At last, more Nonsense Cookery

July 19, 2018

The recent hot weather has discouraged energetic Learing excursions, so Debbie retreated to the relative cool of the kitchen to make us some delicious Gosky Patties, strictly following Edward Lear’s recipe.  In the past she has been very successful, but this time, alack, it didn’t work out.  I think the lack of rain was probably to blame.  Does anyone want a pig?

 

To Make Gosky Patties

Take a pig three or four years of age, and tie him by the off hind-leg to a post. Place 5 pounds of currants, 3 of sugar, 2 pecks of peas, 18 roast chestnuts, a candle, and 6 bushels of turnips, within his reach: if he eats these, constantly provide him with more.

Then procure some cream, some slices of Cheshire cheese, 4 quires of foolscap paper, and a packet of black pins. Work the whole into a paste, and spread it out to dry on a sheet of clean brown waterproof linen.

When the paste is perfectly dry, but not before, proceed to beat the pig violently with the handle of a large broom. If he squeals, beat him again.

Visit the paste and beat the pig alternately for some days, and ascertain if, at the end of that period, the whole is about to turn into Gosky Patties.

If it does not then, it never will; and in that case the pig may be let loose, and the whole process may be considered as finished.

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There was an Old Person of Cheadle

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Debbie actually shot some superb video footage of me beneath this sign, but then I discovered I’d have to upgrade my WordPress account to upload it. I fully intend to do this shortly when we gain our millionth subscriber: until then I hope this still will give you a flavour.

May 11, 2018

It’s been a long cold lonely winter, but fear not, the Edward Lear trail is on the road again.  The fastest route from Chorleywood (Hertfordshire) to Gawthrop (Cumbria) is by no means through Cheadle (Greater Manchester) but did that deter us?  Of course not.

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War memorial
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A fitting tribute to the good Dr Ockleston

Dr Ockleston opened his surgery on Cheadle Hight Street in 1825. He was sympathetic to the poor, and became a popular and respected doctor known for his kindness and “his innocent-looking little white pills.”

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Read all about the Battle of Cheadle Green and the good Dr Ockleston
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Unfortunately we had already had our lunch. At Knutsford Service Station, yum!

OK, OK, I hear you, when are they going to put that horrible Person in the stocks?

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Just deserts, I suppose

On then to our destination: the charming cottage called Scar View in Gawthrop, near Dent in the Yorkshire Dales, where Rik could wax nostalgic about idyllic childhood holidays.

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There was a Young Lady of Portugal

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Well, there’s no border sign at the airport, see, and it says Portugal here, right?

February 16, 2018

Our first Learing opportunity of the new year arose out of our short break in Lisbon.

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View from our window at the Hotel Solar dos Mouros
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Pastéis de Nata – delicious!
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I love trams.  It’s the way they cleverly combine the discomfort of buses with the inflexibility of trains.
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National Pantheon.  You can’t get up to the very top balcony.  I know, because I tried.

A street sign just along from our hotel inspired a little research:

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De Gusmão was born in Brazil, at the time a Portuguese colony.  In 1709 he presented a petition to King João V of Portugal, seeking royal favour for his invention of an airship, in which he expressed the greatest confidence. Happily a picture and description of his airship have survived.  In French.

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De Gusmão wanted to spread a huge sail over a boat-like body like the cover of a transport wagon; the boat itself was to contain tubes through which, when there was no wind, air would be blown into the sail by means of bellows. The vessel was to be propelled by magnets which were to be encased in two hollow metal balls.  The public test of the machine, which was set for June 24, 1709, did not happen, and the world is surely a poorer place for that.  One account of  De Gusmão’s work suggests that the Portuguese Inquisition forbade him to continue his aeronautic investigations and persecuted him because of them.  I certainly didn’t expect that.

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Thankfully this Young Lady was eventually prevailed upon to leave Portugal

There was a Young Person of Janina

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Monasteries, they got ’em.  Mostly over that way.

October 11, 2017

Our trip to northern Greece hosted by the wonderful Craig and Sue continued with a visit to the Byzantine city of Ioannina.  The city’s foundation has traditionally been ascribed to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD.   Ioannina flourished in the late Byzantine period (13th–15th centuries). Part of the Despotate of Epirus following the Fourth Crusade, many wealthy Byzantine families fled there following the sack of Constantinople, and the city experienced great prosperity and considerable autonomy, despite the political turmoil.  It surrendered to the Ottomans in 1430. Between 1430 and 1868 the city was the administrative center of the Pashalik of Yanina. In the period between the 18th and 19th centuries, the city was a major center of the modern Greek Enlightenment.  Ioannina joined Greece in 1913 following the Balkan Wars.

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By Lake Ioannina, in front of the mosque
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Shortly before the assassination attempt

The thing to do when you’re in Ioannina is to take a boat to the island, where you can see Ali Pasha’s house.

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Ali Pasha’s house

Ali Pasha (1740 – 24 January 1822), often referred to as the Lion of Yannina, first came to notice as a brigand, finally as an Ottoman Albanian ruler.

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Ali Pasha

His diplomatic and administrative skills, his interest in modernist ideas and concepts, his popular piety, his religious neutrality, his suppression of banditry, his vengefulness and harshness in imposing law and order, and his looting practices towards persons and communities in order to increase his proceeds caused both the admiration and the criticism of his contemporaries, as well as an ongoing controversy among historians regarding his personality. Finally falling foul of the Ottoman central government, Ali Pasha was declared a rebel in 1820, and was killed in 1822, aged over 80.  Quite a character.

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Actually he was only wounded through these cracks. His attackers then pursued and beheaded him, so they could present his head to the Sultan. Small decapitation theme emerging here.
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Lord Byron enjoyed meeting the Pasha

Byron described the Pasha in a letter to his mother: “His highness is sixty years old, very fat and not tall, but with a fine face, light blue eyes and a white beard; his manner is very kind and at the same time he possesses that dignity which is universal among the Turks. He has the appearance of anything but his real character; for he is a remorseless tyrant, guilty of the most horrible cruelties, very brave, and so good a general that they call him the Mohametan Buonaparte.”

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The Sultan – arguably portrayed as the bad guy here – receives the head of Ali Pasha
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Is this an original Edward Lear? If so it’s given far too little prominence in the museum.

What of the re-enactment, you ask.  Er, don’t you?  Fear not, we didn’t forget.

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Honoured to feature Sue and her “propitious” “uncle” Craig, although for my money she’s slightly underplaying it.

 

 

 

 

 

There was an Old Man of Thermopylae

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Still waiting to close those speech marks
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We’re going where the sun shines brightly

October 9, 2017

At last (you say) the Edward Lear trail rolls into Greece, under the generous and wise guidance (and excellent prop provision) of Craig and Sue.

Thermopylae is mostly remembered for the battle which took place…wait, a picture is worth quite a few words:

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…although well informed modern sources (Craig) recommend a healthy dose of scepticism regarding the figures given here of one thousand Greeks vs 1.7 million Persians.
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On Kolonos hill where the Greeks made their heroic stand.

Anyway, where were we?  So a Greek traitor named Ephialtes showed the Persian army a route known only to the locals, which enabled them to surround and eventually defeat the Greeks.  Ephialtes has since come to mean ‘nightmare’ in Greek, and his name has become synonymous with traitor in what had been his country.

Unlike some of our other destinations, we have evidence that Lear actually visited Thermopylae:

The Mountains of Thermopylae
The Mountains of Thermopylae by Edward Lear

Edward Lear first visited Greece in the summer of 1848 and wrote in a letter: ’29th, a run up to Patrasik, a queer mountain place. All these things we were constantly warned off, as full of rebels, brigands etc… but we found all things as quiet as Pimlico.”

Happily Craig was on hand with a superb performance to ensure that the re-enactment was done propylae:

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Eagle-eyed readers might reflect that Leonidas fought particularly bravely, given his choice of battledress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was an Old Person of Loo(e)

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September 15, 2017

As we came down the road into Looe, Debbie said “Parking will probably be a nightmare”.  And yet, and yet. How wrong she was.

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The parking is a joy
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Looe

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Loo
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True dat

After a wander around, we decided we had earned a cheeky lunchtime cream tea.  This reawakened two bitter controversies:

1) Is scone pronounced to rhyme with gone or cone?  and

2) Jam on cream or cream on jam?

We’re interested in everybody’s views.  Honestly.

…we were assailed by the sound of “cool” jazz, which felt like being continually poked with a sharp stick.  I think what annoys is the suggestion that the musicians are so much cleverer than their listeners – if only you understood it better, you’d think it was wonderful.  Debbie said “At least this one has a tune.”  I dunno.  Where there’s a tune there’s a victim, a murdered melody.

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Local museum stalwarts

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Vexatious. Meh

On New Year’s Eve, Looe provides an exciting and large celebration. The small fishing town is host to an influx of visitors. People flock to the streets in their hundreds, wearing fancy dress.  The crowds begin their evening in the town and slowly move towards the seafront for a fireworks display at midnight.  Looe has featured in the top ten places in Britain to celebrate the New Year.

We took advantage of an improvement in the weather to take a very muddy walk upstream to Watergate.

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Picturesque Watergate, scene of Richard Nixon’s downfall

 

 

There was an Old Man of the South

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Debbie shows off her new quad bike

September 14, 2017

South means South say I, and in Britain that means Lizard Point in Cornwall.  An hour and a half’s drive from our holiday let at Mawgan Porth, but it had to be done.

The Lizard may be mainland Britain’s closest point to the equator, but our welcome of driving rain and cold wind reminded us that it is also Britain’s closest point to the Antarctic. Happily after a quick and extremely southern coffee, the weather rapidly improved.

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Spectacular coastal scenery between the Lizard and Kynance Cove

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British history books may not have told you about the Battle of the Lizard which took place during the War of the Spanish Succession between two French squadrons under René Duguay-Trouin and Claude de Forbin and an English convoy protected by a squadron under Commodore, ahem, Richard Edwards.

On 20 October 1707 a large merchant fleet consisting of 80 to 130 English ships left Plymouth for Portugal with supplies for the war in Spain. There were five escorting English ships under command of Commodore Edwards.

The next day near Lizard Point they were spotted by 2 French squadrons of 6 ships each. The battle was almost a complete victory for the French; the 80-gun Cumberland and the 50-gun ships Chester and Ruby were taken, but Royal Oak escaped into Kinsale with a few merchantmen. The 80-gun Devonshire defended herself for several hours against seven French ships until she caught fire and blew up, only three men escaping out of 500.

In all, the British lost over 1,000 men and the French captured some fifteen merchant ships.  Somehow I never heard about that one before.  After this humiliation, the Edwards family returned to its traditional sheep-farming role.

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a century – not the century
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Marconi’s Lizard Wireless Station at Bass Point

Marconi chose a headland called Bass Point to set up the Lizard Wireless Telegraph Station.  In January 1901, in simple wooden huts, Marconi received a transmission from the Isle of Wight over 180 miles distant, thus proving that radio would work over the horizon; something that many scientists thought impossible.

A businessman as well as a scientist, he was quick to develop the commercial potential of radio. Lizard Wireless Station was one of a dozen coastal UK stations which handled ship to shore messages, for a fee. It was the first coastal radio station to receive an SOS call when in 1910 the Minnehaha, aground off the Isles of Scilly, radioed for help.

More spectacular coastal scenery
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Seen that fish before?
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Debbie points the way to a future destination