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  • Martin Luther and the Fire from Heaven December 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Martin Luther and the Fire from Heaven

      Beachcombing has looked before at hinge moments – moments where a simple incident changes history; moments which, had they not happened, would have resulted in a quite different world. Beachcombing thought that, in this spirit, he would today visit Mansfeld, Germany 2 July, 1502 where a young student, Martin Luther, is out walking. Luther’s great fortune […]

    Tenth-Century Arabs in Mozambique December 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Tenth-Century Arabs in Mozambique

              The extraordinary reach of Islamic traders in the Middle Ages is well known. With their heartlands at the juncture of Euro-Asia and Africa – rather than stuckout on a periphery like Christian Europe – they managed to send their boats to every point of the compass. So medieval Arab traders […]

    Droit de Foreigner December 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Droit de Foreigner

    Internet provider still playing up…. Beachcombing has had the pleasure of spending some time in the company of the sixteenth-century European traveller Varthema (obit 1517) previously – in connexion with a unicorn at Mecca. And today, he is going to return to the side of the eastward-bound one, now in Tarnassari (Tenasserim) India. The king of the said […]

    Fire from the Heavens in Early Medieval Ireland December 26, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Fire from the Heavens in Early Medieval Ireland

    Beachcombing has been cursing his internet provider today that has managed, with characteristic incompetence, to deprive the Beachcombings of their connection to the world wide web – no joke when you live in a rural idyll and make most of your phone-calls by skype. In any case, Beachcombing will do his best to smuggle this out […]

    The Catalan Caganer December 25, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Catalan Caganer

    A fascinating book needs to be written – Beachcombing might possibly publish it: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com – on nativity scenes around the world. After all, you can sketch out a geography of Western culture with the way that different regions set out their Xmas scenes. From the life-sized North American nativities, to the wooden […]

    Aulus Gellius and Antique Forteana December 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Aulus Gellius and Antique Forteana

    Mrs B is incapacitated in the hospital, tiny little Miss B is learning to drink milk and the trusty family au pair is down and out with flu. Beachcombing, thus, has a terrifying day ahead of him alone with Little Miss B who has already made it clear that she objects to her little sister’s […]

    Image: Omagh Ground Zero December 23, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Omagh Ground Zero

    Beachcombing has had to miss writing a serious post today because of the arrival of his second-born at the local hospital. He thought that, in lieu of that ‘serious post’, he would offer instead this extraordinary photo from Omagh in Northern Ireland 1997 – a celebration of what it means to eat, breathe and read good books. The […]

    Review: Moa Sightings December 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Moa Sightings

    [automatic reserve post]   When Beachcombing was just a wee sprog, he used to read books and be transported to other  worlds. Those were the times when three hundred pages written by John Buchan, Evelyn Waugh or Enid Blyton could set off fire balls in his head. But then Beachcombing lost his innocence – schooling […]

    The Search for Fusang December 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Search for Fusang

    The snow is melting rapidly outside and just in time. Mrs B is suffering in the room above from what look like real contractions – Beachcombing conspicuously absent. Beachcombing then is going to let his source do all the talking today. If he hasn’t written much of a conclusion then the chances are that the […]

    Homer Hasenpflug Dubs and Roman Legionaries in Ancient China December 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Homer Hasenpflug Dubs and Roman Legionaries in Ancient China

    Drum roll, trumpet blast enter Homer Hasenpflug Dubs (obit 1969) an American-born Oxford don with a name that sounds as it it was purloined from an 1890s feel-good novel. Homer, to friends, was a capable if eccentric sinologist based out of ‘the other place’ for most of his teaching life. He wrote – as was […]

    C-section by Banana Wine December 19, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    C-section by Banana Wine

      Beachcombing is going to break several rules today. First, he is going to write on the same topic two days in a row: apologies, apologies, but the C-section question has even excited him out of his recent Atlantis itch. Then, second, he is writing two posts on the same day. This is in part natural […]

    First C-section and Pig Gelding December 18, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    First C-section and Pig Gelding

    Beachcombing is presently watching his beloved village disappear under that ghastly white stuff called snow. Mrs B., meanwhile, is running around with Little Miss B. upstairs in a state of wide-eyed childish bliss. She seems to have forgotten that, given she is now eight and a half months pregnant and given that the nearest hospital is […]

    Saint Patrick’s Sinning Past December 17, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Saint Patrick's Sinning Past

    Most saints begin life as, well, saints. They help their parents with chores; they annoy more normal brothers and sisters; and they make discreet enquiries into career prospects for monks and nuns. However, there are some – Beachcombing likes to think of them as ‘the rogues’ – who have more colourful pasts. Typically these men […]

    A Medieval Buddha at St Pancras Station? December 16, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Medieval Buddha at St Pancras Station?

    Beachcombing is rapidly coming down with flu at the moment and so will have to satisfy himself with a short post today. He will, in fact, take the reader to nineteenth-century central London, at a time when St Pancras Station (opened 1868) was being built up and connected. Beachcombing – sick or well – loves stations because they are vortexes of anarchy and […]

    The Library of Dream December 15, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Library of Dream

    Beachcombing has, on previous occasions, enumerated some of his preferred invisible libraries: books or collections of books that never existed save in the imagination of fantasizing authors. And he could hardly overlook a notable recent contribution to the genre, the Library of Dreams by Neil Gaiman. For those who don’t know NG is an author of graphic novels and novels. […]

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