Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool’

10 people with Liverpool connections

Of course there are many more than 10 but this is just a selection. I hope you’ll find them interesting.

I suppose for many, some or all of the following would be in their list: The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers (most of you will probably know his 3rd no.1 hit from 1965 – You’ll never walk alone – which has become the LFC fans’ anthem ), Liverpool Football Club, Everton Football Club (& Everton Mints), the start of the first passenger railway in the world (following the victory of Stephenson’s Rocket at the Rainhill Trials of 1829), the Liver Birds (and the Liver Building) & the Mersey Ferries (Ferry Cross the Mersey – the 8th hit by Gerry & the Pacemakers) to name but a few.

In this post I’m going to look at some of the less well known connections people, some more famous than others, have with Liverpool.

BRUNEL – You’ve probably all heard of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-59) and his great feats of engineering (e.g. the Great Eastern ship); you maybe not so familiar with his father Marc Brunel (1760-1849). In 1823 they submitted plans to the council in Liverpool for the first swing bridge (in the docks) and also a floating pier so people could get on and off boats. Neither was used. Interestingly they also suggested a tunnel under the River Mersey & a ship canal to Manchester; people at the time just scoffed at such suggestions. Liverpool of course now has three tunnels under the river: the first, a railway tunnel opened in 1886, the second, a road tunnel, opened in 1934 and the third, also a road tunnel, opened in 1971. The ship canal was opened in 1894.

AUGUSTUS JOHN (1878-1961)

He was a famous painter who was born in South Wales; by the early 20th century he was living, lecturing & painting in Liverpool. He painted many famous people of his time: T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), Thomas Hardy, Jacob Epstein, W.B. Yates, Tallulah Bankhead, George Bernard Shaw & Dylan Thomas amongst others.

LLM has mentioned, on occasion, some of the more unusual Christian names that appear in CHAT so I thought I’d include Augustus John’s children some of whom also qualify. Also check out their dates of birth and maternal origins:

By his first wife Ida Nettleship: David Anthony (1902), Casper (1903), Robin (1904), Edwin (1905), Henry (1907). Ida died later in 1907.

By his mistress Dorelia (Dorothy) McNeill: Pyramus (1905), Romilly (1906), Poppet (1912) & Vivien (1915). Poppet & Vivien were apparently never sent to school.

By Evelyn Ste Croix Fleming (widowed mother of James Bond creator, Ian Fleming): Amaryllis (1925).

Btw it is suggested that Augustus was responsible for bringing the name Romilly into the English Christian name scene. Remember the founders of Rome – the twin brothers Romulus & Remus? By anglicising the name Romulus it makes Romilly. (Bet you never knew that eh!). As a surname Romilly has been around for a while. I’ve just finished reading a book about the cotton industry in Lancashire in Victorian times. After writing this bit of the blog I came to the very page where I read that the main family in the book had a portrait of a Samuel Romilly (1757-1818) an English legal reformer hung on their wall. (Definitely cue the spooky X-Files music!)

Caspar John eventually became First Sea Lord of the Admiralty (1960-63); Poppet married a Dutch painter whose daughter Talitha married John Paul Getty.

And finally, I know what you’re thinking: if you call one child Pyramus why isn’t there a ‘Thisbe’? Yeh me too!

MATTHEW ARNOLD (1822-88)

Poet, essayist, critic & son of Thomas Arnold first headmaster of Rugby School. In 1851 he became an inspector of schools. In the 35-verse Stanzas from the Grand Chartreuse he wrote these lines in verse 15:

Wandering between two worlds, one dead,
The other powerless to be born,
With nowhere yet to rest my head,
Like these, on earth I wait forlorn.
Their faith, my tears, the world deride–
I come to shed them at their side. 

In 1886, he retired from school inspection and made another trip to America.

He died suddenly in Liverpool (in 1888) of heart failure: he was running to catch a tram to go to the Landing Stage to see his daughter who was arriving (by ship) from America. (Make a mental note folks: don’t go running for buses or trains!)

THOMAS CARLYLE (1795-1881)

Carlyle was a Scottish philosopher, writer, satirist, historian & teacher. He used to visit his wife’s uncle who lived in Maryland Street (in the Edge Hill area of Liverpool). His wife Jane Welsh Carlyle, when on a visit to a social evening at someone’s house in Liverpool, mentions meeting a man called Yates. She writes, somewhat condescendingly, to Thomas that “he owns Prince’s Park and throws it open to the poors”. Clearly she felt “poor” people shouldn’t have (or deserve?) access to a park.

Here are just a few quotes from his writings:

A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.

It is a vain hope to make people happy by politics.

I don’t pretend to understand the Universe – it’s a great deal bigger than I am.

No pressure, no diamonds.

I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807)

Probably most famous for writing the words of the hymn Amazing Grace how sweet the sound . One night (March 21st 1748) during a very severe storm, off the coast of Donegal, all on board the vessel Greyhound thought it would sink and they would die. John had become so tired that he could no longer work the pumps which were clearing the water from the ship. He was taken to helm and tied to the steering wheel while others continued pumping. He was there for 11 hours. Eventually the ship made it through and once ashore he committed his life to God and became a Christian. Although he continued as a slave trader he gave it up later and became the tide surveyor in Liverpool in 1755. However he felt called to the ministry and left Liverpool to be ordained and began preaching the Gospel.

SILAS K. HOCKING (1850-1935)

He was a novelist and Methodist preacher who was born in Cornwall, the son of a mine owner. He spent 3 years ministering in Liverpool’s Docklands area. The K of his middle name stands for Kitto: through his mother he was related John Kitto the biblical scholar & another Kitto who was a professor of Greek. In 1879 he wrote the book he is most famous for: Her Benny – a story about Liverpool’s poor children and a best seller of its day. If you’ve never read it do give it a go. He also wrote another one called Cricket, subtitled A Tale Of Humble Life, about the life of a young girl & her family who move to Liverpool so her father could earn better wages, which I also enjoyed; chapter 20 of Cricket begins with these lines by an anonymous writer:

“Holy strivings nerve and strengthen,

Long endurance wins the crown,

When evening shadows lengthen,

Thou shalt lay thy burden down.”

 

JOHN MASEFIELD (1878-1967)

 

He was Poet Laureate from 1930-1967 and in his inaugural year wrote the poem Masque of Liverpool. In it are these lines:

 

“I am the English sea-queen; I am she

Who made the English wealthy by the sea.

The street of this my city is the tide

Where the world’s ships, that bring my glory, ride”

 

His ‘Poet Laureate-ship’ continued for the next 37 years until his death. He came to Liverpool at 13 years of age to be educated on the HMS Conway, a ship which was moored in the River Mersey to train young men for a life at sea. It was here he gained his love of literature and believed he was meant to be a writer and story teller himself. He began his life at sea in 1894 but by 1895 he had absconded when a ship he was on docked in New York. His interest in poetry seems to have been started by reading a 40-verse poem by Duncan Scott Campbell called The Piper of Arll. (My own interest in poetry was stirred many moons ago by reading, as a teenager, George Herbert’s poem The Collar which begins: I struck the board and cried, “No more I will abroad….”) By the 1920s Masefield was an established and respected writer. He settled with his family near Oxford and (LLM take note) took up bee-keeping, goat herding & keeping poultry. (Btw other famous beekeepers include Aristotle, Edmund Hillary – first to climb Everest & actor Henry Fonda – father of Jane.)

His poem Sea Fever was quoted in the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) although it’s a shame the words are not exactly the same as the original; if you’re going to use a quote get it right I say! Captain James T. Kirk gets it right in a Star Trek episode: he quotes line 2 of verse 1: “All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by”. Here’s the very brief clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eXB1Yj05Fw

 

Patrick Clifford has set the words to music. You can have a watch/listen at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVjt4G5zUs4

 

Interestingly, in a 2005 online poll, Sea Fever finished ahead of a number of other well-known poems about the sea including even Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

 

NICHOLAS MONSARRAT (1910-79)

His father Keith, originally from Kendal in the Lake District, was a surgeon in Rodney Street in Liverpool where Nicholas was born. (The 1911 Census shows Nicholas had 2 older sisters and that the house had 5 servants.) He is most well known for his book The Cruel Sea published in 1951. The book related his experiences as a wartime naval officer serving on the escort ships for the convoys across the Atlantic. In 1964 he came to an exhibition in Liverpool organised in his honour.

As a child he had summer holidays at Treaddur Bay (NW Angelsey) – I once cycled there and had a week-end break; when he started writing full time he lived first on Guernsey where I once cycled round the whole island; and then he move to Gozo (Malta) which I have visited so you can see I’m connected to Nicholas Monsarrat in many ways!

 

CHARLES DICKENS (1812-70)

Visited Liverpool a few times: once to begin a tour of North Wales, then about 4 years later to depart for America and then in succeeding years for more ‘readings’. At one of his readings in a city centre building over 3,000 people were turned away. He returned a number of times often bringing a troop of actors who performed for charity. His book, The Uncommercial Traveller, uses Liverpool’s Docklands and its residents as a backdrop. Because the docks were such a dangerous area he enrolled as a special constable so he could study the area. In 1844 he attended the opening of Blackburne House School (my Mum’s alma mater) proving he had more than just a passing interest in the city. Also, of course, proving that I’m connected to Charles Dickens in more than one way! He was something of a celebrity and would be recognised as he walked along Liverpool’s city streets.

 

EDWARD LEAR (1812-88)

 

He was an initially an artist, then illustrator, author & poet. There can’t be many who have not heard of his most famous poem – The Owl and the Pussycat: remember how they went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat and how they took with them some money and plenty of honey wrapped up in a five pound note. (Btw folks I wouldn’t recommend wrapping your honey in a five pound note – it’s going to drip out!)

And who can forget The Jumblies which begins like this. (Obviously suspension of reality required):

 

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,

In a Sieve they went to sea:

In spite of all their friends could say,

On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,

In a Sieve they went to sea!

And when the Sieve turned round and round,

And every one cried, “You’ll all be drowned!”

They called aloud, “Our Sieve ain’t big,

But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig!

In a Sieve we’ll go to sea!”

Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live;

Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,

And they went to sea in a Sieve. –

 

His illustrating work included some for Tennyson’s poems. He worked at Knowsley Hall near Liverpool for the Earl of Derby from 1832-36.

 

I couldn’t finish without quoting the physician to the Liverpool Infirmary, Dr Dobson (1772). His work on diabetes was influential in bringing it under control.

(His statement was made just over 100 years after Sir Edward Moore had described the men of Liverpool as: “….the most perfidious in all England, worse than my pen can describe”).

Dobson said this:

 

“The degrees of the soil, the purity of the waters, the mildness of the air, the antiseptic effluvia of pitch and tar, the acid exhalations from the sea, the pregnant brisk gales of wind and the daily visitations of the tides render Liverpool one of the healthiest places in the Kingdom.”

 

Of course it is!

Palm House (Part 2)

Good morning all. It’s Wednesday and time for my regular guest blogger, Rambler5319, to follow up last week’s popular post about Liverpool’s Palm House….

 

Now hopefully you remember last week I’d intended to do the flower beds and then this week the inside of the Palm House but there just wasn’t space to fit everything in. So I’m starting with the outside again and here’s a view of the path I walked along to get to the Palm House. There is a wide tarmac roadway but I fancied the woodland walk:

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And looking back toward the bridge

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Some of the greenery and flower beds around the outside.

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These garden areas and flower beds were immaculate. You can tell a lot of time is spent on the upkeep of this whole area.

Ok here’s the entrance.

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So let’s go inside

How about these for big leaves on a plant?

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Some big plants in square wooden pots.

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This pic shows the spiral staircase leading up the roof area where there is a metal walkway running round the base of the dome on the top. (Visitors are not allowed up but there’s probably a great view from up there!)

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Next is a statue called Mother & Child in the guide leaflet

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It looks very similar to a statue (from 1857) by Benjamin Spence called The Angel’s Whisper. If you look at this pic on Flickr the only difference appears to be the wings which aren’t there (folded down?) on the Palm House one.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/37303706@N08/3608478457/in/photolist-6uSoVP-5skebV-8MKxJs-6UkzcY-4HEWhJ-FxB9B-6a7Ngo-tEmt1-6UgxdB-8jqyfx-fn3nM-ct3ZWS-6RvkfB-29bKn1-65biXj-5DF6Jx-dTqUvR-doemN9-7GpFe2-3iFpJw-7V9CG4-89scv3-ab6ke2-8MDRMK-aUgvdZ-4qGxac-924ZWG-2JW3PZ-Htnpg-KvczK-boELsG-g5HK3-dCUy9v-8rAByJ-agfvj2-dAZzdV-856jEq-7PRqBQ-a8RfAX-azQZh5-5oy1KQ-bt5WA9-5eHhXB-9Rzwyv-aWesbn-dBGHWk-caFiNA-5FYKcg-9p7XXL-4oiiWm-CMrgW

Now here’s an interesting thing –look at the statue in the pic below. Gender? Don’t know about you but I guessed female.

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Now look at this:

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The inscription on the front of the plinth/base (written by Robert Burns) reads as follows:

“The golden Hours on angel wings

Flew o’er me and my dearie

For clear to me as light and life

Was my sweet Highland Mary.”

 

Highland Mary (Mary Campbell) was betrothed to Robert Burns. While waiting for him to emigrate to Jamaica she caught typhus and died.

 

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Next look at this inscription on the side of the same base. It reads: “Robert Burns, born at Alloway 1759, died at Dumfries 1796.” Those facts may be true but that’s definitely not Robert Burns standing on the plinth. Clearly it’s Highland Mary. Therefore you know what I think – I think there’s a statue of Robert Burns somewhere with the name Highland Mary underneath it! Someone’s got them mixed up – oops!

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As I’m not that good with plants and stuff I thought I’d use the “audio post” to help me out. It’s a thing that looks like a telephone and has push buttons for the different subjects. The six buttons are:

1. Welcome 2. Our Plants 3. People’s Palm House 4. The Story of the Palm House 5. Mini Plant Trail 6. Descriptive Commentary. What to press first? Naturally I went for no.1 Welcome – result, nothing, silence. I then pressed each of the other 5 buttons with the same result – silence. Hmmm. Just as I was wondering why no sound was coming down the line I saw this:

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How about that? The thing was out of order. However it didn’t just not work, it also thanked me for my patience whilst they were waiting for it to be repaired. Well that’s good – how did they know I was being patient? I was annoyed. Instead of telling visitors to “note … that it was out of order” why didn’t they just put an apology there. Something along the lines of “We’re sorry this audio post is not working and we hope to get it repaired as soon as possible”. Their sign is just a way of NOT saying sorry. Not impressed with that bit.

However I have to say that over all I was really impressed with the Palm House. To think this structure is in a public park in Liverpool is fantastic. Definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in Liverpool. 

Palm House (Part 1)

It’s Wednesday and time for my guest blogger, Rambler5319, to take over again. Enjoy!

 

Not just any palm house – the one in Sefton Park in Liverpool.

The park’s history goes back to 1867 when the council bought the land from a local earl. They paid £250,000 which in today’s money would be of the order of £40 million (some calculators go much higher than even this!) Imagine any council even thinking of spending that amount of money on a park today. Actually it wasn’t much different then as there were protests about it being a waste of money. Time, though, has certainly proved its benefit to the people of the city and further afield.

A big competition (international) was held and the winner was a French landscape artist named Édouard André and Liverpool architect Lewis Hornblower. (Hornblower had designed the Grand Entrance to Birkenhead Park – designed by Joseph Paxton – the first municipal park in Britain and he’d also worked on Princes Park just across the road from Sefton Park.) It was opened in 1872 by 22 year old Prince Arthur (3rd son of Queen Victoria).

About 24 years later, the city council received a donation of £10,000, from a rich local man, Henry Yates Thompson, to build the Palm House. It opened in 1896. It’s an octagonal shape and built on a base of red granite which they brought down from the Isle of Mull. At each of the corners there is a statue of a famous person chosen by Thompson. Naturally he picked mostly botanists and explorers. We’ll do a tour round the outside this week and go inside next week.

Let’s start with a view looking at the front entrance to the Palm House.

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The statistics are amazing: it’s 25m high and there are 3,710 individually-cut panes of glass. It was painted in camouflage paint in 1939 to prevent the glass reflecting moonlight which would help enemy bombers locate areas of the city.

The structure fell into disrepair during the 1980s and following a big campaign and raising funds and grants it was re-opened in 2001. Just think about this – in order to refurbish the place they had to remove all the plants and then dismantle the whole structure (made of cast iron) so it could be sand blasted. The firm that did this part had to number every single piece of metal so it could be put back in the right place. Talk about jigsaws, this must have been one tough job. (I certainly wouldn’t have fancied it!)

We’ll go clockwise round the building looking at the guys who are commemorated in bronze and marble and see some of the beautiful gardens and flowers. I wonder how many of these you know?

1. André le Notre (1613-1700)

A landscape artist who designed the gardens at Versailles for Louis XIV. Also designed St James’ Park in London

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As you can see he’s in marble. Now I’m not a sculptor but check out the scroll he’s holding. I reckon that must be quite difficult to do.

2. Captain Cook (1728-79)

Famous as an explorer, navigator & cartographer and for his voyages of discovery particularly Australia and New Zealand. He was a captain in the Royal Navy. On his 3rd Pacific voyage he was killed when fighting with Hawaiians. The sad thing is that he had actually left the islands but a mast on his ship (Resolution) broke and he had to return to make repairs and it was during this time that the quarrels started which ended in his death.

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Check out the inscription on the base of his statue in pic below: “Constantly at sea from his youth he passed through all the stations belonging to a seaman from an apprentice boy in the coal trade to a post of captain in the British Navy”. In other words he started right at the bottom and worked his way right up.

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3. Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594)

The base says he was “the son of a poor shoemaker near Antwerp”. He was a Flemish astronomer & geographer. He invented the system of mapping which we still use today and by which your mobile phone knows exactly where you are: lines of latitude & longitude. We almost forget how revolutionary this was because we’ve never known living when it didn’t exist. The nearest I’ve ever come to it is when I lived abroad in a place that, for a while, didn’t have street names. People navigated by buildings or geographical features including the taxis. It moved on rapidly and has a totally modern system with street names and a GPS guided taxi system which was considered one of the most sophisticated in the world when introduced four years ago.

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4. Carl Linnaeus (1707-78)

He was a Swedish botanist, physician & zoologist. He is the founder of the system of categorisation of plants called taxonomy or type classification. Interestingly, it is said, his family conversed in Latin so his familiarity with the language when naming plants is perfectly understandable. Apparently the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau sent him the following message: “Tell him I know no greater man on earth”. That’s quite a compliment isn’t it? Goethe, the German author, wrote of Linnaeus: “With the exception of Shakespeare and Spinoza, I know no one among the no longer living who has influenced me more strongly!” Wow, talk about being respected by your peers. This guy was a giant.

However he also had a massive ego. In his own writing he made statements about himself that might surprise you. He wrote in an autobiography: “No one has been a greater Botanicus or Zoologist. No one has written more books, more correctly, more methodically, from his own experience. No one has more completely changed a whole science and initiated a new epoch. No one has become more of a household name throughout the world…”

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5. Charles Darwin (1809-82)

Probably the most famous of the names in this list. He wrote the book On The Origin Of Species in 1859 upsetting the church and Victorian society in general. Whatever your views on him the “Theory of Evolution” remains just that – a theory. Nuff said.

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6. Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)

Explorer and discoverer. Popular views credit him with the discovery of America but that should be qualified of course to the European discovery of America. Native Indians were already there and other nations can lay claim to having visited the place long before Columbus: Norse explorer Lief Erikson is believed to have been there around 1000AD & some believe the ancient Phoenicians could have visited. Obviously the name America doesn’t come from Columbus but from the feminine version of Italian explorer Vespucci’s first name Amerigo. Why if Columbus discovered the land was it not called Columbusia or Columbusland? How did that not happen?

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7. Henry the Navigator (1394-1460)

He was the 3rd child of King John I of Portugal and his wife Philippa of Lancaster (sister of Henry IV of England). In the complicated intermarriage of Royal families in Europe, Philippa of Lancaster was a daughter of John of Gaunt – the “Gaunt” comes from the anglicising of his birthplace (Ghent) in Belgium. He himself was a son of the 4th Plantagenet king, Edward III, and Philippa of Hainault. (Now there is a Hainault in north-east London but this one is a county in Belgium. Philippa brought Belgian weavers over to England to start up businesses in Norwich. In the late 16th century another wave of weavers arrived fleeing religious persecution in Holland & Belgium. Interestingly these guys brought their canaries with them and local people also began rearing them. And that historical event is how Norwich City’s football team got its present-day nickname – The Canaries. So now you know where it came from.)

Henry was born in Porto and from the age of 21 he began exploring the coast of Africa. He was intrigued by the Christian legend of Prester John who was allegedly a descendant of one of the Three Wise Men (who visited Jesus at his birth). Supposedly PJ was the king of a Christian nation which had been lost among the pagans of the Orient. His kingdom was said to contain the Fountain of Youth! It’s no surprise he didn’t find it or that people are still looking for it today, not in Africa, but in the consulting rooms of the plastic surgeon!

In 1420 Henry was appointed a governor of an organisation called the Order of Christ. This group had succeeded the Knights Templar which had been disbanded by Pope Clement V in 1312. He remained in charge till his death in 1460.

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8.John Parkinson (1567-1650)

In his time he was a famous herbalist and one of the first English botanists. After moving to London in 1581, at 14 yrs of age, he became an apprentice apothecary. He then rose up the career ladder eventually becoming apothecary to James I and later Royal Botanist to Charles I.

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Here’s one last statue. As you’ll probably recognise, it’s Peter Pan.

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And here’s the inscription on the base

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It says it was on the Royal yacht but I wonder just where on the Royal Yacht “Victoria & Albert” they put this. Looks a bit hefty to me but perhaps it was just the Peter Pan himself part at the top and no base. Interestingly Queen Victoria had 3 Royal Yachts named Victoria & Albert: the first launched in 1843, just 6 years after her accession; the second in 1855; the third launched in 1899 but was not ready for service until 1901 which, sadly, turned out to be 7 months after her death.

Anyway there we are, that’s all for this week. I’ll have to keep the flowers outside till next week when I’ll do the inside of the place itself.

From bolt cutters to the Bible

Good morning everyone. Today is Wednesday so I’m handing over to my guest blogger for a recap on his Bank Holiday activities…

 

I’m writing this week’s post at the end of a brilliantly sunny Bank Holiday Monday here in the UK. These holidays have a reputation for two things: getting bad weather and long traffic jams. The latter because so many people decide it would be a good idea to go out for the day. They do seem to decide this en masse and so end up travelling out in queues of traffic and then, as if by mass telepathy, they travel home at the same time as everyone else causing big queues on the return journey. Our day was good but will fill you in on that next week.

I checked to see what happened on the day I am writing this (6th May) back in history. It seems to have been quite an eventful date. Thanks to Chambers Book of Days for the following info:

In 1954 Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes – his time was 3m 59.4s.

A number of important people were born on this date (6th May):

French Revolutionary politician Maximillian Robespierre (1758), Psychoanalyst (& neurologist) Sigmund Freud (1856), Film actor Rudolph Valentino (1895), former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair (1953), American actor George Clooney (1961)

Other May 6th events:

In 1642 the Canadian city of Montreal was founded (as Ville Marie)

In 1937 the Hindenburg airship crashed while it was attempting to dock with its mooring mast at Lakehurst, New Jersey. 97 were on board and 35 were killed.

In 1994 the Channel Tunnel (between the UK & France) was opened.

So you can see it has been quite a date for important things to happen.

Interestingly on this date, in 1536, Henry VIII ordered that a copy of the Bible was to be placed in every English church and what I did last Saturday relates to this indirectly.

However, before I tell you about Saturday, Friday kicked off my week-end with something rather bizarre. It was time to give the grass its first cut this year. Out I went to the shed which had been padlocked through the winter. This year our winter seems to have dragged on rather along time and everyone (here in the UK) has commented on how long the cold weather has continued for. (Up to last week our nights were still hitting temps close to freezing!) Anyway I thought I could do a whizz round with the mower before Saturday which was going to be a really busy day (which we’ll come to).

I put the key in the lock and tried to turn it – nothing. I waggled it about and bashed it with a hammer a bit – still nothing. It seems that I’d now found out the reason why the lock I’d bought last summer had been such a bargain – it was rubbishy and just one winter had caused it to rust up. I now felt like a contestant on a new game show – no, not Who Wants To Be A Millionaire but Who Wants To Be A Grasscutter!

Question 1: You have come to get your mower out of the shed but the lock is rusted up. What do you do?

A – Sit down & cry

B – Try some 3-in-1 oil

C – Use a sledgehammer

D – Use bolt cutters

I was struggling at this point so I decided to phone a friend. “I think it’s D he said.” He also said he had some bolt cutters. Well that was good enough for me. I leapt out of the chair and drove to his place and picked them up. Now I have used bolt cutters in my work on occasion so when he said his were big I’d said not to worry I could handle them.

Here’s the picture of them

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They weigh 21lbs (1 stone & a half); they are nearly 43” (109 cm) long. I managed to get them home but trying to lift them into a horizontal position so I could snip the lock off was quite a feat. Anyway I managed it. Now you’re probably wondering just how big the padlock was. Well take a look at this next picture. It shows the cutters, the padlock – it’s that tiny thing up at the top left of the cutters, and as an indication of size I put a wooden broom handle (without the brush head) alongside the cutters.

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Oh well they did the job even if a slight case of overkill.

Saturday dawned. I was booked for a whole day of lectures at one of the halls in the University in Liverpool city centre. I had planned the journey starting with a mere 10 min train journey a couple of stops along the line towards the city centre. How hard could that be? I knew the time of the train as it was from my local station; they’re every half hour. I just needed to make sure I wasn’t late as the next one would get me there too late. I walked and got to the station with about 7 mins to spare to be greeted by a notice: “Due to engineering work on the line a bus replacement service is in operation”. I went outside – no bus. I went back inside and asked when the bus replacement service was due. “It’s already left”, the man said. When I pointed out that the train was scheduled to leave at 8.50 and it was still only 8.47 how could it be a replacement. It was then he told me that the buses don’t keep the same time as the trains. That meant that if I waited for the next one it would get me there too late for the start time. So off back home I walked and then drove to a station on a different train line; this line has a 15 min service and more importantly they weren’t digging it up on a Bank Holiday week-end! I parked the car and sped in. The train arrived a couple of mins later and when I got out in the town centre and walked to the lecture hall I actually arrived 30 mins early!

The lectures were on the subject of Archaeology & the Bible. There are many who believe the Bible stories and accounts of past events are a kind of made up mythology. This view is easy to understand when you see the way the popular press and the film industry have treated certain areas: think of the recent series (1981-2008) of Indiana Jones and the ark (as in a chest, not Noah’s Ark), the Temple of Doom, the Last Crusade, etc as well as many down the years that have not followed the Bible’s version of a particular event.

The first speaker highlighted just how many books had been written on the sensationalising of various “Quests” to find articles related to ancient Israel & Egypt. He also drew attention to the fact that they were thin on factual detail themselves while criticising traditional views for the same thing.

The main speaker was from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois and he tackled two other contentious areas: that of the time the Israelites spent in Egypt and then their route back to their home, which we call “The Exodus”. Again a fascinating look at the facts and how to interpret them.

The day was closed by a look at the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible which has been dated to the reign of the Greek speaking Egyptian king Ptolemy II in the early 3rd C BC. Its Egyptian features were analysed and briefly its impact on the New Testament.

When you listen to guys who have studied in their field for a long time (one guy over 40 years) you need to give their views a fair hearing and there was a lot to take away and ponder.

And finally, on a more light-hearted note:

On a recent visit to a bird sanctuary, I was in the part where they keep the kestrels. It was late and the sun had gone down. I thought I could hear one of the keepers singing these words:

“Enola gay, you should have stayed at home yesterday
Aha words can’t describe the feeling and the way you lied.”

There was a lot of noise like a vacuum cleaner also as he sang. I asked the receptionist about it and she said,

“Oh, that’s our kestrel man – hoovers in the dark” (say it quickly!)

HaHaHa!

O is for…

I’m handing over to my regular guest blogger today for O. here goes. Enjoy it…

 

O!

 

The title might seem a bit strange since all the other letters so far have referred at least to a word or phrase.

Some of you might remember a post from 2.1.13 called Toponymy where I told you about the furthest points north, south, east & west in mainland Britain. The info came largely from a really interesting present I was given at Christmas – A Dictionary of British Place Names (A.D. Mills). For this week I’ve decided to return to it and have a look at some of the entries under the letter “O”.

First entry in the “O” section is Oadby (appears as Oldebi in the Domesday Book of 1086). The “-by” ending means village or farmstead and the first part is the English version of the Scandinavian name Authi.

Another one is not exactly a place but it gets an entry because of its geographical and historical significance – Offa’s Dyke. It was a rampart forming the boundary separating England & Wales. As you may know Offa was the ancient king of an area called Mercia during the latter half of the 8th century AD. He was quite an aggressive king conquering large areas of central England and finally Wales. He built the 150 mile long Dyke to stop the Welsh sending raiding parties into English (=’his’) territory. Mercia was a large kingdom occupying the Midlands area of England: its southern border was with the West Saxons (just east of Bristol area) and East Saxons (a much smaller kingdom north of the Thames and south of the area inhabited by the East Anglian peoples). Mercia’s northern boundary appears to have been at least as far as a horizontal line through Liverpool but may have extended much further up before meeting the southern boundary of the kingdom of Northumbria (today the NE of England).

There is a 177 mile footpath you can walk if you fancy it that follows the line of the original dyke. Lonely Planet have nominated the dyke as one of the must see sites for 2013. It has also been listed in the top ten great wall walks “in the world”. (The rest can be seen here: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/themes/best-in-travel-2013/the-worlds-greatest-wall-walks/ )

Those of you who know your history will remember that the area of North Wales is very probably where King Arthur’s ancient kingdom (5th/6th century) of Avalon was located. The locations of many of the stories about Arthur can be traced to places in the North Wales area. One of the books I’m reading at the moment is called The Keys To Avalon (Steve Blake, Scott Lloyd) and it does a fantastic job of debunking many of the claims about King Arthur (father Uthyr Pendragon, mother Eigyr) being related to areas in the south of England around Glastonbury and even as far north as Scotland. They do it simply by returning to the original Welsh source documents used by the early writers and showing how misinterpretations of some words have caused misleading info to bed itself into major historical works. It also shows how political manoeuvring in some cases and straightforward commercialism in others contributed to some areas or places being claimed as the “real” locations of parts of the Arthurian story. It’s a good read but you’ll need perseverance to keep going through some of the necessary but difficult sections of Welsh etymology.

I was surprised to read the entry just a bit further on – that of Ogbourne Maizey. It had an entry in the Domesday Book as Ocheburn (stream of a man called Occa) and later as Ocheburn Meysey. This latter name comes from the family name de Meysey. It is first mentioned in records just after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and has a variety of spellings: Meysey, Meysy, Maisie, Maysey & lastly Maisey. It is first recorded in Gloucestershire having been given Lordships of the manors of Hampton Meysey & Marston Meysey by the Conqueror himself. Tradition says that the de Meysey family came over with William the Conqueror. It appears to have come from Brittainy (or possibly Normandy). The family does have a crest & coat of arms so it seems LLM may have some very important ancestors. However treat this information carefully as it could be seen that your family displaced existing lords of the area of their homes and lands simply because of its connections to the conquering nation which gave grants of land to its own people. I’m wondering at this point, as LLM has just done a volunteer stint at a massive country house estate (Ham House), whether she is actually subconsciously returning to her thousand-year old ancestral roots. Something in her genes might be saying: “I belong here!” Hmmm… I wonder how long before we will have to address her as “Milady”?

Next is Old Wives Lees; this has to be one of the most unusual village names. Originally called Oldwoods Lees no-one seems to know how it became corrupted into its present form. The highest point in the village is called ‘The Mount’ and this area was used in the film Last Orders (2000) starring Michael Caine & Bob Hoskins. The Pilgrims’ Way – a 132 mile footpath from Winchester (Hampshire) to Canterbury (Kent) – passes close by and was used by those going to the Canterbury shrine of Thomas à Beckett (Archbishop of Canterbury 1162-1170 who was murdered by supporters of Henry II).

Oswestry (Shropshire) means ‘Tree of a man named Oswald’ and I suppose you can see how easily, over many years, you get from Oswald’s Tree to Oswestry. There is a possible connection to St Oswald who was king of Northumbria in about the 7th century although it is clearly in Mercian held territory (see Offa’s Dyke para above).

Odd as it may seem there are 3 places in England called simply Over: one in Cambridgeshire, one in Cheshire, one on Gloucestershire.

Next a couple from across the Irish Sea: Owenavorragh (in county Wexford) meaning “river liable to flood” and Owendalulleegh (in Galway) meaning “river of two milch cows”. At first sight you might be tempted to think they have Welsh connections because the start of both is “Owen” but the etymology splits the names after the first two letters. “Ow” meaning river.

Final entry in the “O” section is Ozleworth meaning ‘Enclosure of a man called Osla’ or surprisingly ‘enclosure frequented by blackbirds’.

And there you have it a brief survey of some interesting places beginning with “O”.

The time I surprised my Dad

Last year, for my Dad’s birthday, I decided I would go to Liverpool to see him but I didn’t tell him. I thought it would be more fun to surprise him. For the train journey, I had some food and study books with me as I had a huge peice of work due a week later. One of them I guarded with my life. It was the Blackstone’s guide to the corporate homicide and corporate manslaughter act. Blackstone’s guides are like the be-all and end-all in the world of academic law. Everything you want to know about a law will be in one of their guides. It was a thin 170 pages and had cost me £48. But there was no way around getting one. So I had it and it was my most prized possession.

When I got to the main station in Liverpool, I clutched my Blackstone’s guide and went to buy a ticket to the stop nearest to my Dad’s house. With my ticket, I then boarded the train, went the six or so stops, then got off. As I headed out of the station, I realised my hands were empty! Where was my Blackstone’s guide?! My very expensive Blackstone’s guide? The one that I wouldn’t be able to get another copy of in time for my essay deadline.

Panicked, I raced to the ticket office and explained that it had either been left on the desk when I bought my ticket in town or on the train. Panic, PANIC! Where was it? The railway man, thankfully, dealt very efficiently with this madwoman having a panic attack in from of him.

He located it in the station in town and I asked them to keep hold of it, I would go back. The next train was in 20 minutes so I quickly ran to the house, didn’t see my dad’s car, so assumed he was at work and threw my bag down before racing back to the station. I put a pack of ham in the fridge that I hadn’t eaten on the journey. I had also made my Dad a hamper of baked goodies so put it on the sofa, in the seat behind the door where he usually sits so he would see it when he got home.

Picking the book up was fine and on the way back, I called the house to check if my Dad was home. He wasn’t so I headed straight for a friends house. I spent the evening there and got home later but my Dad still wasn’t home. Eventually I just wrote him a note and left it in the hallway and went to bed.

And here is my Dad’s version of events:

“I was upstairs on the computer when I heard a sound like the door being opened then closed. I went downstairs to see what the sound was but didn’t see anything. I popped my head into the front room but didn’t see anyone. I went to the fridge to get my sandwiches to take to work and saw a pack of ham in there which hadn’t been there before. Confused, I just got my sandwiches and went out to work, figuring there must be an explanation for it. When I got home late from work, there was a note on the floor saying Laura was home!”

That’s right. He’d been there the whole time. But because he wasn’t expecting me, he just thought he was hearing things when he heard the door open. So the whole first day I was in Liverpool, we spent missing each other, like ships passing the night. Well done, Laura!

Search terms 6

This always gives me a huge amount of pleasure, checking my search terms for the past month. We’ve got a repeat of a certain bestiality-esque search and something which I’m not sure I want to know the story behind… Something about a grandad… A grandad and their gender…. There are also a few interesting welly searches that have ended up here.

gelatarias
liverpool “mill stile” footpath
inside 251 menlove avenue
george michael grove road highgate
laura maisey law
woolton reservoir
wellies naked
skytrain at the o2 arena
inside 20 forthlin road
swim gods
vaynites
dish called pouffe
kate moss highgate
swastika shaped building balham
unusual wacky jewlery
transvestite wellies
cousin violet’s quote on excess
jennifer lopez thought of namibia
teddington
ladies bathing tag move
granny boobs
sofa with scallops
gold frosting
pouffe recipe
why do i say things twice
laura maisey
security guards in james bond movie
winp simon callow impressed by poem
bikram classes northwich
suicide bridge highgate incident
kingston university is crap
jeremy kyle pig cow
girelephant crood
womenanddogsex
joni mitchell anorexic
sex change granddad
grease on wall behind bed
antipasti music paper
lucille ball oops
the hamlyn all colour cookbook by mary berry
dinosaur tattoo