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  • The Cloud of Death, Hawker and A Letter to the Times August 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Cloud of Death, Hawker and A Letter to the Times

    A pleasing example of how something unusual can get blow up into something extraordinary. A letter to The Times 1 Dec 1858 from North Cornwall [this date appears to be slightly wrong, it must be a couple of days later] To the Editor of The Times Sir, Last night, at 15 minutes to 9, it […]

    Photo Fakes and Irresponsible Buffoonery August 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Photo Fakes and Irresponsible Buffoonery

       ***Dedicated to Invisible who sent the first paragraph and wrote the second*** The camera never lies, a picture is worth a thousand words, the architecture of light and shadows: photography in short. Enjoy this little extract from an Arthur Conan Doyle biography. During Conan Doyle’s last lecture in Nairobi…he showed a photograph taken of […]

    Never Forget the Church Sprite! August 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Never Forget the Church Sprite!

    When Beach gives fairy posts (and God knows sometimes he does too many) he tries to come up with unusual accounts, peculiar perspectives. He does not do ‘normal’ folklore. But this is a little story from Sweden that filled him with the melancholy of a dying or at least a changing world. Read it, reflect […]

    Headless Coachmen and Crime August 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Headless Coachmen and Crime

    In the Middle Ages they had the wild hunt, the insanely nasty cavalry that rode across the sky. Then, come the early modern period, when everyone had ‘grown up a bit’ and men with shag and swords were so, well, ‘medieval’, that they moved on. They started seeing, instead, headless horsemen out on the toll […]

    The Terror of the Cow Charmer August 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Terror of the Cow Charmer

    A cute fairy post from the west of Ireland in the nineteenth-century. The narrator is a visiting sportsman. I heard, when passing the porter’s lodge, that the gate-keeper’s cow was ill. As she was a fine animal, the loss would have been a serious one to the family, and hence I became interested in her […]

    The Hairies: Thoughts from Africa August 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Hairies: Thoughts from Africa

    Beach has only very inadequate knowledge of cryptozoology, so if he says things here that are unoriginal, stupid or dangerous he wants to apologise ahead of time. It is just that he didn’t go to sleep until very late last night because he found this stuff so interesting. He knows that there are ape men […]

    The Immortal Major Fraser August 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Immortal Major Fraser

    OK here is an atmospheric little passage from a nineteenth-century description of the fifth most beautiful city in the world. Major Fraser, though he never dined there, spent  an hour or two daily in the Estaminet du Divan [in Paris] to read the  papers. He was a great favorite with every one, though none  of […]

    Queens On Top (or not?) August 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Queens On Top (or not?)

    Beach has been waxing lyrical a lot about monarchy recently: there was Charles I with his head sewn back on (the bastards!), then there was environment vs the hereditary principle (or perhaps better environment within the hereditary principle) and today we come to queens. Queens, you’ve got to love them. For is it Beachcombing’s imagination […]

    Highest Placed Spy August 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Highest Placed Spy

    And so it begins… Mrs B woke up at 5.00 am this morning and took darling daughters and aupair to the sea for at least a week. Beach is going to relax today and then from tomorrow do some serious MANLY writing. (He will only really relax when he learns that Italian motorways have not […]

    Beachcombed 26 August 1, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 26

    Dear Readers, it is that time again. The ten-thousand best words on this blog from July are summarized below. A migraine attack means that they still have not all been processed. We’ll get to that in the next few days. One new thing on the blog this month is the list of resources on the […]

    Genetics vs Environment among Monarchs July 31, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Genetics vs Environment among Monarchs

    There is a phrase that’s trotted out from time to time that monarchs are simply the descendants of those who killed lots of people and as such deserve little respect and certainly no adulation. Of course, it is true that monarchs are the descendants of those who killed many people. But what really matters is […]

    They Do It With Drawers You Know July 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    They Do It With Drawers You Know

    To a twenty-first century reader one of the strangest things about nineteenth century séances were the materialisation of physical objects at the hand of talented mediums aka conjurers. What seems to be just absurd to us was actually taken as a proof of the genuine nature of the swindlers, because they were typically searched before […]

    The Mysterious Island of Chronos/Cronos: Stonehenge, New Hampshire or Lundy!? July 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Mysterious Island of Chronos/Cronos: Stonehenge, New Hampshire or Lundy!?

    One of the most peculiar texts that Beachcombing has ever read is the description of the Island of Cronos – the titan pictured here with thanks to Goya – in Plutarch (c. 120 AD). Much has been made of this island and attempts to fix it on the map have been undertaken frequently: some have […]

    Charles I and Cromwell July 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Charles I and Cromwell

    ***Sorry not replying to emails annihilating headache: this is a reserve post, though heartfelt for that*** 30 January 1649: the execution of Charles I. The King of England, the ‘anointed of God’ says goodbye to his younger son. He walks out into the freezing cold worried that any trembling will be misinterpreted by the crowd… […]

    The Cow-Man of Wicklow and His Sad End July 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Cow-Man of Wicklow and His Sad End

    A paddy-bashing story from one of the nastiest Irish-haters of them all: Gerald of Wales. In the neighbourhood of Wicklow at the time when Maurice Fitzgerald got possession of the country and the castle, an extraordinary man was seen – if indeed it be right to call him a man. He had all the parts […]

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