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Flying to the Moon on Geese December 5, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Flying to the Moon on Geese

Beach has heard rumours over the years of Domingo Gonsales’ strange voyage to the moon in the early seventeenth century [1620s], carried thither by a flock of enormous geese. But it was only this morning that he finally settled down to read DG’s adventures: perhaps inspired by the equally fantastic Zambian moon programme. For those […]

Suger’s Sherbert Holder October 13, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Suger's Sherbert Holder

In previous posts Beachcombing has celebrated objects that have long and interesting histories: take, for example, the Baltic buddhas, Cellini’s canon or the Dauphin’s heart. It was with some excitement then that he just recently stumbled upon a vase that made, in the Middle Ages, its way from Moorish Spain through the hands of several […]

An Ecclesiastical Harem from Eighteenth-Century Spain August 21, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
An Ecclesiastical Harem from Eighteenth-Century Spain

The Inquisition  it can’t have been that easy. Mass in the morning, torture in the afternoon and, yet another blasted auto da fe in the evening… Who can blame the good men with the blood red cloth if sometimes they decided to create, let’s call it, ‘recreational space’ for themselves. This extraordinary – and apparently […]

Flight in Eleventh-Century England August 14, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Flight in Eleventh-Century England

As regular readers will know Beachcombing is one of those irritating sceptics, who looks askance at most historical records of the ‘impossible’. But every so often even he has to shake his head and admit that the evidence for the ‘impossible’ is frighteningly good. Take this record from William of Malmesbury’s Deeds of the Kings […]

The Saint Who Became A Cat May 7, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
The Saint Who Became A Cat

Beachcombing has previously looked at St Christopher a dog-headed saint. But what about St Agatha who can turn into a cat? First a little background. Agatha was a martyr saint from Catania, Sicily whose five-day festival each year in early February remains one of the highlights of civic life in the city and whose climax […]

The Monster of Mondoñedo April 23, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
The Monster of Mondoñedo

Summer madness approaches in Little Snoring – just the exams and marking to go and term is over. By way of celebration Beachcombing thought that today he would leave conventional (sic) history behind and partake in recipes for the madness of crowds. Think of what follows as a twenty-first-century entry for the Anarchist’s Cookbook inspired […]

Cellini’s Canon April 20, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Cellini's Canon

Beachcombing has been thinking in the last hour about objects that are far travelled – for example the Indian buddhas that made it to Viking Scandinavia or, say, the Viking coin that (allegedly) ended up in pre-Columbian Maine. And it was while musing on these far-flung things that Cellini’s canon came to mind. Now admittedly […]

John and Paul: The Patagonian Giants March 26, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
John and Paul: The Patagonian Giants

Antonio Pigafeta aka Antonio Lombardo (obit 1531) was a lucky man. He was one of 17 of circa 230 men to make it back from Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world. He was also a fine writer and described in his Relazione del primo viaggio intorno al mondo (1524) Magellan’s adventures, death and the mission’s return […]

Cat Music and Cat Organs February 27, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Cat Music and Cat Organs

**This post is dedicated to the Mad Monk who has supplied Beach with several references over the months and who put Beach onto the precious secret of the Cat Organ.** Beachcombing has complained before about the strange absence of bizarrism in music and he has never been satisfactorily contradicted. This absence is particularly painful in ‘classical’ […]

When Muhammad Kissed Ferdinand January 9, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
When Muhammad Kissed Ferdinand

What do Beachcombing and Osama Bin Laden have in common? Diabetes? Permanent facial hair? Exclusive education in London? Start up fund from the CIA? No, no, no, no and no. The answer is, of course, a love of Al-Andalus. Al Andalus, as Osama himself would tell us were he a blogger, was the last Muslim kingdom […]

Image: Executing Christ January 3, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Image: Executing Christ

                          The Spanish Civil War… the junction of the twentieth century. Often sold as the beginning of the Second World War it was, in reality, the last blast of an older nineteenth-century battle, the battle between left and right. Once Barcelona had fallen […]

French Kisses, Guinea Pigs and the Spanish vice November 13, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
French Kisses, Guinea Pigs and the Spanish vice

Beachcombing had a terrifying dream last night. A great voice told him to find a bizarre story on turkeys, presumably one of the last shadows of his recent obsession with birds? Beachcombing has decided, however, not to do so because his subconscious has, frankly, been getting on his nerves in the last weeks. Instead, Beachombing is going to look at […]

The Last ‘Battle’ of the Revenge August 28, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Last ‘Battle’ of the Revenge

                          Beachcombing is not a great one for anniversaries but for Flores, 31 August 1591, a naval ‘battle’ – if a fire-fight between a solitary ship, the Revenge, and three dozen enemy can be so called – he will make an exception. (Actually […]

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