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  • A Dutch Mermaid March 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Dutch Mermaid

    Beachcombing recently stumbled on this semi-mermaid story: if that is what it is. At that time there was a great tempest at sea, with exceeding high tides, the which did drowne many villages in Friseland and Holland; by which tempest there came a seawoman swimming in the Zuyderzee betwixt the towns of Campen and Edam, […]

    Perrottet: Sinners’ Grand Tour March 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Perrottet: Sinners' Grand Tour

    Tony Perrottet, The Sinner’s Grand Tour: Journey Through the Historical Underbelly of Europe (2011 in paperback) Broadly-speaking all humans have three reactions to forms of sexual activity: (i) frenzy, (ii) comic indifference or (iii) disgust. Beachcombing, for example, has to (i) contain himself when confronted with sultry Mediterranean beauty. He finds it (ii) amusing that […]

    Escaped Lions March 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Escaped Lions

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk*** Lions are striking animals and it is only natural that, through the ages, zoos and circuses have kept them to impress their clientele. They are also hardy creatures that makes them easier to keep alive than, say, the giraffe or a rhino. But they are dangerous and if they […]

    Crowds #1: And so it begins… Images from 1914 March 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Crowds #1: And so it begins... Images from 1914

      [students in Berlin, off to enlist] Beachcombing has recently become interested in crowd photography: large groups of people, preferably in rather strange or extreme situations. And as part of this ‘project’ he started collecting photographs from perhaps the dizziest month in western history: August 1914. The war is just beginning and young and not […]

    Amerindians in Sardinia!?! March 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Amerindians in Sardinia!?!

    When Beachcombing was a strapping young lad he opened a fuchsia file of claims for pre-Columbian crossings of the Atlantic. The problem was that after two or three years and entries for every people from Basques and Gaels to Zulus he got a tadge bored: most theories lacked anything like sensible proof, then (more seriously) […]

    Hibernating Hirundines March 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hibernating Hirundines

    Beach gave some publicity, a couple of years ago, to the question of swallows and other hirundines sleeping in the winter rather than migrating. It is all a lot of burnt toffee, of course, but entertaining and it represents a last stand of the ‘old’ country against the ‘new’ science: men in pitchfork marching up […]

    Stalin Suffering the Children March 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Stalin Suffering the Children

    This image of Uncle Joe with a young girl understandably became famous. It shows the softer side of one of the most prolific murderers of all time: something useful in a society that was based on a cult of said murderer. And interestingly this is not just a chance photographic moment: the kind that make […]

    St Patrick and Confusion March 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    St Patrick and Confusion

    Beach has always been fascinated by questions of uncertainty in history, in part because these teach modesty, in part because they are a useful way to annoy colleagues. And, in tribute to question marks past, he thought that he would celebrate St Patrick’s day – finally a correct date for an anniversary! – by concentrating […]

    Fairies and Vegetation March 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fairies and Vegetation

    Yes, sorry, Beach has not respected his only one-fairy-post a week rule. But this just proved too interesting to let go AND it was keeping him awake while Mrs B was gently snoring besides him. First the facts. In many modern works fairies are portrayed as ‘nature spirits’ actively working for trees, flowers, gorse bushes […]

    Churchill, De Gaulle and Waterloo March 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Churchill, De Gaulle and Waterloo

    Today a bit of modern British history/myth. Beach will write it out as it was told to him. He would be interested to see whether there is any basis to the tale: it sounds very Churchillian, but it also has the exquisite stench of cobblers. Towards the end of his life Churchill was visited by […]

    Procopius, Brittia and Britain March 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Procopius, Brittia and Britain

    Procopius is one of the most interesting writers of all antiquity: his discussion of the orifices of Theodora and his detailing of his own walk-on role in the Italian wars proving particularly memorable. But in the thousands of words of his Greek that survive there are many, many other passages that deserve a wider audience: […]

    Pulling Things Out of Rivers March 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Pulling Things Out of Rivers

    Rivers are useful guardians of the past: often thousands of years roll by (and millions of tonnes of water) before things that have been thrown in are fished out (sometimes literally) several hundred or thousands of years later. Here are Beachcombing’s favourite they-were-found-in-river things. Others would be welcome: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com 1) Claudius’ […]

    Fairy Sighting on Skye, c. 1880 March 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fairy Sighting on Skye, c. 1880

    The family crisis continues here and so Beach offers a modest little post on a fairy sighting in Skye: perhaps Beachcombing’s favourite witness account of the ‘good folk’.  This was written out in the early 1960s that puts the experience back c. 1880. In the darkening of an Autumn evening over eighty years ago a […]

    Breathing Out the Spirit: Another Modern Witch March 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Breathing Out the Spirit: Another Modern Witch

    Catastrophe in the Beachcombing household. Our beloved aupair has just heard that her mother has been involved in a serious car accident in the States, so we have spent most of the last twelve hours looking for flights and looking for a replacement. She is going tomorrow or the day after: and just last night […]

    From North Carolina to Chad: Families and Food March 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    From North Carolina to Chad: Families and Food

    An ‘ill’ day with interesting complications in the throat area  so Beach is going to go off topic with this  extraordinary book he recently stumbled upon: Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (Peter Menzel 2005). This exercise in photo-journalism has a fair bit of manipulation behind it: but the idea itself is an extraordinarily simple […]

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