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  • Cabinet of Curiosities from Eighteenth-Century London February 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Cabinet of Curiosities from Eighteenth-Century London

      One of the sheer joys of bizzarism is collecting disparate lists and just enjoying the sound of them or the look of them on the page. In this spirit Beachcombing offers today a collection of curiosities brought together in an eighteenth-century London coffee house. He has included perhaps one in fifteen of the marvels gathered there. […]

    A Pillar and an Archer in Medieval Alexandria January 23, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    A Pillar and an Archer in Medieval Alexandria

      Ancient pillars survive even when associated buildings collapse. Many Greco-Roman pillars, indeed, are still standing today: a testimony to the durability of early Mediterranean civilisation. The medieval dwarfs looking back at the achievements of the classical world often got excited by pillars. Pillars were probably in part responsible for causing an early English poet […]

    Beethoven and the Fire from Heaven January 20, 2011

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

    Beachcombing recently offered three posts on the subject of lightning, trying to dig up some occasions when a bolt has changed, however modestly, the course of human history. Beachcombing must confess though to being slightly disappointed that lightning has not done more for (or against) humanity: any other lightning offers – drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT […]

    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 […]

    Vasari’s Corridor December 12, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Vasari's Corridor

    Beachcombing had – notwithstanding his recent rudeness about Giorgio Vasari – the fortune of the devil yesterday. He managed to tag onto the work group of Mrs B (absent because too heavily pregnant) as they went to one of the most exclusive tourist destinations in the world, Vasari’s Corridor in Florence. Florence, as any who have […]

    One Man’s Tulip, Another Man’s Onion December 10, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    One Man’s Tulip, Another Man’s Onion

    Tulip production was, in early Modern Europe, a challenging affair. For one the tulip itself was not an indigenous plant. It had come, with so many other items – including curiously goods from the New World – through the Ottoman Empire. Next, growing a tulip from seed takes from six to twelve years. These were […]

    German Naturalists, Electric Eels and Horse Fishing December 8, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    German Naturalists, Electric Eels and Horse Fishing

    Beachcombing mixes and matches his posts. If Beachcombing gets carried away with a theme – he has to confess to an Atlantis itch this week – then he tries to let at least a few days pass before he returns to that subject. However, every so often the excitement gets too much for him and he […]

    Image: Arresting Trouble December 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Arresting Trouble

    The Beachcombing family has been shook tonight by phantom (?) contractions and Mrs B. is  upstairs wondering whether or not she is about to give birth. Beachcombing is a nursing a frullato downstairs confident that the baby is still a month away. But then Beachcombing is wrong about almost everything and that leads him nicely to […]

    The Crocodile, the Dog and the Wardrobe December 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Crocodile, the Dog and the Wardrobe

    Beachcombing always enjoys the passion with which nineteenth-century naturalists captured and then observed their prey, from sugaring early gas lamps to taking out the rifle whenever a rare bird flew into their garden. He particularly enjoyed this passage (just sent in by a correspondent) from the works of that German polymath Alexander von Humboldt (1859), […]

    De Gaulle Flies into History November 17, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    De Gaulle Flies into History

    Beachcombing has a soft spot for Charles De Gaulle. Indeed, he often thinks of old lemon face on the balcony in Mostaganem in 1958, denying that the twentieth century had happened. Or the good General pissing off the Canadians in Quebec in 1967. Then there is de Gaulle’s comment on the death of his daughter, Anne, with Down […]

    Antique Christians in Furthest China October 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Antique Christians in Furthest China

    Beachcombing has often visited in these pages his favourite WIBT (‘wish I’d been there’) moments from history. And today he takes the gentle reader to another this time in China in honour of his mother and step-father who have recently fled the dominions for a holiday in the Far East. It is 1625 and the gutsy Portuguese […]

    Image: They Can Because They Think They Can September 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: They Can Because They Think They Can

    As his final tribute to the RAF on the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Beachcombing offers this remarkable photograph from 19 Squadron. 19 Squadron had fought over Dunkirk and spent the Battle of Britain in the front line at Duxford: the legless and incorrigible Douglas Bader was one of her pilots as was […]

    Garibaldi’s Worst Hours September 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Garibaldi's Worst Hours

    Giuseppe Garibaldi had been, in the late 1830s, an insurgent in Brazil: think Che Guevara with a good barber and bourgeoise decency. He had played the rhetorician who talked up Italian irregulars as they retreated from Rome in 1849: ‘Where we are Rome will be!’ He was the genius general who, in 1860, conquered half the peninsula […]

    The Cornbeef Sandwich that Almost Destroyed a Spacecraft… September 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Cornbeef Sandwich that Almost Destroyed a Spacecraft...

    Today astronauts have it easy when it comes to lunchtime.  They open  their MandMs or unpack a fabulous meal whipped up down at ground control – in 2006 celebrity chef, Rachael Ray even prepared them Swedish meatballs. Then there are the views… Life doesn’t really get much better. But ‘back in the day’ when the […]

    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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