to look at, but wait til you taste it! It's Chicken Curry in a Hurry, showing today over on The English Kitchen.


  1. Hey Marie it is a very happy Saturday. I wish you a wonderful day. I had never heard that story before and it is a wonderful one. I have seen the town before as Eisteddfods have been important to my girls music education.

  2. I love that sweet story--love learning the origins of things...

    I've been to Llangollen! I was so enchanted with it--was only there for a few hours, but it really left a notch in my heart for it---would love to go back again and spend MUCH more time! Loved Chester, too!

    Okay--that tuna melt MAY be the thing to get my daughters to eat tuna--that sounds so scrumptious! I will be trying that very soon--sounds like a good, quick Sunday dinner...

    Lots of love to you, my friend! Have a lovely day!

  3. What great story; love to find origins of something I enjoy; lovely pictures of course.

  4. Hi Marie
    How sweet to hear the story of that rhyme! We've been to Llangollen,and driven all over Wales. It is so beautiful and I loved all the sheep everywhere.
    Hope you have a great weekend.
    Hugs, Rhondi

  5. I love that tuna artichoke melt!

    Check out my blog!

  6. I had heard the story before, but didn't mind at all hearing it once again. The quick supper of tuna and artichoke does look good. Hope your Saturday is a great one.

  7. Oh Marie I love the pictures about Mary and her lamb.

    But I love that the writer loved to hear it on children's lips.

    Love you Marie.


  8. I really enjoyed reading this Marie. I had no idea of the Welsh origin of the nursery rhyme and long to go to Wales someday. My mother was pure Welsh! I actually know very little about Wales...I need to get thinking in that direction soon!

  9. Sweet little story and nummy recipies...what more could I want! I have made this but put it on buns, will try it with the muffins! Have a good day Come say hi :D

  10. Marie:

    Thank you so much for sharing this with your readers. I sort of knew a bit about the story, but I didn't know it happened in Wales. I'm going to google it and find out what time period it took place.

    Did you know that I've dreamed of going to Wales since I was a young girl? When I was in high school, I bought an English to Welsh dictionary and taught myself to read a bit of Welsh. Of course, their language is curious and very hard to speak if you're a young American girl who hasn't the opportunity to hear it spoken. I still dream of visiting Wales.

    Gerushia's New World

  11. I enjoyed that story very much its always nice to know the origins of such tales. The picture was breathtaking as well thanks for telling the story.

  12. Those look so good all covered with melted cheese! I like the use of the artichokes in there.


Your comments mean the world to me, and while I may not be able to address each one individually, each one is important to me and each one counts. Thanks so much!